1. Operation Desert Storm by Lizard
I wrote this in about fifteen minutes, and it probably shows. I just had a silly idea, and wanted to get it out, before it wormed its' way into something more serious. (I've found that I can't work on the stories I'm supposed to be working on if another is fighting to get out, so I'm letting this one out)
This is not to be taken very seriously, though it isn't parody on the level of the Animaniacs crossover or that wonderful version of The Movie. Think of it as something like the 'Viper' episode of GI Joe. Or something. More notes following...
All Transformers, etc, copyright and TM Hasbro (or whoever owns them now). Used without permission. This story copyright 1995 Lizard.
Operation Desert Storm
Afterburner was annoyed.
Just because his latest invention (the Cosmic Glue Ray) had accidentally gone off during Megatron's debriefing of the Stunticons (thereby causing all of them to become welded, albeit temporarily, to the floor), he had been assigned to the truly lowly duty of stopping one measly Autobot courier...a new arrival from Cybertron, unused to Earth, and thus, easy prey. It was something *Frenzy* could do, for Primus' sake!
And Megatron was allowing him no room for ingenuity or creativity! "You will stand *here*", he had said, pointing to an outcropping of rock in the Southwestern United States desert. "Your target will pass by *here*.", he had added, pointing to another spot, "And you will shoot him. Is that clear?"
"Perfectly." Afterburner recalled replying. "Perfectly clear."
He kicked at a rock, watching how it bounced in the odd gravity of Earth. It's not like *Megatron* never had an invention backfire! Well, I'll show him!
'Stand here and shoot there' indeed! Megatron has spent too much time with fools like Brawl and Thundercracker. It is time I demonstrated my worth as a scientist!
Afterburner smiled, his 'I have a cunning plan' smile, the sort of smile that tended to make the other Decepticons duck behind the nearest piece of megatitanium armor plate. Every Cybertronian had a gateway into a personal pocket universe, a sort of storage locker for weapons and a place to shunt mass to or from while transforming. Long, long ago, Afterburner had found a way to use that as a gateway to another point in realspace...but it had only worked for him, and the location was fixed, and he couldn't quite recall how he did it, so he had never told anyone about it. It was a secret, and a very useful one.
With a thought, he could reach across tens of lightyears to his old workroom, back at the Academy of Cybertronian Mechanical Engineering... and pluck out whatever he desired. Of course, most of what was stored there was nonfunctional or just plain dangerous, but a true genius can turn even junk into a deadly weapon.
He had twenty minutes before the courier was slated to appear. Working with an insane speed, he welded together a dozen unrelated components. When he was finished, he had a tripod mounted cannon with a broad circular projector at one end, an assortment of suitably impressive blinking lights, and a big red button marked 'Fire'. Perfect.
There was a cloud of dust along the road, and no Earth car could move like that. Grinning malicously, Afterburner took careful aim...not at the streaking car, but at the pile of boulders conveniently placed on the cliff opposite the road. His Gravitational Vortex Inducer would cause the rocks to plummet downward, smashing the Autobot to scrap metal.
The beam shot out.
And hit a small piece of reflective metal, probably left behind by some long forgotten miner. The beam refracted back, shooting over Afterburner, and striking the outcropping of rock just above him. Afterburner glanced upwards.
Cybertronian brains make the most powerful supercomputers of Earth seem like broken abacii. But the processing required for sentience is very demanding. Despite the extraordinary speed of their systems, the average Cybertronian thinks only a few times faster than a human.
Thus, Afterburner had just enough time to think "Oh, no..." before several tons of rock came crashing down upon him.
Fast as the Autobot can drive, I can fly faster, Afterburner thought as he raced through the sky. There's ample time for me to get ahead of him and destroy him.
But it's not enough to kill him, not now. For delaying me like this, he has to die *slowly*. And I know how to do it.
He landed, and began the process of assembling another weapon. While Afterburner was often seen as lazy, when the creative urge struck him, he became a fury of energetic creation. In mere minutes, the device was assembled.
He laughed maliciously as he examined it...the Magnetic Vibration Field Generator. As soon as the damn Autobot passed into the trigger zone, he would be surrounded by a rapidly oscillating field of magnetic force. It would shake him to pieces. Slowly.
