Transformers Fan Fiction / Machine Robo Fan Fiction ❯ Transformers Vs Gobots: Storm of Steel ❯ Chapter 1
In the winter of 1917, the French town of Cambrai became Hell to the men there. The bitter cold devoured frostbitten fingers and toes, like a wild animal; the dark clouds were accompanied by a downpour of artillery shells and shrapnel that claimed friends' lives and made the survivors shiver in fear of being the next to fall under Death's shadow, and above all, a downpour of the sense that they were doomed to die and never see their homes again. As the war-- known to them as the Great War, the World War, or erroneously as the War to End All Wars-- raged without the trenches and within the minds of soldiers, their leaders sought whatever advantage would let them win the war. New strategies and tactics, new soldiers and officers who recently completed training and had yet to see battle, were sent to the trenches with mixed results, while scientists and engineers sought a superweapon that would bring victory to their nations.
No one imagined the superweapons would seek them and bring their nations to their knees.
Transformers Vs Gobots: Storm of Steel
By Sidewinder (firstname.lastname@example.org), originally as 'Machine Robo: Storm of Steel' in 2008, revised 2009. Characters created and owned by Bandai, Hanna-Barbera, Hasbro, Production Reed (formerly Ashi Productions), and Takara.
The dawn brought despair, not hope, to the Zeppelin's crew; they knew the airship was now visible and therefore, vulnerable. Free of the weight of its bombs, the Zeppelin raced towards safety across the English Channel, trailed by two Sopwith Camel biplane fighters.
Second Lieutenant Nicholas "Nick" Burns guided his Camel to the left rear of his commander's. 'Damn, that's one big son of a bitch. What is it, 650 feet long?' The biplanes dived towards the airship, the roar of their Vickers machine guns heard over that of their engines. The Zeppelin's machine guns returned fire, but they were too late; incendiary bullets were already reaching into its gas bags.
As the Camels dived away from the doomed Zeppelin, Nick saw the airship glow with a blue-white light. 'What...?' Then a fireball rose up to devour the Zeppelin; Nick turned away from the burning airship to avoid being blinded, and dismissed the previous sight as sunlight reflecting off the Zeppelin's envelope. His commander turned west, towards their airbase, and Nick obediently turned in the same direction.
Boom! Nick's eyes widened in surprise as a second Zeppelin, identical to the one he helped destroy, appeared in front of the Camels. 'What in...? Where in hell did that come from?!' The biplanes climbed to let the airship pass underneath them and avoid a midair collision, while the pilots wondered why the Zeppelin's machine gunners held their fire. Nick's Camel followed his commander's and turned around to attack the Zeppelin; the Vickers guns roared again, but the tracers' paths formed sharp angles away from the Zeppelin's envelope, as if it was armor plate. 'What in...?' Turrets, bearing large caliber guns, extended from the airship's upper and lower surfaces; the Zeppelin now resembled a Bayern class battleship and the shadow she cast on the sea surface. 'Hell!' The airship-turned-battleship's turrets traversed until the pilots could see the gun muzzles, from which fireballs reached for the biplanes.
Although Nick was half-blinded by gunfire, the American could see Death's shadow fall upon his commander. His mouth opened to scream, but the sound of onrushing air drowned out his voice as the sea pounced upon him.
The "Zeppelin" was commanded by one who was Death himself to those he faced in battle. The battleship captain watched a motion picture within a motion picture-- Nick's Camel, its fuselage and wings perforated by shrapnel, dove out of sight-- as his lieutenant appear behind him.
"Lord Cy-Kill, the test firing was successful. Zod may now use the munitions available on this planet." With the guns silenced, the screen was the bridge's main source of light. The lieutenant was barely visible, a red-rimmed shadow whose silhouette suggested the presence of wings-- as the captain intended, to better defend the bridge against boarding parties.
The warlord known as Cy-Kill, the shadow of his wings towering over his subordinate, turned his head in his to the lieutenant, becoming a silver titan in the light of the screen. "Retract the adapted guns and restore the disguise. Scan for suitable energy sources on our projected flight path."
"By your command." The lieutenant bowed to his captain before turning to a bank of electrical devices whose sophistication was beyond anything human hands could build, beyond anything human eyes would see, for decades to come.
Cy-Kill's gaze returned to the screen. Although the face reflected upon it was like a stone lion's-- fierce, hard, and cold-- the warlord's core blazed with joyous anticipation. 'Soon I will wield the power of the Lord of Light, the God of Creation... I will rule the galaxy as a god myself!'
