An Oral History of How the Autobots Won the Great War of Cybertron and Saved the Universe From “Unic

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  1. Aaronstampler

    Aaronstampler Well-Known Member

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    Part I: Spy vs. Spy

    Prowl (Autobot Military Strategist/Analyst): “Here’s what you need to understand… [Autobot Commander] Optimus [Prime] likes to go on and on about the courage and nobility of the Autobot spirit. It’s all, to use a word your kind understands, bullshit. The cemeteries of Cybertron are full of the diminished sparks of the brave, the noble and the stupid. Analytically speaking, we had no business winning that war. They were the stronger army, superior soldiers, better firepower and most critical of all, the freedom to be completely ruthless, whereas our ideology puts considerable restraints on us in that regard, even in war. Ultimately, we won for one reason and one reason only: We were smarter than they were. We started out naïve, sure, and it cost us dearly early on, but for millennia we managed to survive and finally win, because we had the tactical advantage.”


    Ironhide (Autobot Chief of Security): “Let me guess… Prowl took all the credit. That pompous pile of…”


    Ratchet (Autobot Chief of Medicine): “I’m sure you really had to twist his arm, to get him to tell you why the entire known universe should make the day he was forged a holiday.”


    Brawn (Autobot Demolitions Expert): “Prowl likes to smell his own exhaust fumes. Don’t let that nerd fool you about what happened. The three ‘bots who deserve the credit are Hound, Mirage and Trailbreaker. Period. And all of it would be moot anyway if it wasn’t for [Optimus] Prime and the Matrix destroying Unicron.”


    Hound (Autobot Scout): “There were many heroes in that operation and those battles on Autobot City and Cybertron. We all had our parts to play in it. Prowl can be… well Prowl’s Prowl, but he and the rest of the strategic team deserve their fair share of the praise. It was a complex operation, to be fair. And none of it would have been possible without the bravery of Jazz and [Bumble]Bee behind enemy lines. They gave us the answers to the test, so to speak.”


    Overdrive (Autobot Strategist): “Let’s be honest. We weren’t at a desperation level quite yet, but the tide of the war was going against us and slowly but surely our forces were getting depleted on Cybertron. Just from having a sense of how Megatron likes to operate, we had a hunch that he was getting ready to press his advantage and go on an all-out offensive, so we decided to really double up our espionage efforts to find something we could use.”


    Prowl: “He said that? Well, that’s not totally accurate. It’s not that we were losing as much as our forces were being stretched thin. Optimus made the decision, rightly or wrongly, to prioritize the defense of Earth above all else because the humans didn’t ask for us to take our conflict to their planet and they couldn’t defend themselves on their own against the Decepticons. We had Ultra Magnus leading our faction on Earth and Elita-1 commanding on Cybertron, with Optimus and his team shuttling back and forth as needed. Now that it’s over, I will say that there was some… counterintelligence involved on our part, to give them the impression that our situation on Cybertron was more dire than it was.”


    Wheeljack (Aubobot Mechanical Engineer): “It took a few of your Earth years for us to settle in and get our bearings, but once we got things somewhat stabilized down there, we were able to rebuild and commit resources to building shuttles to fly back to Cybertron. Along with that, Optimus and the command team stressed to me that we had to find a way to shield ourselves from Decepticon sensors, so that they can’t hijack us while we’re flying back and forth. It was made crystal clear to me that us having that freedom was critical and that without it, we were effectively grounded. It took some trial and error, but I was able to cobble something together so they couldn’t get the drop on us… again, I mean.”


    Punch (Autobot Spy): “I may or may not have under-reported on the numbers of the Autobot units at certain times [as Decepticon double-agent Counterpunch], whispering certain things to certain ears. I was always aware that [Decepticon Director of Communications] Soundwave was lurking, so discretion and plausible deniability was important, but I think their natural inclination to underestimate us helped our cause.”


    Elita-1 (Autobot Commander on Cybertron): We were holding our own, giving as good as we got, although it wasn’t trending in our favor. I would agree with Prowl’s assessment that the reports of our vulnerability were exaggerated for strategic reasons. We were getting reinforcements from Earth as needed, which surprisingly the Decepticons never realized, but yes, there was a sense of urgency that we had to make something happen.”


    Bumblebee (Autobot Espionage Agent): “I wish I were bigger and stronger like the other ‘bots, but sometimes being small works to your advantage. I’m just thankful Optimus and Prowl had the confidence in me to do the job. We always wanted to be one step ahead of them, so we’d run regular scouting missions at Decepticon headquarters to try to find out what they were up to, and luckily enough, we were there at the right time.”


    Jazz (Autobot Special Operations Agent): “The thing about ol’ Megatron, as tough and merciless as he is, he’s also stubborn and predictable as a drone. He has plenty of ‘Cons he sees as just cannon fodder, but very few that he trusts with anything important. We knew that he liked to use [Decepticon Interrogation Agent] Laserbeak as his primary spy and our own snooping confirmed that he intended to hijack our next Earthbound shuttle that didn’t have Prime on board. I was briefed on the outline of what Phase Two of our op was going to be, but the tricky part was pinging Laserbeak with a tracking beacon so that we’d know the next time he had his beak where it didn’t belong. Luckily, I’m a pretty good shot and I drilled one underneath his chassis on the first try.”

