"No, no, no! It's all wrong. This cannot be Earth," the raspy voice of his lieutenant resonated from outside, though the metal corridors of the Darksyde's boarding platform, now the ship's primary exit. "Megatron, you failed! Not only did you fail to destroy the Maximals when you had the chance, you failed to bring us to the right planet! We stole the Golden Disk for nothing! You idiot!"
"Heh," Megatron chuckled darkly as he emerged into the planet's daylight. "I beg your pardon? What did you call me?"
"You heard. You are an idiot and an incompetent leader, and I am taking over. Dinobot: Terrorize!" With a the activation of his transformation code and a pitched roar, the robotic raptor took on his true form, a sleek robotic design enhanced with muscular flesh in places. "I challenge you to battle, Megatron. The winner shall lead the Predacons, and the loser shall be destroyed!"
Nonplussed, Megatron swiveled his impressive new bulk to the side, pacing the entryway leisurely as he spoke. "Ahh, you're so impulsive, Dinobot. Brave... but misguided." How elegant our new beast-forms are, he mused idly. They had adapted their bodies to allow themselves to survive the energon radiation permeating the planet. But aside from the utilitarian need, he found himself rather pleased within the imposing form of a Tyrannosaurus rex.
"Do you accept my challenge?" Dinobot insisted.
This time, Megatron's laugh was more pronounced. "There's more to being a leader than simple courage. Well, there's cleverness, and cunning as well. Isn't that right
Scorponok?" He stepped aside to reveal his more loyal warrior, who, without hesitation, fired a missile and blew Dinobot into the sky. The shot would not destroy him, but it would let him know that he was no longer welcome aboard the Darksyde.
For a proud warrior like Dinobot, Megatron assumed that would be a fate worse than death. He was not quite sure what arcane code Dinobot followed, nor did he really care. Dinobot was a being of incredible passion. That was the source of his strength, but it was also his greatest weakness. "Loser," he murmured.
Two deca-cycles had transpired since Dinobot's banishment and subsequent defection to the other side. Megatron had not anticipated Dinobot's hatred for the Maximals could be outweighed by hatred for anything else, let alone him. Ironically, they had come to Earth four millions years into its past. The Beast Wars inevitably had shifted from a conflict over energon, to a war for time itself. History was Megatron's to mold as if he were a potter and it was clay. The only things standing between him and virtual godhood were Optimus Primal's Maximals
Much had changed in their years here. Scorponok and Terrorsaur were deactivated. The transwarp wave had given new powers to soldiers on both sides, Megatron included. New Predacons had been recruited from Maximal stasis pods, either by forceful reprogramming or by coercion, the latter being true for Megatron's bodyguard on this particular day. Rampage, the sociopathic supersoldier, chugged beside him on his trek, sullen in his enslavement. They walked in silence, aside from one minor interruption to chase off a Maximal scout who had stumbled across them. Master and slave needed no conversation.
Primates scrambled away from them in terror, hooting and screeching in fear. Anthropoids, the predecessors to the human race, were thick within the area. He found it personally insulting to fathom that such primitive fleabags were destined to become a race that had actually posed a threat to his Decepticon forebears. If the universe actually is run by a supreme power, then they have a perverse sense of humor, he thought as he fired his rockets and took to the skies for reconnaissance.
Finally Megatron recognized a familiar site and paused in the sky, transforming from a mechanized Tyrannosaurus into a bronze and black robot and coming to a landing beside his minion. "That mountain," he pointed out. "That will serve our purpose. Yes."
Rampage grew furious. "You brought us all this way to look at scenery!?"
Megatron held a familiar chamber between the claws of his tail-weapon. Within the container beat half of Rampage's spark, his life force. "I don't care for your tone Rampage," he said, giving the container a good squeeze. Rampage convulsed in a fiery agony that surged through his very being. No other Cybertronian could survive such abuse to their spark, but Rampage endured whether he liked it or not. Being indestructible was not as advantageous as it could seem. His indestructibility made him threefold the perfect soldier. He could not die. He could be controlled. And the pain he endured stirred anger and hatred so deep that insanity was the only possible result.
Satisfied that the reminder had been served, Megatron relinquished his grip and stowed away the captive spark fragment. Back to the business at hand: "Soon, very soon, I expect a visit from Cybertron."
Rampage clamped a claw for effect. "I eagerly anticipate your eminent demise then." Still rebellious, but not making any personal threats towards him. Megatron didn't mind a little fire.
