Infiltration

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Darkryt, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Darkryt

    Darkryt Combiner Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2013
    Posts:
    612
    Trophy Points:
    147
    Location:
    Aether Foundation
    Likes:
    +245
    Edit, August 16, 2013: Replacing the terrible cliff notes that were here with a PROPER narration. Ahem.

    A year had passed since the Great century-spanning War between the shapeshifting aliens known as Cybertronians ended. A civil war between the valorous Autobots and destructive Decepticons that had destroyed their home world of Cybertron, and countless other worlds engulfed in flames. A year had passed since the need to jump from one innocent world to the next had ended, since the Autobot teams and Decepticon battalions scattered across planets from Cybertron's satellites to the darkest reaches of the solar system, nearly on the edges of black hole.

    The end came from a most unusual development; a trap laid by a lone Autobot Wrecker trooper had succeeded and partially destroyed the Decepticon flagship, the Nemesis, where it crashed into a world known as... Equestria.

    Not wasting any time, Megatron, the Decepticon lord and Master, set out with a plan to force the inhabitants to yield their planet to him and his legion. For a time it worked, but in the process, but the 'Ponies' of the local world had risen up and overthrown him using magic the likes of which recorded civilizations had only imagined previously. When Megatron's ship was repaired, the Ponies followed him, unintentionally following him to Earth and taking part in the Great War there. Joining forces with the team of the Autobots' leader, Optimus Prime, and over the course of their adventure, their power, assistance, and interference led to a climatic battle known now as The Decepticon New York Massacre, where Optimus was finally pushed to his edge and ordered to his combined force of humans, ponies, and Autobots the execution of as many Decepticons as possible, and the hidden true form of the Decepticons' ship, Trypticon, lay at the bottom of the New York Bay waters, and all but one symbol of the Decepticons' power were destroyed.

    The Decepticons were exiled from Earth, and retreated to their dead world of Cybertron, stranded and branded as outcasts from Pony and Human alike.

    From this, the Autobots, Ponies, and the existence of aliens was revealed to the human public. Slowly but surely, evolution took place and the Autobots, Ponies, and humans allied their governments and began to work towards interstellar harmony, and recovering the Iacon Database ejected into space across the galaxy so the Autobots could reclaim their heritage.

    An enterprising Decepticon, Shockwave, took command of the Cybertron-stuck wayward Decepticons. Through clever manipulation, Shockwave earned the Decepticons a place in the forming government by taking a problem off Equestria's hooves - with arcane science conceivable only by Shockwave himself, he strung an Equestria creature known as a Changeling by the hundred-thousands, attaching them to satellites that fed their own shapeshifting magic into to the very Core of Cybertron, regenerating the dead world, causing the scattered Cybertronians across the galaxy to begin the voyage home.

    Now, in the year 2013, tensions begin to rise as Optimus Prime's causal friendship with the Ponies' leader, Princess Celestia, is seen as threatening to the U.S White House, Twilight Sparkle left with a bad case of misanthropy after betrayals on Earth, and several returning Autobots and Decepticons are naturally unhappy to see the outcome of the war to be more complicated than just their side wiping the other out...


    *** *** ***

    Friendly feuding escalation

    Leading into

    Our ruination

    You've been beat by

    Infiltration

    In the ashes of - our devastation

    You'll turn and see

    Your revelation!

    "Welcome to –

    The New Nation!"

    Friendly Sibling escalation

    Building up to

    Our ruination

    Accept the ashes of

    Your devastation

    A trifecta beat by its

    Infiltration

    It's time to enter

    The new nation

    Don't turn your head; it won't give you

    Your Revealaaaaatttttiooon!

    Revealaaaaatttttiooon!


    INFILTRATION

    Story 1

    Other Visits

    Synopsis:

    A dimensional portal leads to a new kind of 'Con appearing to plague the Autobots.


    *** *** ***

    The scene was rocky. The terrain was bare of plant life, with only the most sturdy, arid flora able to stand the dry, dry conditions. Rock formations of all shapes and sizes were visible for miles. Some of them weren't naturally, and were put there for a purpose unknown to the local, shiny beast combatants. The mystery filled them all with a sense of dread, knowing there was something here, yet not here. Something near, yet far.

    It was several million years ago to Twilight Sparkle in this rocky, jagged piece of land. Except it wasn't.

    In fact, here, not only had Twilight Sparkle never existed, but she also never would.

    High above the sky, a swirling blue portal...er, swirled. Excess energies built up beyond the portal's ability to contain were discharged as bolts of cyan lighting strikes, which struck places lightning shouldn't -and in some cases, couldn't. It hit the ground, it hit the same place not just twice, but even so many as six times.

    The local combatants mentioned above were present beneath this unstable portal, fighting over control of it. Whether to protect those here, and those yet to come...or use it to destroy those very ones yet to come.

    The smooth-skinned apish leader of the faction intending to protect struck a decisive blow against the shiny Tyrannosaurus Rex leader of the faction whose intention was to destroy. He attempted to get up, refusing to be defeated and let his plans lay to waste, but the protector stomped him back down.

    "No. NO!" The tyrannosaurus Rex hissed. "I will claim this portal, and with it, victory over not only this battle, but the entire Beast Wars!" The dinosaur stood up, and his waist rotated, his head furling against his back as his body shifted and converted to a much larger, imposing form.

    "Guess again!" The blue gorilla growled before punching the Rex in the face, knocking him off his clawed feet. The portal began to suck T. Rex in.

    "No! NOOO!"

    Another fighter in the fray noticed. A pointy purple robot with features like an arachnid. "I'll save you, 'Master'! Hehehe..." He fired a string from his wrist. The string was small, thin, but strong, and practically translucent, barely visible underneath the dark lightning of the portal. It attached to the Rex, but rather than pull him back down, it dragged the spider along with him.

    They flew up around in circles, being sucked into the chaotic portal like it was a black hole bent to consume them all. The Master and his spider-friend were sucked up in it, and made to disappear. The portal surged and crackled, energy reaching critical mass from the absorption of Transmetalized metals...

    The remaining combatants raised their arms to shield themselves and brace for impact, sensing a volatile, violent reaction from the portal any second now.

    But it never came. Instead, the portal stabilized and dissipated before their very optics, completely disappearing and leaving no trace it was ever even there. Energy signatures quickly dropped the thing from their radar.

    The combatants stared, awed, unable to grasp the full reach of the very bizarre thing that just happened.

    *** *** ***

    Meanwhile, on a much further advanced Earth, two creatures known as Little Ponies walked along the empty desert road of the city of Jasper, engaging in small talk about human political policies, and just how strange, odd, and just plain inefficient they were when compared to their home of Equestria. On Equestria, everything ultimately submitted to the iron will of the Princess, no matter how much independence they enjoyed, or how little they valued the Princess' own opinions.

    "So you agree with the haters about this?" Rainbow Dash, the cyan coated one, raised her eyebrow at her friend, the yellow Fluttershy.

    "No, no." Fluttershy insisted, answering in her usual demure tone that was barely above a whisper at the best of times. "I just mean I understand why they think of the issue the way they do."

    Rainbow scoffed, arrogant and sure of her own opinion being the 'correct' one as usual. "You know what these humans should do? They should get themselves a Princess. None of this 'Parliament' or House of Representatives nonsense. Get a Princess to dictate everything. That'll solve the problem!"

