Transformers: Power Struggle

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Arsenal XA4

Original poster
In the years after Optimus Prime's return as leader of the Autobots the Decepticons have all but gone into hiding, leaving a new age of prosperity for the humans and the Autobots. Mutual defense pacts have been made between countless heads of state and the Autobot Earthforce, under the command of Dinobot leader Grimlock. As part of these agreements and treaties, national militaries allow the Autobots to maintain a presence within their respective forces. These Joint Task Forces carry out the process of training humans to fight against Decepticons without Autobot support and also to fight as an integrated combat unit. As a result the United States Department of Defense reactivated their elite special forces unit, G.I. Joe, under the command of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With a new budget, new operators, and a new arsenal, the Joes are prepared to take the fight to the Decepticons wherever they may rear their heads.

Shibuya District
1238, Tokyo Standard Time
June 26, 2014...

People crossed through the world renowned Scramble Crossing as they always did around midday. Most were going to lunch from work or to one of the many shops in the area. They carried on as always, concerned with their own little worlds as they walked. The scream of fighter jets overhead didn't do much to turn heads as the people carried on with their live. It wasn't until the two fighters dove to the deck. They unfolded in mid air, a pair of Decepticons standing in the center, the humdrum of every day life disrupted.

"Look at all these fleshbags." Skull Buster snarled, Jaw Breaker sneered and brought a grenade launcher to bear.

"I think there's too many of 'em. Lets thin the herds a bit." The Seeker raised his weapon and remodelled a building's face.

"But of course!" Skull Buster replied, a pair of energy scythes forming in his hands. He slung them at another building, tearing it apart. People ran, screaming, searching for any place that was safer than this hell that had been thrust upon them. Jaw Breaker looked in the direction of sirens. He saw an SUV with police markings and a fire engine racing toward them.

"The first responders are always the first to die. It's a universal rule." he said as he drew a bead with his grenade launcher and started firing round after round of grenades. The two cars started swerving to avoid the hazardous explosions as Skull Buster jumped in, throwing his energy scythes. The SUV popped into the air and transformed.

"Ah don' think sae!" Ground Force shouted as he cut through both scythes with a massive Claymore sword, the fire engine racing past him. It too transformed, the Autobot brandishing a large rifle of sorts.

"Where there's smoke you can guess I was involved!" Mechadustrial shouted as he skidded to a halt. Jaw Breaker and Skull buster drew a bead on him with their arm lasers then scattered as a large plume of fire threatened to engulf them both.

"Mechadustrial, we're trynna put fires out, no' start new yins!" Ground Force chided his compatriot as he drew his kinetic pistol and fired at Jaw Breaker, trying to keep the Decepticon down so Mechadustrial could find cover. The Decepticons lay down a steady stream of laser fire, pinning the two Autobots down.

"I keep telling you, you need to get a bigger gun!" Mecha shouted at Ground Force, taking a few potshots with his own pistol.

"An why 'aven't yew? Yer packin' the same as me!" the senior Autobot shouted back.

"Ground Force, Mechadustrial, what's your status?" Colonel Donald 'Chainlink' Jones, their superior officer, asked over the radio. Ground Force reached up, tapping the side of his head.

"We're pinned down. Where's the ground team?"

"En route. The JADF has a pair of F-15Js in the air heading to the strike zone." Chainlink replied as Ground Force and Mechadustrial returned fire. "I need you to hold them there as long as you can."

"Easier said 'n done..." Ground Force muttered. He holstered his pistol and brough his sword to bear. "Mecha, cover me!"

"Gotcha!" Mechadustrail shouted back as he brought his flamethrower back to bear. A massive fireball burst from the barrel, arcing towards Skull Buster.

"Heads up!" Jaw Breaker shouted at his compatriot. Skull Buster recieved a face full of burning napalm gel, screaming and trying desperately to shake it off. Ground Force closed the distance, Jaw Breaker bringing his grenade launcher back to bear. He started firing round after round of high explosive munitions, trying desperately to dissuade the Autobot. Ground Force swung the sword and cleaved Jaw Breaker's weapon in half. Jaw Breaker brought his arm lasers to bear and peppered Ground Force with multiple bolts. The Autobot faltered before holding his sword before him, using it as a shield to deflect the fire. Ground Force dropped to a knee as something knicked his side, cutting a decent sized gouge in his plating. Skull Buster, face partially melted and one optic out, had a pair of fresh energy blades in hand.

"LOOK WHAT HE DID TO MY FACE!!!" the Seeker screamed. "HE MELTED MY FACE!!!" Skull Buster raised his arms, ready to deliver the finishing blow. Multiple explosions rocked both Decepticons, knocking them back. The two F-15s the JADF had promised were circling back around, preparing to line up another shot. Skull Buster threw six scythes up to meet them, carving one of the fighter jets apart. There was no parachute.

"Yew think yew kin do as yew please?" Ground Force snarled as he struggled to his feet. Jaw Breaker kicked him onto the ground and planted his foot on his face. He then looked to Mechadustrial.

"You stay right there or I'm gonna finish your friend off for good." Skull Buster stood nearby, trying desperately to break open a fire hydrant. He was too busy to hear the clanking of gear and rapidly approaching bootfalls. A Greenshirt dropped to one knee and aimed his FGM-148 Javelin at the Decepticon.

"YO JOE!!!" another shouted, firing at the 'con with his M-240G machine gun. Skull Buster looked up just in time to see four anti-tank missiles streaking for him.

