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Chapter 2: “What's past is present."
 

Narrator: It is several hours after the arrival of the Trialis system's newest guests. The firery path of their
re-entry still showing. The inhabitants of these two ships slowly begin to recover and explore their new
environment.

Exterior shot: The surface of the third planet in the Triais system.

 The atmosphere of the planet Trialis three had been pristine and undisturbed for all of galactic history.
Now this perfection had been violated, and still was in fact. Mere hours ago, two foreign objects had come
screaming down from orbit and crashed into the planet’s surface. Though they were now at rest, the twin plumes of smoke that arose from their passage would continue for some time.

 The smaller of the two, the Maximals destroyer the Endeavor had managed to correct her course somewhat. She had merely crashed across the surface, rather than into it. The Predacons had survived through
luck rather than design, they had skimmed across a vast ocean. Their ship skipped like a stone before coming to rest on the shore of a large island. Both crews had survived intact, but whether their ships had, remained to be seen.

Maximal starship, the Endeavor.

 Primon’s ship lay half on its side. Although there had no hull breaches, her armor was blackened and
twisted in places. She had come to rest near the foot of a hill, after carving a trench nearly three miles long in the planet’s surface. Onboard, her crew sought to regain their composer and gauge their losses.

Primon hesitated, not really wanting to know the answer to his question. “Draconis, damage report.”

The Maximals chief engineer, who had been conducting a manual estimate, took a moment before answering. “About as bad as I thought, but better than I was afraid of.”

“Well thanks,” Wingspan, the ship’s pilot said sarcastically. “that sure tells us a lot.”

Draconis shot him a look, then continued. “Our hull is relatively intact, but we lost most of the external weapons and sensors on reentry. All emergency systems are functioning, but we’re still experiencing a general system failure from the power surge that took us down to begin with.”

“Repair estimate?” Primon asked.

“Unknown at this time.” Draconis answered. “The only systems still working right now are the stasis bay, basic life support, and the restoration chambers. Until I get the computers back up, and get a more precise picture of the damage, there’s no way to tell.”

“Fantastic.” Primon said, the disgust in his voice at their situation was all too evident. “All right,” He said finally. “Draconis, you and Cloudburst try to get the main power grid back online. Wingspan, since you still have an alternate form, I want you to patrol the area and make sure we’re secure.”

“Got it Optimus.” Wingspan said, heading for the airlock.

“What are you going to do Optimus?” Cloudburst asked him.

“Check on the others.” Primon answered him. “We may need them all too soon.”

Terrorcon starship, the Defiance.

Because of her relatively soft landing, the Defiance had suffered even less impact damage than her counterpart. The battle damage she had suffered previously however, made up for this somewhat. Her hull was also blackened and charred, but she had hull breaches in several places, and one of her three main engines was at a distinct angle from the others.

“It’s a mess, to say the least.” Outburst reported to his leader, Triplecross. “Worst of all, I can’t even access most of the primary systems to tell how bad it really is.”

Triplecross lay prone on the repair bay’s diagnostic table, as its auto doctor replaced his damaged arm. He was thankful that at least it was still functioning.

“Wonderful.” He said. “Does anyone else have any more good news they would like to add to our engineer’s report?”

“How about, we’re trapped on an alien world, with a defunct ship, and a group of Maximals who would like nothing better than to vaporize us where we stand?” Tantrum added sarcastically.

Angrily, Triplecross sat up, tearing loose the circuit grafts the autodoc had been busy welding into place. From a section in his good arm, a missile launcher came up, and its targeting bracket centered on Tantrum’s head.

“One more word,” He said icily. “just one more word, and I’ll vent that poor excuse for a processor that you laughingly call your brain.”

The room was quiet for a moment, then Tantrum backed down. Triplecross closed down his weapon system, and allowed the autodoc to begin the repairs again.

“What about the Maximals? Has there been any word yet?” He asked after a minute.

Tantrum, still shaken by the confrontation, answered him. “We still haven’t heard back from Dreadwing yet.” He paused, then dared: “Do you think it was a good idea to send ‘him’ out? He’s not even one of us, really.”