    Fluttershy looked down, disagreeing with Rainbow's aggressive philosophy, but not aggressive enough herself to voice her dissent with Rainbow's delusion.

    Before they could continue walking, before Fluttershy could unwittingly take more of Rainbow's verbal abuse, and before Rainbow Dash could unwittingly deliver said abuse, unfamiliar energies began swirling in the area around them, and the two Pegasi flexed their wings out, trying to use their pegasus magic to detect what dark spell had been cast. Even though the wings were where pegasus magic was gathered at its strongest, they detected nothing, despite the physical evidence that said very much otherwise.

    "Okay, Fluttershy." Rainbow Dash concluded. "Insecticon mode."

    Fluttershy nodded. Pulling out a white tiny gem from her wing, she smacked with her hoof, and in a flash of green light not unlike that of a Changeling, she was standing in her slightly-taller than Rainbow, armor plated, half-Insecticon hybridized form. (It's a long story. Well, not really. It's actually very short; Fluttershy had been turned into an Insectiponycon because she was deemed fit by an Insection Queen to take care of her own nest of Insecticons,, but anyways...)

    "See anything on your sensors?" Rainbow questioned, preparing, ready, and eager to fight.

    "Lots of Energon." Fluttershy answered. "But there's something...strange about it."

    "Strange how?"

    "It's almost like it's...I know this goes without saying, but it's like it's alien!"

    Before Rainbow could grill Fluttershy as to how it could have been alien, when Energon by its very nature of being fuel from a far-off world was alien, the blue energy swirling began to reach a peak. Gathering together and coalescing into a huge portal, as deep, dark and uninviting as a super-massive black hole in space, sucking in every space ship and transport cruiser that was unfortunate to stumble upon its location...

    "What is that!?"

    "Why would you think I know!?"

    The portal began throbbing, pulsating as it directed its unknowable energies to its mysterious purpose. Rainbow and Fluttershy could only stand there and watch, as the power surging through and forth came to a head and proceeded to...spit out two purple Cybertronians that fell to the ground. After each of them landed with a hard thump and a loud grunt, the portal disappeared in the blink of an eye, as if it itself knew just as much as Fluttershy and Rainbow did about what it was doing.

    The two ponies exchanged looks with each other, before galloping towards the two downed Cybertronians.

    "Mmm." Rainbow hmmed at them, she and Fluttershy circling around the two robots less like herbivorous ponies and more like carnivorous lions. "Too small to be Autobots...too big to be Mini-Cons..." Rainbow observed.

    "Kinda organic-looking..." Fluttershy muttered. She gasped quietly, thinking that she might have just been presented with the opportunity to talk with more technoorganic hybrids like herself. Her friends were always such good listeners, but there was something special, precious and unidentifiable about talking with somepony who was the same.

    The smaller of the two groaned and put its claw to its head, and pushed himself up. As Rainbow had observed, he was much too small to be an Autobot, yet too large to be a Mini-Con...

    He was purple and dark, dark blue. A much darker blue than Shining Armor's mane or Optimus' legs. It was almost intimidatingly dark, like it was without a soul or emotion to its name. His head was smooth and round, except for the two horns on it, and the six mandibles forming its mouth. His face was barely more than said mandibles and an yellow visor. The exact shape and size of his blue parts on the chest kinda looked like tough guy jacket, giving the feeling of a biker from the robot.

    He seemed quite startled at the sight of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, like they were something straight out his darkest dreams and worst nightmares. Scrambling to his knees, fearful for his life, he put his hands together and made some sort of cross sigh at them, crawling on his thighs away from them, Jasper's distinct empty dirt leaving a record of his crawling that would last forever...or at least until Rainbow came forward and swept her hoof over the dirt afterward when this interaction was done.

    "Begone, pony creatures!" The spidery-robot hissed at them, spider legs on his back arching over his shoulders, like scavenging crabs prepared to defend themselves. "You will not take my Spark to your Pit of Rainbows!"

    Rainbow and Fluttershy looked at each other and exchanged befuddled giggles. They could at least gather that, for all their oddities, these two were certainly Cybertronians, given their use of terminology like Spark and the Pit. (...of Rainbows!)

    "I've read about you!" The spider-bot hissed, unaware his unconscious companion was now returning to his senses. "Pony-Creatures! They drag off the Sparks of the Wicked and the Wild to their Pit of Rainbows for horrific, flowery punishments at the hooves of Breezies!"

    Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy exchanged glances, and light, soft giggles in their confusion. "Breezies?"

    "Pit of Rainbows?"

    "We're not going to drag you to a pit full of rainbows." Fluttershy assured the spider. Then she noticed the other robot rising and turned to him. "We won't drag you down either."

    The second robot made a surprised expression, having been out too long to hear the conversation. It was understandable that he would be confused when that was the first thing he heard when he woke up.

    He was much larger and more bulky than the spider, though still too small for Autobot sized. He could reach Arcee's knees, at the least...but one of his arms was clearly wearing a tool that ended in a vice that extended his reach, so that may not have counted for much. His shoulders were bulky, and his feet were reptilian, and there was a pointy bug-like symbol in the crest of his helmet. He was mostly purple, with a grape-like face, and a lots of brown on him as well.

    Fluttershy took a particular eye towards the symbol in the helm, completely unfamiliar with it despite all the research Ratchet would let her eavesdrop over. "I've never seen that symbol on your helmet before. What is it?" Her voice was bounding with innocent curiosity.

    The larger robot turned to the smaller, who shrugged.

    "Mm.." He noted, taking in his surroundings and standing up on his feet, which made him stand considerably taller than Fluttershy was comfortable with. "I am, uh...Joe. Yeeesss. And this is the...flag of the, uh..."

    He looked up, and saw the beautiful shimmering stars in the quiet Nevada night, and had an idea. Thinking the name of ancient, powerful Decpeticon warriors, he put their name together with the stars and came up with a new name on the spot.

    "The Star Seekers! Yeeesss." Joe rasped.

    "Uh, we met the Star Seekers?" Rainbow questioned. "And I don't know what you are, but you're definitely not them."

    Joe was quick and smooth to dismiss this, as he was particular good at doing when came to making people believing his fat stinkin' lies. "Erm. Same name. Different organizations." He looked to the spider, forced his arm under the spider's soldiers, and lifted him up to his feet against his will. "And this is my faithful companion, Alec."

    "Oh, please." The spider muttered, looking away from Joe and the ponies both.

    "We are an...exploration group!" Joe told them, a brief pause in his speech that more manipulative ponies like Twilight or Rarity would easily detect for what it was; a pause to think of a lie. However, Rainbow wasn't that observant, and Fluttershy was too trusting. "We scrounge around the cosmos, looking for artifacts!"

    Rainbow and Fluttershy exchanged happy looks.

    "Artifacts, eh?"

    "I assure you, we have no shortage of those for you to find and dig up!" Fluttershy told them.

    "Let's get these guys back to base." Rainbow ordered, turning around to lead these two new diggers back home. "Optimus and Ratchet would certainly appreciate more rats to send out for when they locate Iacon Artifacts!"

    After the two ponies walked away some distance, the two so-called Star Seekers could talk freely amongst themselves.

    "Alec!?" Alec exclaimed. "What kind of Predacon name is Alec?"

