A WOLF IN BOT'S CLOTHING, PART 1

A Transformers Prime tale
written by Stephen R. Sobotka / © 2012

DISCLAIMER : This story is based on the creation of Tankara/Toei Animation & the Hub / Hasbro Inc. series "Transformers Prime"; all characters - with the exception of the original ones I created for this story and those cheerfully 'donated' by Shanna McLaughlin - are the property of said licenses, and are used here without knowledge or permission of same. This story is an original prose, and is the rightful property of the author; all original characters and the plot depicted within are protected by copyright law.

This story was produced to entertain fans of the original show, and is in no way, shape or form intended to be published for monetary gain. Please do not sue.

AUTHOR'S NOTE : A departure from my G1 Fiction, but no less proving to be just as fun to write. I want to thank my dear 'lil' sister', for being the muse behind this tale. And with that said, on with the show! - SRS

.

O

.
.

Outpost Omega-One, Just Outside of Jasper, Nevada . . . .

.
.

"Oh c'mon, Raf! You're not gonna just give up on me now?"

Rafael Esquivel adjusted his red-framed eyeglasses and shook his head. "I'm not beat yet, Miko. This puzzle's just going to take a little more . . . strategy."

"Raf, you've been at it for an hour straight!" Miko said. "If you can't solve it, I dunno who else can."

"Bumblebee probably could," Jack said from where he was watching the two younger kids hover over Rafael's laptop. "If he wasn't out on patrol already."

Lumbering footsteps heralded the arrival of Optimus Prime in the command center. From where they stood on the raised platform, Jack and Miko turned from watching Rafael - who had launched into a new attempt to solve the puzzle game on his laptop - to watch as the Autobot commander approached the main terminal.

"Ratchet," Optimus asked his team's medic, who was manning the scanner array, "are they're any new signs of Decepticon activity?"

With a low growl, the older medic shook his head. "Nothing so far. If Megatron has anything planned, he's playing it pretty close to the chest plate." He tapped a few keys, then sighed. "Truth be told, we haven't seen any Decepticon activity for nearly a week."

"Well," Jack offered, looking up at both Ratchet and Optimus. "No 'Con news is good news, right?"

Optimus shook his head. "Perhaps, Jack . . . however, without any Decepticon activity, our primary order of business is to secure more energon. For without any new deposits for us to mine and process . . . ."

Rafael and Miko looked up along with Jack, expressions of worry on each of their faces. "Are you guys running out of energon, Optimus?" Raf asked.

"Not yet, Rafael," Optiums said. "However," he glanced at the monitors and added, "further actions against Megatron's forces may very well deplete what little energon we have left, unless a new source is found in time." He turned back to Ratchet. "Since we don't have any activity from Megatron's forces to attend to, we should switch our efforts to locating more energon."

Ratchet nodded, before tapping the keys on his command board. "Switching array to search for new energon deposits."

At that point, Miko piped up, "Say, aren't the other Bots around to help out?"

Ratchet grimaced as he said, "Bulkhead and Bumblebee are already checking out a source-reading we picked up while patrolling for signs of the Decepticons. Arcee is also investigating a lesser source-reading, southwest of the edge of our parameter."

"So why didn't you call us in to help, Optimus?"

Optimus and Ratchet turned towards the entrance of the chamber, watching as two of the newest additions to their team stepped further in. "Coppertop, Tech-Dech, as always we do appreciate your aid. Though I thought you were still repairing your ship?"

The curvey femme in red and copper-and-chrome colors stopped in front of the tall leader, tipping her head back to look up and smile. "Despite all the damage she took, Tech-Dech and I believe we can get her flying again." She nodded to the larger, grim-looking warrior mech who had followed her into the chamber. "We were on the way to check out your stores for any parts you can spare, when I heard you talking about energon."

"We shouldn't delay getting back to work, Top," Tech-Dech said, crossing his arms over his stocky, grey and blue torso. ""It's going to take a lot more than a hammer and wrench to get the ship back to rights."

"Geez," Miko muttered. "Never heard of such a work-a-holic Bot!"

Ratchet spoke up, glaring at Tech. "We barely have enough parts in stores for ourselves, much less a Triumph-class, interstellar shuttle craft!"

