“No new progress?” Optimus said to Blackarachnia and Bumblebee.
“None whatsoever,” sighed Blackarachnia. “We haven’t found any good Energon deposits.”
“That just doesn’t make sense!” snapped Bumblebee. “This planet’s chock full of the stuff!”
“Not every deposit’s gonna be good,” replied Optimus.
“Whoa!” yelped Teletraan. “Just found Starscream making a beeline for Ironhide’s position!”
“Starscream?” repeated Optimus. “Ironhide needs backup!”
“Against that wuss?” chuckled Blackarachnia.
“Ironhide and Starscream have fought before,” countered Optimus. “Screamer’s more than he looks! He’s a dangerous creature! Ironhide needs backup! Teletraan! Ground Bridge to his position! Now! Blackarachnia! Bumblebee! With me!”
“No you don’t!” shouted Ratchet as he slid into the Command Center on his feet, pointing at Optimus while doing so.
“Pardon?” quizzed Optimus.
“Optimus, you have not had a good psychological evaluation,” replied Ratchet. “I have reason to believe that Megatron’s betrayal is affecting your judgement and I’m confining you to base until further notice.”
“Are you serious?!” snapped Optimus. “Ironhide needs me!”
“He needs a level-headed commander and Ultra Magnus is the one for the job,” argued Ratchet. “You’re staying here until further notice.”
“…Fine,” hissed Optimus, a little angry. He then commed his eldest brother. “Ultra Magnus, I need you to accompany Blackarachnia and Bumblebee while they rescue Ironhide from Starscream.”
“Acknowledged,” called Ultra Magnus. He came to the Command Center in his battle mode. After the odd looks, he explained. “I need to get used to this. Teletraan, Ground Bridge, please.” A Ground Bridge opened and the three headed to Ironhide’s location. Optimus, meanwhile, stayed behind, shaking a bit. At that point, the base’s coms rang.
“Yes?” hissed Optimus.
“Hey, Prime!” called Knuckles. “Just wanted to know if your gym was open. I need some practice against the Cons.”
“…You know what, it is,” replied Optimus. “You’re level 7, right?”
“That’s right,” confirmed Knuckles.
“Then, let’s get to it,” muttered Optimus.
Ultra Magnus, Blackarachnia, and Bumblebee arrived to see Ironhide avoiding Starscream’s shots in vehicle mode. Starscream was in his own alt-mode, a fighter jet that wings that could lower themselves for an attack run and guns on the side of the fuselage. His holo-form was a black falcon in pilot’s gear. He kept firing at Ironhide, failing to notice Ultra Magnus leap up and slam his hammer onto his backside. “DION PAX!” bellowed Starscream.
“It’s Ultra Magnus now!” corrected Ultra Magnus. “I thought I told you on the Harbinger!”
“You’ll be called scrap when I’m through with you!” boasted Starscream. He tried to get Ultra Magnus off. But he held onto the wings.
“You know, I never gave the Lambo Twins’ Jet Judo a sporting chance!” mused Ultra Magnus. “Wanna try it out?!” He then leaned sharply to the left, causing Starscream to spiral out and make a dive.
“STARSCREAM, TRANSFORM!” announced Starscream. The fuselage split in half to let the cockpit fold onto the chest as taloned hands came out. The rear jet assembly split apart and deployed heeled feet while unfolding into legs. His head came out and he started punching at Ultra Magnus. Starscream’s punches, despite his…slender frame, caused some damage. The damage didn’t get Ultra Magnus to let go, so Starscream reached to his back to draw a sword, the signature weapon of the Seekers. He slashed across Ultra Magnus’ front and made him let go, falling to the ground hard. He stayed in the air. “Can’t hit what you wheel-bound morons can’t reach!” he boasted.
“Oh, I found a way to bring you down to our level,” chuckled Blackarachnia. She then took out a bottle and shook it to mix the contents. She then put it into the rear of her gun and aimed the gun at Starscream’s sword arm. “Freeze,” she joked. She fired a gas that made the moisture in the air around Starscream’s sword arm come together in a hardened state, making ice form around the arm and weapon. Starscream started plummeting.
