Microburst's Story

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Raptarrin, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. Raptarrin

    Raptarrin Proud Decepticon

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    This is mainly based on the movies, with some G1 influence. Probably takes place sometime after Revenge of the Fallen.

    ***********

    Following is the story of how I, Microburst first came to Earth, lured by Optimus Prime's message. To all Autobots out there - I would like you to ask yourself what you would do if, coming to a new planet, you found yourself in the midst of what the humans term an 'ethnic cleansing'. Would you stay in alt form and try to get out of there as soon as possible? Or would you help the victims and maybe change the course of history? The following account is what I did in answer to that question. May history itself judge my actions as good or evil.

    ***********

    The descriptions Microburst had heard did not do justice to the actual sensation of falling through Earth’s atmosphere. As the outer shell protecting her curled-up form heated to a temperature approaching that of Kaon’s furnaces, she was also aware of millions of tiny particles vaporizing simultaneously against the grooved surface of the protective shell.

    Even as the heat became almost unbearable, she was aware of a low thrum, the heartbeat of the planet below her, and the atmosphere gradually thickening, coalescing into traceable atomic signatures – Nitrogen and oxygen, and trace amounts of other things – sulphur, water vapor, and carbon particles of various makeup.

    “Aim toward the outskirts of a city, and immediately find a vehicle to transform to,” had been Sideswipe’s parting words of wisdom to her. “The energy from the atmosphere stays in your system for a few hours and makes it easier to rearrange all your parts.”

    Microburst had fixed the coordinates to the Autobots’ base, and had been just passing past the moon’s gravitational field when her sensors had picked up on a signal that she had never again expected to encounter, neither in this life or the next. It came from the other side of the planet, and though it vanished a moment later, it was something she could not leave alone. She had had to change her trajectory and slow her descent while she waited for night to fall on the large continent where she had detected the anomaly.

    The air thickened and warmed, slowing her descent even while friction continued to heat her outer shell. The high humidity cooled her, but only nominally. Through her heat resistant outer optic, she observed the lights of a city, partially obscured by concentrations of water vapor. She adjusted her trajectory to aim for the outer edge, where the lights were sparser, and the sounds of intermittent gunfire and an occasional explosion reached her auditory sensors. She adjusted her transceiver to maximum sensitivity, a last ditch attempt to pick up the coveted signature. Nothing.

    She hit hard, throwing up a massive cloud of debris where she landed. Squeals and roars told her that she had disturbed a herd of animals, and the ground vibrated as they galloped off into the night.

    Animals, thought Microburst. What a quaint idea. Earth’s creator sure did have some interesting ideas, making humans the only of Earth’s creatures that had the gift of speech…

    As her outer shell began to come apart at its seams, Microburst extricated herself and stretched her legs for the first time in megacycles. Her optics adjusted to the darkness, and she noted the small points of light coming from various directions, the screams off to the left and the barked orders in a mixture of human languages.

    The very first vehicle that rolled by was a battle-ready tank with a massive turret. It was absolutely perfect – within a klik of her exact mass – but it evoked such a strong memory of the day that Lord Megatron had rolled into her home city in tank form, his turret blasting, his treads tearing up the nickel plated streets of her home that her caste had worked so hard to keep pristine – by the time she regained control of her emotions, the tank was long gone.

    The next vehicle was a big armored truck with shrapnel scars in its fenders and not a single intact window to speak of. It was far from ideal – but her sensors told her it was just the right size for her bulk, and from her initial impressions of this place, there wasn’t a variety of shiny new transports to choose from.

    Just a few days ago, when she had been on a trajectory for California, that beacon of entertainment and riches of the human world, she had had dreams of transforming into a beautiful new tow truck with red trim and shiny silver markings, or even better – a quad cab Ford Ambulance with those charming blue and red lights that made it sparkle all over. But because of a single impression of a long lost signal of a dead Decepticon… no the signal had not been a hallucination. Cybertronians did not hallucinate. Her sensors had registered exactly what they registered and nothing else. She was here for a reason, she decided resolutely as she performed the scan of the transport vehicle and felt her systems responding, the energon not depleting as rapidly as usual due to the lingering effects of earth’s atmosphere.

    Within moments she was rolling out into the wheel tracks of the transport, an exact replica of the truck in front of her, down to the shrapnel marks, the torn canvas covering its contents in back, and the misshapen emblem on the hood.

    She drove like that for some 30 miles, her mind slowly relaxing as the roar of the engines in front and behind her reminded her how much she needed a long rest from the day’s exertions. But as the sounds of gunfire increased around her, and missiles lit up the night sky, she began to wonder if humans in this part of the world ever rested at all.

    Screams sounded around her. They were nearing a much smaller city, a village as some humans called it. Humans ran left and right, some falling as gunmen jumped out of the truck in front of her, opening fire in a fusillade of tiny metal projectiles. The victims’ carbon-based bodies never stood a chance. Why didn’t they armor themselves? Microburst wondered. Vibrations sounded in the sky, and she sensed the approach of human-powered air vehicles. Among them was one familiar signature that made her tires quake with fear. What in the Universe was Starscream doing here? She wasn’t ready to meet him again – her internal systems still hadn’t completely recovered from that last encounter a few megacycles ago when he had hit her with some sort of modified missile, which had stuck to her shoulder, partially melting the metal before it exploded, severing a key energon line and embedding shrapnel in places she still hadn’t been able to reach.

    But Starscream thundered overhead, never wavering, never giving any sign he had registered her signal. The skies were quiet again, but the ground was pure pandemonium as black-clad humans poured out of the truck in front of her and swarmed through the trees and huts, tracking everything that moved – animals and humans alike. They didn’t kill everyone – but even so Microburst had never witnessed such cruelty on any planet.

    As soon as the last of the trucks had emptied, she pulled out of line and continued down the deeply rutted road leading deeper into the jungle. The grizzled old captain of the soldiers did not even register her departure, so involved he was in his soldiers’ gruesome work.

    Microburst rolled on for quite awhile, her mind awash with emotions as she tried to block out the images she had just witnessed. Memories came, unbidden to her mind as she thought of the twisted sneer on the human captain’s face – memories of Shockwave’s single optic staring down at her as his black hand brought a flaming instrument of torture toward her face. If the Autobots hadn’t stormed her city in time, she would be in a million tiny pieces by now, not so different from the human victims she had just witnessed being murdered.

    Near morning she came to a roadblock manned by a squad of human guards dressed in the bright colors and patterns similar to the villagers she had seen murdered. Rather than create a convincing hologram, she turned down a lesser used path, and when she was a good distance from the road she shut down all but her most essential systems and let the chirping of the insects lull her into a calming rest.

    When she came to, it was late in the day and gunfire was sounding somewhere far off. She was starting to seriously question her spontaneous detour to this lush tropical hell. Bugs had crawled into her chassis while she slept and were causing her to itch in places she had no hope of accessing in alt form. She was moments from transforming for a well-needed change, when she heard human voices.

    “It’s been there all night. I think they might have abandoned it. You think it broke down?”

    “Only one way to find out.”

    Microburst felt the driver’s door opening and groaned inwardly as the humans clambered inside.

    “No keys, but these old trucks are fairly simple to start. Watch me work.”
    After half an hour, Microburst had hoped that the humans would have given up and moved on. But the one messing with her wiring showed no sign of giving up. Drops of perspiration fell as it pulled desperately at the wires, ordering its companion to hold this or that wire.

    “It makes no sense, Jolain,” it said in a voice thick with emotion. “I have worked on these trucks before… this one is a little strange, but it should start up just like this. The engine has fuel, and look – the lights are working.”

    “I don’t know,” said the friend, “but I think we have been here too long. Whoever left the truck here will probably be back any minute. Did you hear those shots?”

