Ego Test

by Emily Stewart (emstewar@unix.amherst.edu)

Hi All!

I was rummaging through my hard disk and found a folder with lots of
pieces of stories I wrote a very long time ago.  This one is one of
the few complete ones there were, and I thought it might be fun if
y'all could see what little Emily was doing with her time in junior
high school when all the normal kids were talking on the phone and
hanging out at the mall!

This story is set shortly post-movie and definitely in the universe of
the cartoon (I had not discovered the comic yet when I wrote this.)
In stories I had begun previously I had begun to introduce female
characters.  The co-star of this story is one of these female
characters, a Decepticon named Chameleon whom I created as a sort of
counterpart to Sky Lynx.  I had not developed her personality much
yet, only that she was wholly dominated by the diminutive leader of
the female Deceps, and worked far too hard for too little credit.

Please remember again that I wrote this when I was thirteen or so, so
please excuse the simplicity of its (very standard) plot...


     Sky Lynx gunned his engines, heading for Autobot City. 
The Autobots needed his help once again, and Sky Lynx loved
a chance to prove to them that he was superior.

     He suffered a jolt as he hit the atmosphere. There was
minor air turbulence over the city, and a perfect landing
would be near impossible. Oh, well.

     The shuttle transformed into a lynx and a bird, and
both pulled the Terrorcons off of Rodimus Prime and Ultra
Magnus.

     "Thanks, Sky Lynx,"  said Rodimus.

     "As you know, it was nothing,"  Sky Lynx said in
return.

     But the Autobot leader wasn't paying any attention to
him; he just continued to blast Decepticons.  Ingrate.  Sky
Lynx took off again to handle anything that was in the air.

     He turned just in time to duck the attack of Chameleon. 
He watched as the blue-and-purple dragon angled her wings
and came back around.  Unfortunately, Sky Lynx had to admit,
Chameleon was more maneuverable than he was.  But his pure
talent would outweigh any advantage Chameleon had there.

     There was the sudden sound of crackling fire, and Sky
Lynx jumped to one side.  He managed to dodge her
attack--most of it, anyway.  The tip of his wing was
smarting where her fire had hit it.

     Sky Lynx was getting mad now. He vaulted into the air
and flew in pursuit of the Decepticon. Once again he cursed
at the density of the air on Earth.  He had to use more
power to accelerate and brake in response to the more
aerodynamic Chameleon's crazy flying.  But Sky Lynx knew he
was much stronger that the Decepticon, and more endurant as
well; it wouldn't take long for his sharpshooting to down
the female.

     He fired a brace of air-to-air missiles at her.  One
flew wide; the other scored as Chameleon dodged, sparks and
smoke flying off the trailing edge of her wing.  Screaming,
she turned and dove erratically, fighting to keep control
with one and a half wings.  Sky Lynx turned too, following
straight behind her.  She leveled off, and was skimming the
ground.  She was flying all over the place, and Sky Lynx
couldn't quite get a clear shot in.  But they flew into some
mountains, and he got his high-powered lasers ready to fire. 
He had finally locked on target when in front of them a
black square of nothingness opened!  Chameleon skrawked as
she tried to move to clear it, but her wing was too damaged,
and she plunged into it--and disappeared.  Sky Lynx, caught
completely by surprise, tried to veer off, but the wind
resistance was too great.  He followed Chameleon.

     Sky Lynx felt himself falling.  He landed quite heavily
on what felt like a stone floor in the total darkness. 
There was a shuffling noise off to his left.  Chameleon.

     Sky Lynx tried to get up.  He groaned as he tried to
place weight on his right front leg.  He had landed on it
and it was killing him.

     Chameleon approached.  "Autobot, I--"

     "Stay back, Decepticon slime!" shouted Sky Lynx.

     The Decepticon sighed.  "But--" she started, as if
unsure what to say.  "Listen, you must get up and figure out
how to walk, and quickly.  It is quite dangerous to stay in
one place for very long around here."

