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Gamma V's Writings
Forum Index - Donut Plains - Creation Corner - Gamma V's Writings
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It's been several months since I posted anything in my Transformers Chronicles thread. I quickly found myself being the only poster in that thread, so I eventually stopped posting new installments here and started posting them elsewhere. Eventually, I discontinued the series altogether, as the lack of feedback eventually killed my motivation to continue. Every so often, though, I still get the urge to write stuff, even if it's likely to be ignored. After all, maybe it is just the lack of "sticky interfacing" in my works. Sticky interfacing is a term Transformers fans apparently use to describe Transformer sex. I don't like reading those sorts of stories, and I don't like writing them either. Romance, on the other hand, is alright.

STARGAZING

Neither of them were truly "alive" according to the traditions of the beings after which they were modeled. Whatever semblance of consciousness they possessed was derived from their advanced artificial intelligence systems, rather than the semi-mystical Sparks of their peers.

One of these constructs was Project Starshot Deep-Space Colonization Surveyor 0984, a rather antiquated probe modeled after the Cybertronians that constructed her at least six million years prior. This synthetic femme simply stood outside the remains of a crashed Vanguard Class Deep-Space Interceptor that had become lodged in the side of a dormant volcano, staring up at the night sky. Not long ago, she was being held on a massive warship captained by a being who presented himself as the ruler of her homeworld of Cybertron.

"You will pardon the commotion outside. Much has changed since you were last dispatched from Cybertron," spoke the voice of a rather imposing silver and black mech with red accents.

"Your assistance is appreciated, Cybertronian," she replied.

The mech chuckled softly, trying to maintain an air of friendliness as he continued to speak. "I am Megatron, ruler of Cybertron. Our homeworld has been devastated by eons of civil war and is no longer able to support life. Therefore, I have selected this planet as our new home. As such, I hereby grant authorization to initiate Cyberforming Protocol."

"This construct cannot comply. Data indicates that this planet is inhabited."

"The indigenous life of this planet is primitive and barely sapient," Megatron argued. "What does it matter if it is eradicated in the Cyberforming process?"

She thought back to her brief encounter with the human archaeologists who inadvertently activated her. They were speaking intelligently among themselves and using tools that, while primitive by Cybertronian standards, were far too complex to be used by mere animals. "Your statement is incorrect. The indigenous life-forms are capable of speech and complex tool use."

"Disregard the native life! That is a direct command. You must obey." Megatron's words were punctuated by a flash of his piercing red optics.

"This construct cannot comply," Starshot repeated.

"Quite stubborn for a drone, isn't she?" commented a primarily red mech who stood behind Megatron.

"Indeed, Knockout," Megatron replied. "Fortunately, we need not rely on persuasion alone."

Megatron's crimson cohort smiled as he approached the helpless drone and replaced his right hand with a rotary sawblade.

"Danger....Danger," Starshot whined as Knockout brought the blade down onto her chest and began to cut into her plating.


Starshot whimpered softly as she remembered her ordeal at the hands of Megatron and Knockout. It was the first time she felt fear, an emotion so overwhelming that the resulting breakdown threatened to overload her neural net had she not been rescued when she was. She quickly shifted her focus to the faint reflection of a neighboring planet. Just then, she heard footsteps approaching from behind and tensed up until she heard another familiar voice.

"Your gaze appears to be fixated on the reflection of Venus," the voice observed. "Does observation of celestial bodies...induce comfort?"

She turned to face the silver and maize-colored mech who now accompanied her. "I do not entirely understand why, but yes."

"Many natives of this planet enjoy this activity. They refer to it as...'stargazing.'"

"Stargazing..." Starshot repeated.

"The celestial bodies...the stars...evoke many desirable emotions. Many humans regard them as...beautiful."

"I have seen an incalculable number of celestial bodies while traveling through space, but, at the time, they did not evoke any emotion. Now, they represent...peace...tranquility...and familiarity." She turned her gaze to her companion. His was the first remotely Cybertronian face she saw after reactivating.