    Skids (Autobot Theoretician): “A conclusion those of us on the analytical side reached long ago was that our war is not so dissimilar to your Earth game of chess, where Optimus and Megatron represent the queen pieces for their respective factions. It doesn’t guarantee victory for the other side if one of them is off the board, but it’s exponentially more achievable. The conundrum for both sides for millennia has been how to eliminate the opponent’s leader without exposing the other. We had intelligence that Megatron was eager to lead a boarding raid of one of our shuttles, but our hypothesis was that he’d be reluctant to do so if Optimus was on board, not because he’s afraid of Prime per se, but rather because he wants a sure thing. Operating on that premise, we spent a lot of time discussing what the perfect crew would be where he couldn’t resist the temptation to attack us personally.”


    Part II: The Ruse

    Prowl: “There were several factors involved in determining what the ideal Autobot crew to attack would be, from Megatron’s perspective. How many of us should be on the shuttle? Who would he personally be motivated to assassinate? How long can Hound maintain the integrity of his hologram without it losing its quality? The same for Trailbreaker’s forcefield, how long can we depend on it to hold against Megatron’s firepower? Which one of us would most compel him to separate himself from his team for the kill shot? There was a lot of… spirited… debates involved before we reached a consensus.”


    Skids: “Just about every Autobot wanted to be involved. We all understood the historical significance of what was about to happen. Everyone wanted to show they were courageous and brave, but to be perfectly candid, many egos were at play as well, and this was something Optimus advised us on too. He preached empathy. You can’t just tell soldiers who’ve suffered wounds and endured energon transfusions and trips to the CR Chamber and seen countless numbers of their friends and comrades die that they’re ‘not important enough for Megatron to kill,’ though no doubt Prowl would’ve been perfectly happy to deliver that message just that bluntly. We had to use nuance.”


    Trailbreaker: “For some, like Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, we had to convince those gung-ho boltheads that they presented too much of a threat to Megatron and that he’d be too intimidated to take them on, that they were essentially second-best only to Prime in their prowess as warriors. Naturally, that led to an argument between them about who was superior. For others, we had to explain they weren’t antagonistic enough in personality to draw Megatron out.”


    Wheeljack: “He means ‘jerks.’ Or better yet, I think the word you humans use is ‘assholes.’ And we had plenty on our side to pick from, believe me. But the strategy team was looking for ‘bots that Megs has a history with.”


    Overdrive: “We wanted a crew that would be instantly recognizable, credible but not overly threatening, and a group that would arouse a certain level of contempt within him. Mirage was out, obviously, because we didn’t want him to think about Mirage at all. We didn’t even want anyone colored blue on the screen who might remind him of Mirage. And we settled on a crew of four, based on our internal estimates for how long we could produce a quality hologram, how quickly they’d be killed, and the idea that we really wanted to convey that we were vulnerable and not expecting anything to go wrong.”


    Skids: “The timing was important too. We wanted a group on board we could trust to keep their powder dry until the exact right time. We arrived at the conclusion early on that Cliffjumper, for example, would be far too eager to be on such a mission, so it only made sense not to include him in the fake crew either. We figured he’d be too on the nose for Megatron. He made promises, he made threats, he called us every name in the book in our language and yours, but in the end all he did was prove our assumptions correct… Optimus had to calm him down.”


    Mirage: “Cliffjumper was yelling at everyone, demanding to know why he couldn’t be on the shuttle. I told him, ‘Sorry Cliff, the ship was full,’ and he jumped on me.”


    Cliffjumper (Autobot Warrior): “I’m glad the war is over but scrap Skids, scrap Prowl, scrap Mirage and scrap anyone else who thinks I’d have messed it up for everybody.”


    Trailbreaker: “Ironhide, Brawn and Ratchet were the first three that came to mind. They were easy choices, frankly, given their gruff, tough-talking personalities, their personal histories with Megatron and the Decepticons and their visibility. The only arguments against them were from a devil’s advocate point of view, a concern that they were too obvious, but ultimately, we didn’t want anyone flashy or that would remind him of Mirage or Hound. We settled on Prowl as the fourth as ‘Mission Commander’ because his authority lent a certain air of importance to the whole deal and the Decepticons would probably figure he’s the highest up the chain after Optimus, Ultra Magnus and Elita-1. Jazz was considered, but we knew that they knew he’s more of a solo operator and would be out of place in a crew setting. And again, we didn’t want anyone to remind them of Mirage. That was the most important thing. Out of sight – no pun intended – out of mind.”


