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Chapter 5: “Not quietly, and not alone.”

Arcturus 9 system: New Iacon
 

 Located in the outer reaches of the Arcturus sector, the Arcturus 9 system had never received that much attention. Initial explorations of the sector had turned up no habitable planets in the system. Almost all planetary systems have gas giants, but A-9’s were somewhat unusual. There were only two of them, however both were bigger than SOL’s Jupiter, and through some fluke of time and physics they now orbited each other as they revolved around the sun. This cosmic ballet produced so much gravemetric interference that long range probes had proven unreliable, while further studies had been planned to explore this phenomena, the current war between the Cybertonians had indefinitely delayed further exploration. At least that was the official explanation.

 Further probes might have revealed a second fluke of nature. The formation of the two giants had not disrupted the formation of the inner system. There were three planets and an asteroid belt between the second and third planets. The second planet had and atmosphere, however it had been too close to its sun for any life to form. As amazing as this planet’s actual existence would have proven, even more surprising was the fact that it was inhabited and had been for some three hundred years. It had become the home to two fugitive races, the Autobots, and the remainder of humanity. Over the course of the years they had converted the bleak wasteland into something far more bearable, though their work was far from finished. Vast orbital solar panels blocked most of the incoming solar radiation and converted it into energy. Atmosphere processing plants converted the mostly methane gasses into something more breathable to humans. Cities that seemed bigger than those of old Earth’s sprang up as the human and Autobot populations grew. Colonies now existed on both of the other planets and the asteroid belt, mostly to exploit the resources found on these planets.

 It had been hoped that the combination of isolation and ignorance would render the new homeworld all but invisible to the Predacon alliance, that hope had now been dashed. For days now transports had been working frantically to transport the civilian population out of the system. Other races in the rebellion had agreed to take the fugitives until they could find a new home, once the Maximals regrouped, if they got the chance to that is. Only minutes ago, a Predacon fleet bigger than any ever seen before was detected on an approach vector to the system. A frantic message from New Earth had confirmed that they were being attacked by an equally large fleet. This meant the Predacons had committed nearly every space capable ship they had in an attempt to wipe out the core of the rebellion once and for all.

 On New Iacon, a scene of frantic chaos resulted from the news. The last of the transports rushed to find an escape vector they could use to evade the Predacon fleet. The remnants of the Maximal fleet deployed itself to defend the inner system, and the remaining population prepared itself for an invasion.
“Is the dampening field on-line?” Commander Grimlock asked as he rushed into the command center.

“On-line and holding firm.” Security chief Red Alert answered him. “I’m activating the outer and inner system defenses, but projections show less than twenty percent losses for the enemy.”

“Do what you can to increase that somewhat.” Grimlock ordered, sitting in the center’s command chair. He turned to the fleet control station. “Silverbolt, order all remaining transports off planet now, they are to escape any way they can.”

“Yes sir.” He answered. “All fleet elements have moved into defensive positions, except for the Axalon, and I have its captain waiting on line for you.”
Grimlock hit a sequence of keys on his control pad. A screen moved out from the side of his chair and positioned itself in front of him, on it appeared the face of Optimus Primal.
“What’s your status captain?” Grimlock asked him.

“We finished unloading Rampage, Bumblebee and his commando team have already reported to the militia, and our ‘special’ cargo is onboard. I was just waiting for your order to join the fleet.....” He answered.

“You know better than that.” Grimlock interrupted him. “You will stay with the New Iacon defense fleet until I order otherwise.”

“But sir,” Optimus began. “our ship is better equipped than most of the others. We can take out more of the enemy than.....”

“That’s ENOUGH!” Grimlock said pounding his fist for emphasis. “Your mission is to important to risk using you anywhere else. Once I order you to, you WILL leave the system and proceed on your mission, no matter how dire our plight is. DO YOU UNDERSTAND!”

“Y-Yes sir.” Optimus replied, stammering somewhat as he had never seen his leader like this before.

“Good.” Grimlock said. “Then position yourself with group two in polar orbit.” Abruptly he cut the transmission, ending the conversation.

“Wasn’t that a little harsh?” Wheeljack, one of his scientific advisors asked him.

Grimlock sighed. “I understand his frustration, I would have told my commander to go slag himself and attacked the Pred fleet anyway.” He bowed his head under the weight of his situation. “I can’t afford that right now, we have to face the very real fact that his mission represents our only hope for survival.”

“I know sir, I didn’t mean to....” Wheeljack started to say, but Grimlock waved him off.

“Never mind that now, did you do as I asked?” He said.

“Yes I did, all invasion protocols have been activated.” Wheeljack answered.
Grimlock turned back to Red alert, the tactical display showed the positions where the Predacon fleet was projected to emerge from hyperspace once they hit the dampening field. Unlike SOL,  the field didn’t cover the whole system. Instead it fell just short of the two gas giants. Installing the satellites necessary to generate the field beyond that would have been detected by Predacon probes long ago.

“What is New Earth’s situation?” He asked Red Alert.

“The last transmission we received indicated they were in a position similar to ours.” Red Alert replied.

“All but surrounded.” Grimlock concluded.

“Exactly sir, and it may be the last transmission we receive from them, the Predacons are jamming us on both ends.” Red Alert informed him.

“Hardly surprising. What’s their projected fleet strength?” He asked Silverbolt

“Approximately fifteen hundred capitol ships ranging from scouts to dreadnoughts, and we can assume about twenty eight thousand fighters” Silverbolt said grimly.

