Transformers Fan Fiction / Machine Robo Fan Fiction ❯ Transformers Vs Gobots: Storm of Steel ❯ Chapter 2

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

To the men fighting over Cambrai, time didn't flow like a river or fly like a bird-- it bled from grievous injuries four years of war inflicted upon their minds, or it crashed like an avalanche to crush their hearts and all hope of survival.

The Spring Offensive of 1918 brought the German Army within 56 kilometers of Paris, and eight kilometers of Amiens, the city whose railway junction was an artery through which the Allies' lifeblood-- soldiers, weapons and other equipment, ammunition and other supplies-- flowed. Victory was within the Kaiser's grasp, but he also knew it was slipping out of reach, for each day brought more American soldiers and marines to the Allies' aid. The German government spent the bombs' weight in gold when Zeppelins, Gotha G.IV and G.V bombers were sent to attack the United Kingdom. "Booty" tanks-- captured Mark A Whippet, Marks IV and V tanks, their machine guns modified to fire 7.92 x 57 mm Mauser cartridges, their sides marked with the Iron Cross-- assaulted Allied positions they once defended, accompanied by the German A7V. U-boats prowled the Atlantic Ocean, seeking undefended transport ships in an attempt to stop them from delivering vital reinforcements and supplies to the Allies. Death and destruction occurred at rates beyond the darkest dreams of any man or woman on Earth.

But a greater war-- a firestorm that would rage across the entire planet, burning its brand upon all who endured the trials and tribulations-- was yet to come.


Transformers Vs Gobots: Storm of Steel

By Sidewinder (, 2008, revised 2009. Characters created and owned by Bandai, Hanna-Barbera, Hasbro, Production Reed (formerly Ashi Productions), and Takara.


First Lieutenant Nicholas Burns pushed the control stick to aim his biplane at what, to him, resembled a slice of Swiss cheese-- the no man's land between the Allied and German positions. A field of gray, the uniforms of German soldiers, filled the gunsight; then flames and smoke rose from the machine gun muzzles. The dying men's mouths opened, but the Sopwith Camel's engine drowned out their screams, to Nick's relief. As the biplane climbed away, a bat out of Hell, Nick's head turned to see if an enemy fighter decided to attack him while the young man was focused on the ground, but a blue-white light blinded him. "Ah!" 'My eyes!' Nick squinted; then the light was gone. 'What in hell?!'

It looked like a Camel with no pilot, a state that should've sent the agile but unstable fighter crashing into the ground. A snowstorm raged within the cockpit; then Nick's Doppelgänger appeared in its place.

Rat-at-at-at-at! Nick's surprise was followed by the sight of fireflies-- tracers from antiaircraft guns-- flying through his own biplane's wings. 'Jesus Christ!' Nick turned the Camel westward so he'd crash land within reach of Allied medics, but flames rose from the engine to burn away that hope. "Lord," Nick whispered before the smoke made him cough, "have mercy-- cough! If I-- cough! Failed to-- cough! Get right with you-- cough! Before..."

His restraints were cut; then a hand pulled him out of his seat. Nick watched the burning biplane crash, certain the pilot had no chance of survival. 'Am I dead?' He didn't see his own body being cremated in the Camel's cockpit. The American turned to see... "Jesus Christ!"

"No, I'm Groove." The speaker resembled a medieval knight, but he shared an American man's devil-may-care attitude.

'He's like a Connecticut Yankee. Does that mean I'm in King Arthur's Court?' Nick thought, reminded of Mark Twain's novel. "Uh, thanks."

"I'm sorry about your aircraft; I didn't intend to illuminate it for those machine gunners' sake when I scanned the... It's a Sopwith Camel, right?"

"Yeah." Nick noted the gunners' weren't shooting at Groove. 'They're probably as stunned as I am. Hell, I still suspect I'm hallucinating or something.'

Groove put Nick on the ground. "Run along now." Then he jumped, metamorphosed in midair-- his arms spread to form a biplane's lower wings, his legs locked together and retracted to form a tail, and an engine cowling unfolded from his back to cover his head-- to become a Sopwith Camel, and rocketed out of sight.

As the human took cover before the enemy recovered from the strange sight, a Handley Page V/1500 heavy bomber-- a model whose prototype had yet to fly-- appeared alongside the Camel.