"A likely outcome, I admit
" he said. Reaching back, he removed a precious artifact from a special compartment in his back: the Golden Disk, the very instrument that had led them to this point in Earth's prehistory; humanity's attempt to contact other races in the cosmos. His predecessor, the original Megatron, had taken the disk and secretly encoded a second message within the very molecular structure of the disk, a message that only the contemporary Megatron had managed to discover and decode. All other attempts to harness the energon of the planet had failed. Now was the time for a more desperate gambit.
He transformed his claw weapon into a special player for the disk. "
but only if history remains as it is." He projected an image from within the disk, a picture of the same mountain that stood before them in the horizon smaller, slightly different, but without a doubt the same piece of topography. "My dear Rampage, if you please
"You presume to order me!?"
Megatron merely smiled smugly, tapping his fingers rhythmically on his chest
the same area where Rampage stored his spark inside his own body. He and the homicidal maniac stared each other down, shaping each other up. Understanding one another. Rampage shifted his form, transforming from a crab into an assault tank and aiming his tri-barreled rocket-launcher right where Megatron tapped his chest. Even though he was a Maximal experiment gone wrong, Rampage had all the qualities of a true Predacon. Ultimately the contest of wills ended, with the only possible victor watching as his orders were carried out. Rampage turned on his treads, aimed for the mountaintop, and fired one of his biggest missiles with a huge, viscerally gratifying CROOM!.
The echoes of the shot reverberated through the lands; that was the definition of music to a Predacon. They cherished little beauty outside the art of war. Glory and power were the lifeblood of their race; a destiny denied them by their Maximal oppressors.
The mountaintop exploded before their optics, its cap completely leveled. Megatron waited anxiously, darting his gaze back and forth from the projected image to the haze of dust and fire miles away. This image on the disk wavered, faltered, even disappeared for a moment as history adjusted and then the future made manifest. The mountain in the image became instantly smaller. "Yes. Yes! Oh my crazed crustacean, do you realize what this means!?"
"You think me a fool?" Rampage snarled.
"Of course not," Megatron beamed, but he was in the mood to explain it anyway: "Whatever I change in the here and now affects not only the future, but also the intelligence I have on the future! The power I now yield in this deceptively-simple disk of gold is nearly infinite, yes! With this tool, I will mold an ideal time stream, a future that bears witness to a mighty Predacon Empire!" With his gloating accomplished, he carefully - almost reverently - put away the Disk and transmitted a signal to his base, where his forces stood by. In a way, it would be like collaborating with his namesake, the founder of the Decepticons. Whatever changes rendered to the future would require the original Megatron to encode different information into his messages, thus allowing him to make even greater adjustments to Time.
He turned to regard the landscape behind them. Whether he was speaking to his single listener or waxing eloquent unto himself, Megatron wasn't entirely sure. Soliloquies could be cathartic, but sometimes one needed an audience. "Now, according to this disk, the human race is destined to emerge from this valley." He growled. "Humans. Thanks to their interference, the Autobots defeated the Decepticons and thus, it is the Maximals which rule us. But no longer. No. Destiny is about to undergo
Though Cybertronians could speak and process language at virtually any rate, he articulated slowly as they waited for his army to arrive. One would not want to grow bored on the cusp of so dynamic a victory. Soon they flew in and filed up beside him, like a good little army despite their ragtag appearance. Very few of his original recruits remained in fact for the first time, Megatron noticed that Waspinator was actually the only one left. Blackarachnia and Inferno had been reprogrammed from Maximal protoforms. Rampage's original sobriquet had been Protoform X, a secret Maximal guinea pig that had turned on his masters, then sentenced to eternal banishment for the rest of existence before Megatron had
salvaged him. Tarantulas and Dinobot were the only remaining survivors from his original crew and
well, the less said about those two traitors, the better.
He took one final look at his army before pointing down to the landscape below with his weapon. "Destroy this valley, and everything in it! The human race will never have existed!"
His Predacons were not the mighty war machine of his predecessors's Decepticon army. Yet despite their foibles, when it came to destruction, his small Predacon militia was thorough. Within kliks, Rampage, Blackarachnia, Inferno, Quickstrike and Waspinator had most of the valley besieged in flames. The primitive, pitiful primates within scrambled in terror, futile as it was. Soon, the fragile fleshbags would all be exterminated like the vermin they were, and the Decepticons would be one step closer to victory in the past's future.
Megatron stood upon the edge of the valley, watching with borderline glee. The reigning Predacons, the Tri-Predacus Council, were a cowardly leadership who lacked the ball bearings to challenge the Maximals. Their cold-war approach brought stagnation to the Predacon army. The elder Predacons were now bitter old empties, rusting while they sat around sharing stories about the so-called glorious olden days. Only he had the initiative to be proactive, and no one dared support him. They had been too worried that their Maximal overlords would deprive them of even more of the measly table scraps. And even worse, they had tried to stop him, hoping to earn favor with their conquerors! When he would become next Emperor of Destruction, they would die alongside the Maximals.