Pain! Paralyzing pain! Light! Blinding light! These sensations greeted the young man as he regained consciousness.
"Doctor, he's awake!" Noise! Thundering, deafening noise!
A blur appeared before him. "Sir? Do you remember your name? Do you remember what happened?"
"I..." The young man barely recognized it as his own voice, now hoarse and thin. "I'm Nick Burns-- Lieutenant Burns, RFC," Royal Flying Corps. "I'm an American volunteer." The blur resolved into a face-- a woman's face-- as Nick's eyes adjusted to the light. "Hello, beautiful." He used what strength remained to smile. "Is this heaven? I think I see an angel."
The nurse frowned. "I'll be the Angel of Death if you don't behave, Sir. For your information, this is the Saint Patrick Memorial Hospital. The crew of a trawler saw your plane go down, and rescued you." She watched Nick's head turn to examine the casts around both arms. "You broke both arms, along with your left leg." Nick looked down to see the sling elevating his leg above his heart. "God must be watching over you."
"Roy-- Captain Rutledge-- did he...?"
The nurse shook her head. "I'm afraid you were the only one they could save," words that made the young man's heart feel as if it joined his biplane at the bottom of the sea. The nurse glanced away-- Nick's limited mobility prevented him from seeing what she saw-- and then looked into the young man's eyes. "A liaison from the Army will arrive tomorrow to debrief you. Try to get some rest until then. You may call me or one of the other nurses if you need anything." The nurse turned around and stepped away.
The nurse turned back. "Yes, Sir?"
"What should I call you?" Nick asked.
The nurse smiled. "I'm Nurse Allison J. Foster. You may call me 'AJ.'"
Nick saw sadness and fatigue in the nurse's eyes. 'This was the smile she gives to comfort those who are about to die.' The young man tried to lighten both their spirits with a bright smile. "Okay, Miss AJ."
The nurse's hand rose to display a golden ring. "That's Mrs. AJ."
Nick hid his disappointment and said, "Okay, Mrs. AJ."
"Gasp!" First Lieutenant Baron Rom von Stuhl awoke with a start, only to see his younger sister's face, which reddened as the embarrassed maiden stepped backwards.
"I'm sorry, dear brother. Did I scare you?" Baroness Galiena von Stuhl asked with a hand raised to touch her brother's right shoulder and comfort him, but frozen.
Rom shook his head and sat back on his chair. "No, I... I'm sorry to have troubled you, Liena," he said, using his sister's nickname. The young man leaned over to pick up the book he dropped, only to be reminded that his right arm was amputated above the elbow.
Liena took a knee, picked up the book, and put it on her brother's lap. "Did you have a bad dream?"
Rom hesitated before nodding. "I... I thought I heard Werner call my name." He saw Liena's eyes widen at the name of their elder brother, and laughed to calm his sister. "'Twas only a dream." 'Has it been one year already?' Rom thought of the day he shook Captain Baron Werner von Stuhl's hand before his brother boarded a reconnaissance plane that would fly him over the Italian lines; neither the plane or its crew were ever seen again.
Liena nodded to feign understanding. When her father and her brothers went off to war, Liena remained on the von Stuhl estate in Slovenia, a castle at the foot of Stol-- "Chair," the mountain that was their namesake-- far from the front. She couldn't imagine what trials Rom endured on the battlefield, and was afraid to imagine them; she heard Rom scream in pain as the darkness of night resurrected memories of the battle that took his arm, felt her brother's muscles tense in preparation for battle at the slightest touch, and saw Rom's eyes reflect the resignation of dying men. "I'll have the servants bring you some tea."
Rom smiled. "Thank you, Liena-- ahhhh!" Some unseen force sent his back arching away from the chair, a human bowstring.
"Rom!" Liena pushed against her brother's chest, trying to bring him back onto the chair. "Someone, help! Help!" She heard footsteps, and turned to see a maidservant running into the library. "Summon the doctor!" Rom's body suddenly relaxed; the bowstring was released.
"No." Rom held his sister's hand as he rose from the chair. "Don't summon the doctor." He turned to the maid. "You may leave now."
Liena nodded to the maidservant to assent her brother's order; then she turned to Rom. "Are you sure...?"
"I saw Werner."
Liena's eyes widened at the words.
"He," Rom seemed to look through Liena and the wall behind her, "is coming." The young man ran out of the library.