“What about out numbers?” He asked, not sure if he wanted to know.

“We have two hundred remaining capital ships, ranging from scouts to battleships, and approximately ten thousand fighters, including the planetary militias and the home fleet.” Silverbolt said.

Grimlock sat back and prepared himself for what was to follow. “As soon as they emerge from hyperspace, bring the outer defenses to bear on them, let’s force them to fight on our terms.”

Arcturus 9, outer system.

 All around the outer system, Predacon ships emerged from hyperspace, forced back into real space by the barrier of the Maximals dampening field. This was far from unexpected, as most races possessed the technology. It was almost as old as the hyperdrive itself. They used their sub light drives to position themselves in siege positions while the scouts were used to determine the position of the inner planets and possible defenses. Normally this would have been determined by long range scans long before the fleet arrived, but the presence of the twin gas giants had disrupted most, if not all of their attempts to do so.

 The scouts moved in under the cover of heavy electronic counter measures, in an attempt to slip in unnoticed. This would prove to be a futile move at best, as it was an approach the Maximals had long since prepared for. A series of satellites resonated the same frequency of the gravity disruptions in the outer systems. This rendered them all but invisible, while they monitored the static of the disruptions for exactly what a cloaked ship would appear to be among the chaos, a blank spot where there shouldn’t be one. The Predacon scouts were caught completely by surprise, under ECM their shields were down, and many fell to the initial salvo of seemingly invisible missile fire. Most of the remaining commanders panicked and dropped their ECM cloak in order to raise their shields. This unfortunately brought them to the attention of the automated mines. Using sub light thrusters, these mines homed in on the Predacons and rammed them at near light speeds. Going this fast they didn’t even need explosive warheads as the transferred kinetic energy was enough to pierce the shields and all but destroy the target ship. Of the over two hundred scoutships sent in, only fifty survived to report back to the fleet.

 Command considered the situation and quickly launched a counter measure. From the larger ships, scores of ‘siege’ class missiles were fired toward the inner system. These in turn split into smaller rockets, each of which gave off the signature of a starship. As they proceeded in, the defenses reacted to them as they had the scouts eliminating all of them, all but exhausting themselves in the process. Thinking the main defenses were eliminated, the fleet began to move in en-masse with the smaller classes taking point. As they passed beyond the outer system they finally began to receive information about the inner planets and their structure. Planet three appeared to be an agricultural center, the asteroid belt and planet one where industrial production facilities, while planet two was obviously the command center as most of the radio ‘noise’ emerged from there.

 Most of  Galvatron’s advisor’s urged him to hit New Iacon before the rest. Planet three and most of the asteroid facilities were on the same ‘side’ of the sun as the Predacon fleet however, so he decided to move in on these first. As they closed, they launched most of their fighters, sending over twenty thousand units screaming into the void. Over seven hundred capitol ships closed in on the third planet with fully half of these fighters at their disposal. The other half accompanied the remaining six hundred capitol ships after the asteroid bases.

 The asteroid bases fell quickly to the onslaught, most having been evacuated long before hand. They still took their toll however as almost all of them had been booby trapped. The Predacons lost quite a few commando teams before they quit trying to board the floating factories. The auto defenses on the still occupied platforms took a number of the enemy fighters down with them. First by shooting them down, then luring them in for the kill only to be destroyed in the blast of an overloaded fusion plant. One platform took a cruiser by surprise when it ignited a plasma drive and rammed the ship, destroying both. After this incident, the fleet simply stood back, let the fighters soften them up, then finished them off with long range missiles. When all was said and done, the Predacons lost over eight hundred fighters, but only three capitol ships.

 Planet three however was a different story. The Maximals had prepared for the possibility of an invasion for a long time. Each planet was equipped with both ground based defenses, and at least two or more battlestations. The fleet itself was being held back at New Iacon itself, where the bulk of the human/Cybertonian population that couldn’t get out of the system, had been evacuated. The Predacon fleet approached slowly. They wanted to lose as few ships as possible to the gigantic platforms.

  First they pummeled them with long range missiles, followed by their fighters. The Maximals answered in kind by using satellite defenses to take down quite a few of the incoming missiles, and launch a counterstroke of their own. Over sixty percent still made it through however, the bulk of which hit station two. Though her shields held, they were badly drained, and would not be able to recharge quickly. The Maximals counter strike flew into the center of the Predacon fleet, ripping into the smaller ships that stood at the forefront. Many of the surviving scouts fell, along with many frigates and destroyers. The point defenses of these and the bigger ships kept the death toll lower than it could have been, however.

 Next it was the fighters turn to go at it. Ten thousand Predacon fighters streaked towards the planet, while fifteen hundred Maximal fighters rose from it and from the two stations. The Maximals and humans mad a good showing, but the numbers were too great to overcome. The advancing Predacon line barely slowed to acknowledge their presence, over twice the number of Maximal fighters had been assigned to deal with them. The rest moved in on the stations, followed at a distance by the rest of the fleet. The already wounded station two but up a valiant effort, but her damaged shields were no match for the firepower being directed against her. Her plasma weapons took down several cruisers, a battleship and numerous of the support ships before she fell. Station one however was in better shape and made a far better showing, taking a dozen cruisers,  six battleships, and over half the remaining smaller vessels.

