Link to Chapter 1! --- A thousand years is a long time. Megatron stared quietly at the planet down below, his thoughts far, far away from his current location. War had been all he had ever known. From the instant his spark came online, to the first commander lying dead at his feet. He was built, bred and taught to be a war machine. It hadn't always been against the Autobots. Before them, it was the Quintessons. And before that, skirmishes along the border of Cybertronian space with the Omega Pirates. By the time Cybertron had split in two, he was already a distinguished war veteran. The question of wether or not he had chosen the right side was a thought that always haunted him. Gigatrons speeches were persuasive, his logic sound, and his tactics admirably successful. But occasionally, a small voice told him otherwise. Especially here, in the lonely silence above this Primus-forsaken world. He recalled Gigatrons face, glaring down at him. "I cannot spare you for your fantasies Megatron" The Lords voice growled, his narrow face and red eyes glaring back at him. "Chasing a travelers tale is hardly a mission worthy a Decepticon General." "I understand that, my lord." Megatron bowed. "But if it were true, the reward would be greatly worth it, would it not?" Gigatron leaned back into his chair. He appeared as a massive ceremonial king, white and gold wings splayed over his back, and the crown atop his head with the ceremonial fans on the side. The great hand, with the ruby wrist guards in a decorative flame pattern, waved away the thought casually. "Likely exaggerated. I need you instead to transport Shockfleet to our front in the Cestus Quadrant." "But Lord Gigatron," Megatron protested, rising to his feet, "The Sol system is on route. It would not take long to get a scan and a sample- I could do it briefly. It would not delay the mission by more then a few hours." Gigatron sighed. "Megatron... You are one of the best Generals I've had. But occasionally, you still mystify me with your ridiculous quests and goals. Its not fitting of you. I do not understand- how is it that you manage to latch yourself onto this things?" "I do what I feel is right, Lord Gigatron. For myself, for my goals, and for the Glory of the Decepticons. If this entails being ridiculous, then so be it." Gigatron shook his head. "Its obvious that I'm not going to talk you out of this. Very well. Permission is granted." "Thank you, Lord Gigatron." Megatron bowed deeply. As Megatron had turned to leave, he heard the deep sigh behind him. Megatron hated disappointing Lord Gigatron, but his goals were bigger then that. The ultimate triumph of the Decepticons came before Lord Gigatrons whims. And were he proved right, the inevitable victory would come all the sooner. But all those hopes were dashed by the arrival of the Autobots... "You summoned me, Lord Megatron?" Megatron nodded, but did not turn to face Skywarp, who he knew was still standing at attention. He would stay that way until Megatron dismissed him, or until the Universe ended, whichever came first. "Yes Skywarp, I did. What is the status?" "Sixshot and Laserwave are working to repair the primary engine. It will take some time, and they report an Energon leak. Even if we get it functioning, unless we recover more Energon, we will not have the power to go anywhere." "Of course, it would happen like that." Megatron muttered. "Demolisher and Cyclonus are continuing work on repairing Shockfleet. The damage to the docking bay has somewhat immobilized him, but the problems are temporary." "Yes, go on." "Starscream is still in the CR Chamber. He may be for some time." "It's just as well." Megatron smiled. "My punishment for his disobedience would have been far worse." Skywarp made an audible gulp, quite a feat for his lack of a mouth. "But thats not important now." Megatron continued. "You said Sixshot and Shockwave need Energon? We shall have to provide it. Quietly this time. Come with me, we're going to explore this planet a little more." "Yes sir." Skywarp saluted. "Prepare the teleportation chamber for use. Hurry now, we don't have all day. And grab Demolisher. He'll provide the help we'll need." As Skywarp left, Megatron leaned back in his chair and sighed. Gigatron was going to be displeased with his lateness. He would have to make his time count. *** "I wish you weren't so big." Demolisher grumbled, slowly working his way around another collapsed support strut, "Shock." Came the sullen answer. Demolisher grabbed the support strut and pulled, gritting his teeth and bracing himself. The strut wouldn't move. It, like several others, had collapsed when an Autobot shot had pierced through the cargo bay, and directly hit the three layer support struts that held Shockfleets three primary ships. The collapse had