“Good idea or not, he was the only one of us I could send. I’m incapacitated, so we need Outburst and you here to start the repairs. Lastly, one of us or not he will get the job done. He doesn’t want to be stuck here any more than we do. There’s nothing for him to ‘feed’ on here.”

“Except us,” Outburst said glumly. “and the Maximals if they survived.”

“In the short run yes,” Triplecross agreed. “but someone who’s immortal like he is can’t afford to think in those terms. In any case, get us back online as soon as possible. If the Maximals are still out there, then I want us operational as soon as possible.”

As his troops went off to carry out their orders, Triplecross used his downtime to figure out the best way to turn their current situation to his advantage. A good commander could find a way to turn any situation to his advantage, and he considered himself to be far more than a ‘good’ commander.

Maximal starship, the Endeavor.

As the sun began to set in the sky near the Endeavor’s crash site, a hatch opened on her starboard side. Wingspan waited until it was fully open before emerging. He stood on the ship’s hull, which still radiated from the heat of reentry. Hey surveyed the damage for a moment, then leapt into the air to get a better vantage. As he did, his parts began to shift until he had changed into a sleek aircraft. He circled above the prone ship a few times, recording his findings for Draconis, before flying off to the east to begin his search.

Initially, it resembled almost any other carbon-based planet. There was an abundance of plant life, a rich atmosphere, and a scattering of lower lifeforms. He was so immersed in the thrill all Maximals felt when exploring a new planet, that he would have missed the city entirely. If he hadn’t flown right over it that is.

He stopped, switching his jets over to hover mode, he turned his sensors up to full and scanned the city for signs of life. One thing about it startled him more than any other. His sensors informed him it was new, no more than a dozen or so years old at best. Taking a slow path around the city, he could see that most of the buildings were simple, with a lot of elements to indicate that they were pre fabricated.  To any explorer, that practically screamed one thing: “A colony.” He thought. “But whose?” He continued searching for a few minutes, looking for any a sign or at least a reaction from any colonists that might still be there, but in hiding.

After a few passes over the city with no reaction, he began to grow frustrated. Then he saw something of interest, on a pole in the center of the city, the tattered remains of a flag waved feebly in the wind. Sailing over to it, he scanned it’s standard, looking for it’s match in his database. The standard itself was simple; it was a plain blue field, with the picture of a single world upon it. While his computer could find no match for the banner, it identified the planet pictured on it all too easily.

“Primus!” He swore. “I’ve got to tell the others.” He flew higher into the air, trying to get a clear line back to the ship.

Internal shot: A dark cavern, lit by the occasional flash of light. A spherical representation of the planet is seen.
                       As we approach, it focuses in on a point near the Maximal ship.

Deep within the planet, a force reacted to his ascent. For millennia it had lain dormant, only awakening two other times in it’s recent memory. Once again it felt the radiant energy that could only have come from a sentient species. Without hesitation, it set about carrying out its primary function.

Maximal Starship, the Endeavor.

Primon sat near the communications terminal, trying in vain to reactivate it. Like most of the other systems on the ship, it had sustained more damage during the crash, than it had from whatever had struck them down. Unfortunately, despite the fact that he had replaced all the damaged circuitry in it, it still stubbornly refused to function. Until he could repair it, that left them with only their short range com links to keep in touch, and no hope of contacting the outside for help. He considered calling Draconis for help, but he knew his engineer was for too busy trying to get the main power grid back online. If they could do that, and Cloudburst could clear the debris away from enough of the thrusters, that might at least be able to upright the ship, and move it somewhere safer.

Throwing down his tools in frustration, he used his comlink to check the stasis hold’s computer again. He had instructed it to begin initial programming for revival, based on the few readings they had taken of the planet before the crash. There wasn’t much there, but he hoped it would be enough for the computer to program the survival protocols of the protoforms. From all indications the process was nearly complete, and now only required DNA or molecular scans of any local mechanical or carbon based life forms. Provided there were any to find somewhere on the planet. He turned to check on Draconis’ progress, when the communications station crackled to life. He ran over to it excited not only that he had fixed it apparently, but that Wingspan was finally reporting in.

“Come in Endeavor, this is Wingspan. Do you read me?” Primon heard over the static. “This is a code one priority signal, please acknowledge.” In his rush to answer, Primon brought his fist down harder than he meant to on the transmit button. The whole panel sparked for a moment, but stayed functional.

