Underneath the Forbidden Zone ruins from which the Autobots had been removed, Skids sat alone. He had taken refuge there during the battle, in the same place where he had found the box of magical artifacts. Skids was now straining his brain to remember the rituals he had absorbed on Earth, in the hopes that he could conjure up something that could rescue his fellow Autobots.
In a more familiar section of Cybertron, the battle between Elita-One’s Autobots and Shockwave’s Decepticons continued, with Omega Supreme gripping Menasor’s Sword with his claw as the two giants wrestled.
Suddenly, the Constructicons and Insecticons, newly arrived from Earth via the Space Bridge, made their presence noticed. The Insecticons swarmed the Autobots, Shrapnel creating clones from the remains of Shockwave’s Sentinels. Concurrently, the Constructicons merged into Devastator and soon Omega Supreme fell to a double attack from Devastator and Menasor. The remaining Autobots regrouped to rethink their battle plan.
On Earth, activity within Autobot City was frantic as the Autobots scrambled to activate Autobot City’s attack mode while Trypticon moved ever closer.
Then, as if by divine intervention, the rest of the functioning Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, appeared on the spot. They had imprisoned the Decepticons they had captured earlier and had now come to lend a helping hand to Autobot City. The three still-active Aerialbots, plus Tracks in flying vehicle mode, buzzed around Trypticon’s head, while Optimus and his troops fired from the ground. But it all did little more than annoy Trypticon, who unleashed his powerful weaponry at the Autobots, who scattered but then quickly and courageously went back on the attack, knowing that they were buying their comrades inside Autobot City extra time, and that was crucial.
In the Forbidden Zone, the captured Autobots arrived at Yarvok’s castle. They could not help but notice that the castle was surrounded by exotic flora and fauna, an oasis in the otherwise dreary and barren Forbidden Zone. For this was how Yarvok kept himself strong and vital and unchallenged in his autocratic rule over the Forbidden Zone.
Yarvok received his prisoners in the castle’s courtyard. “Greetings!” cackled the evil wizard. “Ah, the sport can continue for some time to come now. Slaves, take them to the dungeons.”
As the Autobots were being put in their cells, they noticed two other still-functioning Transformers who were in cells of their own, but none of the newly captured Autobots were old enough to recognize who they were.
“How in the Matrix’s name did you end up here?” asked the older of the two, gray of color and curmudgeonly of voice.
“We’re here because the Matrix told us to come.” replied Jazz. “It said we would find the key to Autobot victory here in the Forbidden Zone.”
“So much for the infallible Matrix.” cracked the old robot sardonically.
“Don’t give up hope completely,” said the younger, blue-and-white-colored robot, “it’s the only thing that keeps us functioning.”
“Hope shmope!” growled the older one, “It’s plain old orneriness that keeps me going.”
“Don’t mind Kup.” said the younger one to Jazz, “He’s got good reason to be the way he is. I’m Ultra Magnus, and you are?”
Jazz made introductions. “I’m Jazz. That’s Blaster, Bumblebee, Cosmos, Powerglide, Perceptor, and Sk...wait a minute, where’s Skids?”
“If he got away,” said Bumblebee, “then maybe there is hope for us.”
“Sure,” said Kup sarcastically, “at least until the wizard decides to make you his pet monsters’ latest chew toy.”
“That,” explained Ultra Magnus, “is why Kup and I are the only ones left of all the Autobots who were exiled to the Forbidden Zone millions of years ago by Megatron.”
“Ah,” said Perceptor, “the infamous Great Autobot Purge.”
Ultra Magnus elaborated. “The wizard uses us for his own amusement. His monsters tear us apart, then he puts us back together over and over until we cease to function.”
Two monster guardsmen entered the dungeons. “The master requests the presence of the mightiest among the recent arrivals.”
“No,” said Kup, “take my rusting carcass and just get it over with.”
The guardsmen did not reply. Instead they opened the door to Blaster’s cell.
“Looks like this is the day the music died.” joked Blaster morbidly. “It’s been nice knowing you folks.”
At that bleak moment, Skids was within a mystic circle, surrounded by candles. He had figured out as best he could how to combine the magical artifacts into a spell. But as he chanted arcane wordings, he began to worry it might backfire disastrously.
But it was too late. A glowing inter-dimensional portal was opening in front of Skids. This was the moment of truth.
“Who summons me??” inquired an irascible female voice as a silhouette appeared at the portal and then revealed itself to be a mutant resembling a pale-skinned, raven-haired humanoid woman. “Who summons the sorceress Avaya??”
Outside, the elements went wild, windstorms and thunder and lightning raging like bedlam. Skids was frightened into stillness and silence. “What have I done?” he asked himself in a choked whisper.
TO BE CONTINUED