left the tricon completely immobile, unable to combine, transform or fire off any of his engines. They had freed the upper section, but two more parts of Shockfleet remained trapped under the debris. Demolisher pulled harder, but the strut wouldn't move. "Great." He growled. "You have any suggestions?" "Shoot at it." Shockfleets voice rumbled. "I don't think so. The Shadoix already has enough holes in it." "Shock." Shockfleet answered again. "Where's Cyclonus?" Demolisher grumbled, continuing his vain struggle with the support. "The idiots supposed to be down here helping me out." "Shock." The dull answer came again. "Useless lazy sluggard." Demolisher muttered. That was followed by a very indignant "Shock!" "Not you." "Hmph." Demolisher sighed, but said no more. His struggle with the beam continued until there were two loud shouts at the same time, as Skywarp tripped over a sleeping Cyclonus, then sent him down to the lowest level with a swift kick in the rear. "Hi Cyclonus." Demolisher muttered helping the tangle of gangly limbs to his feet. "Give me a hand with this." "Do I gotta?" Cyclonus growled. "Shock." Shockfleet answered. "Demolisher!" Skywarps voice came over. "Megatron wants us for a ground mission. Get up here." Demolisher sighed. "Sorry Shockfleet. I guess I'll finish later." As Demolisher left, CYclonus sighed. "Does that mean I have to do this myself?" "Yes." "I always get stuck with the boring work." He sighed. A response came quickly, in a tone that sounded very sarcastic. "Shock." *** Michelle stared quietly at the ceiling fan, turning slowly above her head. The bed was comfortable, but... She sighed deeply. It had been 24 hours. Only that long. It was hard to believe how short a time had passed since her entire reality had changed. The column of light, the death surrounding her, the flames, the look of panic in Dave's eye a second before he disappeared... And the giants battling across a burning field. No-one believed her story. The paramedics who had brought her and any other survivors they could find to this hospital, without even a phone call. She had found and talked to several- they had seen the jets, but not the giants. No one believed. All the questions she had tried to answer, all dismissed as delusions. They had put her in the little room to keep her from spreading rumors and scaring the others- or so they had said. But Michelle thought there was something more sinister at work. The Lab had been a government installation, and as her thoughts wandered, Michelle had deemed that whatever it was that attacked them was attacking the government. The paramedics had allowed her a room with a TV, so again she switched on, heading straight for the 24 hour news channels. The story had been going on since she arrived, complete with running death totals, theme music and a catchy news title, currently 'Laboratory Disaster.' Some so-called expert was talking about the physics of a nuclear reactor exploding. Michelle sighed. Her theory was looking more plausible- it hadn't taken them long to declare this a terrible accident, instead of the truth. She sighed, and clicked the Tv off again, laying back down on her bed, staring up at the ceiling. "What's going to happen to me now..." She muttered aloud. "I can answer that." Michelle turned, staring at the man in the doorway. He was older, like in his late 30's or early 40's, graying hair, slim, tall and clean shaven. Everything else was obscured behind his suit, and black glasses. "Who are you?" Michelle demanded. "I work for the FBI." He answered, stepping in. "My name is Smith." He said, reaching his hand outwards. "Do you expect me to believe that?" Michelle asked, pushing herself up. "Not really, but in this case, it is true. Andrew Smith." "Michelle Renolds." She answered, cautiously taking his hand. "Pleased to make your acquaintance." Mr. Smith said, sitting down beside her. He removed his glasses, and for a moment, his grey eyes stared into hers. "We believe you, Ms. Renolds." He said quietly. Michelle didn't respond. "And because we believe you, your going to have to come with me." "So this is it." Michelle said quietly. "All those movies and shows I watched were right?" "More or less." Mr. Smith answered, standing up, and closing the door. "Yesterday we were attacked." He continued. "Not by any power on this planet, but by something completely unknown to us. A force unlike anything we were prepared to deal with." Michelle watched him intently as he began to pace. "Because of what happened, we are dealing with this in the upmost secrecy. We've already had to confiscate all footage of what happened, and we are dealing with witnesses too. We've never had to do something like this before." "Never?" Michelle said suspiciously. "Ever hear of Roswell? The Philadelphia