a bit of back story before we begin I am the bigass Autobot and if any of you out there that has read StormBringer I am basically the equivalent of an Autobot Thunderwing and was built by Thunderwing and Bludgeon themselves. and the story takes place in the Shattered Glass Universe I plan on working on a prestory that expalins all this more. Now get to reading hope everyone likes. CHAPTER 1 A white hot flash and then nothing. "Wake up, Decepticon!" Those booming, hate-filled words pierced the blessed dark silence like an energon saber. Before that, she was hopelessly pinned down, out-numbered, out-gunned, and running pathically low on power to all systems. The abrupt end of that indicated to her that she was surely taken offline. She was wrong! The room seemed unnaturally dark. Maybe her optics were still out, she thought. The all-over agony made her wish other systems would have chosen to stay offline, rather than her optics. Slowly and painfully she noticed the two red glowing objects hovering high above her. With sudden realization, those crimson embers registered to her processor. Optics! Autobot optics! Her whole body reacted as any seasoned Decepticon would. In one fluid movement that shot fresh daggers of pain through her entire body, she jumped to her feet in defense mode. The realization of what faced her came at the same time as sarcastic, thunderous laughter from the owner of those optics. "You plan to fight me, oh valiant wounded one?" Her adversary asked snidely, his tone infuriating her. Before her stood one of the largest Autobots she had ever seen. He just stood there, grinning patronizingly at her through the near-total darkness. A quick assessment of her condition further irritated her, for she was running practically on fumes. In painful resignation, she fell to her knees. Back to square one. The Autobot stopped laughing, plunging the room into silence once again. "Why are you here?" The enormous voice shattered the silence after a few moments. It hurt her head to hear the question that she had no answer to. She thought to try to ignore him, but she sensed that he would not accept silence as an answer. With as much annoyance as she could muster, she croaked the only answer she had-- "I have no idea where 'here' is, so you formulate your own answer!" With shocking speed, the Autobot was on her. Before she could react, he grabbed her and lifted her to his face. "Do NOT be flippant with me, She-Con!" He hissed in her face, "Or I'll make this a single-occupant cell!" The close proximity allowed her to scan his mind, and in her weakened state the results of that scan nearly blew out her cranial mechanism. This mind was fractured, exhaust-shaft-deep, and numbingly excruisiating. She stifled a scream, but he knew. He knew she scanned him and he knew it hurt her to do so, yet he allowed it. It amused him. Only one other in recent memory acted this way to her mental intrusions...It was with this realization that she screamed. He threw her scan back at her and laughed at the agony this caused. The last thing she heard before she fell back into unconsciousness was: "Attempt that again and I'll crush you, you vile harpy!" CHAPTER 2 She awakened as to what seemed like an eternity later, but her internal chronometer only registered a few cycles in passage. The feel of the ground beneath her head was a blessing: The Autobot released her unharmed. This Autobot, she thought, was different, quite unlike any other she had faced before. He was cold, filled with loathing, and apparently quite insane. Not something that fool, Optimus Prime, would normally tolerate. She figured it would also be in her best interest to continue to lay still and attempt to process what precious little information she had gleaned from the surface scan of her hostile cellmate's mind. It was quite a mess! Images returned in flashes, and none were classic to a typical Autobot mind-scan. Visions filled with loathing for both Autobots and Decepticons. Two particular Decepticons jumped out at her as being odd in this mech's mind: Bludgeon and Thunderwing. The hatred surrounding these two seemed near-crushing to her! Bludgeon had done unspeakable things to this wretched Autobot, she reckoned, and they had a direct correlation to Thunderwing. Hating these two came natural to her as well, since both Decepticons were notorious, even among their own kind, for being monstrous in nature. Their vast scientific intelligence crossed over into a brand of madness not even Lord Megatron would tolerate! Then there was the other hatred she had picked up on. It was still quite potent but more tempered, and it was toward Autobots. Even Optimus, it seemed, was not immune. There was more to it than that, but it was masked from her by the pain backlash, he had shut her out before much more was gathered on that matter. It was then that she turned her thoughts back to her own present predicament. She still had no idea where she was or how she became imprisoned or who had done the imprisoning. Surely this was an Autobot prison, she reasoned, but her mind could not quite grasp the total truth of the matter. There was more to this than what she was presently able to discern. Nothing would be solved just lying inert on the prison cell floor, but it was not a good idea for her, at this time, to alert her cellmate that she was conscious. CHAPTER 3 The cell was small, entirely too small for him. It almost drove him mad to be locked away like this! Not again! No one would assault him in the same manner as he was assaulted before, in another prison. He was also totally clueless as to who had managed to lock him away without his knowledge. He could not recall being unconscious long enough for anyone to move him into such a situation as he was currently in, but obviously something had occurred or he would not be there. The room was of dimensions he had previously seen, but from the other side of the detainment field. This was, in his mind, an Autobot prison. Why would he be locked in there, after all he was an Autobot? A small sound alerted him to the fact that he was not alone in that cell. His eyes were drawn to the unconscious Decepticon sprawled out unceremoniously on the other side of the room. It made sense that she was here, since he was all too familiar with her and her kind. She was not regular Decepticon military, but she sure was regular Decepticon! All the wanted 'Cons were catalogued in his data-tracks, and she was one of them. Sadly, this log offered little to no information on her affiliation with the regular Decepticon armies, or even her name! She was just listed as "Decepticon Pirate Number 76". This really was no surprise, since it was logged that she was a profiteer and her listed crimes were related to arms-running and general universal and Cybertronian mayhem. He had gathered nearly nothing from her when she intruded upon his