Starshot lay motionless and half-buried in the desert sand. The humans who had begun to unearth her had left. She reasoned that they were likely afraid of her. They were comparatively small creatures after all, and probably didn't know she wasn't hostile. It didn't matter either way. All that mattered to her was that the planet was clearly inhabited. Therefore, it was unsuitable for colonization. Were she not immobilized due to disrepair, she would simply leave and move on to the next prospective planet as per her programming. It was at that moment that she saw what looked to be a Cybertronian approaching from the sky above.

"Cybertronian, your assistance is required."

The airborne observer descended carefully, shifting from the form of what was likely a native craft into that of a mech.

"Cybertronian, your assistance is required," she repeated. "Motor relays are non-functional. Propulsion system is non-functional."

"Skybolt does not possess sufficient skill to affect repair. However, Skybolt will transport you to safety."

"Your assistance is appreciated...Skybolt."

Skybolt effortlessly, yet gently, pulled the feminine-looking construct out of the sand. "What is your designation?"

"I am Project Starshot Deep-Space Colonization Surveyor Unit 0984."

"Is 'Starshot' an acceptable form of address?"

"Affirmative, Skybolt."


"I apologize for my inability to provide safe transport as promised."

"That was your intention. That is...what matters."

"My failure could have resulted in your destruction...or the Cyberforming of this planet. Either outcome would have been undesirable."

"I am...not truly alive. I am only a Deep-Space Colonization Surveyor."

"I am only...an anti-NBE combat prototype," Skybolt replied, his lips curving into a small smile. "At the moment, that is irrelevant."

Starshot tilted her head to one side, a bit confused, but also...comforted. She didn't fully understand why. Emotions were still fairly new to both of them. Still, they could feel a bond forming between them.

--------------------
"You painted my paint job! PREPARE FOR SURGERY!"
- Knockout ~ Transformers Prime "TMI"
Here comes another Starshot-centered one-shot, but this one is based in the continuity of the original 1980s Transformers series. More specifically, it's set during the tail end of the "Five Faces of Darkness" Season 3 opener. It's somewhat inspired by the classic Boyz II Men song after which it's named.

SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY


"Autobot volcano....smashed!" the massive reptilian robot cried out triumphantly while standing atop a heap of rubble that was once Mt. St. Hilary and the crashed Ark that served as Autobot Headquarters.




Cosmos, who watched the scene from his post in high Earth orbit, let out a quiet "Oh no" as Trypticon seemed to revel in the destruction he had just caused. He simply stared at the ruins below, silently hoping and praying that nobody was inside until the pained scream of a feminine vocalizer pierced his audio receptors.




"Teletraan!" the voice cried out. "No...."




Cosmos zoomed over to the source of the voice, a scaled-down space shuttle that had been accompanying him in orbit for at least a decade. "What's wrong, Starshot?"




"Teletraan....Teletraan couldn't escape. Teletraan...is dead."




"Yeah, I guess he is. It's easy to forget about him."




"What do you mean? H-How can you say that?"




"I guess I never really got used to thinking of him as anything more than a computer. His sentience is kind of a new development....relatively speaking. None of us knew until he revealed it to Optimus Prime about a year and a half ago."




"I knew," Starshot corrected. "I knew when he stabilized my neural net. He didn't just repair code. He spoke to me. He actively tried to comfort me. He understood why my neural net was destabilizing as if he were an actual bot. He saved my life. If he were just a computer, I don't think he could've done what he did for me."




"I never really thought to talk to him, even after he revealed his sentience," Cosmos admitted. "I never got to know Teletraan the person. What was he like?"




"He was...." She began to whimper as memories of everything she'd seen the Decepticons do flooded her mind. Even after recovering from her own torturous encounter with the 'Cons with Teletraan's help, witnessing the increasingly heinous things they did could easily bring her to the verge of another breakdown. Teletraan would always comfort her during these times, reassuring her that the Autobots would stop whatever the Decepticons were doing. Now he was gone. There was no way he could've survived Trypticon's rampage. It hurt. It felt like Hook was gleefully ripping her open again to rip something much more valuable than a Cyberforming Module out of her. She screamed again.