Copper shot her partner a look, before she said, "The parts can wait. After all, the ship's not going anywhere, and we might end up the same way, if we don't have energon, too." She turned back to Optimus. "What can we do to help?"

"I appreciate the offer, Coppertop," Optimus said. "As do we all. Your appearance in Earth-space was a timely intervention, in our hour of need."

Tech-Dech said crossly, "The fact we had two thousand astro-liters of energon on board our shuttle probably didn't hurt, either."

"Tech!" Coppertop said sharply, looking up with clear disapproval at her teammate's tone.

"What? We were saving that energon for a good use," he said sharply.

Coppertop would have said more, but Optimus interrupted her with a firm-but-gentle tone. "The energon you were keeping safe is being put to good use, Tech-Dech. I understand why you are upset, but it was a high honor to have you donate it to our cause. Without it, my warriors and I would have run out of power to fight long ago."

"We're just glad it could be used, and not wasted," Coppertop said. "Mind, it would have been used to help other Cybertron survivors, had we made it to our original destination. But . . . I like to think you guys needed it just as much, and we're glad to have helped you guys out." She gave Tech-Dech a hard look. "Right, Tech?"

Tech looked to the side with a sour expression. "Well . . . yeah."

Optimus turned to Tech and gripped the husky warrior by the shoulder-plate. "Believe me, Tech-Dech, while you were hoping to save several lives with your relief effort, you have helped my warriors and I to save countless other lives. Both Cybertronian and human alike. Such sacrifice is one of the highest accords one can achieve."

Tech looked less upset, and nodded. "I see . . . and, you're welcome. Sir."

Optimus released him and stepped back to cross his arms. "Sadly, even that amount of energon has run dangerously low." Optimus said. "Even with our team afield, finding viable deposits that haven't been discovered or stripped by Megatron's forces is taking precious time.

"Which leaves you with little options, unless myself and Tech to join in the fun," Coppertop said. "Provided you can find another source-reading for us to scout for you, Doc?"

Muttering to himself, Ratchet paused in manipulating his controls and looked to the platform. "Rafael, your knowledge of local geography should help with my sensor readings."

With a smile, the young human eagerly turned and placed his laptop closer to the human-sized terminal on the platform. "Give me a sec, Ratchet! I'll link in!"

Tech scowled, but a warning glance from his crew mate forestalled him from commenting further. "Pretty sway, Optimus," Coppertop said, "having the locals help with your operations here."

"Humans like Rafael, Miko and Jack have proven to be valuable to our cause, Coppertop." Optimus glanced at Ratchet, who was deep into conversation-mode with Rafael, and added, "Though there were some of us were a bit . . . stubborn to realize it at first."

Ratchet shot Optimus a tolerant look over his shoulder. A moment later, the display screen lit up with a soft, amber glow as a rolling trail of data preceded the appearance of a pip on the imager. Studying the readout, Ratchet said, "Good work, Rafael! Optimus, we've located a new source-signal! It is a substantial energon deposit, and it appears to be undiscovered by Megatron."

As the others clustered in close to the console, Jack and Miko crowded in behind Raf to peer over his head. "Where's the deposit located?" Jack asked.

"According to the scanners . . . it's somewhere in . . . Canada. In New Brunswick," Rafael said.

"The Great-White North?" Miko asked. "Brr. Gonna be chilly."

Tech-Dech snorted. "Feh. It's colder in deep space." He thumped his chest. "Besides, I've got plenty of anti-freeze."

"But, we'll watch our temp-readings all the same," Coppertop said, poking Tech in the side. "After all, we may be bio-mechanicals, but the longer we stay out in intense cold, we freeze solid like any organic." She nodded to Ratchet. "Give with the coordinates, Doc. We'll scout the source out in no time."

Ratchet just muttered something under his breath, before he tapped a key and moved towards the Ground Bridge controls. "I'll put the Bridge down within ten clicks of the source-reading. That way, you can move in under vehicle mode, to avoid detection by any local humans."

"As well as any Decepti-bums that might be snooping around. Right." Tech said with a half-grin.

"Just do not engage the enemy alone." Optimus turned and regarded the former shuttle-jock and his partner. "Locating the energon source is your top priority, Tech-Dech. If you or Coppertop see any Decepticons in the vicinity, withdraw and return to base. We'll work out another plan to recover the energon, if necessary."

