All the humans and Autobots present had gathered around Grimlock as he
prepared to tell them what had happened to him and the other Dynobots
back on Cybertron. Miko was sitting down anxiously like a little girl
about to be told a bedtime story by her father. Swoop stood next to
Grimlock. He knew that Grimlock's damaged voice box would prevent him
from giving some of the more specific details needed to tell their part,
so he would fill in. Grimlock allowed everyone to settle down before
beginning the story.
"It all start back on Cybertron," Grimlock said again. "We Dinobots steal lots of energon from Decepticons. Then Shockwave blow it all up."
"We think he meant to steal it back," Swoop put in. "He put up a good fight but we held our ground. I guess when he saw that we weren't going down he blew up the energon so that we couldn't have it either."
"That sounds like Shockwave alright," Wheeljack said dryly.
"Shockwave make us look stupid," Grimlock said in annoyance. "We hunt him down. Then…it happen."
"It?" Miko asked curiously.
Swoop looked at his feet. "Shockwave ambushed us. We never saw it coming. Everything went black and then…"
"Shockwave experiment on us!" Grimlock yelled angrily. "Use us as test subjects!"
Immediately all the Autobots looked at Grimlock in shock. Then their looks turned sympathetic. The kids noticed this.
"What did he do to you, Grimlock?" Ratchet asked in such a soft voice that the kids had to double take to make sure that it was him who said it.
"Me wake up in lab," Grimlock continued. "Dinobots not there but Shockwave there. Him say stuff but me not hear him. Then…pain. Great pain. Felt like me thrown in Pit. It hurt so bad. Make me want to go offline just so it end."
The Autobots and kids flinched at the emotion in Grimlock's voice. While the kids were sympathetic to Grimlock's story, the Autobots were more so. They had heard the twisted things Shockwave had done in the war and they wouldn't even wish for their enemies to wind up as the scientist's guinea pigs. It also reminded Arcee of the torture she had suffered at the hands of Airachnid, so perhaps she was the most sympathetic to the experiences the Dinobots had gone through.
"It was the same for me and I can bet it was the same for Sludge, Slag, and Snarl," Swoop said sadly. "You'd think even Shockwave would be nice enough to put us in stasis or something."
"When me wake up," Grimlock went on. "Me different. Inside and out. Voice box broken. Words come out like this. But me not care then. At time me angry! Shockwave hurt me. Used me! Me, Grimlock, not like that! Me break out of lab. Learn others scattered. Went to find them. Run into Insecticons but they no trouble."
"What a minute," Miko interrupted. "You took on Insecticons? As in, more than one? All by yourself?"
Grimlock nodded. "Puny Insecticons too weak for me."
"Aw, that is awesome!" Miko cheered.
The Autobots all looked at each other. They knew what a hassle Insecticons were during their recent adventures. Suddenly having Grimlock on their team made them feel more at ease.
"It take while but me, Grimlock, find other Dinobots. They change too. We find out why." He looked at Swoop to explain.
"We returned to Shockwave's main lab," Swoop told the others. "And we looked at the files in his computer. Turns out he was using space bridges to study life on other worlds. Megatron wanted him to make stronger soldiers so he was seeing other planets for ideas."
"But if it was to give Decepticons new forms," Raf said. "Why did he choose you guys?"
"Him try to control us," Grimlock answered coldly. "Turn us to mindless slaves!"
"Makes sense," Bulkhead said with an edge in his voice. "Turning some of our strongest fighters against us would have really helped the Decepticons.
"We first tests," Grimlock said…well, grimly. "We no longer transform to vehicles. Now we…we…" He looked over at Swoop. "Swoop?"
Swoop nodded. "Sure thing, Grimlock." In a few seconds Swoop transformed from a robot warrior to a robotic pteranodon.
The Autobots and humans all stared Swoop's new alt-mode as he hovered in the air for a few minutes before transforming back.
"Whoa," Jack muttered.
"I don't believe it," Raf stared at Swoop before readjusting himself. "That was a pteranodon. Or…something close to it at least."
"Ah, yeah!" Miko said, punching the air happily. "I knew you guys could turn into dinosaurs! I knew it! Giant robots who turn into cars and now giant robots who turn into robot dinosaurs! Doesn't get any better than this!"
"Dinosaurs?" Swoop asked. "Is that what they're called?"
"That's what humans call them at least," Ratchet replied. He brought a hand to his optics. "I don't believe it."
Wheeljack chuckled. "I guess the Dynobots really are Dinobots now."
Arcee rolled her optics at the lame joke. Bulkhead chuckled a little and Bumblebee made a noise that suggested he liked the joke as well.
Optimus looked at Grimlock sympathetically. He would have put his hand on the other's shoulder but given the height difference, he was unable to. "Grimlock…I cannot imagine the pain you have gone through and from the bottom of my spark, I am truly sorry that we were not there to help you and your team."
Grimlock looked at Optimus for a moment, then shrugged. "Not your fault. It my fault. Me let pride get better of me."
Swoop walked over and put his hand on Grimlock's arm since he couldn't put it on his leader's shoulder. "It was our fault too, Grimlock. We all wanted payback on Shockwave."
"But…why didn't you guys contact us when you all were free?" Bulkhead asked.
Grimlock chuckled but there was no humor in his voice. "Look at us. You think Autobots accept us? No! Would just think us freaks! Would turn backs on us."
"Grimlock, that is not true," Optimus said firmly. "Regardless of what has happened to your team, you are still Autobots and we would not have turned you away. No matter what."