"Easy, Starshot," Cosmos chided. "I...I wish there was something I could do, but...."




"Teletraan!"




"Yeah, I know I'm not Teletraan. I doubt I could really help you the way he did."




"Teletraan...."




"I...I know how hard it can be to say goodbye. I still haven't really gotten over losing Optimus...or Ironhide...or really anyone that died during that attack on Autobot City. I was hoping that, after Rodimus defeated Galvatron and destroyed Unicron, no other Autobots would die. For a while, it seemed like I wouldn't lose any more friends. I'm sure you felt the same way."




Starshot just whimpered softly.




"I'm sorry, Starshot. I don't wanna see you break down again. You're so kind and sensitive...and surprisingly brave. You've stuck around all this time regardless of how you feel about the war. I guess you figure that this is better than just drifting through space...alone. It can get lonely out here. Before you came along, I really didn't have anyone else to talk to during orbital patrols. Omega Supreme's not really much of a conversationalist."




Starshot fell silent for a bit before letting out a small giggle.




Cosmos smiled inwardly, glad to finally be making some progress in cheering Starshot up. He figured it'd be best to not tell her how Omega became so withdrawn, for fear of hurting her more. He thought for a bit about Teletraan 2, who had recently been brought online at the Autobots' new Cybertronian base. This new computer had similar specifications to its late predecessor, and had been fed whatever data could be transferred from the older computer before the Ark was destroyed. Whatever made Teletraan 1 sentient probably couldn't be copied. It's something that developed over more than two decades of continuous operation. It was never actively stimulated though. Most of the Autobots never talked to Teletraan 1 as if he were one of them. How much faster could 2 evolve if someone regularly interacted with him as if he were more than a machine. He took a deep breath, bracing himself in case he accidentally twisted the proverbial knife.




"Hey, Starshot...Have you ever thought to talk to Teletraan 2?"




"I....I haven't. Why do you ask?"




"He might be able to evolve the way Teletraan 1 did. You talking to him might even speed the process up."




"He won't be the same, but...maybe..."




"He doesn't have to be the same. He can still be a good friend either way. You just gotta give him a chance. Rodimus Prime isn't Optimus, but I think he'll grow to be just as good a leader. He already has stopping the end of our world on his resume."




Starshot let out another giggle. "That he does. As for Teletraan 2...I'm now a bit curious as to what he'll be like." She transformed to her robot mode and smiled at the small saucer-bot. "Thank you, Cosmos."

Cosmos transformed as well, and would visibly smile back were his face not covered by a battle mask. "No problem. You're one of the few friends I have that I can talk to while in orbit, and I don't like hearing you cry and break down. You've been hurt enough by what the Decepticons did to you after you woke up here. Seems they just like twisting the Energon blade. That's why we fight them. Vector Sigma only knows what could've happened to you if we didn't save you...or even answer your distress call."

"You...and all the other Autobots...are my friends too. You're the reason I stay here instead of running away."

--------------------
"You painted my paint job! PREPARE FOR SURGERY!"
- Knockout ~ Transformers Prime "TMI"
One thing I don't think I've mentioned is that I feel like you convey emotions and personality pretty well in your writing. It's kind of amazing how little I can read about these characters before wanting to know more about them. I hope you keep it up.
@imamelia: Thanks. I often play out conversations in my head even before I write them.

Now that I've posted that Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday fic, I might as well post the prequel.

TRANSFORMERS G1 - STARSHOT


CHAPTER 1
Somewhere in the deserts of Egypt, an archaeological excavation team was hard at work trying to dig up more artifacts from the time of the Pharaohs. They had already found several buried artifacts, but so far, it wasn't anything too unusual. That all changed when one of the diggers' shovels made a loud 'clang,' as if it had struck metal. The digger raised an eyebrow in surprise before digging out more of this metallic object. His colleagues soon gathered around him to get a look at his discovery. It looked metallic alright, and now, it was starting to move, even if its movement was slow and stiff.

