Beast Wars is the first and second episode of the Beast Wars TV series.
In an unknown star system, a transwarp portal opens, releasing two starships, a fleeing Predacon warship and a pursuing Maximal vessel. Already carrying the scars of battle, both ships immediately open fire upon each other. On the Maximal ship, a youthful crewmember reports on their damaged condition, in response to which another crew member bitterly complains about their non-combat exploration vessel not being cut out for this mission. Their commander, Optimus Primal, states that they were the only ship in range capable of intercepting the fugitives.
On the fleeing Predacon starship, the first officer urges his leader, Megatron, to finish off the Maximals while their opponents' shields are down. Megatron arrogantly rebuffs this suggestion, preferring to toy with his opponents. A broadside attack cripples their enemies' engines and causes significant damage to their stasis hold. Optimus Primal orders the Maximals' cargo of stasis pods be released into safe orbit before firing the forward plasma cannons, strafing the Predacons' hull. With no engines, both ships are caught in the planet's gravitational pull and plummet to its surface.
Both ships are non-flightworthy after their crashes. The Maximals have landed on a cliff above a lake; the Predacon warship has landed smack in the middle of the ash-hardened opening of an active shield volcano. The Predacon computer informs Megatron that their location is unknown, as while the course settings were accurate, the readings were not consistent with what was to be expected of the location. Dismissing this for the time being, Megatron demands to know if the mysterious planet has energon, which the computer confirms to his elation. However, it warns that there is so much energon that prolonged exposure would permanently damage their robot modes. Declaring that they will take the forms of the most powerful creatures on the planet, Megatron orders his science officer to scan for local lifeforms which they could adapt as alternate modes to survive on this world. The Predacon ship launches a drone, scanning the fossils of a Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, and Pteranodon, as well as a living spider and wasp.
At the cliff, the Maximals have the same idea, scanning a gorilla, rat, rhino and cheetah. The Maximals check out their new forms and bicker amongst themselves, till Optimus Primal orders the crew to moderate their conflict circuits, reminding them that their new beast forms are to protect them from the long-term effects of the abundant energon fields: While they need energon for power, their robot modes will short out after a few minutes of exposure. Optimus notes that they are on a very unusual planet, wherever it is. Rhinox points out that the transwarp drive allows them to journey through space and time, so they could be in any place, any time. Optimus expresses concern about the stasis pods in orbit, as it means the Maximals are outnumbered.
Back at the other crash site, the Predacons are testing out their new beast modes, bar one. First officer Dinobot, studying the Golden Disk he and his cohorts had stolen, is furious, declaring that this world cannot be Earth. He accuses Megatron of failure, both in battle against the Maximals and in failing to guide them to the right planet. Megatron laughs off Dinobot's accusations, and has Scorponok blast the aggressive Dinobot over the horizon. Megatron informs the other Predacons that it doesn't matter which planet they are on, as they had come looking for energon to fuel their war with the Maximals, and this planet is rich with it. Megatron dispatches his crew to seek out and destroy their enemies.
Meanwhile, the Maximals are surveying the land around them and cleaning up the wreckage on the Axalon. Rattrap complains about all the fuss over the Golden Disk, but Optimus Primal reminds him that the Disk is Cybertron's most closely guarded relic, a guide to a major source of energon, which is why Megatron stole it. Rattrap doesn't care, retorting they were supposed to be performing deep-space exploration and that it isn't his job to chase after criminals. He sarcastically speculates on Primal's readiness to handle a command position. Optimus further reminds him of the Great War, noting that if the Predacons are able to secure a massive source of energon, they wouldn't hesitate to start a new one. Rattrap isn't convinced.
Deciding to show off (and goof off), Cheetor gives chase to two cheetahs running on the plains near the ship. Optimus tries to call him back, but the energon radiation severely limits the range of their communications equipment.
Some distance away, Cheetor's two cheetah buddies are freaked out by a rather large wasp. Realizing it's a Robot in Disguise, Cheetor transforms and fires unprovoked. The Predacon Waspinator transforms and retaliates. Back at the Axalon, the other Maximals move out to give Cheetor backup, with Rhinox ramming his way through a pile of boulders to speed their progress. Waspinator manages to get the better of Cheetor when the Maximal's rifle jams, but fortunately, the other Maximals have arrived by then. Unfortunately, Megatron and the Predacons have arrived as well.