     "Why must I follow you?  Why is it dangerous?  Where in
Alpha's name are we?"

     She stamped her foot in frustration, then quieted.  "I
will answer to the best of my ability," she said meekly, as
if apologizing. "Why is it dangerous?  Because there have
been reports of this happening for millennia.  A strange
space warp that emanates no energy opens up, and poor
creatures disappear into it, most never returning!  And
whomever does it likes warriors best.  Where are we?  What
planet, or even what galaxy, I don't know.  But I do know
that it is dangerous.  And that we must move!"

     Sky Lynx subsided, but only for a moment.  "Why must I
accompany you?  I am an Autobot!  You are a Decepticon!  I
just nearly destroyed you, but--"

     "Listen, Autobot."  Chameleon said quietly.  "I may
easily die here.  There is more chance of my surviving with
the help of others, especially others who are stronger and
more endurant than I."

     "And since you know my talents are superior to yours,
you want me to help you."

     "That is correct."

     Well, here was one Decepticon who was humble enough to
admit Sky Lynx was indeed better than she!  "And what if I
decide to go on by myself?"

     "That is your decision.  You may survive either way.  I
am not warrior enough to survive alone."

     Sky Lynx had an ego, but he knew just how good a
warrior Chameleon was from experience.  If she couldn't
survive alone, well, he was superior, but he'd probably have
a bloody hard time.  "Oh, all right.  A truce--for now."

     Suddenly, a low rumble of a laugh filtered through the
stone walls.  "Greetings, my friends.  Welcome to the game."

     Chameleon shut her mouth.  Sky Lynx decided to do
likewise.

     "I've been bored recently.  I'm glad you decided to
drop in," the voice continued.  "So, valiant warriors, start
the game!"

     "What game?"  Sky Lynx demanded.

     The voice chuckled.  "You shall see!  The object is to
stay alive until the end.  Goodbye now, friends, and good
gaming!"

     "We had better get moving," Chameleon murmured.  The
red light from her eyes turned around, and Sky Lynx was once
again left in darkness.

     He turned on a light behind his own eyes and stood up
to follow.  "Ooh!" he cried, pain lancing through his leg.

     "Do you want me to repair your leg?  I have been
trained as a medic.  I am, at least, able to stop the pain."

     "Don't touch me!"  Sky Lynx was not about to let a
Decepticon fiddle with his repairs.  Truce or not, she may
even try to kill him.

     Chameleon's shoulders lifted in a draconic sigh.  "Have
it your way," she said.  With that, she started off.

*    *    *

     They were still plodding through the dank corridor
hours later.  Neither was built for going long distances on
the ground, but there wasn't anything they could do.  There
wasn't enough room in the corridor for them to spread their
wings, much less use them.

     And the tunnel was getting narrower, the ceiling lower. 
Sky Lynx had to keep his head lower than he was used to to
avoid hitting the loose rock at the top of the corridor. 
Chameleon, who walked with her head low as if bowing to a
superior, wasn't having any problems yet, but she was larger
than Sky Lynx and would soon be having trouble with the
walls.

     A deafening, thunderous crash assaulted the pair's
hearing, and both cried out as auditory circuitry was
overloaded.  Sky Lynx's head jerked up a few feet, hitting
the ceiling.  And the ceiling came down on top of him.

     "That's cheating!" shouted Chameleon to the voice.

     "Ah, but you don't set the rules, robot," it responded,
a note of glee in its voice.

     Chameleon looked up at where the ceiling used to be. 
That ceiling turned out to be a floor for the second level. 
Another corridor.

     Even if going up was going ahead, Chameleon didn't know
what she could do without the Autobot's help.  She pulled
rocks off of the pile over Sky Lynx, and soon found and
unburied him.

     He was a total mess.  Where rocks hadn't simply lodged
themselves in him, they had caused huge dents that
undoubtedly had harmed Sky Lynx internally.