"What is that thing?" asked one of the diggers as he backed away from the stirring object.

"Maybe it's one of those robots," suggested another digger before taking a drink of water from his canteen. "You know, like the ones that have been here for about a decade now?"

"Oh, you mean the Autobots?" a third digger asked while fanning himself with his hat. "Well...I hope it's an Autobot. We don't need any more of those Decepticons running loose here."

The robot stirred a little more, as if trying to finish digging itself out. Neither it, nor the diggers, were aware of the menacing red, black, and white robotic bird hovering just out of sight and watching their every move.



Deep in the Pacific ocean, within the crashed remains of a starship that served as Decepticon headquarters, Soundwave dutifully watched the video feed being transmitted by his avian pet. Suddenly, a soft, but still somewhat monotone feminine voice came through the speakers.

"Mayday. Mayday. Assistance required."

The message caught Megatron's attention, and the Decepticon leader soon joined his communications officer at the monitor.

"Mayday. Mayday. Assistance required," the voice repeated as Megatron stroked his chin in thought. His red optics narrowed in disgust at the sight of humans swarming around the source of the transmission.

"Soundwave, instruct Laserbeak to do away with those Earth pests!"

"As you command, Megatron," the deep blue and white robot droned.



Meanwhile, at the Autobots' base, Teletraan 1 had picked up the same transmission.

"Sounds like someone's in a tight jam out there," observed Blaster. "Yo, Teletraan! Can you get a visual on our damsel in distress?"

"Affirmative," the computer replied, having long since adapted to the Autobot communicator's slang-laden speech. The AI dutifully brought up a closer image of the still-mostly-buried robot, giving Blaster a brief glimpse of his comrades' potential objective before the feed was abruptly cut off in a familiar fashion. "Uh-oh! Sounds like we're not the only ones who picked up this signal."

"Indeed," nodded Optimus Prime, who sat nearby at the same console. "We must get to Egypt as quickly as possible. This is something that cannot fall into Megatron's hands"

"I'm fueled up and ready for takeoff, Prime," Skyfire announced.

“Excellent,” the powerful red, white, and blue robot replied with an approving nod before turning to face the other Autobots who occupied the command center of what was once their own starship.

“Bumblebee, Jazz, Perceptor, Ironhide and Wheeljack will join Skyfire and I on this recovery mission. The rest of you should remain alert in case we need backup.”

The other Autobots acknowledged with a combination of nods and various verbal responses.

“I'll be waiting here at the comm console if you need to hit me up, Prime,” Blaster stated with an enthusiastic smile.

Prime let out a warm chuckle before turning back to face his assembled team. “Autobots, let's roll!”

"What is this thing, Optimus?" Bumblebee asked as he boarded Skyfire.

"'Thing?'" Jazz repeated. "Sounded like a bot to me."

"Sounded like a Starshot unit to me," Wheeljack stated.

"Unit? You mean it's a drone?" Bumblebee asked as Skyfire took off. “From what I saw, she looked like a pretty normal bot.”

"Indeed," Perceptor replied. "The signal Teletraan 1 received is identical to the standard distress beacon utilized by all Starshot units. It is highly possible that this one eventually crashed on this planet after drifting for an indeterminate amount of time."

“What is a Starshot unit?” the yellow Autobot inquired, having been too young to know much Cybertronian history.

“During the Golden Age of Cybertron, Starshot units were used to search for potential colony planets in deep space,” Wheeljack explained. “When the War broke out, contact with the Starshot units was lost. They've been drifting through space for millions of years without maintenance or instructions. It's a wonder this one's even able to contact us.”

As the Autobots raced to reach Egypt, Megatron, Soundwave, and the Seekers did likewise.

"Why are you so concerned about some antiquated probe drone Megatron?" Starscream asked, believing the mission frivolous. "Given its probable state of disrepair, I doubt it would be of much use to us."

Megatron chuckled. "You are wrong, Starscream. You underestimate the technology of the Golden Age. The probe need only to be functional enough to engage its Cyberforming Protocol, and I am confident that it will be."