 The Maximal fighters meanwhile surprised the Predacons, they had routed their opponents and the survivors hit the Predacons from behind. Even Galvatron’s flagship the Overlord came under fire, though the fighter’s weapons never had a chance of penetrating the dreadnaught’s shields. They did manage to successfully hit several of the carriers, heavily damaging them. The Predacons fighters soon recovered, between these and the capitol ship’s point defense weapons the Maximal fighters didn’t last long. After the station fell, the planet wasn’t far behind, being an agricultural center meant most of her defenses were vested in the defense platforms. The Predacons were uninterested in taking these intact, as they were for the support of the human race. So they simply settled for bombarding it from orbit, just to be sure.

 When all was said and done, the Predacons had lost nearly five hundred capitol ships, mostly from the smaller classes, and over four thousand fighters. Predacon tacticians were understandably worried. They had lost half of their support ships, combined with the lost ships of the larger classes accounted for almost a third of their fleet. Galvatron was far from worried, as he told his advisors;

“We may have lost ships, but they just lost a whole world.”

 While they couldn’t disagree with this, they did try to point out that it had been mostly abandoned. The ships they lost seemed like a high price to pay for it. Galvatron would have none of it however, and regrouped to hit their next target, Planet one. It was just on the other side of the sun, almost on a direct course for their true target, New Iacon.

New SOL system, outer orbit.

 New SOL, contained six planets, including the new homeworld of humanity, New Earth. It was a lush world, although it didn’t have the vast oceans earth had, it contained many forests and grasslands. Humanity had found new crops to grow and indigenous lifeforms that could be raised for cattle. All in all, most considered it to be the closest world they had ever found to Earth itself. A new paradise that no one would ever take from them, or at least so they thought. The Predacon fleet's hyperwave signature was detected while they were still light years away. Frantic communications were made with New Iacon, but they were in a similar situation and could not spare any more ships to help. Humanity however didn’t have as many targets to hit as the Maximals did. They had only colonized two worlds in the system. This did not mean however that they were defenseless.

 Admiral Williams sat in his command chair, from here he directed the fleet and system defenses as they prepared for the Predacon’s arrival.
“What’s the status on moonbase one and the ‘Alamo’ defense system.” He asked an aide.
“They report ninety eight percent readiness, and will be ready to be deployed within the next ten minutes.” The answer came back.
“How long after the initial deployment time can we expect full operation of the defense network?” He inquired.
“Approximately one hour to full operational status.” The aide said after checking the figures.
“Then tell them to deploy as soon as the Pred fleet hits the outer system defenses.” Williams ordered.
“Won’t that be tipping our hand a little early?”  The aide asked turning to face him.
“Possibly,” He replied. “but I’m not going to take a chance of getting caught with my pants down. If I were them, I’d hit the most heavily defended target first. New Earth definetly falls under that category.”
“Understood sir.” The aide said turning back to his station. “Incidentally sir, the super carriers Forethought and Afterthought would like to know where you want them positioned.”
Williams considered for a moment, then told him; “Attach them to Fortress 1, it should be in orbit over the southern defense zone.”
“Aye sir.” The aide said.

 Williams considered the images on his own board, if the Predacons held their course they would cross three of the defense perimeters before reaching New Earth. If estimates held up after that, they should suffer about a ten percent capitol ship attrition rate, combined with eighteen percent fighter loss. He had to increase those numbers, but was at a loss on how to do so without moving ships from the planet’s defense to try and lure them through one, at most two more of the defense perimeters. He doubted the enemy commander would fall for it anyway.

 Within the hour, the Predacon fleet began to emerge within the outer system near the sixth planet’s orbital path. As soon as they began phasing in from hyperspace, the first line of drone ships and mines opened up on them. The startled Predacons scrambled to counter attack, but many were caught with their shields down and were subsequently destroyed. The rest deployed their own weaponry and fighters. They proceeded to destroy their first obstacle in almost no time. They spent a short time regrouping, the commanding officer Dinobot plotted out their strategy onboard his flagship the Vengeance. Williams had been so sure they would head straight in immediately, that the transmission he received came as a bit of a shock.

“Sir,” The communications officer, Bradley interrupted Williams. “I’ve got an incoming transmission from someone claiming to be the commander of the Pred fleet.”
It took Williams a moment to digest this.
“What does he want?” He asked after a moment.
“He wishes to discuss terms of our surrender.” Bradley told him with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Does he now?” Williams said with an equal amount of disdain. “Well then, by all means put him on the main viewer. Let’s see what the Predacon has to say.”
Bradley tapped on his keyboard for a few seconds, then Dinobots image filled the  viewer. Williams and his counterpart spent a few moments studying each other. He had heard about this particular Pred officer before. A good tactician with an unusually highly developed sense of honor, for a Pred anyway.
After a few seconds Dinobot spoke. “Human commander, I wish to extend to you and your troops the chance to surrender, you are hopelessly outnumbered.”
Williams allowed himself a slight chuckle before responding. “Surrender, am I supposed to believe that if I agree you’ll let us live?”
Dinobot shook his head slowly. “No, my leader Galvatron has not given me that option. You and your race are to be destroyed. However I can promise you less pain and more dignity in the death I will give you. My troops on the other hand....” He let the sentence trail off, but Williams understood what he was insinuating.
“You consider surrender to be a dignified death, mister you don’t know a damn thing about humans do you. We’ve seen our original world destroyed by you bastards, not to mention the colony worlds we established after the AUTOBOTS saved us from your race. I’ve buried more friends and allies than I would care to mention because of you bastards, and you think surrendering to you TO BE EXECUTED IS A DEATH WITH DIGNITY!” Williams was out of his chair, almost against the screen now. His face was red with the rage he was spewing at the Predacon commander. He stood there breathing for a few moments, his venom all but spent.
“I understand, in your situation I would do the exact same thing.” Dinobot said. He turned away from the screen and continued. “Honor demanded that I offer you the chance. Now I look forward to facing you on the field of battle, we will be underway for your world within the hour. May you die well.” He cut the transmission suddenly, leaving Williams somewhat confused. It was his aide however who asked the question that was on his own mind.
“Is it me,” He asked aloud. “or did he just purposely give us their attack timetable.”
Williams agree, but said; “Possibly, or he could have been mocking us. It’s not like we couldn’t have figured it out when they started to move in system. In any case, tell moonbases one and two to deploy the ‘Alamo’ defense net NOW!”