mind, since her mental back-shielding prevented him from scanning her. Her mind was designed to be intrusive, he reasoned. When he had lifted her to his face, he noticed that she was equipped with flammable-liquid tanks on her back, and her arm-mounted cannons reeked of that very same liquid. She was, for all intents and purposes, a pyrotechnics expert. Quite suddenly, his thoughts were drawn back to his own wellbeing. His internal antimatter generators kicked on and flooded his system with a fresh supply of energy. Thankfully he had this advantage over his cellmate, for she was running rust-dry. This new-found strength made him toy with the idea of perhaps taking out the detainment field, but the rational side of his mind overrode such an idea. He knew that it would be a waste of energy to attempt, for he was all too aware of who designed those fields and their capacity to hold just about anyone within them. Sooner or later, someone would come and check on them. He would be ready. CHAPTER 4 She laid there, slowly siphoning off minute amounts of her cellmate's growing energy reserves, hoping such tiny sips did not alert him to her conscious status. His energy was quite distasteful to her, antimatter always was, but energy was energy. Any source was better than none at all, she thought. Her major concern was keeping her small thefts from enraging the Autobot. Her mere presence seemed enough as it was. No need to compound the issue! As her systems processed and assimilated this energy, her injuries became glaringly apparent. Her arson-cannon tanks that were mounted on her back had been hit in the fire-fight and their contents drained, leaving her main weapons systems offline. She could switch them over to ion blasters, but doing so would create a backlash effect that the Autobot might construe as a hostile act. Even on her best day, and at full power, he would pose a significant challenge to her. When most of her internal repairs were underway, she felt confident enough to move. "Pilfered enough energy from me, wench?" She had barely fluttered when he hissed at her. Without offering a response, she slowly rose to her feet. The Autobot remained on the other side of the cell, just standing there sneering at her. He's not going to strike, she hoped as she gained her balance. Once she became accustomed to standing, she was able to begin a total assessment of her predicament. Her initial thoughts that this was an Autobot prison proved correct, but for some yet unknown reason, it was different--and not in a good way. A quick scan of the humming detainment field only seemed to further the confusion--the polarity was precisely opposite in composition from any other known Autobot field in her memory banks. "Very odd." She heard herself say aloud. She had not meant to voice that. Her error made her cringe. "Odd indeed!" growled her cellmate from the other side of the room. It was so low that it was almost inaudible to her. She spun around to face the direction of the voice; taking an offensive stance which she was sure he knew was pure bluff. He had, no doubt, taken the opportunity to make sure that she was totally and completely unarmed. He just stood there, watching her, amused contempt all over his face-plate. She loosened her stance when he made no move to attack. Had he wanted to destroy her, he had had ample opportunity to do so while she was incapacitated, yet he did not. This just gets weirder and weirder, she thought to herself, this time making certain that she did not voice her thoughts aloud. CHAPTER 5 "What is your ideas regarding our current situation, Decepticon?" He asked, surprising her with the cordiality of his tone. It was the first time he had spoken words to her without unbridled hostility in his voice. After a moment of silence as she planned her words carefully to return the same tone, she gave the only answer that came to mind. "I have no slaggin' clue, Autobot. No clue at all." He was intrigued with this Decepticon. She was not as he had thought she would be. Most Decepticons he had encountered seemed devoid of civility on any level, and her honest and forthright answer to a question that he also had no answer to was somewhat refreshing. He was glad he did not crush her in the very beginning as he wanted to, for she might be of some assistance to him in their current state. He nearly found himself smiling at the answer she offered to him, but he refrained. He was sure she would take such an act as a sign of weakness and attempt to take advantage of him in some manner. Such was the way of all Decepticons. He would remain a true Autobot, and treat this creature with the same contempt he would for Megatron himself. Still he was fascinated by her. Her attentions remained on the cell door, and on the detainment field itself. He too had assessed the oddity of the energy signatures that it was emitting. It was definitely of Autobot origin, the mechanisms he recognized first off, but they were as she claimed: exactly dead-center opposite from what they should be. He watched her study them without moving from his position, for he was sure she would take the offensive again, and he was not entirely sure she was disarmed. Hours passed with the two of them remaining silent, him in his corner and her milling around the cell, studying every aspect of its construction. As she had completely scanned all the sections that he was not occupying, he was sure she would wish to see the portion he was blocking with his enormous bulk. Slowly, and with great care, he moved a bit without her noticing he was moving. This Decepticon was, if anything, methodical. In those hours, he wondered when someone would come and check on them. It was unlike Autobots to just toss prisoners in a cell and leave them there without at least checking to see if they still functioned. Somewhere in his mind, he was certain that there was something dramatically wrong with the entire situation, something he could not quite pinpoint given his present information. Without warning, the Decepticon quit her exam and flopped unceremoniously on the floor. He surmised that she was beyond frustration and just gave up. Silence became uncomfortable now. A frustrated Decepticon is usually not a welcome thing! It was then she noticed he was watching her. He was not pleased that he let his guard down that much that she noticed. "Got something you wish to say to me, Autobot?" She sniped. She was indeed confounded with the current predicament, and she didn't handle such situations well. She also had issues with prolonged confinement. Prison was not her preferred spot to be stuck in. Suddenly, the Autobot started laughing. He was not entirely sure why he found her so amusing all of a sudden, but he did. Just when she was about to voice her ire at his mockery, sounds of movement came from outside the detainment field. Both went silent and