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Chapter 6: “When the Past, becomes the Present, then it’s also the Future.”

SOL system, prehistoric past. (approximately 250,000 years ago)

The SOL system, original home of humanity, and the area where the great war would be continued in the distant future. On the planet Earth however, a new war had already started between two groups of Cybertoniains, the Beast wars. Almost a month ago, two spaceships belonging to the opposing factions crashed into the planet almost a hundred miles from each other. There had already been several skirmishes resulting mostly in stalemates for either side. A new faction was about to enter the battle, and history would never be the same.

On the far side of the second moon, a familiar doorway started to form. This time however, it was distorted and unnatural colors spewed from it’s opening. After a few seconds, a starship, somewhat battered from its journey also exited through the gap, which soon closed behind it. It was the Maximal warship Axalon, a straggler from the now defunct Maximal resistance army. They had suffered marginal damage during the transit as a result of the destruction of the resistance’s homeworld toward the end of the battle. They limped into a stationary orbit as they attempted to establish their position.

“Course settings were correct,” The ship's computer told its captain, Optimus Primal. “however readings are inconsistent with those of the intended destination.” Optimus didn’t need the computer to tell him this. He only needed to walk to the window and look over at the second moon to figure that out.

“Then tell me where we are.” He told it.

It took a moment to reconfirm its findings, then answered. “According to anticipated temporal readings, along with stellar positions of the current area, this is confirmed to be the SOL system. It is also confirmed to be the third planet. Therefore despite inconsistencies, this is confirmed to be Earth.”

Optimus turned toward another of the bridge’s occupants. He sat strapped to his own chair, as much for his own safety as any one else’s. Many on the bridge would happily slag him if the opportunity arose, and consider it justice for the great crime he had committed.

“Well?” Optimus asked him tersely.

The figure chuckled slightly before he answered. The long centuries of torture he had suffered at the hands of the Maximal’s arch enemy Galvatron had taken their toll. He was now quite mad, a fact he took great pleasure in reminding those around him of.

“Well,” Megatron oozed. “it would appear that we have arrived at our destination.”

Optimus shook his head and pounded his fist on the table. “Then how do you explain that!” He shouted, pointing at the Moon’s smaller companion.

“Why it is an alien construct made as a fail-safe against interference with their experiments on the planet’s surface.” He answered.

“I thought your said that it was destroyed before you entered the Ark to terminate Optimus Prime.” Primal said, growing impatient.

“Oh, it was,” Megatron said mockingly. “the Optimus Primal of this timeline made the ultimate sacrifice in order to destroy it.”

Primal stopped short, and turned to face Megatron. A look of horror crossed his face, he knew what the fate was for anyone who had either died or never existed in this timeline if they succeeded in their mission.

“You mean in this timeline my counterpart is going to die? “ He finally managed.

“Yes and no. Much like your predecessor, you have the annoying habit of not staying dead.” Megatron answered.

“So I survive then. Primal said, visibly relieved.

“In a manner of speaking. This does mean however, mean that we have arrived too early.” Megatron said.

“Great. Then where, or should I say when are we? How long do we wait until we can begin our mission.” Primal asked, walking over to Megatron’s chair.

“How should I know, the turbulence of Grimlock’s fiery demise threw us off course. Without more information I’m afraid I can’t say, no.” Megatron said.

“What kind of information do you need then?” Primal asked.

Megatron took on an almost thoughtful look. “This cycle’s calendar would prove most enlightening, yes.” He said sarcastically.

Optimus stood close to him, and put his hand around Megatron’s neck. Slowly he tightened his grip. “Stop mocking me and help, or I’ll decide you’re superfluous to this mission and fling you into this system’s sun.”

Megatron didn’t seem too concerned. “I was actually being realistic Maximal. Without some sort of a scouting mission, there is no way for me to establish our position in the timeline. At least until the aliens arrive and the second moon is destroyed, and I think you would probably like to get started before that.”

Primal backed down, as much as he hated it the Predacon was right. “Well that’s just prime.” He said.

Megatron groaned, and Optimus turned to see what was wrong. Megatron stared straight at him and said: “Of all the habits you had to share with your counterpart, why did you have to share the habit of using that phrase.”

Axalon’s shuttle bay. Day one.

A squadron of the Axalon’s human techs was going over the shuttle, checking her systems and making sure her ECM cloak was fully operational. If their counterparts were already on the planet, they couldn’t risk detection by them.

“All systems on line commander.” The lead tech Jennifer told Optimus Primal. “The cloak is in place and the holographic masking device is operational. You can take her out at any time.”

“Good job.” Optimus told her. “We’ll be heading out as soon as the scouting probe returns.”