     But he was still moving.  It took more than that to
stop an Autobot, Chameleon thought.  If she had been the one
under that rockpile, she would have been out for months.

     "I'm going to have to use my thrusters to get out of
this," said Chameleon.  "I can't jump.  Can you?"

     "My legs--I can't move them!" Sky Lynx cried.  "They're
completely crushed!"

     "How good is your internal repair system?" asked
Chameleon.

     "It is one superior to all the other Autobots'..." Sky
Lynx started.  Chameleon grimaced, realizing that he was
about to go off on one of his bragging binges, and she'd get
no straight answer.

     "I have an idea.  Transform to your other two forms, if
you can."  Sky Lynx did so.  His dinobird form was badly
dented, but serviceable; his puma form was kaput.  Chameleon
angled her wings across her back.  With the dinobird's help,
she loaded the puma into the makeshift basket formed by her
wings.

     Then she fired her thrusters and flew up to the next
corridor.  Sky Lynx followed.

     Once again, they started walking.  Every once in a
while they would come upon places where the floor had broken
through. But, for the most part, the rest of the floor was
completely sound, and neither Autobot nor Decepticon fell
through the floor.

     They walked for another few hours.  Sky Lynx was
grumbling about hitting the ceiling again, and Chameleon's
legs were becoming strained with the effort of walking while
carrying a multi-ton cat on her back.  Then she began to
hear something.  It was a barely audible murmur, but as they
walked it grew to a cacophony of insectlike noises.

     Small bugs began to appear in the air around them. 
Individually, they posed no threat.  But their numbers began
to grow, until the walls, ceiling and floor were covered
with insects.  They clamped on to the Transformers' wounds,
sucking fuel from the open lines.  They got into their eyes,
and under their joints.

     Chameleon did not enjoy the insects, but at that point
they were only a bother.  But, soon, monstrously huge biting
creatures appeared.  They sank their long stingers into the
two dragons, stealing energy and skin.  Chameleon decided
that the energy wasted by flame was less important than
being eaten alive by these bugs.

     She flamed the tunnel ahead of her, bathing it with
white-hot smoke.  The sussuration died.  Only black husks
were visible.

     But they began to move.  Insects were coming out of
their fried outer shells, shedding their skins.

     "We've got no choice, Sky Lynx.  We'll have to thrust
our way out of this."  Chameleon tucked in her legs and
fired her powerful rear thrusters.  Sky Lynx followed.

     He was jerked out of his reverie by the painful
stinging of the insects.  Now, they were worse than ever,
and each sting felt like someone plunging a sword into his
skin.  He was being eaten alive; he felt their pincers
ripping into his steel muscles, biting out chunks of metal. 
He howled with pain, flying wildly to shake the insidious
bugs out of his wounds.  They began to get in him, eat
inside of him--

     Then, abruptly, it was over.

     Chameleon was lying porstrate on the corridor floor. 
Sky Lynx could no longer hear the bugs, nor feel them biting
him.  He looked at his skin to see how much damage they had
caused.

     There was none.  Not a trace remained of a sting or
bite.

     It took Sky Lynx a moment, but he realized what had
happened.  "Psychological!"  he shouted.  "There never were
any insects!  It was all in our minds!"

     Chameleon, exhausted, lifted her head over her back to
speak to Sky Lynx.  "One hour," she said.  "One hour I must
rest.  Then we move."

*    *    *

     They walked again.  There was little difference in the
terrain than from the original corridor--dark and humid,
with walls that looked like they would fall apart at any
moment.  Sky Lynx alternated with Chameleon in carrying his
puma form, as Chameleon's legs--definitely not designed with
long-distance walking in mind--were quickly tiring.  Sky
Lynx's dinobird legs were strong, and he sneered the shoddy
Decepticon's construction.

     Chameleon stopped.  "Do you need to rest again?" Sky
Lynx queried impatiently.  He had discovered that he had
mild claustrophobia, as he was used to wide open spaces and
was generally too big to be inside anywhere.