project? CIA assassinating Kennedy?" "Their... all real?" Michelle said in awe. "No. Paranoid delusions and baseless rumor-mongering. Roswell was a test fighter flown by a glorified crash test dummy. Philadelphia project was an stealth experiment to hide a boat from radar, and Kennedy was indeed killed by Lee Harvey Oswald." He turned quickly and grabbed her. "But this is real." Michelle stared into his eyes, shaken. He sighed, and dropped his shoulders, letting her go. "Without warning, a government installation was attacked by unidentified mechanoids, while at the same time, a satellite appeared from nowhere, and fired one of the most powerful energy blasts we've ever recorded at us. And frankly, we're terrified." "But... what does all this have to do with me?" "You're quite the lucky young woman, Ms Renolds." He answered. "Of all the survivors we've found, you are the only one who was close enough to the strike zone to really see what was happening. You are the only real eyewitness to the attack. And you are the only one who has seen the attackers." Michelle stared back at him. "That makes you the most important person in the world to us, right now." Smith turned away. "So you have to come with us now." Michelle began to protest, but Smith cut her off. "We've already done our research. You have no living relatives since your parents died four years ago. No cousins, no aunts, no uncles. All your possessions that you want will be taken care of, and brought with us. For now, you are being classified among those still considered missing. You are being relocated to a top-secret government installation, where you will help us identify these things." "But-" Michelle began again, but Smith raised his hand and cut her off. "Remember, by being employed at the lab, you effectively work for the government." Smith continued. "As of now, you are being reclassified and relocated. Think of it as a sudden job promotion. Once the crisis has passed, you may be allowed to return home freely." Michelle began sputtering, trying to find some ground to protest on "But what about my rights? You can't force me-" "I'm afraid we can." Mr. Smith shook his head again. "We are effectively under Marshall Law, and if not, we also have a warrant we can use for your arrest, should we be forced to. But please, cooperate with us, for your sake. If you do, everything will turn out fine." Michelle sputtered a little more, but all her will to argue fled her and her head and shoulders dropped in defeat. "All.... all right... I'll go." "Don't worry." Smith smiled gently, taking her hand and helping her up. "You will be all right." He led her out, and closed the door on everything she had known before. *** "Active camouflage restored." Aris's voice reported. "Activating now." "Well, that's one less problem to worry about." Jetfire muttered as the Axalon disappeared, turning itself into a small extension of the hill it was imbedded in. He shook his head with a sigh, and glanced back toward Red Alert and Ironhide, who were clearing away the last of the debris. "Lets get back inside before anybody sees us. Ironhide shrugged, and headed back in. Red Alert paused, glancing over the countryside. "I doubt we could have found a nicer planet to crash on." He said quietly. "Too bad the Con's had too pollute it to." Ironhide muttered, disappearing as he stepped inside the camouflage shield. "Don't worry about it too much." Jetfire answered with a dismissive wave. "With any luck, we'll all be out of here before long." "The last time I heard that, we were on Regulan IV for three months." "And that was fun, wasn't it?" "Have you ever spent three months running from a Regulan metal monger?" "Actually, yes. Twice." "Will you two stop it?" Prowl muttered, his sleek form driving up from behind them. "Your giving me a headache." "Bah." Jetfire waved his hand. "What's the report?" "No human settlements for miles in any direction. Couple roads, not much else." "Good. We're well enough out of the way to keep from being detected, I hope." Jetfire nodded. "Lets get inside and see how much of Aris we can piece back together." *** Optimus stared quietly at the monitor. It flashed through various images coming in from human television signals. One image haunted continued to haunt him, played over by the various information media- they called it news. It was a lingering shot of the field where their all to brief battle with the Decepticons had taken place. Fire. Wreckage. And the strewn bodies of the fragile little creatures that called this planet home. Every time he saw it, he was filled with the two emotions that were the crux of his very existence. Hatred and Sorrow. It seemed as if those were the only two emotions he had ever known. He had the misfortune of being created just after the start