“Wingspan, this is Primon. What is your situation?” He said. There was a loud hiss of static that covered the first part of the reply, but then he heard: “and I’m about fifty klicks or so from the base. The colony looks intact, but its been abandoned for some time. The strangest part is who I think it belonged to. I found a flag here, and unless I’m mistaken it’s…” Another hiss cut him off again for a second. “but I can’t find any trace of them anywhere.”

“Wingspan, please repeat that last part we were cut off.”

Somewhere deep in the planet the awareness came more fully awake. The energy spike it had detected earlier had increased, but now it also sensed a transmission. Such things could only indicate a sentient intelligence, and it had only one available response to such a stimuli.

Back in the colony, Wingspan increased power to his transmitter as high as it would go. “I said I think that the people who colonized this pace were from the planet E…..” He cut himself off as every one of his warning sensors suddenly came alive. He looked around, but could not see the threat that they tried to warn him of, but he soon did. The air around him began to charge with energy, so powerful that it cut off his link to the Endeavor. As it began to close on him he dove toward the surface in desperation, but found even that avenue cut off. The energy had surrounded him in a globe like construct that allowed no escape. He quickly changed back to his robot mode, and tried to use his laser to blast a hole in the sphere, but this only seemed to cause it to contract even faster. Within moments it collapsed around him, shorting out his circuits, and sending him plummeting towards the ground.

Maximal ship, the Endeavor.

“Wingspan come in!” Primon screamed at the communicator. “Respond immediately!” Only the hiss of static answered him. He turned and stalked over to the armory. Punching in his access code, he removed a heavy blaster and moved to the airlock. As he reached for the lever he heard the click of another weapon being removed behind him.

“You’re not going alone are you?” Draconis said, attaching an arm mounted blaster to his forearm.

“Yes, you and Cloudburst need to stay here and finish the repairs.” Primon told him, pulling down on the lever.

“Actually, I’ve got the main power grid back online. Unfortunately, since it was a cold start its going to take some time to restart. That should give Cloudburst more than enough time to finish clearing the thrusters.” Draconis said, undaunted.

“Which would go faster if you helped him.” Primon shot back.

Draconis sighed. “Actually, I think you have three possibilities here; One, you can go alone, and then listen to Cloudburst tell you how many regs you broke when you get back. Two you can take him, and then listen to how many regs you’re breaking on the way there and on the way back. Or three, you can take me and avoid options one and two.”

Primon stopped for a moment. Cloudburst’s lectures on regulations were legendary on their ship, mostly for how long he could make them last. “Ok you can come with me, but you get to sit through his lecture when we get back.”

“Deal.” Draconis said. “I can do something productive while I listen. Maybe build a full scale city or something.”

Cloudburst looked up from his work, as he heard the sound of rockets igniting. He saw Primon fly off, followed by Draconis wearing one of the emergency rocket packs. He was about to call them when Primon beat him to the punch.

“Cloudburst, Wingspan is in trouble so I’m going to investigate. Draconis is coming with me for escort, so don’t bother quoting me the regs on a commander going out into an unsecured are unescorted” Primon said.

“But commander,” He started to say. “They also state that…”

“Save it!” Primon cut him off. “We’ll listen when we get back, now keep working on those thrusters and guard the ship. We’ll be in contact soon.

Cloudburst watched them leave, a list of the regulations they were breaking already forming in his head.

Deep within the planet.

The awareness had settled in again, anxious to return to the slumber it had long since earned. Even as it began to relax, the alarms once again began to sound. The threat level was low, but it tracked the signal regardless. If it turned out to be another intelligence, it would deal with them as it had the others.

 Near the edge of a clearing, Dreadwing lurked. He was hungry, but then again he was always hungry. Now though, he sensed the energies of a Maximal close by. He tracked them, and made a discovery he knew would please Triplecross. All he cared about however was the Maximal he saw, who was both alone and helpless. Slowly he closed on his quarry, his fangs glistening in the fading light of the rising moon.

Exterior shot: A mountain range approximately halfway between the Endeavor and the colony.

