El Guettar, Tunisia - 26th March 1943 Oberleutnant Hans Richton was beginning to question his own beliefs; in Rommel, in the Wehrmacht, even in the Fuhrer himself. Germany was supposed to be the most powerful nation in the world and had shown the world this in the past three years by sweeping across all of Europe and by ploughing into the Bolshevik monstrosity of Russia now. But, with the Americans had caught them in this desolate wasteland so far from the Fatherland, Hans was beginning to question whether the German people really were the supermen they were told to be. Artillery strikes rained down on his platoon. The American’s precision was immaculate, as if the shells were drawn to the soldiers like a magnet. Hans had sent a request for air support to deal with the artillery hours ago, but he failed to see any aircraft in the sky with Luftwaffe markings on them. As his men continued to fire, with machine gun and rifles, it looked like they had all be left to die so that the remainder of Rommel’s force could consolidate their defence. Another artillery strike hit not far away, creating a plume of smoke and ash rose from the sand coloured earth. Something leapt from the dust cloud into the sky, glinting like metal and glass as it did so. Hans followed it with his eyes, losing all focus and attention on the battle around him. As he followed the strange object higher, he could see fighter planes fighting above him; maybe his request and been heard but the Allied planes had caught them. The strange object was too far for him to see now, though its reflection kept glinting away. After a few moments, it shot back down into the fading cloud where a chasm had been opened up by the artillery shells. Hans returned to reality when more shells rained down upon his platoon, this time overshooting them by several feet. He heard the rumble of engines from behind and was surprised to see a StuG 40 tank destroyer emerging from the dust. Its cannon roared as it fired upon the American forces that began to grow silent against this unexpected, and unrequested, reinforcement. As the sound of rifle and machine gun fire began to dissipate, the sound of rotor blades filled the air. A P-40 Warhawk had escaped the melee above them to assist with the American offensive on the ground. The sound of shifting plates of metal, gears turning and high pitched whining from behind Han’s platoon stunned everyone as the tank destroyer moved it parts to reconfigure itself into a giant metal man with the cannon now resting on its arm. The valley stood still for a moment as everyone, both German and American stood in awe and fear of this figure. The fighter plane attempted to turn away from its planned strafing run but the metal man raised his cannon and fired that it was pointless. The aircraft was destroyed in an instant; obliterated into a fiery ball of twisted metal that fell to the ground with a tremendous crash. Hans, paralysed with fire and shaking like never before, turned to look at the metal giant. Its head reminded him of his own stahlhelm though its blood red eyes drew little else to remind him of anything human. As it looked down at the flaming wreck it had brought down, it cried out in a deafening roar, “Ich Bin Megatron!” El Guettar, Tunisia – 31st March 1943 Hans-Jürgen von Arnim was convinced that this war had finally succeeded in driving him mad. When a messenger from 5th Platoon arrived at Arnim’s HQ five days ago reporting that one of their tanks had turned into a giant metal man, he initially thought that the man had succumbed to the desert heat or the cacophony of battle, or even both. But the hand-written note from Oberleutnant Richton verifying this information, he began to suspect that something had clearly happened. On the drive down to the depot where the platoon had been stationed, Arnim began to suspect that this had to be either a conspiracy or an attempt to capture him; had the American’s overrun 5th Platoon and forced Richton to send a false message in an attempt to lure him down there so that he could captured and killed? What other logic could it be; there was no way that both the messenger and his commanding officer had both seen the same hallucination. His scepticism continued until they finally reached the depot. The platoon was still on guard there; they had formed a large defensive perimeter, making use of the large rocks and boulders for cover. Towards the back of the site sat a StuG 40 tank destroyer in a typical dark grey colouration bearing the markings ‘D16’, its cannon aimed towards where the American forces had attacked only hours ago but was now silent. As his car slowed to a halt, Richton walked over to greet him. “Welcome Herr Generaloberst,” said Richton, saluting him respectfully. He appeared to be a man with great pride and charisma; not the sort of man who would take to disobeying orders of making falsified claims. “I am honoured that you have come to see our new ally for yourself.” “I am here to see whether you truly have lost your mind, as your message suggested” replied Arnim. “Regardless of the contents of that note, you appear to have fought back the American advance with great valour and minimal casualties. You should be commended, Oberleutnant.” “It was not my efforts that allowed with this victory for the Reich, Herr