    “I know, I know,” said the first voice. “But we will never have another chance like this. If I can just get this thing started, we can roll all the way up into the hills and get my mother back tonight. It will be the perfect disguise – the RAA will never suspect we are Kaziri.”

    Microburst’s auditory sensors picked up the sounds of shouting human voices off in the distance, and another baying voice – maybe an animal of some sort. “Follow these tracks,” cried one of them. “Looks like an RAA truck.”

    “Rafeena, we gotta go now. I heard something.”

    “It’s one of our trucks,” the rough voice shouted angrily. “And somebody’s inside it. Is it that girl you almost caught the other night?”

    Several things happened at once – gunshots sounded, and bullets thudded against Microburst’s windows - The humans inside her were diving toward the open door – she shut the doors loudly, trapping them inside and lurched into motion, her rage propelling her straight toward the gunmen, who threw themselves out of the way only at the last moment.

    The humans inside here were screaming with a mixture of terror and exhilaration as the bigger one held on to the steering wheel for dear life, steering her in the direction they wanted to go. Microburst allowed it to steer for a few hours, allowing her concentration to wander as the road became rocky and interspersed with massive puddles and debris from various types of vehicles. They passed through checkpoints unharassed, the girl leaning out the window each time to shout words in a language that Microburst had not learned from the World Wide Web. Funny – Ratchet said you could learn absolutely anything from the internet…
     
  2. Raptarrin

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    They rolled into a village similar to the one last night. The girl jumped out, yelling at this person or that one in the strange tribal language. Men came running, some shouting triumphantly, others carrying armloads of guns and machetes. Steadily they piled into Microburst’s empty back compartment, until they were sitting practically on top of one another, and more climbed up and held on to the struts holding up the metal roof.

    As night fell Microburst found herself lumbering along a paved road, with construction signs showing crudely-drawn human workers holding various implements. She felt the humans becoming increasingly agitated as they neared their destination.

    “When mother was young, her father’s village was where the mine is now,” the girl who had first commandeered her was saying in the language Microburst knew. “Nobody knew about the metal beneath the ground – and when the white men started coming around, Grandfather thought it strange that they were taking dirt samples, but none of the elders listened to him. The French tried to pay him off – but he wouldn’t take any of their dirty money. Maybe he should have – by the time they came to carve up his land, he could have had a nice house in the city.”

    A man was in the driver’s seat now, a tall, thin man with strange markings on his face and a jagged scar crossing one ear and continuing down his neck. He steered Microburst off the road when they were nearing the first checkpoint.

    The soldiers in back sat in silence for quite some time until the sound of more trucks came from back down the road behind them. As the line of trucks began to back up at the checkpoint, the man steered out into the middle of the line. The door on the right side opened and the girl was gone into the night before Microburst could even see where she was going.

    The truck ahead of her inched forward, and eventually it was rolling down its windows so the checkpoint guards could speak to its occupants. The truck had just rolled past when the explosion happened in the crudely-constructed hut near the checkpoint. Microburst watched as guards flew in all directions. The man hit the gas pedal and they were through the checkpoint. Moments later the passenger door opened again and the girl was back inside.

    “That was brilliant,” the driver congratulated her. “But now I have no idea where to go.”
    The mine was a big place, with roads leading off in several directions, and armed guards everywhere, monitoring the barefooted humans who labored knee-deep in mud and filth, some with chisels, others holding bright lights trained at the hillsides.

    “We’ll never get her out of here,” the girl said in despair.

    “We didn’t get all this way to fail now,” said the man. “She’ll probably be with other women – they usually separate the men and women, I hear. And if there are any children, they will be close by the women also. They find that a woman is a very willing worker if they threaten her child.”

    “Bastards,” growled the girl. “Hey – how about I get out and let one of the guards find me. Odds are that they will take me straight to where my mother is.”

    “Chester will go with you – he is already dressed like one of these fiends. If anyone tries to touch you, he will kill them. Chester!” he yelled toward the back.

    A man stepped out of the back and the girl jumped out of the front. Microburst’s limited alt-form optics picked up their darkened forms as they quickly dashed away from the truck.

    “Hey – I caught this one in the forest. Show me where the other women are.”

    “Not so fast,” growled a voice that Microburst recognized from the night before. The captain!

    “Clearly you are new here and don’t know how things are done here. First we need to find out her name and village. These tribal trash don’t usually want to tell us at first – a little tap with my electrical wires will usually do the trick. The girls usually take pain better than the men do, but they all break eventually.”

    The man yanked the girl into the hut, and before long the screaming started. She was a very convincing actress, thought Microburst. A few minutes later they emerged again, the girl staggering and gasping.

    “She comes from Ibola Lethu Village,” announced the man. “Her name is…”

    Uh oh, thought Microburst. That was the village I saw attacked last night.

    “It doesn’t matter her name,” the captain interrupted. “Ibola Lethu was the village we took out last night. I don’t need any survivors running off to tell our enemies what we have done. Kill her!”

    “Kill her? But captain, the mine does not need more workers?”

    “The mine is my concern. Do it now. But if you get blood on my uniform I will not be happy. I have to pose for photos in the morning.”

    “I am surprised you didn’t recognize me,” said the tall man. “I too come from a village that your men massacred. It was before you were a captain – when you liked to leave the children alive – after marking them with your machete.”

    The captain’s eyes widened with recognition, but the tall man was already swinging his arm around. It thwacked loudly against the captain’s head, and the captain fell to his knees cursing.

    “Order your guards to stand down or your uniform will be soaked with your own blood.”

    In no time at all the soldiers had emptied out of Microburst’s back compartment and were standing at attention, guns and machetes leveled at the heads of the RAA mine workers.

    “Go find your mother,” the tall man growled to the girl, who grabbed the hand of a boy and disappeared.

    “Not one of you will leave here alive,” growled the captain. “We have contingencies in place for an event such as this.”

    “We don’t want your filthy blood metal,” growled the tall man. “We just want our people back.”

    Microburst became aware of an anomalous pulsing signal coming from somewhere on the captain’s body. Its signature was slight but unmistakable. The captain has a Decepticon signaling device hidden in his clothes.

    Microburst had not the time or inclination to reason why this was.

    “Watch his hands!” she roared in a voice as close to that of a human as she could muster.

    “Did that truck just speak?”

    “Nonsense – there is a woman inside with a loudspeaker.”

    “Keep your hands where I can see them,” the tall man instructed the captain. “This will all be over soon.”

    “You got that right,” muttered the captain. “Starscream, this is Captain Kisumu. Need reinforcements,” he said in a voice barely audible to the humans. But Microburst heard it. She also was aware of Starscream’s reply.

    “Captain, I am afraid I have run into a bit of trouble of my own. Unable to send reinforcements at this time. But I did leave a modified human bazooka buried under the floorboards of your hut. It will vaporize any human you shoot with it. Perhaps you will find it of some use.”

    The girl returned, leading a line of bedraggled looking women and children. Irons encircled their wrists, and their feet were wrapped in bloody rags. But their eyes were alight with joy. The woman in front walked right up to the tall man and grabbed a gun from his belt. This she trained on the captain’s head.

    “Order your men to drop their weapons,” she growled. “Ladies, collect their guns.”

    Guns were reluctantly lowered to the ground, though Microburst could tell that many of the men still had other weapons hidden on their persons. None of them seemed to not know quite what to do, and showed no immediate inclination to take a shot at their captors.

    “Any man who wants to stay alive another day can leave now on foot,” the woman shouted to all listening. “We are not going anywhere. This mine is on our land and we are taking it back.”
     
  3. Raptarrin

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    Some of the guards dispersed, splashing through the holding ponds. More followed a short time later. By this time the ranks of the tribe members had swelled as more and more workers were freed from the caves where they spent the night. The captain was tussed up tighter than a roll of cable on Trypticon station, and the tribe members went around breaking open stores of food in various huts and devouring the food ravenously.

