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Fanfic / A Child Shall Lead Them

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"Arise, Pterodactus Prime…"

This page is for the Transformers fanfic. For the trope, go here.

A Transformers: Generation 1 Alternate Universe fic by Kenya Starflight, taking place during the events of The Transformers: The Movie. The fic diverges from canon at the point of Optimus Prime’s death, though the plot roughly parallels events of the movie.

After the battle at Autobot City, a dying Optimus Prime tries to pass the Matrix, and with it the mantle of leadership, to Ultra Magnus. The Matrix, it seems, has other ideas as to who should lead next, and through a seemingly chance coincidence the Matrix ends up in the hands of one of the least likely candidates imaginable – the Dinobot Swoop, now called Pterodactus Prime. Needless to say, this doesn’t go over well for anyone – the Autobots, the Dinobots, or Swoop himself.


Fic can be found here on, here on DeviantArt, or here on Archive of Our Own.

This fanwork provides examples of:

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: While not the Trope Namer, an example. The Dinobots are younger than the rest of the Autobots in both the physical sense (roughly twenty years old as opposed to millions of years) and the mental sense (they think more like children). Thus, Swoop qualifies.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Pterodactus big time, though the other Dinobots put up with their share as well.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Cyclonus and Scourge chase Wheelie down… only to run smack into four of the Dinobots in the process. Scourge's response:
    Scourge: "You distract them, I'll go for help." *runs*
  • Author Appeal: The Dinobots, Swoop especially, get a lot of screen time in this fic, and their actions and issues drive most of the plot. The Last Unicorn also gets a lengthy, and surprisingly plot-relevant, quote.
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  • Berserk Button: Do NOT talk trash about the Dinobots in Swoop's presence.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Swoop is the most laid-back and friendly of the Dinobots… but don't push him, or make fun of his brothers. Just don't.
    • Further, while Swoop might be the nice Dinobot, he's still a Dinobot. He's larger and stronger than most of his peers even before getting the Matrix.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Grimlock, though he has shades of Drill Sergeant Nasty in there as well.
  • Break Them by Talking: Unicron pulls this on Pterodactus during his "Leave Your Quest" Test, trying to turn him against the Autobots. He almost breaks him, but when Unicron tries to bring the other Dinobots into it he goes too far…
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The Autobots' distrust of the Dinobots isn't totally unjustified (they are more violent and abrasive than most Autobots and have joined Megatron once) nor is the worry that Swoop is too immature to be a good leader. However, as is later pointed out, saying that they're useless and deserving of scorn just because they're Dinobots even after they've tried to be better isn't fair and neither is treating Swoop like he's stupid (immature, naive and not educated in leadership maybe but not stupid).
    • On the one hand, Pterodactus is correct that the Autobots shouldn't have just brushed off a new Prime and told him to do nothing. On the other, the Decepticons had just taken out a beloved leader (Optimus), Swoop was very inexperienced (with the time it would take to train him up to acceptable standards not existing at the moment), and Unicron was in the middle of eating the moon bases. The Autobots not wanting to train Swoop at the moment is understandable for those reasons alone, leaving out their aforementioned distrust of the Dinobots.
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  • Character Development: Swoop starts out confused about his new status and reluctant to be the Autobot leader. As time goes on and he grows more accepting and confident in his role, he starts calling himself Pterodactus rather than Swoop. Later on he even starts referring to himself as “I, Pterodactus” instead of “me, Pterodactus.”
  • The Chosen One: The Matrix chooses its holder, and that Autobot then becomes Prime. Pity for the Autobots that instead of one of their millions-of-years-old veterens, it falls into the hands of Swoop, who's only about twenty.
  • Combat by Champion: Pterodactus fights Wreck-Gar one-on-one to rescue the Autobots.
  • Combat Tentacles: Part of Unicron's internal defense system. Even his spark has them.
  • Enemy Mine: The Dinobots end up teaming up with Galvatron and Cyclonus to escape the Quintessons. Galvatron ends this alliance fairly quickly by literally stabbing Pterodactus in the back. Later Galvatron proposes another team-up to defeat Unicron, but Unicron squelches this almost immediately.
  • Eye Scream: See Ramming Always Works below
  • Fantastic Racism: Most of the Autobots seem to regard beast-formers in general, and the Dinobots in particular, as stupid, violent, and animalistic, to the point where they refuse to accept Pterodactus as a leader despite him being chosen by the Matrix. On the other hand, there is precedent for the mistrust of beast-formers being validated. In the story we encounter the Sharkticons, which are barely more than animals, and the Dinobots themselves aren't that smart, have gone on destructive rampages, and outright became Decepticons once. Further adding to this mess are the Insecticons, who proudly wear the Decepticon logo, and in the following season on the show, we are introduced to more beast-formers such as the Predacons and the Terrorcons, both of whom are Decepticons (with all that implies).
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Turns into this for the climax as the Dinobots and Autobots try to destroy Unicron from within.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While the Autobots are trying to figure out how to react to Pterodactus, the implication is that they don't trust Swoop... which is very valid. As they themselves say, the Dinobots aren't that smart, go against orders frequently, and Swoop had zero command experience before his dramatic transformation. Ultra Magnus even states that while this wouldn't be as much of a problem in peacetime, they're currently in the middle of a war with many of their best officers killed in a surprise attack- they don't have the time or the manpower to train him on the job.
