The day of lift-off finally came. Fortress Maximus rose past the atmosphere once everyone was aboard. When he joined the Autobot fleet, the ships entered a large hangar and were secured once inside. A docking tube then extended for the Ark, Blue Typhoon, and Fang, letting everyone out and making their way to Fortress Maximus’ bridge. The bridge itself was large and spacious, designed to accommodate life-forms from Mobians to Omnibots in full robot mode. Sonic whistled in appreciation. “You don’t skip out, do you?” he remarked. Fortress Maximus then appeared on the main screen. His avatar was of him in full robot mode.
“Well, I was designed to be a city for bots of all sizes,” he remarked, “but I can be adapted for organic species.” Teletraan then appeared next to him.
“Hey, you mind if I keep my servers on the Ark?” he asked. “I kinda want some familiarity.”
“Don’t mind at all,” assured Fortress. Everyone then got settled in. Fortress then got a reading and looked a little frightened. “Uh oh!” he gulped.
“Uh oh?” repeated Optimus.
“I’m detecting a transwarp trail!” explained the Metrotitan. “The Decepticons must have used Scorponok’s transwarp drive!”
“He had transwarp capabilities?!” yelped Optimus.
“What’s transwarp?” asked Sonic.
“You know how warp speeds warp space?” asked Optimus.
“Well, it does. Transwarp speeds warp both space AND time! They may have gotten there literally last week!”
“No, thankfully, they’ll get there only an hour before us unless we leave now!” urged Fortress.
“All hands, strap in!” ordered Optimus. “Prepare for transwarp drive!” As everyone fastened their safety straps, Fortress Maximus extended more clamps around the ships in his hangar. His engines then whirled to life, and he vanished from Nebulos in a flash of ultra-violet light!
Inside Scorponok’s body, because they were already in transwarp, the Decepticons were walking around normally. Right now, Shockwave and Knock-out were at a pod with the symbol of an insect’s face on it. They opened the pod to reveal a blank protoform inside. Knock-out brought out the container carrying Scorponok’s Spark, opened it, and guided the Spark into the protoform. Shockwave monitored the terminal attached to the pod’s left. So far, vitals remained stable. A readout then revealed that the protoform was ready and that it would come out in alt-mode. The new bot then came out in a scorpion alt-mode, roughly the size of a normal Transformer. Its main carapace was blue-gray with purple-gray claws and a stinger, and red legs and eyes. It shook itself as if it were shaking a head. “Oogh!” it groaned in Scorponok’s voice. “What happened? I was on Nebulos, then Fortress…Fortress! He cleaved Black Scar in half while he was my head! Is he…?!”
“He’s dead, as is Zarak,” answered Shockwave.
“And your Spark, right now,” continued Knock-out, “is in a normal-sized body. Now, given the slightly…organic look,” Knock-out shuddered at that, “it’s clear that it was a Predacon protoform we used and-”
“I ORDERED ZARAK TO PUT ME BACK IN MY BODY WHEN IT WAS FIXED AND I GOT A NEW EMMISARY!” roared the now-Predacon Scorponok.
“I give the orders on this vessel!” roared Megatron’s voice as he stormed into the room. “I gave you orders to maintain standard orbit! Thanks to YOU, I had to waste time and Energon trying to call back the Novacons AND having to clean up YOUR wasted effort! I needed Nebulos to join us willingly, NOT by force!”
“I know what Nebulans need to comply better than you do! I won’t be commanded by an Autobot, even a former one like YOU! SCORPONOK, TERRORIZE!” His transformation in his new body was similar to his old one, but the head simply popped out from between the shoulders as the beast mode head, chelicerae and all, became shoulder pads. His stinger tail shot forward towards Megatron, but the Decepticon Lord grabbed it from behind the stinger and slammed him into the floor multiple times. He stopped, then let the tail go so Scorponok could tumble to the floor.
“Your Novacons didn’t need physical correction to know who the master was,” scoffed Megatron. “Even Apeface was smarter than you. You have to admit, that’s rather sad. Now, I give you a choice; you can either continue this fruitless endeavor and thus end your now short reincarnation, or you can serve me and prolong your life for as long as necessary. A difficult decision?”