"You, Optimus, care a lot," Grimlock said to the Autobot leader. "But sometimes me think you care too much."
"So…what happened next?" Jack asked.
"Soon, war end and everyone leave," Grimlock told Jack. "Me not care. Me only want revenge."
"In time, we came to like the powers we got from our new forms," Swoop told everyone. "But we will never forgive Shockwave for what he did to us."
"War over for Autobots but not for Dinobots," Grimlock said. "We make Shockwave pay! Have our own war!"
"Turns out some Decepticons stuck with Shockwave," Swoop said. "Must have hoped he could fix Cybertron or something. We fought Shockwave's forces…but we could never find him. Then…we heard a rumor about where Shockwave was. We thought it was our chance to finally get back at him."
"But it trap," Grimlock said. "Shockwave still try to control us! Me try to save team but only save Swoop. Sludge, Slag, and Snarl all captured. Shockwave take them away. Me, Grimlock, want to save them alone…but not want to risk capture too. So…me and Swoop steal Decepticon ship. Decide to look for Optimus. If anyone help, he help."
"We found a message that Optimus had sent from the planet Earth and made our course," Swoop said. "It wasn't easy but we managed to get here without any Decepticons finding us. And…now we're here."
The Autobots took a moment to take all that they had been told in. Ratchet looked at Optimus.
"Optimus, while I am not the Dinobots' biggest supporter, we cannot leave those three in Shockwave's hands. Having three of the Dinobots under his control tips the balance of power in his favor. And also…" And here Ratchet's voice became hard. "What he has done to them is against everything that a scientist stands for. I cannot allow Shockwave to get away with this."
"And whatever flaws they may have," Arcee said. "They're still Autobots. And we never leave fellow Bots behind."
Bulkhead, Bumblebee, and Wheeljack nodded.
Meanwhile, Miko went over to talk to Grimlock. "So…aside from Swoop what can you turn into, Grimlock?"
Grimlock looked at Miko for a moment before looking at his feet. "Me not talk about it right now."
Miko pouted. She wanted to press Grimlock for answers but Jack decided it was time to intervene. "Uh so…what do the other Dinobots turn into?"
"Hey, yeah!" Miko said, immediately cheering up. "What do the other Dinobots turn into?" She looked at Swoop. "Can you tell me?"
Swoop scratched his metallic chin. "Well…Slag transforms into this four legged one with three horns."
"A triceratops?" Raf asked.
"Oh that is tight!" Miko squealed with delight.
"Wouldn't know," Swoop said. "I didn't even know that our new forms are called dinosaurs."
Raf went over to this laptop and began searching for images of a triceratops. Once he brought a picture up he turned it around so that Swoop could see. "Does it look like this?"
Swoop walked over to the laptop and looked. He nodded. "That's the one, alright. Now Snarl can transform into this one with these plates all over his back."
"Oh I know that one," Miko said. "That's a stegosaurus." She noticed Jack and Raf staring at her. "What? Dinosaurs are cool!"
Jack rolled his eyes. Of course Miko would pay attention to something she found cool. Raf searched for a stegosaurus picture and showed it to Swoop. "That's what Snarl transforms into. Now Sludge's new form is easy to find. It's got a really long neck."
"A brontosaurus!" Miko said proud of herself.
"Actually Miko," Raf burst her bubble. "Brontosaurus were proven by scientists to just be an Apatosaurus with…" But he fell silent to the glare that Miko was giving him. So he silently brought up a picture of an Apatosaurus and show it to Swoop. Swoop confirmed that it was indeed the creature that Sludge transformed into.
"So we have a Pteranodon, a Triceratops, a Stegosaurus, and an Apatosaurus," Raf said. "Not including Grimlock's alt-mode I can already see that the Dinobots are pretty powerful."
"Come on, Grimlock," Miko pleaded with the Dinobot leader. "Show us what you turn into! I bet it's a T-Rex isn't it? I mean, that guy was king of the dinosaurs and since you're the leader of the Dinobots that's gotta be what you turn into!"
Grimlock groaned. How Optimus could stand that tiny ball of energy was beyond him. He looked over at Optimus, who was talking with the other Autobots. He balled his fists. What was there to talk about? The other Dinobots needed help so they should help. He was certain Optimus would have done this in a nanoclick to save one of his fellow Autobots.
Just then Optimus turned to look at Grimlock. "Grimlock. We will help you get the other Dinobots back."
Swoop smiled and looked at Grimlock. Grimlock nodded.
"Rock on!" Miko cheered. "I can't wait to meet the other Dinobots!"
"Me thank you, Optimus," Grimlock said to the Autobot leader. "We get ship ready."
"Before we go, however," Optimus said. "We need to plan this. Some of us must stay behind in case Megatron plans something."
"What?" Grimlock roared. "Why Megatron want planet anyway?" He looked over at Jack, Miko, and Raf. "Him want pets?"
"Pets?" Jack and Miko cried out indignant. Raf was taken aback just like they were but didn't say anything.
"Just recently we have been engaged with the Decepticons in a battle for Iacon relics of incredible power," Optimus told Grimlock. "We have managed to acquire one of the relics. One is in Megatron's possession and another in Starscream's. The last one was destroyed by Bulkhead. But Megatron and Starscream may try to acquire the other relics. And we cannot allow Earth to remain unguarded."
Grimlock looked at the kids yet again. "Why fight for them? They small and weak. Why they worth getting slagged over?"