“How can you be so sure it'll function as intended, leader? It's been drifting through space for over nine million Earth years. Furthermore, it's programmed with certain failsafe measures to prevent its Cyberforming ability from being abused.”

“I am certain I will find a way to work around such measures, Starscream. This probe will do my bidding.”



While both factions made their way to the Egyptian digsite, all of the humans had fled the attacking Laserbeak, leaving the Starshot unit alone and still trying to dig itself out. It performed a quick system check to determine what was limiting its mobility, eventually discovering that most of its mechanical systems had broken down from millions of years of disrepair. It then proceeded to scan the immediate area for signs of Cybertronian life and detected Laserbeak hovering overhead. "Greetings, Cybertronian," it spoke in the same voice that had been transmitted to both the Autobots and Decepticons. "This construct is identified as Project Starshot Deep Space Colonization Surveyor Unit 0984."

Laserbeak didn't reply. He wasn't here to make small-talk with some ancient drone. He was more concerned about whether or not the Autobots would beat his fellow Decepticons to said drone.

"Unidentified Cybertronian, this construct requires assistance," the Starshot unit pressed.

Laserbeak's optics glowed as if he were about to fire on the drone, but he restrained himself, knowing that Megatron may want this thing intact.

"This construct requires assistance," it repeated, only for Laserbeak to continue ignoring it. The Decepticon bird-bot was instead focused on a familiar signal approaching his location. His optics glowed again, and this time, he would fire on the source of the signal as soon as it came into range.



"Don't worry, guys. It's just Laserbeak," Skyfire commented, taking the shot in stride before returning fire. "You guys check on that probe. I'll keep him busy."

"Good idea," Optimus replied before jumping out of Skyfire and transforming as soon as he landed. The other Autobots soon joined him, with Wheeljack carrying Perceptor in his race car mode. "Hope you don't mind a bumpy ride, Perceptor. I'm not exactly built for off-road driving."

Perceptor chuckled. "You need not concern yourself with my well being, Wheeljack. I have endured much more turbulent transportation."

The jovial mechanical engineer simply laughed with his scientist passenger. Perceptor may not have had the best sense of humor, but at least he tried, unlike Prowl.

As soon as the Autobots reached the Starshot unit, Ironhide was the first to transform. "Don't worry. I'll get'cha outta there," he said as he replaced his right hand with a drill and began digging.

"Your assistance is appreciated, unidentified Cybertronian," the drone replied.

"Name's Ironhide, little lady."

"Ironhide," the Starshot repeated as Ironhide's digging revealed more of her form: a white and dark blue femme-type robot with some gray on her thighs, upper arms, and face. The other Autobots soon joined him as he replaced his hand and gently helped the drone onto her feet. She struggled a bit to stay upright as the red security officer let go of her. All the while, Perceptor scanned her with his scope.

"She appears to have sustained critical damage to her motor relays as a result of extended disrepair and planetary impact," the scientist assessed.

"Then we should fix her up, shouldn't we?" Bumblebee asked, viewing this drone as though she were as real a bot as he and his friends.

"However," Perceptor continued, completely disregarding the little spy's concerns, "her Cyberforming Module is completely intact."

"Cyberforming, huh? That must be why Megatron wants her," Wheeljack suggested. "If I remember correctly, it shouldn't be so simple for him to get that started."

"Cyberforming Protocol has not been authorized," the Starshot stated. "Authorization must be granted by the leader of Cybertron."

“Wouldn't that technically be you, Prime?” Bumblebee asked. “You're the one with the Matrix.”

"While I may hold the title of Prime and carry the Matrix of Leadership, it is Megatron who is considered ruler of Cybertron," Prime explained. "He will no doubt use this to authorize the Protocol."

"Then we gotta git 'er back to base ASAP."

"Indeed, Ironhide. Cyberforming will result in the total annihilation of the indigenous life on this planet," Perceptor said in agreement.