    Prowl: “We decided the four of us on the ‘simulated’ crew would be on board in actuality, along with our special three operatives. Seven felt like the right number. Any more would be too hard to hide in a confined space in the shuttle. It was still a mission fraught with a lot of challenges. It goes without saying that Megatron is a tremendous threat all by himself, but we were hopeful that he’d only bring along a handful of accomplices. If he brought a dozen or more, we’d run out of time and cover. Optimus and his team were right on our tail, just in case things went haywire, and he was on edge as I’ve ever seen him. This was the riskiest thing we ever tried.”


    Optimus Prime (Autobot Commander): “When Prowl initially brought the idea to me, at first, I thought he was joking. Then I quickly realized that Prowl hasn’t joked once in all the millions of cycles that I’ve known him. On the surface, I thought it was extremely risky, and I hated the idea of exposing my soldiers to the threat of Megatron and an untold number of a raiding party with only a skeleton crew on board, even with us having the element of surprise. The Decepticons would be confused briefly, but maybe not long enough and so many things could go wrong. The hologram could glitch or they could see through the ruse… With all due respect to Hound, I needed to see the hologram for myself to be convinced of its realism. I was still skeptical, but I sought out Alpha Trion for council and he convinced me it was the right course of action. He said we wouldn’t get such a golden opportunity again to turn the tide in a war we were losing and even though he never uttered the word ‘Unicron’ he gave a strong impression that we had to eliminate Megatron and the Decepticon threat right then and there or else our problems were only going to get worse. There was this aura I was sensing of ‘now or never’ that I never felt before.”


    Wheeljack: “Once we got the go-ahead from Prime, things got hectic on base. We knew we didn’t have much time before Laserbeak would be dispatched to spy on us. It was a stressful environment, and we knew we couldn’t get the tiniest detail wrong. Prowl was micromanaging everything and everyone, telling ‘bots ‘your arm has to be angled this way when you shoot’ and ‘you have to fall this way when you’re hit’ and patience was wearing thin. I don’t remember who, but somebody came up with the idea of giving him a dumb look on his face when got shot, as a way of letting off some steam and giving some ‘bots a laugh. I think it was a compromise to calm Cliffjumper down. Prowl didn’t like it, obviously, he didn’t see the humor in it and wanted a more stoic, heroic end, but Prime told him to let it slide for morale.”


    Trailbreaker: “There were many egos to manage. ‘Bots didn’t like that in the hologram that they would die so easily after taking just one or two hits and that all the shots they were firing would be missing their targets so badly. They felt it reflected badly on them as soldiers. Brawn didn’t like that we made him rush head first into the fray without even being armed and then going down for the count with one shot. He felt it made him look foolish and weak. You wouldn’t believe the time we wasted explaining to him that we could only make the hologram so long for Hound before the quality of it would drop. Then he started arguing that he should get the Ironhide role in our skit, the one where he’s barely functional at the end and compels Megatron to finish him off. I thought Prowl was going to short-circuit he was getting so frustrated by the immaturity and pettiness of it all. In the end we compromised that Brawn would get turned around when he got shot so he wouldn’t have to ‘suffer the indignity’ of them seeing his face as he was dying. I swear to Primus this is true.”


    Brawn: “I’m glad that whole bit worked, but Trailbreaker’s got it all wrong, okay? It wasn’t about my scrappin’ ego! All the ‘bots who planned it were telling us over and over how every detail of this thing had to be perfect so we could fool ‘em, and then they’re asking me to meet Primus after one shot! What kind of sense does that make? I’m known for having the thickest armor of any Autobot but Prime. Do you know how many direct hits I’ve taken in this war? More than you can count. And I’m still tickin’. Prowl was trying to dress me down, saying he’s gonna go down with one shot and he’s not complaining but like I told him, ‘Well that makes sense because you’re you and I’m me.’ And then they had me just running at Megatron without a gun? What kind of nonsense is that? You’ll never convince me that Prowl didn’t plan that to make me look stupid, not in a million cycles.”


    Hound: “We actually shot two versions of the scene, one with Brawn sitting in the right aft and reacting first from there and one from the left aft, so we could use the one depending on which side of the shuttle the Decepticons burst through. I had to react quickly to choose the right one, obviously.”


    Overdrive: “The last part of the ruse was baiting the Decepticons with a script for Laserbeak to record and relay to his superiors. We wanted it to be tempting, exposition-laden of our so-called ‘plan,’ of course, and filled with stereotypical Autobot banter, from a Decepticon perspective.”


    Skids: “That was the most enjoyable part of the planning, personally. We had a lot of fun writing that. Ironhide and Prime were mortified, naturally. Neither felt we captured their voice correctly. Prime asked me, ‘Do I really sound like that to you?’ and I tried to reassure him, ‘Oh, no sir, this is just an exaggeration for their benefit, to really make it obvious,’ but inside I’m thinking, ‘Yes, you totally sound like that.”


    Ironhide: “I can’t believe I had to read that garbage script. I don’t know how a know-it-all like Prowl approved it. They had Prime asking Jazz about security when I was the Head of Security. And the stupid lines they had me say? What was it I called them? ‘Decepti-creeps?’ If I actually sounded like that, I’d be begging Megatron to shoot me in the head to take me out of my misery. The real me would cuss a whole lot more. And speaking of begging, don’t even get me started on them making me crawl and beg at the end. That scrap wouldn’t have happened in a million slaggin’ cycles.”