of the war, when memories of peace were still fresh in everyone else's minds. He felt even worse for younger bots, like Prowl and Aidia. They had never seen any part of Cybertron that wasn't torn apart by the war. And with every new casualty, every new landmark, Optimus's hate and sorrow grew. The emotions strung together, threatening to tear his spark apart. It was often more then he could bear. Scavenger, Bumblebee, Windcharger... They were only the latest in a string of losses. He had never had a chance to get to know either Bumblebee or Windcharger. To him, they had been but two more young faces thrust into the war. But Scavengers loss hurt. A bot older then he was, Optimus had fought alongside him many, many times. The only bot he had known better was Jetfire. His memory seemed so distant now, as more pressing issues continued to push thought of friends lost out of his mind. It was the problem with war. You never get a chance to grieve properly. To say goodbye. He could only wonder if the humans the Decepticons had killed thought the same. "Is something wrong, Commander Optimus?" Aris's voice asked. He turned and glanced down at the little form, looking up at him with wide, innocent eyes. He involuntarily shuddered. The sight of a human form only served to remind him more of the death the Decepticons had caused. "Nothing." He said quickly. "Nothing at all." Aris cocked her head, staring at him for a moment, then nodded. "The camouflage system has been activated. Sensors are functioning at 90% capacity. The main power core is still leaking, but energy loss has slowed to 1.3%." "Have Red Alert fix that first." Optimus said quietly. "After that's done, we'll see if we can get some of the superstructure back together." "Yes sir." She turned, sending out the orders. Optimus watched her for a moment, his arms folded over his chest. Then he sighed, and spoke again. "Jetfire's in charge. I'm going out." Aris halted. "What?" "We're stuck here, and I want to get a look at the planet." Optimus continued, staring off into space. "If we're going to continue our war, I want to at least get a look at what we're affecting." "Oh... I see." She said quietly, then her face looked thoughtful for minute. "Can I come too?" Optimus paused. "What?" "I'd like to come too!" "No. I'm afraid I have to forbid it. You're needed here-" "But Optimus!" That gave Optimus another pause. For a brief moment, Aris was sounding like she had, before the crash and reset. Again he looked down at the small human shaped figure, her eyes wide and begging, and his spark melted. "All right, all right..." "Yay!" She shrieked happily. Optimus's eyes shone. "Very well, come on then." He said, as he transformed, arms coming together and chest pulling outwards into the front of his truck. One door opened. "Lets go." A moment later, the red cab pulled out of the wreck of Aris. Prowl caught a glimpse of it on the way out. "Wonder where he's going?" "Needs some time to himself, I imagine." Jetfire said calmly. "Don't worry about it. If we need him, he'll come back." *** "Your sure there are no human settlements around here?" Megatron demanded. "If there are, they are well hidden." Demolisher grumbled. "Affirmative, sir!" Skywarp reported, transforming and landing. "But for some quiet roadways, this deposit is alone." "Good." Megatron smiled, crossing his arms and staring at the scene before him. A rugged series of red canyons stretched out before him, with a vast desert behind. "Lets get this over with." The three trudged into the canyon, looking for a suitable place to begin excavations. And from a long distance away, a form watched them. "Sorry, but I can't let you." The form muttered to himself, then vanished. *** The large truck rolled slowly to a stop in front of the old Dave and Ed's Gas and Go station. Ed looked up sleepily. Business had been slow lately, thanks to rising gas prices. Few people were coming this way in the first place, and fewer were stopping for gas. Dave and Eds had been through worse times though, and like always, they'd survive. But business was business. Ed got up, stretching his arms lazily and rose up, walking toward the truck. "Hey buddy." He said cheerfully. "What'll it be today?" The window rolled down to reveal a somewhat respectable middle aged man in a casual outfit. "I just need directions today, sir." He responded. Ed rubbed his ears. The guys voice was loud. Ed glanced at him. He didn't look like a trucker, at least, any trucker he had ever seen. A second look at the driver, and a figure besides him caught Eds attention. "That your daughter?" He asked casually. "Umm, yes. Yes, this is my daughter." Ed shrugged. "Alright, where you two head'n?" "I'd like to know the way to the nearest big city." Ed grabbed his chin thoughtfully. "Well, Redwoods