"Groove," the V/1500 began.

"I know we're supposed to remain disguised, but I couldn't fly by and leave the human die," the Camel answered.

"By revealing yourself, you may provoke a Decepticon response. Do you actually think his life is worth that of the millions of humans who'll die in the crossfire between Cy-Kill and us?"

His commander's logic silenced Groove. 'Shock you, Hotspot! How can you assign sentient life forms a numerical value, as if they're energon cubes, blind, deaf, and numb?'

Then Hotspot, the V/1500, asked, "Any sign of the Decepticon scout?"

"Schuppenpanzer? He transformed when the Mark IV tanks came within sight of the A7V tanks; now I need active scanners to find him."

'Slag!' "Return to base." Hotspot allowed no emotion, no anger and frustration, to be audible. The V/1500 turned towards the English Channel, followed by the Camel.

On the ground below, three A7V tanks were retreating after battle that saw a British Mark IV Male tank destroy one of the German tanks, along with much of its crew; the German crewmen concentrated on moving beyond the range of Allied artillery and air support, and didn't notice the destroyed tank accompanied them to the motor pool.

Schuppenpanzer, a Decepticon disguised as an A7V, replayed the scene of Groove saving Nick's life. 'An Autobot-- one of Hotspot's Guardians? I must warn Lord Cy-Kill.' He maintained radio silence until the German tanks reached the motor pool, in case the enemy had an electronic warfare (EW) specialist nearby.


The Decepticons were statues before the screens in Zod's bridge, observing the Second Battle of Cambrai with indifference-- as did Werner, to his younger siblings' surprise.

"Our German allies are dying; when they fall, Austria will fall. Don't you care about the Fatherland?" Rom demanded.

"No." Werner's emotionless tone shocked his brother; Rom couldn't be more surprised if Werner said he hated Austria with passion that led him to betray the Fatherland.

Rom stepped in front of Werner, put his hands on his brother's shoulders, and looked into the unnaturally shining eyes. "Did you lose the values our father instilled us-- patriotism, loyalty to the Dual Monarchy, duty to God, the Fatherland, and the people-- with your humanity?"

"Austria and the Austrians-- this planet and its native life forms-- are insignificant compared to the galaxy and the Decepticons, who'll conquer it and fulfill the prophecy of 'All are one' under Lord Cy-Kill's reign."

Rom remembered the pain he felt when the Decepticon officers used the override codes. 'A year-- is that how long it takes to break the human spirit? Is that how much time I have before I become a slave, a helot for these mechanical Spartans to...? No; even the helots had a voice, if only to cry in pain or beg for mercy. I'm doomed to become a mindless tool, a knife in the Decepticons' hands.' His time aboard Zod was spent thinking and becoming melancholic over these thoughts, such as the fact his new masters were cautious to avoid alerting enemies whose strengths matched those of Decepticons' awesome armor, weapons, and technology-- if Rom begged Cy-Kill to aid Austria and the Central Powers, those enemies would aid the Allies. '6,000,000 years of war... Will all life-- human life-- end with the War to End All Wars? Will the Fatherland-- will Earth itself be habitable after the last battle?'

The word "SCHUPPENPANZER" appeared above a scene within a scene of the battle. "Lord Cy-Kill, I have evidence of an Autobot presence on Earth." Schuppenpanzer's recording replaced the scene of German mechanics performing maintenance on the tanks.

The silver titan remained motionless and emotionless, but his warriors-- including the hybrids-- sensed an anger that would vaporize anything and anyone in his path. "Hackmesser, Schuppenpanzer."

Two voices growled, "Yes, Milord?"

"Find the Autobot base and destroy it. I desire prisoners for interrogation, but I will understand and forgive you if the Autobots force you to destroy them all. Have the hybrids infiltrate the... human... armies and destroy any Autobot recruits among them. Report to me immediately if reinforcements or fire support are necessary."

"By your command." The spymaster marched out of the bridge, followed by the hybrids, who knew the price of rebellion and disobedience.

Hackmesser now transformed into a Halberstadt CL.IV, which began to replace the CL.II in the Imperial German Air Service. Rom and Liena were surprised when the Decepticons proved to be more than machines by disguising themselves as the most advanced weapons systems on the planet, including prototypes under construction; the mechanical life forms were as vain as women who spent fortunes on the latest fashions.