Generaloberst. It was him,” stated Richton, pointing towards the large ironclad tank destroyer. “He asked to meet my commanding officer; I believe that he had matters he wishes to discuss with you.” The young officer strode over to the armoured vehicle, “Herr Megatron, Generaloberst Arnim, Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Africa, is here as you requested.” The whirring of gears and cogs could be heard before a high pitched whining from the StuG. Its armour plating and treads all shifted around its bulk and it rose into the figure of a man 20ft tall. The dark grey of its tank armour slid away to reveal a lighter grey, not dissimilar to the grey himself was wearing on his uniform. Its head bore a striking resemblance to the stahlhelm used by the infantry, although it seemed to narrower to its ‘face’. The tank’s cannon now rested on its arm giving it a terrifying yet awe-inspiring appearance when it saluted to him. “Herr Generaloberst,” it growled in a deep voice that reminded Arnim of a tank engine. “I am Megatron, Leader of the Decepticons. I do not wish to cause you or your men any interference; however I believe that it is best that we discuss the current situation at once.” That first meeting had stunned Arnim, making him involuntary evacuate his bladder across the front of his trousers. Upon returning to his base camp with Megatron, they began discussing the current situation from their own point of views. Megatron explained how he and his fellow Decepticons came to Earth millions of years ago from another planet, their home called Cybertron. There they had been at war with the Autobots; beings like them but they were heavily corrupted in society and the Decepticons wished to rid them of this corruption and replace with a new sense of order led by Megatron. Arnim was easily able to sympathise with the Decepticons and explained the story of how this war on Earth had come to pass in the past few years; the Great War all those decades ago, the Treaty of Versailles, the Stab-in-the-Back, the Bolsheviks, the rise of the Fuhrer and the Allies. Megatron continued with this story of how they arrived on Earth. “Our ship, the Nemesis, left Cybertron to seek fuel as our own planet had become empty. I personally led this mission along with some of my best soldiers to guarantee the safety of the fuel and its safe return to Cybertron. But the Autobots pursued us in their ship, the Ark, hoping to destroy us and our attempt at freeing Cybertron,” recalled Megatron. “We boarded their ship in an attempt to throw them off course, but we proved unsuccessful. As the ships approached your planet, damage was done to the Ark’s control system, causing it to collide with our ship. The resulting damage resulted in a chain reaction of both ships starting to break apart. Many of my Decepticons and some of the Autobots escaped in escape pods, life vessels to you, ejecting down to the surface of Earth. My bodyguard unit, the Seekers, and I continued to fight against Optimus Prime and his remaining Autobots on the bridge before we were forced to escape too.” “So your soldiers are elsewhere on the planet somewhere?” asked Arnim, trying to hide his glee at the thought of armies of giant metal warriors. “Is there any way that you could find out where?” “Not without my communications expert, Soundwave,” replied Megatron. “He was amongst the last to leave in the battle so I wouldn’t expect his shuttle to have gotten too far from where I landed. Finding Soundwave and the Seekers are my priority now, after which I must determine the fate of Optimus and his corrupted Autobots.” Arnim adjusted his seat to be less uncomfortable. If the Autobots were really as corrupted as Megatron said, it wouldn’t be surprising to find them in the service of the British or the Americans. If they had been found by the Soviets, they would have been deployed by now; the Bolsheviks would simply rush into the battle with their new weapons hoping that they’d work. They were desperate for victory and would do so at the fastest measure. “I can assure you, Herr Megatron, that I have not heard any descriptions of any beings like yourself.” “Very well,” said Megatron with a disappointed grumble. It did not take long to find the Seekers however. Later the same day, it looked as though the base camp was about to be attacked by three fight aircraft. As they grew closer, it could be seen that they were three Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. At the moment it looked like they were about to collide with the camp, they shot into the air and changed form into three man-like figures. There were identical, even then, expect for the colours that could be seen beneath their fighter components. Starscream, the leader of the Seekers, stepped forward first proclaiming his allegiance to Megatron and how pleased he was that they were able to find him. His red, blue and white under-amour parts made the easiest to distinguish between the three fighters. Megatron proceeded to explain their current situation to his re-united soldiers, occasionally slipping between animalistic and mechanical sounding noises and the German which he had been speaking with Arnim and Richton. Arnim’s report to the Fuhrer about their latest allies in the war would be long and detailed but was certain to