"Aww-!" Tech started to protest, but Coppertop kicked him in the shin.

"Look, keep this attitude up, I'll have Ratchet remove your blasters!" she said sharply. Turning towards the inactive Ground-Bridge aperture, she added, "Well, C'mon, Tech. we're not getting any younger. Fire it up, Doc."

Jack, Miko and Rafael all moved to the edge of the observation platform. "Good luck, you two," Jack said.

"Yeah, hope you find plenty of energon for the guys!" Miko added.

Coppertop turned and gave the humans a smile. "Luck's got nothing to do with it, kids. We'll be back in a few clicks."

.

O

.
.

Location: 15 kilometers East of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada . . . .

The still, chilly air of the forest was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a swirling, glowing locus of energy . . . out of which the tall forms of the two Autobots emerged. Snow crunching underneath their metal feet, they stepped clear of the Ground Bridge portal and came to a halt, taking in the surrounding environment briefly.

"Miko was right," Coppertop said, taking in the atmosphere through her sensors, "It is chilly."

As the Ground Bridge portal vanished behind them, Tech-Dech growled. "We wouldn't have to worry about being cold, if we hadn't gotten involved here. You know, if I had my means, I'd take that shuttle of ours and blast off this slottin'-forsaken planet and-!"

"Ahh, but you forget,O' Grumpy-Bot, you can't just take MY ship and leave," Coppertop said. "The operation codes are programmed to respond to me and ME alone."

Tech said, "That wouldn't have been necessary, if you'd given me full command privileges when I took charge of it!"

She stepped around him to stare up into his optics with a half-smirk. "You forget, you only commandeered my ship, after I pulled your skid plate out of deep space to save your spark. And you wouldn't have been in that position, if you'd used a little caution while chasing off energon raiders in neutral space."

Tech started to reply, only to sigh and let his shoulders slump. "You have to remind me of that little fact, Top?"

Coppertop chuckled. "Only to keep you honest and humble." She turned away and swept the area with her optics. "Now, no more talk about leaving. We both agreed to stay to help Optimus and his team . . . so let's get on with the mission at hand."

"You mean 'you' agreed for us-." Tech stopped grousing and sighed. "Right." He stepped around a tall tree, taking in the snow-covered ground with mild disgust. "Well, do you have any lock on the energon source?"

Coppertop paused, flipping out a portable scanner module to regard it briefly. "Sensor's all over the place . . . I think we're looking at a lot of small quantity micro-veins, spreading out all over the area." She turned and frowned. "They must radiate from a central lode, buried deep under the ground."

Tech stepped up to her side, cocking his head as he absorbed her words. "So, we find one of these smaller roots, and-?"

"Follow it back to the source?" She snapped her scanner closed and smiled. "Now you're getting the idea."

Tech chuckled, before opening his mouth to say something . . . only to stiffen and freeze in place.

"What's up?" Coppertop asked softly, recognizing when her companion went into warrior-stance.

Tech was silent for several moments, before he whispered. "I heard something. Sounded . . . mechanical." A beat later, his arms lifted, and both hands vanished as he rotated his twin concussion blasters into view.

Coppertop reached out to put a hand on his chest plate. "Tech, remember what Optimus said," she hissed sharply. "We're just to recon, not fight!"

"Who's fighting?" Tech shrugged her hand off and turned towards the forest before them. "Prime said to 'recon', so that's what I'm going to do. But, that doesn't mean I shouldn't be ready for anything." He slowly started walking towards the tree line, sweeping the area with a steady gaze.

Coppertop scowled at his advancing back, before she sighed. "Fine, but if you don't retreat when I SAY so-!" She went silent, realizing that the larger warrior was moving off through the trees without her. "Scrap! Someday I'm gonna . . . ahh, who am I kidding?" She tapped her com link twice. "Tech, just try to keep the collateral damage to a minimum, unless all you find is the energon, okay?" When she didn't get a reply, she shook her head, and flipped up her scanner readout once more. "Looks like I might as well work on my own search pattern, and hope the big lug nut doesn't find anything more than the local fauna."

.