Primon and Draconis came in low in an effort to avoid detection from whatever had struck Wingspan down. They only had a vague idea where their comrade was as the computer had only been able to get a partial lock on the signal. They had spread out to search a wider area, but so far with no success.

“I’m not even picking up his emergency transponder,” Draconis radioed Primon. “which worries me. That should have activated even if he was in stasis lock. That means its either being blocked, or he’s been…” He let the last comment trail off.

“That’s not an option.” Primon said. “Now let’s find him.”

Draconis shook his head. “Youth.” He thought. “Ok then, I’m going to try going higher and turn my sensors up to maximum. I should be able to detect his signal even if someone’s trying to jam me.”

“If you do that, you might be detected yourself.” Primon said.

“That’s why I’ll need you to stay down here and cover me. It may be the only chance we have to find him.” Draconis said grimly.

“Fine, but be careful.” Primon said

Draconis smiled and said. “I always am, which is why I’ve lived so long.” He rose slowly into the air, and as he did he allowed himself to ride out on the signals of his sensors. He detected their ship off in the distance, Primon below him, and something else to the east. Its power was low, but had a decidedly artificial feel to it. “Primon, I’ve found something.” He said.

The awareness felt the signal grow in strength, it waited to act until it passed the allowed limits. With only a moments hesitation, it acted.

Exterior shot: High above the mountain range.

As Draconis narrowed in on the signal, a new one came to his attention. It seemed to come from everywhere at once, surrounding him before he could even react. Immediately he pulled back into himself as he diverted power from his sensors to his defensive systems. For a moment, as he did so, the energy fluctuated. He had no time to wonder what it meant as he opened fire on the sphere that surrounded him.

Primon saw Draconis’ predicament from the ground where he had sat in wait for anyone who tried to attack his crewmate. He wasn’t sure what he was witnessing, but he decided he wasn’t just going to stand by for it either. He took to the air instantly, drawing a bead on the outer wall of the sphere to blast his friend free. As he did, his radio crackled to life.

“Primon DON”T!” Draconis’ voice said over it. “It seems to be attracted to energy sources above a certain level.”

“I can’t just leave you!” Primon screamed.

“Then don’t leave me, catch me.” He answered.

As the sphere closed around him, Draconis undid the straps on the rocket pack, turning the throttle all the way up as he did. As it rose away with him, he shouted; “Repair mode.”

Exterior shot: Ground level, a clearing just outside of forest at the base of the mountain range.

Primon watched as the sphere contracted closer to his comrade, then it appeared to rise away from him. His prone body fell out of it, just as it contracted around his loose jetpack. Primon flew to his seemingly stricken comrade, catching him before he could strike the ground. He looked back up just in time to see the field short out the pack, and watch it tumble back to the ground. Once its power was gone, the field faded out of existence. Slowly he brought both of them to the ground, and then he shook Draconis, trying to revive him.

“Draconis, answer me damn it.” He yelled. For a moment, there was no response, then slowly Draconis’ eyes lit up as he came back online.

“You know, it’s probably not a good idea to shake a bot like that who may have been injured.” He said.

“Sorry.” Primon said, somewhat abashed. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine now,” He said, looking at the plume of smoke from where his jetpack had crashed. “but I’d say it was a close thing.”

“What was that?” Primon asked.

“Specifically I don’t know, but I’d say it was some sort of a defensive system designed to home in on energy sources above a certain level.” Draconis answered. "When I entered repair mode and shut down, it lost its lock on me and went after the jetpack."

“Designed to protect who, and from what?” Primon wondered.

“I’m not sure about that, but I may be able to tell you from where.” He said, looking in the direction of the signal he had detected.

As soon as they were sure he was all right, Primon flew both of them in the direction of the signal. As they drew near, both of them recognized it to be the emergency beacon they had been looking for, the one that belonged to Wingspan. As they came over the last rise, they found the edge of the city he had discovered. They approached cautiously, waiting for an attack that never came. Following the signal, they found his prone form lying close to the center of the city. He had obviously fallen, but the small size of the crater he left seemed to indicate he had been fairly close to the ground when he had been stricken. The weapon in his hand also told them he had gone down fighting. Draconis knelt down, and used a lead to access Wingspan’s internal computer.