The Halberstadt led two Albatros fighters to a forest. The hybrids leapt out of the cockpits as the biplanes transformed and landed between the trees; Liena marched towards the Allied lines as Werner and Rom, disguised as German soldiers, marched to the motor pool.

The hybrids approached the A7V. "Report." The order came from Werner's mouth, but the voice was Hackmesser's. Rom shuddered to think the spymaster could use him and his siblings as proxies; he disguised his discomfort by rubbing his hands together, as if cold weather could affect the metal prosthetics.

"I detected emissions from sources the humans are currently incapable of producing; I believed the emission was an adaptation scan. Fortunately, I was already disguised when the scan began; I positioned myself among my templates to avoid detection, and used passive sensors. The scan illuminated an Allied aircraft, allowing German gunners to successfully engage it; the suspected Autobot, a Sopwith Camel, shed his disguise to rescue the Allied pilot, and left, accompanied by a Handley Page Type O variant, which I suspect is another Autobot," Schuppenpanzer stated.

Rom's integral computer searched it and Zod's records to answer whatever questions the hybrid had. 'Can the Decepticons also use my prosthetic nerves to control me by stimulating or suppressing my feelings-- emotional responses-- towards what I see?'

Werner's head turned to meet his brother's eyes. "Yes," he answered with his lasercom, a means of communication a third party couldn't intercept; then he turned to the A7V. "If the Handley Page's size indicates the suspected Autobot's strength, I must summon reinforcements to neutralize him or her, but this may reveal our location to the enemies," he said with Hackmesser's voice. "Have you found the Nemesis?"

"Spectrum analysis indicates trace amounts of Cybertronian alloys in human artifacts, but I believe this is because the humans mistook the alloy samples for materials available on this planet, and recycled these samples for their primitive tools." Schuppenpanzer's answer incurred Hackmesser's anger; Rom could feel its heat across the distance between them.

"Then our caution is wasting our time. Come; I will seek Lord Cy-Kill's permission to perform an aerial or orbital search; if necessary, we'll strip away this planet's crust to find the Nemesis and the Light within it." The Halberstadt and the Albatros fighters appeared overhead. "Leave no witnesses." With those words, Hackmesser launched a 10-kilogram bomb-- not dropped, but electromagnetically launched from a gun-like weapon under the fuselage-- while the Albatros fighters strafed the motor pool.

Rom watched Werner draw a MP18 machine pistol and target the nearest human. "No!" He reached for his brother's arm, only for the words "RANK: 08 OVERRIDE" to appear. "Ahhhh!" Rom shut his eyes in pain, but he still heard the German soldiers' screams over his own as Werner executed Hackmesser's order.

Schuppenpanzer drove by the hybrid lying on the ground, paralyzed by pain. "Eliminate your sympathy towards the weak, your ability to feel another's pain; strengthen yourself to relieve your own pain." Sickle blades extended from the A7V's sides; then the tank raced around the motor pool, the blades cutting down nearby humans as his machine guns killed those further away.

Minutes later, no humans drew breath at the German camp-- not even Rom, who knew he and his siblings could never again call themselves "human."


AJ stepped between the cots in the crowded field hospital, providing first aid to those she could help and comforting those she couldn't, whom she knew would die before the overworked doctors could reach them. 'I wonder if Nick...?' The nurse paused. 'Why did I...? Stop, AJ. Thinking about a soldier will only bring you heartache and depression when you learn of his death.' She noticed a brunette nurse-- a stranger-- stand before each patient, exchange words, before marching to the next patient. The stranger turned to AJ as the nurse approached her and asked, "May I help you, Nurse...?"

"I am Liena," the disguised hybrid remembered Hackmesser's order to avoid detection, and gave "Gellert," her late father's name, as her surname. "I am looking for the pilot of a Sopwith Camel, serial number B6402, which was shot down this morning."

AJ raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "If it happened just this morning, the records won't be available-- the bureaucrats can take days processing the casualties' names, and even then, we have several 'Unknown Warriors' buried nearby-- but I'll see if I can help. What's the pilot's name and rank?"

"I don't have that information, but I do have a description; the pilot is..."