about 5o miles north from here, and if you head south, you'll hit Hayward and Oakland.... But everyone round here knows that." "I"m not from around here." The man responded quickly. "We're just traveling." "In that thing?" Ed demanded. "Heck of a way to do it. If you get lost this easy, I makes me wonder how you got your truck'n license." The driver laughed nervously. "I managed. Thank you for your help!" And with that, he quickly rolled up the window and drove off. "Weird fellow." Ed muttered. *** "Well, that went well." Optimus said cheerfully. Aris looked down at the dashboard as the holographic representation of a human next to her faded. "Perhaps we should do a bit more research before attempting to interact with the locals again." "Nonsense." Optimus responded cheerfully. "How else will we learn if we don't get out there and try?" "I think your missing the point, Optimus." Optimus smiled, internally. Aris was quickly regaining her old personality- he couldn't count the number of times he had heard that phrase before. It made him happy to think that not everything was lost in the crash. But that mere thought soured his mood, as again thoughts of the three he had lost entered his mind. He lapsed into silence, brooding quietly over their loss. "This planet..." Aris voice interrupted his thoughts. "Is quite beautiful." "It is Aris." Optimus said quietly. "Scavenger would have liked it. He was always talking about blue skies..." "Who?" Optimus started. "Oh, just an old friend." "Oh, I'm sorry." Optimus became very quiet. He didn't want to put the burden of the loss he felt on Aris. While her systems were immensely complex, and borderline sentient, loss and grief had the capability to override her functions. Or maybe Optimus simply didn't want the pain he felt on her shoulder either. The golden on either side of them passed indefinitely. Far in the distance, mountains with a haze over them became visible. Optimus sighed. It would probably be best to turn around and head back to the base, before- "Optimus..." Aris said quietly. "Yes?" "In the sky..." Optimus shifted his sensors upward. And to his astonishment, he was a small, dark, triangular craft keeping pace with him. "That ship...." He whispered. "Cybertronian." Aris finished. The ship paced them for a moment longer, then with a loud screech, its engines kicked it, and it jetted itself in front of Optimus, taking the lead. "I'm going after it." Optimus growled, gunning his engine. "Wait, Optimus!" Aris protested, even as Optimus began to catch up to it. "We have no ID. It could be a Decepticon-" "Who else would it be." Optimus hissed, as he pulled closer. "But Optimus-" "I want some answers. He will give them to me." Aris made a sound like a sigh, as she realized that there would be no arguing with him. "All right." She said nervously. "But I do not think-" Then the ship vanished. A worm hole opened up in front of them, and Optimus could not apply his breaks quick enough as he was swallowed in a tunnel of light. *** Michelle sighed deeply, staring dully out the window as the desert passed her. "Is this really necessary?" She asked again. "Yes." Mr. Smith answered, his arms folded over his chest. "Don't worry, you'll be well taken care of." "That's what I'm afraid of." Michelle muttered, laying her head against the door. She had been in this car for several hours now. It was, as expected, a pitch black car with tinted windows. The movies she had watched were surprisingly accurate. They had long left the California state border, and were moving through the desert in Nevada. She had a vague idea where they were headed, but she didn't want to speak it for fear of sounding silly. A few moments later, there was a sudden flash of light. "What the hell?" Smith shouted, as from nowhere, a massive red truck barreled past them. Michelle stared, her eyes wide. "That was it..." She whispered fearfully. "That was one of them..." "Driver, get us out of here!" Smith roared. "Get some air recon out here, quick!" *** "Where are we?" Optimus demanded. Silence greeted him. "Aris? Aris!" A quick scan proved it- the small diagnostic drone was sitting limply in his cab, lifeless and unmoving. "Slagit! Not now!" Sudden, harsh laughter filled his audios as the Cybertronian craft made a low flyby, coming within inches, and turning itself long enough for Optimus to make out the purple sigil on its back. Its engine roared with an alien hum, then zoomed off toward a series of canyons in the distance. Optimus slowed down, staring at the retreating craft. A million thoughts ran through his mind- should he try and re-establish contact with the base and make sure Aris was ok? But as the retreating craft got smaller, only one option became clear. His engine roared as he charged ahead, his mind focused