He activated the device. There was a faint, malevolent hum. Then he settled back to watch.
There. The Autobot was approaching. Entering visual range...approaching the trigger zone...entering the trigger zone..LEAVING THE TRIGGER ZONE???
What went wrong?
Afterburner inspected the generator. It seemed functional. Curious, he turned it off, then went to the trigger zone itself. His mission was forgetten for the moment, overwhelmed by his insatiable desire to understand what had gone wrong *this* time.
As he walked away, he did not notice a small grey rabbit nosing around the machine. The rabbit leapt onto the activation switch, then fled in terror as the machine began to vibrate.
Afterburner approached the trigger zone. He examined the thin silver wire that surrounded the asphalt road. Ah. There was the problem. It had been cut, probably by the sharp rocks that abounded here. Absentmindedly, he welded the wire together...
Sometime later (much later) he reflected that being caught in a rapidly oscillating magnetic field was, indeed, very painful. And he mildly grateful that he had miscalculated the resistor strength needed in the generator's circuits, so the machine blew itself out after only five minutes.
The transformation was painful, to say the least. Between the rocks and the magnets, his systems were taking quite a beating, and transformation was not easy. But he succeeded, and was determined that this time, the Autobot would not life. He'd even use Megatron's plan. Just SHOOT the blasted pest, and be done with it.
He landed. He was on an outcropping of rock, near a curve in the road, by the edge of a canyon. The road emerged from between two high cliffs just around the bend. The Autobot would not see Afterburner until it was far too late...
The positioning was slightly precarious, but Afterburner had calculated the tolerances carefully. The rock *would* support his weight; of that he had no doubt.
There was the growing roar of an engine. Here he comes...
Afterburner summoned his particle cannon from subspace.
The particle cannon weighed roughly 75 pounds.
Which was five pounds more than the outcropping could bear.
Seconds before the Autobot was to emerge around the bend, the rock suddenly gave way. Afterburner began plunging groundward. His only thought for the first hundred feet or so was "Oh no, not again."
His second thought, of course, was: TRANSFORM!
]Transformation circuitry damaged. Beginning rerouting.
]Process begun. 12% Complete. 15% Complete.
The ground seemed to be coming up rather quickly.
Far above, the Autobot zoomed around the bend, the vibrations from his passage dislodging more of the cliff.
Primus, if you're listening, I need your help...
Years, decades, even centuries later, people would continue to debate about exactly how a hole, 30 feet deep and precisely the shape of a military fighter jet, appeared in the desert overnight.
Afterburner staggered out of the pit. That last transform was it...he wasn't going back to plane mode for a long, long time. And his quarry was gone.
Hmmmm. I wasn't unconscious for more than a few seconds. Why is it so dark?
He looked up.
He saw the rocks.
Wheeljack and Warpath were waiting at the rendezvous point, as planned. The courier approached, transformed. He was reddish-grey, and moved with the careless grace of one who hasn't encountered anything he couldn't handle.
He silently handed Wheeljack the device he had been carrying.
"Bang! What's that?" Warpath peered at the small gadget, festooned with strange markings.
"It's from my old lab on Cybertron. A Telepathy Triggered Probability Inverter."
"A Pow! what?"
"A..." Wheeljack sighed. "It detects hostility, and then uses quantum bogodynamic fields to alter probability to the disadvantage of the most hostile individual there. Useless in battle, as the hostility on all sides is so great, total chaos results. I just needed it for some parts." He glanced up, noticing the courier again. "You're new to Earth, aren't you? Got an English name yet?"
"Well, the closest translation to my Cybertronian name is 'Rapid Traveler Along Vehicular Pathways'".
Wheeljack and Warpath exchanged glances. "A bit...bland." Wheeljack finally said.
"Yeah. Zam! How about 'Road Runner'?"
The newly renamed Autobot nodded. Then he transformed, honked his horn twice in farewell, then sped off in a cloud of dust towards the setting sun.
OK, it was obvious from the beginning ("Academy of Cybertronian Mechanical Engineering"), but it was short. And I had fun writing it, which I suppose, is all that matters. The title, BTW, is stolen from a song by Tom Smith, dealing with the same subject matter as my story. And, try as I might, I couldn't come up with even a vague excuse to have Afterburner hold up a sign at any point in the story.