The kids glared at Grimlock when he said that. Sure, they were used to insults during their first few days with Ratchet but he never went that far.
"I've already told you not to underestimate them, Grimlock," Optimus said. "While they may lack our size and power, they have tremendous courage and will. Jack once braved the perils of Cybertron itself to restore my memory with the Key to Vector Sigma."
"It's true," Arcee assured. "Optimus entrusted Jack with the key personally."
Grimlock looked back and forth between Jack and Optimus. Jack crossed his arms and smirked.
"Miko and Rafael have also gone into dangerous battles but proven to be valuable assets to us."
"Got that right," Bulkhead said proudly. "Miko would make a fine Wrecker."
Miko beamed at Bulkhead happily.
Bumblebee beeped while making hand gestures at Rafael. Judging from Raf smiling sheepishly, Bumblebee must have been complimenting him.
"And Rafael possesses an incredible intellect for his age," Ratchet added.
Wheeljack added his two cents. "I haven't known these kids as long as the others but I can say this, Grimlock…they've got the right stuff."
Grimlock looked at the three kids and then back at the Autobots but remained silent. Swoop could tell that he was deep in thought.
"There are eight of us here," Optimus said. "One and myself will come with you and Swoop to free the other Dinobots. The other four will remain behind to protect the Earth."
Grimlock looked down. "Fine. Now we go? Me not want others Shockwave's slaves!"
"Wait, Grimlock," Optimus said. "First I need you to tell me about Shockwave's defenses. We will no doubt be outnumbered and outgunned. We need to plan this.
"Our ship might have files," Grimlock said. "We go and see."
Optimus nodded. He looked over at his medic. "Ratchet. Activate the ground bridge to our last set coordinates. Once Grimlock and I have made it to the ship, I will help guide it to the base."
"I must say," Ratchet said as he started preparing the ground bridge. "It will be good to use Decepticons' own technology against them."
"Plus, we bring energon," Grimlock added. "Lots and lots of energon."
Optimus smiled. "Grimlock, your arrival on Earth has truly been a blessing to us."
"I'm setting the ground bridge now, Optimus," Ratchet told his leader. He activated the ground bridge. Optimus and Grimlock shared a look with each other before running through it. Once they had gone through, Ratchet deactivated the ground bridge and went back to work. Swoop just stood there, wondering what he needed to do next.
"No need to stand there, buddy," Bulkhead said warmly to the Dinobot flyer. "Our place is your place. Make yourself at home."
"Can we go flying?" Miko requested excitedly causing everyone to look at her. "What? None of you guys can fly so I never asked before."
Swoop smiled at Miko. For someone so small, she sure had guts. "Sure. Why not?"
"Are you out of your mind?" Ratchet asked him. "You transform into a giant flying lizard! And a metal one at that! If you fly around there's a high chance that you'll be seen by other humans!"
"So?" Swoop asked casually.
Arcee spoke up now. "We have to keep a low profile on this planet, Swoop. The human race isn't ready for us yet. While there are a few exceptions there are those out there who would use our technology for personal gain."
"Or think that we're too dangerous to be around people," Bulkhead added, remembering how Jack's mother, June, had acted when Raf had been gravely injured.
"Then I'll just have to not be seen," Swoop said with a grin.
"Did you not listen to a word they just said?" Ratchet said angrily.
"Come on, Ratchet," Swoop said smugly. "This is me you're talking to. The best flyer in all of Cybertron."
"Quite confident of that, are you?" Ratchet asked.
"Why one time, the Aerialbots themselves wanted me to join them." Swoop replied.
Arcee was impressed by this piece of news. "Really? The Aerialbots tried to recruit you?"
"That's not all. The bot who offered me membership was none other than Silverbolt."
Bulkhead whistled. "The Aerialbot leader invited you personally?"
"Got that right," Swoop said proudly. "But I turned them down. Being with other flyers would be nice, but nothing beats being a Dinobot. Besides, Grimlock and the others are like brothers to me. I'd never turn my back on them. Anyway, I'll make sure I'm not seen."
"Come on, Ratchet," Miko said, cupping her hands together and looking at the medic with puppy eyes. "Please?"
Ratchet frowned as he narrowed his optics at Miko. He looked around and saw that the other Autobots were looking at him in amusement. He sighed. "If I said no…you'd still do it anyway wouldn't you?"
Swoop and Miko both looked at each other with playful grins, which was more than enough to answer Ratchet's question.
"Alright, fine. But make sure you are not seen!"
"Yes!" Miko cheered. She ran down from the computer and over to Swoop. She grabbed his arm and tried pulling him. "Come on, Swoop."
Swoop chuckled as he started following Miko as she led him outside. The others watched them leave.
Arcee smiled. "Guess you were right, Bulkhead. Swoop really is a nice guy once you get to know him." Indeed she was surprised, though not in a bad way. From what her fellow soldiers had told her about the Dinobots back on Cybertron, she had assumed they were little more than wild beasts. But Swoop was rather outgoing and got along great with the kids.
"What I tell ya?" Bulkhead said. "Swoop's the nicest bot you could ever meet. Unless you're a Con. Then he's your worst nightmare."
"While I am not pleased that Swoop isn't taking the situation seriously," Ratchet said. "Having our own flyer will allow us a somewhat even footing against the Decepticons."
Bulkhead chuckled. "And once we get the other Dinobots back, Megatron might as well surrender to us right then and there. Any of them are dangerous on their own but together…they're unstoppable."