on the craft. Ahead the canyons loomed, the red rock stretching for seemingly miles. And without a second thought, the intruding craft dove right into it, disappearing behind the canyon walls. Optimus rolled to a halt, and transformed, staring into the crevice. A small clunk startled him, and he turned, facing the lifeless drone which had fallen out during mid transformation. He picked up gently, flipping it over and looking for an 'on' switch. "The warp must have cut her transmission." He muttered quietly. "She wasn't prepared for the sudden jump- I hope this didn't damage her systems..." He glanced again at the canyon that loomed ahead. The sound of his targets engines had stopped entirely. He was in here, somewhere. "Sorry Aris, but I guess I have to leave you here." He said, heading closer to the canyon walls and finding a neat crevice to fit the drone into. "I'll come back, don't worry." He said softly, even though he knew she couldn't hear him. He sighed, and headed into the canyon, cautious and alert- ready to face anything. *** Demolisher moaned and grunted, pushing his full weight against the energon-drill. "Why do I always have to do the physical stuff..." "It is an honor to serve Megatron as you do." Skywarp answered dryly. "Keep drilling." "I notice you aren't volunteering for this." Demolisher muttered. "Any problems?" Both jumped at the sound of Megatrons voice, and whirled into a salute. "The crust is too thick here." Demolisher reported. "The Energon Drill is having difficulty penetrating the rock." Megatron shook his head. "Call Sixshot and bring him down here. His cannon should penetrate this without problems. "Yes sir." Demolisher saluted, opening up his comm. *** Sixshot sighed. "It's shot. There's no fix- it's shot." "Quit whining and fix it." Shockwave muttered, lazily scratching the floor with the tip of his cannon. "I can't fix it!" Sixshot groaned. "Megatron will-" "Don't worry, little brother." Shockwave said affectionately, his lone eye gleaming. "Megatrons going to do nothing." "I wish I had your confidence." "Don't worry. I have plans. After we leave this planet, Megatron won't be a problem for much longer." "Shockwave, don't underestimate Megatron. Should he learn of your plans-" Shockwave turned on his brother, his eye glowing fiercely. "I underestimate no-one! Learn this well, little brother. My plans always succeed. There is a reason for this." "But-" "Stay on my side, and you will profit as well. But turn against me, and you shall be the first I kill. Understand, little brother?" The two stared at each other for a long moment, no words needed. Sixshots shoulders slumped, as he gave in. "I understand." The sound of the com broke the tension. "Sixshot? Your wanted down here." Hesitantly, the con answered. "Alright, I'm on my way." Shockwave lone eye followed him as he left the room. "Just remember whose side your on, little brother." *** A quick, bright flash traced through the sky, landing some distance away in the canyon. Optimus stared at the now empty sky for a long moment. "A Decepticon warp signal..." He mused quietly. "I'm close." As he turned and headed toward the signal, a lanky figure watched from the shadows. Behind an orange screen, his face lit up. "Lucky break. This makes my job easier." And he faded away into nothingness. *** And a farther distance away, a lifeless drone sparked to life. "What happened..." Aris muttered as her familiar hologram reformed itself around the drone. "Systems read out ok... where am I?" A quick check back with the home system confirmed her location, and she quickly began a sensor sweep for something, anything familiar. One blip responded to her scan. "Optimus..." She whispered. The small form pushed itself into the air, hovering effortlessly. Her systems raced as she began a quick terrain mapping, plotting out the fastest way to get to Optimus, when one more roar broke the air. She stared into the sky, as a lone helicopter raced through the sky, toward her commanders position... *** Optimus pause as the sound of rapidly spinning rotors registered in his audios. His optics turned toward the sky, scanning for signs. And slowly edging into sight was a human vehicle, kept aloft by the blades that sliced through the air. "Slag." Optimus growled. "Not now..." But then, he paused, his optics focusing in on the craft. As he stared, something triggered in his memory banks. One of the Decepticons in the earlier attack had taken one of the human craft as an alternate mode. That realization upon him, he didn't hesitate. He aimed, and fired. *** "What was that?" Megatron demanded, all weapons immediately swinging to attack position. "An explosion." Sixshot calmly answered, unmoving from his position crouched next to the slowly growing hole, his cannon slowly and