O

Tech-Dech moved with relative ease among the tall, white-bark covered trees - years of guerrilla combat actions allowed him to move silently, as needed - taking his time as he swept his eyes from side to side. "Sorry to keep bugging out on you, Top," he muttered to himself, "but sometimes, a warrior just has stand by his principals. Besides, I prefer to work alone." He ramped up the reception to his audio circuits, trying to isolate the faint, mechanical sound he'd heard moments before.

So intent on his personal sensors, he nearly missed stepping on an exposed glow on the ground beneath his feet. Glancing down, he quickly recognized the tell-tale, if-faint electric-purple glow of . . . .

"Energon." Crouching down, Tech retracted one of his blasters to allow him to touch the weak sign of his kind's lifeblood. Raising his metal digits, he sniffed the residue clinging to them. "Yeah . . . small trace, but it's some pure stuff." He walked his eyes along the ground, following the trace as it wriggled along around behind some large boulders. "Looks like this is the only part of the micro-vein this close to the surface . . . hmmm."

Just then, a low rumble came through the trees; something big, moving along the ground.

Tech smoothly slipped behind the largest of the boulders, dipping lower to hide himself. "Tech to Coppertop. I've got something here."

"Tell me it's the energon vein, or else I'm going to walk all over your skid plate when I find you! We're supposed to be doing this as, a, team." came the reply on his com link.

Tech chuckled softly, before saying, "Don't get your chassis in a wad. I've found a small streamer on the surface. There's something else out here . . . coming in close."

"Well just stay put. I'll be right there."

Tech sighed, killing the com link before he turned to peer around the far edge of the boulder. It was at that point, he caught sight of a larger, exposed patch of raw energon; emerging like large, pulsing crystals from the soil. "Leaking Lubricant! This isn't a vein . . . it's a whole node," he hissed.

By then, the rumbling sound was closer - the sound of a big-block engine - echoing through the trees from a gap just down from the exposed vein. Looking up, Tech spied a large looming form coming through the gap. His optics narrowed as he realized it was a native-made transport truck; old, blocky and sporting something HUGE in its flatbed, which was covered by a large tarpaulin.

"What in the Name of the All-Spark-?" Tech softly keyed his com link, whispering, "Top, come in silent. Something's come up . . . and I don't know what it is just yet!"

The big, knobby rubber tires on the massive transport truck slid a bit on the shale as it braked to a halt. With a low hsssh! of air brakes, the vehicle came to rest and the driver's side door swung open to allow a tall figure clad in jeans, work boots and a parka slide out to the ground.

As they turned away from the truck cab, revealing a feminine face inside the hood of her jacket, she said out loud "Bozhe moi! Of all the days to be out like this!" Rubbing her face briefly, the human woman walked along the side of the flatbed, reaching out to unhook several of the ropes holding the tarp in place. "Wolfe, is certain you'd better make sure to get your fill today. I will not be making this trip again, until spring thaws the tip of my Grandfather's nose!"

Tech cocked his head, then he went stone-still when a voice - a robotic, synthesized voice, muffled by the thick tarp - spoke to the woman in slow, halting words: "Sorry . . . Chelle. I don't . . . mean to be . . . such a burden."

"Oh stop. With weather like this, is no wonder we both lost track of time. And your need to recharge." The woman had moved out of view, undoing more ropes on the other side, before reappearing to grab the edge of the tarp. "Is such, you will never be a burden to me . . . UMPH!" With that, she jerked the tarp down, making it slide away from the object it covered.

When it did, Tech went from stillness to full-battle alertness when he saw the tall, iron-gray metallic form sitting on the flatbed. What the Slottin'-? Tech watched as the larger figure, which clearly couldn't be anything else but a male Cybertronian life form, slowly uncoil itself and stand up next to the truck.

Turning its vaguely lupine-face tipped down to stare at the human woman, and its mouth gave a half-smile. "Thank . . . you, Chelle," the Cybertronian said.

"Spaceba," Chelle said, tipping her head back to look up at him. This caused her hood to fall back, revealing her long black hair. "Now, we are pretty close to the last place we found your . . . energy food. Are you able to find more?"

The Cybertronian tilted his head, a pair of metallic protuberances on the side flicking like ears. "I . . . think so." He seemed to sniff the air, before he murmured, "Mmm, there is a good . . . deposit here. Nearby." With that, he twisted and started to move in the direction of the exposed energon node.