  • Last of His Kind: Kranix, the lone survivor of Unicron's destruction of Lithone. Even he doesn’t last long.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At one point Slag and Sludge are arguing over TV shows, and Slag makes a remark about cartoons being "just stupid shows to sell toys", an obvious dig at the Transformers franchise's Merchandise-Driven nature.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: The climax occurs when Unicron puts Pterodactus through one of these, offering to destroy the Matrix and let Pterodactus return to being Swoop so he can live a normal life. This backfires badly – not only does Pterodactus refuse, he realizes just why Unicron wants the Matrix gone…
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Referenced, but not a pure example
  • Manipulative Bastard: Unicron. Not only does he force Galvatron and his minions to do most of his dirty work, he puts Pterodactus through an emotional and mental wringer during the climax.
  • Mythology Gag: When Hot Rod expresses disbelief at a Dinobot becoming the next Prime, Springer snarks “It could be worse, we could have had YOU as the next Prime.”
    • There's also a couple instances of characters mishearing the name "Unicron" as "unicorn", a common joke in the fandom (and a slight nod to the Transformers: Prime episode "Grill").
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Ultra Magnus brushes Swoop off by telling him that they can't have him involved with the crisis on the Moon Bases because Swoop is too inexperienced. This leads to Swoop eventually declaring that Grimlock is his mentor and second in command of all the Autobots.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Unicron's insistence that the Matrix be destroyed tips Pterodactus off that the Matrix is the key to destroying Unicron.
  • Person as Verb: Grimlock accuses Swoop of "pulling a Starscream" to get his hands on the leadership of the Autobots. Ouch.
  • Ramming Always Works: To gain access to Unicron's interior, Pterodactus orders Snarl and Perceptor to ram their ship through Unicron's optic. Lucky for them, this trope is played straight.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The author, in her notes at the end of the story, states that she got the idea for a “Swoop as a Prime” fic when she was mistaken for Optimus Prime while cosplaying as Swoop.
  • Refused the Call: Swoop gives up the Matrix at one point. It doesn't last.
  • Shout-Out: Wreck-Gar and the Junkions drop lots of these whenever they have lines, including but not limited to *deep breath* The Tonight Show, several of the Star Wars movies, Street Fighter, Taxi Driver, Hawaii Five-O, Superman, Toy Story, The Lord of the Rings, Highlander, The Princess Bride, Fight Club, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Robots, No Retreat, No Surrender, Short Circuit, Aliens, Mortal Kombat, The Godfather, The Last Unicorn, Family Feud, Pocahontas, 300, Moby-Dick, the Leeroy Jenkins Video, Apollo 13, Jaws, and the Apollo 11 landing. The reference to The Last Unicorn ends up furthering the plot as well.
    • Kup name-drops the planet Thyferra, an obscure (yet important- it's the world that makes Bacta, the stuff that healed Luke in "The Empire Strikes Back,") world in the Star Wars universe, at one point.
    • The Junkions' ship is named the A113.
  • So Proud of You: Ratchet and Wheeljack tell Pterodactus this while he's in the Matrix.
  • Space Is Noisy: Played with. When confronting Unicron Perceptor notes that Unicron's roar being audible in space goes against the rules of science. Snarl counters that, as a god, science doesn’t necessarily apply to Unicron.
  • Spiritual Successor: Can be seen as this to the author's other Dinobot fics, The Alone Place and its sequel, Dividing Wall. All three fics share similar elements, such as Swoop being a medic’s apprentice, Snarl being a pilot, and Arcee being one of the few Autobots to stand up for the Dinobots. The mistreatment of the Dinobots and the divide between them and the other Autobots also drives the plot in all three fics.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Averted. When Swoop throws his sword in anger, it hits the wall and bounces off, leaving a gash.
  • The Starscream: While the Trope Namer doesn't appear in this fic due to having been turned to dust by Galvatron offscreen, Grimlock accuses Swoop of being this. Swoop later overhears a conversation where one of the Autobots believes that Swoop deliberately took the Matrix, implying this trope.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: One of the Sweeps actually mutters "This is gonna hurt" when Galvatron's troops realize they've just pissed off the Dinobots.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Pterodactus defeats Wreck-Gar in single combat, getting wounded in the process, to free the Autobots, and how does he get repaid? No thank yous, but instead an instant demand to turn the Matrix over to Ultra Magnus. Cue the What the Hell, Hero? speech.
    • After Pterodactus lets the Decepticons leave Cybertron after they reject his offering of a truce, Cyclonus is absolutely disgusted and is downright angry at the mere possibility he might expect them to return his show of mercy.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Galvatron is Driven to Madness by Unicron's repeated mental attacks during the climax. Unicron himself goes from Manipulative Bastard to screaming in horrified rage when Pterodactus finally unleashes the Matrix on him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Daniel vanishes after the prologue, and Wreck-Gar and his followers vanish after the A113 is destroyed (though it's implied they survived).
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pterodactus delivers an entire speech of this to the Autobots, raking them over the coals for their mistreatment of the Dinobots. It ends up shaming them enough that they finally accept him as their leader.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Comparisons have been made between this fic and The King's Speech. Word of God maintains that this was unintentional.


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