turned to the door. Outside the detainment field, there stood three Cybertronians. They appeared familiar, but something was disturbingly wrong. They were Autobots, yes, but they were different. Their colors were dark, and their insignias were entirely wrong. They were purple! The one in front sneered through the humming field at the two prisoners. "Come to your senses yet, Big Guy?" The mech was staring at the imprisoned Autobot. He was unsettled by these Autobots. They were wrong. They were cold and far from what he was used to in such Cybertronians. Worst of all, their energy was just like the detainment field: Dead-center opposite of their normal output! He met the one that spoke optic-to-optic, and just smiled back. It was a sarcastic smile. He did not want them to know how confused he really was by them; it would serve no purpose to free him. "I had senses to begin with? You obviously do not know me at all!" His sarcasm was stinging, so much so that even his cellmate was a bit taken aback with his tone. The Autobot outside the cell barked orders to the computer, to disengage the field. As soon as the humming wound down, both prisoners, as if of the same mind, rushed the door. CHAPTER 6 The outsiders were taken off-guard. This made the Decepticon happy. There was a chance of escape now! The Autobot was huge and crazy, and recognized that their captors were not of his ilk, even if they wore the same insignia. He literally mowed them down easily and their gunfire merely bounced off him like they were loaded with practice rounds. While the Autobot distracted the captors, the Decepticon took off down the hallway, heading for the lift at the end of the corridor. Her escape seemed achieved. The Autobot will work his way out, she thought, he's a capable soldier. She slammed the controls for the lift-door but it refused to respond, it just made an unsettling sound. It will not respond to her! Without a second thought, she primed the small weapons in the palms of her hands and slammed the controls again. This time, they made a weak beeping sound and then began smoking. The doors slid open! Without looking back to see how the Autobot was faring, the doors of the lift shut behind her and he was gone from sight. We'll meet again, she thought. Of this she was certain. She had no idea where this lift would take her, but she did not care! She was free and she would find out where she was and how to get back to where she needed to be. The lift stopped with a lurch and the doors slid open, revealing the world outside. She was floored. It was Cybertron! Scarred and torn, its surface was as she remembered it the last time she saw it. It was her home, but she had not been back there in hundred of deca-cycles. Without another thought about her surroundings, she sprinted into the Cybertronian darkness. There'd be plenty of time to discern the whens, wheres, and whys later...When she was out of the open! CHAPTER 7 As she ran, she was able to take in some of the things that flew past her. All seemed familiar, yet not. It was as if she had stepped through a mirror and was living in the image, the exact opposite of all she knew. It was a bit unsettling, but she had no time to let it get to her. She needed to find shelter and find it fast! Her captors were not usually inclined to let their prisoners just waltz on out of their facilities without pursuing. She thought of taking to the air, but that would just broadcast her location the nano-klik she left the ground, so continuing on the ground seemed her best option. As the scenery flew past her, she vaguely started seeing semi-familiar landmarks. Everything was so disorientating in its eerie familiar-yet-not-familiar feel. She was indeed within the confines of Iacon, the Autobots central command city, but it felt different. Just when her mind dared to utter the word "comfortable", she shook it off like a bad line of code: There was never comfort in Iacon! Not for her kind! She knew where the exit was out of this city, and headed for it. She was hoping for some return to a less-quirky feeling once she was out of there and back in familiar Decepticon-held territory. * * * * * * CHAPTER 8 These Autobots are firing on me! His thoughts unsettled him and threw his defense off. It had been some time since such a thing had happened. They fought like Decepticons! Suddenly and from everywhere came inhibitor claws, which normally did not affect him, but his confusion left him open to their crippling effects. One of the many that came at him locked onto his gun-arm and suddenly he went weak. His energy levels had not reached optimum levels, he reasoned, and those "toys" had their desired effects. He could no longer stand, they had overcome him! The last moment of consciousness was filled with mocking laughter, Autobots sounding like Decepticons. He could take no more, and darkness reigned. "Bring him online! He needs to see this!" The Autobot awakened to peals of screaming. He instantly recognized the voice. It was his runaway Decepticon cellmate. She fared no better than he did, he thought, as his systems were forced back online by the unseen forces that held him on his knees. As his optics came online, the sight before him was enough to make the white-hot antimatter in his system run cold. They had the she-con, and they were taking her apart! As they taunted her, they blasted her at point-blank range with disruptor prods. Each time brought fresh peals of agonized screaming from her. He had never seen his fellows treat a prisoner this way! It was not how Autobots handled prisoners! He was further confused and disgusted as the doors in front of them slid open and, from them, stepped the leader himself. It was Optimus Prime, and he was laughing! CHAPTER 9 "I heard that screeching four decks up!" He joked as some of those in the room snapped to attention in the presence of their supreme commander. He headed straight for the heart of the crowd that was gathered, right for the torn and shattered Decepticon sprawled on the floor, mech fluid leaking from her in rivulets and pooling around her. "What a pathetic creature!" He said sarcastically as he towered over her. As she groaned in response, Optimus Prime kicked her in the head..HARD! With a small, pathetic squeak, she was silent. He hissed in disgust, and turned his attention to the Autobot, who was silent and staring at the mess on the floor in front of him. "Now, what is YOUR story?" He just froze. This was Optimus Prime in every way, except for what he had just witnessed! The question posed to him was with Optimus' voice, but spoken with the garish and crass tone of Megatron himself. Training kicked in and would say nothing. He suddenly realized that this Optimus was his enemy. It sat like bad energon on every logic circuit he had left! The events of the entire cycle were as if a mirror image of everything he had ever