    Optimus Prime: “It was… what’s the word you humans use? Corny? Yes, I found it quite corny, especially the part at the end, ‘Now all we need is a little energon, and a lot of luck.’ Who talks like that? Prowl and the others explained that they want me to give orders in a detailed, plainspoken manner and to sound naïve and innocent as I can. I’m not sure if that’s the image Megatron and the other Decepticons have of me after the millennia we’ve spent fighting one another, but the results speak for themselves. Let’s just say it was one of those times where I was happy to have my mouth visor.”


    Jazz: “We all had our parts in the script and you know ol’ Prowl made us practice the thing a million times. The second I got the ping from Laserbeak’s tracking beacon that he was heading toward us, we all got on our marks and once we knew he was on top of us and recording, I gave everyone the silent cue and it went off without a hitch.”


    Bumblebee: “How does that meme go? Let me try my best narrator voice. ‘Actually, the Decepticons indeed had shenanigans in their area, and the Autobots were quite aware of it.’ I just remember trying hard not to laugh at the time because I knew we were ‘live’ and all I could think about was Ironhide riding to the shuttle, and I know he was swearing the whole time.”


    Ironhide: “I nearly crashed I was so mad. And Brawn and Ratchet were both teasing me non-stop once I got on board… but once we took off we locked in and got serious. Now we were gonna see if all this nonsense was going to be worth it or if we really were just gonna fly to Earth for some slaggin’ energon cubes.”


    Part III: The Shuttle Raid


    Prowl: “We felt like we had a good plan. We tried to account for as many variables as we could think of. We made sure our ‘specialists’ would be at full strength. We ground down on the details. For example, while all of us may have been tempted to target Starscream specifically, we had to stay disciplined to our individual target zones and assignments. Deviating from the plan could’ve been fatal.


    Ratchet: I’m the furthest thing from a poet, but the irony wasn’t lost on me that here we were on the shuttle on the premise that we were going to Earth to get energon when really we had plenty of energon packs on board to make sure Trailbreaker, Hound and Mirage were at peak capacity for when they would be called to action. Trailbreaker was guzzling them down like we had a limitless supply. I was telling him to slow down, worried he’d get drunk… I’ll tell you one thing Prowl didn’t plan for – how stiff the ol’ joints would get from crouching behind that hidden compartment for so long. We were teasing Ironhide about having to crawl to Megatron for real because his knees were going to give out, pleading ‘Nooooo!’”


    Prowl: We had such a narrow time window where we had the advantage. And Prime’s mission directive made our margin of error much smaller than it should have been. I understood his reasoning, but I didn’t agree with it, even though I’m hardly some gung-ho murderous simpleton like Grimlock or Sunstreaker. I told Prime to his face that he’s too soft and sentimental and that his condition is putting the crew at more risk, but he would not be swayed. He wouldn’t go forward with the mission unless we did it his way. In the end an order’s an order. We got lucky.”


    Grimlock (Dinobot Commander): “Me Grimlock dare Prowl to call me ‘simpleton’ to my face. Me would love to see that. Me Grimlock hasn’t smashed anybody for too long.”


    Ironhide: “What did I think about that order? What do you think I thought of it? I was this close to handing in my badge and telling Prime to shove it up his sanctimonious carburetor. Granting mercy to a bunch of scrappin’ Decepticons who were hijacking us and bent on sending us to meet Primus without thinking twice about it... And Megatron, of all ‘Cons! Trailbreaker and I had a few dozen glasses of energon at Swerve’s bar and he calmed me down, told me to remember why I’m an Autobot in the first place. We’re not killers. Easy enough for him to say, behind that forcefield. In the end, if anybody but Prime gave that order I would’ve quit on the spot, but for him, I did as I was told. Looking back on it, I would’ve been surprised if he didn’t give that order. That’s Prime.”


    Optimus Prime: “When the outline of the mission was proposed to me by Prowl and the others on his tactical team, I learned that the ‘moment-of-truth’ so to speak would involve a few moments of deception which we would use to shoot the members of their raiding party from their rear vantage point, what you humans in your military jargon would call their ‘six.’ I understood why that was necessary, given their likely advantage in numbers and firepower, but I still only agreed to it under the condition that we would shoot to stun and incapacitate, but not kill. Not in any circumstance unless it’s a head-on ‘you or them’ confrontation. I understand that they had murderous intent and that they likely would not have extended us the same mercy, but that is the difference between us and them. We do not shoot the enemy to kill from the back. I was not going to be swayed on that.”


    Hound: “Prime said if any Decepticons were killed, he’d review the video logs on the shuttle and court-martial the offending Autobot if warranted. He wasn’t messing around. Some of the ‘bots weren’t happy, for sure.”


