Again one of the unidentified airborne mechs fired. Again the ground in front of Ansilus' wheels exploded, leaving a crater in the metallic surface of the road. This time Ansilus failed to avoid the crater. His right front wheel ramped off the crater's ragged metallic edge; for a few crazy seconds Ansilus was driving on two wheels. He weaved a bit and his right side slammed back to the ground painfully while more shots from the sky blasted the road around and in front of him. As he careened through the ruins of a particularly desolate part of Polyhex, he found a certain detached part of his mind asking questions. Why would Kup ask to meet me in a place like this? And how can there still be Decepticons hiding here after all this time? He hadn't seen anyone for at least a couple of hours before the attack. Hadn't, in fact, since that lone surveyor had warned him about collapsing buildings. If the area was full of Decepticons why hadn't the mech warned him of that instead? For that matter, why would Decepticons come out of hiding to try and kill him? He was just another unknown newboot with a generic altmode! There were hundreds like him being manufactured every year since the end of the War. He hadn't done anything to deserve this! Had he? He felt a sudden sinking dread. The building ahead to his left was rocked by a missile impact. As it began to collapse into his path he tried to think, through a fog of terror unlike anything he'd ever felt, to his encounter with Kup the previous cycle. … Ansilus had found him helping coordinate reconstruction on the edges of Iacon. He'd waited until he saw Kup head off to take a break, and followed him. “Uh, excuse me? Are you Kup?” The grizzled soldier had a weary expression on his face as he stood, arms crossed with an energon refresher in one hand, and watched the work in progress. He nodded, and spoke without turning. “What do you want, lad?” Ansilus was beaming. “It's an honor to meet you, sir. My name's Ansilus. Hot Rod told me I should look you up. See, I've decided to try and study the War. There are some official records, but actual recordings are kind of scarce, and... well, I was hoping you could help me find mechs with firsthand knowledge of some of the important events of the War. Not to mention maybe tell me a few of your own famous war stories?” Kup turned his head and looked steadily at Ansilus for a few moments, his face still weary. He asked, “Just what is it you're looking for? Stories? Go ask someone else for stories. I'm tired of telling them. I hear the humans have lots of stories, maybe you should ask them.” He turned back to continue watching the mechs at work, though he didn't seem to see them any more. Ansilus's grin faded, and he found himself speechless. This was the famous Kup? “Well, sir,” he began, a little indignance creeping into his tone of voice, “maybe I wasn't clear. I'm not just interested in stories. I'm interested in history. The War is the most important series of events ever to happen to the Cybertronian race. I want to understand it.” Now Kup turned fully to face the young mech, his face now an expressionless mask. The old warrior appeared to be deep in thought. Ansilus began to feel uncomfortable. Finally, Kup said, “You want to understand the War?” “Yes.” “You sure about that?” “Absolutely.” Kup stared for a few seconds longer and then, as if deciding something, nodded. “Fine. Meet me in Polyhex next cycle.” He gave Ansilus a time and a set of coordinates, and turned back to face the construction work once more. Ansilus started to say something, hesitated, then shrugged and turned to leave. He could investigate a couple more leads before the cycle was done, though Kup was his most promising so far; by all accounts he was older than most Cybertronians still alive. Theoretically, every Cybertronian built before the end of the War should have knowledge valuable to his research, but so far he hadn't found many who were willing to talk about it. … Ansilus had headed into Polyhex, toward the coordinates he was given, which turned out to be in the middle of nowhere. And the mysterious fightercraft mechs had appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and attacked without provocation. Now he was fleeing for his life. And he had a terrible suspicion that Kup had arranged it. He felt betrayed, hurt and terrified. Was this because of his interest in the War? The Autobots were the good guys. Weren't they? Would they lie to newly built mechs to hide their crimes? What would happen if Ansilus had stumbled onto the truth? Am I going to die? He cleared the collapsing structure with mere nanocycles to spare; the horrendous noise stunned his audio receptors. The ruins around him formed a canyon of sorts, forcing him to travel in a straight line. The canyon was rapidly narrowing, turning into a dead end. In his rearview optics he saw that he could no longer double back; the collapsed building had him trapped. Desperate, he aimed for the first opening he saw and slammed his brakes. Transforming before he'd even stopped, he slid on his feet into the decrepit structure, finally losing his balance and falling face-first into a mound of rubble. As he hurriedly picked himself up, he saw only darkness. Ansilus hadn't