Despite Jubilee's pleadings to fly the Blackbird herself and
Gambit's protests to let him retrieve his gumbo from the refrigerator,
the Blackbird made good time on the way to Oregon. Flying at
Mach speeds, the Blackbird quickly reached the site of Bowley
"Mon Dieu!" Gambit exclaimed. "These robots,
they are enormous! But never fear, Gambit's got a few aces up
his sleeve." He shuffled his pack of cards with one hand.
"Put those away, Gambit," scolded Cyclops. "We
have to concentrate our next move."
The Blackbird suddenly banked hard to the right, narrowly missing
a destructive laser blast. Everyone inside was thrown out of
their seats, except for Phantom.
"What's going on?" gasped Jubilee.
Phantom replied, "Luckily, I was paying attention to what
was happening on the ground. I used my telekinetic powers to
control the Blackbird and dodge the energy blast. I suggest that
we land as soon as possible -- these robots don't seem at all
Cyclops took her advice and quickly found a large patch of ground
suitable for landing. "Get ready, people! We're going in!"
Cyclops avoided another barrage of laser fire as he landed the
Blackbird. "We're down! Let's go out there and see if we
can lend a hand."
"What's this?" a silvery-gray robot murmured in surprise.
"Humans have arrived to try to stop us. Quite amusing."
He chuckled softly.
"Do not worry, Megatron!" mocked Starscream, Megatron's
insubordinate second-in-command. "I will take care of the
Earth creatures, if you are too afraid."
"AFRAID?!! Starscream, be thankful that I will not slag
you on the spot! I need able-bodied warriors to help me gather
energy and vanquish those weakling Autobots, but I will not tolerate
insubordination! Keep that in mind!"
"Look, Megatron!" Skywarp spoke. "The fleshlings
are emerging from their vehicle. Can I crush one?"
"Skywarp, your imbecility is beginning to annoy me,"
Megatron growled. "Do whatever you like to the flesh creatures,
but be quick about it! We have energy to gather."
"What fun! Come help me, Thundercracker!" Skywarp gloated.
Thundercracker looked uncertain. He thought that it would only
be a waste of time and energy to harm the flesh creatures. "No
thanks, Sky," he replied. "I'm going to help gather
"Spoilsport! Oh well, I'll have all the fun to myself!"
* * * * *
"Look out!" Phantom yelled. One of the large robot,
a black one with wings, was lifting up his large foot. Jean looked
up and saw the danger looming right above her. She quickly rose
up in the air, easily avoiding the descending foot.
"What the--?!" sputtered the robot.
"Leave her alone!" Jubilee screamed, extending her
arms. Blasts of pyrotechnic energy, bearing a remarkable resemblance
to fireworks, shot from her fingertips. They struck the robot
fully in the faceplate.
"Megatron, help me!" yelled Skywarp as he fell backwards,
crashing into the ground. The Decepticons turned and gaped. Skywarp
was on the ground, begging for aid.
"Skywarp! You pathetic excuse for a Decepticon! You can't
even squash one human without bungling it!" roared Megatron.
"Let me prove my worth, Megatron! *My* superior talents
will succeed where Skywarp has miserably failed!" bragged
"Very well," Megatron conceded. "But make it
fast! The energy here takes priority."
* * * * *
"Here comes another one!" Jean announced, floating
to the ground.
"Puny humans! You are no match for me!" Starscream
laughed as he aimed his null ray at the cluster of humans.
"I summon the forces of the heavens to stop you, robot!"
Storm rose up in the air. Starscream gasped. A mere flesh creature
-- flying?! Squishies couldn't fly! He was sure of it!
Starscream was even more bewildered when he looked at the sky.
Clouds had begun to gather, even though the sky had been crystal-clear
a moment ago. "What is going on?" he wondered. The
answer was, well, shocking! Storm gathered the power of the elements
within her, releasing it in the form of a lightning bolt. "Aiee!"
Starscream shrieked as the electricity tore through him.
"Take that!" Jubilee yelled defiantly. "That'll
teach you to mess with us, tincans!"
"Tincans is right," Phantom snickered. "Hey,
tin woodsmen! Why don't you guys go back to Oz?"
Skywarp was horrified by their reaction. He obviously had no
comprehension of the joke, but even he could tell that he was
being made fun of. The laughter of the X-Men echoed through his
head, taunting him.
"Good one, kid," Wolverine growled, chucking in spite
of himself. "It's time we recycled these guys."
"Megatron!" Skywarp whined. "The squishies are
laughing at us!"
"What?!" Megatron roared in surprise. The laughter
itself did not bother him because even his fellow Decepticons
made fun of Thundercracker. What was disturbing was the lack
of fear that these fleshlings portrayed. They were supposed to
be fleeing in terror, not laughing at his warriors!
He stepped outside, nearly tripping over Starscream's body, which
was still smoking slightly. "Owww," Starscream whined
"What is going on here?" Megatron demanded.
"That squishy zapped me with lightning! It's not fair!
They're not supposed to be able to do that!"
"Hah!" Megatron laughed scornfully. "If a mere
fleshling can beat you, Starscream, what chance do you have of
succeeding me as leader?" Starscream only glared at him
"Megatron," Soundwave spoke suddenly. "I believe
that some of these fleshlings are telepathic."
"Telepathic? How is this possible?" Megatron asked
incredulously. "See if you can read their minds, Soundwave.