Thoughts of glory and power surged through his imagination. Soon the very galaxy would be his to rule. It was his rightful inheritance-
Inferno screamed. It was not his battle-cry or his fervent pyromaniac's cackle, it was a cry of terror. And it was coming closer. He saw the flash of silver and red as his soldier's decapitated head soared past him, still screaming. Two signals winked out in his internal monitor. He growled. "Dinobot."
He activated his comm. line. "Quickstrike, withdraw to my position."
"Do as I say!" he snapped. "We have a visitor and I want to hold you in reserve until we can isolate his position."
"Just get over here!" he bellowed through the transmission.
He closed the transmission. He certainly didn't keep Quickstrike for his intelligence. Of course, if the desperado-minded little glitch ever smartened up, he would realize that Megatron was using him to wipe himself out of existence. It was a tradeoff.
While Quickstrike crawled up the cliff side to join him, Megatron kept a sharp eye out, mostly on Rampage and Waspinator. They would be Dinobot's next target. Sure enough, he soon revealed himself, battle-damaged but still lethal. Using his rotor-weapon to slow his decent, the traitor hailed down a storm of fire on Rampage and his former shipmate Waspinator, coming to a hard landing atop the insect. Waspinator was down. Rampage transformed into his tank mode, once again leveling that mighty cannon at Dinobot. Megatron watched in anticipation as Dinobot seemed to hesitate, unsure how to escape. He knew he could not dodge the shot with the barrel two feet away from him, and Rampage was too strong to divert. "Yes. Yess
" Megatron coaxed from afar. "Terminate him!"
Swiftly Dinobot hoisted up Waspinator and shoved his head into the barrel of Rampage's cannon. The missile fired, erupting while still inside its shooter. Rampage exploded. Dinobot was knocked away by the force but not destroyed.
As the challenger lay on the ground, struggling to get up, Megatron and Quickstrike shared a moment of awed silence. That was not the outcome either had expected. He knew Quickstrike was impressed, but Megatron admitted to himself that he should not have been surprised. Dinobot may be a Maximal in allegiance, but he was still forged of Predacon parts. Misguided as he was, he was still superior to any Maximal. Finally he broke the silence using the only weapon he could muster: irreverent sarcasm. "One lonely turncoat, battling on against impossible odds. I'm almost
touched." He brought a finger up to his faceplate as if to wipe away a tear. Cybertronians did not cry; it was a symbolic gesture not just to mock the situation, but to mock the species he sought to exterminate. "Fortunately such moments pass quickly. Quickstrike, scrap him."
Quickstrike nodded once before leaping back into the valley. "Yeehaw!"
The Predacon leader surveyed the valley and those within once more. "And, just to tilt the odds even further
Megatron kept his audio sensors on high sensitivity as he ventured down into the valley himself to easily capture a target and bind it in energy-lashes. As expected, Quickstrike only provided a minor distraction for a warrior of Dinobot's caliber. But as Megatron set his captive down behind a boulder and listened while he pummeled Quickstrike, he managed to gain an accurate assessment of Dinobot's condition.
"Override." He heard Dinobot command his internal computer, no doubt diverting power to more vital systems or, most ideally, shutting down the stasis lock failsafe that would save him from death. "Override!" he snarled. Oh, his condition was even worse than Megatron could have hoped. Today he would finally see the end of his treacherous once-lieutenant. How easy it would be to just shoot him in the back now, but Dinobot deserved more than that. He had to be humiliated, not just destroyed. He would suffer two deaths, one of the will before the body.
Transforming back to his Tyrannosaurus form, the Predacon commander strode leisurely out from his hiding place, strutting in a grand entrance.
Dinobot, of course, heard him coming. "Megatron
"Hmm, my ears are burning! Yes. Why, Dinobot! What a delightful surprise." Everything about his body language assured Dinobot that he was no longer considered a threat. How better a way to break his spirit. The only thing better was to remind him of his past failures. "Let's see, where are we now? I have the Golden Disk, I have the power to change the future, and the only obstacle in my path to unimaginable glory
It was time to end this. Megatron transformed, discarding his beast mode for his true face, the charismatic countenance that had first recruited Dinobot to his rebellious cause. It seemed more than just two stellar-cycles ago. He continued: "
is yourself. Exhausted. Damaged beyond recovery. Defeated."
" his words were labored, his voice staticy. "just
" But they bared that accursed pride of his. "yet!" One attribute Dinobot shared with him was an appreciation for the dramatic. It was not enough to simply do something; Predacons did with poise and panache. It was how they displayed their superiority over their enemies. He charged.