"Just be certain to clean up after yourself, Wolfe," Chelle said.

Tech ducked back further behind the boulder, trying to process this sudden twist to this whole encounter. Scrap! This is . . . ahh! Of all the slottin' luck! he thought, snapping up his other weapon as he replayed a small segment of memory; the view of the wolf-faced male's shoulder plate . . . and the scorched, barely-visible sigil of a Decepticon! "To the abyss with orders!" Tech suddenly turned and rose up from hiding, leveling both blasters at the wolf-faced male. "Freeze, Decepticon!"

At that moment, both the strange Cybertronian and his human companion both looked up in alarm. There was a look of confusion on Wolfe's face, which was quickly replaced by alarm when he glanced back quickly at the human before he asked. "Wh-what? Who . . . who are you?"

"Your worst nightmare, 'Con!" Tech growled. "Where's the rest of your forces, and what did you do to that human!"

At that, the Cybertronian looked back at the girl with concern. "No . . . Chelle! Run!" With that, the wolf-faced robot turned . . . and started to run away from Tech!

Tech blinked, but he shifted his aim and said, "Oh no you don't!" Several beams of blue energy blasts streaked through the frozen air, impacting on the ground all around the fleeing robot. Chunks of earth and tree roots showered the running robot, cutting a swath of scorched, snowy ground behind.

Tech shifted to track him, just as his com link burst to life: "Tech! What's going on! I hear laser fire!"

"Can't talk, Top! Got a 'Con in my sights!" Tech said, squeezing off more rounds as Wolfe hopped around a larger tree.

"What!" Coppertop's voice nearly rose to a shriek. "Optimus said NOT to engage the enemy! Check your fire and fall back!"

"Not on your spark, Top!" Tech snarled, pausing to let his weapons cycle a fresh charge. "It's just one lousy 'Con, and I'm gonna-HEY!" Tech looked down, just in time to see the human girl - her face filled with an angry expression - as she was scrabbling up the side of his thick leg. He started to reach down to pluck her off, but she lunged the last few meters, clinging to the roll-bar on his chest plate as she removed a large, iron pipe wrench from her belt.

"You are not to be HURTING HIM!" With that, Chelle wound up and brought the wrench smashing down against the side of Tech's head.

"GAH!" Tech's head snapped to the side, only to recoil in the opposite direction when Chelle hit him again. "OW! Stop it, you crazy human!"

"Never!" Chelle said, gritting her teeth as she layed his cheek-plate open with a savage hit. "Wolfe, is, my, FRIEND!"

Tech staggered back, deactivating one of his weapons to try to pry her off of him. It was then that he caught sight of Wolfe, who was charging back through the trees towards him. Oh, Slag it! Tech reacted on instinct, bringing his other weapon arm around and firing several rapid shots towards him.

"Chelle! No, do not hurt her!" Wolfe cried, stumbling along amid the hailstorm of blaster fire. "I'm coming for y-URK!" One blast caught him square in the chest, causing him to stagger to a stop. "AUGH!" Another round smashed him again, and knocked him backwards, flat on the ground with a whimper.

"Wolfe!" the girl said harshly, watching as he toppled backwards to fall still as a stone. With a growl, she turned back to Tech and wrapped both hands around her wrench. "You . . . metal monster!" She made to swing for Tech's unprotected eye . . . only to yelp when something snagged both her and her weapon, snatching her off of Tech's chest.

Blinking to clear his head, Tech looked down in surprise, seeing Coppertop standing there; holding Chelle's wrench in one hand and the struggling, cursing young woman by the scruff of her parka with the other.

"Scrap!" she said. Taking in the scene - with Tech's battered faceplate. the squirming human in her fist and the prone Cybertronian on the ground - she seethed for a moment before she asked, "Just what in the name of the Thirteen Primus's is going on here? Can't you follow orders for FIVE, lousy clicks?"

Tech sighed, before he muttered, "What do you want from me, Top? We're at war with the Deceptions!"

"With the 'Cons, yes," she shot back, before she glanced at the struggling human beside her. "The natives, no!" She turned to look at Chelle, then at the wrench she'd liberated from her. "Even when they seem to believe we're a threat."

Chelle seethed. "You mechanical fiend! Let me go! Let me go, or I will-!"