    "Star Seeker." 'Joe corrected. He leaned in close, intimidating the spider back into his place- beneath his thumb, and under his control. "Do not question me, Tarantulas." The larger one snarled, speaking with his usual sense of melodrama and boisterous speech. "If I had wanted, I could've just as easily convinced those organics that you were a criminal and I was an Imperial Peach Marshall chasing you. And yet, I did not, because you are still useful to me."

    Tarantulas backed away, shoulders going limp in defeat and looked down in acknowledgment of the truth in his master's words. It was hard to deal with the irony, as 'Joe' was just as much as a criminal as he was. "Yes...that is true."

    "Good."

    Tarantulas's visor darkened briefly, doing the closest as a robot could to blinking as he took in his defeat. "What is your next command, Mighty Megatron?"

    "It's 'Joe'...for now." Megatron corrected, adding in a low growl. "And for now, we do as these brightly-colored four-leggers ask of us."

    "Mmm. Yeeesss..." Tarantulas hissed, cribbing Megatron's schtick. His earlier fear of being dragged into a rainbow-filled pit had prevented him from taking notice of Fluttershy, but now that he was calm- as calm as he could ever be- he became quite interested in her technoorganic properties.

    "Mm. Interesting, she's part organic, yet partially Transmetalized. I wonder if she knows as much..."

    "What are you blabbering about?" Megatron snarled.

    "Nothing. Let us follow." Tarantulas stepped forward and took the lead, walking towards the ponies before they noticed the two of them had yet to follow. Megatron grunted, not convinced of Tarantulas' motives.

    Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, quite a few steps ahead of the two robots by now, felt a lack of the shadowy feeling of metal they were so accustomed to when a Cybertronian was with them, and turned around. "Hey! You coming?"

    "Erm, yes!" Joe reassured them, raising a finger. He bent down to whisper harshly in Alec's ear. "Beast mode."

    Joe's right arm, the one with the vice, stiffened up, and his entire waist turned sideways, a shiny metal dinosaur head furling out from his back as he converted, turning into a metallic T. Rex. Alec's transformation scheme consisted of him getting down on his stomach and the arachnid bits hanging off him being put to use to turn him into an equally-shiny spider.

    Fluttershy's eyes lit up brightly, quivering, elated at the sight, much to Rainbow Dash's confusion. "You have beast modes!?"

    "Yes." Joe said, tromping towards them with a sort of professional strut to his walk, like he was a rogue, but knew how to behave in an upper-class society. "We have beast modes."

    "Oh, I can't tell how excited I am to somepony to talk to! I'm a techno-organic, so it's hard to relate..."

    "Sorry to disappoint you, dear," Alec said, but there was little sympathy in his voice. "But we're wholly mechanical. We just look organic."

    Fluttershy's features drooped. "Oh...okay." She turned away from them, scuffling her disappointed hoof in the dirt. Rainbow Dash had her amused gaze fixed solely on Joe's reflective snout. As Joe and Alec approached, Rainbow Dash looked up at Joe's face and giggled.

    "What is it you find so amusing about me?" Joe inquired.

    "Sorry. Just...your snout is incredibly shiny. I mean, look at that." Dash flapped her wings, propelling her upwards, and touched her nose to Joe's. "It's almost hypnotic, how shiny that is. I know another guy- an Autobot-" Dash didn't catch the curl in Joe's lips at the mention of Autobot, "That turns into a T.Rx ...a much bigger T. Rex." Dash boasted gleefully, crossing her front legs as she got out of Joe's face.

    "Ah!" Joe raised one of his stubby claws to object. "It's not the size, my dear, it's how you use it."

    Dash was dumbstruck by Joe's objection.

    "I told you." Fluttershy said quietly with a smugness usually reserved by Rainbow Dash herself. "I keep trying to tell her that, but she wouldn't listen to me." Fluttershy whispered to Joe, who nodded.

    "Let's get a Bridge going for these guys." Rainbow insisted, trying to steer the conversation away and shrug off the fact that somepony else with no insight into their friendship with each had just unabashedly agreed with Fluttershy's advice over hers. She pushed her hoof to her ear. A click beep-beeped out from her ear. "Yo, Ratchet! We have some 'bots here who could use a place to crash and R and R... what makes me so sure? They just dropped out of the sky from a blue portal, that's what makes me sure! THANK you!"

    Rainbow Dash pushed her hoof against her ear, causing another click. She was hanging up on her call. "Eeesh...Ratchet's not so sure about bringing some new guys in, but what does it matter? Everypony on Earth already knows where their base is anyway...besides." Dash turned towards Joe. "We can trust you not to make a ruckus in the Autobot's hometown, am I right?"

    "Of course..." Joe said suavely, waving a claw.

    A sudden whir of energy startled both Alec and Joe, and they each stepped backwards when a huge, swirling green portal not unlike the blue portal that brought them here materialized before the group. The difference being the energies swirling in the green portal were pink and light, while in the blue one, they were black and dark.

    Fluttershy, always ready to play the role of 'mama', spoke soothingly to the terrified Star Seekers. "It's all right. This is just a GroundBridge. It's used for travel over long distances. It won't hurt you, okay?"

    "No, no, of course!" Alec insisted, raising mandibles in the eye. "Er, since it looks so similar to the blue portal that brought us here, we just assumed..."

    "Oh, I understand." Fluttershy assured him. She jerked her head towards the portal. "But come now. I'm sure Optimus will be pleased to meet you!"

    Joe became awed, staring off into space, transfixed at something. "Optimus...Prime?"

    "I, um, don't know any other ponies named Optimus..."

    Joe smiled maliciously, the teeth of his dinosaur mode showing in full view, giving off an evil aura all around him. "YES! Let us away, through this...what did you call it?"

    "GroundBridge."

    "Through the GroundBridge, Taran- Alec!" Joe put his claw to his mouth and cleared his throat. "Let us away!"

    Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash stepped, closely followed by an increasingly excited Joe and as always disdainful Alec. To the pegasi, the journey through the dimensional currents of the Bridge, the light green road that twisted through dimensions, was familiar one by now. But to Joe and Alec, it was a surreal experience. Perhaps not entirely because of their unfamiliarity with the Bridge, but because they were looking forward to what was on the other side...

    After a relatively brief time through the Bridge's atmosphere, which was actually quit relaxing when Decepticons or out-of-control Dark Energon-fueled machines, they stepped out into the Autobot base.

    Joe's reptile eyes quickly set about scanning the room, like he had never been in an Autobot base before, and wanted to memorize every minute detail about it. He and Alec appeared quite intimidated by the physical appearance of Team Prime. Fluttershy didn't notice Joe looking down at the Autobot symbol in the floor and growling at it.

    The white robot monitoring the obviously advanced computer turned to Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, still upset and seeing their new friends as potential enemy agents. Red and blue Optimus, blue Arcee, and yellow Bumblebee, gathered around to greet their visitors.

    "Hello." Optimus was the first to start the welcoming. "I-"

    "Am Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots." Joe said quickly. Perhaps a bit too quickly. "And...that white one crowing over the monitors is Ratchet...but I haven't such lucky guesses over the rest of you."

    Ratchet seemed quite offended that his daily monitoring would be referred to as crowing.

    "These are Arcee and Bumblebee." Optimus answered, gesturing at each of them in turn. "How do you know my name?"

    Joe looked upwards, his red optics narrowing at Optimus with a hatred that was enough to keep an Equestria ice spirit fed for a week, if not more. "Some...light reading I did."