    Mirage (Autobot Counter-Intelligence): “I remember a few of the others grumbling about Prime’s order – which, knowing them wasn’t surprising – but it didn’t bother me at all. I’ve never believed that Primus gave me my powers [of invisibility] to be a killer. I’ve tried to use it for good, for infiltrating and spying and that sort of thing, but no one has ever ordered me to kill while I’m hidden and I wouldn’t have obeyed it if they did. I was tempted for a nano-cycle to make an exception for Starscream, though.”


    Ratchet: “Give credit where it’s due – Prowl’s plan worked perfectly. The tracking beacon ‘Bee placed on their ship let us know when they were close, and we all got ready. They blew a hole to the left aft of our shuttle and Hound started his hologram the instant they were on board. It was Megatron, Starscream and the Constructicons. I remember Megatron growling ‘Die Autobots’ and changing to his gun mode. Brawn charges him, gets struck in the shoulder, whirls around theatrically and is done for. Prowl is the next to react, misses high on Scavanger, and then gets blasted right through his spark and dies. Finally, ‘me’ and Ironhide get off a few shots, all of them missing their marks, and we both get riddled by gunfire and go down. Megatron transforms back to his ugly, menacing self, walks toward a whimpering Ironhide, and that was Mirage’s cue…”


    Mirage: “My assignment was to neutralize the left side. I was hidden behind my electro-disruptor and in front of me were Starscream and three of the Constructicons; Bonecrusher, Hook and Long Haul. My rifle was on ‘stun’ and I shot each of them point blank, right behind their necks, one, two, three, four. There wasn’t anything to it. They were all off-line before they hit the ground.”


    Brawn: “Ratchet and I had the job of clearing out the right side. That was three Constructicons; Scavenger, Scrapper and Mixmaster. They didn’t know what hit them. It would’ve been distracting, watching that hologram of us getting slaughtered, but Hound had shown it to us a few times already, so when it went down for real, I was able to put it out of my neural processor and focus on the mission. The hard part was about to start.”


    Prowl: “Megatron. Once he gave what he thought was Ironhide the kill-shot, Hound’s magic show was over. The others went down as easily in real life as our hologram selves did, but now we’d have a moment or two before he turned around, processed what had happened, and tried to tear us apart singlehandedly. And he very well could have, had we not rehearsed for this exact scenario repeatedly.”


    Trailbreaker: My job, naturally, was to use my forcefield. You might assume it would be to protect us, but I cast it over the breech in the shuttle their raiding party created. We figured Megatron’s first instinct, after he realized what had happened, would be to retreat and we wanted to prevent that from happening. We wanted him to be trapped inside with us, as crazy as that sounds. And we also wanted to prevent other Decepticons who may have been outside of the ship, from coming in. We knew it wouldn’t hold for too long, but it held for long enough, barely.”


    Ironhide: “I’ve been around a long, long time and I’ve never had my discipline as a soldier tested so much as it was on that mission. Here I was, watching Megatron and his gang of slag-sucking glitches frag us and shoot the fake me in the face, and my orders are to take out his scrappin’ fusion cannon? Every bit of training you’re taught, from your academy days to the battlefield, is to always aim for center mass, that’s your biggest target, and now here’s blastin’ Prowl tellin’ me to forget all that and aim for that instead. Looking back on it, I understood, but I wouldn’t have been upset if I missed a bit to the right. Unfortunately, my fraggin’ pride wouldn’t let me miss.”


    Ratchet: “We all had our assigned targets. Ironhide and Prowl’s blasters were trained on Megatron’s primary weapon, his fusion cannon. Brawn and I, once we were certain the Constructicons were neutralized, our jobs were to aim for his feet, the left one for me, the right one for him. Hound and Mirage targeted his left and right hands. Prowl drilled it into us during mission prep for what seems like a million times, ‘forget center mass, forget his head, aim for the appendages. He can’t do anything to you without his appendages.’ We target-practiced over and over and over again, to the point where we could blast his fingers off from across the shuttle with our optics closed. Meanwhile, our hologram selves had just missed all their targets by mega-miles.”


    Trailbreaker: “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but give Megatron his due credit. Even after we destroyed his cannon and effectively immobilized him, he kept coming, crawling on his knees and the knubs of his wrists. He swung his arm and knocked Brawn clear across the ship and bashed me pretty good too. When I came to, I found out that the others finally managed to put him down.”


    Mirage: “Once he got close, Prowl gave us the go-ahead to aim center mass, but our guns were still on stun, so we were barely slowing him down. It was more nerve-wracking than it should have been. Prowl and Ironhide finally put a stop to it.”


    Prowl: “Per Prime’s orders I told Megatron that we were about to power up our blasters to full capacity and that we would shoot to kill at point blank range if he wouldn’t yield, surrender, and voluntarily enter the makeshift brig that we had set up. I would have much preferred if we just ended it then and there, but Prime, to the bitter end, believed that Megatron, after everything he had done, could still be redeemed. He still blamed himself for not doing enough to stop the war before it even started. I find that notion foolish and naïve, frankly, and I’ve told him as such.”