    All this time Microburst was becoming aware of a movement approaching from downslope of the mines. Perhaps the woman’s kindness in allowing the departing guards to live had backfired and reinforcements were on the way despite Starscream’s inability to help.

    She broadcast a signal, calibrating it with the trees and landmarks. She counted no less than one hundred humans approaching, some of them armed with weapons that clearly had Decepticon technology.

    “Slag!” she growled inwardly. Did she give herself away in attempt to avert a massacre?
    Ratchet would say ‘absolutely not!’, but Bumblebee would probably say ‘Go for it, and make sure you get a photo to send to the Decepticons!’ Optimus Prime on the other hand, would think of some clever way to prevent the massacre without anybody seeing him in protoform. That is what she must do.

    Microburst edged slowly towards the trees without making the slightest noise. The humans were occupied with trying to secure the camp and treating each other’s wounds, and did not notice her wheels turning a fraction of a degree every moment. It took longer than she would have liked, but they still hadn’t looked at her when she was enough in the shadows of the trees that she felt safe transforming.

    It felt great to be back in upright form, and Microburst jogged through the trees, reveling in the cool breeze, the monkeys fleeing at her approach, the delicious stickiness of the mud.

    The approaching humans had paused for the moment, the only sound their machetes thwacking through layers of leafy vines and thick underbrush. Microburst grinned a little wickedly to herself as she readied her fusion cannon and sent a small photon missile high in an arc. The flaming trail briefly lit up the night sky before the missile landed with a great explosion – directly ahead of the advancing army.

    She registered the screams back at the mine – good, they were warned. The advancing soldiers however, did not seem to be as frightened as she would have liked. They streamed away from the smoking crater, weapons at the ready as the officers shouted in more than one language for this group to go this way or that way. Microburst readied another missile, sending this one in an even higher arc, aiming towards the rear flank of the army.

    The panic intensified back at the mine, and the signaling device on the enemy captain’s body was pulsing with an incoming transmission. Starscream was telling the captain about the approaching soldiers. Meanwhile the soldiers themselves had spread out, and a few of them were rapidly nearing Microburst’s location. She didn’t like the electronic signature emanating from their weapons.

    Running further downslope so she was beside them, she switched to her precision laser blaster, custom designed by Ironhide for situations such as this. “Optimus says humans can’t regrow their hands, and wants me to create something that destroys metal while leaving flesh intact. However that doesn’t mean they won’t get a nasty shock that will put them out of commission for a few hours.”

    Microburst didn’t aim for the weapons – they might be useful later. She aimed for the humans’ extremities, and was rewarded with squeals of surprise and pain, and an even more satisfying ‘thump’ as they hit the ground writhing, not one of them bleeding in the slightest. “Remind me to thank you later, Ironhide,” she muttered happily.

    The humans behind these, however, were already aiming their Decepticon weapons, and a blast of blue light passed within a nanoklik of Microburst’s left leg.

    Cursing, she wheeled around and dashed out of harm’s way, uprooting a tree in her haste and nearly getting hit with several more blasts. The humans’ aim got less accurate as she put distance between them.

    She circled back and collected the dropped weapons, the humans who had dropped them not even caring as she picked them up. She was headed back up the hill, her right arm bristling with weapons, when she heard a muffled exclamation.

    “I knew you weren’t just an RAA truck!” It was the girl she had helped escape earlier. “Who are you working for?”

    “Um… the Americans?” Microburst was too surprised to even think what to say. Had a human actually tracked her without her knowledge?

    “The Americans never cared about us before! Don’t you dare lie. Let me guess – the South Africans. No wait – the Chinese. You probably have their little trademarks all over you.”

    “You’re pretty smart for a hatchling,” said Microburst. “If you know what’s good with you, you will get back to your rebel friends and warn them that an attack is coming. Take some of these guns too.”

    “Shalai, come help me!” the girl turned and shouted behind her. A boy skidded to a stop below Microburst, his one eye widening with amazement. His other eye had clearly been damaged in some kind of attack – the right side of his face was twisted and disfigured.

    “Nice to meet you,” said Microburst curtly, dropping four of the smaller guns into his arms. He struggled to hold them as he started up the hill.

    Microburst picked off more of the soldiers, but as soon as several fell, the ones she didn’t get were shooting in her direction. A flaming blue round grazed her leg, scoring the metal and making her shudder at the thought of what it would do to a human leg. She collected more weapons, and by the time the two hatchlings were back, she loaded up their arms again.

    “My mother says thanks for the help, but we still won’t make any deals with your government,” the girl said, huffing as Microburst piled weapons into her arms. “What’s your name, anyway?”

    “Microburst. And yours?”

    “Rafeena. But you probably knew that.”

    “You’re smart for a young thing, Rafeena. Tell your people that these aren’t like ordinary weapons. They will cause terrible injuries, and should be used sparingly.”

    “I will.”

    More soldiers arrived as the night passed. They spread out into the forested area surrounding the mine, occasionally managing to get a bazooka round into the mine itself. But as Rafeena’s people armed themselves and set up a perimeter, and Microburst made liberal use of Ironhide’s laser; the RAA soldiers’ stronger numbers did not provide enough of an advantage for them to successfully break through into the mine.

    As morning approached, Microburst heard the roar of an automobile engine.

    A military jeep was making its way through the forest on a narrow trail. Three humans rode inside, officers from the look of their uniforms, and all were unarmed. However it was the jeep itself that interested Microburst. She sank to a crouch and crept back toward the mine, her mental circuits blazing as she considered various courses of action.

    Fortunately for her, Rafeena spotted her while she was still out of sight of the mine.

    “Rafeena - Tell your people that some officers are coming in a jeep. They are unarmed – they will not shoot at your people. But the jeep is not a real jeep. It is like me – and if it transforms, it can probably kill half of your people before you know it. Tell your people to keep their guns trained on the jeep. I will be very close.”

    “What do they want?”

    “To talk. The soldiers are having no luck getting through, so the officers will probably try to convince you to give up the mine. They might offer some small piece of land as compensation, or threaten to kill you all later…”

    “We are not giving up the mine!” Rafeena exclaimed. “And they can just take their small piece of land and shove it up their…”

    “Don’t worry,” Microburst said quickly, before Rafeena could finish. “Go tell your mother what I said. Hurry.”

    The jeep was stopped just outside of the entrance to the mine by a line of armed Kaziri, Rafeena’s mother among them.

    “We just want to talk,” said the officers, throwing up their arms and slowly climbing out of the jeep. “Who is your leader? Can he come forward so we can talk to him in confidence?”

    “You can talk to all of us,” said the tall man, training his gun on the speaker, a short man with somewhat lighter skin and a uniform that was a bit too small.

    “Very well,” said the second officer, a man with cruel eyes and fat lips. “Here is our offer – if you and your tribe vacate this mine now, we will not prosecute you for what occurred last night. You can go back to your villages in peace.”

    “Until your goons come in the night and butcher us in our sleep?” said the tall man. “I don’t think so. This mine belongs to us, and we have reclaimed what is ours. If you do not call off these attacks, then you will lose many more soldiers. We are prepared to fight for what is rightfully ours – and we will tolerate your attacks no longer. You go out to the capitol city and tell your leaders that the Kaziri are finished being your victims. We are finished being your slaves. We will no longer watch idly as you murder our children, force us off our land, and poison our water. The uprising has begun, and you will NOT get this mine back.”

    “You tribespeople could not possibly understand how to run a mine,” said the third officer in a patronizing tone. “Why don’t you let us get back to our business of running this mine, and when it starts to turn a profit, we will compensate you for the use of your land? I will go straight to the capitol myself and plead your case.”

    While he was talking, he and the other officers were slowly edging away from the front of the jeep. Microburst heard the barely audible whirring as it disengaged key gears and loosened various panels in preparation to transform with cannons already firing.