"Rom!" Liena raised the hem of her skirt so she could match Rom's strides, and ran after her brother. "Dear brother, please stop! You're-- this is but a feverish dream! I beg you, please...!" She saw servants frozen in surprise, their wide eyes upon the now open main gates. Rom's coat, caught by the wind, flared in the gateway; then it disappeared. Liena turned to the nearest servant. "Summon the doctor!" As the manservant bowed, the maiden turned to the view of the mountain beyond the gates, and then back to the manservant. "Give me your coat." Once the manservant complied, Liena put on the coat before following her brother out of the castle.
Rom ran up the rocky path, towards... He didn't know what fate waited upon Stol, nor could he explain the logic behind his actions, but it continued driving him towards the mountaintop. "Werner!" He stumbled, but his remaining arm extended to save him from a fall, and the young man resumed his ascent. "I hear you! I'm coming!"
"Rom!" Liena heard Rom call Werner's name, while Rom himself seemed deaf to her calls. Although she didn't have time to put on suitable footwear, the maiden ignored the pain in her feet and continued her pursuit, which seemed to last for hours; perhaps it did.
Mechanical noises heralded the end of Rom and Liena's pursuit. The young man and woman's heads rose to see three biplanes fly a circle around the mountaintop, scouting the von Stuhl lands. Iron Crosses, an insignia shared by the Imperial German Air Service and the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops, became visible as the aircraft descended.
Liena considered the possibility that Werner piloted one of the biplanes, and dismissed it. 'It's been a year; if Werner still lived, he'd have sent word to us.' Her eyes widened when she recognized one of the pilots. "Impossible! That can't be...!"
"Werner!" Rom, spellbound, watched the biplanes make an impossible attempt to land on the mountainside. One of them seemed to be a Fokker D.I fighter with a larger engine; the others he identified as variants of the Albatros D.III fighter. Then the biplanes underwent a metamorphosis, something the young man and woman never imagined was mechanically possible. The blood-red Fokker, the V.11 prototype of what would become the D.VII, split its tail, the two halves extending to form legs; the upper wings became detached from the lower wings, which laid themselves parallel to the fuselage to form arms, while the struts became talons; and the nose extended to reveal a head crowned with the propeller, the face fierce and indomitable. The lower wings of the leaf-green Albatros fighters, D.Va variants, slid backwards before folding perpendicular to the ground, while claws extended from the tips of the wings-turned-legs; the landing gear struts unfolded to form arms, each tipped with three claws; the propeller blades tilted forward, parallel to the driveshaft, before retracting into the propeller spinner; the nose extended to reveal a neck as the engine cowling split to form a mouth, full of triangular teeth that appeared sharp enough to cut metal.
The Fokker now resembled a Spartan hoplite, one of the 300 warriors whom King Leonidas led into battle against the million who served Xerxes the Great. The Albatros fighters now resembled dragons from medieval legend, or the dinosaur later generations would know as Deinonychus, "Terrible Claw." Despite the shocking sight, Rom and Liena's widened eyes were unable to overlook the human-sized figure that leapt out of the Fokker before its metamorphosis, a figure who stood tall before the young man and woman.
"Werner!" "Eldest brother? But how...?"
The figure before them, an Austro-Hungarian Army great coat wrapped around a medieval knight's armor, was indeed Rom and Liena's lost brother, but his eyes shined with an unnatural light that was devoid of the warmth Werner had when they last gazed upon his younger siblings. When Werner approached them, his strides were smooth but mechanical, like the pistons of a well serviced steam engine.
"Good evening, Rom, Liena." The coldness of Werner's voice froze his brother and sister. Sensing their apprehension, he said, "I have joined the army of Lord Cy-Kill, whose scouts brought me before him one year ago. Mechanical components have enhanced my mental abilities and strengthened my body, eliminating my human frailties so I may better serve him." That unnatural gaze turned to Rom's empty sleeve. "You are damaged. Accompany me to Zod, Lord Cy-Kill's ship, for repairs... please." The last word alone bore any trace of emotion, as if Werner didn't remember he was human before that moment.
The Fokker-turned-hoplite sensed Rom and Liena's eyes upon him. "I am Fightmaster, Lord Cy-Kill's second-in-command. The Cruellock drones," the Albatros-turned-dragons approached Werner's younger siblings, "will bring you before my lord." Each drone grabbed a human with the roughness of machines ignorant of how fragile a human body was.