    Ironhide: “I put my gun right to his temple and told him to submit and he told me that I don’t have the mettle to do what’s necessary, so I balled up my fist and gave him my best uppercut, right below the chin. I cracked his faceplate. The maniac just spat some hydraulic fluid and laughed.”


    Megatron (Former Decepticons Leader): “I congratulate the Autobots. They won the battle, perhaps even the war, with their clever ruse. I never thought Prime would let it happen that way, without facing me personally, so I suppose he was less foolish and more cunning than I gave him credit for. But make no mistake, I was never going to beg for my life. Megatron begs to no one. And Ironhide and I still have unfinished business.”


    Part IV: The Ambush at Autobot City


    Jazz: We made double time in Prime’s shuttle to make sure nothing went wayward with the op. There were a few Decepticon stragglers outside, looking confused. I wasn’t sure if Trailbreaker’s forcefield was keeping them outside or what. It was Soundwave and a couple of his little cassette buddies, the rest of Starscream’s squadron, and the Insecticons. We gave them a warning…


    Sunstreaker (Autobot Warrior): A few of them – unfortunately – had the common sense to surrender. Soundwave, Thundercracker, one of the Insecticons whose name I forget [Editor’s Note: it was Kickback]. Skywarp teleported the hell out of there. The others opened fire on our shuttle. Prime was right over my shoulder and my orders were clear – I had permission to return their fire with our shuttle cannons. I fired before he could change his mind.”


    Ratchet: “Skywarp isn’t exactly the shiniest circuit board off the assembly line. He teleported right inside our shuttle. Imagine the look on his face to see Megatron and all the Constructicons off-line and in brigs. Brawn and Mirage cut him down before he could get his bearings and threw him in with the rest.”


    Cliffjumper: “We checked the video logs and cross-referenced with our files on Teletran-1 to identify five ‘cons: Thrust, Ramjet, Dirge, Bombshell and Shrapnel. They were atomized instantly. Nothing left of ‘em to even fill one of those ceremonial urns. Sunstreaker and I kept watching it on a loop and Prime got about as upset as I’ve ever seen him, saying only sadists celebrate murder. I tried telling him that I was playing the video back over and over so we could properly log who was fried, but he wasn’t buyin’ what I was sellin’.”


    Jazz: “I wasn’t hootin’ and hollerin’ like them two, but I wasn’t exactly bummed about the ‘cons who we sent to Primus neither. Especially Bombshell. He was a creep of the lowest order, and the galaxy won’t miss him one bit. As for the others, at least it was quick and they didn’t suffer. At least, I don’t think they did.”


    Prowl: “There was really no time to celebrate. The mission was only half over. We sent Ultra Magnus an alert to know what to expect, rounded up all the prisoners and got to making some minor repairs on the shuttle, as best we could. Hound was the busiest of us, as planned.”


    Hound: “Once we were able to dust ourselves off from Megatron’s last stand, I had to do a quick accounting of everyone who was on his raiding party, both inside and outside of the shuttle. My job was to conjure up another hologram of Megatron leading the troops onto an assault of Autobot City, but it was going to be quick and dirty, not nearly as perfect and detailed as the assassinations on the shuttle were. For the Decepticons that were blasted into oblivion by our shuttle, I kind of had to work off our video logs and my memory files of what they basically looked like, so it was going to be sketchy. Hopefully no one would notice that all the jets looked just like Starscream but with different colors, that sort of thing.”


    Optimus Prime: “I remember Hound running the finished hologram by me and I was far more impressed than I was expecting to be. He had very little time. We were… fortunate to have him on our side. You’re not going to get me to use the word ‘lucky’ again after that script.”


    Jazz: “We still weren’t sure at that moment if we were going to get to pull of the second part of the op and wipe all the Decepticons off the board once and for all. We were counting on their contingent on Earth to radio Megatron to coordinate their assault. If they had some secret signal worked out ahead of time, we were sunk and they obviously would have aborted. But, right on cue, we heard Astrotrain’s booming voice on Megatron’s intercom…”


    Hound: “Blaster and his pals on the comm[unications] team messed around with the audio files of Megatron we had and were able to splice together a rough semblance of his voice, basically saying their raid of the shuttle went successfully as planned and that they were headed toward Autobot City on schedule and to be ready for the invasion. I don’t think the quality of it would have fooled Soundwave, for example, but luckily, they didn’t have Soundwave available to them just then.”


    Ultra Magnus (Autobot City Commander): “When the mission was first explained to me, I was pragmatic about various aspects of it, but one thing that was not going to happen under my watch was us screwing up our part. Our directive was to ‘look’ unprepared while being prepared the whole time. That entailed having Autobot City’s defense systems online and fully loaded, ready to engage at a moment’s notice, and having our soldiers ready for their frontal assault as well. I had Arcee and Springer on the controls, waiting for my signal, which was to get us into battle station mode the instant we saw Hound’s hologram. Frankly, and I say this with no false modesty, the whole thing was a lot easier than I anticipated.”