“He’s in stasis lock,” He told Primon. “from the readings I’d say he was subjected to a massive energy surge. I think we can both guess what kind.”

Primon nodded, as he continued to do a low power scan of their surroundings. “This must be the colony he mentioned, but I can’t detect any signs of recent habitation.”

“He did say he thought it had been abandoned.” Draconis said as he began to repair Wingspan. “As soon as we get him back online, maybe we can ask him if he discovered who it belonged to.”

“I don’t think we’ll need to wait that long.” Primon said.

“Why is that?” Draconis said, turning his head towards Primon. As he did, he saw Primon pointing to something behind him.

He rose, and turned to see what it was. High on a pole, the flag that had alarmed Wingspan earlier still waved in the wind. Their tattered remains still proudly baring it’s standard. A blue field, with a planet that bore large blue oceans over much of its surface. Though its location had long since been removed from the Maximal star charts to protect both its inhabitants, and their society, every Maximal knew of its history and importance.

“Earth.” He said in awe. “The planet where the Autobots crashed millions of years ago. That means that this is a human colony.”

“And contact with humans is expressly forbidden by the high council.” Primon finished Draconis’ thought. “I’d say however that’s not a danger here, according to my scans there hasn’t been anyone living here for at least a decade.”

“But why would they build a colony, and then abandon it?” Draconis asked.

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out.” He reached down and picked up Wingspan, carrying him to the central building of the colony.

“What are you doing?” Draconis said, startled.

“We’ve got to get him under cover,” Primon said, still pressing onward. “and then find out what we’re up against.”

The door to the building was locked, but Primon was able to force them apart. Once inside, Primon confirmed his suspicion that it was the control center for the colony.

“How did you know?” Draconis asked as he resumed work on Wingspan.

“I spent a lot of time at the academy studying the history of the Earth conflict. Humans tend to build outward their cities outward from the center. That meant the central building was one of the first, and probably housed most of the control systems.” He answered.

Interior shot: A small office like room with a few chairs and a desk. Another doorway can be seen, leading
                       to a larger room.

He looked around the room and noticed that despite its age, it seemed in remarkably good condition. There was very little dust, and almost no debris to be seen. Cautiously, he entered into the next room and found what he was looking for, the main computer terminal. Scanning the keyboard, his computer determined that it seemed to be in English, or at least a close relative to the language. He tapped a few keys, but failed to get a response. “I guess that was too much to hope for he thought.” He removed the panel below, and looked inside. As near as he could tell, the system was still receiving power from the colony’s solar array, but time and entropy had worn at it over the last decade. The technology was more advanced than the records had shown the humans possessing when they had left them, but he supposed that was only logical. It had been over three hundred years after all. After a few minutes, Draconis joined him, informing him that he had activated the stricken Maximal’s auto repair systems and it was only a matter of time before he was back online. He settled in next to Primon and tried to help his commander decipher the alien technology.

It took them over an hour, but in the end their efforts were rewarded when the system hummed to life. Rather than the human terminal, Draconis used his own minicomputer to access the records.

“It’s degraded a little over time Optimus, but I think I can access a few of the entries from the colony log.” He told his commander. He tapped a few keys, and the minicomputer’s holographic display flared to life. It projected an image of a man about six feet tall with black hair and brown eyes. He turned the chair he was sitting in to face the camera that had recorded him.

“Colony #1572, first entry.” The image started. “We came to this system after one of our long range probes detected a habitable planet in the third position around the sun. From the star charts we acquired, we know its called Trialis. So far, no civilized race has colonized the system, and the Orions who sold us the charts wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell us why.” It paused, as he gathered his thoughts. “As we entered the system, the long range scans gave us very little information. Some sort of energy field was blocking us. Against my advice, our captain moved in closer and launched a series of probes out from a low orbit. As soon as he did, some sort of energy field encompassed our ship, and shorted out almost every system we had. The power surge caused an explosion on the bridge, killing most of the command staff and leaving me in charge. Using back up thrusters and redundant systems we managed to land safely, but my engineer informed me that the main drive was trashed. For now at least, we were stuck here.” A burst of static caused the image to fade for a moment.