"Ahhhh!" "Eldest brother!" Rom and Liena were placed within the Albatros cockpits. Fightmaster and Werner leapt, the man-machine hybrid entering the Fokker cockpit as Fightmaster transformed in midair. The drones followed their controller's example; then the biplanes rocketed into the sky, the onrushing air drowning out the humans' screams of terror.
A roar was heard by the manservant who gave Liena his coat. 'Thunder,' he thought, as knowledge of the sound barrier, supersonic speeds, and sonic boom was not yet widely disseminated. "Prepare two warm baths," the manservant said to a maid. "Master Rom and Mistress Galiena should not continue suffering from the rain when they return."
Nick's superiors frequently questioned the young man during and after his convalescence period. As Nick himself was unsure of what he saw, the British officers proposed various theories on what brought down his and Captain Rutledge's aircraft-- debris-turned-missiles when the first Zeppelin exploded, machine gunners on the Zeppelin's upper surface, lightning, the rising sun blinding the pilots and causing a midair collision, and the possibility that the fog of war led Lieutenant Burns to mistakenly attack Captain Rutledge-- before rejecting them all. The most long-lived theory was one of the Zeppelins launched a "parasite fighter" that attacked the Camels from the rear, while the Allied pilots' attention were upon the airship-- the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) had plans to launch a Camel from a 23 class rigid airship-- but the Germans had no airfields within a fighter's range, and even they'd be reluctant to sacrifice one of their planes for two of the Allies'.
Months later, a doctor examined Nick, whose broken bones had mended, and cleared the young man for flight operations.
Nick entered a bar-- 'Pub,' he reminded himself of the differences between the American English and "English" English-- to hear fellow pilots say, "Hey, look who's back!" "Nick!" "Nicky Boy! Glad you made it!"
The young man smiled. "It's good to be back." He sat down before the bartender, and accepted several pats on the back. A pint of beer appeared before him. "We each downed one in Roy's honor, back when I was a mummy-- oomph!" a slap on his back emptied Nick's lungs.
Captain Matthew "Matt" Hunter's mustache rose to reveal a toothy smile. "Now we'll down one in your not-an-honor." Matt emptied his own mug and let the alcohol cleanse him of his grief for friends lost during the past months; the others knew they'd lose more friends before the war ended, but were content to forget for one more night. "Ah." Then the smile disappeared behind an iron mask; the man Nick faced was now the ace known as "Mad Matt." "Who must die so we may avenge Roy?"
Nick sighed. "The damn thing is I don't really know. Roy and I attacked a Hun airship, and seconds after it became a fireball, another airship appeared out of nowhere. We pulled back the stick to avoid following Captain Nesterov's example," a reference to Russian pilot Pyotr Nesterov, who won the world's first air-to-air battle by ramming an Austro-Hungarian reconnaissance plane, killing the crew of both aircraft, "turned around, and..." Nick turned away and sipped his beer to buy time to find the "right words," an explanation acceptable to himself as well as his fellow American. "The second airship looked just like the first, but when we used our Vickers guns, I thought I saw our bullets bounce off its skin, as if it was armor plate. Then I saw-- thought I saw-- doors open upon the airship, and battleship guns rise from those doors, and..." He saw his face reflected in Matt's eyes, a mirror to his own soul. "What in hell is wrong with me? Why did I see something that flew out of a H. G. Wells or Jules Verne novel? Did I...? Am I deluding myself to...?"
Matt and the squadron leader had discussed the possibility that Nick mistook his commander's aircraft for an enemy one, and attacked it. "Morgan." The older man put some money on the counter. "Nick needs more fortification."
"No, I--" Nick's protest was ignored as the bartender filled another mug, which Matt pushed in front of him.
"Drink and put that airship out of your mind. Tomorrow's another day; live for it." Then the older man rose from his stool. "Good night."
Nick finished his first pint and began drinking the second one as he watched Matt exit the bar, but he was unable to forget the Zeppelin that metamorphosed a flying battleship; his instincts howled like a bloodhound catching the scent of blood, of the knowledge the battleship would return and bring Death's shadow to him.
The young man awoke to find himself upon a metal bed. An arm instinctively rose to shield his eyes from the lights. "Gasp!" It was his right arm-- or rather, a metal prosthetic. The prosthetic hand gripped the edge of the bed to steady Rom-- he was shocked to learn the prosthetic retained his flesh-and-blood arm's sense of touch-- as he sat upright to see his brother, the armor now visible in all its glory, standing beside the bed. "Werner? How...?"