Try to find out how they have acquired such powers."
Soundwave surveyed the gathered fleshlings, using his mental
abilities to locate the telepaths. "Attempting to scan,"
he announced to his leader.
Phantom stopped short suddenly, feeling an alien mind probe hers.
She smiled to herself when she discovered that the robot could
not make sense of her thoughts.
"Scan unsuccessful," Soundwave declared, somehow managing
to sound regretful despite his monotone. "Fleshling's thoughts
are encrypted. Unable to decipher."
"No matter," Megatron said dismissively. "We
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUGH!" A loud cry of pain interrupted
his words. He turned in shock to see Soundwave crouched on the
ground, clutching his head with both hands.
"Soundwave!" he exclaimed. He had never heard his
friend cry out in pain that way before.
"I hope that hurt," a voice said with satisfaction.
"That'll teach you to mess with my mind."
Megatron peered down far below him. On the ground stood a female
fleshling with flowing black hair. Her hands were placed on her
hips in defiance. "You are responsible for this?" he
growled angrily, gesturing to his communications officer, who
was still clutching his head in agony.
"Of course," Phantom replied matter-of-factly. "Even
though he couldn't read his mind, I still don't appreciate his
efforts to try. I decided to teach him a little lesson."
She mentally reached out to the blue robot's mind, squeezing
harder and eliciting another sharp cry of pain.
"Impossible!" Megatron roared. "Humans cannot
do such things!"
"Oh, reeeeally?" Phantom sneered. "I guess we're
just figments of your imagination."
"Silence!" Megatron exclaimed angrily. "You have
become an annoyance to me. Prepare to be terminated." He
reached down and snatched the young woman from the ground, lifting
her high in the air.
Phantom smiled at him mockingly as he prepared to crush her in
his fist. She concentrated briefly, and her body burst into bright
red flame. With a cry of surprise and pain, Megatron released
her. Using her telekinesis, she slowed her fall and drifted gently
back down to the ground. "Moron," she muttered to herself.
Megatron clutched his scorched hand to his side. "Decepticons!
Amass the energon cubes and prepare to depart!"
Several Decepticons rushed out from inside the building, arms
laden with energon cubes filled with power they had stolen from
the dam. They stopped short when they saw Starscream lying damaged
on the ground and their comrades battling a bunch of humans, who
actually seemed to be winning.
Megatron strode over to them and briefly examined the cubes as
they were piled up before him. "I had hoped for more, but
I suppose it will have to suffice. The interference of these
fleshlings has become an impediment. Very well, let's transport
this energy back to our headquarters." He reached for the
"Not so fast!" Cyclops exclaimed, unleashing an optic
blast, which connected with the stack of energon that Megatron
was reaching for. It exploded, creating a chain reaction that
reached the other cubes, causing them to explode as well.
Megatron cried out in anger and pain as the concussive force
of the blast smacked into him, knocking him backwards. Ignoring
the signals from his pain receptors, he straightened up stiffly
and glanced around. His warriors lay strewn around on the ground,
looking dazed. The few that were still standing were being slowly
defeated by the bizarre flesh creatures.
Megatron sighed to himself. His pride stung with the realization
of what his next words would be. "Decepticons, retreat!"
he announced. "We have sustained too much damage to remain
Slowly and painfully, his troops drew themselves to their feet
and followed him into the sky. As a parting shot, Megatron fired
his fusion cannon. The blast struck Bishop, who absorbed the
energy into his body and then unleashed it in the direction from
which it had come. He smiled grimly as he watched a trail of
smoke stream from the silvery white robot as it began to fall
from the sky.
"All right!" Jubilee exclaimed, exchanging a high-five
with Phantom. "We did it! We showed those Oz-lovers who's
The sound of approaching engines made the X-Men turn. "Be
prepared, team," Cyclops cautioned. "These could be
more of them."
Phantom reached out with her mind, attempting to read the thoughts
of the machines that approached. "Yes, they are sentient,"
she mused. She squeezed her eyes shut, concentrating hard. She
could not read their minds the way she was used to reading human
minds, but she was sure there was a way. She allowed her instincts
to take over, searching for a way to decode the mechanical impulses
coming from the minds of the approaching vehicles and translate
them into neural impulses that she could understand.
Her green eyes opened and gazed curiously at the approaching
mechanisms. "I understand now," she murmured. It was
so easy, really. Once she had figured out how to translate their
thoughts, it was quite simple to read their minds and understand
their thoughts. "These robots pose no threat to us. They
have arrived to stop the ones that were just here. Of course,
they are too late."
"You can read their minds?" Jean exclaimed in surprise.
She tried to scan their thoughts herself, but she could not make
sense of them.
"It's easy, really," Phantom assured her. "Since
I haven't been with you guys very long, I'm used to figuring out
how to use my powers on my own. I've become accustomed to using
them in unorthodox ways."
The group of super-powered humans gaped as the vehicles before
them pulled up and transformed, revealing their true robotic forms.
The lead vehicle, a red semi truck, transformed and looked around
in surprise. The Decepticons were nowhere in sight. He then
turned toward the sky and gaped in astonishment. The Decepticons
were fleeing, and without a single cube of energon! Megatron,
who was trailing smoke, was being assisted by Soundwave.
"What is going on?" he mused, studying a large patch
of scorched earth. Then he caught sight of the humans before
Phantom stepped forward to greet them. "What took you so