    Microburst realized that everything was about to be lost.

    “When diplomacy fails…” she echoed Ironhide's words as she threw herself high into the air. Her feet hit the ground on either side of the jeep’s hood and she fired her biggest ion cannon directly at the place where she knew the Decepticon’s head would be. The jeep gave a screaming shudder, started to transform, and then fell apart into a tangle of machinery.

    Microburst leaned low over the three officers, her optics whirling bright orange.

    “You heard the man! The mine is under new management. Send all the soldiers you like. They will meet the same fate as this scrap heap here. Now get out!”
     
  4. Raptarrin

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    The soldiers did not need to be told again. They took off running, something they clearly didn’t do very often. Soon they were gone from view, and the Kaziri enjoyed a good long laugh at their expense.

    “That was the coolest thing I ever saw,” said Rafeena, coming up and wrapping her arms around Microburst’s leg.”

    “Rafeena – I told you to stay back at the mine with the other children,” scolded her mother. “My daughter is correct, though. We are in your debt. Tell your government we will think about trading with them – but we will never cede control.”

    “I do not work for any of your human governments. I represent myself, and I helped you because once my home was invaded, and nobody was there to stop it.”

    Weeks passed, and more and more Kaziri took up residence at the mine, building clusters of makeshift huts, and turning the barren parts into vegetable gardens and watering holes for their livestock. Everywhere Microburst walked, she had to avoid stepping on somebody’s goat or cow.

    As word of Microburst’s involvement spread throughout the Kaziri villages, people came from far and wide to introduce themselves and admire her weaponry. She had become what Jazz would call a “celebrity”. The people built her a very nice hut out of six trees, with a garage to accompany her alt-form and a high-ceiling sitting area with a thatched roof and a great stone couch made especially for her. In here she kept the RAA captain tied up, frequently with his ears covered so he couldn’t overhear anything important.

    Rafeena’s mother kept the little signal device, always listening in case Starscream tried to contact the captain. But Starscream was silent, and so was the RAA.

    Microburst reveled in the attention. She entertained all manners of guests in her hut, and had long conversations with all of them. Rain priests came with their bundles of herbs and asked her if she might possibly be able to advise them on the calling of spirits.

    “I don’t know exactly what you refer to by “evil eye”, but back home on Cybertron we had a place called the eye of Iacon. I never saw it myself, but my friends told me that if you stared at it for too long then your optics got fuzzy and your head filled with an electrical buzzing.” She didn’t know if this helped the human priests or not.

    As her energon supply began to run low, she inquired with various Kaziri as to how she might be able to recharge using electricity. She knew that the Americans had rigged a state of the art recharging station for the Autobots at their base, but she doubted that Central Africa had such a capability. But from a scientific standpoint, Microburst had been on several different planets, and knew that Energon could come from the unlikeliest of sources.

    The electricity at the mine came on only sporadically, once or twice a day. It was during one of these times, while Microburst was hard at work hurriedly splicing and directing Rafeena at which cables to connect where on her body, that somebody called her name.

    “Microburst, my name is Brother Lawrence,” said a tall man in a white shirt.

    “I have heard of you,” said Microburst. “Somebody said you are a missionary. What is a missionary?”

    “I came to the Kaziri to bring them the good news of Jesus Christ,” he said. “But I have something for you as well. I heard that you do not eat food like we do, and you do not drink fuel like our vehicles do. I thought this might help you.”

    And he unfolded a large contraption from the back of a small wagon. It had several black panels, which he connected via wiring to an electrical unit.

    “It is powered by the sun,” he said, demonstrating the various parts for her. “You have become a great friend to the Kaziri, and the church would like to give this to you. Hopefully you can find a way to get energy from it.”

    It was only much later that Microburst realized exactly the magnitude of such a gift from a people that had so little, and wished she had thanked Brother Lawrence more profusely.

    “This is great!” exclaimed Rafeena. “Let’s get it set up.”

    They worked the rest of the day, and Microburst found that when she combined the alternating current coming out of the solar panels with a bucket of saltwater from the ocean, and then ran the resulting ion-charged liquid through a specially-designed sieve that she had created using some of the unique metal from the mine, she ended up with something that her body accepted grudgingly as an energon substitute.

    It was a few days later while she and Rafeena were hard at work creating more energon substitute that they heard a commotion near the mine entrance. Microburst caught a glimpse of a sleek silver car body.

    “Guards – don’t hurt that car. He is my friend!” she exclaimed, dropping what she was doing and dashing toward the entrance to the mine. “Sideswipe! How did you find me? It’s okay – you can transform. The Kaziri are my friends.”

    Sideswipe transformed with a flourish, clearly enjoying all the humans ogling the massive blades on his hands. “Hello there,” he made a slight bow to Rafeena’s mother, who seemed just as taken with him as he was with her.

    “Microburst – who is this beautiful work of art!”

    After the excitement died down, Sideswipe followed Microburst back to her own hut. “The humans built this for you? Impressive.”

    “Yes, and I have even found a way to make energon. It is a bit salty still, but it gets the job done. How did you find me anyway?”

    “Microburst – I had one hell of a time finding you. You were expected 47 days ago, you know. The Autobots will be overjoyed when I tell them I’ve found you. Optimus has been worried sick, you know.”

    “He has?” Microburst felt terribly guilty and also touched that the legendary Autobot leader was concerned about her.

    “Well of course he would never admit it, but you know how he gets when he is worried about something – watching soap operas all night, wandering the streets of LA in alt form… and don’t even get me started on Ratchet! He was talking about your impending arrival for weeks, telling the Americans that they better treat you with respect because you used to be a Decepticon and know all sorts of dangerous secrets, which you won’t share with them unless they behave themselves... Ironhide has been telling everyone exactly how much he is not concerned in the slightest about your whereabouts, but I catch him looking in the mirror frequently and playing with that statue of Megatron you gave him. And Bumblebee has some crazy idea that you promised him you would get him into the Guiness Book of Records as the first car to fly across the Grand Canyon with a jet pack. Did you really tell him that, because I don’t think Optimus or the Americans are particularly pleased at the possibility of…”

    “I don’t recall right now,” said Microburst glibly.

    “Fine. Whatever. But you have a lot of explaining to do, I am just telling you in advance. If you don’t have a really good reason for disappearing like you did and then ending up in some unknown jungle…”

    “I will tell you exactly what to say to them,” said Microburst. “Are you recording me yet?”

    “No. You’re going to tell them yourself. Just as soon as we get out of here. There’s an American aircraft carrier leaving Mombasa tomorrow morning. Kenya is just a thousand miles; if we leave now we should be there in plenty of time to…”

    “I can’t go with you, Sideswipe. You have to tell Optimus that my presence here is the only thing saving these people from annihilation. I witnessed first hand the RAA soldiers terminating an entire village. I counted at least 150 deaths. And the Decepticons are here too. I came close to being discovered by Starscream as he flew overhead on the night that I came here.”

    “Interesting – this must be the part of the world that Starscream has selected to use as his base. Our spies tell us that he has been absent from Megatron’s side lately, and that supposedly he is working on some big energon creation project for Megatron. But Optimus thinks it is just another transparent attempt by him to seize control of the Decepticons.”

    “Well you can also tell him that he has been arming humans with Decepticon technology,” said Microburst. “I nearly had my leg blown off by one of his creations. Though I wouldn’t think Starscream could have created something that good…. It felt more like Shockwave’s doing.”

    “That’s unlikely – Starscream and Shockwave couldn’t agree on how many energon cubes to mix into their lubricant.”

    “Maybe Starscream stole the technology,” said Microburst.

    “I will report your theories to the base,” said Sideswipe. “But I don’t think they will be particularly pleased about your choosing these humans over the Autobot cause.”