Meanwhile, Grimlock and Optimus had
returned to the ship. Optimus had to admit, after that rather
uncomfortable cramming in Wheeljack's ship, it was nice to have a vessel
that could host his size. After all, the ship was big enough so that
Grimlock had room. And it turned out that Grimlock was right about the
energon. Whether or not the ship was already full when the Dinobots
stole it or Grimlock and Swoop had gathered it themselves was unknown to
him. Nonetheless, the large supply of energon was a welcoming sight.
Though naturally they would have to use it sparingly to make sure they
didn't run out too fast.
"You fly quite impressively, Grimlock," Optimus said to his comrade.
Grimlock chuckled. "Me not good as Swoop but me not novice either. So, who you take with us?"
Optimus scratched his chin as he contemplated this. He figured the best bet would be to take either Bulkhead or Wheeljack. Both of them were on friendly terms with the Dinobots so it would make cooperation better. But which one? Optimus was more for bringing Wheeljack with them. Not that he doubted Bulkhead's capabilities , but he had a feeling that the Wrecker's strength would be needed on Earth. Especially with those like Dreadwing and the Insecticons.
"I am considering Wheeljack," Optimus told Grimlock.
Grimlock nodded in appreciation. "Wheeljack good fighter. Clever too. Him, Slag, like to see Wheeljack again." Then Grimlock noticed something through the front of the ship. "What the…?"
Optimus looked out and couldn't believe his optics. Swoop was soaring through the sky in his Pteranodon mode with Miko on his back. The girl was letting out whoops of excitement. Optimus was initially shocked at seeing this but, in retrospect, he should have expected Miko to pull off this kind of behavior. However he was sure to give Miko and Swoop a stern talking to. But it was good to see that the kids, or at least Miko, had warmed up to the Dinobots. Course with Miko, that was to be expected.
"What him, Swoop, doing?" Grimlock apparently was not amused. "Him not ride for tiny human."
"It seems that Swoop has become friends with the human children," Optimus told Grimlock.
Apparently Swoop spotted them because the next thing the two knew, Swoop was flying next to them. Miko waved at Optimus and Grimlock. Optimus waved back but Grimlock did not.
Grimlock shook his head and groaned. While the kids had caught Grimlock's interest, Jack most of all if what Optimus and Arcee told him was true, he was still skeptical that they needed to waste their time protecting these humans. They had enough problems with Megatron ruining their lives, no need to add more trouble like protecting creatures that couldn't defend for themselves. It was survival of the fittest in the universe and Grimlock knew that he and the Dinobots were the fittest.
Optimus helped him guide the ship into the hangar and the two returned to the main room. Miko and Swoop had returned before them and Miko was talking about her experience.
"Oh, man. That was awesome!" Miko said, apparently still full of adrenaline from flying. "Swoop was all…" And then she ran around the base with her arms outstretched like wings while making whoosing noises. Ratchet looked annoyed but the others were listening to Miko's tale with amusement. She turned to see Optimus and Grimlock.
"Hey, Optimus! Hey, Grimlock! I saw your ship. Nice! And the damage makes it look even cooler. You must have been in some pretty tough fights."
"It not easy to get, but we get out alive," Grimlock admitted.
Optimus looked at his team. "Autobots, it is time to prepare. Ratchet, contact Agent Fowler. He should be informed of the situation. Wheeljack, you will be coming with me, Grimlock, and Swoop to free the other Dinobots."
Wheeljack grinned. "Looking forward to seeing Slag again. I'll keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't cheat when we crush some Cons this time."
"Cheat, nothing," Grimlock said. "Him, Slag, just better fighter."
Bulkhead put his hand on Wheeljack's shoulder. "Good luck out there, Jackie. Going up against Shockwave isn't gonna be easy. And make sure to say hi to the others for me."
Wheeljack grinned. "Sure thing, buddy."
Optimus looked at Arcee, Bulkhead, Bumblebee, and Ratchet. "The four of you shall stay behind to make sure that Earth is protected from Megatron. Arcee, you are in command until we return."
Arcee nodded. "I understand, Optimus."
"Hey," Swoop said, walking over to her. When she looked at him, he suddenly didn't know what to say. "Uh…good luck."
Arcee looked at him curiously. "You too." She said.
"You're leaving already?" Miko said, completely bummed. "But you guys just got here!"
"The longer we wait," Optimus told her. "The more likely the other Dinobots will be placed under Shockwave's control. We cannot let that happen."
"Don't worry, Miko," Swoop said to the young girl. "We'll be back. Promise."
Miko sighed. "Alright but hurry back. I can't wait to see the other Dinobots."
Suddenly Ratchet's computer began beeping wildly and alarms were blaring. Grimlock and Swoop immediately snapped to attention.
"We under attack?" Grimlock asked.
"Not at the moment," Ratchet replied. "But it is Decepticon activity."
Grimlock perked up at this. "What we waiting for? Let's go!"
Everyone looked at Grimlock in surprise. Bumblebee began beeping at Grimlock. The Dinobot, having become used to Bumblebee's beeping now, crossed his arms.
"Of course me go." Grimlock said. Then he spoke in a low voice. "Me been in bad mood lately." He pounded his fist into his other palm. "Me need to vent anger."
"That would not be wise, Grimlock," Optimus told him. "Megatron does not know you are here and it would be best if we kept it that way."
"Why?" Grimlock asked. "Puny Megatron no match for me. Me slag him now and end this."