"Ah, ah, ah!" Megatron scolded, wagging a finger as if Dinobot was a mere protoform. He leveled his tail-cannon at his hostage, one of the human ancestors Dinobot had fought so valiantly to preserve. Who knew, perhaps this was the very one from whose loins would sprout humanity. One could never be too careful when trying to preserve the past. On the other hand, destroying it could be so very easy. "One more step, and it's raining bits of early anthropoid. Yesssssss."
Dinobot, predictably, froze in his tracks.
"Oh dear, how positively Maximal of you," Megatron taunted. "You were weakened before you started, Dinobot. Weakened by compassion." He aimed his gun and began to charge it. It glowed purple, tinting the orange licks of fiery glory that illuminated the valley.
Megatron knew Dinobot feared death. It was his supreme weakness, the flaw that held him back from becoming the "true warrior" he used to babble on and on about becoming. Dinobot put up a brave front, but Megatron had managed to play that fear against him time and again, filling him with doubt and weakening his resolve. That fear had almost driven him back into Megatron's fold, once. But he had always secretly known that Dinobot's death could only come from his hands. Out of all the warriors in the Beast Wars, Megatron was Dinobot's only superior. Not even Optimus Primal compared to them.
But where was that fear now? All Megatron could perceive was defiance, a boldness in the face of death. Perhaps even a strange serenity. What madness had filled Dinobot!? In that moment, Megatron realized he had made two mistakes. He had taken his gun off his hostage... and he had failed to shoot Dinobot immediately.
With all his weapons either deactivated or lost in battle, Dinobot grabbed a chunk of wood and rushed Megatron, knocking his cannon off-target. He lost charge as he weathered Dinobot's desperate onslaught. Recollecting himself, Megatron swatted him aside with one punch.
Nevertheless, he felt embarrassment for being caught off-guard like that. How unbecoming! Dinobot could not be allowed to die thinking he had gotten the upper hand one last time. One last contest of prides, then. He forced a chuckle. "Really, Dinobot? A stick? Against a Transmetal? I think not."
The fool struggled to get back onto his feet, barely managing the deed. He still pathetically clutched the chunk of wood in his claws. What would it take for Dinotbot to concede his inferiority to the destined ruler of the Predacons and the universe? "Face it, Dinobot! You're old technology, obsolete. What could you possibly do?"
Somehow Dinobot drew on one last burst of strength to slam the stick down into a stone. The rock wedged into the wood firmly, and Megatron watched, first amused, then bewildered, as Dinobot leapt for him one final time. The stone connected, but Dinobot did not aim for any vital places. He knew a rock would do no good. Instead, Megatron felt his storage chamber for the disk activate, sliding the precious artifact out of his body.
Only his former lieutenant could know him intimately enough to know where he would store the Disk and how to trigger an involuntary ejection like that. Only Dinobot, the only one with the courage to turn so completely against him. Even Tarantulas did not have the audacity to betray him so thoroughly.
Megatron stumbled from the force of the blow and fell back. In the corner of one optic sensor he saw his bonds sputter and release their anthropoid captive, who quickly got up and fled. By the time he had his eyes on Dinobot again, though, he beheld an even more tragic loss. The traitor's eyes began to hum and turn green as he diverted his final ions of power to fire his optic beams. With a mighty bellow, Dinobot held the Golden Disk in the air and sacrificed his last chance of survival to shoot the Disk and shatter it beyond recovery.
Megatron gasped. As he struggled back onto his feet, he felt pain wrack his body. Optimus Primal's Maximals had arrived and they targeted him in a barrage of their combined firepower. "So close," he lamented as he transformed to flight mode. Rage began to boil up within him. To The Pit with Dinobot! May his spark suffer twofold in whatever hells exist for traitors! "I was so clooooooooose!" he bellowed as he escaped to fight another day.
The Beast Wars continued, taking many surprising twists and turns along the way. The anthropoids had scattered beyond his abilities to track them down again. If anything, Megatron had become more desperate, more determined to win the Beast Wars, to ensure that Dinobot's death would be in vain. He could think of no way more effective to desecrate Dinobot's memory
"From the tempest's fury, the spark ignites
to sire new life! Transmetal 2 life!" Megatron raised his arms into the air and laughed as his tower caught the lightning to channel its power into his newest creation.
A burst of light emanated from the pod as the proto-matter coalesced. For a moment, Megatron wondered if it had worked. Then emerged an unholy mishmash of bone and circuitry, a new being with an old voice. "Oh, yessss." The cloning process had been a success! "Welcome! Yes, welcome, Transmetal 2 Dinobot. To a new body, a new mind, a new allegiance
to the Predacons."