"Cyberforming Protocol cannot be initiated on inhabited worlds."

"If that's the case, we shouldn't have too much to worry about," Bumblebee shrugged. "Even if Megatron can authorize it, it still won't work."

"I dunno, Bumblebee," Wheeljack countered. "These things are programmed to obey any orders given by the ruler of Cybertron. Megatron may still have an ace up his sleeve."

“Like I was saying, we should fix her up. It doesn't even look like she can walk,” the yellow spy reiterated.

“Well, you get no argument from me there,” the mechanical engineer replied.

Unfortunately, the moment he began his approach, he was stopped by a powerful burst of energy that stirred up the sand beneath it and left behind a smoking crater nearly 6 feet deep.

“Stay away from that probe, Autobots,” called out a familiar voice from the direction of the blast.

“I doubt she'd be of much use to you, Megatron,” Wheeljack retorted. “Right now, she can't even walk, and I don't know if I wanna trust the Constructicons to patch her up.”

Megatron laughed at the Autobot's futile attempt to dissuade him from capturing Starshot. “This probe doesn't need to be fully functional to do my bidding. Only one component need be intact.” The Decepticon leader turned to face Starshot before continuing.

“Starshot, I am Megatron, exalted ruler of Cybertron. Do you acknowledge my authority?”

“Please present verification of authority,” the femme drone instructed.

“Don't listen to him, Starshot,” Bumblebee called out.

“Megatron has not provided verification of authority. This construct is at liberty to deny requests that contradict programmed directives.”

“Pay no attention to the yellow one,” argued Megatron. “A mere child like him lacks the authority you seek. I, however, am a natural-built ruler. You've been away from Cybertron for a long time. Much has changed on our homeworld. We have endured many eons of brutal war, and that war has left our home a barren wasteland nearly devoid of its once rich resources.”

While Megatron spoke, Ironhide was training his blaster on the chrome-colored tyrant, firing as soon as he finished his sentence. “Shut yer yap, Megatron. The little lady doesn't need yer lies right now. She needs fixin' up!”

The Decepticon leader laughed while glaring contemptuously at the Autobot security officer. “Why do you care so much for this mere drone, Autobot? It's merely a rather sophisticated tool, not a living being. If you truly wish to stop me, why not simply destroy it?”

Starshot slowly turned her head to face the Autobots. Megatron was right. She was just a machine. Her natural desire to gather data prompted her to ask a similar question. “Autobots....Please explain your concern for this construct.”

Wheeljack was the first to speak. “You've been in disrepair for eons, just drifting through space before crashing here. All that time, you were no doubt never wiped, right?”

“No system reset has been performed,” the probe confirmed. “Do you wish to perform system reset?”

“No,” the engineer replied. “It would be interesting to find out what all you've seen.”

“Detailed logs can be transmitted to any Teletraan-Class computer system. Do you wish to transmit?”

Wheeljack nervously rubbed the back of his head. “Now's not a good time. You could do it when we get back to HQ.”

Megatron growled under his breath before turning to Soundwave. “Soundwave, transmit historical data.”

“As you command--” The Decepticon communicator began before being tackled to the ground by Ironhide.

“Aw, no ya don't, ya walkin' malfunction!”

Soundwave didn't bother with any sort of retort, witty or otherwise. Instead, he simply kicked the crimson warrior off of him before depressing the button on his shoulder. “Ravage, eject!”

As commanded, a black and gray cassette flew out of his open chest compartment and transformed into a robotic panther who charged forward with a savage growl. Before he could reach Ironhide, however, he felt the shock of a laser blast hitting him from the side.

“Why don't you go find some glitch-mice to chase?” Bumblebee taunted, his smoking blaster still aimed on the cat-like cassetticon.

Starshot tilted her head at the plucky little Bug's remark. It wasn't likely that there was any Cybertronian fauna on this planet. She processed the remark further, knowing nothing about humor. This only increased her curiosity. “Young Cybertronian, please explain your statement.”

“Uhh....It was a joke, Starshot. Now's probably not a good time to explain further.”