    "Mm." Optimus noticed the contempt in Joe's tone, but he wasn't so impolite as just walk up to someone and say "Hey, I think you hate me, don't you?" so he left it alone. Optimus started gesturing around the room. "Well, also with us are Twilight Sparkle, Pinkimenia, and Rafael."

    Sitting at opposite corners of the room, hiding and letting the natural light bend the shadows in such a way that it could hide them each from the social situations they both preferred to avoid, Twilight was reading a book and Raf was fiddling with a tool. Pinkimenia, better known as Pinkie Pie, was sitting on an elevated platform used for eye-to-optic interactions with the Autobots, tapping her chin in thought, thinking silly Pinkie Pie style thoughts about things that really didn't need that much thought devoted to them.

    Twilight was in a corner because, although she was now on good terms with the Autobots, humans were still targets of her ire. Raf was fiddling with some sort of toy of his, taking a screwdriver to what appeared to be a scale-model catapult.

    Twilight briefly raised her head from her book in acknowledgment of their guests, but Alec caught her eye, and she caught his. Their gazes lingered on each other much longer than they had any business being. Alec converted to robot mode and walked around the edge of the floor's Autobrand, visor still on Twilight. They both shook their heads and returned to what they were doing, putting their respective appendages on their heads.

    "Well, that was weird..." Twilight said to herself quietly. "Almost like symbiosis, but not..."

    Symbiosis was a little-understood process that was engaged in by Cybertronians and Ponies alike that had an evil substance known as Dark Energon infused into their respective bloods. Exactly how it worked wasn't clear, even to Ratchet, for all the tests Twilight let him perform on her in the name of science, but those basic facts were undisputed. But Alec didn't have Dark Energon, or Twilight's horn would be making sure everypony around knew it as well...

    "Well, that was certainly an interesting experience..." Alec muttered.

    Rainbow Dash, failing to see any point in her continuing to stick around with Joe and Alec, flew up and landed over at Raf's corner, where Raf nervously glanced up at her before taking his catapult and scooting away from her.

    "Aw, c'mon!" Dash chided, trotting over and putting her equine neck over Raf's hair, which was more like a mane of leaves. "What'cha you got there?"

    "Toy catapult..." Raf muttered. "You-you wanna see?"

    "Sure!"

    Raf lifted up the catapult up, which despite the fact parts where scattered everywhere, was still functioning, and he fired it at Rainbow Dash's nose. The toy boulder bounced on the bridge of her nose before falling to the floor and rolling away from her hooves lazily. Dash burst into insensitive laughter.

    "Are you serious!? You call that a catapult!? That thing couldn't hurt a fly!" Dash fell onto her back, hooves kicking.

    Raf turned away, trying not to let Dash get to him, but Pinkie Pie noticed and was on them both in seconds. That was in fact how long it took her to get from where she was to the both of them.

    "It doesn't have to hurt a fly, Dash." Pinkie said with a scolding tone of a doting mother. "Raf has fun playing with it, and that's all that matters."

    Dash's laughter abruptly stopped, and she looked confused at Pinkie's defending of Raf. "O...kay." Taking the hint she said something she didn't mean to, Dash flapped her wings and flew away.

    "Don't worry, Raffie." Pinkie said encouragingly, pulling the human boy into a hug against her chest. "Auntie Pinkie's gonna protect ya!" She ruffled his hair.

    Raf wasn't sure what to think. He didn't think he needed another guardian besides Bumblebee, one to deal with emotional threats while Bumblebee dealt with physical ones, but Rainbow Dash had been bothering him, and a hug from Pinkie always felt nice... Raf wondered if maybe she had some sort of secret technique to make her hugs better anypony else. It certainly wouldn't be surprising, given the way Pinkie's mind, uh... 'works'.

    Alec turned towards Fluttershy. "Uh, excuse me, Fluttershy, but I was wondering...are you aware you're partially Transmetalized?"

    Fluttershy made a curious squeak. "Oh! Transmetalized? No, no, I...I never heard that term before. What does it mean?" Fluttershy's eyes lit up light a night lamp. "Is like being a techno-organic? Are you techno-organic Transmetals?"

    "Er, no. Sorry. We're Transmetals, but we're not techno-organic. We merely look organic." Alec flexed his claw. "Anyways, particulars of being Transmetal is having a vehicle mode...a loose one, mind you. It's not much more than simply having wheels under your legs."

    It was clear by now to anypony with half a brain cell to go between them that Joe was upset at Alec explaining to Fluttershy the finer workings of this mysterious Transmetalization. Fluttershy herself was disappointed that she didn't actually have fellow techno-organics to talk to.

    Joe draped an arm around Alec's shoulders. "Alec, why don't you go talk to one of the other ponies? I'm sure your scientific knowledge would be just as entertaining to any one of them..."

    Alec saw right through Joe's ruse. Joe was trying to drive Alec away so that Alec couldn't explain more to Fluttershy, as part of another one of his ambitions plans. Alec played along. "Yes, of course, commander!"

    Twilight got up and trotted towards the elevator that led to the roof of the base. Alec noticed this, and converted into his vehicular mode- no doubt to teach Fluttershy while escaping Joe's suspicions. As he said, it wasn't much more than wheels under the legs, as his spider legs curled up and stiffed while a tiny wheel unfolded from his mandibles. The back end of his abdomen sprung out and twisted, turning into a large hind wheel. Being a motorcycle, vehicles well-known for their tendency to be as obnoxious as possible, Alec had no trouble accelerating up the stairs so fast it was like he glided over them. He pedaled as fast as he could to get into the elevator with Twilight before its doors closed.

    "Wait!" Alec called as he drove in, converting to robot to stand next to Twilight. Twilight whinnied as the doors closed in, locking them in together and sealing them off from the rest of the outside of the base.

    Alec watched with rapt attention as Twilight used her magic to push the elevator's buttons.

    "What floor do you want on?" Twilight questioned him, doing nothing to hide her displeasure that he -a newcomer Fluttershy had dragged into the base- had followed her in here.

    "Whatever floor you're going to." Alec humbly answered, placing a claw over his green-spotted chest. Twilight rolled her eyes and scoffed.

    "You're one of those..."

    Back in the bottom floor, where the elevator had since left them, Ratchet decided it was high time Joe put his money where his snout was, and drew away from the computer.

    "Joe...if you're really an artifact hunter, as you so claim..." Ratchet pointed a finger to show he had no faith in Joe's abilities. He pulled away and gestured at the computer. "Then you should have no difficulties in deciphering these Iacon coordinates and pinpointing the location of the artifacts in the database."

    "Yyyeeesss..." Joe rasped, "I should have no problem." Rising up to the challenge head on, Joe tromped forward to Ratchet's computer. Ratchet, for all his grouchiness, was at least well-mannered enough to give the smaller Joe a lift onto the controls, so Joe could hit the keys using his feet the way ponies did when attempting to operate Cybertronian machinery.

    "Hrm...well, at least you used standard Cybertronix..." Joe muttered.

    "What was that?"

    "Nothing. Carry on. I will get to work." Joe looked down at the keys and walking around on the keyboard, trying to figure out what each key did exactly. Ratchet leaned back against one of the base's many railings, disinterestedly watching Joe go to work. Fluttershy walked in front of his leg, and Ratchet noticed her neck was hanging rather low. Ratchet was no by means a bleeding Spark, but Fluttershy brought the softer side out in everypony, and not even cranky, rusty, crabby Ratchet was an excepting to that.