“Ice…too heavy…for thrusters!” he strained as he tried to get back into the air. “I think I’m gonna crash!”
“Let little old Ironhide change that from a possibility,” snarled Ironhide as he grabbed the icy arm, “to a CERTAINTY!” He flung Starscream to the ground. Starscream managed to get his blade hot enough by pressing a button on the hilt, then he made a slash that projected an energy wave.
“The Chaos Emerald! Hand it over!” he demanded.
“Not a chance!” snarled Ironhide.
“A Chaos Emerald?!” yelped Bumblebee.
“I was trying to find some Energon,” explained Ironhide, “when I found the red one. Starscream came up behind me and started shooting. I’m not about to let the Cons have it.”
“Neither will we!” agreed Bumblebee. He then rubbed his hands together and slammed his right hand to the ground, generating large crystals that gave off a glowing, blue-white light. Starscream looked around, surprised.
“Light Energon?” he gulped. He then gave Bumblebee an odd look. “So, you’re the Energon Alchemist I’ve heard about in the Stockade?”
“The Alchemist of Light, Bumblebee Stinger, at your service!” cheered Bumblebee.
“So, it’s not the red one?” asked Starscream.
“No, that’s my younger brother, Cliffjumper, the Alchemist of Darkness,” replied Bumblebee.
“He’s the dark one?” muttered Starscream.
“Yep, and I command Light Ener…” Starscream cut off Bumblebee’s boasting.
“But, you’re a runt!” he wailed. Bumblebee let old habits kick in.
“OH YEAH?! CAN A RUNT DO THIS?!” he screamed as he slammed his hand on the ground and made crystals hoist Starscream by the head.
“I heard the stories, but I didn’t think they were real!” Starscream managed to say. “The Alchemist of Light, a little kid!” Not the correct thing to say as Bumblebee slammed his hand to the ground again.
“DON’T CALL ME LITTLE!!” he shouted as he made a giant crystal fist hit Starscream square in the face hard enough to send him flying.
“Er, Sergeant,” mumbled Blackarachnia, “I don’t think he was making a reference to your height.” Bumblebee saw sense, temporarily.
“WELL, EVEN IF HE WASN’T, HE STILL P**SED ME OFF!” he shouted.
“We cannot allow him to find another Emerald in that direction,” declared Ultra Magnus, “however slim the risk is. Autobots, with me!” They transformed and followed Starscream’s trajectory.
Knuckles and Optimus were taking down an army of training dummies that were decently fighting back. “I never got to tell you about the new base being set up on Angel Island, did I?” asked Knuckles.
“No,” confirmed Optimus as he punched through a dummy, “I don’t think you did.”
“There’s a new facility for the Magic Community and G.U.N to work together,” explained Knuckles as he did a flying suplex on his dummy.
“Can’t wait to see it!” replied Optimus as he punched through a dummy. “I’ll have to visit it once Ratchet clears me!”
“Clears you?” repeated Knuckles as he grabbed a dummy’s leg and used it as a club against another.
“Ratchet believes,” explained Optimus as he clawed at a dummy, “that my current emotional state will interfere with the war right now!”
“And, your emotional state is?” asked Knuckles, noticing the ferocity Optimus seemed to be giving to the dummies.
“SPARK! SHOWERING! ANGER!” Optimus roared as he destroyed a dummy in three hits. “And I know why I’m so angry!” he continued as he attacked other dummies. “My own brother betrayed me! I’ve invited him to parties celebrating the Pax Cybertronia! Asked about his plans for the future! Looked up to him as a symbol of mercy! And what happens? He betrays me! Betrays the Autobots! He’s been falling in with the Decepticons since before I was forged! It’s my job to find these things out! So, what’s my excuse?! Is he a buried Bot that slept through peace?! No! Is he a fat scientist that discovered our biology?! No! Is he an insane wizard?! NO! He’s a veteran who went against us!! AND I DIDN’T! SEE IT! COMING!” He destroyed the last of the dummies.