known, a nightmare. He had had enough of nightmares a long LONG time ago! Prime seemed to realize that he would get no answer from the kneeling behemoth in front of him. He turned on his heels and headed back for the door. "Since he chooses not to regale us with his tales, I choose to lock him back up. Take him to 'the rig'. I am sure that'll loosen his vocalizers. And please clean up that Decepticon mess as well!" With that, Prime was gone. She awakened on top of a reeking, leaking pile of Cybertronian corpses. The smell sickened her a bit, but she had far more pressing issues than that to deal with. Her primary repair systems had kicked in, but she was running so low on energy, her secondary repairs were offline. She could hear a bit and her optics were semi-online, but she could manage nothing else. Even her pain receptors were knocked offline, which was a good thing, she thought, because she knew her body was a mess! The silence and the lack of ability to move left her at the mercies of her thoughts. CHAPTER 10 This was indeed Cybertron, of that she had no doubts, but not the Cybertron she could ever recall. Something had happened to her and that Autobot and somehow they ended up in this horrible inside-out version of their own world! If there was a way here, she reasoned, there had to be a way out, and she was going to find it! Question being now was how. There were no clues as to where they had come into this place, so going back the way they came in was not a workable option. After considering the whole thing for a few minutes, there seemed to be only one workable option open to her to at least get started looking for a way out of this upside-down universe; She would have to rescue that Autobot from 'the rig'. He would come in handy. 'The rig' was familiar to her, since she had spent many a mega-cycle locked up in there! She wondered how long that huge Autobot could tolerate its effects, or if such a thing would even work on a mech with onboard energy generators. 'The rig' worked on the premise of slowly draining it's victims of their energy, while interrogators question them. The closer stasis-lock gets, the more apt the prisoner will be to talk. She was familiar with the schematics, and she was confident, even in this whacked-out universe, she could disable it. Suddenly the activating of one of her internal systems drew her undivided attention. Her energy-searching systems had whirred to life suddenly. She knew, though, that it would not find anything compatible. The energon here, she was certain, would be like everything else: Dead-center opposite of what she knew. Such intake could cause a total system backlash that even her obscenely durable spark could not endure without winking out permanently. Just as she was about to command it to shut down, it located something it could use. Immediately, her extraction systems then booted up and hungrily consumed from whatever the source it located and locked onto. She dared not ask for detailed information on the source, for what she found might mentally pollute this unexpected find! The flood of fresh energy to her systems felt wonderful! With only a few nano-kliks into the gathering process, her secondary repair systems engaged, and she wished they hadn't! Her pain receptors came online and reminded her of the right pounding she had taken! It cleared her mind of all other thoughts for a few moments, but quickly faded as those systems got underway with repairs. It was then, after she had taken care of her immediate needs, her mind slipped back into thinking of how to get out of there and return to where she should be! To achieve this, she needed to free that monstrous Autobot. "Damn." she whispered out loud. CHAPTER 11 He knew this device, called by most as merely "The Rig". It was meant as a last-resort means to extract information from prisoners. His Prime would rarely use it at this point in the war. His predecessors, however, had no qualms about using it whenever it suited them. It was one of the things he and his fellow peace activists lobbied against in High Council time and time again. This version of "The Rig" appeared far more used than the one he knew! It was still dripping with its last victim’s mech fluids. Every attempt he had made to free himself from the dozen or so inhibitor claws had proven futile at best, a waste of good energy at the worst. The claws took his antimatter generator offline, so he could not flush his system with enough energy to take care of the problem. As soon as they would hook him to "The Rig", though, would be a different story. It worked only on energon-consuming mechs, as its internal system did not recognize an antimatter generator as standard equipment and would ignore it. He hoped that this system would operate in the same manner, if not as opposite as everything else. As they started up "The Rig", it was suddenly apparent that he would get more than he bargained for! The machine shuttered the instant it was activated. It began smoking and popping all around the Autobot. He could not believe his outstanding luck! The machine had not recognized his systems at all! It began, in its pleasant even-toned computer voice, to count down until total failure. With a flourish, the Autobot blasted off the mechanism and began swinging. Those around him were so in shock that their mechanism was malfunctioning; they were caught painfully off guard, and were easily mowed down. Sadly, his weapons' systems were not yet back online, so he had to do things the old fashioned way: Just stomp on everything that stood between him and the door at the far end of the room. As soon as he reached the door, "The Rig" gave a series of familiar short beeps and a click, and then it detonated. The whole room went white-hot and the heat backlash threw the enormous Autobot totally free of the room and into the wall across the hallway. "Convenient!" he said to himself, yet aloud. He stood and bounded through the hole he had created in the wall. CHAPTER 12 He knew he had precious little time before the entire Autobot army in Iacon would be hunting for him. It would not behoove him to really run from the city, for they would just recapture him as they had done to that Decepticon, and probably take a lesson from their last attempt and just destroy him outright. This Cybertron was obviously not HIS Cybertron, he reasoned. Both he and that Decepticon female had been inadvertently tossed through a spatial rift of a sort and into some negative-image of their universe. Those were rare, but hardly unheard of. He knew some theories on such a situation, and the chances of returning to one's home-dimension were quite rare as well, and there was a catch to doing so as well. Whatever you came in with, you had to leave with or the fabric of the universe might fray. The nightmares that would cause would not be on his hands! He had to relocate that