guarantee promotion if not a greater reward at the delivery of four super weapon soldiers. The arrival and deployment of the Decepticons was proving to be highly successful for Army Group Africa at this point; Arnim was able to send Megatron to where the American forces had their strongest concentrations of armour, where he would destroy them all with little effort whilst Starscream and Thundercracker, the blue Seeker, were able to give provide air dominance over the entire battlefield. Skywarp, the last and purple Seeker, was sent to find Megatron’s communication officer Soundwave. Arnim would have much preferred to have Skywarp deployed in the battle, not least when he discovered that the purple fighter plane was capable of transporting himself anywhere in an instant. But the Leader of the Decepticons had given first priority to finding the elusive Soundwave. The battle was going in favour of Arnim when he received a message from Hauptmann Arker. He wrote that in a confrontation between his five of Panzers and an American tank destroyer, the tank destroyer disabled all of the Panzers in a matter of minutes. Whilst this may have been an expert tank crew and extraordinary luck, Arker continued that the American weapon then changed into a giant metal figure before leading those American troops into battle. The subsequent message that Hauptmann Arker’s platoon had been defeated and Arker had been killed told one thing to Arnim; the Americans had found an Autobot. El Guettar, Tunisia – 31st March 1943 As all around him the human soldiers of the United States of America surged forward to break through the enemy fortified position, Optimus Prime recalled the many similar encounters he had had against Decepticon strongholds back on Cybertron. War, it seemed, was a universal constant – not confined to a single race or planet. This fact perturbed Optimus; all he wanted was peace and freedom for all beings yet this desire proved to be more elusive than ever after awaking on this strange planet. After the Decepticons had fled the bridge of the Ark, destroying much of the control systems, Optimus had ordered all of the remaining Autobots into the few escape pods. Ironhide, his oldest friend, refused to leave Prime piloting this broken half of the ship into the planet’s surface and stayed with him until they made impact. Upon striking the planet, the Ark’s primary control network activated the emergency lockdown protocol turning the bridge into a bunker until external activation could be initiated. Optimus and Ironhide had, by this point, gone into stasis to slowly repair their systems and avoid loss of energon. Optimus’ next memories were of waking up to the shaking of his ship and the sound of explosions coming from above and outside. As he looked to see Ironhide, he could see that his outer alternate mode components had been reformatted into a tracked armoured vehicle. Looking at his own body, Prime could see that he had undergone a similar reformatting though on larger scale to accommodate his greater mass. Both the Autobots journey to the break in the ship’s hull where light was streaming through, where the sound of gunfire and artillery strikes brought back the memories of the war they had long been away from. As they rushed outside, expecting to see Autobots and Decepticons still engaged in their civil war, they were surprised to instead see small organic life forms attacking one another with larger mechanical beings aiding them as fire support platforms. “What the pit is goin’ on here, Prime?” asked Ironhide, his former clipped and direct voice now replaced with a thunderous and drawling voice. His close friend grasped his own throat, not expecting a change in his voice aside from the language that came forward for it. “New voice; that’s weird.” “It would appear that we’ve woken up on another world that is engulfed in conflict, Ironhide. I suggest that we remain unseen until the conflict below had ended so that we do not invite either side to attack us in suspicion of being their enemy” replied Optimus, whose own voice had remained unchanged. The Sky Spy’s ability to locate and allocate new alternation modes for Cybertronians was the default application of its hardware, though Optimus had asked Ratchet and Wheeljack to apply new software to those installed in the Ark. The ability to speak in the native language of the race that they acquired their new forms from would assist the Autobots in inter-species relations, was what Optimus had told his chief medic and engineer. The unexpected side-effect of drastically altering a voice had not been considered in their calculations it seemed. After waiting for some time, the battle below the two Autobots ended. Both journeyed down to the military forces in the valley and learned that the victorious side had been that which they gained their new forms from. “Hey! Who asked for an M4 and an M10? I didn’t send no requests for any reinforcements,” shouted one of the organics. “Sorry boys,” it continued moving towards Optimus and Ironhide, “The party’s over. I don’t know who sent you fellas down here, but you’re too little, too late.” “Little?! Who are you calling little, shortstuff?!” erupted Ironhide, changing back into his natural form in high-speed. All of the organics froze momentarily before grappling