“Training program terminated,” droned the secondary a.i.
“I’d say that’s good,” mused Knuckles as he wiped the sweat off his brow.
“GOOD?!” protested Optimus.
“That you’re taking your anger out on the training dummies instead of the Decepticons,” explained Knuckles. “Prime, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with Ratchet. You need to let Megatron’s betrayal go. The Autobots need a level-headed leader.” Optimus was still panting from the ferocity of the blows he gave the dummies.
Ultra Magnus and his team had found Starscream and engaged with him quickly. “Give up, Screamer!” shouted Ironhide. “You’re running back to your master in failure as usual!”
“Megatron wants a Chaos Emerald, he gets a Chaos Emerald!” insisted Starscream.
“Starscream’s not usually this driven,” mused Ultra Magnus. “Something’s up.”
“We’ll worry about that later!” snapped Ironhide.
“You cannot catch me!” boasted Starscream as he transformed.
“Come back down here, you chicken!” shouted Blackarachnia.
“I’m a flacon! Not a chicken!” argued Starscream as he fired. The Bots took cover as the shot revealed a purple glowing thing. The thing turned out to be… “Another Emerald!” crowed Starscream. “A two for one deal!”
“We protect both Emeralds at all costs!” declared Ultra Magnus as he got between Starscream and the Chaos Emerald. Starscream transformed and fired his signature arm-mounted Null Rays, weapons capable of disrupting the electrical flow of machines. For a Transformer, it is very painful. They would need to recalibrate their systems to return to full operations. On the battlefield, no one has that kind of time, unless their opponent was Starscream. As he took Ironhide’s Emerald and the one recently uncovered, he started gloating.
“Oh, when fortune smiles on me!” he laughed. “Look at you. Half of you are inexperienced, and the other half are too old to fight! Bring both factors together and what do you get? Ashes! And, as I always say, conquest is made of the ashes of one’s enemies! Oh, how this will get me in Megatron’s good graces! And, as an added bonus, I get to personally slaughter you, Blackarachnia!” He then heard groans. He whirled around to see Ultra Magnus and Ironhide getting up. “Though, it would seem I’m pressed for time,” he sighed, resigning himself to the fact that he couldn’t fix his blunder of letting Blackarachnia live. He then broke into a run and called his current base. “Soundwave, this is Starscream! Unless you want to get a headache from Megatron ranting about a screw-up, you better summon a Ground Bridge, toot sweet!” A portal opened for him and he increased his speed. “COMING THROUGH!” he called.
“STOP!” shouted Ironhide as he broke into a run. He then tripped over something and Starscream went through the ground bridge. The portal closed and Ironhide roared in frustration. “I WOULD HAVE HAD HIM! WHAT TRIPPED ME UP?!”
“Sergeant!” yelped Blackarachnia as they ran up to him. She then saw a glint of something. “What in the…?”
Starscream landed none too gracefully back in the Command Center. He ended sliding down a wall upside down. As soon as his head was on the floor, he moaned in pain. “Not my more graceful of landings,” he muttered.
“Did you retrieve the Emerald!” demanded Megatron.
“Not Emerald, Emeralds!” corrected Starscream as he showed the two Chaos Emeralds off. “And I’m fine too, thanks for asking.” Megatron snatched them up and held them up to Soundwave.
“DUUUUUUDE! Those are the real dealios!” cheered Soundwave.
“Excellent!” praised Megatron. “You have balanced things out today, Starscream. Knock-out, you have a patient.”
“At once, Lord Megatron,” confirmed Knock-out. He picked up Starscream and they headed to the repair bay. Megatron handed the Emeralds to Shockwave.
“I’ll let you pick the control variable,” he mused.
“I shall get started immediately,” replied Shockwave. She then turned and left the Command Center.
“Soundwave, two more Chaos Emeralds remain in play, the white and blue ones,” remarked Megatron. “Whenever you’re on duty, continue scans for them. I will not let Optimus continue to have an advantage over us.”
“You got it, Boss Bot!” cheered Soundwave as he got to work.