    “What good is the Autobot cause if it allows us to stand by while innocent creatures get butchered!” growled Microburst. “How many times have you wished that somebody had saved your city from the aerial bombardment that turned it to ash? What if Omega Supreme had happened to be nearby when the Seekers strafed your home? Even though it wasn’t his direct responsibility, do you think he would have done nothing?”

    “That’s different,” said Sideswipe, his optics clouding with regret.

    “Sideswipe – I have made a lot of decisions in my cycles that I wish I could undo. Helping the Kaziri, however, is not one of them. My life has become tied up with theirs, and I will not abandon them.”

    Microburst showed Sideswipe all the parts of the mine, and introduced him to any Kaziri members whose names she knew. He even gave rides to a few lucky children, scaring their mothers half to death as he roared down the rutted mine road, making himself airborne over a few of the deeper ruts.

    “Hey Microburst,” Sideswipe said, his optics shining with a sudden idea, “do you think the Kaziri would mind if I challenged you to a game of basketball?”

    “Oh, we will show them basketball like Africa has never seen!” Microburst said. “You’re on!”

    They quickly made two basketball hoops by looping two metal poles and attaching them to the tops of two trees. Word got out quickly among the Kaziri, and as Sideswipe and Microburst took their positions across from one another, people were lined up all around the small clearing, most of them cheering wildly for Microburst.

    “Try not to destroy the ball – I don’t think the Kaziri have another one.”

    Microburst could jump higher and run faster, but Sideswipe was smaller and quicker, and he was dribbling circles around her while she desperately tried to get the ball away from him. Her feet tore clods of dirt out of the ground, and Sideswipe managed to get two baskets in before the ball bounced far enough away for Microburst to grab it.

    Her circuits warming with excitement, she easily evaded Sideswipe and made a slam dunk that would have made the tallest Kaziri jealous. She caught the ball and whirled away from him again, holding the ball up to taunt him with it.

    With a cry, he sprang toward her, but she threw the ball a third time – a wild shot that somehow found its mark despite her aim.

    After several hours, the game was still somewhat close, but Microburst’s larger size had given her a slight edge.

    “I may just let you win this time,” Sideswipe panted. “After all, I wouldn’t want the Kaziri thinking less of you just because a smaller bot can beat you at basketball.”

    “Admit it – I beat you fair and square!” and Microburst grabbed both of his blades until he admitted it.

    “Africa isn’t half bad,” he observed at the end of the day. “Nowhere in America could we just be ourselves without the government swarming all over us like a cloud of flies. But either way – this is not a stable region, and I fear that before long you will up to your optics in trouble. I will leave you with this device – you can use it to signal any one of us at any time. Just attach to your ear and forget about it until you need it.”

    “Thanks,” said Microburst, taking the little device with gratitude.
     
  5. Raptarrin

    Raptarrin Proud Decepticon

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    “Your friend didn’t seem too happy with you,” Rafeena observed after Sideswipe had gone. “Is he angry that you are helping us?”

    “Something like that,” said Microburst. “My friends have become quite comfortable, holed up in America. I fear that their loyalty to the Americans is having a detrimental effect on their sense of compassion and rightness.”

    “Well I am glad you are here. I’ve never had a friend like you,” said the girl.

    “I have never had a friend like you either,” said Microburst, suddenly remembering the original reason for her coming to Africa to begin with. The signal that I picked up on my descent… Could it really be her? If Starscream is really up to something in Africa, then it would make sense… she mused, her mind sinking into the past.

    Microburst had been a young bot, newly emerged from the Well of Allsparks and the newest member of Polyhex’s street-paving caste when she first observed the flight of Seekers above her city. Later she became acquainted with all of them, as they helped the street-pavers in the initial stages of laying new roads. But there was one Seeker in particular – a young female bot named Staricell, who had become Microburst’s friend almost from the moment they first laid optics on each other. Cybertronians did not usually meet more than one or two such friends in a lifetime, and meeting Staricell had been like tasting energon for the first time. For teracycles they had worked on construction projects together, collaborating with the likes of Ultra Magnus to build tall, sweeping highways that curved around Polyhex in an arc, and which the rest of Cybertron spoke of with envy.

    When they weren’t working, Microburst and Staricell had sat high up in the canyons overlooking the city, admiring their work and speaking of many things – of starships and space bridges, and even of the curious news coming out of Kaon – of the gladiator who had taken the name of ‘Megatron’, who spoke of oppression and injustice in the factories of Kaon, demanding freedom for all Cybertronians and calling for nothing less than an end to the entire caste system.

    “What would happen if we didn’t have any castes?” asked Staricell. “Who would build the highways?”

    “I don’t know,” Microburst had admitted. “But I would like to go Six Lasers, and my caste isn’t allowed to do that.”

    “My caste isn’t either, but why would we want to when the whole of Cybertron’s skies are open to us?”

    “Not all its skies,” said Microburst. “The seekers from Polyhex aren’t allowed to go to Trypticon Station. I heard your commander talking about it the other day.”

    “That will change,” Staricell had said, and there was a strange edge to her voice.

    Many teracycles later, Microburst would look back on this conversation and wonder just when the cracks had begun in their seemingly impregnable friendship. Staricell must have been keeping secrets long before this day, was her only strong conclusion. When, a few megacycles later, Starscream had selected Staricell for his elite corps and she had turned her back on Microburst as completely as if they had never mattered to each other at all, it had hit Microburst like a falling chunk of highway.

    “This part of Africa was colonized by the French,” explained Brother Rafirakiri to a congregation of children and revolutionaries the following day. “Colonization means they wanted to suck all the wealth out of our nation while claiming they were ‘civilizing’ us - teaching us about English, and European laws, and birth control, and that kind of things.

    “After about a hundred years of this nonsense, our people began to grow restless.

    “In the old Kaziri language that was spoken hundreds of years before the Arabs came to our land with their own language, we had a phrase, ‘the hand that opens freely today, clenches into a fist tomorrow.’

    “The French did not heed this warning, and after about a hundred years of being treated as if we are not human beings but animals, all the tribes of this country had had it up to here with the French,” Brother Rafirakiri made a crude gesture.

    “But unfortunately, the revolutionaries that our people selected to lead us out of darkness had not been tempered by the flames of justice. When the day came for the Kaziri and all the neighboring tribes to once and for all declare our independence from France, our leaders proved to be a greater scourge than even the French had been.”

    After Brother Rafirakiri had finished a lengthy description of the atrocities committed by his country’s so-called liberators, he raised his hands for questions. Microburst could no longer keep silent.

    “Back on my home planet, we had a similar system of injustice, perpetuated by those more powerful, as a means of profiting from the labor of those who were forced by convention to work under terrible conditions, producing things that the rest of the planet needed – or thought we needed.

    “After many, many cycles of this, someone challenged the system, and called for its downfall. He demanded a new world system, one free from the conventions of caste and high council, a system based on freedom and individual choice.

    “Too many of us signed up to help him. The corrupt high council along with the guilds – those vessels of hubris and foolishness that passed for wisdom – were long gone before most of us realized that our so-called liberator was nothing but a despot disguised as a Revolutionary.”

    “What happened next?” asked Brother Rafirakiri.

    Microburst realized that the assembled humans were hanging on to her every word. So she went on to describe the history of the war that had nearly split Cybertron at its core. She told them about the caste system that had plunged Cybertron into a millennia-long stasis, during which its technologies declined and space travel became virtually unheard of. She spoke in broad, sweeping terms, leaving out anything too specific to the Autobots, and avoiding any discussion of her brief and ill-fated stint as a Decepticon.