    "What's wrong, Fluttershy?"

    Fluttershy sighed. "I was hoping Joe and Alec would techno-organics so I could talk to them about being one...but they're not."

    Ratchet pursed his lips, wondering what he could say comfort the saddened sensitive Insect-pony-con. Unable to think of anything to say that directly related to her dilemma, so he defaulted to something he was more familiar with. "Fluttershy, would you like to hear about the Cybertronian concept of Rossum's Trinity?"

    Fluttershy gasped, flattered Ratchet would so willingly volunteer Cybertronian knowledge that (she incorrectly assumed) was highly respectable and only privately shared. "I'd be honored! What is it?"

    "Rossum's Trinity is a principle that states the three of the Cybertronian's pieces...the brain module," Ratchet knocked on his head. "The Spark..." Ratchet beat his fist against his chest, the way gorillas did to issues challenges to each other. "And the transformation cog..." Ratchet converted his arm into its blowtorch configuration. "Damage to any one could cause shutdown in all three...say, when you were converted into a partial Insecticon, do you get a brain module, Fluttershy?"

    Fluttershy put her clamped hoof over her ear. "I don't know...I don't think so..."

    Ratchet briefly wondering if maybe Fluttershy got a Spark, or even stranger, half a Spark with her techno-organic half, but quickly dismissed the thought. There was no way the pod her conversion took place in had the means to imbue a pony with a Spark, if a transplant like that was even possible. But it was actually mostly because there was no way it could make a Spark without the use of a legendary Cybertronian artifact known as the All Spark, which had been lost to space to keep the Decepticons from abusing it during the war.

    The war was over now. So...surely they could launch an expedition to go and find it, couldn't they?

    "Fluttershy?" Ratchet suddenly questioned. "Have you been to Cybertron since Shockwave used the Changelings to re-power it?"

    Shockwave, a Decepticon who worked as Megatron's pet mad scientist in early days of the war. Since Megatron had been a casualty of the last battle of the war – fittingly named The Decepticon New York Massacre – Shockwave had given in to a long ambition to lead the faction.

    "Oh, no. I would like to, though. I heard the Changelings' magic makes all the buildings quite pretty. I'll need my space suit, though..."

    "No need. An unforeseen side-effect of the Changeling magic was to create an atmosphere...or at least oxygen."

    "Maybe I should go there, then..."

    "If Shockwave will let you..." Ratchet grumbled, inherently distrustful of the Decepticon Lord with good reason.

    Shockwave was conspiring to achieve Megatron's goals of conquest in ways Megatron could not. With politics. So he let the Autobots come and go in peace, as treating the Autobots badly would reflect bad on him, as the Autobots were on good terms with Equestria, and Equestria had given Shockwave the Changelings. So it would make Shockwave look bad to the various Autobot, Decepticon, and non-aligned Cybertronian political parties for him to mistreat the Autobots.

    Twilight remained silent with Alec as the elevated traveled up the shaft into the top of the tower. Even with Alec's occasionally attempts to make small talk.

    Twilight was growing frustrated, as she felt herself drawn to Alec like a magnet. What was that was drawing her horn to his him?

    The elevator skidded to a stop, signaling they had reached their destination. The doors slid open with a mighty hum, and Alec followed as Twilight stepped out onto the edge of the base.

    "The stars are out tonight..." Alec said, trying to continue his efforts at small talk.

    "Uh-huh..." Twilight nodded.

    Alec looked upwards at the stars, then towards to Twilight. "I'll tell you a secret, Twilight?"

    "What?"

    "My name's not Alec. It's Tarantulas. Joe is actually a Predacon who took the name of the original Megatron."

    Twilight's eyebrows shot up in alarm. She looked to Tarantulas, and reached a quick, decisive conclusion. Twilight, whose mind worked like a computer, picked up on the fact that he had not identified himself as being a Predacon.

    "That's why my horn keeps reacting to you! You're a Spawn of Unicron, aren't you?"

    Tarantulas let out an eerie cackle that Twilight ten different kinds of uncomfortable, and he seemed rather creepily not at all disturbed at Twilight having found him out so easily. "Yyyeeess...yes, I am."

    Dark Energon's tendency to reach out to its kindred had been calling out to Tarantulas, sensing the innate connection he and it had with each other, against Twilight's wishes, and regardless of any potential objection she would have.

    "You know..." Twilight said slowly. "I have a good understanding of Cybertronian biology, and I'm good with magic...I could kill you easily..."

    "But you won't." Tarantulas countered.

    "Really? How do you know that?"

    "Because... 'you're better than that'." Tarantulas made a finger quote as he spoke, narrowing his visor at Twilight, daring her to prove him wrong.

    Twilight darkly closed her eyes, ruminating on just how far gone she really was. How deep her Dark Energon infection let her hatred run. For although she may have made bad choices before the influence of the Unicronian blood, the foul fuel had unquestioningly loosened her moral values.

    But by how much?

    She turned around, feeling the light of the moon on her Cutie Mark, and walked towards the elevator...only to stop, spin back around, and let loose a blast of considerable size from her horn onto Tarantulas.

    Tarantulas was shot down and blown backwards. He clutched at the smoking, sparking wound now in his chest. Twilight left him injured, but alive. Tarantulas just realized this when he looked up and saw Twilight Sparkle gone, barely catching the sliver of movement as the elevator doors finished closing.

    Inside the elevator, Twilight realized she had given in to her Dark Energon's violent urgings. As she batted her thoughts back and forth with herself, worrying if maybe she didn't have her Dark Energon under control like she thought she did, the idea she should warn Optimus and the others about Predacon Megatron utterly escaped her mind's notice.

    In the main lobby, no one noticed the elevator doors slide open, or an obviously doubtful Twilight trot out and away. She stopped briefly and lifted her head to look up at everypony. At Optimus, at Fluttershy, at her friends. With a sigh from her doubts, she continued on her way.

    "Erm, Optimus!" Joe shouted, raising his arm vice for attention. "I believe I have decoded one of the coordinates!"

    "Excellent work, Joe." Optimus approached the computer and placed his hand on the edge of the keyboard, investigating the set of decoded coordinates. "This coordinates would indicate the presence of the Star Saber...on Equestria."

    "Star Saber?" Joe and Arcee asked in unison.

    "The Star Saber is a legendary artifact of the Primes." Ratchet explained. Being the educated surgeon he was, he knew about the Primes and their myths. Even if he questioned every one of them. "It's...it was a sword wielded by the one of the Thirteen Original Primes."

    "That's it?" Arcee scoffed. "A sword?"

    "A sword with the power to tear worlds asunder, if thrust into the wrong hands." Optimus added, gaze stoically on the computer screen. "These coordinates would suggest in the locale of the Crystal Empire on Equestria."

    Twilight, who had been so close to the exit, froze. Something went click in that huge head of hers. "Uh...Optimus? What does the Star Saber look like?"

    "I do not know." Optimus admitted. He turned to Twilight, an exceedingly rare moment of him actually expressing surprise with a raised up browplate. "Twilight Sparkle, given your infusion of Dark Energon, you would've felt an intense pain had you come into contact with the Star Saber. Have you felt such a pain during an excursion to the Empire?"

    "No..." Twilight stuttered. "B-but, uh, Cadence did want to show me a sword she said was huge and beautiful."

    Optimus stepped forward, and Twilight could tell this was an urgent matter to him. "Where?"