     "Please, you must be quiet," said Chameleon, straining
to listen.  She edged forward cautiously, her eyes scanning
the tunnel ahead.

     Then, Sky lynx sensed it, too.  A whimpering noise. 
"I'm smaller and faster than you are," he said to Chameleon,
swallowing a growing apprehension.  "I'll go ahead."

     Chameleon nodded.  Sky Lynx edged forward.  With his
superior hearing he targeted the source of the noise.  Lying
up against the wall was a tiny organic creature.  It was
barely alive, its breath coming in short gasps.  Its
leathery wings were torn to shreds, and its flanks were
covered with long, deep gashes.  It squealed pitifully.

     Sky Lynx didn't know what to make of it.  Warrior or
not, he didn't like to see innocent creatures in pain.  He
reached his nose toward the little reptilian for a closer
look, and was seared by a sudden burst of fire that fried
the creature to a crisp.  "Chameleon!"

     "It was dying, Sky Lynx.  I merely saved it another few
hours of suffering.  And I saw something wrong with its
wounds."

     "What?"  Sky Lynx was angry that the Decepticon had
noticed something he hadn't.

     "Acid burn, Sky Lynx.  I remember it from my days as a
space traveler."  Something told Sky Lynx that those days
were not fond memories of Chameleon's.  "It was being eaten
alive by some acid."

     "It must have been attacked recently," Sky Lynx
commented, "or it would have been dead when we got here."

     "That's right," Chameleon said.  "You are intelligent."

     "We had better be on our guard," Sky Lynx replied.

     They moved forward, cautiously.  Every five hundred
yards or so they would come upon some poor dying animal.  "A
robotic one!" cried Chameleon suddenly.

     Sky Lynx looked.  It was small and horselike, with
heavy horns sprouting from a narrow, acid-holed head. 
"Equine," he said softly, "what attacked you?"

     "...to survive..." it mumbled.

     "What?" asked Sky Lynx.

     "Shh!" said Chameleon.  "To survive what?"

     "Take...blood...long way..."

     Sky Lynx didn't get it, but Chameleon apparently did.

     Chameleon nodded grimly.  "I understand," she said,
"but I wish I didn't.  Has the acid gotten to--"

     "No..." the equine trailed off.  "Please...I hurt..."

     Chameleon put her head down, close to the equine.  Sky
Lynx had no idea what she was doing.

     Crunch!

     Sky Lynx jumped back involuntarily, repulsed by
Chameleon's action.  "Y-y-y-ou--" he stammered.

     Chameleon chewed on the poor equine, then tossed her
head up to force it down her throat.  "Survival," she said
softly.  "Custom of the animals.  When they die, it would be
an insult to their souls to leave their energy to dissipate. 
That is why the scavengers are so important--"

     Sky Lynx was horrified.  "Cannibal!" he shouted,
kicking her with powerful dinobird legs.  Too late, he
realized what he had done.  If they were to fight--.

     Chameleon cowered, and bent her head.  "I am sorry,"
she said.  "I did not realize that that would distress you. 
Please forgive me!  I couldn't survive alone."

     Sky Lynx kept as far away from the Decepticon cannibal
as he could.  He snorted.  "Just don't do it again," he
said, and, his head high, tromped ahead into the passage.

     He risked a look behind.  Chameleon was following him,
her head almost touching the ground in submission.  Better
to have a Decepticon that way.

     The creatures they came upon were becoming more and
more freshly wounded.  Whatever monster had been attacking
them, Sky Lynx would come upon them soon.  He scanned the
walls and ceiling, and the tunnel ahead of him.  No sign of
anything yet--

     "Sky Lynx!  Look out!"  Sky Lynx's head whipped back to
see what it was Chameleon had seen.  Something ripped into
his belly.  Screaming, Sky Lynx jumped into the air, trying
to shake them off.