"COMPANY!" he shouted to Jaw Breaker as two of the tandem shape charge warheads slammed into him, blowing armor plating away. Jaw Breaker looked up and met a similar fate. Joes on the ground fired at the two 'cons with assault rifles, machine guns, and Javelins, pockmarking them with full metal jackets. Both 'cons popped chaff and flares before transforming and supercruising out of the killzone.

"Dammit! We had them!" one Greenshirt snarled, his compatriots rushing forward to secure Ground Force. Six Hammerheads rolled up, a gunner nestled behind the fifty cal on each vehicle.

The Hammerhead was a purpose built variant of the standard M-1114 uparmored Humvee. It was lighter and could take more of a beating than could the standard box on wheels.

"Sitrep!" a Captain shouted as he dismounted one of the Hammerheads. A Greenshirt with Army chevrons stepped up.

"We came in as the two JADF Eagles distracted the targets." First Sergeant Jehosephat 'Flak Jacket' Elizer replied to the officer with a salute. Flak Jacket had been with US Army Rangers for twelve years. When G.I. Joe was reinstated he was on the first list of personnel considered for the team.

"They popped chaff didn't they.." Captain Harold 'Ground Pounder' Michaels observed, picking up a piece of scrap metal. Ground Pounder was a career Marine, having served nine years as an officer. He made his way to G.I. Joe after serving three tours in Afghanistan. They felt his leadership skills could be better put to use as part of the Joe team.

"Yeah. Supercruised pretty much right afterward." Flak Jacket replied as local Fire Rescue arrived, working to recover and survivors and wounded.

"Casualties?" Ground Pounder asked.

"A very brave Eagle pilot. I saw it happen. He couldn't bank in time." Ground Pounder nodded as a Japanese officer, a Major, strode up.

"What should I tell my superiors this time?" Major Takenaka Watanabe asked, Flak Jacket and Ground Pounder saluting him.

"The feint worked but we need to the go ahead to bring in heavier weapons." Ground Pounder replied. "The Javelin never was meant to be used on a Decepticon. Sure it packs a punch but it doesn't do enough damage to fully neutralize one."

"I'll see if I can pull some strings. You guys are doing one hell of a job fighting the 'cons on foot like that." Watanabe replied as a flatbed truck and a crane rolled up. An engineering crew made their way to Ground Force, as did the three senior soldiers.

"Ground Force, how you feelin'?" Staff Sergeant Devon 'Breakdown' James shouted at the downed Autobot.

"Like Ah jest went six rounds whit Devastator." the Transformer replied, trying to sit up. Mechadustrial strode up, taking a knee.

"I guess this was a failure, huh?" he asked, question directed to Ground Pounder.

"Tactically, no. The diversion worked and we know we did heavy damage to both of them." the Marine replied as Breakdown and a couple engineers worked to hook slings to Ground Force. "But we need the Diet to get off their asses and let us use the Persuader IIs we brought. They're no good to us if we can't deploy them." The Persuader II was basically the Mobile Gun Styker with the M-68 105mm rifle replaced with a Deuterium Flouride laser. In the late ninties DF lasers were under development as part of a joint US Army/Israeli Defense Force project. While the weapon worked it was found to be too expensive to use, however with the help of the Autobots the materials and technology to make lasers cheaper and more efficient became more and more prevalent. Such weapons found their way into Naval Intercept Systems and Fire Support weapons, such as G.I. Joe's Persuader II. Unfortunately when the Joes and Autobots with JTF 37 were deployed to Japan they were restricted to Hammerheads, Awe Strikers, and Little Bird helicopters, despite their arsenal of Persuader IIs, Conquest IIs, and Apache gunships. The helo crews were rotating out between flying the miniscule MH-6 Little Bird and the AH-64G Super Apache. The fighter pilots that flew the F-23C Conquest IIs had been reduced to running exercises with the JADF and with Navy and Marine Corps birds over the Sea of Japan. The Persuader crews themselves were getting better at maintaining their weapons and nothing much else.

"So is this a pyrrhic victory then?" Mechadustrial asked. Ground Pounder looked at the buildings around them.

"Unfortunately yes..."


Yokota Air Base
JTF 37 Staging Base
1812, Tokyo Standard Time
26 June, 2018...

"What I can't understand is why the continued restrictions of our weapons platforms in Japan." Admiral Mullen said from his post in the Pit, G.I. Joe's base of operations in the Arizona desert. It was early morning over there.

"Admiral, need I remind you the environmental impact of American firepower. Just look at Iraq and Afghanistan." Mayor Shinseki Toragawa replied. He and a few members of the Diet were present for the debrief, as were JTF 37's senior operators and their Autobots.

"With all due respect, 'Iraquistan' was like that when I got there." Flak Jacket commented, a few Joes chuckling. Ground Pounder silenced them by calling the room to attention then ordering them to carry on. He then turned to the Mayor.

"Toragawa-san, the damage done in the last six engagements was not due to our own weapons systems but due to Decepticon action." he said, holding a folder to Toragawa. "These are the forms requesting the lifting of the weapons restrictions so that we can do our job to the full extent."

"The full extent? The last time I checked, Michaels-san, the full extent of American military might was nuclear weapons." a party boss said. Ground Pounder immediately turned to Flak Jacket.

"Do not say it." Turning back to the party boss, Ground Pounder said, "What I mean by 'full extent' is in reference to the equipment we, Joint Task Forces Thirty Seven, brought with us, none of which includes nuclear ordnance."

"What about the laser cannons on those Strykers you have? What are those powered by?" Toragawa inquired. Ground Pounder looked to the main screen, Admiral Mullen nodding to him.

"That is classified as per OPSEC."

"In that case we will not grant your request." the mayor replied, crossing his arms.