    “The leader of my cadre believes that part of the discontinuity between the Megatron of yesterday and the one who nearly destroyed our planet, all stems from his insistence on using violence to accomplish all of his goals. I think there is probably a lot of truth to this – and the parallels with your own country are startling. Megatron became too willing sacrifice others to his goals, while refusing to walk the path of suffering himself.” She echoed Optimus Prime’s words as she described Cybertron’s descent into calamity under Decepticon control.

    What followed was a long discussion about decolonization and revolution, of luminaries like Sartre and Frantz Fanon, about India’s Satyagraha movement and the rise of Communism in East Asia. Some church members also spoke of Jesus Christ’s insistence on spiritual, not physical war, while others told of atrocities committed in His name by Western governments.

    “India achieved a nonviolent revolution,” said Brother Rafirakiri. “But the people of India are as numerous as the sands of the sea. We Kaziri are a small people, and when a people like ours takes a stand, weaponless, against the bulldozers and tanks of the RAA – History has told us that we face certain annihilation.”

    “Violence is sometimes necessary,” Microburst agreed. “But in order for a lasting peace to be possible in the end, forgiveness is even more necessary. Search your hearts and be wary of the desire for vengeance – this can consume your whole nation and burn you up with it.”

    In the end, nothing conclusive was decided, but Microburst’s circuits were alight with thought and inspiration as she pondered the history of western Africa, the wealth of its past kingdoms and the glory of its rulers, the scourge of Western imperialism and the dark legacy of slavery, the corrupt dictators and militias with their endless cycle of coups and war crimes.

    “How different it might be if the AllSpark had led the Autobots to Africa instead of America,” she said to herself, wondering if any of the other Autobots would consider a tank alt-mode.

    A few days later, Microburst received notice that the RAA captain had come down with a particularly nasty bout of Malaria, and was insisting that he speak to her at once.

    Even without human senses, Microburst’s sensors told her the captain was very sick – she detected the phosphorus and potassium buildup, and the presence of microbes in the air. He lay in a hammock, his black skin pale and sweaty. Handcuffs still encircled his emaciated wrists, and Microburst was surprised at the twinge of compassion she felt at the sight of this. She had to kneel to enter the hut. The captain’s eyes flashed briefly as he oriented himself with much difficulty so that he was facing her.

    “I have maybe a day left, maybe less,” he coughed, sending droplets of spittle outward. “I thought my enemies would be my downfall, not Malaria.”

    Microburst stayed silent, wondering what he wanted to say.

    “You think you are helping these people, but you are only harming them. Word will spread to Starscream, if it hasn’t already about your involvement here. A few months ago, the Decepticons merely wanted the Kaziri gone from this area because they represented a strategic obstacle to their goals. I thought that my policy of ‘take no prisoners’ would inspire the Kaziri to abandon their lands and move elsewhere.

    “But now, because of you, the Kaziri have become collaborators to the Autobots. When Starscream comes back here with his squadron, I can promise you that not a single person here will be left alive. Your short-lived occupation of the mine will be over, and the Kaziri as a people will have ceased to exist. How will that sit with you? Tribes like this one are the enemy of progress, and even those that try to help them only bring about their downfall faster. I have some deaths to answer for – but whenever the end of your days arrives, you will have much more blood on your hands than I ever did.”

    “Tell me,” said Microburst, partly on impulse, partly because she did not want him to see how his words had affected her, “did you call me simply to listen to your forecasts of doom, or do you have something useful to say? I think that the Kaziri’s kindness in not killing you has changed your outlook a little, and you know something that can help me keep them alive.”

    “I can’t say how much this will help you, but I will tell you what I know,” said the captain. He went on to tell her what he knew about the unique metal of the mine, how Starscream always handled the ore with great care, almost reverence.

    “I don’t have much of an education, but of all the different metals that exist on this planet, the metal ore at this mine is like none of them. From listening to Starscream and his cronies, I believe that this metal came from a very powerful magician, maybe thousands of years ago. I can’t say its exact properties, but in its purified form it can radiate light. It also can do things that make me wonder if it is controlled by evil spirits – I have seen a chunk of it floating above Starscream’s hand, as if a spirit is holding it. And the only time I touched the ore with my bare hand, it made me dizzy and sick for a whole day. The Decepticons practice their own brand of witchcraft, I think.”

    “That’s one way to say it,” said Microburst, remembering the agony of shrieking metal as Shockwave ripped off her chestplate with his bare hands.

    Microburst talked to the captain for a few more hours before he lapsed into an unresponsive coma. Just before sunset, his breath became still, and his heart gave a final lurch before stopping entirely.

    It seemed to happen at the exact instant that the captain’s heart stopped. Microburst detected a strong signal coming from his body. By the time she had located the device, the signal had already cut off.

    “They must have implanted it while he was sleeping,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. How like a Decepticon to believe that the captain’s enemies would kill him the moment they captured him. “They’ve just been waiting all this time, never intending to rescue him because he was just one more loose end that needed to be tied up.”

    She hastily gathered up the captain’s body, carried it outside and scraped a quick grave with her foot. She gently placed him in it and scraped earth back over it – surprised that she felt a little bad about not giving him a more proper burial.

    “All Kaziri old enough to carry a gun meet me here!” her voice echoed throughout the mine.

    People gathered quickly, lured by the alarm in her voice.

    “Our friend the captain passed away a few minutes ago. When his heart stopped working, it activated a signaling device hidden somewhere on his person. It is certain that we will face an attack soon, probably from the air. It is my recommendation that all children and some of the women and elderly take refuge in the caves. The rest of you that know how to use these Decepticon weapons should each take one and spread out into the forest. Do not cluster together – that will make it easy for them to take you out at once. Climb trees if need be – make sure you will have a good shot at them, but don’t lodge yourself in so tight that you can’t run if you need to.”

    It didn’t take long at all for her to sense the Seekers approaching. A cluster of signals, low and fast over the Kaziri villages further up in the hills. Microburst didn’t detect Starscream, but as she readied her most powerful cannon, she just hoped he was among them.
     
  6. Dansproject

    Dansproject Drifticon

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    Love it. Beautifully and intelligently written.
     
  7. Raptarrin

    Raptarrin Proud Decepticon

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    She kept moving, knowing that she would make an easy target if she stayed in one place.

    Keeping as close as she dared to the center of the mine, she ran in a zigzag between the rows of trees, her head swiveling left and right as she scanned the sky for Decepticons.
    A missile thudded into the ground near her left foot; she threw herself high into the air before she realized it hadn’t exploded. A warning grenade? What were the Seekers playing at? She ducked beneath an enormous tree, knowing it wouldn’t survive more than one concentrated blast from a Seeker’s cannon.

    The Seekers came in low and fast, too fast to take accurate aim. They divided at the last moment into two squadrons, which arced around and returned from a different direction. Microburst sensed their scanners going over every surface of the mine, perhaps looking for the metal?

    “Humans – lower your weapons and we will let you live,” came a voice from the sky. Microburst located the Seeker who was speaking and blew a photon rocket high in his direction. The squadron scattered and machine gun fire echoed against the stone walls of the mine.

    “How’s that for your answer?” Microburst roared, her circuits afire with the joy of battle. She didn’t wait for their response but dashed toward the center of the mine, knowing they wouldn’t use their most powerful weapons against her here. Shrapnel pounded her leg, not enough to be more than an irritant.

    Another photon rocket and a seeker fell, a wingtip destroyed. Microburst knew she should have aimed for the kill, but she remembered all the Seekers that had once been friends, and couldn’t bring herself to do it.

    She took aim at another, and her cannon was nearly charged when a tree at the edge of the forest exploded into a million blazing splinters. It was one of the few trees with no humans in it, and she knew the Seekers knew that.

    She hesitated for a split moment, and that was when the Missile exploded behind her, lifting her off the ground and propelling her halfway across the mine.

    When her systems came back online, she was aware of shards of hot pain tearing at her back, Rafeena’s hysterical voice, and another voice that she still recognized like the pulse of her own spark.