Decepticon and drag her broken, offline carcass with him until he found the way home. It was then that he discovered the one drawback to being the size he was: There was just no place to hide! He still was not being pursued, so he had some time. Just as he thought that, though, the overhead claxons began screaming. There went his window of opportunity! The only thing he though to do was to attempt to hide in the shadows for as long as he could and wait for the chance to get into the lower sections of the city, where the smelters would be located. Even in this strange world, they would still locate such a facility in the city's bowels, and surely that would be where they would have tossed that Decepticon's corpse. Best starting point to search for her, he thought. How ironic, he mused to himself, that he'd actually NEED a Decepticon for assistance! It was even more amusing that even an offline one would serve his purpose! CHAPTER 13 He saw many groups fly past his location, in full-on pursuit mode, but evidently his systems would just as unreadable to these search teams as they were to their torture device! As he waited, his internal antimatter generators did their job, managing to get him into a position to at least defend himself. It did indeed feel good to have his weapons' systems come back online! He hoped he could get by without having to use them, but the charge on them was a small comfort all the same. His chronometer ticked off a good amount of time after he saw the last search team pass before he decided it was safe enough to move. As it so happened, the shadows quite adequately shielded his movements all the way to what he assumed could only be the smelting facility. For once this day, his luck seemed to have fallen through: The main door was double-guarded! He began to prime his weapons, for he would surely have to use them to get through that door. As he took aim, the wall suddenly and violently exploded...from the inside out! He darted back into the shadows to watch this unforeseen situation play out. The smoke and flames quickly cleared enough to reveal a scene that very nearly sent him into a fit of laughter. Surrounded by smoking piles of rubble and twisted metal, stood that female Decepticon! And, to his benefit, she had not seen him! Without hesitation, she started to run from the destruction that she obviously wrought. She found it amusing that these idiots thought a smelter would surely end her! Her internal laughter was cut short by an enormous hand that scooped her up and into the shadows. "Good to see you too, Big Guy!" She told the owner of the hand, that Autobot. "Silence wench!" He hissed at her, "You've, no doubt, brought the whole damned city down on us now!" With his quarry silenced and in-hand, he quickly and quietly slunk from the scene before reinforcements arrived. CHAPTER 14 To her surprise, the Autobot managed to get them out of Iacon without incident. She was also quite surprised at his ability to shadow-lurk, considering how gigantic he was! Even through the Autobot's crushing grip, she was able to see the near-total destruction that was this Cybertron outside of Iacon's limits. There would be no way those horrid mech could find them out here, with all this devastation! It was also obvious to her that the Autobot realized this as well, but he seemed to want to put as much distance between themselves and the city as quickly as possible. After what seemed like an eternity, the lumbering Autobot finally slowed to a stop. It was only then did he acknowledge the mech that he had tightly gripped in his hand. "Do you know where we are now, Decepticon?" His question was quite civil and seriously posed, and quite worthy of a respectful answer, she thought. "It's Cybertron." She mirrored his tone. "But not OUR Cybertron. Somehow we seemed to have been heaved through some sort of dimensional rift....Kind of like a space-bridge malfunction." She was right. It was EXACTLY like a space-bridge malfunction! Problem being then, he pondered, was that space-bridge technology was a very well-kept Decepticon secret and all the information he had was from precious little recon done on the matter. It appeared he had yet another reason to need this Decepticon. The very idea was just downright irritating, but now was not the time to let that get to him. "Now that we've established the "wheres" involved here, we now have the issue of how to get out of this...MESS." Just as she was about to say something, his grip painfully re-tightened and he craned his head skyward. She took the cue and remained silent. It took her a moment to realize what had caught his attention: a group of aircraft on a direct approach vector! The Autobot froze momentarily, as if at a loss as to what to do, but suddenly he threw himself face-down on the ground, gripping her tightly. She then understood his maneuver: A dead target is a non-target! She laid there as quietly as she could, hoping that this ruse of his would work, which it did. The aircraft just flew over uneventfully, but she did get a glimpse of what appeared to be Decepticon insignias on their wings....RED insignias! Oh, why not, her mind fumed. Everything else here is backwards and inside-out, why not that too?? After the close-call, the two out-of-place Cybertronians remained in that spot until the darkness was once again total, for it was not safe to move until then. Neither one had the slightest clue as to what to say to one another. He was obviously hard-line Autobot and she was just as obviously Decepticon, and they were obliged by these facts to feel nothing but hate for each other. They had stumbled through the decimated landscape for some time before she could tolerate the silence no longer. "Where ARE we going?" She asked, her tone was far more snippy and frustrated than she had really wanted to sound. She expected to be handled roughly for such, but he chose to ignore her totally and remain silent, trudging on through the night-cycle. Understanding his silence, she quietly followed him. If she was to get home, she needed to stick with the Autobot. He was the only worthwhile and reliable power source she could pick up in the entire radius of her scanning capabilities. Somehow something about his power source rang bells in her central processor. She felt the key to this nightmare's end was directly related to that Autobot's antimatter generator, but the particulars were not yet clear. Just a slagging hunch, she fumed to herself. She hated those! There was no logic, no reason in hunches, just a feeling in her spark chamber. She usually went with feelings, but when it came to situations such as this, her logic circuits proved more truthworthy than her feelings. There was truth in what Lord Megatron tells her about herself: She is quite insane, yet a surprisingly capable strategist. To most, that makes little sense, until they see it