AJ's eyes widened as Liena used the information she downloaded from Schuppenpanzer. "That sounds like," 'Nick,' "someone I know." Her legs felt weak, so AJ leaned against a wall to steady herself. "I don't think I saw him among those who," 'died or,' "were wounded today, but I'll inform you if I do."

Liena began to bow. "Thank you, Miss..."

AJ forced herself to smile. "Mrs. Allison J. Foster."

Liena completed her bow. "Thank you, Mrs. Foster."


"So what are you in for?" the ambulance driver asked with a smirk, as if the passenger beside him was a convict on the way to prison.

"I'm a pilot," Nick began. "I was doing my part to stop a Hun charge against the English; the Huns didn't like that, so they archied my bird."


"Antiaircraft gunfire," the American explained. "Then..." 'Did I witness a miracle today?' Nick thought of the "angel" who saved him before changing into another Camel, like a caterpillar into a butterfly, and flying away. "I guess I can thank God for literally pulling me out of the fire."

"Better pay, better food, liberal and loving women, and now the help of God Himself. You Yanks make me sick with envy," the driver said, a smirk hiding his bitterness.

Nick was no stranger to hidden emotions. "Hey, if you want to switch places and take a chance on a set of wooden wings, armored with linen and loaded with gas-- petrol-- and fly that motorized matchstick within range of Hun guns while I chauffeur the casualties--"

"Whoa, there! I got nothing against you Yanks getting the glory of being the tip of the spear. Gives us John Bulls a chance to become grandpas." The driver's smile brightened at the sight of a farmhouse, the field hospital. "We got here early," he affectionately patted the Ford Model T ambulance's dashboard, "thanks to this new steed. I've never had an engine run so smoothly before. Once our boys are in good hands," a nurse approached the ambulance, "I'll take you to--"

"Excuse me, are you Nick Burns?" the brunette asked.


"I have an urgent message from your father. Please come with--" Liena fell silent when Nick frowned in suspicion.

"My... father?"

'Did he too lose his father?' Liena shared Hackmesser's frustration that humans had yet to invent computers and computer networks through which such information could be filed and accessed from any location on Earth, though she didn't know what a computer was until the device became part of her body. "I'm sorry, the message was from a man I assumed was your father, so great was his concern for you." The frown remained. "Please come with me." Liena walked towards the hospital, hoping the target would follow her.

Nurses, orderlies-- even patients who were mobile-- came to carry the casualties from the ambulance to the hospital; one of them approached the hybrid and asked, "Are you okay, Nurse Gellert?"

"Nick Burns has an urgent..." Liena felt AJ dab her cheeks with a handkerchief, and realized she was crying. 'Everyone here... the Decepticons will kill them to ensure their silence, except Mister Burns, whose fate will be worse than death.' The hybrid fell on her knees, the implanted computer unable to suppress her grief for the humans' fate, and her remorse for her role in it.

AJ took a knee and spread her arms to embrace and comfort Liena. "It's okay, Nurse," a hand pulled her away from what she thought was a woman, "ow!"

"Watch out!" Nick ignored AJ's protests and resistance as he pulled the nurse away from Liena.

"What are you...? Have you lost your mind, Lieutenant Burns?!"


AJ gasped at the sight of electricity arcing from Liena's body, burning holes in cloned skin and revealing a metal skeleton. Other humans echoed the nurse's gasp and added, "Oh Lord!" "Someone help her!" "What in the name of God...?"

Compared to the guilt of what Hackmesser would make her do, the pain of the override was insignificant. Tears continued to flow down Liena's cheeks as an extending rail burst through the skin on her right forearm to place a laser pistol in her hand. "I'm sorry." Liena wished she was the target instead of AJ and the other humans, that death would release her from the tortured life of a half-machine monster, as the prosthetic finger squeezed the trigger.

Boom! Flames shot from the underside of the Ford, launching it sideways towards Liena. 'The fuel...? No!' The hybrid turned and sent laser beams towards the ambulance's engine and fuel tank-- or rather, where they'd be in a real Ford Model T. Metal arms-- shaped and proportioned like a man's, but too large to belong to one-- extended from the ambulance; the left reached into the cab to grab the stunned driver and lift him out of the "Ford," onto the ground, while the right reached for Liena.