 In the outer system, the Predacon fleet prepared to move in on the planet. As they gathered in for the final push however, they were greeted by a sight unique, even in their history. Around New Earth, the planet’s two moons appeared to be breaking up. Stranger still, they seemed to be breaking into fragments too evenly segmented to be natural. Sensors detected massive propulsion systems at work as the fragments moved into a seemingly even arrangement around the planet. The timetable was moved up and they started in, worried that this might be some form of unbelievably massive weapon. During the next hour, they watched as massive cables and conduits leapt out from the fragments, which connected to each other, and the many orbital platforms and battlestations. As they closed on New Earths orbit, it became clear what it was, a massive series of interconnected defense platforms, combined with the largest shield generator in existence. A firewall, raised in the hopes of stopping the inferno the Predacons were trying to unleash upon them.

 Many Predacons were so entranced by this spectacle that they didn’t notice the bulk of the Maximal fleet hiding in full stealth mode inside the system’s asteroid belt. Once they had passed, the Maximals leapt at them with a vengeance, scoring several kills before the Predacons could react. Dinobot redeployed his fleet to deal with this threat first, refusing to be bated into a battle on two fronts. The Maximals ferocity surprised him. He had never seen them in such a rage. “They have nothing left to lose, so what difference does it make to them if this is futile.” He thought to himself. The one hundred and fifty ships made a good showing however, taking down at least three of the enemy for every ship they lost. As with New Iacon however, most of the Predacon casualties were the smaller ships, so the numbers could be deceiving.

 Only after the last Maximal ship was destroyed did Dinobot finally turn his attention back to New Earth. He moved his fleet in cautiously with sensors on full, to avoid another such attack. Though he doubted seriously they had many ships left to spare. His officers advised deploying the fleet to surround the planet. Instead he sent a third of the fleet to destroy the remaining ships over the southern hemisphere, and concentrated the rest to attack the northern hemisphere.
“I refuse to divide my forces in a series of futile separate attacks. We will deliver a single unified blow instead.” He told them. As his fleet approached, a series of flashes lit up as the first missile barrages were exchanged. He watched as the humans launched their tri-configurable fighters that leapt into the fray like Valkeries from Valhalla.

Arcturus 9, In orbit around the first planet.

 The first planet had fallen even harder than the third, this time they had lost even more of the larger capitol ships. They still far outnumbered the Maximals since they still had over eight hundred ships at their disposal. Galvatron finally ordered the strike at New Iacon to begin, much to the relief of his generals, who fervently hoped Dinobot’s fleet was suffering lighter losses. They spent sometime regrouping and moving the more heavily damaged ships to the rear of the fleet. They got under way and headed for New Iacon, intent on finishing the Maximals once and for all.

 New Iacon’s defenses were unfortunate not as drastic as New Earth’s as they had spent more time fighting the Predacons directly. The make up of their solar system was considered to be the best defense, and up until now it had kept them from detection. They mobilized what they did have at their disposal, determined to make the Predacons pay for every inch they gained. Halfway between the two worlds, all but a few ships of the fleet threw themselves at the Predacons. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the element of surprise on their side this time, and the Predacons were prepared for them. The Maximal ships attacked every crippled ship they found, they rammed ships when they were too damaged to continue. Grimlock’s former flagship the gigantic Resolute took down quite a few battleships and cruisers before being confronted by its counterpart, Galvatron’s Overlord.  By that time however, she had already suffered heavy damage. She held her own for an unbelievable amount of time, but finally fell before the larger ship's fury.

“The fleet is down by ninety percent commander.” Silverbolt reported to Grimlock.
The Maximal commander quickly considered his options. “Order the fleet to pull back, and get me the figures on the Predacon’s losses.”
Silverbolt sent out the recall order, then pulled up the estimate on their enemies' forces.
“They still have approximately  six hundred and eighty ships, and eighteen thousand fighters.” He said grimly. “We have approximately forty ships remaining, and about forty five hundred fighters.”
“Computer,” Grimlock said aloud. “what is the maximum number of ships our defenses can handle under current conditions?”
“Working,” It answered him. “if the Predacons were to cross every established kill zone, defensive systems and remaining ships could deplete approximately thirty percent of their present forces.”
Grimlock turned to Silverbolt and said; “Increase that number, I don’t care how.

 The Predacons drove straight in, the taste of their prey’s desperation fresh in their mouths now. Various drone defenses and missile attacks hammered at them, but still they came, relentless and unstoppable. A line of fighters broke through their defenses, and a unit of capitol ships followed them in. As the frigates and cruisers moved in over the planet, they disgourged countless troop pods, the marine squads the Predacons had hoarded for most of the battle. A re-engineered Scourge was at their head. His newer hovercraft mode allowing him to move over any terrain. He personally led the charge to the Maximals capitol city. He was determined to be the one to claim the prize for his master, and not suffer the same fate as his counterpart Cyclonus.