"Excuse me, bu' if the Joes aren't gonna be allowed ta use their big guns then Ah say yew let us provide the firepower." Ground Force interjected.

"What do you need?" Mullen asked.

"More 'bots. Ah've go' two in mind. Yew know 'em as Rage Rig an' Smasher Devouerer." the highlander said. Admiral Mullen was handed a pair of files. He started skimming over their contents.

"It says here these two leveled half of Phuket just to stop Runabout and Runamuck. Six point eight million dollars worth of damage in... Oh my God. Forty minutes?" Ground Force nodded.

"Didn't yer first President, George Washington, once say 'war is the most effectual means o' preservin' peace?'"

"He did say that. Looking at these files I may have to agree with him. I'll talk to Grimlock about moving these two from Diego Garcia to Japan." Mullen said, handing the files back. Toragawa and his cronies started panicking.

"Wait, wait, wait! Isn't there a better way? And isn't the Prime Minister supposed to authorize the deployment of new Autobots first?" he asked, getting hot under the collar.

"Toragawa-san, as part of the agreement with the Autobots and the Japan Self Defense Forces the Autobots are allowed to deploy whatever assets, short of combiners, to Japan as needed and without the Prime Minister's consent, only his notification." Ground Pounder said, standing at parade rest. Flak Jacket, meanwhile, leaned against a console.

"In other words, there's not a whole lot you can say about it, little Mary sunshine." the Ranger commented. Toragawa balled his fists. Ground Pounder handed him the folder with the request forms.

"You can avert the reassignment you know." he said with a smile. Toragawa looked to his cronies who were busy shying away under Ground Force's shadow.

"Fine... I'll sign the authorization..." he relented.

"You made the right choice, Toragawa-san." the Marine said before turning to the main screen. "Admiral?"

"I have a briefing with the President in two hours. I'll make sure your report of the day's operations is included. Dismissed." Ground Pounder and Flak Jacket snapped to attention and saluted as the display changed from the video feed to a satellite image of Japan.

"This is blackmail..." Toragawa snarled.

"It's only blackmail if we've got dirt on you and we don't have shit on you." Flak Jacket replied. "Now if you'll excuse me I've got a platoon to attend to." Ground Pounder recieved a half assed salute from the Ranger, returning a full salute in exchange. His attention shifted to the politicos.

"Gentlemen I have to escort you off base. If you'll follow me, please..." Ground Pounder passed Chainlink, his superior officer. The supply corps soldier had remained silent throughout the exchange. Possibly to allow his men to voice their own pieces. Ground Pounder led the politicians to the elevator, pulling his cap out of his cargo pocket.

"There's a stigma about American Marines in this country, you know." one of the civilians said to Ground Pounder as they waited for the elevator. He was referring to a number of cases in which US Marines were involved in the rape of local women.

"I'm not about to let the mistakes of previous soldiers define who I am." he replied, the doors sliding open. There were Greenshirts getting off, carrying ammunition boxes and weapons. Ground Pounder herded the civilians on, punching in the button for the ground level. The elevator passed the hangar deck where the Joe team's Conquest IIs and Super Apaches were stored and maintained. They reached topside where vehicle crewmen kept their Persuader IIs in top condition.

A rather redundant task since the last time they used them was during exercises six months ago. The laser components had to be replaced after every three thousand firings, six thousand for combat operations. While not using the deuterium flouride lasers had increased the shelf life of the components the inactivity had been detrimental to the crews, especially the gunners. Perhaps now they would get to use the weapons they had trained on.

"There will be retribution, Captain." Toragawa blurted out. Ground Pounder sighed, the roar of a landing C-130 drowning out his vocalization.

"Toragawa-san, I have been chewed out by senior NCOs, half brained Second Lieutenants, know nothing Captains, and senators and that was just in the FIRST four years of my Marine Career." he said, facing Toragawa and his cronies. "If you think you can sway me with petty threats then you are sorely mistaken." One of the party bosses was about to speak up when Major Watanabe strolled up.

"I'll take it from here, Captain." the JDF officer said, three more SDF soldiers walking up. Like the Greenshirts and regular US soldiers stationed at Yokota the SDF soldiers wore fatigues, gun belts, and had M-16s slung over their shoulders. Ground Pounder saluted Watanabe, the Japanese officer stepping aside as his men escorted the civilians out of the hangar.

"You ever have civvies try to walk all over you, Takenaka?" the 'Joe asked as the two officers walked past the Persuader IIs.

"Sometimes, but not as bad as they seem to be with you. They try to play the 'Hiroshima Card' on you?"

"Yep... Yet again." Ground Pounder replied. "Ground Force countered by requesting two Autobots whose methods are on par with those of the worst Decepticons."


"Not according to Flak Jacket. According to him, blackmail means we have dirt on them and are using it." the Marine replied. "This is more like extortion."

"I take it he's been around the block more than once." Watanabe questioned, another C-130 landing at the airfield.

"He has the potential to be an officer but I can't see him going through OCS (Officer Candidate School) and not pissing off seven or eight instructors." Ground Pounder replied. "He's told me that he has no intention of taking a commission. I can't blame him, really. He's got enough on his plate as the top sergeant."

"I believe it... I believe it..." Watanabe replied. "Well, I've got to take the civvies back to their offices. You up for poker later this week?"

"Always. I'll tell Breakdown. He's been meaning to join us for weeks now." The two men shared a handshake then a salute before going their separate ways, Watanabe to escort the politicos, Ground Pounder to fill out paperwork and an After Action Review.


Yokota Airbase
JTF 37 Tarmac
1321, Tokyo Standard Time
Friendship Festival
4 August, 2018...