"You know that is not the way we do things, Grimlock," Optimus said firmly.
"Not your way," Grimlock said. "But it Dinobots' way!"
"It wouldn't matter anyway," Swoop put in his two cents. "Megatron's gonna find out we're on Earth sooner or later. So why wait?"
Optimus did not say anything. It was Cybertron all over again. Grimlock and his team refused to obey any orders unless it suited them. Other times they followed what they wanted. He did not want things to get rocky between him and Grimlock. The Dinobots would be valuable allies to have but he knew their methods and feared for the safety of the humans.
"Ratchet," Optimus called to his medic. "Where is the activity coming from?"
"In a mountain area," The medic replied. "Far from human civilization."
Optimus nodded before looking back at the Dinobots. "Very well, Grimlock. I will allow you and Swoop to go. Arcee go with you as backup."
Everyone looked at Prime in surprise. Sure Arcee was the second in command of the Autobots on Earth but she was also known for disobeying orders at times, especially when it had involved Airachnid before she was put to stasis.
"Why not Bulkhead or Wheeljack?" Grimlock asked, hoping to hang around with at least one of the Wreckers.
Arcee had been about to decline but then she misinterpreted what Grimlock had said. She had assumed that the leader of the Dinobots didn't think she had what it took. She narrowed her optics at him. She had put with that sexism plenty of times back at her early days as an Autobot. And she was not about to put up with it again. Not even from the Dinobots.
"Is there something wrong with me coming along?" She asked Grimlock testily. The other Autobots had to admit that Arcee did have guts. She only stood up to Grimlock's leg. The bigger Dinobot looked down at her.
"We don't have a problem with you coming, Arcee." Swoop intervened quickly, causing the two to look at him. "We're just used to hanging with the Wreckers. If you want to come, I don't see anything wrong with it." He looked towards his leader. "Right, Grimlock?"
Grimlock would have groaned but held himself. He knew all too well about Swoop's crush on the femme. When and how he felt this way for her was unknown to him. As long as it didn't get in the Dinobots' way…
"Fine. She come along." He relented. Swoop positively beamed. The kids noticed the look on Swoop's face and came to the same conclusion.
"Ratchet," Optimus said. "Activate the ground bridge."
Ratchet complied and activated it. No sooner had the bridge opened did the three go through it. Arcee transformed into her bike mode and Swoop into his Pteranodon mode with Grimlock running after them. Once they left, Ratchet deactivated the Ground Bridge.
"He's totally into her," Miko said suddenly. Jack and Raf knew what she was talking about but the Autobots were confused.
"Come again?" Ratchet asked, looking up from his computer.
"Swoop," Miko said. "He's totally into Arcee."
"What?!" Wheeljack, Bulkhead, and Ratchet all blurted out. Bumblebee followed with a loud and long beep. If Optimus was caught off guard by this claim, he wasn't showing it.
"You guys couldn't tell?" Jack asked them. "It was pretty obvious. He was practically drooling at her."
"Swoop…and Arcee?" Bulkhead and Wheeljack looked at each other.
"Ridiculous," Ratchet said firmly.
"It did look pretty obvious," Raf admitted.
"But they've never even met each other before!" Ratchet argued.
"As far as you know," Miko said slyly.
"But Arcee said that she only knew the Dinobots by reputation," Ratchet countered.
"Okay, so maybe she didn't know Swoop personally before," Raf admitted. "But maybe Swoop knew about her."
That got everyone's attention and the bots all shared looks of curiosity on their faces. The one exception was Optimus Prime, who had a knowing look in his eyes.
You are not wrong, Rafael. Optimus thought. But there is much to the story that none of you could imagine. Much more.
Meanwhilee, Arcee, Grimlock, and Swoop had been transported to the rocky mountain areas. The sun blared down on them.
"Well, we here," Grimlock said as he looked around the rocky terrain. "Now where?"
Arcee looked around. Her optics landed on a cave entrance in the mountain. Fortunately and surprisingly, it was big enough for even Grimlock to fit through. This however made her suspicious. The entrance's size was already questionable but she could tell this was no naturally made entrance. Something else made it and she had a feeling the Cons were involved.
"This way," She said, running towards the cave's entrance. She would have gone into her bike mode around now but she didn't want to leave Grimlock behind. She winced a bit at the thunderous noise that came every time Grimlock took a step. Fowler was gonna have a field day with them once he found out about this. Soon, she could feel Grimlock's towering presence behind her as he looked at the cave.
"This place?" He asked.
"Most likely," Arcee admitted as she pulled out her energon scanner. "Most likely the Cons are mining for energon down here. But something isn't right."
"What's wrong?" Swoop asked.
"The Cons are usually able to operate undetected when simply mining energon. I wonder why they appeared on the scanner now."
"Maybe Cons getting sloppy," Grimlock suggested.
"That'll be the day," Arcee muttered. She turned one of her hands into a gun. "I'll scout ahead. If there are Decepticons down there, I'll let you guys know. No offense Grimlock but they'll probably hear you coming a mile away."
Grimlock grumbled but relented. He already fell into one trap and didn't want to fall into another one ever again.
As Arcee prepared to go down, Swoop started walking towards her. "I'll go with you, Arcee."
"No!" Grimlock said firmly. "Me lose three Dinobots already. Me not lose another!"
"But Grimlock," Swoop pleaded. "What if there are Decepticons down there? She might need help."