“We’ve got ground troops heading this way.” Red Alert told Grimlock.
“Then activate the city's defense perimeter, and tell Metroplex to go to Battlestation mode.” Grimlock ordered him.

Outside, several square blocks of the city responded to the order. Metroplex, a giant robot who was in actuality part of the city, changed configuration. He shifted his form to a giant mobile battle platform, and together with the ground troops assigned to him, rolled out to meet the Predacon menace. The two forces struck with an unimaginable fury, Metroplex’s weapons taking a heavy toll on the Predacons, but their sheer numbers kept the odds in their favor.

“I’m detecting a second group approaching from the south east.”  Red Alert again shouted over the din.
“Deploy Bumblebee’s commandos, and Rampage to stop them.” Grimlock told him.
“Rampage? Are you sure sir?” He asked in disbelief.
“Why not, he’s got almost as much to lose as we do. Besides, Bumblebee seems to have formed an unusual relationship with him.” Grimlock said.

A hatch opened and out poured the vehicle mode of the ‘Killer bees’,  Bumblebee’s specially trained commando group. They usually dealt in stealth attacks, but there was no choice but to engage in a frontal assault. Rampage was at the front in his tank mode, just behind him drove Bumblebee, knowing this would be the last mission he ever went out on.
“You don’t seem very worried.” He said to Rampage.
“Worried, ha!” Rampage snorted back at him. “My spark is immortal, none of these fools can harm me.”
“Yeah,” Bumblebee said. “but they could destroy your superstructure, then what are you going to do.”
Rampage laughed at this. “Perhaps I will do what my predecessor Starscream did. Posses the bodies of other Transformers so I may continue my feeding.
“Gee,” Bumblebee said disgustedly. “how grotesque.”
Rampage didn’t answer, instead he fired his main cannon. At first Bumblebee didn’t understand what he had shot at, but after the shell exploded in a seemingly empty field, he understood. The bodies of a group of Predacons appeared as if from nowhere.
“A Pred stealth squadron!” He exclaimed. “How did you detect them, they were under full cloak?”
“Their fear was like a beacon to me,” Rampage answered him “no cloaking device can hide that. Now let us prepare, I believe their comrades have arrived.”
Bumblebee turned his sensors, and saw that the horizon was dark from the sheer number of forces being unleashed at them.
“Maximals,” He said. “let’s show this grease sucking scum that they don’t get our world for free.”
Inspired by their leader, not one Maximal hesitated to follow him as he charged the enemy.

“I’ve got Pred troops coming at us from all sides, Metroplex’s and Bumblebee’s positions have been overrun. The cities defenses can’t hold them off much longer commander.” Red Alert told Grimlock glumly.
“Then it’s all but over.” He said, slumping back into his chair. “Perceptor,”
“Yes commander?” Perceptor answered.
“Start the countdown for the ‘Doomsday’ protocol.” Grimlock finished.
Perceptor hesitated a moment, but felt no need to question the order. He knew it was their only choice.
“Yes sir.” He said quietly.
Grimlock turned to the communications officer.
“Get me the Axalon.” He ordered.
It took several moments to get through. The Predacons were jamming most transmissions in order to confuse the remaining Maximal defenses. Finally, the garbled image of the Axalon’s bridge appeared
“Optimus Primal here sir.” Primal’s voice came through somewhat distorted.
“Primal, this is commander Grimlock, as per my previous orders I am commanding you to leave the system and proceed on your mission immediately.” Grimlock said.
The static overloaded the speaker for a moment, then the voice came back.
“....you sure, we can evacuate you and most of the remaining personnel.” It said.
“No,” Grimlock said firmly. “there’s no time. I’ve just ordered the final protocol to be initiated, and if you don’t leave within the next half hour you never will.”
For a moment there was no response, Grimlock could imagine the look on Primal’s face. Finally, he said; “Understood sir, I’ll get us underway immediately.” After a moment he added; “Sir, it was a pleasure serving under you, and I hope that you’re present in the other universe.”
“I hope you are as well, may the Matrix guide you.” Grimlock told him, cutting the transmission.
“Sir,” Perceptor called to him.
“Yes?” Grimlock said.
“I’ve just finished inputting the final codes, in exactly one half hour, protocol ‘doomsday will be initiated.” Perceptor informed him.
“Then all we can do now,” Grimlock said. “is wait for the end.”
As he finished however, an explosion burst through the outer wall. Several Maximals including Red Alert were caught in the blast and incinerated instantly. Several more missiles poured into the room, taking down Perceptor and several of the others. One struck near Grimlock, the shrapnel from it piercing him in several places. He activated his internal repair systems, and threw the debris off of himself. As he stood up, he was confronted by a squadron of Predacons, and their commander Scourge.
“Allow me to insure you don’t wait long.” He said. “Galvatron has business with that piece of Primus inside of you,” He grinned sadistically at Grimlock. “and he’s sent me to get it.

New Iacon, Polar defense zone.