As occured every year for two days the base opened its gates for the people of Fuusa to come inside and take a look at the equipment kept there. For the most part the base was home to several airlift squadrons, most using C-130J Hercules and C-17M Globemaster II cargo planes. They also had a number of UH-60K Black Hawks and lots of M-1114 Humvees for security and utility purposes, half of which were on display, the rest patrolling the base.

However the locals didn't come to see the same old gear. They came to see what JTF-37 had.

"This is our run of the mill fire support vehicle, the Persuader II." Breakdown said to some children and adults, an interpreter translating. "It's based on the same frame as the Mobile Gun Stryker save for the main gun. These babies got a nice laser cannon fitted to 'em." A few people snapped pictures of the AFVs. For security purposes the laser cannons had been removed from the vehicles put on display, the crews milling about and answering questions from those who asked. A few F-23C Conquest II fighter jets were out on the tarmac with some Super Apaches and Little Birds, the crews displaying their aircraft. Unlike the Persuaders on display the jets and helos had live weapons hanging from their airframes. The armed Persuaders were in the hangar, waiting should something happen. Chainlink and Ground Pounder sat atop a building in lawn chairs overlooking the flight line, a spotting scope and an M-40A3 sniper rifle on a bipod resting on the ground. Their M-8s were next to their chairs.

"Good turn out this year, eh?" Chainlink remarked to Ground Pounder, the Marine digging through the cooler and producing a bottle of Gatorade.

"Seems like more and more show up for the Friendship Festival. I sometimes wonder where they come from." the Marine replied, taking a sip from the bottle. Chainlink looked at his watch then unfolded a brochure with the festival's show schedule.

"Air show's about to start... Crux is going to make a flyby soon." the Colonel remarked, referring to Lieutenant Commander Donald 'Crux' Jones (USN, SW/AW.) Crux was a Naval aviator, having started out in the F-18F Super Hornet and graduating up to the carrier based F-35C Lightning II. He had been more than eager to fly the F-23C Conquest II when notified of his acceptance into G.I. Joe.

"The guy's been doing nothing but flying OPFOR with the fighter jocks on the G-Dub. This'll be a cakewalk." Ground Pounder replied as he picked up a pair of binoculars and scanned the skies. The G-Dub, better known as the Nimitz class Aircraft Carrier, the USS George Washington (CVN-73,) had been sent to Japan to replace the aging USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63,) one of the last steam powered aircraft carriers in the US Navy. There was a stink raised by the Japanese, simply because the G-Dub was nuclear powered. Ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese had been very weary with the mention of anything involving the United States of America and nuclear power.

"Bet it was nice to see old friends again, eh?" the supply officer quipped. Ground Pounder saw a number of sillhouettes in the skies and furrowed his brow.

"Wait, wait... Something's not right..." the Marine said, keeping his eyes on the jets.

"What's wrong? Crux not the flight lead?"

"No, all I see are F-15s... The JADF knows we're holding the Friendship Festival. They never send their birds overhead." Chainlink tooks his own binos out and looked in the sky, the sonic booms of the approaching fighter jets becoming more distinct.

"That's not good..." he said, keying his throat mic. "Samurai Edge, this is Chainlink, over."

"Go ahead, Chainlink." Major Watanabe replied.

"Do you know anything about the JADF sending their birds here?" the Joe commander asked.

"Negative, not until tomorrow.Why, what's up?" Chainlink and Ground Pounder's hearts skipped a beat.

"Decepticons!" the Marine shouted, scrambling out of his seat and making a beeline for a stack of cases near an AC unit on the rooftop. Chainlink was already making the emergency calls, the air raid sirens beginning to wail.

"What in the hell? Crux stagin' a bombin' run?" Breakdown asked, Ground Force rolling up in his alt mode then transforming.

"Nae, it's ae raid!" the Autobot shouted as the civilians panicked and started running, fouling the flightline and preventing the Joes from launching their Conquest IIs. Mechadustrial was trying his best to herd the civilians away from the jets as the first of the Seekers began their strafing runs, knocking out a few cargo planes and helos on the deck. Ground Pounder had popped one of the cases open and had an FIM-9 Stinger MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System) on his shoulder.

"Got tone!" the Marine shouted as Chainlink opened another case, shouldering his own Stinger missile. The Marine cut loose with the man portable variant of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the heatseeker streaking for it's target. It clipped a Seeker, taking the tail stabilizer off the 'Con, which promptly transformed and took the fight to the ground, opening fire with its arm lasers as soon as it had landed. Mechadustrial drove straight for the Seeker, sirens and lights blaring.

"C'mon! Get me! I'm a bigger target!" he shouted, transforming when he was right on top of the 'Con and tackling him. The two traded blows, new shapes arriving in the skies.

"Chainlink, this is Crux! I didn't know we were putting up a mock battle with the JADF!" the flight lead remarked, his five jet squadron circling overhead.

"We're under attack!" Chainlink shouted, Ground Pounder launching another missile. The more 'Cons he shot down the more entered the ground battle.

However the Persuader IIs waiting in the Joe hangar were waiting for them.

"Gunner, Laser, 'Con!" one of the TCs shouted to his gunner. The weapon hummed loudly before the beam fired from the cannon, punching through a Seekers' head.

"Knockout!" the gunner exclaimed.

"Don't celebrate just yet, there are still a fuck ton of them left!" the TC shouted, directing his gunner to another target. Above Crux engaged the Seekers, directly pitting his Conquest IIs against the F-15J Eagles the Seekers seemed to favor. They were outnumbered for sure but what the Joe pilots had to their advantage were shooters on the ground with MANPADS, stealth features, and lots and lots of missiles and gun rounds.