for their weapons, whilst the one that had addressed Ironhide fell backwards and began to drag itself away with its arms though never looking away from Ironhide. Optimus quickly sought to diffuse the situation and changed form himself to quell Ironhide’s temper. “Easy Ironhide,” said Optimus in a parental fashion, seemingly calming his friend down. “We bid you no harm. We have come in peace. Please, lower your weapons.” The organics looked towards one another, all uncertain of whether to oblige with alien figure’s request. “Do as he says boys,” shouted their first contact. “I think that if they’d wanted us dead, we’d be corpses by now.” At that, all of the soldiers lowered their weapons, though their faces remained a mixture of fear, awe and distrust. “Thank you,” replied Optimus. “I am Optimus Prime, Leader of the Autobots. This is my friend and comrade-in-arms, Ironhide. You must forgive his actions; we did not mean to frighten you. We are life forms from another planet and are here to find fuel and energy to help our own people in a war that has engulfed our planet.” “Well, we’ve got a planet at war with itself here,” retorted the organic that had first spoken; now pulling itself up onto its feet. “Nice of you to join us now, you’ll feel right at home. Name’s Captain Roger Braxton. Friends call me ‘Brax’.” “It is a pleasure of meet you, Brax,” said Optimus. “I think it would be best to meet your leaders. We will have much to discuss with them.” “That’ll be General Patton then. We’d the commanding officer of this here army, but we’re kind of in the middle of a battle so he may a little preoccupied. Then again, when he gets a load of you two I think you’ll have his full attention. Follow me, I’ll take you guys up there now” Brax made his way over to the Jeep at the back of the valley where his soldiers were now setting up defensive measure in the eventuality of another offensive from the Wehrmacht. “I’m sorry about scarin’ you there, Braxton” apologised Ironhide as Brax got into the car. “I’m still a lil’ tense after being woken up after your stasis; sensors are tellin’ me that we were gone for a couple hundred million years.” “That’s one hell of a nap you boys took,” laughed back Captain Braxton. “I’d be a little cracking myself with that kind of jetlag. Don’t worry about it Ironhide. I wasn’t the only one frightened by it anyhow.” He continued to laugh until his voice was dimmed by the sound of the tiny motor engine in his car. Their meeting with General Patton didn’t take as long as Optimus thought it was going to. Patton came across as little shocked when they revealed themselves to him and took a great deal of interest in Ironhide, though mostly because his new alternate mode was the same vehicle that Patton operated in the field. Their brief history lesson taking only a short number of minutes was a brief summary of the war and its key players; Hitler; Leader of Germany, who had invaded Poland in 1939, was a dictator of great vocal power and a madman by all accounts, Hirohito and Tojo; Emperor and Prime Minister of Japan respectively, who had invaded colonies of various European countries in 1941 as well as bombing Pearl Harbour without a formal declaration of war against the United States of America, Churchill; Prime Minister of the British Empire, who had survived aerial bombardment by Germany in 1940 and was now on the offensive in its African colonies against the German and Italian invaders, Roosevelt; President of the United States of America, who was now launching offences of their own in Axis controlled Africa and in the Japanese-occupied territories in the Pacific and Stalin; leader of the Soviet Union, who had been invaded by Germany in 1941 and seemed to be only a nominal ally in the eyes and words of Patton. The actions and personalities of the Axis powers reminded Optimus of the Decepticons, notably a parallel between Megatron and Hitler. Patton then asked whether the Autobots would be willing and able to assist the Americans, and Allied forces, in defeating the Axis powers. Optimus was torn between his two options; he never wanted to be in a war back on Cybertron and wish that should the war spread to other planets that they would become embroiled in their conflict. However, the dictatorships of the Axis powers and their brutal invasion and occupation of innocent countries brought to mind the same reasons that Optimus had for becoming part of the Autobots all that time ago on Cybertron. Before Optimus was able to make his decision, Patton interrupted his thoughts. “We’ve just had a report from one of my divisions that whilst they were under attack from the Germans, one of the German tank destroyers changed into a metal giant and nearly wiped them out with the tank cannon on its arm,” said Patton coldly. He was unprepared that his potential allies could turn against him like this. “Is that a friend of yours firing on my men?” “Megatron,” growled Optimus. “Attacking innocent people without provocation, who have nothing to do with our conflict...” Optimus’ face became stern and angry as he grew deeper into his mind and his decision to Patton’s first request. “That’s not one of our guys, General,” replied Ironhide, anger seething through his words. “That’s Megatron, one of the Decepticons. Imagine the Nazis only 10 times