 The Axalon had been assigned to defense on the outer perimeter of New Iacon’s northern hemisphere, where the least fighting was expected. They had nevertheless seen a lot of action.
“Fighter squadron coming in from the port!” Rattrap said over the sound of alarms.
“I’m on it.” Eclipse answered.
On her board, Eclipse carefully aimed the ships long range plasma guns at the fighters, and loosed a volley of plasma fire at them. At the same time she fired a spread of missiles slightly off center to their current heading.. As she predicted, the fighters that the plasma bolts missed dodged straight into the path of the oncoming missiles.
“Squadron taken out.” She said triumphantly.
“Yeah,”  Rattrap said, “and only ten thousand or so more to go.”
“Unfortunate we won’t be here to see it,” Optimus said emerging from his office. “we just got our orders Maximals. Prepare to head out.”
“Now?!” The pilot Jackson asked in disbelief.
“Can you think of a better time?” Optimus replied. “Yes now. Use the coordinates supplied to us by command, and prepare for the time jump.”
At his station, Rhinox brought up a readout on the trans warp drive.
“I still wish we had time to test this, we’re not even sure it’s going to work.” He said.
“I know, but we have no choice, it’s either now or never. In another fifteen minutes, this place won’t even exist anymore.” Optimus said.
Everyone on the bridge drew in their breath suddenly.
“You don’t mean....” Rattrap said.
“I mean exactly that. Every second we waste right now, gives us less of a chance to get out of here, now get moving.” Optimus ordered sternly.
That pulled everyone out of their shock, and they got to work. It took five minutes to prepare for the jump, during which silence reigned on the bridge. As per Grimlock’s orders, the other ships with the Axalon held off the Predacons as she made her preparations to leave. As they wee preparing to leave, Rhinox brought up an image of their homeworld on the screen.
“Take a good last look,” He said. “because succeed or fail, it’s the last time we’ll ever see it.”
They watched the image for a moment, but that was all they could spare.
“Get us underway, now.” Optimus said.
“Aye sir,” Jackson replied. “activating trans warp drive in three, two, one, NOW!”
All around the ship, the glow of the transwarp drive came to life. It was a slightly different shade this time as they would be traveling in time and space. A moment later the fabric of reality tore open to allow them through to their destination.

Galvatron’s command ship, the Overlord.

“Sir, we’ve just detected a transwarp distortion leaving this system.” A lackey told Galvatron.
“Then get a lock on their trail, I want there to be no survivors!” Galvatron told him tersely, not taking his eyes off the tactical board and it’s reports of victory.
“Yes sir, but there was something strange about the trail, it appeared to...” he tried to tell Galvatron.
“Tell me later,” Galvatron screamed. “interrupt me now at your own peril.”
“Y-y-yes sir.” The lackey stammered.
“Scourge reports that he has found Grimlock, and is moving in to capture him.” Onslaught reported.
“Excellent, tell him that I want the Matrix intact. If it is damaged, I will make him suffer the most eternal torment that I can think of.”
“Right away sir.” Onslaught said, anxiously leaving the room.
“Just a few more minutes,” Galvatron thought. “and victory will be mine.

New Iacon, Remains of Maximal command.

“Just a few more minutes,” Grimlock thought. “if I can just keep them busy a few minutes more....”
He ducked behind a chunk of ruined masonry, firing his rifle blindly over its top. A moment later he heard the satisfying sound of an explosion followed by the screams of several of his opponents. “The main advantage of having so many opponents, it was had to fire without hitting one.” He thought with grim satisfaction. “Not to mention, their going to great pains to keep me intact,” He thrust his sword through the chunk of wall he had ducked behind, impaling the Predacon who had been trying to sneak up on him. “I on the other hand suffer no such compunctions.”

 He switched modes to his T-rex form, and leapt at his foes. He landed among them, his teeth cutting one in half, while his slashing tale blade cut down several more. They tried to swarm over him, but he activated his hover jets and fried the Predacons holding him down. He took off into the air, but a missile shot struck him in the back. The blast knocking him back to the ground. Still he fought on against the impossible odds, until the sheer weight of numbers overcame even his great strength. Disarmed and bound, he was finally face to face with Scourge again, who had retreated to the rear once Grimlock had shown he wasn’t ready to surrender.

 “Well as I said before, I’m here for the Matrix. As you’re not prepared to simply hand it over and die like a good slave, I will simply have to take it from you.” Scourge gloated over the fallen Maximal.
“Go ahead and try, for all the good it’ll do you.” Grimlock said defiantly
“I believe I will. Troops, rip open his chest and retrieve the Matrix container.” Scourge said triumphantly. In response to their leader’s command, over half a dozen Predacons attacked Grimlock, ripping at his chest plates. The sound of tearing metal was music to Scourge’s ears. When they had finished however, only an empty receptacle where the Matrix should have been greeted him.
“WHAT!?!” He screamed. “Where is it,” He said, lifting Grimlock’s now tattered structure off the ground. “what have you done with the Matrix?”
If Grimlock had a mouth, a smile would have crossed his face. His internal diagnostics told him he didn’t have long left, his internal clock however told him Scourge had even less.
“I sent it away,” He said weakly. “on the first transport to evacuate the system.” He collapsed after that, his system trying to send him into emergency stasis. Scourge didn’t allow him that luxury and shook him until he was conscious again.
“Where was it going?” Scourge screamed at him desperately. “Tell me or I’ll turn you over to Galvatron and he’ll make you beg to tell us.”
Grimlock laughed at this weakly. “I’m afraid neither of us will be doing much of anything anymore.”
“Why is that?” Scourge asked, somewhat worried by the Maximal’s tone.
“Because everyone within three light years of this system will be dead in less than sixty seconds.” Grimlock told him mockingly. With that, he surrendered to the tugging at his essence he had been feeling for the last few minutes. His spark left his body, bound for whatever lay beyond, where Primus himself had journeyed only days before. Scourge was taking no chances. He sent out a broad band transmission to the fleet to try to warn them.