"Gryphus One, Fox two!" Crux announced, an AIM-9X leaping from an internal weapons bay. It caught a Seeker right on his canopy, the 'Con tumbling to the ground where it exploded in a massive fireball.

"They're comin' in close." Gryphus Three commented all too casually.

"Then use your guns. They're there for a reason." Crux replied. The Conquest IIs brought their M-61A3 20mm Vulcan cannons to bear, 20mm HE perforating airframes. A few of the Seekers that could still fly after the bullet massage came back with their own Vulcan cannons. Two Conquests went down, one of which had a chute deploy. The fight on the ground was letting up as the air battle escalated. The fewer Joes that were tasked with taking out the Seekers on the ground found themselves packing Stinger missiles and using them to assist their comrades. More 'Cons fell to the ground, the survivors taken out by either Ground Force or the Persuader IIs. The few Seekers that survived were taken into custody for later transport to Autobot City.

Two hours later Chainlink, Ground Pounder, Crux, Flak Jacket, Ground Force, and Mechadustrial were in the TOC, calling Admiral Mullen at the Pit.

"Anyone find Mayor Toragawa?" Chainlink asked as operators recieved casualty and damage reports.

"Base Police are looking everywhere for him." one, a sergeant, replied.

"Ten dirhams says he's in a supply closet pissing himself." Flak Jacket chimed in.

"Sir, Base Police found him hiding in the intake of a T-38 trainer." another Joe said.

"Are they bringing him here? Tell them to bring him here!" Chainlink ordered. "Grab a medic on the way, dammit!"

"Sir, Admiral Mullen is on the line." another operator said. The main screen changed, showing the Pit's TOC in low light conditions, red light replacing white lights.

"Colonel, talk to me. What is your status?" Mullen asked outright. He had a five o'clock shadow and looked completely disheveled, considering he had just been woken up.

"For the most part we're okay, minor civilian casualties, mass casualties for us." Chainlink replied, a pair of MPs and a medic escorting Toragawa in. He had a bandage wrapped around his head, the medic still patching up a few cuts on his left arm.

"Sir, Mayor Toragawa as ordered." one of the MPs said with a salute.

"Get him a chair, now." the Colonel ordered. Toragawa was seated, Major Watanabe joining them with one of his Captains and two GDF grunts.

"Alright, debrief me, Colonel. What happened." Mullen asked. Chainlink started telling him everything, from the first sighting of the Seekers to the last Stinger launch.

"Major, did any of the JADF's aerial radars see anything?" the Admiral asked. Watanabe shook his head.

"We looked at the data. They were recording the same IFF as Lieutenant Commander Jones' squadron but it seems they appeared from out of nowhere.

"One conclusion fer 'at." Ground Force interjected. "Skywarp."

"Was he present for the battle?" Admiral Mullen asked. Ground Force and Mechadustrial shrugged.

"It's rare for him to be anywhere without Starscream or Thundercracker." Mechadustrial replied.

"I got an idea." Flak Jacket piped in, stepping forward.

"Okay, we all know Skywarp can open mini-space bridges, right? So what if he helped transport an entire squadron of Seekers right in our backyard?" Several Joes started talking among themselves.

"It's very plausible. But why only attack with Seekers?" Chainlink asked.

"Suicide mission most likely." Ground Force replied. "Seekers are many an' entirely expendable. Additionally the 'Cons may 'ave been tryinna send us ae message."

"That seems very plausible."

"E-excuse me, but..." Toragawa started, standing up. The medic that came with him immediately stood by him, ready to catch him if he fainted. "I must apologize for what I said months ago. I cannot express how grateful I am for your actions today." Toragawa then dropped to his knees and bowed deeply to the Joe commander.

"Apology accepted, Toragawa-san." Chainlink replied, the Medic helping the mayor up and back into the chair.

"Colonel, I need to know the effectiveness of the MANPADS you had on station." Ground Pounder stepped forward this time.

"Admiral, the FIM-9 Stinger, as we all know, wasn't designed to knock out Decepticons, however they are more than succeptible in their jets modes to the missiles." the Marine started. "I shot down three of them. The Colonel got four. Not bad for a supply jockey."

"And when they were on the ground? Those that survived being shot down, I mean."

"We brought the Persuader IIs to bear, sir." Breakdown said, stepping forward. "We lost the two that were on display but considerin' the scope of the attack I think the machine losses are acceptable." No one in the room was willing to contradict the SFC's assessment, despite the loss of several helicopters, cargo planes, humvees, and military personnel.

"Mayor Toragawa, you may not like this but I'm going to request that JTF-37's presence is increased at Yokota Air Base." Admiral Mullen started.

"If it means we won't suffer like we did today then so be it..." Toragawa replied, exhausted by the day's excitement.

"Git us some more bots... If they're free, the Aerialbots would be perfect." Ground Force added.

"I'll make a note of that." Mullen replied. "Now see to your people and the civilians. Dismissed.
Waffle House outside of Atlanta, Georgia
2139, US Eastern Time
2 Years ago...

All was quiet in the outskirts of Atlanta, particularly in a Waffle House occupied by a handful of people. The restaraunt's employees, people getting off of second shift, and one or two vagrants.

Two more of which were approaching the establishment, very nervous as they entered. They looked at eachother then drew pistols.

"Alright, this is a stick up! No heroics!" one shouted, some of the patrons screaming. The other went around, holding his hat out and taking whatever money and valuables he could grab. The first hoodlum stopped at a booth where a man sat, still eating his pancakes.