worse; an indestructible metal giant with a mind like Hitler and Tojo combined.” He turned towards Optimus. “Optimus, if Megatron is fighting for the Nazis, then we have to help the Allies. If we don’t, it’ll be the end of freedom on this planet under a Decepticon-allied Axis.” Ironhide’s words brought Optimus back into reality. “Ironhide, I agree with you. We shall take the fight to Megatron and to the Axis powers; I will not stand by and let the right of freedom be stolen away from any sentient being by a warmonger such as them.” His words came forward as though glowing with the light of freedom and liberty itself. “General Patton, we shall aid you in this conflict. Send a message to President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill that the Autobots are now your fellow Allies, and at war with the Axis Powers.” El Guettar, Tunisia – 4th April 1943 Megatron had erupted with rage and fury when Arnim informed him of the discovery that the Americans were employing the use of the Autobots in this conflict now. His questions as to the identity of the Autobot that led the attack on Hauptmann Arker five days ago could not be answered as no Wehrmacht solider or officer had returned after the American offensive. This only served to drive him into a worse rage. Starscream, his Second-in-Command, attempted to quell the rage of his leader by saying that it would only be a matter of time before they met on the battlefield and then Megatron would be able to crush the “spark” out of the Autobot. Arnim was not unsure of what this meant, but took it to mean the spark of its life. Though his outward fury appeared to calm, Megatron’s request of the whereabouts of Soundwave could still not be answered; Skywarp was still having little success in his hunt for the elusive “escape pod” that housed Megatron’s communication officer. “As soon as you receive any word that an Autobot is attacking anywhere, I want you to contact me immediately,” Megatron growled to Arnim. Although Arnim was still the Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Africa, Megatron and his Decepticons were able to operate as free agents until an official chain of command had been set up under the Fuhrer’s instructions. Megatron was making great use of this freedom, and his overwhelming firepower, to achieve his own goals through the means of Arnim. “I shall contact you as soon as any news reaches me, Herr Megatron,” Arnim grudgingly replied. “It would only make do to have you deployed in that battle; none of my own men would be capable of defeating, or even holding back, an Autobot.” At least he could make as much use out of Megatron as the Decepticon was making use of him. The numbers of casualties in battles that Megatron had been deployed to were significantly lower than they would have been before. Arnim was unsure of whether this was due Megatron’s added firepower, the breaking of enemy morale upon seeing him or the reported bloodthirsty aggression with which Megatron attacked those units. It would not be long, thought Arnim, until the Fuhrer sends the Decepticons to the Eastern Front with those kinds of results. Megatron had been deployed to 3rd Division with Starscream and Thundercracker both providing air defence above 7th Division. Arnim was receiving reports of how the large numbers of M10 ‘Wolverine’ tank destroyers were proving to be a more difficult opponent for Megatron than previous battles had. It seemed that their collective firepower was keeping the Decepticon leader at bay and unable to bring total domination to the battlefield. He privately made a note of this in his report to the General Staff. Best to know how to deal with the Decepticons would they prove unfaithful, Arnim thought to himself and added to the report. A messenger ran over to the tent that Arnim was working from. “Generaloberst,” panted to the messenger, saluting him whilst speaking. “We have received a message from 2nd Division that they are under attack from a tank destroyer that stood up and continued to fire on them. They are requesting for further instructions and reinforcements.” Arnim looked up at the young man, who seemed no older than his mid-20s. “Contact them to say that they are to form a defensive front until reinforcements arrive, with preparations to make a tactical withdrawal if need be. Reinforcements will arrive there shortly,” replied Arnim in his stern authoritarian voice. The messenger saluted him again before departing with the message. Arnim walked over to the communications tent and instructed one of the operators to contact Megatron to inform him of the news and then contact 3rd Division to also take defensive measures, with the possibility of a tactical withdrawal. Megatron may win one battle today, but he would also make it that Arnim lost one too. .... The German forces are changed their tactics of primarily using infantry armed with anti-tank weapons since Optimus and Ironhide had began assisting the American offensive. This allowed the Wehrmacht to consolidate their armoured forces into larger groups to use and armoured fist against the US soldiers, whilst not allowing either of the Autobots to make as much use of the firepower capability. It seemed however, that the demoralising effect of seeing one of their enemy’s vehicles transform into a giant