Galvatron’s flagship, the Overlord.

 “Sir,” Galvatron’s lackey Injector said urgently. “we’re receiving an emergency transmission from the planet. I think it’s Scourge sir.”
“WHAT! If he’s bungled his mission I will personally....” Galvatron bellowed
“No sir, the transmission says that there may be some sort of Maximal doomsday device on the planet. He claims that it will go off any minute.” Injector said quickly.
“No! It is some form of Maximal trick. I will not be intimidated by ......” Galvatron started to say. He never got to finish, as just then the world ended.

 All across the Arcturus 9 system a series of satellites surrounded the gaseous planets, and the system's star. Combined with drone units stationed on the solid planets and almost every asteroid in the field, they released the most destructive substance in the known universe, anti matter. Cubic tones of it had been gathered for centuries by the Maximal’s and their human allies. It had been decided when they established this world, that if they Predacons ever hunted them to extinction, they would not go down quietly, or alone. Energy fields containing matter’s arch foe were released, dumping their contents on every piece of significant substance in the solar system. The results were almost immediate, the total destruction of the entire system. All of the sun’s fuel was ignited at once, causing a blast greater than a supernova. The planet’s themselves ignited in an explosion of galactic proportions. The Predacons who tried to escape, found their avenues cut off one after another as the explosions extended into the adjacent dimensions, including hyper space.
 
 On board his flagship, Galvatron watched in horror as his fleet evaporated in front of him. His navigator told him about the conflagration in hyperspace, cutting off their escape. His science officer estimated that the wave of destruction from the outer system would reach them within less than a minute, crushing them between itself and the inner system wave they were running from.
“Use the trans warp drive!” He cried in desperation.
“We have no idea what effect this explosion would have on it. The spatial distortions caused by it are preventing me from getting a firm course lock.” He told Galvatron.
“Can you still track the Maximal ship that escaped?” Galvatron cried, eyeing the graphic of their oncoming death.
“Yes, but we have no idea where they were going. The trail was very unusual.....” He started to say.
“We have no choice, go NOW!” Galvatron screamed.
For a moment the ship seemed to shudder as they tried to use their trans warp drive. Then the wave overtook them. In a flash of light, the ship was gone. Waves of destruction caught every ship. Not a single one escaped, Maximal or Predacon. The light from their final sacrifice would be seen for eons after the explosion finally died down.

New SOL system, the battle for New Earth.

 The humans had put up a far better struggle than any of the Predacon strategists would ever have believed. They defended their home planet with a determination that no Predacon had ever seen before. Dinobot was forced to wonder why they had never taken a more active role in the war. These three form fighters of theirs were quite formidable, yet he had never seen them used before. The true answer (though he would never know it) was humanity needed time to recover from the trauma of their original world’s destruction. Over the past few decades the HAD been taking a more active role, their numbers were simply still too small to be noticed yet. Now they would never get another chance.

 Their unique defense, the planetary defense system, had thus far held the Predacon fleet at bay. Huge carriers spewed a seemingly limitless number of fighters through temporary gaps in the shields. The actual carriers were safely tucked behind said shields, and therefore unreachable. The science team estimated that such a tremendous energy field could not be maintained for long, especially if it also powered the countless weapons which lined the defensive rings. Dinobot ordered his ships to attack specific regions of the shield in waves to try and hasten the process somewhat. He used the same ships for each attack, so he would have a fresh undamaged supply to hit the target itself once they eventually succeeded. They would succeed, it was inevitable.

New Earth, defense ministry.

 Williams studied the tactical display, his opponent was shrewd. Instead of surrounding the planet and trying the futile route of bombarding them into submission, he instead attacked specific areas with a fraction of his fleet. Despite his hatred of the Predacons, he found himself admiring this one. He hadn’t imagined that there could ever be one that didn’t try to solve a problem by simply battering it into submission.
“Don’t get me wrong,” He told Bradley. “it’s a brutal tactic, but it’s efficient. Something I’ve rarely seen a Predacon do.”
“What can we do to stop them?” Bradley asked.
“We’re already doing it. Facing facts, the shield is already starting to fail in places. Even with independent fusion reactors, we can’t hold it in place forever.” Williams answered.
“Then we’ve failed?”  Bradley said, the hopelessness obvious in his voice.
“No, we already did what we set out to do, we kept their fleet busy while the last transports escaped. Now like our Maximal allies, we will soon have just one last duty to perform.” He said glumly. The coded hyperwave transmission had come in some time ago. It was sent out automatically when the ‘Doomsday’ protocols had been used by one of the two planets.
“I intend to take out as many of these bastards as I can first.” He looked at the display again. He knew he had to lure as many of the ships as he could, as close to the planet as possible. That gave them less of a chance to escape when the time came. So much effort had gone into the ‘Alamo’ defense system, that they hadn’t put as many of the anti matter devices in the solar system. Only the ones on New Earth, planet three, and the sun had been installed. If the Predacons detected what they were doing, some of them might escape. That was unacceptable. There had to be a way to lure them in closer, but he had to be careful. This Predacon commander was no fool.
“Bradley,” He said. “I want you to move three of the super carriers and most of the remaining fleet to these co-ordinates.” He punched a set of figures into the display, bringing up the indicated area on the map.
“Here’s what were going to do.” He began

Dinobot’s command ship, the Vengeance.