"Hey, gimme what you got, mother fucker. Hey, I'm talking to you!" he shouted. The man simply finished chewing then took a drink of milk. He wiped his mouth with a napkin then stood up, towering over the hood.

"Are you tougher than a Decepticon?" he simply asked, looking the hood down.


"Are you tougher then twelve tons of armor plated Decepticon?" The hood was silent, as was his partner.

"Motha fucka, we got guns!" the first man finally managed to say. The older man chuckled.

"Really? Check your safety, bro." he said with a grin. The hood looked at his gun then had it shoved into his face, breaking his nose. He then found himself in a sleeper hold, the man holding his gun and aiming it at his partner.

"W-whoa, p-put him down, man..." the other hood started.

"My team and I were in a Hammerhead Humvee, a half ton truck with armor designed to stop fifty caliber slugs." the man started. "That Decepticon kicked us fifty yards. Now I ask again... Are you tougher than a Decepticon?" The hood quickly dropped his gun.

"Face down, hands behind your head." The hood quickly complied, dropping his weapon and lying down. The man pushed the other hood down then disassembled the gun, taking his seat and resuming his meal.

"Anyone call the fuzz yet?" he asked, shoveling more syrup soaked pancake into his mouth.

"I-I did..." one of the waitresses replied.

"Good..." he replied, finishing then getting back up and going to the register where he slapped a twenty down. "If anyone asks, I wasn't here." The man walked over to the other hood, picked his gun up then disassembled it as well, ejecting each bullet out of the magazine onto the would be criminal's head. He then crouched down and patted the hood's head.

"Stay in school. It'll lenghten your life." With that the stranger was gone, right into the darkness. The police report would mention a good samaritan but none would provide a physical description.

Just a description of the patch on his jacket.

A shield with a sword and crossed arrows.


Present Day
1321, Local Time...

Major Archibald 'Hangman' Kitsch watched the sun trace its path lazily across the sky. A pair of CV-22s flying overhead disrupted the glare of the sun bringing the Green Beret out of his reverie. He took a deep breath and looked across the flightline where JTF-150s F-23C Conquest IIs shared the tarmac with US Air Force F-22A Raptors and C-17M Globemaster IIs. There was also the occasional P-3C Orion and more than plenty of Black Hawks sitting at the airfield.

"Hangman, got something going on?" someone asked the officer from behind. Hangman sat up and looked, seeing a Marine walking up from a Hammerhead.

"Nothing, as per usual..." he replied, the Marine taking a seat next to him.

"Y'know I remember when this place was crawling with SPECWAR grunts in the days before the start of the Second Iraq War." Captain Reginald 'Hard Corps' Stanz started, ground crewment preparing to recieve the two CV-22s. At forty two he was the oldest soldier in JTF-150's G.I. Joe unit. "They were our recon."

"I'm not all too surprised you tankers would require an infantry vanguard." Hangman replied.

"It really came in handy once we got to Fallujah, believe you me." Hard Corps was a Marine Corps tanker, having clawed his way up the chain of command from a lowly Marine Private to OCS a year after making Sergeant. He recieved his commission as a Second Lieutenant just in time to go to Iraq. "But against a 'con. That's a different story." What the Marine was talking about was the present doctrine for tanks versus Decepticons. Given the nature of armored warfare to begin with often deals with slugging it out with steel beasts, so more likely than not an infantry vanguard would get slaughtered in the crossfire. The same applied to a 'con/tank encounter.

'Cons, especially Seekers, are notorious for firing wildly, especially at tanks. The high frontal armor of G.I. Joe's M-1A3/5-70 Mauler II coupled with the non-pyrophoric nature of it's composite armor makes it very difficult for the arm lasers so favored by Seekers to do any lasting damage other than scorching the paint off the tank. As such they have been seen to be more prone to firing at both the tank and everything around it, vanguard included.

"Speaking of which, how do the Mauler IIs handle?" The Mauler II was the same as any other M-1A2SEP Abrams in the US Army and US Marine Corps inventory with one minor detail.

Instead of an M-256 120mm smoothbore gun the Mauler II was fitted with a much modified M-45 5 inch/70 caliber gun (127mm,) very similar to the deck guns found on the US Navy's destroyers and cruisers. Tests showed the naval sized rounds, especially the armor piercing munitions, to be more than capable of boring through modern tank armor with ease, Explosive Reactive Armor and all. Not many armies consider the possibility of having their tanks stand toe to toe with naval sized cannons.

"Same as an Abrams with TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit.) You lose maybe ten M.P.H. on the road speed but that big ass gun more than makes up for it." the Marine replied, laying back.

"Wonder when they'll let the regulars play with them." Hangman mused.

"When hell freezes over, the planets align, and Wynona Ryder is out of rehab, completely sober."


Tactical Operations Center, SOCCENT Quatar
1718, Local Time...

"Alright, what's up this time?" Hangman asked as he entered the TOC. Brigadier General Michael 'Gunsight' Rosoft, Hard Corps, and a few captains and lieutenants were present.

"The Maersk Crossland just slammed up pierside in Dubai." Gunsight said, handing a file over. Inside were pictures of a large tanker ship. "She was supposed to be at Kaaot four hours ago." Kaaot was one of the two major oil platforms in the North Arabian Gulf, under heavy guard by both US Navy and US Coast Guard, British Royal Navy, and elements of the still fledgeling Iraqi Navy.

"So what? Someone on their nav detail go the wrong way?" Hangman asked again. Gunsight turned around, a remote in hand. The main screen in the TOC showed several large gouges in the side of the tanker.

"She was attacked by an unknown entity while in the Straits of Hormuz." the general replied as one of the Autobots, Seiger, strode in.