    "Uh...when she brought there, it was gone. The ice was shattered. Somepony took it."

    Twilight didn't think she would ever see Optimus thunderstruck in her lifetime. She knew he worried- he was a leader, after all, and all leaders worry- but she doubted she'd see him show as such.

    "Impossible...the Star Saber responds only to the hand of a Prime."

    "And..." Twilight realized. "You're the Last Prime..."

    So for someone to have taken the Star Saber from its resting place should have been impossible with Optimus there. Unless there was magically some other Prime, just causally running around Equestria without any of Optimus' responsibility, under the radar and off the grid, and just so happened to be in the area after Cadence was there, but before Cadence and Twilight returned.

    "Ooh! Really? How touching!" Joe mockingly exclaimed, putting his hands together affectionately. "I had been waiting to reveal this, but to know you're the last of your kind... is an opportunity too good to pass up!"

    Joe pointed his arm vice at Optimus. The vice stiffened, its many hinges stopping completely to give a straight aim. A light shade of purple light began gathering around its tip and gathering into a ball, which fired straight into Optimus, shattering his left chest-window and throwing him against the wall. Everypony was shocked at first, naturally, but as they recovered, they had different reactions. Arcee pointed her guns. Ratchet grumbled that he was right not to trust Joe, Fluttershy felt guilty for bringing him in, and Twilight felt the same for not remembering to warn Optimus.

    "W-why did you do that!?" Fluttershy practically screamed at Joe.

    "Because he's not Joe! His name is Megatron!" Twilight answered harshly, baring her teeth at Megatron.

    "Yyyeeesss... I am Megatron, leader, of the Predacons!" Megatron announced, raising his fist into the air dramatically while Optimus groaned and struggled to get out of the wall. "In my own universe, a pareall dimension to you, the Autobots won the Great War with the Decepticons!"

    "And we've won the Great War in this universe, too." Ratchet snarled.

    "Hush!" Twilight snapped at him. "It's rude to interrupt the villainous monologue! I should know! I spent several weeks as one, remember?"

    "Their descendants, the Maximals, rule us Predacons as second-rate citizens. And I, a nameless rogue..." Megatron's voice went sorrowful for a moment, before returning to its boisterous volume. "Pulled off the heist of the century- possibly of all centuries! We went back in time, meaning to kill our Optimus Prime and end the Great War in our favor! But alas, the Maximals discovered us, and attempted to stop me from my goals. Recently, a bizarre portal appeared that we fought for control over, which is how me, and my associate, Tarantulas, ended up here. Ah, here he is now!"

    The elevator opened, and Tarantulas limped out of it, still clutching at and reeling from the wound Twilight inflicted on him. Twilight frowned and looked away. Megatron

    "It may not be the Optimus Prime I intended to kill, but I will happily off-line him anyways!"

    Optimus finally succeeded at tearing himself from the wall, and he converted his right arm to blaster configuration. "Be that as it may, Predacon Megatron, if you attempt to take my life, be prepared for me...to fight for it." Optimus fired. Megatron jumped off the computer console onto the floor, causing Optimus' blast to hit it instead and blow apart the keyboard.

    Optimus was aghast at this destruction of his own property. How did he, with all his combat experience, not realize that would happen?

    "You-Ratchet needed that!" Optimus snarled.

    Ratchet laughed manically, hands in the air like he was in a holy rain. "Yes! I...have been...justified."

    "You...you're a Decepticon descendant?" Fluttershy quietly mumbled at Joe, her anger steadily starting to rise. "You tricked me to get into the base! You-you used me!"

    "Yyyeeess!" Megatron growled. "Rather skillfully, might I add."

    "You-!" Fluttershy raised her own hoof-blaster at Megatron, but Megatron charged at her and gripped her neck with his vice, which then electrocuted her. Megatron converted into his beast mode, unfurling concealed roller blades from his feet and VTOL fans from his sides. He picked Fluttershy by the scruff of her neck in his jaw.

    "Tarantulas!" Megatron commanded. "Let us make our escape!"

    "Er...of course." Tarantulas staggered forward, still hurting. Despite his injuries, Tarantulas managed to jump off the stairs and convert into his motorcycle mode. But as he jumped the top of Raf's hair caught in Tarantulas' gears, so when Tarantulas took off racing, Raf was hanging off from his side, being dragged.

    "RAF!" Pinkie screamed.

    The Autobots attempted to fire on the fleeing Predacons, but when they both had hostages, and both were small, fast vehicles, aiming a good shot on them that wouldn't hurt the hostages was difficult, and the criminals managed to slip through the exit.

    "Daaaagh!" Ratchet screamed. He really didn't like the idea of Fluttershy being anypony's hostage. She was so fragile. He was seriously doubtful she could handle the stress of a situation like that.

    "What do we do now!?" Dash demanded, equally concerned about Fluttershy.

    "Divide," Optimus answered. "And conquer. Autobots, separate into teams and roll out!"

    *** *** ***

    "Dah! Goo! Frah!"

    Raf sputtered as he caught dirt in his mouth, hanging off Tarantulas' side as the Predacon sped through Nevada's plains.

    "Hmm..." Tarantulas mused, having not noticed Raf's hair was stuck in his gears until now. "Megatron, it seems I have one of the Autobots' humans stuck to me. Shall I get rid of him?"

    "No." Megatron replied, Fluttershy still hanging limp from his jaws. "He will make an excellent bargaining chip, yyyeesss..."

    "Can I-pfft- offer- phaf! Something?" Raf sputtered out through breaths of dirt.

    Megatron and Tarantulas skidded to a halt to let Raf talk freely, swerving off to the edge of the road.

    "What, human?" Megatron snarled, doubtful this puny organic could offer him anything of value, but curious if he would betray his comrades.

    "Old MECH base..." Raf answered weakly, raising a finger. "Not too far from here."

    Megatron narrowed his reptilian optics at Raf. "How do I know this isn't a trick so you can lead your Autobot friends to us to rescue you?"

    "You can't...really." Raf admitted. "But I...am really tired of breathing dirt through my nose."

    Megatron put his claws together, thinking on the potential benefits and respective drawbacks of taking the human's offer.

    "Can I ride on one of your backs?" Raf asked. "I'll behave..."

    "Hmm..." As Megatron pouted whether or not humor his request, Fluttershy came to in his jaws.

    "Raf!" Fluttershy exclaimed at the sight of him. "Are you okay?"

    "No..."

    "Silence!" Megatron ordered, dropping Fluttershy to the ground so he could talk more clearly. "I am in command here, and I will decide who gets to ride whom!"

    "Oh, okay." Fluttershy crawled away and showed her submissive side- which took Megatron by surprise, as all the Maximals he had captured remained defiant, sure they would be rescued. "But can't we lift Raf up a little? He must be tasting dirt every time your wheels do a full rotation, and he's..." Fluttershy spared a glance at Raf, then leaned in close and whispered to Megatron like she was committing a huge conspiracy. "Fragile."

    Megatron grunted, thinking that if one hostage was going to volunteer that the other was fragile so willingly, then perhaps Raf really was making a genuine offer for a base solely so he could stop eating dirt, rather than as part of any foolishly hopeful escape plan.

    "Very well. Rafael, where is this...MECH base?"

    Raf pointed. "140 clicks southwest."

    "Mmm...Tarantulas, give our human, eh-heh, luggage to Fluttershy. Fluttershy, you'll be kind enough to carry Rafael with us, won't you?"