“…All hail Megatron,” groaned Scorponok.
“I thought so. Oh, given your current condition, I saw fit to make Weirdwolf the new commander of the Novacons, since you’re no longer a Headmaster. When we get to Animatros, you will be working under the Predacon that contacted me and apprised me of the situation. Is that clear?”
“Yes, my Lord,” grunted Scorponok.
“Good, very good. Knock-out, fix him up.” Knock-out was about to protest when Megatron held a warning hand up. “I do NOT need to hear about how working on bots that even LOOK organic is beneath you. Is that understood?” Knock-out visibly deflated.
“Yes, Sir,” he moaned.
“Good.” Once Megatron finished, the alarms started blaring. Megatron rolled his optics. “Mobius calls it Murphey’s Law,” he muttered. “I’ll find out who Murphey is later.” He activated the internal comms. “Report!”
“Lord Megatron, Fortress Maximus is in pursuit!” came Thundercracker’s voice. “He’s right on our aft! I’ve already called for battle stations!”
“I should have made you Second in Command on Mobius instead of Starscream,” praised Megatron. “Shockwave and I will join you on the bridge. Scorponok will join us later once Knock-out’s fixed him up!” Shockwave followed Megatron to the bridge.
In a metal city within a jungle, three metal arthropods stepped forward around a table. They were all reddish orange and had red optics. One was a Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle, one was a lobster, and one was a cicada. “RAM HORN, TERRORIZE!” The beetle’s transformation was a simple one, the robot simply unfolded from beneath the bug as the beast head folded back and revealed a new head with bat-like ears.
“SEA CLAMP, TERRORIZE!” called the lobster. His transformation was similar to Scorponok’s, but his head was like a man’s with sunken cheekbones.
“CICADACON, TERRORIZE!” shouted the cicada. The beast mode’s head and thorax folded down to become a chest unit as the abdomen split and unfolded into legs while the wings tucked themselves to the robot’s back as the head, one evoking a demonic looking judge, complete with a pair of devil horns, popped up. The three bots then placed their servos on a sphere at their respective places at the table. The spheres glowed red, bathing the room in an eerie red light.
“Tripredacus Council now in session,” declared Ram Horn. Everyone turned to Cicadacon.
“The transwarp trail from Nebulos has been identified,” he began. “Signature matches that of Scorponok’s. Further investigation reveals that, while Megatron ordered his presence, his actions were spurred on…by Saurion!”
“Saurion?!” asked Ram Horn. “I thought we’d heard the last of that renegade!”
“His crew and a company of Maximals,” recalled Sea Clamp, “vanished into the jungle last mega-cycle. The Maximal rescue teams never found them.”
“Yes, but remember,” growled Cicadacon, “WE paid the price in diplomatic repercussions!” The Council joined in Cicadacon’s growling for a few seconds.
“Generals,” Ram Horn called to calm them, “ever since the Autobots defeated our Decepticon allies two thousand years ago, we Predacons have worked secretly, under Hydran’s olfactory sensors, towards the day where we might rise up and take what is rightfully ours!”
“Saurion is brilliant, but a rogue,” remarked Sea Clamp. “He causes too much trouble.”
“And if he’s taking orders from someone like Megatron,” grunted Cicadacon, “a former Autobot no less, Saurion’s clearly up to his old tricks again!”
“If he is,” declared Ram Horn, “we have to handle the situation first before the Maximals find out!”
“I have already sent a signal to one of our inner solar system satellites,” reported Cicadacon. “It will ‘accidentally’ explode, blocking Scorponok’s coming transwarp wavefront to keep Maximal sensors from detecting it.”
“And I have been in contact with our covert operative,” said Sea Clamp. “You know the one.” His fellows chuckled darkly as they knew exactly who he was talking about. “He is currently aboard Scorponok. His skills will allow him to find Saurion’s group in the jungle.”
“If Saurion is discovered still operating his own agenda,” asked Ram Horn, “what are the agent’s instructions?” He and Sea Clamp turned to Cicadacon for ideas.
“Terminate! With EXTREME prejudice!”