"Take cover!" Nick received no protests from AJ as he pulled the nurse away from the... 'What in hell is that thing?!' the American wondered as the ambulance metamorphosed into what, the humans felt, bore an unsettling resemblance to them.

"I should've known 'twas bad luck to drive on the Sabbath Day," the ambulance driver muttered as the Ford-turned-machine man turned to him.

Tools extended from the machine man's fingertips. "Please evacuate the area."

Liena shot at her captor without effect-- the lasers were designed to kill humans, not Cybertronians like her masters-- so she targeted Nick. "Release me, or," a microwave beam, precisely targeting her cranial implants, began to shutdown her mechanical components. "No!" She fell unconscious.

"The, uh, human-machine hybrid," the tools reached under Liena's clothes, "may have," sparks shot from the hybrid's joints, "a self-destruct-- a suicide bomb to prevent capture." The humans, too surprised to argue with the machine man, turned around and entered the farmhouse. The following morning, they'd dismiss the metal apparitions as a stress-induced hallucination-- with two exceptions.

Nick noticed the machine man's chest now bore a burning red insignia, which was dark and hidden on the ambulance. 'I've seen it before.' He approached the machine man; AJ, alarmed, called his name, but the American didn't notice this as he asked, "Are you one of Groove's compatriots?"

"Uh, yes. My name is Ratchet." 'Leader One won't be happy,' the Autobot medic thought of his acting commander's reaction to this incident. "There." Ratchet opened a hatch to his vehicle mode's passenger compartment, where he put Liena.

Mechanical noises interrupted them. Nick turned to see RFC insignia on two German aircraft. "Uh, Ratchet, right? Can Groove or your fellow compatriots assume the form of Albatros biplanes?" He was surprised when Ratchet's optics widened. 'His metal mask is as expressive as a human face.'

"Take cover!" Ratchet drew a metal instrument-- undoubtedly a gun, despite its alien origin. Nick grabbed AJ and ran into the hospital as the Albatros fighters strafed the Autobot.

Ratchet and the Decepticon drones were armed with lasers, whose sounds the humans didn't recognize as that of weapons; the confused patients and nurses asked the running figures, "What's wrong?" and "What was that?"

"Air raid! Air raid!" Nick's warning sent the people rushing towards the wine cellar. The improvised air raid shelter was crowded-- wooden beams were added to reinforce the ceiling and walls, so the basement wouldn't become a tomb-- but Nick alone doubted the cellar offered shelter from the attacking "Germans." The American heard someone call his name, and turned to the speaker.

"Who or what was that walking ambulance?!" AJ demanded.

"He called himself Ratchet. Groove, one of his compatriots, saved my life this morning. I thought I was hallucinating when Groove... transformed... into a Sopwith Camel afterwards."

"Are those machine men your allies?"

Nick turned to hear the shriek of metal twisted and torn by great forces. "I don't know, but it seems Ratchet and Groove's enemies are of the same race-- machine men who've assumed the form of manmade vehicles."

Boom! "Ah!" AJ instinctively embraced Nick as the walls shook; then she blushed and pushed away the young man. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant Burns."

Nick too was blushing. "It's okay; I'm shaken too."

Silence fell; the humans found this more disturbing than the sounds of battle. "Is it over?" AJ asked.

A Cruellock drone's burning wreckage laid before Ratchet, but this brought him no comfort as he laid on his chest, his wrists caught in the front of a Mark V booty tank's track frames-- split to form scorpion-like claws-- his arms pulled backwards until they were perpendicular to the ground.

"Nice not to see you, Fangs," the medic mockingly greeted the Decepticon standing on his back. A metal boot flashed before him. "Ah!"

Fangs' leonine head bore a unicorn-like horn-- the barrel of a M1918 antitank rifle, which replaced the bow machine gun in certain booty tanks. When he laughed, three rows of metal-cutting teeth were visible, like the legendary manticore. "Heh heh heh heh heh!"

"I'm very happy to see you," Crasher's head turned to scan the area, before she took a knee to meet Ratchet's optics, "your ship out of sight, your comrades out of reach and unable to save you. We have a minimum of 20 minutes with which to torture you, or disassemble humans to torture your spark," the Cybertronian soul. The female Decepticon's hands half-closed into "leopard fists," as they were known to practitioners of Chinese martial arts; feline claws extend from the proximal phalanges. "We can make you beg for your own destruction." Crasher slowly, sadistically pushed the claws into Ratchet's forearm, just below Fangs' claw.