methodically pumping energy and melting away the rock. "Autobots?" Skywarp asked nervously. "How could they have found us so quickly?" "Demolisher, Skywarp." Megatron roared. "Fan out, we'll find them. If you encounter one, do not engage. Call for help. Sixshot, stay here and continue drilling. I want to be off this planet as quick as we can." "Roger!" Three voices responded immediately. And just as quickly, Sixshot was alone. An eerie silence settled over the clearing, leaving Sixshot alone with the most treacherous companion of all- his own thoughts. "Physical labor..." He muttered. "Why do they get to have all the fun. Maybe Shockwaves right..." A sudden noise startled him. His laser died and he whirled, his lone optic scanning the empty clearing. "Great, now I'm hearing things..." He muttered. "Calm down Sixshot, Megatron will take care of him..." There was a sudden shout from the direction Demolisher had walked off in, followed by a brief round of the sound of laser fire, then nothing again. Megatron and Skywarps voices both responded. Sixshot turned that way, his eye dimming. "He probably found them..." He muttered. Then Megatrons voice filtered through the com. "Pay no heed Sixshot. The idiot tripped over a rock." "Oh..." Sixshot answered "Well, thats a relief-" There was a sudden snapping sound that forced a scream from his voice-box. The next thing he saw was the canyon wall rushing to meet his face. *** "Sixshot? SIXSHOT!" Megatron roared. "Skywarp, Demolisher, on yours feet! Somethings happened!" "Yes. I happened." Megatron turned, his eyes narrowing at the site before him. The Autobot leader stood in front of him, rifle strapped to his back, and hatred in his eyes. In his hand was Sixshots cannon arm, torn at the elbow, hanging loosely. The Autobot dropped it carelessly. "Next?" He said, his eyes on fire. Skywarp cracked. With a desperate yell, his sword came into his hand, and the engines on his feet flared, propelling him forward. Optimus was ready. He sidestepped the initial charge, his arm coming down and grabbing Skywarps wrist. There was a snap and his wrist bent in a way it wasn't supposed to. Before Skywarp could even get out a scream, he was smashed against the side of the canyon. Demolisher charged, all canons blazing. Optimus took every hit on his shoulder, barreling through the barrage and grabbing his arms, pushing them upward and bringing his knee into Demolishers midsection. The delicate circuitry inside snapped. As Demolisher gasped, Optimus brought both fist down together on his head. The Decepticon collapsed, and Optimus swiftly kicked him aside. "Most impressive." Megatron said, his arms crossed over his chest. "Very few I know of could take out three of my warriors in such a short time. You've been well trained." "Your next." Optimus growled. "I'll exterminate your spark as you did my friends!" "Such violent talk for an Autobot." Megatron said casually. "Very uncharacteristic. Tell me again your name." "Optimus Major." The reply came quickly. "I'm not here to talk, Megatron." "Indeed you are not, Optimus. But I am." Megatron said calmly, slowly and calmly beginning a slow circle around his opponent. "I notice all your strength comes from the opponents offense. Are these the Diffusion techniques I've heard so much about?" "I'm not answering your questions Megatron!" Optimus roared, keeping his body facing Megatrons. "Face me!" A smirk entered Megatrons face. "Indeed they are then. Taught by the legendary Landmine were you? Interesting, I've always wanted to face one of his students." "Be quiet." "Too bad the opportunity has never afforded itself. Lord Gigatron killed most the others too quickly." "BE QUIET!" "Oh were they friends of yours? A shame. I hear that the best of his opponents have their sparks extinguished one atom at a time." "SHUT UP!" Megatrons grin grew even wider. "I can only imagine that pain. I wonder, did your crew mates feel that as well?" With a roar, Optimus charged forward, his cannon in his hand and firing wildly. Megatron knocked it deftly out of his hand, returning a punch forward. Optimus caught it, pulling Megatrons fist downward and bring his up, connecting well with Megatrons jaw. Megatron, completely unfazed, brought his other fist into Optimus's faceplate, which crumpled inward. Optimus stumbled backwards, before finding Megatrons foot implanted in his side. As he reeled trying desperately to keep his balance, another blow landed in his face, and then his head was between Megatrons hands, and their foreheads connected with a sickening crack. Optimus stumbled backward, suddenly finding himself staring down the barrel of Megatrons cannon. It fired, and he pulled away just enough so that it only tore a hole in his shoulder. Megatron sneered. "And this is it?" That moment was