“Actually, it’s already back.” Rhinox said, entering the bay. “And the news isn’t exactly great.”

“What do you mean?” Primal asked.

“It turns out, the reason we haven’t been able to get accurate readings from the planet is because the planet is literally bursting with energon.” Rhinox answered.

Primal was confused. “I know the planet had rich resources, but surely that shouldn’t....”

“You don’t understand,” Rhinox interrupted. “I’m not talking about oil or anything like that. I mean it has pure and highly unstable energon crystals.”

“What, those are one of the rarest substances in existence.” He said, quite surprised.

“It gets worse.” Rhinox continued. “The crystals are generating so much excess energy that the field would soon disrupt our systems beyond repair.”

“Prime. Any solutions?” Primal said in a frustrated tone.

“Ironically enough, the organic beast modes we were going to use might be suitable enough protection, with a few modifications.” Rhinox answered.

“That’s a relief, how soon can we be ready?” Primal asked.

“I’ve already put Night Stalker, Eclipse, Rattrap, and Diehard through the process. That just leaves you and me as the only unconverted members of the scouting crew.” Rhinox said.

“They let’s get going, I want to get this mission going as soon as possible, before anything else can go wrong. What about the prisoner?” Prime said.

“According to him, he doesn’t need conversion. Apparently his form is mostly immune to the field.” Rhinox told Primal.

“Fine, one less thing to worry about. I wonder what beast form I’m going to have?” Primal pondered as they headed for the medical bay.

Maximal shuttle, the continent that will eventually be known as Africa.

The Maximal scout team choose a field base that was about halfway between the two warring factions, but far enough from the exact center to avoid detection. They were located near a field of unstable energon which would disrupt any sensors from detecting them when combined with their stealth field generator. Their new organic beast modes protected them from those self same fields, which through a quirk of coincidence (and the author’s convenience) resembled those of their alternate timeline counterparts. Optimus was currently in his beast mode, a mountain gorilla. Near him stood Night Stalker, who was now an all black panther, and Rattrap who was needless to say, a rat. Rhinox had gotten a rhino mode, and Eclipse was an ant.
“I’m never going to fool anyone like this.” She said. “I’m too big.”
“Unfortunately the old size changing technology our ancestors used to use was lost when we scaled down to conserve resources.” Rhinox said. “There’s not a whole lot we can do about it.”
“You’ll have to stay back and guard the base unless there’s an emergency.” Primal told her. “If we need back up we’ll call for you, but keep out of sight.”
“Sure,” She said despairingly. “you boys get to go have all the fun.”
“Hey,” Rattrap said. “you think I’m the same size as a real rat? I gotta keep a low profile too.”
“That’s why I’m sending you to scout out the Pred base. Your infiltration expertise should allow you to get close enough to attach the listening devices to her hull. He turned to Stalker. “Night Stalker will hit the Maximal ship, we need more information about what time this is, and what our counterparts are up to.”

“What are you and horn head going to do?” Rattrap asked him.

“Rhinox is going to stay with Eclipse to help guard the Prisoner, and I’m going to pay a visit to the most dangerous place on this planet.” Optimus answered.

“More dangerous then where I’m going? Where’s that?” Rattrap said incredulously.

Optimus took a moment to, caught in the weight of his reply. “The Ark.”

Maximal headquarters during the Beast Wars, the crashed starship, the Axalon.

Rhinox was putting the finishing touches on his newest creation, Sentinel, when Stalker approached their base. Even as he crept up on it in full stealth mode, this universes Rattrap was currently involved in an argument with fellow Maximal Dinobot. An argument that almost cost the Maximals their ship. Stalker leapt from a nearby rock outcropping on to the ship’s cargo hold. He didn’t recognize the ship class, though it vaguely resembled a Maximal built scout class vessel from his own timeline. If the resemblance held up, there would be a roof hatch into the hold which would allow him access. He wanted to reach the computer bay. A complete download of their counterparts files would give them more information than a thousand scouting missions.

He found the hatch itself easily enough, using his lockpick he easily entered the base. Unfortunately, his timing was about to be proven bad indeed. Sentinel had been damaged by Dinobot’s misplaced sword thrust, and now considered the Axalon’s crew to be intruders. It drove all the Maximals, except for Rattrap from the ship, leaving him and their unknown guest trapped inside.

“Great,” He thought. “their sensors must be more sophisticated than I thought if they detected me anyway. I’ll have to tell Primal that Megatron was lying about their technology level. Guess I’ll have to go full stealth.” He activated his cloaking device, rendering him invisible and completely undetectable. Unknown to him, Sentinel had no idea he was there. Its full attention was currently focused on the ship’s only other inhabitant, as he was soon to find out.