“….fortunately, the planet proved to be safe for human habitation. Unfortunately, the energy field is blocking our attempts to contact fleet command and tell them about our situation. As we have no other choice, I’ve allowed the others to begin setting up sections of the colony for habitation, but I’m going to try to keep them from getting too comfortable for now. Whatever struck us down is still out there, and if I get a chance to take us out of here, I don’t intend to waste it.” The entry ended there, and they scanned through the others. Most of the intact ones were simply routine updates of the colony’s progress. Some of the later ones however were of great interest.

“Colony # 1572, day seventy five. After over two months, our chief archeologist has made some startling discoveries about this planet. Despite the claims in the records give to us by the Orions, this planet has been inhabited before.” His image shrank to half of the screen, and an airborn image came into view. It showed a lake, with a small peninsula. On it stood a small hill with a tower. The tower was a short distance above the hill, and even to Primon’s untrained eye it gave the illusion of great age.

“Professor Harlen thinks it may be millions of years old, but can’t explain how it could still be standing after all that time. He notes that while from a distance it looks like stone, it is in reality some kind of a metal alloy. His scanners indicate that there may be some kind of caverns under the base of the tower, but he has not yet found a way in. I’ll add more as soon as it’s available.” The next mention of the expedition came quite a bit later than expected.

“Colony # 1572, day ninety seven. We’ve lost contact with professor Harlen and his team. They finally managed to open the caverns using the colony’s industrial laser drill, and found a network of sophisticated machinery inside. They were investigating it further when we lost contact with their communicator. The team I sent out to search for them has also disappeared without a trace. I fear that the force that struck us down has finally returned, and I’m recalling all the expeditions to the main colony. If it comes after us, I want all hands here so we can at least make a stand of it.” The message ended rather abruptly, startling Primon and Draconis.

“Is that everything?” Primon asked.

“There’s one more entry.” Draconis answered. Reluctantly, he activated the control to display it.

“Colony # 1572, day one seventeen. I am making this final entry to warn anyone who finds this record of the danger the last of us now face. A drone that returned from the northern expedition told us that they thought they had found signs of energy, possibly uranium ore, below the planets surface. They drilled to uncover the source, but what they found was something altogether different.”

Once again, the image divided, and a camera showed an excavation site in a snow-covered region. The drone made several passes over the site as the workers widened the hole. As one of the drills finally penetrated the last layer of rock, there was a burst of energy. The helpless miners were flung away before it. The hole they had made seemed to widen before them, as if some unseen force were tearing at it. Then another force appeared that they recognized all too well. The sphere surrounded the hole, effectively blocking it in. It then moved in, bottling up the energy and forcing it back. Before their eyes, it sealed the hole, and then faded back into oblivion. The workers began to pick themselves up, each of them wondering at what they had just witnessed, and then one of them pointed to the rim of the crater. A fraction of the energy had escaped the sphere, and floated towards them. As it approached, one of the men nearest to it turned and ran. It fell on him suddenly, and enveloped him within itself. Primon watched as it consumed him, at first appearing to draw the life out of him, then consuming the flesh as well. When it had finished, it flared brighter then went after the next man. The last image they saw, was one of the officers ordering the drone back to the colony.

“The drone didn’t have enough power to make it back here on its own.” The image told them. “It did however manage to make it to the professors dig at the ‘Isle of wonder’ as he’d taken to calling it. Whatever killed our mining group must have followed it, because they were wiped out before they could tell us about it. We only found out later after we’d finally managed to get a remote link to their computer. I guess we’re lucky he managed to download the images it had recorded before whatever it is attacked them. Unfortunately, knowing about it hasn’t helped us to defend against it. None of our weapons have even slowed it, and even now its moving in on the main colony. We’ve lost contact with all the groups I’ve tried to evacuate, so I’ve got to assume the worst. As it seems to ignore technology, I’m launching every remote we have to record what happens, I hope this information helps you more than it helped us. Good luck, you’re going to need it.”

His image dissolved, and the screen divided into multiple images from around the colony. It showed them many of the humans trying to make a stand against their invincible foe, but none met with any success. The last of the images showed the base commander’s office. The energy simply flowed through the walls at him, ignoring the withering fire from his twin blasters. It surrounded, then consumed him as well. With the last human gone it rose into the air, it’s power at its peak. It turned back in the direction of the excavation, only to discover that it had attracted unwanted attention.