    Arcee (Autobot Warrior): “I can still remember it so vividly, like it just happened. We were looking up at the sky, and there was Megatron and Starscream and the Constructicons, leading like two or three dozen other Decepticons into battle and then they just… disappeared. You could see the puzzled looks on the others, the hesitation… and that’s when Magnus gave us the signal.”


    Springer (Autobot Aerial Defense): “I’ve been in a lot of tough spots with the Wreckers in my time as a soldier and our motto was always ‘We’ve got better things to do today than die.’ This was not one of those. For once, we were the heavy favorites instead of the underdogs. And no, I’m not the least bit conflicted about it.”


    Windcharger (Autobot Warrior): “Among the things we did in the lead-up for this battle was to fine tune our firepower. We had some trial and error, but Wheeljack managed to tweak my magnetic fields so that they were stronger than ever. We proved to be a good tandem. I held a few of them suspended in the air and his rockets tore them apart, right through their chests. Prime didn’t give us any ‘stun’ directives and we didn’t ask for any.”


    Blue Streak (Autobot Gunner): “I picked off three or four from my sniper’s perch. I dedicated it to the memory of all those who were taken from Praxus, my home city. It was… satisfying at the time, but honestly, I don’t want to talk about it anymore, and I’m usually the kind of ‘bot that will talk about anything. I haven’t pulled a trigger since then and I’ll be perfectly happy if I never have to pick up a rifle again.”


    Sideswipe (Autobot Warrior): “They had no idea what hit ‘em. We were tearing them up and they were turning to flee, but then they see Prime and the Dinos and my bro pinching them in from behind. And they had no leadership to fall back on, a bunch of gyro-turkeys flying with their heads cut off. It was fraggin’ awesome!”


    Prowl: “The Decepticon contingent on Earth was still formidable. They had the Stunticons, the Combaticons, the Predacons, the Reflector group, some fliers, a few of Soundwave’s minions, the triple-changers, that shock-trooper duo, a few others not worth remembering. The lack of leadership on their part proved to make the battle more one-sided than we accounted for. And the Dinobots were their typical savage selves…”


    Grimlock: “Me Grimlock see Slag burn a yellow Decepticon so now he was red and see Sludge squish a blue Decepticon so now he was dead and see Swoop drop some bombs on other Decepticons and they blew up real good and I cut like three or four of them into I don’t know how many pieces and I don’t see Snarl but I guess he did something and then Prime came and told us to stop because he no like war.”


    Ratchet: “I had just made my way inside the city to meet up with [fellow Autobot medic] First Aid and [Autobot Scientist] Perceptor to survey the damage. Remarkably, we had no casualties at all and just a few wounded, none too serious. The same could hardly be said for the Decepticons, and we were going over what could be done to treat the ones that were in bad shape or already off-line and hemorrhaging energon. We were going over reports and then there was this blinding flash and next thing I knew we were all back on Cybertron and staring at the apocalypse.”


    Part V: Unicron – The Final Boss


    Ironhide: “One cycle we’re celebrating at Autobot City and next cycle we’re all staring up at this… I don’t even have the words for it, but it was sucking up Cybertron in its teeth and tearing it apart piece by piece. I couldn’t believe my optics, but I remember thinking, ‘We just can’t catch a break.’”


    Alpha Trion (Autobot Guardian): “Primus and Unicron were two of the original 13 Gods sprung from the dawn of the universe. One believed in light, expansion, and creation and the other believed in darkness, chaos, and death. They quickly realized their differences were unresolvable and that they would have to be mortal enemies. Unicron was chasing Primus across the galaxy when they both found themselves ensnared in the gravitational pull of two enormous meteors. They each decided to fashion their new homes in their own image, in their own way. When Primus saw that Unicron was on the horizon, ready to resume their duel, he called his children home to protect him.”


    Kup (Autobot Warrior): “I thought I’d seen everything, but I never imagined anything like that. Some of the ‘bots around me were glitching out and I didn’t blame them, but me, I didn’t see the point of it. Once I saw what we were up against, I was at peace with the fact that we were done for. There was no way we could fight that thing. He was a thousand times bigger than all of us put together. He made Metroplex look like one of you [humans], no offense. The only question was whether we’d be stomped to death or incinerated or atomized. I remember Blurr chirping in my audio module, a million words a minute, and thinking dying might not be half bad.”


    Blurr (Autobot Data Courier): “I don’t remember exactly what I said but it was probably something like ‘Kupwhatthefuckisthatwhatdowedowhatdowedowhatdowedowe’reallgonnadiearen’tweKupdosomethingpleaseI’mscaredIdon’twantthatfuckingthingtoeatme.’ By that point I had spent enough time on Earth that I picked up some of the slang, you could say.”


    Prowl: “It took what seemed like a couple of breems to but was, probably, a few astro-seconds to process what had happened, what was happening. There was too much chaos to have any sort of strategy sessions, and even if there wasn’t, I doubt we could have come up with an effective counter-offensive. As you might guess, Prime stepped forward. He knew it was his moment.”