"Grrrr!" The medic's teeth clenched to deny the Decepticon the pleasure of hearing him scream.

"But if you confess your sins," Crasher pulled her claws downwards, "and having served the Autobots since the war's dawn, you're sins are great and many," four cuts reached from the wrist to Ratchet's elbow, "we'll be," the Amazon smiled, "merciful."

"I," the medic seemed to hyperventilate as his cooling systems struggled to prevent overheating in his electronics, "I'm..." Ratchet felt the claws burn as Crasher activated their cutting mechanisms. "Ahhhh!"

"Speak up," the Amazon growled.

"I... did not..."

A 112-pound (50.8 kg) bomb exploded upon Crasher's back, blowing the Amazon off her feet, away from Ratchet. "Shriek!" A second bomb struck Fangs' head, blinding and deafening the manticore. "Roarrrr!"

Ratchet smiled. "Come alone," he finished as an Airco DH.4 fighter-bomber launched a third bomb to behead the surviving Cruellock.

Fangs, now reliant upon the targeting optics of his claw-mounted 57-millimeter Maxim-Nordenfelt guns, tracked the bomb's flight path to the assailant's position-- or rather, where the DH.4 was, as the high explosive (HE) shells harmlessly detonated far behind the fighter-bomber. He didn't see the medic's legs sweep behind his, knocking the manticore off his feet. "Roarrrr!" Ratchet's maser fired microwave beams at Fangs' now vulnerable electronic brain, putting the manticore in stasis lock-- unconscious.

Crasher jumped to her feet with agility not expected of one so heavily armored. "Blades!" Ball lightning flew from her raised hands; the DH.4 looped and rolled to dodge these spheres of electrons, but they tracked the fighter-bomber with the skill of bloodhounds. One ball hit the DH.4; the others immediately and simultaneously joined the first, covering the fighter-bomber with electrical burns.

"Ah!" Blades shed his disguise-- the Airco's lower wings became arms, the tail extended to become legs, the engine folded forwards to reveal the head-- to land, but the electrical damage unbalanced the Autobot warrior, sending him tumbling forwards. "You breach!" He recovered-- the tumble became a roll, putting him back on his feet-- and launched more bombs at Crasher.

Ball lightning struck the bombs, which exploded in midair. The Amazon's smile revealed metal-cutting teeth, survival tools to let her scavenge the fuel tanks of other mechanical life forms. "Is that the best...?" The first bomb breached her backplate; the barrel of a laser pistol reached into this hole, sending flames shooting from the back of her shoulders. "Shrieeeek!" Crasher's backhand sent Ratchet flying off his feet. "You," her integral fire extinguishers began smothering the flames, "must do better," nanomachines acted as platelets to flow towards the hole, self-destruct to fuse with each other, and seal the breach, "than that." Her hands burned blue-white, red-gold, and then yellow-green, the ball lightning changing colors as she stomped towards the Airco-turned-knight.

Blades smiled to know Crasher considered him a greater threat. "We can." He remotely detonated a bomb he fired into the ground during his fall, the bomb that Crasher-- ignoring one hole among those formed during the battle between Ratchet and her drones-- stepped over.

A pillar of fire rose between the Amazon's legs, launching her into the air. "Shrieeeek!" The fall should've put Crasher in stasis lock, but a Junkers J.I ground attack plane flew underneath her, the lower wings becoming arms to catch the Amazon.

57 mm guns roared, but instead of hitting the surprised Autobots, the HE shells cracked open the drones' heads and broke their spines; then the manticore's arms spread like wings as he rocketed away from his enemies.

Blades' attention turned from the retreating Decepticons to the drones' remains. "Can you salvage anything from their memory?" he asked of the drones' electronic brains.

Ratchet's head shook. "Fangs is an expert in destruction; I don't know how, but he knew what he was doing." He turned to the sound of internal combustion engines, not a simulation forming part of the Earth-based Cybertronians' disguise. "Allied forces are approaching; we should leave before more humans learn of our presence." The medic transformed. The warrior loaded the drones' wrecks into the ambulance, using a cargo net to attach the remains to the roof, before rocketing out of sight. The ambulance's holographic driver frowned in frustration as Ratchet, apparently stuck in the mud before the hospital, spun his tires to erase the Cybertronians' footprints; then Ratchet raced after Blades.