With dozens of drones recording it from many angles, Primon noticed something he hadn’t been able to see before. The energy that had attacked both them and this creature before was not made up of a single field, but of countless separate ones. A sound like a bellow of rage came from the creature, and it struck out a group of them. Under its newly rekindled power, they fell easily. His triumph was cut short however, as even more moved in to replace them. Again and again it struck out, but to no avail. The energy simply moved in until it encompassed the creature, and carried its still raging form back into the ground. The drones continued recording for some time, but there was nothing left to see. One by one, they went off line as their power cells went out, until finally the last image faded.

The two Maximals sat aghast for several minutes before either of them said anything to the other.

“Well, now we know what attacked us,” Draconis said finally. “and to some extent why.”

“To some extent!?” Primon said, “I’d say we have a slagging good idea why. This planet is a prison for whatever that thing was, and the energy field is obviously meant to keep it from escaping.”

“Partially correct, I agree.” Draconis replied, regaining some of his composure. Why did it attack us?”

“Obviously it detected our energy transmission and attacked us the way it would the creature.” Primon said, not catching on.

“Again, partially correct, but answer me this; Do you think I was giving off anywhere near the energy level that creature was when I was scanning for Wingspan?”  He asked.

Primon thought for a moment then shook his head.

“Exactly. If we assume that this energy is some sort of a security system, then we can also assume that its not only meant to keep that creature in…..” Draconis said.

“But to keep others out as well.” Primon finished, finally getting it.

“It probably is set to detect energy emissions on certain levels below the creatures. Certain types are probably flagged as indicating an intelligence. If you noticed in the recordings, they stopped using their radios after a while and started using the drones to carry messages until they could construct relay stations to carry the signal.” Draconis continued.

“That must have been covered in one of the corrupted files.”

“Probably, but it means we’re going to have to be careful of the power levels we give off until I figure out a way to shield them from detection. We’d also better use our alternate forms sparingly until we can locate some local lifeforms to copy.” He said.

“There’s a problem with that,” Primon started to say, before he could finish they both turned as a commotion from the other room was heard. They drew their weapons just as Wingspan came tumbling into the room.

“Where am I?” He asked, trying to clear his head. “What happened?”  He started to fall over again, but Primon caught him, and helped him to steady himself.

“You’ve had a bit of a shock, so to speak. Right now we’re inside the colony catching up on a bit of,” He paused for a moment. “history.” He finally said, shuddering at the memory of what he’d seen. “Rest up and let your repair systems finish up their work so we can head back to base.”

“Ok.” Wingspan said, too weak to argue.

After Draconis had checked Wingspan over, he walked over to Primon, who was busy downloading the rest of the datafiles to Draconis’ computer.

“You said there was a problem?” He said finally, as he noticed Primon frantically scanning the files as they downloaded, then added;  “And what are you looking for?”

“Any DNA scans they might have had in here. The problem I mentioned had to do with the local lifeforms. Before we left, I had instructed the stasis hold’s computer to begin searching for compatible lifeforms to encode our sleeping comrades with. Unfortunately, it could only get partial scans. The local creatures are too alien for them to analyze and replicate. I was hoping there might be something in here we can use, or at least enough combine with the few readings it could get.” Primon answered.

“Found anything?” Draconis asked.

“Not unless you count livestock,” He answered glumly. “get Wingspan ready to leave, we’ll finish looking through it back at base.”

As Draconis moved to help Wingspan to his feet, Primon began flagging files that might help them survive the dangers of the planet they were trapped on. One of the files held his interest a moment longer than the others. It was one of the archeologist’s files, and it was marked ‘Bestiary’.

Exterior shot: Just outside of the colony.

At the edge of the colony, Dreadwing lurked, watching as the Maximals left. He had fed well on the Maximals energy, and now had another slave to replace the one he had lost earlier. He also had information that would appease the fool Triplecross. It would serve to facilitate the inevitable conflict between the two sides, which in turn would allow him to feed even further.

End of Chapter 2