As if on cue, Skywarp teleported behind the yellow Autobot and blasted him in the back, sending him careening toward Jazz, who quickly caught hold of him before he face-planted into the sand. “Gotcha!”

Bumblebee smiled at the stylish saboteur. “Thanks, Jazz.”

“No prob, Bee! Now whatcha say we get miss Starshot back to base before Megatron makes a grab for her?”

“I'm down for that,” Bumblebee replied with a friendly smirk before turning around and firing on his assailant.

Skywarp laughed as the shot did little more than scratch damage. “Your weapon's just as puny as you are, Auto-Brat!”

“Mine, however, is far more effective,” added Starscream before blasting Bumblebee with his Null Ray, knocking the little Autobot to the ground as it paralyzed him.



Seeing that the Autobots were sufficiently distracted, Megatron grabbed Starshot and took to the sky, laughing triumphantly as he did so. “I gave you the opportunity to preserve this disgusting little mud ball of a planet. What a shame you wasted it!” He took one last pot-shot with his Fusion Cannon before flying back to his undersea base.

THE TRANSFORMERS WILL RETURN AFTER THESE MESSAGES...

--------------------
"You painted my paint job! PREPARE FOR SURGERY!"
- Knockout ~ Transformers Prime "TMI"
Megatron, upon returning to his undersea base with his fellow Decepticons, laid Starshot down on a lab table in the Constructicons' workshop.

"You now have a choice to make, Starshot," Megatron stated, uttering the probe's given name with an air of condescension. "You can initiate your Cybeforming Protocol, regardless of the fact that this planet is inhabited, or the Constructicons can dismantle you to extract the Cybeforming Module. Trust me. They aren't exactly gentle with such operations."

Starshot attempted to get off the table and run, only for her damaged motors to keep her in place. Her self-preservation protocol was now active, and dictated that she flee before Megatron's team of chartreuse and purple engineers could strip her down for parts. At the same time, though, her programming continued to forbid her from complying with Megatron's order to Cyberform the planet.

"This construct cannot comply. This construct...is in danger. Assistance required," spoke Starshot, her voice tinged with slight panic.

Megatron laughed. "Don't waste your energy sending out a distress signal. The base is protected by a communications disruption field that only Decepticon signals can penetrate."

"Do you really think that'll stop the Autobots from launching a rescue mission, Megatron?" asked a skeptical Starscream. "You do realize they know the location of our headquarters."

Megatron glared at his less-than-loyal lieutenant. "Of course I do, Starscream. That is why you and the other Decepticons will man your battle stations and await their approach." His optics glowed a bright red to emphasize his seriousness.

Starscream's wings tensed up for a split second as he gulped out an "As you command, Megatron" before heading to his post.

Megatron then shifted his gaze back to the helpless probe drone. "Now...I will give you one final opportunity to satisfy the whims of your self-preservation programming. Initiate Cyberforming Protocol NOW!"

"Error! Error! Directive conflict! This construct cannot comply! Cannot comply!" With each word, Starshot's tone became increasingly panicked, earning an amused look from the Decepticon leader.

"Hook, begin the extraction process."

"At once, Megatron," the Constructicon surgical engineer replied, his snobbish voice dripping with a sadistic sense of anticipated enjoyment as he approached the frightened probe and retracted it with a cutting torch.

"No! No! Assistance required! A-Autobots....Autobots!"

"Fascinating. You seem to be expressing genuine fear," Hook grinned before bringing his cutting tool down on Starshot's chest. "Tell me. Is this causing you pain?"

"Pain....Pain.....Autobots...." she whined as the cruel surgeon's tool tore through her plating.

"I'm afraid they can't help you," Hook countered, continuing to cut through her chest plate to reveal the elaborate network of internal components underneath.

"Autobots," Starshot repeated before going into a whimper. Unfortunately for her, this did nothing to dissuade her tormentor from continuing to cut her open. Not even the sounds of combat in the distance could distract the Constructicon. He was enjoying his work far too much to be bothered by the threat of an Autobot attack. It wouldn't matter much to him anyway. He could always join with his fellow Constructicons to form Devastator.