     Flames licked past him.  Chameleon had dumped Sky
Lynx's puma form on the ground behind her and was fighting
to protect it and herself.  Sky Lynx ripped one of the
toothy, hairy creatures off his belly with his teeth.  the
creature hadn't relinquished his hold, and now had a
considerable portion of Sky Lynx's skin.

     Sky Lynx bit.  A glowing ichor spilled out of the
monster's  midsection.  Then when the Autobot had chewed it
in half, he let it drop to the floor.  He picked off the
other four or five in the same manner.

     Claws dug into his legs.  "Where did they all come
from?" he cried.  He lunged at where the creature's head
should be--and there wasn't.  The thing holding on to his
leg was a half a creature.

     Sky Lynx looked down.  All the body parts were still
moving. Arms, legs, bodies, heads, and tails thrashed around
in a growing lake of glowing blood.  Sky Lynx chewed on them
more, but it was no good.  Even in small pieces, they still
attacked.  And they were quickly becoming too many.

     Sky Lynx did all he could.  Small pieces began to slide
down his throat, and he gagged.

     His throat--

     There was nothing else to do.  He scooped up the
biggest pieces and swallowed them.  He felt strangely
invigorated, even as the glowing blood spilled out the
corners of his mouth and dribbled down his neck.

     Glowing blood?  That was no blood!  It was energon! 
The last of Sky Lynx's distaste fell away, and he slurped up
the stuff from the ground, along with the still-active
pieces of the creatures.

     Soon, there were none left.  Sky Lynx looked around for
Chameleon.

     He found her.  She was lying spreadeagled on the floor,
her tail and one wing still covering the puma, with not a
movement.  Her head, legs, and belly were badly marred and
scratched.  The acid from the monsters' claws was slowly
eating through her skin.

     In fact, it already had.  As Sky Lynx rotated her head,
he saw that a particularly deep gash had exposed her
braincase.

     Her braincase.  She may be dead.

     "Chameleon."

     Nothing.

     "Chameleon."

     She didn't move.

     "Chameleon!"  Sky Lynx kicked her this time, trying to
force her to rise.  A creature with her propensities
couldn't be dead. It wasn't right.

     What was he saying?

     Sky Lynx shook his head and kicked her shoulder again. 
Primitives almost always responded to violence.  If they
didn't, they'd be dead very quickly.

     Chameleon moved.  "You're alive!" exclaimed Sky Lynx.
     She managed to get to her feet.  But her head dangled
uselessly from the end of her neck.

     She transformed into two birds, a turtle, and a snake. 
All were in fairly bad condition, but the snake didn't even
move.

     "Chameleon, can you understand me?" Sky Lynx asked. 
Maybe one of her other heads could function as well as the
dragon head had.

     The turtle head nodded.  "I must rearrange my heads,"
she said.  The turtle walked over to the inert snake.

     The snake's head split in half, and came off.  The
turtle's head came off as well, and popped on to the snake's
body.  The turtle's hind legs popped off, joined together,
and became another head.  Then the two halves of the snake
head became the turtle's hind legs.

     This was fascinating.  "How many heads do you have?" he
asked.

     The turtle head on the snake body pondered.  "Six," she
responded.

     Six heads?  No wonder Chameleon was so bloody hard to
kill!

     The two birds, snake, and turtle recombined into the
dragon. Now the two halves of the dragon's head were
Chameleon's upper forelegs.  Sky lynx was impressed.

     Impressed?  Come on!  She was a Decepticon, inferior to
Sky Lynx in every way.  But then he thought of the
interchangeable heads.  Well, almost every way.  To cover up
the effect his thoughts had on him, he took the lead and
moved ahead.

*    *    *

     It was smooth moving for miles and miles. 
Occasionally, small cracks would open in the floor to
reveal...nothing.  A black void.  Chameleon pushed several
large rocks (huge boulders, to humans) through the cracks,
but neither dragon could hear them hit bottom.