in action. No matter how she tried to put off this loathed hunch, it kept weighing on her, pushing her to consider it over and over again as the most viable option of escape. Damned inactivity, making her think so much! CHAPTER 15 A chime from her internal computer caught her attention, which she was glad for, it gave her something else more sensical to consider. Her secondary repairs had automatically switched her weapons' systems over to ion blasters and had charged her weapons to full. She was not a fan of that system, but since she could not locate the ingredients for her "arson-cannon fluid" (she made it herself from her own private recipe), it was her only option for being armed. Even through the mild distaste for it, it did indeed feel more comforting to be weapons-active again! Suddenly, her footing gave way and she fell through a weak spot on the surface. Stifling a scream, she quickly hit bottom, and hit hard! "Nice move!" The Autobot half-joked as he looked down the hole at her. "They teach you Decepticons to fall with such grace!" She hissed some obscenity as she gingerly regained her footing. The cavern she fell into was pitch-black, save for the dim light streaming in through the hole she created. This weak light-source was enough to give her a shadowy look around the room--she almost squealed in delight! Her luck could not have been better, considering her situation! Her poor mis-step deposited her quite unceremoniously into an abandoned space-bridge port! "I think you had better get your monstrous ass down here!" she called to her partner above. "I believe what's down here might just get us home!" For the first time since this whole fiasco began, she felt a glimmer of hope! Milling around the room, she found the old relic of a space-bridge to be surprisingly intact, save for a few small, yet significant, items--one being its main power source. The control panel was even surprisingly similar to the one she had worked with during her training. Thank The Pit for online date-tracks she had stored from way back then! It was as if she was at full strength as she flew around the chamber, gathering the bits and pieces of the decrepit machine and re-assembling them as her memories dictated. She did not even seem to notice her erstwhile partner enter from somewhere above. He just wished to stay out of her way! He knew nothing of the mechanics of a space-bridge, nor did he even wish to. She seemed perfectly capable of putting some resemblance of order to it without his inept assistance. Within a few hours, she got the once-silent and darkened relic to, at the very least, light up. It was short-lived though, for it only stayed promising in appearance for that moment. With a disconcerting pop, it once again went dark. This unfortunate turn of events brought steady stream of Cybertronian obscenities from the Decepticon. She threw a large chunk of debris across the chamber; it was this that brought to her attention that she was not alone. CHAPTER 16 "Its power-core is missing, along with most of the connection conduits!" She hissed frustratedly in his direction. "Sort of important pieces to getting this bucket up and running!" It bothered her that such a priceless find as this would only prove to be a dead-end! She had scoured the entire room, trying to locate anything that could possibly work in place of these missing pieces, but to no avail. She had even removed access panels on the walls in her search. It appeared that someone in this chamber's past had the very same idea and had already stripped them out. Just as she was about to start into another angry tirade, her internal systems caught her attention. Her energy-gathering systems engaged and once again locked onto a viable source. At first she thought that it could be the Autobot she was locking onto, but the readings were all wrong. The Autobot noticed her demeanor and started to ask what was going on, but she silenced him by pointing one of her arm-mounted blasters at him, or at least in his general direction. In a split second, she fired and he dodged the blast, which flew over his shoulder and contacted with something in the shadows: Something alive! "We had a tagalong!" She said as the target fell from the darkness and landed face down right in front of the Autobot. "Was killing him overly necessary?" He asked her, disgust quite obvious in his tone. She just shook her head and quickly strung up the intruder by his feet. Once he was securely immobilized did she choose to answer his question. "It wasn't necessary at all." The prisoner stirred in his bindings. "I just made him to a little nap so I could put him in a better position to answer a few questions for us." She kneed the captive in the shoulder, which woke him completely. He writhed a bit, testing the bindings, which held. It was then that she noticed the symbol emblazoned on his reddish chest--It was an Autobot insignia, and in the color she recognized! She hoped her partner did not notice.... "Hold!" He bellowed at her as he practically barreled through her to get a closer look. He had noticed! "What in the name of Primus are you doing here?" He knew this Autobot! CHAPTER 17 Without waiting for the answer, the enormous Autobot cut the prisoner free. The Decepticon, obviously disgusted with the whole situation, went to pretend she was doing something else. With two Autobots to contend with, it was more than she could associate herself with at that moment. Her hopes for the return home were fading quickly. She chided herself for having any hope to begin with. The mechanism was in decent working order, but the missing energy source was the crux of all of her frustrations. Where could she get such a thing on a world where everything was as upside-down as it was? The situation was infuriating, and she hated to feel so damned frustrated! Worst of all, the object that she was planning on taking her aggressions out on had just been cut loose. Damned Autobots, her thoughts hissed. Ruining all of my fun! "We may have just found help." These words from the giant Autobot brought her back to the here and now. "But I doubt you'll like it." At this point, she'd take any assistance offered. "My friend here has some friends that may have the needed parts to make that space-bridge work." Hope crept back into the Decepticon's mind, this time she tempered it. No need for excitement quite yet, she thought. She could not take another crushing disappointment and not have someone to kill for it! She listened to what their once-prisoner had to say, and to here the whole thing sounded absolutely cross-wired-crazy! Funny thing about it though, their whole dilemma was precisely that as it was, so there seemed to be some logic, albeit twisted, in it. It might just work! "Let me get this straight," She said once the Autobot finished. "You've aligned yourself with Megatron here, and he's a good