 “Sir, I’m detecting a massive enemy fleet movement, both outside and inside the shield.” His tactical computer told him.
“Where are they moving to?” Dinobot inquired.
In response the display changed to reveal a quadrant in the northern sector of the planet’s defense grid. A flashing light showed that the shield was weakening in this area. When this started, there had been a twenty percent increase in the volume of defensive fire.
“A possible entry point for our ground troops.” He mused. “What do you calculate the odds are that this is a ruse of some kind.”
The computer calculated for a moment before responding. “At least fifty percent or higher. The amount of effort seems to indicate that they are trying to draw our attention here.”
“I agree,” He said. “Let us instead turn our attention here.” He pointed to a now relatively unguarded sector in the southern section of the planet.
“That area of the shield shows no signs of weakness.” The computer told him.
“Then we must rectify that.” Dinobot said. “Send the damaged units from the previous runs to the ‘trap’ in the northern sector. Prepare the rest to follow me, we will pierce the southern shield while their forces are concentrated elsewhere.
“Complying, sending new orders to specified ships.” It said.

New Earth, defense ministry.

“It’s working sir, we’ve concentrated their forces over the two detonation zones. As you predicted, the Predacons refused to fall into our trap in the northern sector, but didn’t fail to detect our weakened presence in the southern sector. They are currently using ‘Siege’ class missiles to try and pierce it.” Bradley said.
“Have the fusion generator in that sector fail in the next few minutes, but try not to be obvious about it. I want as many of their ships to move in under the shield as possible.” Williams ordered. “How is the battle faring in the northern section?”
“Not well sir, the shield there has failed, and despite our increased presence in the area a few Pred ships have made it inside.” Bradley told him.
“More than enough, most of those ships are too damaged to escape anyway.” Williams said. He turned to Bradley. “Have the codes been entered yet?”
“Yes sir, I entered them myself five minutes ago. As you requested, immediate activation has been keyed to your desk. You now have total control over the activation sequence.” Bradley answered.
“Your sure they can’t jam the transmission?” Williams asked.
“Quite sure sir, it’s on a quantum transmitter, the most powerful one ever built. Nothing can jam it and the transmission time is virtually instantaneous.” He answered.
“Then I’ll be in my office.” Williams said turning to leave. Before he could however, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to find his bridge crew all on their feet. Their hands raised in salute. He stopped for a moment and smiled before returning the salute. He said nothing. There was after all, nothing to say at a time like this. Instead they stood there for a moment before they returned to work, and he entered his office.

Dinobot’s command ship, the Vengeance.

“Successful penetration of the shield has occurred in both of the assault zones.” The computer informed him. “Forty percent of our ships have now moved under the shield and are attacking the specified targets. It is estimated that the rest of the shield will be down in less than ten minutes.”
“This is too easy,” Dinobot told it. “we were never ambushed at the ‘trap’ in the north, and now we simply pierce the shield and bombard the humans out of existence in the south. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Tactical computations can find no evidence of an obvious trap.” It came back.
“I know, and neither can I.” Dinobot replied. “It just doesn’t feels right. They have made us pay for every inch of ground that we have taken, why should they seem to simply surrender now.”
“The steady amount of losses does not seem to indicate any sign of surrender. Computations indicate that they are simply too low on available forces to put up an appreciable resistance.” It tried to reason with him.
“Logically yes,” He said turning away, trying to reason his doubts out. “These humans have proven to be unaffected by logic when it comes to defending their world.” He mused for a few minutes, trying to find his opponent’s motives, when a transmission came through, saving him the trouble.
“I have a transmission from the human commander on an emergency channel, he is asking for you.” The computer told him.
“Trace it,” Dinobot told it. “I want to know the exact location of their headquarters. As soon as you have it, order a squadron of troops to take the area. For now, put it through.”
“Complying.” It said. The tactical display was then replaced by his human counterpart’s image. The visage of his opponent was grim, the face of someone who was fighting a losing battle. Which he was of course.
“Admiral Williams,” Dinobot addressed him. “if you have called to surrender, I am more than prepared to accept. You have fought a great battle, and I was honored to be your opponent. I will see to it personally that you are recycled with full honors.”
“I appreciate your offer, but I haven’t called you to grovel for my life. I came to tell you a quote from a television series of old Earth.” Williams said flatly.
“I do not understand, but I will humor you.” Dinobot said keeping an eye on the meter that indicated the time to completion of the trace.
“Thank you so much.” Williams said sarcastically “ The quote, for you, and anyone else who cares to listen is; ‘I will not go down quietly, and I will not go down alone.’ As he finished, his hand jabbed down on a button in front of him. A dawning realization came over Dinobot, who immediately thought of escape. His ships, like most of the others in the fleet, were trapped under the shield which now ‘mysteriously’ reactivated. As the force of the initial explosion rocked his ship, he could only think of how great an ally this race might have made if Galvatron had not alienated them.

 The explosion of the new SOL system was not as great as it’s Arcturus 9 counterpart, but it was spectacular nonetheless. The Predacon fleet was in such close proximity, that virtually none of the ships escaped. Even those not caught under the shield. The few that did would have little time to celebrate their victory, for if the only surviving Maximals succeeded in their mission, this entire reality would not exist much longer.
 

End of chapter 5

Writers note; For those of you who may have missed the joke, the English translation of the Greek words “Daedalus”, and “Prometheus” are afterthought and forethought.
If you still don’t get it, consider that the unit “Fortress 1” they were attached to be huge. You almost might even call it a super dimensional fortress. (If you've never seen or read anything about ROBOTECH, ask someone who has, they'll explain it to you.)