    “Microburst! Can you hear me? Skyquake, you almost murdered my best friend!”

    “How was I supposed to know she was your friend, Stariclell? She has an Autobot emblem and everything! If Starscream knew…”

    “You will tell Starscream nothing of this. Microburst is friends with these humans here. She will get us the metal we need – you will see. Microburst – can you hear me?”

    “Staricell? Is it really you? I thought you were dead – after the battle at Trypticon…”

    “I know,” said her friend, helping Microburst to sit up. “Here – drink this. It’s real energon – not that nasty earth-made stuff.”

    As Microburst took the cube and tilted it to her mouth, her internal systems hummed in pleasure as it spread throughout her body, closing the broken circuits and repairing the worst of the damage.

    “That is amazing,” she said with a sigh. “It’s been aeons, I think since I had anything that wonderful.”

    “There’s more where that came from,” said Staricell. “Do you think you can tell the humans we aren’t going to hurt them? I have a proposition that they might like.”

    As Microburst spoke to all the Kaziri in the trees and spread out in the ditches, they gradually came toward the center of the mine. Rafeena climbed up and took her usual place on Microburst’s shoulder.

    “Such an Autobot – complete with a human pet,” said Skyquake.

    “My human pet can shoot out both of your optics before you feel it,” growled Microburst.

    “Can I please?” said Rafeena eagerly.

    “Shut up, Skyquake,” said Staricell. “Microburst, tell your human friends that we would like to buy a large quantity of their metal. This can be the first payment.” She opened her hand to reveal a chunk of gold the size of a basketball.

    “Staricell, that gold was for…”

    “Shut up, Skyquake. What do you say, Microburst?”

    “I imagine the Kaziri might be fine with that.”

    It did not take much time for Rafeena’s mother and the other Kaziri leaders to hammer out a deal with Staricell. Soon the humans had stashed their weapons and were hard at work in the mines, assisting the Seekers with digging out chunks of ore. Microburst retired to her hut and Staricell went with her. Rafeena curled up in the corner and appeared asleep, but Microburst could see a faint gleam as the girl’s eyes followed her and Staricell.

    “For thousands of cycles I have wondered what happened to you, Microburst.”

    “Same here,” Microburst admitted. “I was quite sad when you went to join Starscream. I didn’t enjoy my work after you left, and when the Decepticons started to take over, I joined the independent faction that was selling weapons to both sides. It was nice for awhile – we watched the war start to tear Cybertron apart, but our own supplies of energon never wavered. It wasn’t until Polyhex had nearly fallen that Shockwave came to us and made us a deal we thought we could not refuse. By the time we realized our mistake, most of my comrades had already perished in his experiments.” Microburst drew back one arm all the way so that Staricell could see the mangled metal around her spark chamber.

    “I never liked Shockwave,” said Staricell with disgust.

    “I probably had mere cycles left when the Autobots attacked our city and Shockwave let me go,” said Microburst. “But they did not hold the city for long. They were gone within a megacycle. I knew that my only chance of survival was to pledge myself to the Decepticon cause. I got a few new weapons, though nothing better than what my friends had created during our trading days.

    “ Blackout deployed me to the front lines, ahead of the attack that brought Devastator to Crystal City. Myself and the other unlucky bots with me were basically nothing more than cannon fodder, distracting the sentries while the Constructicons got themselves into position. I was hit with a mortar round, which nearly melted through my right side, way too close to the parts damaged by Shockwave.

    “I limped back to Blackout, expecting to be repaired right away. But he made it clear that before he would repair me, I must pledge to be on the front lines of the impending attack on Iacon. I decided that my future did not lie with the Decepticons, and I began hatching a plan to join the Autobots. It wasn’t easy - it took megacycles of planning, and always running – I came close several times to being hauled back to Blackout for cannon fodder.”

    That wasn’t the whole truth – in fact, defecting to the Autobots had been the hardest thing Microburst had ever done. Isolated from the Decepticon leadership, she had employed every resource at her command to observe the Autobot troop movements, to observe them fighting whenever possible, and try to ascertain which ones might be willing to listen to her. This had also involved spying on the lower level Decepticons as they received their orders. In the end, her hard work and patience had paid off, as she was on the outskirts of Iacon when a skirmish erupted there. Her firepower had given Ratchet the time he needed to repair a few injured bots, and he had reluctantly listened to her story when the fighting died down, and had agreed to take her to the Autobots’ prison and repair her.

    “That is why Megatron is a fool,” said Staricell. “His prejudices cloud his judgment. Starscream is much wiser – he never would have sent someone of your size and intelligence to the front lines. Starscream knows how to lead, and when it is necessary to take the middle ground, he does that too. Once we are ready to take on Megatron, maybe you will be in a position to help us. So tell me – Is the Autobot leader as fearsome as everyone says?”

    “Yes,” said Microburst, thinking back to the first time she had met Optimus Prime. She had been in the Autobots’ prison, deep below Iacon for several weeks, and in the previous cycles had been interrogated by Ironhide, Sideswipe, and even Powerglide. Ratchet had repaired her until she was as good as new, and he was still the only one who didn’t want to see her used for target practice.

    She had been languishing in her cell when she heard approaching footsteps, and Optimus’ towering form stopped outside her cell. He had needed no introduction, and Microburst had jumped to her feet, wondering if he was about to blast her into fragments.

    ‘My lieutenants can agree on one thing about you , Microburst, and that is that your name is Microburst. Ironhide wants to see you turned into scrap, Bumblebee thinks it would be cool to watch you fight a Constructicon, and Sideswipe thinks you have unusual optics. I myself am thinking that no Decepticon would put up with the amount of abuse that my lieutenants have subjected you to. I finally got hold of Ultra Magnus, and he has good memories of the days that his team collaborated with yours in the building of Polyhex’ highways. This war has exacted heavy losses recently, and if you are ready, I could really use your help.’

    ‘Sir,’ Microburst had said, a little hesitantly, ‘there is something you should know about me. My best friend is a Seeker named Staricell. Last I saw her, she went to join Starscream aboard Trypticon Station. If I were to meet her in battle…’

    Optimus’ blue optics had gleamed with an ancient sadness, and Microburst had wondered what he was thinking. ‘I, too, had such a friend once, Microburst. He was from a different caste, and had seen much violence in his life. But he believed in the same things I believed in – a Cybertron free of the shackles of caste and guild. For a long time, our ideas were the same – to change Cybertron peacefully, from the inside. But Megatron was not a patient person – he grew fed up with the Council’s refusal to take him seriously, and the Decepticons began making a name for themselves through violence.’

    ‘You were friends with Megatron?’ Microburst had said incredulously.

    ‘This war has turned countless friends into the bitterest of enemies, Microburst. And your friend chose long ago which side she would serve. Right now, it is time that you choose yours. If you meet your friend in battle, which I hope never happens, she will see the red symbol on your chest long before she registers that you are someone she knows. And you will see the purple Decepticon emblem coming down from the sky before you register her unique signal. One of you will be dead before the other has any idea of what has happened.’

    ‘No one ever told me of your encouraging wit,’ Microburst had grumbled.

    ‘Come with me. Ironhide has a few upgrades in mind for you.’

    Microburst’s mind snapped back to the present. “So are you Starscream’s second in command now?”

    “You could say that,” said Staricell. “And we are close – very close to taking over the whole Decepticon movement.”
     
  8. Raptarrin

    Raptarrin Proud Decepticon

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    +0
    Over the next few weeks and months, Microburst felt like for the first time in her life, everything was as it should be. Staricell was back, and it felt almost like she had never left. Together they built many marvels that were probably the envy of all of Central Africa – irrigation ditches; they terraced hills for crops; they even built multilevel dwellings so that many Kaziri didn’t have to sleep on the ground.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the world did not like one little bit how the Kaziri had reclaimed what was theirs. Unrest increased in the surrounding areas as RAA troops attacked other Kaziri villages that previously had been left alone. Week by week, more and more Kaziri poured into the mine and surrounding areas, and Microburst and Staricell’s engineering brilliance was stretched like never before as they were forced to continuously find new and creative ways to accommodate and feed such large numbers of people and animals.