guy--some sort of hero, and he might be inclined to help us." The smaller Autobot nodded in agreement. "By The Pit, if this world gets any more glitched-out bizarre, I might go offline due to it!" With a sigh of resignation, she agreed to accept the strange assist. "Why not? The Autobots here are bad-code. It only stands to reason that the "Cons here would be their antithesis." CHAPTER 18 The smaller Autobot contacted the Decepticons of whom he had referred to, and they arrived surprisingly fast. They must have a base nearby, she reasoned. The first to arrive were the flyers, who were shockingly similar to some of the Autobot aircraft from her world. Starscream landed and immediately introduced himself. He was amazingly cordial and well-spoken, which rather unsettled the out-of-place Decepticon. His wing-mates were also quite personable and polite. Almost immediately, Starscream requested to see the equipment in question. It was not too much later that it became obvious that this Starscream was a capable scientist, quite impressive to her. She refrained from admitting she actually liked him, it was just too weird for her! As the Decepticons of this world familiarized themselves with the equipment, the enormous out-of-place Autobot just stood back and watched the whole scene as it unfolded. He too was both shocked and impressed with these Decepticons, and he knew that she was not very comfortable with their personality differences. He admitted to himself that it set oddly on his processor as well. These Decepticons reminded him a great deal of some of his Autobot comrades at home, which was somewhat of a comfort, but still he refrained from saying anything to them. He was so wrapped up in the situation in front of him; he did not even notice the arrival of another group of Decepticons. This bothered him a bit, but he was not overly concerned. "You must be the Autobot that Cliffjumper spoke of when he referred to a 'giant'." The voice startled him. It was alarmingly familiar in sound, but not in tone. He turned to look at the speaker and was even moreso unsettled. "I am Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. It is indeed a pleasure to make your acquaintance." CHAPTER 19 This Megatron smiled at the displaced Autobot amicably, definitely not what he was used to. It was an honest smile, no hidden agenda whatsoever masked in the niceties he put forth. It was then he noticed that he surely must have shown his usual contempt he always held in the presence of Megatron, and he felt strangely bad for it. Megatron had to have noticed, for his contempt was always abundantly clear, but he showed no sign of being bothered by it. Without another word, he joined his fellows and the out-of-place Decepticon in working on the space-bridge, which seemed to be shaping up nicely. The work they had done thus far was quite impressive. The panels were lit and mood from those doing the work seemed high, and morale jumped higher when the Decepticons saw their leader enter. They truly loved him and respected him greatly. Starscream seemed to be the most pleased to see Megatron. "Ah, Megatron! It is a pleasure to see you!" Starscream greeted Megatron genuinely. The two went over to one of the many open panels and Megatron was briefed on the situation as it stood. Megatron truly seemed to be an equally scientific and analytical mind as Starscream, maybe even moreso. The two were using terms that he did not understand, nor cared to, since it was a science thing. He was not into those matters, for they were left to others in his world. It was of interest to him to watch these Decepticons, though. Their cordiality and ability to work together effectively was quite a sight to behold, for it was something he rarely even saw with his own Autobot-kind! Without delay, Megatron dove into the project with great interest. This act seemed to fill his soldiers with energy, and their efforts stepped up intensity. This Megatron was truly a great leader! Within a couple of hours, they seemed prepared for the first test. With a smile of semi-confidence, the out-of-place Decepticon presses a series of buttons. With a small pathetic whine, the machine lit up and then totally went black. The test was a total failure. CHAPTER 20 It was all she could do to keep from blasting the control console to atoms, but she restrained her normal reaction. It would not help the success of the final goal, and she so dearly wanted to go home! The Megatron on this plane was just sickeningly nice, making her energy sit rather oddly on her system. It was hard for her to concentrate on her tasks at hand when the very idea that Megatron was standing next to her, advising her in a fatherly and patient tone, as to what will work and what will not. The failure of the test seemed to concern both Megatron and Starscream equally. They had spent some time and consideration on the reconstruction of the energy matrix system, each seeming to collaborate seamlessly with one another. Why had they not already won the war, considering the likes of what the Autobots are on this plane? Megatron and his inner-circle were geniuses on levels she had rarely seen before, and the Autobots here were ruthless berserkers with hardly a functional processor amongst them, especially that insane mess they called their leader! All these small trivialities were not going to get the process at hand complete, she thought. It was time to let it go for the time being and concentrate on what went wrong. It was then she noticed that she was the only one not already doing so, even the accursed behemoth Autobot had decided to throw his input into the project and was discussing something over a data-pad with one of Starscream's wing-mates. All the mechanics seemed to be in working order, which was certain. With the combined brains of both Megatron and Starscream on the energy matrix, there was little doubt that there was a problem there. The only system that no one had bothered to work with was the targeting matrix system. This was the area that decided where the bridge signal was sent to cue arrival. Therein was a major issue. How was it to decide what dimension the traveler was to end up going to? After a few minutes of consideration, a smile of pure triumph crept across her face-plate. She knew the answer, but she could not do it alone. Once again, she needed that damned Autobot! CHAPTER 21 "You want me to do WHAT?" The Autobot was irate. She knew he would be when she posed her theory to him regarding how to get the space-bridge to work correctly. The irony of the whole theory was delicious, and this was what made her laugh to herself. "We need to literally combine our energy processors to create an energy field that will instruct the space-bridge where it needs to send us. As we have learned from experience, both good and bad, in this hellish world we have been thrown into, that