"What's the sitch, General?" he asked. Initially Seiger had been a Decepticon however decades of fighting led to his decision to defect. He was a weary soldier that had been pushed until broken and then some. He was posted in JTF-150's Area of Operations as team lead of a three 'bot cell, better known as 'Seiger's Savages.' Himself, Sledge Hammer, and Switch Blade made up the 'Savages.'

"Seiger, have you ever seen damage like this done to metal?" Gunsight asked, the 'bot peering at the screen.

"I'd have to guess Sharkticons did that. Where'd this happen?" the tank asked.

"Somewhere in the Straits of Hormuz. The pictures themselves came to us from our boys in Dubai." Gunsight replied.

"I'm surprised they didn't rip the entire ship apart. I've seen sharkticons skeletonize 'bots AND 'cons whole and continue with the frames. Nothing like this though." the tank added. "Quintessons love them for executions. If the 'cons are using sharkticons then we've got problems."

"I'll take your word for it, Seiger. Now, Hangman you and a team are being sent to Bahrain to meet up with the USS Elrod (FFG-55.)" Gunsight said directly to the Green Beret. "We're working on getting the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) to leave her present posting at Kaaot. The Burke and the Elrod are planned to meet up by fourteen hundred hours tomorrow. Is that understood?" Hangman sketched a half assed salute to Gunsight.

"Lima Charlie, sir. Out of curiosity what Autobot assets am I getting?" Both men looked to Seiger.

"I'll ask Switchblade if she's comfortable with swapping her Hellfires out with torps." the tank replied, referring to the token femmebot of the team. "Either way it'll be good to get her out of the hangar."

"Alright then, when do I leave?" Hangman asked Gunsight.

"Wheels up in an hour. Dismissed..."


Naval Support Activity Bahrain
2001, Local Time

Hangman had never had attention called for upwards of two hunred men upon arriving anywhere. The Quarterdeck watch rang him on, referring to him as 'Major, United States Army, Arriving' upon his arrival. The rest of his team didn't get the same luxury.

"Welcome aboard the USS Elrod, Major. I'm Commander Todd Wallace." the ship's Captain said, exchanging a salute then a handshake with Hangman.

"Major Archibald Kitsch. Call me 'Hangman.' Everyone else does." Hangman replied to Commander Wallace. "You get the briefing?"

"We did. General Rosoft forwarded us all the details two hours ago. I was told that my ASW bird and our torps are under your control." the Captain said as he led Hangman into the skin of the ship. His men were being led to the helo hangar for familiarization with ship's battle doctrine.

"I'm going to be honest. The only thing I know about ASW is what I read in 'The Hunt for Red October' and 'Red Storm Rising.'" Hangman admitted.

"I'll give you the cliff notes version then." Wallace replied. "Now get some rest, Major. We set sail at the break of day." Hangman chuckled. Captain Wallace had inadvertently quoted the Navy's song, 'Anchors Aweigh.'


South Arabian Gulf, near the Straights of Hormuz
1013, Local Time

Hangman leaned against the rails on the starboard bridgewings of the Elrod, the wind whipping around the pilothouse. He was watching Switchblade approach Elrod's flight deck, preparing to take on a sonar crew. Her alt mode was that of an MV-22 Osprey gunship.

"Green deck." the controller in the helo deck announced as Switchblade touched down on the flight deck. Hangman watched a number of sailors run up to her and climb aboard. She had been given a crash course in launching torpedos back at Bahrain. She was very skeptical despite the Sea Hawk pilot telling her repeatedly that 'it's a lot like launching Hellfire missiles.'

"Hell of a thing ain't it?" one of the Greenshirts confided to Hangman. "They call us Airborne infantry crazy for jumping out of planes when the Navy has their helo pilots land on a helo deck barely big enough for the helos they fly."

"Yeah, tell me about it. But I guess that makes them the better pilots." Hangman replied as Switchblade took off, heading out to drop sonobuoys.

"Red Deck." the controller announced over the 1MC. Hangman looked at his watch.

"Four hours till we rendezvous with the Arleigh Burke..." he mused as the deck hands rolled the Elrod's Sea Hawk out and began assembling it. By the time chow was called they had twobirds in the air: Switchblade and the Elrod's embarked helo. By then Hangman and his XO had gone down to the wardroom for chow, partaking in what the Culinary Specialists had managed to pass off as pork lo mein.

"Y'know you guys eat better than us lowly grunts do in the field." Hangman commented to one of the ensigns, stirring up his salad. "I don't think I'll ever go back to MREs after this stint." The only people to get the joke were from Hangman's own staff, which was made up of a Captain and two First Lieutenants.

"So what are they like? The Autobots, I mean..." one of the junior officers asked.

"They're armor plated, house sized masses of 'fuck you' that talk." the Green Beret replied. "Other than that they're decent individuals who are just like us. Only they're housed sized masses of 'fuck you.'" A couple officers chuckled at the statement when the ship listed heavily to port side. Plates, glasses, and food fell off the table, chairs and anything unsecured, including the flatscreen TV on the bulkhead, fell and slid to starboard side.

"B-BATTLESTATIONS! ALL HANDS MAN BATTLESTATIONS!!!" the Officer of the Deck announced, shaken by something he had seen. The ship continued her port list, gaining speed. Hangman and his staff struggled to get out of the wardroom and up to the pilothouse.

"What happened? We under attack?!" the Green Beret shouted at the OOD as the helmsman swung the ship to starboard, trying to dodge something in the water.