"Hackmesser, Lord Cy-Kill's spymaster, has modified you into a man-machine hybrid, to better serve our lord."
The picture of a suit of armor, similar to Werner's, became visible with these words. The picture remained in the same place in Rom's field of vision, regardless of the direction in which his head was turned, before disappearing; Rom later learned it was the head-up display (HUD) providing a status report on his mechanical components.
"Liena!" Rom jumped off the bed, but he underestimated the strength of his legs. "Ow!" He landed on his feet, despite the distracting pain. Red lines appeared before his eyes, followed by the HUD, which reported his scalp was torn when it struck the ceiling, and a "NANOMACHINE" was repairing the damage.
"What have you done to...? Ahhhh!"
Rom ran to stop his sister's tormentor. "How dare you...?"
A shadow appeared before the newborn hybrid. "Halt."
"Argh!" Electricity arced from Rom's armor as he knelt on the floor. The HUD read, "RANK: 08 OVERRIDE" as the shadow stepped into the light, revealing himself as a member of Fightmaster's race; it seemed as if Victor Frankenstein, in a fit of madness, used a Halberstadt CL.II fighter-bomber and dragon flesh to create a mechanical monster.
Werner stepped between his brother and the dragon, and bowed. "Sir Hackmesser, I beg you to forgive my brother's rash actions."
Hackmesser was an Utahraptor, a dinosaur from the same family as Deinonychus; this form was chosen because his analysis, performed with scanners able to penetrate rock and reveal fossils the human hands wouldn't uncover for generations, suggested these creatures were well adapted to this planet's environment. The Halberstadt's engine cowling split to say, "I forgive Rom, for his... love... for his sister is useful to Lord Cy-Kill and I." With those words, Hackmesser rescinded the override and restored Rom's mobility.
Werner, an antiseptic swab in hand, took a knee to clean the blood off his brother's face. Rom pushed away his brother's hand, ignorant of the significance of Werner's actions, and stood tall before the spymaster.
Rom's angry gaze made crosshairs appear on Hackmesser; the HUD read, "R ARM: CHARGING 001%" a number that rose as his reactor fed energy to the prosthetic arm's integral weapons. "What have you done to my sister?"
The spymaster stepped aside to let the hybrids see a metal skeleton in the fetal position, resting on a second bed. Water leaked between the fingers covering the figure's face, onto the bed; then Rom realized those were tears.
"Liena!" The young man ran to his sister's side. "Liena, are you hurt?!"
The hands parted to reveal eyes that shined with something other than tears-- something unnatural, which Liena later learned were optical implants that let her see in the darkest of nights. "Rom, I... I'm not human anymore." Liena felt Rom's arms around her, and returned the embrace. "That monster... he amputated my arms and legs. Now I have death rays for arms-- arms that will never be able to cradle a child as I sing a lullaby-- and rocket motors for legs. I... I can no longer be a mother, nor have children of my own. Why...?"
Rom summoned the HUD to learn both of his arms were now mechanical, as well as his legs, heart, lungs, kidneys, and... "You," he turned to Hackmesser with burning anger that would boil metal if the hybrid released this emotion, "turned me-- turned my sister-- into..."
"Your lives will be more productive, now that the unnecessary systems have been removed and the weak ones, replaced. But if you insist living as a human-- weak, ignorant, and forced to spend most of a human's short lifespan on tasks necessary to sustain it, tasks I, a Decepticon who has seen 6,000,000 years of war, has no need for-- I will restore you to your original configuration," a screen appeared behind Hackmesser, displaying human organs preserved through a science later generations would know as cryogenics, "after you complete the mission Lord Cy-Kill will assign you."
The newborn hybrids knew this promise was another the override code binding them to the Decepticon's service, but they didn't see any way to break these bonds. "What do you want?" A door opened with a hiss to answer Rom's question.
A talon pointed at the door. "Your destiny awaits. And do not think of raising your laser pistols or power daggers against Lord Cy-Kill; I spent considerable time and effort to repair and upgrade you, and if I learn you have wasted my time and effort, I will make you beg for your own destruction."
The crosshairs remained upon Hackmesser as Rom stepped back to let his sister rise from the bed. Liena gripped her brother's left forearm, drawing strength and courage from his presence, as the two marched through the door.
If Hackmesser had a human face, his brow would've curved into a frown as the door closed behind the newborn hybrids. 'Their programming... warrants further analysis.'
To be continued.