Neither Autobot noticed a Model 24 stick hand grenade lying on the ground, recording their activities. Four legs and two pincers extended from the grenade-- a disguised "spyder" or spy automaton-- while the stick curled over the body like a scorpion's tail. The spyder crawled towards the trenches, where its master would retrieve it.


Werner's electromagnets let him stand upon the ceiling the hangar, watching his nervous brother pace upon the surface. "Liena will not come to any harm."

The comment made Rom's HUD project crosshairs onto Werner. "She's already come to harm; Hackmesser turned her into a metal skeleton, a mechanical Angel of Death whose hand in marriage will be sought by none but the damned and the insane. Can you imagine the scars this will leave on a woman's soul? How this has devastated Liena's hopes and dreams of a happy life and a loving family?"

Werner looked up at the bomb bay/hangar doors, hiding his expression from Rom. "Sirs Doomwing, Crasher, and Fangs are returning." A Cruellock walked under the hybrids, towards the opening doors. "Control your emotions... please... or they'll be overridden." Rom's gaze turned to the opening doors; he didn't see the tears falling from Werner's eyes.

Fangs stumbled and almost fell out of the bomb bay/hangar, but the drone's arms extended to catch him; then the Cruellock led the blind manticore down a hallway, towards a repair chamber.

Crasher's curses were heard over the roar of the booster rockets lifting her towards the hangar. "I'll kill Blades-- after I torture him until his frame and spark are no more than a dying flame upon his burning wreckage! Take his bomb launcher, shove it up his exhaust pipe, and pull the trigger until the fuses pop out of his mouth!"

Doomwing entered the hangar before dropping his disguise as a Junkers J.I. The lower wings became arms; the rudder remained in place as a "tail" while the rear fuselage split, the two halves extending to form legs; and the nose extended to reveal a neck as the engine cowling split to reveal a mouth.

'He resembles a werewolf or vampire.' Rom shuddered as Doomwing turned to him, as if the Decepticon read his mind. 'He's... smiling?'

Werner approached Doomwing, drawing the "werewolf's" attention. "I beg your pardon, Sir Doomwing. Where is Galiena?"

"Ratchet captured her," Crasher answered. "The Autobot," she searched her memory for an appropriate insult, "necrophiliac is probably disassembling your sister and... masturbating at the sight of her organic components." She knew Ratchet couldn't be described as a sexual deviant-- without sexual organs, male and female Cybertronians must "give birth" by creating copies of their core consciousness, merging these copies to create a new spark, before downloading this spark into a new body-- but it pleased her to see Rom burn with rage at the words.

"You abandoned my sister to this... mechanical Gilles de Rais?!" Rom felt Werner's hand upon his shoulder, and threw it off; he ignored his brother's plea to remain calm as energy flowed into his weapons.

The override codes were used, shutting down Rom's electromagnets. "Argh!" The hybrid somersaulted in midair to land on his feet, only to fall on his knees. "I will," Rom, resisting the paralyzing effects of pain, forced himself onto his feet, "no longer," an electric shock accompanied each step he took, "be," knowing the override safed his integral weapons and locked the setting, the hybrid prepared to attack Crasher with his bare hands, "your slave!"

Darkness fell upon Rom-- not a loss of consciousness, but an overwhelming sense of Doom, a vision of death and destruction that shattered the soul, until madness alone reigned over the broken pieces of his mind. "Ahhhh!"

Doomwing gazed upon the hybrid lying on the floor. "Hackmesser?"

"I won't allow my time and effort to be wasted," the spymaster growled as he entered the hangar. "Do not damage his frame, but do as you wish to his spark-- disassemble his mind and rebuild it into a useful tool, firmly within our control."

Werner stared at the man-machine hybrid lying overhead; Rom's arms were spread, like Jesus on the cross, as Doomwing's psychic powers tortured him. 'I'm sorry, Rom.' He knelt upon the ceiling and allowed himself to cry in sympathy for his brother.


To be continued.