    Wheeljack: “I don’t remember Prowl saying a word. He was slack-jawed like the rest of us. It wasn’t spoken, but everyone was thinking, ‘Prime, do something!’”


    Bumblebee: “I don’t know if Unicron sensed that a confrontation with Prime was coming or what, but just when I couldn’t imagine him being any more terrifying, he transformed into this demonic robot. I don’t know how many kliks he was tall, but it hurt, craning your neck just to look up at him. And he was spitting this green stuff that was melting entire cities. I was paralyzed. I saw Prime flying to get closer to him and for the first time in my life, I didn’t think Prime was going to come out on top, that this was too much, even for him. I thought it was over for all of us, Cybertron, Earth, the galaxy, everyone… And then I learned, again, to never underestimate Optimus Prime.”


    Optimus Prime: “It wasn’t me. I didn’t do anything. It was The Matrix. The Matrix carries the essence of Primus and it’s the one weapon in the universe powerful enough to defeat Unicron. I just happened to be entrusted with the honor of carrying The Matrix at the time. I just thank Primus it worked.”


    Ironhide: “Typical Prime, being modest and humble after saving the galaxy. All I know is that fraggin’ Unicron blew up in the biggest green fireball any of us have ever seen and will ever see. Finally, it was over.”


    Ratchet: “Yeah, all over except for the part where we had to rebuild Cybertron practically from scratch. Primus helped a little bit, but not as much as he could have, but you didn’t hear me say that. Sadly, we did suffer some casualties, but ironically it was mostly the Nails [citizens of Cybertron who weren’t affiliated with the Autobots or Decepticons] who took the brunt of it, from Unicron’s initial assault. We did lose Hot Head, who insisted on going out in a blaze of glory, Primus rest his spark.”


    First Aid (Autobot Medic): “You mean Hot Rod.”


    Ratchet: “Right, Hot Rod. What did I say?”


    Kup: “Punk kid drives off a cliff in between the line of fire of Prime and Unicron, yelling ‘No you don’t, Unicron!’ He got blown to bits by Unicron’s eye laser.”


    Optimus Prime: “It happened so fast; I didn’t have time to call him off. He sacrificed his life to protect me, and that courage and nobility is the essence of the Autobot spirit. I wish it had happened the other way around. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and every other Autobot we have lost in this senseless war, and how so much of it lays on my shoulders, that I should have done more in the beginning to guide Megatron towards a different path.”


    Prowl: “Like I said, the cemeteries are full of the brave, noble and stupid. It’s all behind us now, the Decepticons are no more. For some, like Thundercracker and the Constructicons, the transition has been easier than I would have guessed – frankly easier than for some of the bit-brains on our side. For others, they’re still undergoing non-voluntary rehabilitation and I have my doubts whether they will ever be anything more than purposeless, remorseless sociopaths. Most Autobots are officially ‘non-commissioned’ these days, but some of us remain on duty, ever vigilant in case a new threat pops up, which in my neural network is a distinct possibility for as long as we let Megatron function.”


    Megatron: “Do I have regrets about starting the Decepticon army? Human, Megatron doesn’t believe in the concept of regret. It’s a pointless emotion because it changes nothing. Is there a way to get things to be the way you want them to be without violence? I do not know. I was forged for war, to entertain the bloodlust of those I was deemed too low in class to be among. Primus created the Cybertronians to fight for him against The Chaos Bringer. War is the way of the universe, and as I’ve studied your history, I learned that it was no different with you fleshlings, so it would be most hypocritical for any of you to judge me, if you were foolish enough to dare. That being said, my captivity and my sessions with Optimus Prime and [Autobot Psychiatrist] Rung have offered me some fresh perspectives and I am sorting those out in my journal logs, which will be a sequel to my previous books.”


    Rung (Autobot Psychiatrist): “Progress? Well, all sessions with patients are confidential but let’s just say I’ve asked Ultra Magnus to double and then triple our security measures since I’ve begun speaking to Megatron. He’s the smartest Cybertronian I’ve ever encountered. I fear he’s more likely to turn me into a Decepticon than I am to ‘rehabilitate’ him in the sense of the term you’re asking about. He’s brilliant, extremely self-aware, utterly remorseless, and not seeking forgiveness or redemption. I find him fascinating, but terrifying as well, and he’ll be under our supervision until that latter feeling changes, or that he’s found innocent in Cybertronian Court for being a war criminal for more charges than a typical service droid can compute.”


    Jazz: “Here’s what I don’t get… We finally won the won the war and brought order to the galaxy and here I’m thinking I can enjoy Earthern music in peace… and all of it sucks now. Straight garbage. I’d rather be hanging out on Moon-base 1, scanning for shenanigans I pretend to not notice. This is the thanks we get for risking our necks for y’all? This is all Prowl’s fault!”


    Prowl: “Look, a holiday is totally unnecessary. I don’t deserve that. But a statue wouldn’t be out of the question. In fact, the Constructicons have expressed an interest in working with me on a project.”