"You've only bringing this on yourself, Starshot," Hook taunted as he continued to work, eventually revealing his target, which he carefully disconnected from his victim's body. "I'm pretty sure Soundwave can easily figure out how to work this thing without you."

As soon as he turned away to carry the module to Soundwave, though, he found himself face-to-face with an enraged Ironhide, who proceeded to punch him in the face with enough force to send him staggering backward a bit. The red Autobot followed this up with a blast of liquid nitrogen that froze the surgical engineer solid. Jazz, meanwhile, made a dash for the examination table and scooped up the still-whimpering drone.

"Hope y'don't mind if your Cybeformin' gizmo takes a lickin'."

"Autobot," she whimpered, too overwhelmed to properly respond to the saboteur's comment.

"Y'sound pretty shook up," Jazz observed as he continued to carry her away, dodging Decepticon fire as he did so.

"Autobot....Autobot!"

"Easy, Starshot. I'm gettin' ya outta here," the stylish Autobot chided. "Ratchet 'n' Wheeljack'll patch y'up when we get back home."

Starshot simply whimpered, overwhelmed not just by her ordeal at the hands of Hook, but also by the chaotic sounds of battle that surrounded her. She let out a startled shriek when she noticed an unfamiliar blue, white, and yellow bot in front of her with outstretched arms.

"It's gon' be fine, girl. That's Seaspray. He's one of us," Jazz gently states as he handed the panicked probe to the Autobot naval operative, who gently took her in his arms.

"I hope you don't mind getting your feet wet," Seaspray said with a light chuckle.

"Aut....Autobot..."

"I've got you. Like Jazz said, it's gonna be alright," he replied as he swam up to the surface, keeping Starshot securely pressed against his chest as he did so. There, Optimus Prime waited in vehicular mode, being kept afloat by his built-in hydrofoils.

"Got her, Prime," Seaspray announced.

"Good work," the Autobot leader replied, opening the doors of his trailer to allow the aquatic Autobot to carefully place the rescued probe inside.

Once Starshot was safely inside Prime's trailer, Seaspray transformed into his hovercraft mode and followed his commanding officer back to shore. Jazz and Ironhide trailed behind them, using their own hydrofoils to tread the water just as easily as their fellows.

On the shore, Skyfire waited in jet mode with hatch open. He smiled inwardly when he saw his companions approach. "Mission accomplished I assume?"

"Affirmative, Skyfire," Prime replied as he opened his trailer to reveal the still-whimpering Starshot.

"Looks like all this action overwhelmed her," the large Autobot jet observed.

"Yeah," Jazz confirmed. "Seems like all she can say is 'Autobot.' She looks as scared as any real bot would be after bein' butchered by the Constructicons. Hard t'believe she's just a drone."

"Starshot units were given pretty advanced AI systems," Skyfire explained as his comrades climbed aboard. "Wheeljack and Perceptor were speculating that she could develop some level of emotion. Looks like that's happened."

"I hope we can cheer the little lady up as easily as we can patch 'er up," Ironhide said with a sigh. "She looks ready t'blow a fuse."

"Autobots," Starshot whined.

"We're here fer ya, Starshot. Ye're alright now."

"Autobots?"

"We're headin' back to HQ now," the scarlet security officer replied. "Skyfire's travelin' at top speed. It won't take long."

"Auto...bots...."

"I guess that's yer way o' sayin' 'Thank you.'" Ironhide gave a reassuring smile. "Well, ye're welcome, Starshot. We weren't about t'let the Decepti-Creeps tear ya apart."

"Auto...."

"Oh....Sorry 'bout the gizmo Hook took outta ya. Ya need it to function?"

Starshot simply whimpered. She could function without the Cyberforming Module, but was overcome with worry, knowing what the Decepticons intended to do with it.

--------------------
"You painted my paint job! PREPARE FOR SURGERY!"
- Knockout ~ Transformers Prime "TMI"
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