“YOU ATTACKED THE FLAME CONVOY?!” shouted Megatron once the Predacons rejoined the Decepticons.
“Oh, I attacked him when I took the Cyber Planet Key,” replied Saurion.
“Of all the imbecilic actions I’ve witnessed during my tenure as Lord, this has to rank among the top 10!”
“Relax, this was merely covering my bets, yes.” A Huntsman spider then approached them.
“Airachnid, TERRORIZE!” Her transformation was different from most Spider-based Animatronians. Her legs went to her back as the rear unfolded into legs while the underside folded to the sides and became arms. The head split down the middle with a fang on each side and became shoulder armor while a head with a helmet that evoked Maleficent popped up. “Waspinator and Terrorsaur are returning, Lord Saurion,” she reported in a slight purr.
“Good.” Waspinator and Terrorsaur then approached the group in their beast modes. Terrorsaur’s rear was singed and Waspinator was missing a pair of legs. “Status report on Hydran!” demanded Saurion.
“Dragon-bot zzzneezzzed out a big one,” buzzed Waspinator.
“Then the virus actually works!”
“Take it from me,” whimpered Terrorsaur. “I’ve got the toasted tail to prove it!”
“Excellent! Yes!” Scorponok then approached the group. Saurion turned to Airachnid and Scorponok. “Prepare more of the virus immediately! We must infect more Maximals if they do not acquiesce to my demands!”
“And your demands are…?” ventured Megatron.
“To be the new Flame Convoy, effective at once! Animatros needs to be a Decepticon ally, thus it needs a leader most like a Decepticon.”
“About the virus,” gulped Airachnid, “there IS a problem. Tarantulas can’t be found.”
“And, like a good war-time scientist,” continued Scorponok, “he’s encoded his data-trax. Shockwave and I can’t access them.”
“THEN FIND HIM!” bellowed Saurion. “Start with his lab! Search everywhere! I WANT! THAT! VIRUS!”
Hydran was taken to the Repair Bay aboard Fortress Maximus. Ratchet and his medical staff examined him and the Maximals that carried him. Optimus, Kong, Grimlock, Galen, and Sonic waited outside. Ratchet then met with them. “Did you find anything?” asked Optimus.
“Whatever he has,” reported Ratchet, “it isn’t contagious. But, given the symptoms Kong described and what we found, it’s clearly an Energon Discharge virus of unknown type.”
“Energon Discharge?” asked Sonic.
“Oh no,” groaned Grimlock. “Swoop had one once.”
“He told me the grim details,” replied Ratchet. “To answer your question, Sonic, an Energon Discharge virus attacks the internal Energon reserves. If left unchecked, he’ll spontaneously expel his Energon until his reserves are depleted.”
“Can you cure it?” asked Galen. A noise then came out of the Repair Bay. It sounded like someone winding up for a sneeze!
“HIT THE DECK!” called Kong. The sneeze then erupted from the Repair Bay with a stream of energy blasting the door down. Inside, the Medical Staff had already taken cover as Hydran wiped his olfactory sensors.
“…It’s an artificial virus of unknown origin,” explained Ratchet as everyone picked each other up and went inside the Repair Bay. “There isn’t a cure readily available.” Hydran then sneezed again! The sneeze nearly took Optimus’ head off! Hydran sneezed again! And again! And again! He couldn’t stop for a good long while! His sneezes were destroying the Repair Bay, consoles, screens, and all! Everyone took cover behind the Repair Berths. Hydran’s sneezes then blew their cover…quite literally. The sneezes stopped as Hydran rubbed his optics.
“QUICK! GO TO BEAST MODE!” called Sonic. Hydran then transformed. For while, all was calm.
“…Phew! That’s better!” sighed the Flame Convoy.
“Good thinking, Sonic,” praised Optimus. …No it wasn’t. Hydran still sneezed out some of his Energon. The shot put a hole in the wall.
“…Gesundheit,” bid Grimlock. “Guys, maybe we should have him somewhere less…vulnerable?” Backstop pulled a scanner out of the rhino head on his right shoulder and waved it over Hydran.
“His internal Energon reserves are fading fast!” he reported. “If we don’t find a counter-virus soon-” Hydran sneezed- “he’ll not only tear up the base, but himself as well!”
“Then we need to send out our best scouts,” declared Grimlock. “I’ll send out Slash.”
“And I’ll have Rattrap join the hunt,” offered Kong.
“Wait a cycle!” called Optimus. “I’ve seen those two argue! There is NO way that’s a good idea!”
“Hey! Prime! Incoming message!” called Teletraan through the comms. “It’s Tarantulas!”
“Put him through!” ordered Optimus. Tarantulas’ voice then cackled throughout the comms.
“My dear Maximals, you’re probably wondering who made the Energon Discharge virus your precious Hydran is afflicted with. Well, wonder no more!” He cackled again. “For those of you who are significantly slow, even for a mere Maximal or Autobot, I created the virus! I DO have a counter-virus, but unless you make me the new Flame Convoy, not that stupid Saurion as he originally planned, more Maximals will be infected! Consider my offer!” He cackled as the message ended.
Given the circumstances, Rattrap and Slash were still sent out together, much to the two’s consternation. They started their search near where the Maximals fired on the retreating Predacons. “You sure about this, Chopperface?” asked Rattrap.
“I inflicted considerable damage on Tarantulas as we fired on the Predacons,” answered Slash. “Given the distance between here and wherever he was around Fortress Maximus, he couldn’t have gone far. And he will, no doubt, have the counter-virus!”
“Yeah? Well, you better hope so, for YOUR sake!” Slash twitched angrily at Rattrap’s statement.
“Excuse me?” She then fully faced the robot rat. “Are you implying that the current situation is somehow MY responsibility?!”
“Well, you didn’t exactly stop Saurion from firing that virus-activator, Gear Head!”
“I didn’t exactly see you raising a finger to stop him either, Cheese Lips!”
“Oh no, you ain’t pinning YOUR mistake on ME! YOU started this, you oversized iguana!”
“I beg to differ, Mouse!”
The argument could be heard over the comms. Optimus, Kong, and Grimlock heard every detail. “Pre-evolved bird brain!” hissed Rattrap.
“Eater of garbage!” retorted Slash.
“Sheesh,” muttered Optimus, “and I thought I was immature back in the day. Hey, Kong, Grimlock, are you two sure it was a good idea sending those two out together?”
“To be honest, no,” replied Grimlock.
“Me neither,” supplied Kong. “But their squabbling’s caused problems in the past. At least, this time, our situation wasn’t caused by them. They’ll either learn to work together or they’ll destroy each other.” Hydran then sneezed somewhere far off, causing chunks of the ceiling to fall on the three leaders. Kong simply sighed as his upper torso and right arm poked out of the rubble. “And, right now, I don’t really care which.” A few small bits then fell onto Kong’s head, causing him to sigh in defeat before looking upwards.
“Sweet Primus,” muttered Optimus. “Learning about a mystic prophecy one minute, then learning about an Autobot that turned herself into a Predacon on the genetic level, now the planet’s leader is sick and our hopes at curing him rest on the shoulders of two polar opposites!”
“I know, it’s almost like the first season of an old Earth CGI cartoon that came out in the 90’s,” remarked Grimlock. “Right down to the gags.”