"First of all, you're going to calm down," Coppertop said, lowering her to the ground and releasing her grip on her parka. "And second, would you mine explaining what you're doing out here?"

"Especially with the likes of him?" Tech said, looking to where Wolfe was laying on the ground.

"I will explain nothing to you!" Chelle said, before she darted across the ground, only to be stopped when Tech moved to block her. She glared up at him. "You will move, or I will move you with both of my hands!"

"You're kidding, right?" Tech arched one eyebrow. His expression turned to one of pain when Chelle kicked out against a sensitive seam in his ankle join. *Ow! Why you little-!"

Coppertop growled low in her throat, before moving over to shove against Tech's chest. "Will you cool your fans." She looked down at Chelle and said, "Listen, friend, I don't know what is going on here, but we're not the bad guys."

Chelle snorted, stepping around Tech as she said, "Could have fooled me. Wolfe!" She sprinted the few meters that separated her from the fallen Cybertronian, reaching for his large hand to grip one finger in both of hers. "Wolfe, my friend! Come on, boy . . . are you all right?"

Wolfe rolled his head to the side, groaning softly in pain.

"No, you are not all right. I need to get you more of your purple fuel," she said. "And back to the farm to fix you." She sighed deeply. "With what parts I still have." She started when a shadow fell across Wolfe's chest. Whirling around, she glared up at the looming form of Coppertop. "Stay back! I will not permit you to harm him!"

Coppertop shook her head. "I'm not going to harm him . . . and neither is my companion." She glared over at Tech, who was standing a few meters behind them; his face twisted up in a scowl. "I just want to know why you're protecting a Decepticon?"

Chelle's expression turned into a mix of questioning concern. "Decepti- . . . what is this you speak of?"

Tech huffed and stomped up to stand beside Coppertop, pointing a finger at Wolfe's exposed shoulder. "A Decepticon, human. That's just what he is." He indicated the scorched symbol. "That's the mark of a Decepticon."

Chelle turned to look at Wolfe's shoulder, before turning back to frown at Tech. "I do not know of this, only that Wolfe is my friend." She looked back fondly at him. "He has been so, since I found him a year or so back."

"You found him?" Tech asked. "You don't just find a Decepticon!"

"She apparently did," Coppertop said, sweeping her eyes over Wolfe's body. "From the looks of things, he's in no condition to fight. Heavy damage . . . and my readings show a low energon level."

Chelle muttered, "Shooting him did not help matters! Now, go away," she stood and started to move towards Wolfe's shoulder. "I must get him back to my farm, to repair his damage-HEY!" She stopped when Tech plucked her from the ground to hold her away from the fallen Con.

"You're not doing anything, human. Save go home, and leave this 'Con to us," he said.

"Tech! Put her, down, now!" Coppertop said firmly.

"What?" Tech locked gazes with her. "She's got no cause-?"

"And neither did you, shooting him without provocation OR reason," Coppertop said, raising her voice. "I know your warrior programming is hard to ignore, but you cannot be so basic as to forget Prime's orders, now can you?"

Tech shrugged. "Well, I . . . Top! You're not defending this-!"

"All I'm doing is stopping you from making a bigger mess out of this mistake, Tech. Take a second look at him," she said, pointing to Wolfe. "This may possibly be a 'Con, but he's no warrior." She gestured to his build and to several exposed components showing through ripped and blasted segments of his armor plate. "No weapons, no long-range support systems . . . if anything, this is probably a worker-unit, designed for short-term work details."

Tech looked where she indicated, and let his shoulder struts slump as he realized his error. "Aw . . . scrap."

Coppertop tipped her head. "Look, you reacted like a warrior, but anyone will tell you that you need to THINK, before you act." She motioned to Chelle. "Now, put her down while I think of what to do about this now."

Tech complied, straightening up before asking, "What do you mean? What more is there to do?"

Coppertop reached up to key her com link. "I'll know after I report in . . . after all, we found two things that Optimus is going to want to know about. I'll leave it to him to decide what we're to do next."

Tech blinked, "About the deposit?"

Coppetop looked down at Chelle - who was looking up at both of them with concern - and said, "About him." She nodded to Wolfe, before activating her com link. "Coppertop to Base . . . Come in, Ratchet. We need to speak to Optimus . . . ."

.

To Be Continued . . . .