all Optimus needed. Ignoring the pain searing through his right shoulder, he charged forward, bringing his left into Megatrons gut. Megatron tried to reach down, but Optimus was already turning, catching his arm, and pushing himself upwards bringing Megatron off the ground and over his shoulder. Megatron landed on the ground, and looked upwards in a daze, when Optimus's heel came down into Megatrons face. Megatron reached up, fumbling blindly until his hand caught Optimus's foot, and pushed him away. Optimus landed on his back, and both struggled to their feet, staring at each other. Optimus stood, his systems yelling at him to stop. But the determination in his spark kept him standing. He braced himself, bringing his arms into a defensive posture. And then, Megatron laughed. "Wonderful, wonderful!" He said, a broad smile on his face. "I have not met an Autobot with this much gall in years! Optimus, you do your kind credit!" "I'll keep it in mind." Optimus growled. Megatrons smile faded suddenly. "It seems we have an observer." He growled. Then out of the corner of his eye Optimus saw what Megatron was staring at. Coming in from the side, a small figure hovered near the canyon wall. Her face turned toward him, her eyes wide as she realized the mistake she had made. "Aris!" "I hate unwanted guests." Megatron said quickly, aiming his cannon and firing. Optimus moved purely out of instinct, throwing himself into the path of the cannon. His side exploded, and he collapsed, as Aris quickly ducked behind him. "Optimus, I'm sorry..." Her voice came, but Optimus barely registered it, focused instead on the pain, and the shadow that loomed over him, as Megatron reached down and grabbed him by the throat, pulling him into the air so he was at eye level, his feet dangling above the ground. "A pity." Megatron sighed, shaking his head sadly. "It was such a good fight too. But now you see why you will lose this war." His eyes lit up and he brought his face closer to Optimus's. "Always making stupid decisions like this. This is the difference between Autobot and Decepticon. This is why you will lose this war." Optimus said nothing, only glared back in hatred. Megatron sighed again. "I guess this is the way it ends..." "Not so fast Megatron!" Megatron turned registering the warp gate as a massive jet and three cars arrived, transformed and aimed. "Its ending today, Megatron." Jetfire growled. "Take another step and he dies." Megatron stated calmly. "This round is already lost." "No, you lose Megatron." Optimus's voice said quietly. "If you kill me, they gun you down. But my men know I would gladly sacrifice my life to stop you here. So if you don't kill me, they'll gun you down anyway. Right, Jetfire?" Jetfire cocked his gun and aimed. "Right." Megatron paused for a brief moment. "You wouldn't dare." "But if I die here, Megatron. All the Autobots lose is an eager young captain." Optimus continued, his optics lighting up. "But if you die, the Decepticons would lose one of their top generals." Megatron paled. "And this is the difference between Autobots and Decepticons Megatron. Any Autobot would gladly give his own life to stop your evil from spreading through the Universe. I'm prepared to die today. Are you?" Demolisher and Skywarp stirred, staring weakly at their leader. Megatron glanced back at them and quickly shook his head. "Well played Optimus." And with that, he through Optimus's body straight at the Autobots, who immediately opened fire. But the blasts hit nothing as Megatron and his comrades disappeared into beams of light. "He wasn't really gonna have us shoot him?" Prowl said nervously as Jetfire hoisted Optimus up on his shoulder. "Of course not." Jetfire said quickly. Optimus glanced at him in disapproval, but kept silent. "Looks like Aris sent for us just in time." Ironhide muttered. Aris nodded, floating upwards into view. "Optimus, I'm sorry I-" "Don't worry about it." Optimus said weakly. "We should go home. Five Decepticons is enough for one day." As Jetfire and Red Alert escorted Optimus into the warp gate, Ironhide picked up Aris casually. "You should stay back at base and keep outta trouble." He growled. "No matter what Optimus tells you." "Sorry..." She said quietly, staring at the ground. "Hey... Don't take it that bad." He said with a smile in his eyes. "It's not that." Aris continued. "Optimus said 5... but I scanned only 4 Decepticon signals in the area the whole time." Ironhide shrugged. "Don't worry too much about it." As he carried her off, another form watched from the distance. "Four Decepticons." It said quietly. "And me. And one unfortunate bystander." And his red face turned toward the burning wreckage of a human helicopter, burning bodies still visible inside, and it glowed, like a demon laughing in the night.