     The cracks began to open wider.  Soon, it was necessary
to jump them.  Chameleon transformed to a large bird and a
flying snake (an altogether odd creature), so that with the
lesser weight she could jump across more easily.

     Soon, however, the gaps became too wide to be jumped. 
They had to resort to flying, which, in the close quarters
of the corridor, was extremely draining.

     Then, there was more void than floor.  And soon, by
some unknown mechanism, there were islands of rock in a sea
of void.

     Chameleon stopped to think.  "I have an idea," she
said.  She transformed again.  Now the length of her tail
had joined her neck, and she stretched that to its furthest,
reaching her head across to the next island.  "Walk across,"
she said from the other end.

     A bridge.  "How intriguing!" Sky Lynx exclaimed
involuntarily.  Then he clamped his jaws shut.  Don't
compliment a Decepticon!

     But Chameleon said, "It's not that great," she said. 
"I'm still weak and stupid and clumsy."

     Sky Lynx didn't agree with that opinion, but he walked
on.

     The corridor of crevasses was interminable.  Chameleon
stopped talking.  Soon, her neck began to sag.

     As Sky Lynx walked across, he heard her neck creak. 
Her neck and tail (which formed the bridge) were built to be
flexible, not rigid, and as the joints were quickly
weakening.

     Finally, the inevitable happened.  The chasm was a wide
one, and Chameleon had little purchase on the rock.  As soon
as Sky Lynx stepped on the bridge, she collapsed.  Her head
snapped up as she shrieked, but the momentum of her fall
cracked it against the stone with a resounding thud.  Sky
Lynx fired his thrusters to stay in the air, but Chameleon
plummeted, unconscious.  Her head had been knocked hard, and
she made no effort to check her fall.

     "No, you don't, gamesman!" cried Sky Lynx.  He turned
about and dove.  He soon caught up with her, as she wasn't
aiding her descent with her thrusters.  He took hold of one
wing with his claws and hauled.  Chameleon cried out in pain
as his claws dug into her wing, but Sky Lynx had no choice.

     But the wing wasn't made for that sort of strain.  It
began to tear off at the joint.  Chameleon fell again as Sky
Lynx released his hold.  He dove, and caught her neck with
his teeth, and her belly and legs with his.  To be extra
careful, he wound his tail around hers.

     Chameleon was heavy.  It took a minute for Sky Lynx to
reverse his direction, and another ten to pull them both
back up.  He collapsed, exhausted.  Chameleon was shaking
uncontrollably --it seemed the combination of concussion,
fall, and wounding had scared her terribly.  Sky Lynx gave
her a once-over, and shook his head.  She didn't look good. 
Even if she made it out of this  "game" alive, It was
possible that she wouldn't live much longer.  Sky Lynx
picked himself up, sighed, looked back, and trod on, his
head hanging low.

     "Giving up?" boomed the mysterious voice.

     "Never!" shouted Sky Lynx.

     The strange voice laughed.  "You have gotten yourself
remarkably close to the end," it commented.  "But what is
ahead could easily be worse than what is behind."

     A light flickered in the cavern ahead, and then burst
into a bonfire.  Sky Lynx's jaw dropped.

     The cavern ahead had spikes jutting out at all angles. 
And, impaled on those spikes were--

     Sky Lynx walked up to them.  Sparkshot.  Rai.  Seranda. 
Shillik.  He recognized them all.  All had been his friends
at one time or another, but had disappeared, presumably
killed by Decepticons.  He remembered others who had
disappeared.  "Flare.  Shaddick.  Where are they now?" he
mumbled.

     "Oh, there were more," the gamesman said.

     "Where are they?" Sky lynx asked between clenched
teeth.

     "They met with an unfortunate end," said the voice.  "I
was a little angry when they won."

     Sky Lynx couldn't believe it.  Some had survived, and
this gamesman had killed them for it?  "And what of us?" he
cried.

     "Oh, I was younger, then.  I am not struck by such fits
of anger any longer.  But you will have to pay a price for
winning."