    "Oh, yes!" Fluttershy eagerly nodded. "I'm very kind."

    "And..." Megatron quickly added, pushing Fluttershy down by pressing their snouts together. "You'll be smart enough not to attempt an escape...won't you?"

    Fluttershy squeaked in a way that would have been adorable, if it wasn't for the terrible situation they were in before nodding.

    "Good." Megatron turned away. Tarantulas lifted his mandibles over his back and lifted Raf off him and onto Fluttershy's back. Fluttershy lifted her Insecticon wings and fluttered low to the ground, just above Tarantulas' eye level, and followed the Predacons obediently.

    "Don't worry, Raf." Fluttershy whispered over her neck to him. "I'm sure Optimus and the others are looking for us."

    "I..." Raf stammered. "Thanks, Fluttershy." Raf slumped against her neck. "I needed to hear that."

    "You're welcome." Fluttershy told him happily with a smile, but that quickly faded as she remembered they didn't have much to be smiling about.

    *** *** ***

    Team Prime and their pony compatriots wasted no time in putting their pedals to their metals and splitting up on the roads. The GroundBridge wouldn't do them any good without a fixed idea of the Predacons' destination. Twilight, paired with Dash, had the frame of mind to pick up one of Ratchet's scanners and program it to pick up on Fluttershy's unique techno-organic signature.

    "Come on!" Pinkie complained, banging her hoof on Bumblebee's dashboard, her weapon of choice – her custom Party Cannon- sitting in Bumblebee's passenger seat. "We need to find Fluttershy and Raffie!"

    Bumblebee suddenly and abruptly hit his brakes. Pinkie her seat belt dig into her chest as she thrown forward.

    "Hey! What gives?"

    Bee-beep beep whee click wreeen whiiirrop. Wra wrrraa beep beep beep beep clic!?
    (You don't think I don't want to find Raf and Fluttershy just as much as you do!? Bumblebe scolded her. Pinkie was appalled, gasping loudly.

    "I never said that, Bumblebee!"

    Beep beep click wheeeo.
    ("I know you didn't.") Beep click click wheeo beep eep eep. ("But we're not gonna find them any faster.")

    "I'm sorry, I just...I'm really worried about them." Pinkie admitted, slumping back against Bumblebee's car seat in her despair. "Especially Raf."

    Beep?
    (Oh?)

    "Yeah...Fluttershy has that nice thick coat of Insecticon to protect her, but what does Raf got?" Pinkie questioned him. "And you know what the worst part is, 'Bee? After I made Rainbow Dash quit picking on his toy, I told Raf Auntie Pinkie was gonna protect him...and I didn't."

    Wreeep beep ep. Click eep be-be beeped... breeoop. (We will find him. And we'll protect him...together.)

    Pinkie felt a little better from Bumblebee's comforting. Bumblebee was supposed to protect Raf, too, wasn't he? He was, and he didn't either, so really, neither guardian was truly at fault.

    Elsewhere, driving straight through a cactus he didn't see in the dark – it somehow placed itself in between the beams of his headlights- Optimus was starting to experience a similar problem with Ratchet as Bumblebee just finished having with Pinkie.

    "Can't you go any faster, you- you semi!?" Ratchet's headlights blinked as he screamed, driving at speeds that were probably not street legal, much to Optimus' discomfort, who never strayed from the official speed limit if he could help it. "We need to find Fluttershy before those Predacons string her up and torture her!"

    "Are you all right, old friend?" Optimus asked with an impressive calmness, given that his subordinate had just raised his voice at him. The calm, low tone provoked a realization from Ratchet, who felt remorseful for losing his cool with his Prime officer.

    "I'm...sorry, Optimus. I just want to be sure Fluttershy's safe. And Raf, as well."

    The two different makes of trucks drove in silence for awhile after that, taking in some nice quiet time to let Ratchet blow off some steam. (Figuratively of course, not literally.)

    "Ooog..." Ratchet groaned and squealed to his stop, wheels slowly grinding. "I need a break, Optimus...we've been driving for miles, and those Predacons couldn't have gotten out of state at least..."

    "Understood." Optimus nodded, pulling up besides his old friend.

    Ratchet made a sound like taking in a deep breath. "My apologies, again, Optimus, for blowing up like that."

    Optimus remained silent, which both soothed and unnerved Ratchet. He may have been just giving Ratchet some time to air his grievances...or Optimus was more offended by it than he let on.

    "It's just...she's so sensitive, and if one of those Predacon ghouls decided they wanted to stick her with a hot poker like some seventeenth-century human who-"

    "She is stronger than you give her credit for."

    Ratchet's windshield wiper raised up like an eyebrow, and Optimus started up again and resumed driving with no further comment on the subject, leaving a stupefied Ratchet in his dust. Ratchet's processor just completely stopped working in the face of this revelation. Fluttershy was...strong?

    As he laid there, a civilian ambulance parked amidst loose desert rocks, Ratchet began to replay all the moments he had really gotten to know Fluttershy in his mind. She was sweet. She loved animals. She apologized when she broke something of his (which is more than could be said for the likes Bulkhead and Rainbow Dash, whose apologies were always halfhearted.)

    But she was also frail, like a flower...how could he have been underestimating her strength? He thought about the time he rescued from the Insecticon stasis pod that converted her into the hybrid she was today...how he interrupted the process turning her into an Insecticon, making her only half-Insecticon.

    The more he thought about it, the more he came to see the truth in Optimus' words. Fluttershy had emerged from the pod, a half-pony, half-Insecticon freak of nature and...she ran with it. She didn't crumple herself up and break down over being a disgusting hybrid.

    She didn't lock herself away, claiming she was too hideous for the world to see her face.

    She took on her new nature, and she put what she had been given to good use in the Autobot cause. In fact, for a pony who loved animals the way she did, getting made into a part Insection...a part animal, while still being pony enough to maintain her friendships must have been something absolutely wonderful to Fluttershy.

    It was after that line of thought that Ratchet realized how far ahead of him Optimus had gotten. "O-Optimus! Wait up for me, now!"

    The MECH base Raf pointed out to Predacon Megatron for his use, a few miles ahead of Twilight's and Rainbow Dash's heading, was suitable to his standards. Though clearly abandoned and in disuse, the warehouse was holding up fairly well. That didn't keep Megatron from converting to his robot mode and charging his weapon and blasting the door wide open, replacing with a hole large enough for him to walk through, where he couldn't have fit into the human-sized door before. Tarantulas converted to his robot mode as well.

    "Ah, yyyeeesss!" Megatron hissed, walking into the building and observing the various equipment the former occupants left behind. Computers, tracking devices, abandoned vans...everything a human could ever need to run a terrorist cell. A human, but not a Predacon. One must make do with what one had, Megatron would say. Tarantulas, Fluttershy, and Raf followed Megatron thorugh the door.

    Tarantulas approached the dormant computer and pushed the power button. The computer burst to life, and Tarantulas started rummaging through it. "Mmm..."

    "What is it?" Megatron asked, walking over to check on Tarantulas' progress.

    "It's been scrubbed clean of whatever data was on it, but it's still functional." Tarantulas reported. "Give me a cycle, and I'll have everything we need set up on it."'

    "No." Megatron insisted, turning an optic towards Fluttershy and Raf, who were sitting obediently in a corner. "We are not far away from the Autobots' base, and it won't be long before they narrow down our position and locate us. We are only here to rest our feet as we plan our next move."