He walked in to a hallway, just as Rattrap was emerging from a maintenance tube from the bridge. He heard the Maximal mutter; “I gotta get to the computer room and shut this sucker down.” under his breath. Before Stalker could even wonder what he meant, a panel at the far end of the hall opened, and a device fired a flurry of destruction discs at them. Stalker dodged down the cross way, expecting a new device to be waiting for him. To his surprise, he discovered that the system hadn’t been shooting at him, but at this universe’s Rattrap. The Maximal easily dodged the discs, which proceeded to shatter a door behind him. He wasted no time in entering the door, leaving the deadly device as far behind as possible. Stalker, still a little confused, stepped back out into the hallway. He stood for a moment, expecting the cannon to take another shot at him. When it didn’t, he finally understood that the ship wasn’t even aware of his presence, he could come and go at will.
“And if I heard right,” He thought. “this other Rattrap could lead me exactly where I want to go.”

Axalon’s computer hold.

Rattrap had lead both sentinel, and Night Stalker on a merry chase. Several times, weapons meant for the rat had nearly slagged Stalker himself, just from his proximity. Now they neared their shared objective, the main computer bay. As Rattrap entered the room, Sentinel showed that it was far from finished with him. Stalker entered just in time to see him dodging a disrupter cannon, and swing across the elector‘moat’ that supplied the computer. Rattrap went to robot mode and took out the cannon, then turned to the panel in a desperate attempt to turn off their wayward security system. Stalker sat back and deactivated his cloak, relying on his stealth mode to keep him from detection. All he had to do was wait for Rattrap to deactivate the guard system, then go gloat with his friends. Stalker knew that would give him more than enough time to get the information he needed, and install the listening devices in their system. Before Rattrap could finish, Sentinel activated its last line of defense, a mobile shatter field emitter. Stalker saw it unfold from a seemingly innocent pile of junk parts on the far side of the bay. He was stunned that these Maximals would use such a powerful weapon for internal defense. It could shatter the bonds that held matter together, and literally disintegrate it’s target.

As he watched, it floated almost silently towards it’s prey, who pounded the panel he had been working on in frustration. As he did, the panel opened to reveal the deactivation switch Rattrap had been looking for. Before he could press it, the shatter field began its arming sequence. Rattrap heard the rising hum, and turned to face the device, just as Sentinel announced it’s presence. He ducked, and the beam struck a box of equipment, destroying it. Stalker watched as Rattrap was pinned underneath a shower of debris, just inches from his salvation. The shatter field emitter moved around to get a clear shot. Stalker knew that Rattrap would never reach the button before sentinel terminated him. Primal had been explicit in his orders not to interfere, but Stalker would be damned if he was going to let a fellow Maximal get vaped, even an alternate universe one.

Sentinel homed in on its first target, as anxious for the kill as a non sentient computer could be. As it moved in, a disrupter bolt slammed into the shatter field emitter, scrambling its electronics before it could fire. Sentinel turned all it’s sensors on full in the area it had detected the bolt from, but could find nothing. If it had been paying attention to it’s original target, it might have noticed a shimmer from an overworked cloaking device. An invisible figure slammed its fist down on the deactivation button. Mere seconds before Rattrap did.

Rattrap freed himself and left to greet his grieving comrades, just as Stalker had predicted. Now alone in the computer bay, he set to work, making sure to erase the record of the disrupter bolt from sentinel’s files. He copied every file he could find into his mini computer, and downloaded the energy signature files for all the current Maximals, in case he needed to get in again. Before he left, he entered a back door password into both their system and Sentinel itself. This would allow others from his team to enter the base if necessary. He left the base the same way he came in, with none the wiser.

Predacon base, the crashed starship, the Darkside.

The Rattrap from Night Stalker’s timeline was having an easier time of it. Half of the Predacons were involved in the attempt to enter the Maximal’s base. The other half were simply gone, and he didn’t care where they were. Getting close to their empty base wasn’t easy however, as he discovered. The Predacons had seeded the area with autoguns set to fire on any intruders. Rattrap was used to getting around security like this however, the Predacons from his timeline had access to the resources of entire worlds, and he’d gotten around those before. The ones from this timeline had used anything they could scavenge from their crashed space ship, not exactly top of the line stuff. He found a particularly vile patch of volcanic ash and rolled in it, totally disguising his signature.

