During Season 2 of "Beast Wars," the show took on a noticeably darker tone. It was the first time (aside from Transformers: the Movie) that Transformers had had to deal with real death. I knew we were in for it when in the first few minutes of the first episode of that season, the Predacons called Scorponok and Terrorsaur met their collective demise in a pit of lava. It's not hard to see, then, that when you've got death, those who cause death can't be very far behind. Rampage was one of the latter.
Rampage began life as something of a science project being conducted by Maximal scientists. The goal of the experiment was an attempt to clone the indestructible spark of the Decepticon lieutenant-commander Starscream. Luckily -- or perhaps unluckily -- they succeeded, and "Protoform X" was born. X would have done his father proud; he was cunning, treacherous, and very deadly. Here, however, is where the acorn doesn't just fall from the tree, it blasts off into the stratosphere. Unlike Starscream, X didn't care about himself. He had no higher ideology to which he dedicated his life. He had no desire for personal glory. He didn't even want to dethrone the leader of his faction and take his place! No, X didn't really care about much of anything...except for fear. X lived on the fear he instilled into his victims...he was a fear junkie. The best way to instill fear, of course, is to destroy entire civilizations. X did just that on the Omicron Colony. For this most unpardonable crime, X was brought before a tribunal. His captor, Depth Charge, had been the sole survivor of the Omicron massacre and petitioned for his destruction. Having an indestructible spark made this rather impossible, though, and the Maximal elders decided that X ought to be put into stasis lock and stored in a stasis pod on the exploratory vessel known as the Axalon. The Axalon's mission was to drop the pod off on the most uninhabitable, distant, and deserted planet they could find. Megatron's flight from Cybertron into destiny put that on hold for a while, though.
Rampage made his first appearance about halfway through the second season. His stasis pod crashed onto prehistoric Earth and he was accidentally set loose after an energon surge triggered the DNA scanning equipment on his pod. X's pod scanned a crab of some sort and he adopted a huge beast mode with an intermediate vehicle mode that allowed him to transform into a large tank. Megatron took it upon himself to induct X -- now known as Rampage -- into the Predacons. To this end, he fashioned a blade of pure energon and cut Rampage's spark in half. He kept his half in a little squeeze-box that he gently applied pressure to when he felt as if Rampage wasn't minding his manners.
"The darkness of its spark echoes my own...it belongs with me!"
Every indestructible beast has its weakness. Rampage was no different. Rampage's weakness came in the guise of a deformed, half-undeveloped, vaguely female (and implicitly retarded) Maximal protoform he dubbed Transmutate. The stasis pod in which Transmutate crashed to Earth was badly damaged. Megatron sent Inferno to claim it, but he was met en route by Silverbolt and rendered unconscious. When Rampage arrived on the scene, the pod was near self-destruction, but sensed its strength (saying "another like me, perhaps?") and managed to coax the protoform out of its shell. Although the Maximals (aside from Silverbolt) and Megatron were less than impressed with the rather freakish addition, Rampage saw it and breathlessly proclaimed "magnificent." Throughout the course of the episode, Rampage and Silverbolt struggled for control of the twisted creature called Transmutate. Megatron called deemed it "useless" and Optimus Primal thought it to be a "danger." Rampage pressed Megatron to give it a chance, however, and he relented. If it failed, however, it was to be destroyed. The Maximals eventually apprehended Transmutate and took it to their base for analysis. When Optimus Primal said it needed to be put into stasis lock, Silverbolt went ballistic and went off to brood. Rampage managed to (telepathically?) contact Transmutate and it left the Axalon to be with its friend. Silverbolt went off after it and the two began fighting. Unfortunately, Transmutate was caught in a crossfire of Silverbolt's grenades and Rampage's missiles and it was destroyed. Rampage cradled its shattered frame in his arms as it weakly said "I...am...hurt..." and died. The only thing the sociopathic mass-murderer ever loved was gone. (It was really a rather touching episode, but unfortunately it was never referenced again.)
The Beginning of the End
Season 3 saw the introduction of Rampage's arch-nemesis Depth Charge. His sole reason for existence was the destruction of Protoform X. Rampage was more than happy to accomodate the warlike tendencies of his "old friend" and the battled it out every chance they got. Hoping to rebuild his somewhat scattered army (Tarantulas was on his own and Blackarachnia had defected), Megatron took the other half of Rampage's immortal spark and used it to create a clone of his long-dead ex-lieutenant Dinobot. This new Dinobot possessed none of the honor or virtue of his predecessor. Infuriated by the recycling of half of his spark, Rampage and Dinobot often got into scrapes with one another. Any time Dinobot felt Rampage was out of line, he just gave his chest a little squeeze and straightened him out. Starscream would have been proud of both of his cruel sons.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Rampage was killed in a self-sacrificial move by Depth Charge in the second-to-last episode of the series. The two were fighting underwater when they happened upon a patch of unstable, raw energon crystals. Siezing the opportunity, Depth Charge took one and slammed it into Rampage's spark, obliterating them both. Rampage's other half, Dinobot, regained the nobility his namesake had possessed and (through the sacrifice of his own life) was instrumental in bringing down Megatron and ending the Beast Wars.
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