"Didn't you see it!? That... that thing!" one of the Quatermasters shouted at Hangman. He managed to get out to the starboard bridgewing and looked up in time to see Elrod's Sea Hawk drop a torp in the water. There was a minute of nothing as the Elrod continued her high speed maneuvers when a large plume of water leapt up, the end result of the Mk 46 torpedo striking something beneath the waves. A wailing noise came from the water, almost a mix of a whale's cry and metal being rent by force.

"That can't be good..." Hangman mused. That was when he saw what had to be a giant, black arm with long claws lash out of the water toward the frigate.

"Evasive! PORT, NOW!!!" the OOD shouted at the helmsman who did the naval version of a powerslide with the frigate. The arm missed the ship, slamming back down into the water and sending a spray of salt water up.

"Status!" Commander Wallace shouted at the watch team as he made his way up, clawing toward his seat as the helmsman steered to avoid another collision.

"Sonar says they've got a big contact, marked as Contact 021." the OOD replied as the claw lashed out again. Hangman saw it coming, amost for him. It broke off suddenly, assisted by a torpedo strike.

"Frag it!" Switchblade swore as she tried to line up for another torpedo drop. The Sea Hawk dropped it's remaining torpedo, the arm retracting into the water again.

"What's the ETA on the 'Burke?" Commander Wallace asked of the QMC.

"Twenty minutes till they'll be in range to launch their VLAs (Vertical Launch Anti-Sub Rockets.)" QMC Payne replied.

"We won't last that long." Hangman mused as Switchblade ripple fired three of her torps.

All three missed. Hangman grabbed the handset for the bridge radio.

"Switchblade, think you can get down there and tangle with that thing?" he asked of the Autobot.

"First, I can't swim worth a shit... Second, I have an embarked crew. Are you going to clean them out of me after I get through?" she replied. "Right now all I can do is take potshots with my thirty mike mike when that thing pops up." Switchblade's alt mode had an M-197 30mm cannon. Even with tungsten steel or depleted uranium sabots most Decepticons found it to be an annoyance. Her real weapon was her rotor blades, particularly in her robot mode.

"Captain, how long can we do these high speed turns?" Hangman asked of Commander Wallace.

"As long as we have fuel. Unfortunately we're scheduled for a rendezvous with the USNS Supply (T-AOE-6.) so we really have to hope the Arleigh Burke shows up to get our asses out of the fire." Wallace replied, the ship turning to avoid another claw strike. This time the claw caught the starboard side, raking a long gash from the pilothouse to the helo hangar. Within the skin of the ship Damage Control Central's boards went red as watermain lines and all manner of electrical wires and power panels were torn away by the claw strike.

"They never tell you about that in the recruiting office." Hangman mused as the General, Collision, and Chemical Attack alarms went off simultaneously. The Boatswains Mate who had been steering the ship had fallen away and was presently trying to scramble back to the wheel.

Commander Wallace took control, wrestling the ship back into his control.

"Captain, the 'Burke is in range. They want us to ping the target with our sonar so they know where to launch their VLAs." one of the junior officers shouted over the alarms.

"It's about time... Tell our birds to drop more sonobuoys and tell the 'Burke to launche immediately." Wallace shouted back, steering the ship away from the claw as it reached out again. The sonar team fired up their active sonar and started pinging away while the Elrod's Sea Hawk started dropping sonobouys left and right.

"Contact Sonar, got accurate position and reading." STG2 Harrison said to his compatriots as the ship listed yet again.

"Sending the data." STGC Morrison replied. The Arleigh Burke recieved the data and immediately launched their VLAs in rapid succession. Hangman saw the first VLA arrive, the missile breaking up in mid air and the torpedo floating down on a parachute. The chute detached as the second VLA arrived in the area. The cylce repeated itself six times, the third missile arriving as the first torp struck the target. All six torps hit their mark, the contact wailing out. It surfaced momentarily, gouges visible in the black armor of the Decepticon. The purple shield emblem was visibe on it's chest.

"A single 'Con..." Hangman mused as the Decepticon sank to the depths and the Elrod finally slowed to a crawl. The 'Joe staggered to the Captain's chair and picked up the handset. "Switchblade, you seen that one before?"

"Negative... He's a new face to me." she replied. The Arleigh Burke arrived to a wounded Elrod. The Destroyer sent a line out and she towed the frigate to Dubai where she would wait for a transport barge back to America.


The Pit, Arizona Desert
0900, US Central Time

Admiral Mullen sat in his office, sifting through reports. There came a knocking at his door.

"Enter." he said, not looking up from his papers. A Colonel entered, handing over a folder labeled as priority.

"This just came in from Dubai, sir. Joint Task Force One Five Zero." the Colonel said, Admiral Mullen picking up the folder and opening it. He read over the first page then looked up at the officer.

"A giant, seafaring Decepticon?"

"That's what Major Kitsch said, sir." the Colonel replied. Admiral Mullen looked through the pictures provdied, including those of the USS Elrod, the Maersk Crossland, and several of the Decepticon.

"And what of the Decepticon?"

"Divers never found any wreckage. We may have to assume that it's retreated to lick it's wounds, sir." Admiral Mullen leaned back in his chair.

"If it surfaces I want to know. Pass on to the Navy that they are to have anti-sub weapons at all times." he finally said, leaning forward.

"Sir, I have an inquiry from Naval Station Norfolk regarding security detail for your visit to the Hampton Roads area on Veteran's Day."

"Ah, the alma mater. I'll get some Greenshirts and ask for some Marines to assuage whatever fears Commander Atlantic Fleet has." Mullen replied to the officer. "I don't expect anything to happen but planning for that one in a million chance never hurts.
Oooooo! I like it.

Sept for the Sharkticons.... erghhhh.