metal being was often enough to start a victory charge from the US soldiers into the Germans. Optimus could not help to admire the patriotism and courage of those soldiers, each willing to die for their country and for the cause of freedom and liberating the world from the Nazi menace. He would have been proud to lay down his life for anyone one of those men as he was willing to do so for any of his Autobots, where ever they were. As the Germans began to retreat and the US soldiers advance, a gap opened up in the German front where a large, dark grey armoured vehicle moved forward into. Optimus had studied all the current specifications of all Axis power weapons so as to deduce the best means to defeating it battle as well as to identify it. What stood before him was a Stug40 Tank destroyer; an unexpected arrival on the battlefield as the Americans had no armour deployed, with Optimus himself as the only exception. A high-pitched whine emerged from the StuG before its vehicular components shifted over one another to reform itself as a towering figure of terror and tyranny. “Megatron,” Optimus growled. “Surrender now and we can avoid the needless waste of life on this planet as we did our own.” Optimus hoped that Megatron would see the tragedy that war had inflicted on this planet and see reason in his logic. “Prime, you think that I would surrender to you?!” roared Megatron. “You truly are a pathetic being, but only fitting that a pathetic people would have you a pathetic leader!” Megatron pointed his cannon towards the US soldiers, now standing motionless, and opened fire. Explosions sent shockwaves through the air and the gunfire resumed. “Fallback behind me!” shouted Optimus to the soldiers. “I’ll cover you” Optimus proceeded to use his own cannon, now in the form of his rifle, to attack Megatron and draw his fire away from the defenceless soldiers he had deemed to protect. As the soldiers flooded back, an artillery barrage shook the German positions ending the machine gun fire erupting from their positions. Dust and ash rose from the German positions, as the German soldiers were now beginning to retreat on their own. “Feiglinge!” shouted Megatron to the Germans. “It would seem that I shall have to finish you all off myself. Oh well” said Megatron as a malicious grin spread across his face. He charged into Optimus where the two began close combat against one another. The force of Megatron’s charge allowed him to push Optimus to the ground, though his second attempt at striking the Autobot leader failed as Optimus rolled onto his side. The Decepticon leader moved down to deal another blow to Optimus when he instead received a punch from Optimus, knocking him back against the large boulders that litter the battlefield. The US soldiers then opened fire on the now exposed Megatron; drawing his attention and allowing Optimus to make another blow to his nemesis. Megatron began to realise that it was outnumbered in this battle but sought to tip the odds back into his favour. “Starscream! Thundercracker! I need air cover!” he bellowed into the sky. It seemed not an instant had gone by before two Fw 190 fighter planes roared down from the sky to attack the US infantry still firing on Megatron. The infantry dived for cover as the fighter planes turned to perform another strafing run. “You haven’t picked your allies very wisely, Optimus” joked Optimus as he turned back to face the Autobot leader only to meet his fist smashing Megatron’s face. Megatron was thrown down to the ground by the unexpected move. Raising his cannon to fire, Megatron could hear the two Seekers approaching from behind him and sought to make use of the collective firepower. As he launched his cannon, Optimus dove out of the way only to find himself in the path of the gunfire from Starscream and Thundercracker. Optimus’ profane form heaved itself from the ground, though the damage from the Seekers’ attack made this difficult and painful. Upon returning himself to an upright position, Optimus saw that he was surrounded by Megatron and his two Seekers. Megatron’s smile oozed of sadistic pleasure. “I never thought that I would finally defeat you on a world so far from our home, Optimus” said Megatron, his smile never leaving his face. “But I did know that I would defeat you.” He raised his arm cannon for the killing blow only to have his arm blasted off position by another cannon firing. The Decepticons all looked to see that a lone approaching M4 tank had attacked them. Optimus, using the distraction to his advantage, shot Thundercracker with his rifle and escaped through the gap in the circle. “Starscream, deal with that tank. Optimus is mine!” Optimus continued to fire at Megatron, slowing the Decepticon leader down before evading the rifle fire behind a rock face. Optimus could still see the Starscream approaching the US tank. “So, dachte man wenig Menschen dass man die große Sternschrei Niederlage haben Sie?” asked Starscream. Optimus did not fully recognise the language at first, but then remembered that it was the language the German soldiers used when he fought against them. A second voice then made Optimus smile at the surprise. “Don’t know what you’re sayin’ Starscream,” said Ironhide, transforming before the unsuspecting Seeker. “But I know you weren’t expecting to see