Optimus Primal tries to convince Megatron to not engage in hostilities, as the Maximals and Predacons have been at peace for centuries. Megatron spits back that while the Maximals may have been at peace, the Predacons, like all enemies who appear "peaceful," were merely biding their time. The Predacons have never forgotten their goal of galactic conquest, but were merely waiting for the right time to strike.
Both sides transform, and the battle is joined. As the Maximals seek cover, Cheetor is blasted by one of Scorponok's missiles and ends up with his leg trapped under a boulder. Optimus Primal orders Rattrap to assist Cheetor while he provides cover fire, but Rattrap flatly refuses to risk his life for anybody else, to Optimus' anger. The Maximal leader flies to Cheetor's position himself but is hit by Predacon fire, much to Rattrap's smug delight. Nonetheless, Optimus manages to free Cheetor while Rhinox "persuades" Rattrap to help provide the pair with cover fire. With the Predacons now seeking cover of their own, the Maximals make their escape. Megatron orders pursuit, but he and his Predacons succumb to the effects of the energon buildup and are forced to revert to beast mode.
On the way back to base, Optimus Primal chews out Rattrap for disobeying a direct order, explaining to the petulant Maximal that he could have given better cover fire, an explanation which Rattrap accepts rather grudgingly. Cheetor notes that they seem to have escaped the Predacons. Primal isn't sure, as the Golden Disk theft reports indicated there were six Predacons, but they only encountered five in the previous battle.
They don't have to wait long. Dinobot appears, barring their way across a stone bridge to the Axalon. Dinobot states that he has left the Predacons to join the Maximals... as leader. He challenges Optimus Primal to a one-on-one battle, with the winner to lead the Maximals, the loser to be destroyed!
Dinobot challenges Optimus Primal to mortal combat for the leadership of the Maximals. Rhinox wonders if the rest of them get a say, while Rattrap is indifferent and Cheetor offers to nail the Predacon himself. Optimus tries to talk sense to Dinobot, saying he's welcome to join the group, but not as leader. Dinobot is unimpressed; the two duel. Rattrap has to restrain Cheetor from joining in. Primal knocks Dinobot down, and the Predacon tells him to finish the job, but Optimus refuses, and Dinobot responds by blasting him, almost sending the Maximal leader over the edge. Dinobot helps him back up, stating that Primal slipped and that winning the fight that way would not have been honorable.
As they continue to fight, Megatron and his crew arrive, taking the chance to attack both combatants. Primal transforms to beast mode, pulling Dinobot out of the way of the missiles, but leaving the pair dangling over the ravine. Dinobot begins suffering from energon buildup, and pleads with Optimus to let him fall so that Optimus might save himself, but Optimus naturally refuses. The pair is saved at the last moment by Rhinox. This is the signal for another attack from the Predacons, which takes out the rock bridge. The Maximals (bar Rattrap, who has to be saved by Optimus) reach the other side of the bridge in time.
Megatron takes his frustrations out on Terrorsaur, but Scorponok points to where some of the Predacon missiles have struck a mountain, unveiling a massive cache of energon crystals. The Predacons set out for the mountain, but they're spotted heading for the energy crystals by the Maximals. Rhinox and Rattrap are ready to scrap Dinobot before starting out, but Optimus stops them. They set out for the mountain as well, though Rattrap is less than impressed with the news that Dinobot is coming too.
En route, Rhinox suggests Optimus fly ahead using his jets, but Primal believes there's strength in numbers. They spot a strange stone circle, obviously artificially built, but are interrupted in their discussion by the arrival of Terrorsaur and Waspinator. Optimus takes to the air and scares them off with a missile. As the two Predacons flee, Dinobot fires on them with his optical lasers, inadvertently blasting the ledge above them. Rhinox is forced to leap aside as a boulder comes crashing down on him, and Rattrap accuses him of intentionally trying to slag Rhinox. Optimus orders him to stand down.
The Predacons arrive at the mountain, though as Tarantulas points out, the energy will force them to remain in their beast modes. The Maximals arrive at roughly the same time, and both sides eye each other across a pass through the top mountain. After the prerequisite speech from Megatron, both sides charge and begin tearing into one another in beast form. Despite biting a chunk out of Optimus, Megatron is thrown aside and, as a last desperate gamble, transforms and fires a missile on Optimus. Dinobot throws himself between the pair, knocking the missile with his tail and saving Primal, but the missile begins a chain reaction. Both teams quickly flee.
As the Maximals watch the resultant explosions, Dinobot explains that his actions are payment of a debt—he owed Primal his life; now they are even. Primal says that's good enough for the moment, and proclaims that the Beast Wars have begun.