Arcee narrowed her optics at him. "I'm perfectly capable of protecting myself." She said coldly.
Swoop took a step back, his hands up in protest. "I never said you couldn't, Arcee. I'm just saying that it's good for anybot to have back up. Especially going into a cave like this."
Arcee took a moment to calm down. Primus, what was wrong with her? Those days when she was mocked and taunted just because she was a femme were ancient history.
"Sorry," She apologized to Swoop. "I…"
"You were given a hard time back during the war because you were a femme, right?" Swoop guessed. "We're in the same boat actually."
Arcee looked at him skeptically.
"Well, not the exact same boat," Swoop corrected. "But we Dinobots were given a hard time by a lot of the others. Only the Wreckers really liked being around us."
As Arcee pondered what Swoop said she had to admit that he had somewhat of a point. She was given a hard time because she was a femme who wanted to be a soldier. The Dinobots must have had a hard time on Cybertron too. A lot of the bots she hung around didn't have nice things to say about the Dinobots until Bulkhead and Wheeljack talked about them.
"I appreciate your concern, Swoop," Arcee said. "But I think it's best if I scout ahead regardless. A place like a cave wouldn't be an ideal place for your alt-mode in case we have to hightail it out of there."
Swoop sighed. "Alright. But if you need backup, we're coming in. Like Grimlock said, we've already lost enough friends. I don't want to lose anymore."
Arcee found herself smiling. "You see me as a friend?"
Swoop realized what he just said and felt himself flush. "Well…if you'd like to be."
Arcee looked at Swoop playfully. "I'll think about it." With that, she walked off towards the entrance cave. Once she had disappeared from the Dinobots' view, Grimlock looked at Swoop.
"Even after mega-cycles, you, Swoop, still nuts about her, Arcee."
Swoop cringed. "It shows?"
"Like hungry scraplet eyeing Trypticon," Grimlock said to emphasize Swoop's crush. "Might as well paint sign on head."
Swoop face-palmed himself. "I can't help it, Grimlock. She's just…"
"Why bother anyway?" Grimlock asked his flyer.
"I don't know, Grimlock," Swoop admitted. "It's just…she's brave, she's a great fighter, nice to friends but ruthless to her enemies. She'd make a great Dinobot actually."
"Now you going overboard," Grimlock muttered dryly. Crushes. Go figure.
As for Arcee, she ventured into the cave, oblivious to the conversation between Grimlock and Swoop. As she walked down the cave, she heard noises. Instantly on guard, she had her free hand transform into its gun mode also. She stuck to the wall of the cave as to avoid being a sitting duck. Slowly, ever so slowly she went further and further into the cave. And the further she went, the louder the noises were becoming louder. And she could hear talking now.
"Ugh! Why has Lord Megatron ordered us this menial task of harvesting energon? I'm getting dirt all over me…and after I already got myself waxed."
Arcee was taken aback. Knock Out? The Decepticon Medic? Mining energon?
"You know why," Came the familiar voice of Megatron's current first lieutenant Dreadwing. "Lord Megatron gave this task as punishment for our failures to retrieve the Iacon Relics. We…reduced to grunt work."
So that was it. The two Decepticons were being punished. But something seemed off to Arcee. Actually three things. One: the Decepticons shouldn't have popped up on the computer for simple punishment work. Two: mining energon wasn't really Megatron's thing. And three: punishment like this seemed far too lenient for Megatron. Slowly she crept closer. Pity she had put away the energon detector. Otherwise she would have noticed that it hadn't gone off.
"I can understand Lord Megatron's disappointment in us but did he really need to give this as punishment? This is practically torture." Knock Out whined.
"Be silent," Dreadwing said testily. "What kind of warrior are you if you are upset by simply getting dirty?"
Finally Arcee found something. She peeked around the corner and saw an energon mining site. There were plenty of Vehicons, some operating drillers. Typical mine facility. But…something still seemed off.
Just then warning bells went off in Arcee's head. A sort of danger sense. She looked up.
"Scrap," She muttered.
At the ceiling of the cave, gazing at her like fresh meat…was an Insecticon. She immediately went on the offensive, shooting at the Insecticon while trying to make as much as distance between her and the bug. The creature hissed but she knew from her previous battles with these creatures that she hadn't done any serious damage. She had to get outside and regroup with Grimlock and Swoop. Grimlock himself claimed to have taken down multiple Insecticons and she could really use his help right now. She was about to run out only to find another Insecticon blocking her way out. They were trying to box her in. She had to make it though. The tunnel was large enough for her to get past them both.
But then a blast just barely managed to miss her head. She turned and see the Vehicons coming towards her while blasting away. At the moment she was almost literally caught between a rock and a hard place. She had to think of a way to get past these guys while hoping that Grimlock and Swoop had heard the noises going on.
"Well, well, Arcee,"
Arcee dodge from the laser blasts in time to see Knock Out coming at her with his staff. She began firing at him but he dodged to the side. She was about to attack but heard some of the Vehicons coming up behind her. She turned around and kicked one that had charged at her. The blow sent the Vehicon sprawling to his fellows. She couldn't let herself get boxed in. She had to get out of here.
"I believe I owe you some payback for what you and Bumblebee did to me back at Manhattan!" Knock Out yelled as he charged at her. Arcee managed to dodge out of the way and prepared to kick. But Knock Out grabbed her leg.
"Get me once, shame on me," Knock Out said. "But get me twice?" He spun around and threw Arcee, who skid across the ground. "No dice!"