our energy is vastly different from that which works here. The combination of your anti-matter generator and one of my ion-generators, which creates matter, can do exactly what is needed." He was unmoved and still quite angry. It was then she thought that he would not agree to attempt to test the theory. "Tell me, Autobot, what is it that we have to lose in the test? You lose an anti-matter generator and I lose an ion generator. Big damned deal! I want to give every single chance we have available to get our chassis back to where we belong! Back to where things make sense!" She was yelling at him, and she only realized it after she had screeched out her final words. It was something she really did not wish to do, but if it got the point across to that thick-headed Autobot, then it was all worth it! When he did not say anything after her tirade, she spun angrily on her heel and went to storm away. He grabbed her and lifted her to his face, so she could look him in the optics. "You had better be right, Decepticon. If you are not, the reaction could mean that our next destination will be The Pit!" She stared at him blankly, totally convinced of the feasibility of her theory and would not be moved at back down. With that, she ripped off one of her own arm-cannons and threw it to the ground. "Now, it's your turn to give, Autobot!" As he put her down, it was only then she realized just how painful that move really was! He opened a plate on his shoulder and removed a large pulsing object, its energy readings just made her head swim. He was handing her what she had asked him for. "For your sake, you had better be right!" CHAPTER 22 The heated discussion between the out-of-place Cybertronians had attracted the attention of all in the room by this time. As their scene played out, Starscream and another of his wing-mates began to see the theory that was being discussed between them. "Of course!" Starscream cried. "It is totally crazy, but in theory, it just might work! The reaction between the two generators would not only create a signature for the targeting system to initialize upon, it would create enough energy to power the system in excess of the already functional onboard power matrix!" He, without thinking, grabbed the two generators and went to work installing them. "He really is a genius." The one wing-mate of Starscream commented to the displaced Decepticon. "If anyone can get that theory into practice, it is Starscream!" She sincerely hoped he was right. For the rest of the time Starscream and Megatron worked, she and the Autobot stayed away from one another. She was quite angry with his stubbornness to agree to a plan that made complete sense! Did he not wish to go home, she wondered, or was he just being an ass because it was broached to him by a Decepticon? Oh, those damned Autobots can be so unreasonable sometimes! It was then she caught herself thinking things that would normally just make her sick inside, but considering the circumstances, they were not out of place. This Autobot, for all his infuriating and confusing disagreements with her, was an interesting and engaging individual. It was a shame that they were enemies, for if things were different at home, they might just be........She perished that thought before it even crossed into anything. She chided herself for such desperation and went to assist the other flyers with assundry tests and installments. She was a manipulative and evil creature, he fumed to himself. In no other memory that he possessed did he ever concede to a plan hatched by ANY Decepticon of his own free will! The very idea that she would ask him to do what he did was just pure insanity! Sure, he wanted to go home, but the idea of leaving without a part of his basic inner functioning just sat poorly on his mind. In all theories regarding spatial travel that he was aware of, he must take back what he came in with or the fabric of the universe might be damaged beyond repair. This series of horrors would be on his hands, and he just could not fathom such a monstrous act. He knew very little of science, but he knew enough that this plan could end up being lethal to everyone involved. Should there be a matter/anti-matter reaction, they could potentially destroy this Cybertron and all its inhabitants, and this worst-case scenario was just as unappealing as his previous one. "We are ready to give this beast a test-drive!" Megatron said to all in the room, bringing him back to the present. The out-of-place Cybertronians took their places on the bridge-pad, each glared at one another. They were both still unhappy with one another. Surprisingly, it was her that broke the tension. "Well, Autobot, this is it. Either we go home or we go to The Pit. Hope you're ready for one or the other!" She then remembered the little reddish Autobot prisoner. "Did your friend decide not to join us in returning home?" He glared down at her, and she was smiling back at him. Damn her, he thought. He gave her a half-smile, part sarcastic, part genuine, in return. "He's staying." Was his short-tempered answer. She understood. "See you where ever it is we end up, you vile harpy!" Her laughter was drowned out by the sound of the space-bridge systems engaging. CHAPTER 23 "Megatron!" someone screamed. "The energy-dampening system has failed! We are visible to Autobot forces!" "Incoming Autobots! Lots of em! They are on a direct attack vector, E.T.A. twenty nano-kliks!" Someone else screamed. "Keep them busy while I get these two home!" It was Megatron. He stood behind the control console while his fellows darted out, obviously to engage the enemy. He was left alone and unguarded in the space-bridge chamber. The humming of the machine around the two on the bridge-pad became deafening. Just as she felt the pull of the bridge, she saw the doors of the chamber blow off and blaster-fire erupted from everywhere. A white hot flash, and then nothing. The ground beneath her signaled that she had arrived at her destination, where ever that was. As her consciousness returned, her energy-gathering systems engaged. She was rust-dry again, but the familiar signatures she was receiving made her beam with unbridled delight. She was home! "Well, Decepticon, your crazy idea ended up working!" The booming voice reminded her that she had not traveled alone or unaided. "Welcome to Cybertron...OUR Cybertron." It was as he said, they were indeed on Cybertron. The familiar, blessed home-world was like a shot of energy to her pathetically starved systems. They were in Outlands, an area that was denuded of life, both Autobot and Decepticon, and it was that way for a reason. Not a place to be. Without a single word, she transformed and took to the air. In a moment, she was gone. Typical Decepticon, he thought to himself. Leaving without as much as a 'thank you' or a 'goodbye'. Things were once again normal. He was happy.