    And even Staricell and the Seekers were finding it a challenge to defend the mine, as new incursions of American- and French-made aircraft were continuously testing their perimeter.

    “It’s the Sudanese sending these aircraft,” Staricell confided after one particularly nasty confrontation. Two Seekers had taken missiles to their tail sections and were badly damaged. “But how they are getting their hands on F-16’s is anybody’s guess. Somebody is giving them large amounts of money – somebody with connections to the Americans and French.”

    Microburst heard not a single transmission from the other Autobots. Had they forgotten her? Every time a vehicle rolled up to the checkpoint at the mine, she went to look, in the small chance that it might be Ratchet or Ironhide. But it never was.

    The large numbers of new Kaziri pouring into the mine brought one issue in particular that Microburst wasn’t particularly happy about – Rafeena’s alcoholic father. Her mother had married him when she was young and he had been a landowner with two wives. He had not cared much for Rafeena and her mother then, and her mother had left after health problems impelled her to look for a better doctor than the village provided.

    Now, for some unknown reason, he was always loitering around Microburst’s hut, trying to talk Rafeena into marrying this or that friend of his, in order to curry favor for himself. Microburst considered herself a friend of the humans, but she disliked Rafeena’s father on some spark-deep level that made her just want to accidentally crush him every time he came around.

    This was just one of the many disturbing issues that she was pondering on the day that she received an incoming transmission from the Autobots.

    “Microburst – rendezvous at 2:00 pm local time, city of Kashere.”

    Microburst checked the time – she barely had time to make it if she left now.

    “Rafeena - if you see Staricell, tell her I will return this evening.”

    And Microburst transformed and was throwing up dust beneath her tires as she raced down the forested roads toward the city.

    The forest gradually gave way to civilization, the papaya and banana groves giving way to dusty clusters of huts, with herds of goats bleating from their pens and children playing soccer in the streets. It was almost as if the war didn’t exist here.

    Microburst was nearing the wealthier section of the city, where its small expat population sat outside of cafés sipping on daiquiris and discussing politics, when she detected the cloaked and barely discernible signal of an Autobot.

    She passed on by the tree-lined streets and found herself in a rougher section of town, complete with running chickens and RAA soldiers strutting around showing off weapons. This had to be close to the bazaar that Rafeena’s mother had said was a notorious CIA hangout.

    Microburst saw the red Peterbilt truck before she even registered its signal. He was parked in the middle of the street, undoubtedly the shiniest vehicle in the entire city. The RAA soldiers were walking around him like he wasn’t even there, probably because of the ten or so holographic soldiers that were lounging up on his hood or dangling out of his open doors. The holograms’ uniforms were RAA down to the dirt on their boots. If Microburst could have laughed in alt form, she would have. Who said the Autobot leader had no sense of humor?

    Ironhide was a little more out of the way in the shadows of a Baobab tree, but his hood and truck bed were festooned just as much with decorative soldiers.

    Optimus did a fast u-turn that would have looked suspicious had any of the humans been paying attention. He headed up the road Microburst followed behind him and Ironhide as the forest closed around them and they neared an RAA checkpoint, the two other Autobots barely pausing as their fake soldiers yelled out a series of passwords in French.
    Microburst was starting to let her attention lapse when suddenly the two bots in front of her veered off the road and into some sort of deserted compound that looked like an 18th century fort. They both transformed, and Microburst had a strong sense that neither of them were too happy with her.

    “Ironhide, do you mind watching the perimeter while I have a word with Microburst?”

    Ironhide looked like he was dying to say something, but he nodded and his cannons whirled orange as he took a lookout position across the fort.

    Microburst looked up at the blue optics that had greeted the final visage of many a Decepticon.

    “It was dangerous for you to come. If Starscream knew…” she began.

    Optimus Prime stood to his full height, the way he always did when he was about to make a point. “Microburst, your actions here have sent echoes throughout the human world, and lately a day doesn’t go by in which I do not have to answer to someone for what is going on over here. Saying that the Americans are ‘concerned’ is an understatement.”

    Microburst held her ground – Optimus could be pretty intimidating at times.

    “Optimus, I would like to talk to you about this cozy relationship you have with the Americans. Do you know that the RAA are getting their weapons from an American company named Ventalios? If it wasn’t for Starscream’s help, the Kaziri would be all lying in one mass grave by now.”

    “Ventalios? I have heard that name before. That might explain why Congress has been all over Major Lennox lately. Senators that used to rubber stamp our funding have been calling me personally and issuing threats to me, Microburst. They believe that you have changed sides, and Ratchet’s big mouth hasn’t helped the situation, telling of your former days as a Decepticon.

    “Microburst – I understand your desire prevent the Kaziri from becoming another vanished tribe in the human hierarchy of genocides and massacres. I applaud your efforts and will never stop defending you to the Americans. The issue at hand is this: We Autobots are fighting for the very existence of the human race itself. Make no mistake – the Americans are far from perfect, and it is true that their leaders are beholden to corporate interests. But there are too few of us on this planet, and the might of the U.S. military has turned more than one battle in our favor. You heard about the demise of Devastator? I played a small role in that, but it was a battleship called the USS Viking that rendered him unable to combine for the foreseeable future. Microburst – we must be very circumspect about getting involved in human conflicts…”

    “Do you know why so few Autobots have come to Earth?” Microburst interrupted. She knew it was rude, but her anger got the best of her. “There are many, many Autobots out there, Optimus. I have spoken to groups of them, on several planets. They have avoided coming to Earth because rumours have spread of the great Autobot leader’s friendship with the humans. They say you have lost sight of your bigger goals for Cybertron in your quest to protect Earth. I tried to set them straight, Optimus, I really did, but it is undeniable that every time you take a stand for something, you sacrifice friends and Allies.”

    Any other bot would have become angry, but not Optimus. “You interrupted me before I was finished, Microburst. What I was about to say is that you must choose carefully which battles you will stand and fight for, and which you will retreat from in the name of greater strategic goals. This was true for me when I decided not to send reinforcements to Fort Scyk in the early stages of the War for Cybertron, and it is true for you now. I question the wisdom of your de facto alliance with Starscream. It has served you well in the present, but will you be prepared to do what needs to be done when the time comes? Have you been taking backup measures in case Staricell betrays you this time like she did before?”

    “Staricell never betrayed me,” Microburst growled. “I didn’t know this, but she played a role in getting Shockwave to release me.”

    “That’s rubbish, Microburst,” growled Ironhide from across the compound, his temper finally getting the better of him.

    “Ironhide…”

    “Optimus, we did not just spend sixteen hours on an aircraft carrier to listen to Microburst defend her Seeker friend. Do you know that Starscream led the attack on my home city? Enough talking. Where is he, Microburst? Let’s go take him out.”

    “I actually haven’t seen Starscream,” said Microburst. “I am not sure Staricell has even told him of her involvement with me. And I couldn’t tell you where he was even if I knew where his base is located. Because F-16s have been testing our perimeter every other day, and I imagine Starscream has his turrets occupied with that.”

    “Microburst – you didn’t answer Optimus’ question. Do you have a plan in place when this whole thing goes south, as the Americans say?”

    “I have the beginnings of a plan,” said Microburst, her cannons flaring briefly in her agitation. “But not a clear exit strategy. All I can really say for sure is that I am fully prepared to do what I must in order to protect the Kaziri.”

    “In that case,” said Optimus, “you need to listen very closely to what I am about to tell you.”
     

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