"Remember, Knock Out," Dreadwing said. "This plan was to meant for more than just one Autobot. We should use her as bait for the rest to follow."
Arcee quickly got to her feet. "So that's what this is. A trap."
"One you fell perfectly into, my dear," Knock Out said with a smirk. "You were always were one for jumping in without thinking. And here I thought that was Bulkhead's job."
Arcee took a fighting stance.
"Don't offline her," Dreadwing told Knock Out. "We need her alive if we want to use her as bait."
"Relax," Knock Out said. "I won't offline her." His right arm changed into a buzzsaw. "But a little…surgery won't hurt either."
Suddenly twin missiles shot into Knock Out's chest. The medic screamed pain as he was blasted back. Dreadwing turned to see who the attacker was only for one of the Insecticons to go crashing into him.
Arcee and the Vehicons turned to see Grimlock and Swoop standing there. The Vechicons took a step back out of shock at seeing Grimlock.
"Grimlock! Swoop!" Arcee called to them.
"Hmph," Grimlock snorted. "Why you no tell us Decepticons here? Want to have fun alone?"
Arcee made a face. "Fun?" She asked sarcastically.
Dreadwing managed, with effort, push the Insecticon off of him. Meanwhile, Knock Out was getting to his feet looking at himself with horror at the damage done to his body. He started trembling with rage and was about to shout at the unlucky bot who did this to him, but the yell died as soon as he took a look at the colossal mech who was in the cave with them.
Dreadwing got to his feet and saw the same thing Knock Out saw. Although he didn't so as much surprise as Knock Out did, he was still shocked. "Grimlock?"
Swoop grinned. "Hey, Dreadwing. Been a while hasn't it?"
Dreadwing looked at Swoop with narrowed optics. "Swoop." He hissed.
"Grimlock and Swoop?" Knock Out asked, looking back and forth between them. "As in…members of the Dynobots?"
"Who else?" Grimlock asked cockily.
Knock Out gulped. He never met the Dinobots face to face before but he knew all too well of their reputation.
Dreadwing weighed the options. On the one hand, it was nearly suicidal to take on Grimlock. But despite the Dinobot's colossal size, they still had the greater amount of numbers. And if they succeeded in offlining Grimlock…or at least capturing him, Megatron would be most pleased with them.
"Attack!" He yelled at the Vehicons and Insecticons.
The Decepticons gathered wasted no time in opening fire on the three Autobots. Grimlock reacted and pulled out a large handle like structure. A shield composed of energon formed around it. Grimlock dashed forward and got in front of Arcee and Swoop. The enemy's fire struck the shield but did no visible damage.
The Insecticons transformed into their more insect like forms and flew at Grimlock. But Grimlock simply swung his shield, sending them crashing to the side
"This too easy," Grimlock said as he pulled out what appeared to be a hilt. Arcee's optics widened as a large energon blade erupted from the hilt. With a battle cry, Grimlock charged at his enemies. The Vehicons were unable to do anything as the juggernaut that was Grimlock charged into battle. Those who were not killed by his blade were stomped underfoot or bashed to the side by his shield. The two Insecticons soon recovered themselves. Seeing that Grimlock was distracted by demolishing the Vehicons, they flew towards him.
"Oh no, you don't!" Swoop shouted as he transformed into his Pteranodon mode. The Insecticons were caught off guard by this bird-like creature, leaving Swoop able to blast them with missiles from the launchers under his wings. Each missile struck the Insecticons in their faces and they were powerful enough to knock the Insecticons back screaming in pain. Angrily they recollected themselves and flew at Swoop.
However, the noise had alerted Grimlock to what was going on. Seeing the Insecticons soaring for his friend, he spun around and slashed his sword down. It cut through one of the Insecticons like a hot knife through butter and its two halves fell to the ground. The other Insecticon was distracted by the death of its comrade that it didn't notice Swoop slamming into him until it was too late. The two grappled with each other in the air, Swoop pecking at him furiously with his beak. Then before the Insecticon could find a way to retaliate, Swoop transformed back into his robot mode and punched the bug right in the face. The blow sent the creature sprawling before Swoop pulled out what appeared to be a broad sword. When it started glowing, Arcee realized what it was. A thermal sword. Those weapons were said to be able to heat up to over 4000 centigrade, making them just as bad if not more painful than energon blades. She watched as Swoop charged at the Insecticon, which was still dazed from the previous blow. The Insecticon looked up but it was too late as Swoop's thermal sword cut right through him.
Dreadwing and Knock Out watched as the two Dinobots did their thing. They both knew it was time for a hasty retreat less they wind up on their hit list.
"Soundwave," Dreadwing contacted Megatron's most trusted officer. "We need a ground bridge now!"
Grimlock, Swoop, and Arcee turned their heads at the familiar sound of a ground bridge opening up. They saw one forming behind Dreadwing and Knock Out. The medic wasted no time in transforming to his car mode and flying in. Dreadwing took a moment to look at them.
"I have underestimated your abilities, Grimlock," Dreadwing. "But rest assured that when we meet again, I will fight you with all that I have."
With that, Dreadwing followed Knock Out and the ground bridge closed.
"Hmph," Grimlock said when the two Decepticons left. "Now that over, we go save Dinobots!"
Arcee stared. She would have participated more in the fight but she couldn't help watching the Dinobots in action. While the stories might have exaggerated about their personalities, the power they possessed was no understatement. But then she heard Grimlock and snapped out of her trance. She activated her communications.