me here” Starscream looked around for back up only see no sign of either Thundercracker or Megatron. He slowly began to back away from Ironhide, who was now holding his rifle towards him. “Ironhide,” said Starscream, returning to their native cybertronian language instead of the German had been using before. “I did not expect you to be alive and on this planet now” “Neither was I. Ain’t that a surprise for both of us?” retorted Ironhide. Optimus slowly moved towards Ironhide, also keeping his rifle locked onto Starscream but also being wary of where Megatron and Thundercracker had escaped to. “You two Autobots would never harm an innocent flyer, would you?” pleaded Starscream. Ironhide and Optimus only glanced at one another before returning their focus to Starscream. “I mean, you can trust me.” A small grin opened up on the Seeker’s face. “But I suppose we’re not called Decepticons for nothing” Megatron and Thundercracker had snuck back from where they were hiding to restore the original circle they had surrounding Optimus, now including Ironhide. “Now then,” began Megatron, “Where were we?” He once again raised his arm cannon to terminate Optimus. Artillery shells rained down around the Cybertronians pulling focus away from Optimus and Ironhide who knocked over Starscream running towards where the American forces had been. As Megatron turned to fire on them, a P-51 Mustang shot down out of the sky and fired on him instead. The aerial attack caught the Decepticon leader off-guard how then shouted at the seekers to attack the American fighter. Obliging their master’s command, they both ran and leapt into the air before transforming into their Focke-Wulf alternate modes. However, upon completing their transformation, they were caught in a hail of gunfire from two more approaching fight aircraft. Flying into meet them, the P-39 Aircobra and P-40 Warhawk joined the Mustang in opening fire once again the outnumbered and outgunned Seekers. Megatron, left on his own on the ground, looked to find Optimus and his fellow Autobot only to find more than he bargained for; before him stood eight Autobots, all with their rifles facing towards him. Realising that a total victory was not achievable today, Megatron shouted for the Seekers to fall back before changing back into his tank destroyer mode and retreating. Optimus lowered his weapon and looked at his Autobot crew, reunited once again; Prowl; his intelligence officer was now using the form of an M3A1 Scout Car, Ratchet; Chief Medic had assumed for unarmed form of an M4 Tractor Unit and Bumblebee; who had chosen a British Daimler Armoured Car as his alternate mode. Wheeljack; Optimus’ Chief Engineer had decided to become an M3 Stuart Tank, Mirage; the espionage agent had elected to become an M8 Greyhound Armoured Car and Hound; a scout alongside Bumblebee was now in the form of a Willys Jeep. The three fighter planes landed and also transformed to reveal their identities; Skydive and Slingshot, two of the members of the Aerialbot team had become a P-39 Aircobra and P-40 Warhawk respectively, and Jazz; Optimus’ Second-in-Command was the P-51 Mustang that had delivered the first strike in the Autobots’ rescue operation. Optimus looked over his team before moving back towards the American HQ. “Autobots,” uttered Optimus, “Transform and Roll Out!” Izyum, Ukrainian SSR – 31st March 1943 The Italian division that had attempted an offensive in capturing more of the city now lay dead on the ground; their boys crushed and filled with bullet holes. Dmitri Ushankov could see that one of the Italians, an officer judging from his uniform, who had been crushed by one of the tanks guarding the city, was still breathing and trying to speak his last words to someone. For the sake of solidarity, he walked over to the paralysed man and listened to his dying words. A KV-1 tank rolling back into the city to resume its sentry position stopped at Ushankov walked by. “Comrade, it would seem his last words were meant for you,” said Ushankov. An educated man, Dmitri had spent some time in Italy before that pig-faced fool Mussolini took power, and so had a degree of fluency in the Italian language. “He said ‘I have been given the kiss of death.’”The tank howled a high-pitched growl before the swift moving of its parts into a giant hulking figure. “Me Grimlock no kisser,” replied Grimlock in his thick Georgian accent, “Me Grimlock Comrade.” En Route to Berlin – 12th April 1943 The defeat against Optimus and his Autobots at El Guettar had wounded Megatron’s pride greatly. At the very moment that the destruction of the Autobots, the instant that Megatron could finally destroy that fool Prime, fate intervened to turn absolute victory into a tactical defeat. The human Arnim had shown a great amount of shock when Megatron eventually returned to the base camp. “I take it from Starscream and Thundercracker’s return that you were not successful against the Autobot, Herr Megatron,” called the Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Africa. His tone of voice and posture put Megatron in mind of his own mannerisms when a failed operation returned. “Was it...he too much for the mighty Megatron?” Megatron snapped at the impudence of this fragile parasite. “I had Prime in my sights – He was mine!” bellowed Megatron, knocking