He marveled at the ship he saw as he approached the co-ordinates Primal had given him for the Pred base. It was a Predacon frigate, not exactly like theirs, but a fairly close match. His sensors still couldn’t detect any Predacons inside as he approached. He jacked in to an external maintenance unit and hacked into their system. The Megatron they brought with them had supplied him with the codes necessary to infiltrate their computer, and like Stalker he downloaded everything he could. He found a file that was encrypted heavier than the others, none of his programs could even come close to cracking it. All he could get was the file title, G.D. and he barely got that. He downloaded it and stored it for Rhinox to take a crack at. He installed the infiltration device and decided he’d pushed his luck about as far as he wanted to. He left with only one further thought; “I wonder where the Pred’s from this universe are?”

Mount St. Hillary, final resting place of the Autobot flagship, the Ark.

Primal had flown for several hours across the continents to reach, what was to him, the most sacred place on the planet. Rhinox had installed a special booster in his field dampner. This allowed him to withstand the energon fields so he could remain in robot mode making the long journey in one trip. At long last, the peak he sought came into view, as he approached, he noticed a trail of smoke leading into the sky. He landed short of the volcano and removed the booster from his chassis, allowing him to go to beast mode. He approached tentatively, knowing that apes were not indigenous to this area, and if he was spotted he would be noticed. From the cover of the foliage, he saw where the smoke originated from, a squadron of three Predacons. From the descriptions he had been given, they had to be this universes Megatron, his lackey Skorponok, and Tarantulus. They had just finished blasting shut an entrance they had dug in the side of the mountain while the Maximals were to busy to notice they were gone.

“Night Stalker’s going to be thrilled.” He thought as he eyed the spider bot. He turned his audio sensors up too full in an attempt to hear what they where saying.

“....don’t understand why we don’t just ace the Autobots in their while their still asleep?” the one called Skorponok said.

“Because fool,” Tarantulus told him impatiently. “we don’t know what affect that will have on the timeline.”

“Tarantulus is right,” Megatron began. “for now, we will only come here to use Teletran 1 to help us track down the birthplace of humanity. I feel more comfortable extinguishing their pitiful existence, than I do anyone onboard that ship.”

“At least we know the codes work.” Tarantulas chuckled. “Now we can enter whenever we please.”

“Correct,” Megatron said. “and soon we will change history and victory will be ours.”

Primal watched all three of them laugh hysterically over this for a few minutes before they finally recovered and left. He saw them using a series of modified hoverpads, lashed together to form a sort of flying raft, to take their leave.

“They don’t have any shuttles of their own,” He thought. “that gives us the advantage of greater mobility.” When he was sure they were gone, he climbed free of his cover and approached the volcano himself. He took a few minutes to observe the hole the Predacons had blasted shut, deciding it would take too long to re-open alone. Instead he went back to robot mode, and activated his jet pack. Rising into the air, he took a route to the ship that the Predacons wouldn’t have dared, down the cone of the semi active volcano.

The rising heat would have melted the armor of most other transformers, but Primal had been built in a universe that was caught in the biggest war of it’s existence. He easily weathered the storm, as he had many a Predacon bombardment. Within moments he stood before the hip that had started it all, the Ark. He gazed at it in wonder for a few moments. It was as least as big as Grimlock’s flagship had been. It was primitive in design by current standards, but he had no doubt it could easily stand up to almost any ship from modern times. It had survived planet fall and several million years on top of a volcano after all. He didn’t have time to wonder about it however, he needed to get inside and check that the contents were still intact. Not to mention, checking to see what changes if any, that this universe’s Megatron had made.

He projected the codes, and after a few moments Teltran 1, deactivated the field for him. The gigantic doors of the ship’s main entrance slid aside for him slowly. He entered her with the same reverence of a high priest entering a sacred temple. He checked off a list of the transformers on board, making sure each was intact and still in place. He stood on the bridge before his name sake, knowing that if he failed, this great hero would soon be dead. “Then I won’t fail.” he told himself as he returned to business. He plugged himself into Teletran 1 and asked it for a list of recent activities. It informed him that it had launched a sky spy according to an order it had received from Autobot Grimlock, whose codes Megatron had used. When he asked what the spy was looking for, it told him, signs of a bipedal creature, the ancestors of humanity. This confirmed what he had heard outside.

With a grim satisfaction, he prepared to change the entry codes, blocking Megatron from access to the ship. Before he could, a signal came through. It was Megatron, checking to see if the program was running adequately before he went too far out of range. He interfaced, telling the computer that he would be back to check on its progress soon. Primal despaired, if he changed it before Megatron found humanity, the history would be radically altered. He had to leave things as they were for now. Leaping down from the gigantic panel, he prepared to leave. As he did, he spotted Optimus Prime’s opposite number, the original Megatron. A thought crossed his mind as he approached the giant transformer. He took a bundle from his backpack and opened the chest of the titan. “Before I leave, how about a little insurance. Just in case.”

End of Chapter 6