"Ratchet," She said. "I need a ground bridge."
A few minutes later, the ground bridge activated and the three Autobots went through it. Soon they were inside Outpost Omega One again. Most of Team Prime were there to greet them.
"So, Arcee," Bulkhead said. "How was it?"
Arcee shook her head. "It was a trap meant to look like an energon mine. Dreadwing and Knock Out were hoping to capture some Autobots in order to kiss up to Megatron."
"But me, Grimlock, trash them," Grimlock said proudly. "Swoop help too."
Swoop looked at Ratchet. "So the Insecticons are on Earth. Why?"
"We're not quite sure," Ratchet explained. "They were discovered by Airachnid some time ago."
Here Swoop froze. Hearing those words made him clench his fists and narrow his optics.
"Airachnid is here?" He asked with barely contained rage.
"She is currently locked in stasis," Ratchet reassured him. "She cannot hurt anyone now."
Swoop said nothing but the anger still remained.
"So…what happened while we were gone?" Arcee asked.
"We contacted Fowler," Bulkhead said. "Guy's not thrilled about giant metal dinosaurs coming to Earth but he says he'll see what he can do."
"More humans?" Grimlock asked.
"Agent Fowler has been as much to help as the children have, Grimlock," Optimus said. "He is also our liason with the human government. His help is much appreciated."
"Fine," Grimlock said. "We go now?"
"Not yet," Optimus said. "I want you and Swoop to have a time to recharge and rest. We will need all of our strength if we are to go up against Shockwave. But rest assured Grimlock, we will be leaving. And we will save the other Dinobots."
Grimlock nodded in appreciation.
Miko on the other hand went over to Arcee. "So…how was it? How did the Dinobots fight? Does Grimlock have a huge cannon out of his arm? Can Swoop breath fire?"
Grimlock looked over at her. "Me, Grimlock, have sword." He pulled out his energon sword. The look of pure joy on Miko's face somehow amused him.
"Put that thing away!" Ratchet snapped when he saw what Grimlock had pulled out. "With your size and that sword, you'll cut someone in half."
Grimlock snorted as he put his energon sword away. "Me forgot Ratchet big pain in aft."
Ratchet sputtered indignant at Grimlock's insult. Bulkhead, Arcee, Bumblebee, and the kids were trying so hard not to laugh. Wheeljack didn't care and threw back his head laughing.
"Oh, I tell you, Grimlock," He said. "It is good to have you back. And once we get the other Dinobots back I'm taking you guys and Bulkhead Con crushing with us."
Grimlock nodded. "Me like that."
Meanwhile, back on the Nemesis, Megatron stood in silence, taking in the information he was just given by his medic and first lieutenant.
"You're certain?" He asked them.
"Affirmative, Lord Megatron," Dreadwing said to him. "It could not be anyone else but Grimlock."
Megatron closes his optics. "So…the Dynobots have come to Earth. This changes things." He began walking down the bridge. Knock Out and Dreadwing followed after him. "Grimlock is not like Prime. Where Prime is compassionate, Grimlock is merciless. Where Prime would avoid unnecessary destruction, Grimlock is the embodiment of it. I recall the Dynobots well. A pity they were not swayed to my side for they would have made grand Decepticons." He looked at his two officers again. "You are certain that Swoop was the only other Dynobot you saw?"
"Yes, Lord Megatron," Knock Out replied. "Aside from Arcee, there were no other Autobots or Dynobots with them."
Megatron contemplated this. "There is a chance that only Grimlock and Swoop are on Earth but we must consider that all five are here. Prime has gained some powerful allies. Fortunately we have the Resonance Blaster and Soundwave is translating the Iacon database. Soon, not even the Dynobots will be able to stop us."
Just then the computers on the Nemesis began beeping.
"A transmission?" Megatron wondered. Soundwave opened the communications channels.
Everyone froze when they heard that voice. All of them recognized it and it surprised all of them to hear it again. Megatron was the first to speak.
back at the base, Swoop was walking down the hallway. He was rather
jumpy as he was afraid of what the others might think if they caught
him. He was looking for the base's storage room. He was certain that
what he was looking for had been put there. So far he had been
unsuccessful but he felt that he was getting close. He found another
door and opened it. And he was not disappointed with what he found.
Inside the room was Airachnid within the stasis pod that Arcee had knocked her into. A fixed look of horror frozen upon her face. Swoop glared at the immobilized Decepticon as he walked towards her.
"Airachnid," He spat. "It's been a long time, hasn't it? Since we fought back on Cybertron?" He balled up his fists. "You should be grateful you're in stasis. Primus knows that you deserve worse. When we fought, you asked me what you did to get the Dinobots mad at you. The truth is, I was the only one after you. I know what you did to Arcee." He snarled. "You tortured her and then you killed Tailgate right in front of her. That's why I hunted you down. That's why I almost reduced you to a pile of slag before you managed to escape. And believe me if the others hadn't got in the way I would have hunted you down and made sure you were offline."
Swoop drew his thermal sword and pointed it at the glass. "I could kill you right now. That way you'd never be free and you'd never hurt anyone ever again." But he put his sword away. "But that's not the way Dinobots do things. I won't attack someone who can't even fight back or at least defend herself." Then he got up close to the pod and whispered quietly. "But if you ever manage to get out of there I will hunt you down…and I will end you." He turned around left the room. As he closed the door he said quietly.
"I'll never let you hurt Arcee again."
End of Chapter.