     "And what is that price?"

     "Do you think I would tell you?" it asked.

     Sky Lynx couldn't figure out what he could do.  he
decided that he would have to consult with Chameleon, and
that both of them were going to survive this "game", no
matter who was supposed to be on which side of the war.

     "Chameleon.  Please wake up, Chameleon!"

     She whimpered, but she managed to bring her neck up.

     "Sky Lynx...what are you doing here?" she managed to
mumble.  "I am...a coward.  I was too scared...to even save
myself..."  She shook terribly.  Apparently the shock of
damaging two of her heads had gotten to her.

     Sky Lynx explained the situation ahead of them.  "I was
wondering if you had any ideas," he asked.  "I'm having
problems coming up with anything."

     "He said we were near the end," Chameleon mumbled.

     "Yes.  Apparently all we have to do is clear this final
obstacle," Sky Lynx replied, trying to sound lighthearted. 
It came out panicky.

     "Use your thrusters...if it is the end, then it cannot
be far..."

     "But what of you?" asked Sky Lynx.

     "The gamesman said that there was a price for winning. 
It could be anything....I will make sure you know what it
is."

     "How?" Sky Lynx asked.

     "First, you will probably need...more fuel than you
have..."  Chameleon unscrewed her forefoot socket.  "Take my
reserve."

     "I can't--"

     "Do it!" growled Chameleon.  "I am dying anyway!"

     Sky Lynx didn't see that he had a choice.  He, too,
unscrewed one of his forefeet, and took a small amount of
fuel from Chameleon, almost all that was left after the long
struggle.

     "Gamesman!" shouted Chameleon, somehow making her voice
seem stronger.

     "Yes?" responded the voice.

     "I think that the Autobot will make it to the end.  I
offer a wager...If he does not make it, you get your
enjoyment, we both die.  Correct?"

     "Correct," chuckled the voice.

     Sky Lynx didn't like the sound of this, but didn't
interrupt.

     "If he makes it, I offer myself as a price for his
winning.  You repair me, I will serve you...whether it be as
a slave or as another obstacle in this game."

     "Why do you make this wager, Decepticon?"

     "I will die if he doesn't make it and perhaps I could
have lived if he did...but if he somehow managed to get me
to the end, whatever price must be paid would probably be
too great.  Even if I did make it back to the Decepticons, I
serve them as a slave, anyway...I have nothing to lose."

     "That is your reasoning?"

     "Yes."

     "Fine.  I accept your wager.  Continue, Autobot; the
Decepticon is mine."

     Sky lynx watched helplessly as Chameleon vanished.

     "Chameleon!" he cried.

     No response.  She was gone.

     This was too much, entirely too much.  Sky Lynx was
lost, frustrated, and now incredibly angry.

     He went berserk.

     Firing his thrusters, he rocketed out of the chasm and
toward the tunnel of spikes.  They began to close in slowly,
but Sky Lynx paid them no attention, not even as they ripped
off his skin.  He roared and bathed the tunnel ahead of him
with fire.

     "You're not going to get me!"  he shouted crazily. 
"No!  No!  Not I!  I am too powerful!  I am Sky Lynx!"

     Then, abruptly, the spikes disappeared.  A burst of
light hit him.  "Farewell, Autobot!" shouted the voice
behind him.  "You are one of but a few to survive!  You have
entertained me well!"

     In front of him, there were mountains.  Sky Lynx turned
around, and headed back the way he had come.  He sailed over
a ridge, and Autobot City burst into view.

     He saw Ultra Magnus below him, and turned to land.  He
managed a seven-point crash, with wings, head, tail, and all
limbs except one that had been torn off in the spike tunnel
raking the ground.

     "Sky Lynx!  What happened?" shouted Ultra Magnus,
running towards the smoky ruin of the dragon.

     "I made it--" Sky Lynx cried, "but she was better than
I.  Better than I!"

--FIN--
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