Arnim down to the ground with his unexpected volume. “If it were not for the incompetence of these fools,” he gestured towards to the cowering Starscream and the slumped form of Thundercracker, “and the arrival of Prime’s Autobot scum, then I would have had victory today and you would be able to report back to your Fuhrer and that you have eliminated the Allied threat here.” Megatron cursed the Autobots’ luck at their timely arrival in his own tongue which drew a look of confusion from Arnim beneath him. “I’m sure that you would have defeated them, Herr Megatron,” Arnim continued; his tone not containing any fear or worry after Megatron’s outburst had clearly frightened him so much. “But I have good news for you. Whilst you were in operation, we received a message from your Seeker, Skywarp, to inform you that he has discovered not only Soundwave but two other Decepticons; members of the Combaticon team, I believe. If their name it to be taken as true, they will make great additions to the Reich’s cause.” Megatron smiled at this news. With the return of his most trusted officer, Soundwave, and two more Decepticons, no less Combaticons at that, it seemed that fate had dealt Megatron a new hand to retake victory from the grasp of Prime. It was a few hours before Skywarp had returned with the newly awakened Decepticons. Soundwave had taken the form of a dive-bomber equipped with a siren designed for psychological warfare against infantry; a fitting new form for the master of sound warfare. His deploying units, Ravage and Laserbeak, however were still in stasis within the sub-space compartment in Soundwave’s chest; no new alternate mode could be found for them at the time of the Sky Spy’s deployment. Accompanying the Seeker and Soundwave were Blast Off; also in the form of a dive bomber though equipped with two engines instead of Soundwave’s one engine, and Swindle; riding atop Skywarp as his new alt. mode appeared to be a wheeled armoured vehicle. After several days of continued fighting alongside the Wehrmacht against the Americans and British with the occasional Autobot reinforcements, Generaloberst Arnim walked up to them with a piece of paper clasped in his hand. “Herr Megatron,” he called, drawing the attention of all the Decepticons, “I have received a communication that you and the rest of your Decepticons are to report to Berlin to meet the Fuhrer himself and the members of the General Staff. They wish to learn more about your capabilities and discuss the alliance between the Reich and the Decepticons.” “That is a most welcome invitation, Generaloberst,” Megatron thanked Arnim. “I agree this would be a most worthwhile meeting, however unlike many of our fellow Decepticons, Swindle and I are not able to fly to Berlin.” “A military transport is waiting for you at Tunis Airfield. I shall have a detachment escort you there immediately,” replied Arnim. “Before you depart, I should like to thank you for your services to the Reich in this theatre; you have helped turn us back onto victory in Africa.” He finished by saluting Megatron and the Decepticons before returning to his command tent. Megatron returned from his memories to the present; sharing the hold of the Me 323 transport plane with Swindle whilst the remainder of the Decepticons flew alongside them acting as escorts for the lumbering vehicle. Although it was silent inside the plane, Megatron was in constant radio contact with Soundwave. “Lord Megatron,” said Soundwave in his oscillating voice, “I have detected newly active Decepticons signals. I am now making contact with those signals.” Soundwave’s lack of personality did not bother Megatron; it made sure that Soundwave was always concerned only with his work and that he would never attempt to overthrow Megatron as Starscream has tried to in the past. “Decepticons had been identified as Onslaught, Brawl and Vortex; all in the vicinity of Lodz, Poland. I shall send instructions for them to make contact with Wehrmacht officers and continue to Berlin to meet us.” “Excellent Soundwave,” replied Megatron brimming with pride at the completion of one of his battle teams. “We shall surprise the German leaders when we arrive with extra soldiers for their war.” Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands – 14th April 1943 A lone B-17 bomber was flying down onto the airstrip that the Japanese had started to build during their occupation of the island. No radio contact had been established and none of the ground crew was expecting it. Unable to make out the aircraft in the blackness of night and believing it to be a Japanese bomber enacting revenge for the successful invasion, battle and re-occupation of the island, the anti-aircraft batteries opened fire. One of them struck the plane which began to plummet into the lush and thick jungle on the island. A platoon of infantry was sent to search for any survivors but when they arrived at the crash site there was nothing there. No survivors, no wreckage, not even the plane itself. The platoon started to move back out of the jungle, all of them unnerved by the appearance and disappearance of a large bomber aircraft over the island. But no-one realised that they were being watched from the deep darkness of the jungle. No-one had even noticed the single red optic watching them in the dark.