had the resources to make any modifications to himself; he relied mainly on his optics, which weren't even infrared or ultraviolet sensitive. He stood still for a moment, waiting for another missile to hit the structure and finish him off. Nothing. Had they switched to their 'bot modes to hunt him on foot? He listened. Suddenly his terror rose to new, panic-stricken heights as he heard something moving behind, deeper inside the structure. His frantic thoughts turned back to his panicked flight through the winding ruins. Several times missiles or blaster bolts had seemingly flown astray, hitting well ahead of him. Only now did it occur to him that each time, the stray shots had blocked him from taking a route that looked promising. He also realized that his attackers could have trapped him at any time, but hadn't. Which meant they'd been leading him here. And someone was waiting for him. Rage washed over him, mingling with his fear. “I know you're here. I can hear you! Come out where I can see you, coward! I'll blast you into slag!” It was an empty threat. Most mechs of his generation didn't see the point of becoming a walking arsenal, and Ansilus was no exception; he didn't even have a scrambler pistol. Silence. Suddenly, the noise was behind him. He didn't think; he moved. He spun to send an awkward but very sincere fist at his unseen assailant. His fist met nothing, but he felt something grab his arm and suddenly his whole body followed his fist, and he hit the floor painfully. He tried to get up but found himself pinned. He heard an unfamiliar noise, and realized it was a gun powering up. A loud blast followed; Ansilus cringed, but the shot hit the floor and left him unharmed. The pressure eased off his back and he scrambled to his feet, stumbling across the room. He could now see a silhouette in the doorway he'd used to enter. It was walking calmly, casually, toward the door. He stammered, “Who- Who are you!?” The figure paused. “Calm down, lad. It's over. You're not in danger, and you never were. Silverbolt and his boys are very good shots.” “Kup...?” “Aye. Come out here and we can talk.” Relief washed over Ansilus. It was followed quickly by rage. He charged outside, where the old soldier now stood revealed in the light. Ansilus cocked his arm back and, for the second time in as many minutes, swung at the outdated mech. For the second time, Kup caught his blow and used its momentum to throw Ansilus off balance, sending him crashing to the ground again. Ansilus was trembling with exhaustion and anger. He was speechless with fury, but he stammered anyway as he looked up at the older Autobot. Kup looked down at him dispassionately and said, “Isn't this what you wanted?” Ansilus was stunned. “What in Unicron's gut are you talking about?” Anger flashed across Kup's face. “Don't talk to me like that, newboot. I lost friends to Unicron's gut.” Even through his own anger, Ansilus felt a twinge of guilt at that. Now that he thought about it, he couldn't recall anyone but his fellow newboots using the phrase. Kup continued, “You said you wanted to understand the War. Well, now you've got your own war story. Now you know how it feels to be outgunned, to be hunted like an animal, to be betrayed. To feel helpless and afraid. That's how this war started. For a lot of Autobots, that's all the war they ever knew. They couldn't take Megatron seriously, and when he made his move, they paid with their lives. They were hunted down just like you were.” Ansilus was again at a loss for words. Kup had arranged this to teach him about the War? The anger returned. “You... crazy old bastard! You sparkless junker! I could have died! I could have...” Ansilus trailed off. Kup continued, “You seemed surprised when I didn't want to talk about the War. But you didn't find it strange that nobody else wants to talk about it? War is hell, lad. Most of us are too glad it's over to take any relish in reliving it. Now you know why.” Ansilus' anger slowly died as he realized just how different his perspective was from that of most Cybertronians. How mechs of his generation unintentionally made light of the War. He suddenly understood why older mechs seemed to resent his interest in the War; they saw him as a voyeur to their suffering. Kup saw the emotions flickering across the younger mech's face and nodded to himself. Without another word, Kup turned and began to walk away. Unable to leave the way he came, Ansilus followed. Eventually they found a clear enough road to go the rest of the way back to Iacon in their altmodes; they travelled in silence. … END PART ONE Thanks for reading part one of this particularly short fanfic. The part two that I intend to write was originally intended to be the entire story, but I couldn't resist starting things off on a more action-packed note. One important note: This story is not as good as it could be, but it's the best I can do without spinning my wheels until I can get some feedback. So by all means, please offer some critique if you see something that can be improved. I promise I won't be upset to have my imperfections highlighted. Incidentally, this is the first part of any fanfic that I've (tentatively) finished, and the second fanfic I've seriously attempted to write.