    "Hmm..." Tarantulas turned away from the computer to their hostages. "We should tie them to keep them from escaping...or at least lock them in a room."

    "Agreed." Megatron scanned the area for a door to another room, and found one. "There. That should do." Megatron pointed his bronze Transmetal finger at the cold grey door. "March yourselves in there like good little hostages."

    Raf moved to obey, but Fluttershy held her leg out to stop him. "No."

    "No!?" Megatron repeated in the form of a question, quite surprised by Fluttershy's defiance, especially when she had been so submissive before.

    "You can knock me out, ponynap me, lock me in room together with Raf, but you do not get to decide how I present myself." Fluttershy put her hoof against her chest proudly. "I will be prancing into that room, thank you very much."

    Fluttershy, the lioness that she was at heart, bit onto the scuff of Raf's shirt and lifted him up, then pranced into the room, slamming the door behind her by lifting her tail and wrapping the tip of it around the doorknob, pulling it shut with a thwack.

    Megatron and Tarantulas stood there in shock, blindsided by Fluttershy's sudden show of fighting spirit.

    On the other side of the door, a former weapons storage room that now had nothing but empty shelves, Fluttershy climbed up and deposited Raf on the shelf, where Fluttershy thought he'd more comfortable there than on the floor. After depositing him, Fluttershy turned around and curled up into a corner.

    "Uh...wow." Raf muttered, just as, if not more shocked as Megatron and Tarantulas were. "That was something, Fluttershy. Where did that come from?"

    "Um...well." Fluttershy scratched nervously at the back of her ear. "It was the first thing I thought that was enough to show I wasn't really afraid of them, but not so defiant they wouldn't hurt you."

    Raf raised his finger. "So you were...you were looking out for me?"

    "Of course... why wouldn't I? We're friends, aren't we?"

    "Well, I guess that's true. I, just... well, it's not Bulkhead's job to look after me, and it's not Bumblebee's job to look after Miko." Raf muttered, uncomfortable with all the special care he seemed to be getting from ponies left and right tonight.

    "Taking care of everypony else shouldn't be divided into jobs." Fluttershy said, with a slight distaste in her tone for the idea of treating something as important of taking care of those close to her as a nine-to-five paid job. Fluttershy then rolled onto her side to take a nap.

    "What are you doing?" Raf asked, incredulous.

    "...T-taking a nap while we wait for the others to find us?"

    "You can't take a nap at a time like this!" Raf yelped, raising his hands into the air. "We're hostages inside an enemy base! We can't take a nap!"

    "Why-why not? Twilight and Optimus will find us, won't they?"

    Raf's hand shook in the air, at a loss for words. He put his hand to his forehead. "Okay, we can be sure Twilight and Optimus will get here...we can be sure of that...but we can't be sure we'll still be here when they get here."

    Fluttershy gasped. "Oh my gosh, you're right! What do we do?"

    Raf turned his head away to think, then got a smile on his face and pointed his finger. "We stall. We need to find a way to keep the Predacons here for as long we-"

    The door swung open, and Tarantulas stepped into the room, preventing Raf from finishing his sentence. "You." Tarantulas pointed to Fluttershy. "Come with me. Now. I want to run some tests..."

    Fluttershy rolled over, before getting back up on her hooves. "No."

    "No-!? Listen here, you, you're trapped, you're MILES away from ANYONE you care about-"

    Fluttershy flew up, her Insecticon wings beating incredible fast and loud, and flew up right to Tarantulas' face. "You're...not...taking me anywhere where I can't take care of Raf."

    Tarantulas' visor contorted in confusion of Fluttershy's continued -and escalating- defiance.

    "You know, I happen to have a horde of Insecticons at my beck and call." Fluttershy informed him. "I don't know what they're like in your universe, but in this one, they're juggernauts. All I have to do is send a mere thought, and this place will be swarmed in minutes...or, however long it takes them to tell Ratchet they want a GroundBridge."

    Tarantulas' features contorted, almost like a...smirk. "Well now...it just so happens I have a hatred of a certain alien species in my universe, so I made sure to plant some posts that prevent telepathy."

    Tarantulas turned the tables on Fluttershy, literally and figuratively, as he proceeded to get into her face. the way Fluttershy was in his just a moment ago. "You can't call your friends. Nehehehehe!"

    "Oh...okay." Fluttershy lowered herself back to the ground, collapsing onto her haunches.

    "Now, I repeat.." Tarantulas hissed. "I would like to run some tests."

    "What kind of tests?" Fluttershy asked with a note of suspicion.

    "I want to understand more about your techno-organic nature." Tarantulas explained. "I believe if I could somehow replicate it, I could put it to good use."

    "Well..." Fluttershy turned her eyes away and scuffed her hoof. "The reason I'm techno-organic is because I was crowned an Insecticon princess."

    "Hmm..." Tarantulas put his claw to his chin, turning away as he pondered to himself. "So, it stands to reason that all I have to do harness this techno-organic power...would be to become an Insecticon Prince!"

    "Prince!" Fluttershy gasped, putting her hooves over her mouth. "Does- does that mean you...want to marry me?"

    Raf couldn't believe what he was hearing. Tarantulas was still thinking over how to put twist this knowledge to his own use, so he wasn't really paying attention and literally just said "Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever."

    Fluttershy gasped even louder. "Oh my! Well...we'll have to start making plans." She began listing off all the things a pony needed for her special day. "We need a cake, a chorus, some dresses...who'll be the best mare?"

    "Eh...what?" Tarantulas questioned, turning his attention back towards the conversation.

    "Didn't you say you wanted to marry me? So you could be an Insecticon Prince?"

    Tarantulas blinked. "Excuse me one cycle." Tarantulas opened the door and stuck his head out. "Megatron! The pony and I appeared to have a communications breakdown!"

    Megatron, sitting at the computer desk and mulling over his plans a proper tyrant, grunted to make let Tarantulas know he heard him. "Yes?"

    "I can either set her straight, or should I play along with her fantasy?"

    Megatron pursed his grape-like lips. "What does the fantasy entail?"

    "Me dressing up in a tuxedo."

    Megatron's optics bulged out of their sockets. He put his hand over his mouth to contain himself. "Play along with the fantasy?"

    "What!?" Tarantulas narrowed his visor, then slammed the door.

    Megatron dropped to the floor, putting both his hands over his mouth as he attempted to contain the uproarious laughter threatening to burst forth from it. He was amused the idea of Tarantulas in a tuxedo. Who wouldn't be?

    Back in the prisoners' room, Tarantulas grumbled while Fluttershy continued to list off all the things she dreamed of for her wedding.

    "And we'll have beautiful techno-organic spider pony fusion babies!...Hmm...I wonder if being an Insecticon means I'll have to eat your brains like a black widow spider..."

    "No, no, no, no!" Tarantulas hissed, stomping his foot for emphasis. He pointed a finger at Fluttershy threateningly. "Listen to my, little pony, we are NOT getting married, and we are NOT having techno-organic spider pony babies! I...how is the idea of that beautiful to you?"

    Raf raised his hand. "Yeah...I'm trying to keep out of the conversation, but I have to agree with him on that one."

    "Well..." Fluttershy started shyly. "I love animals."

    "Whatever." Tarantulas scoffed. "We're not getting married, OKAY?"

    "Okay." Fluttershy nodded submissively.

    Tarantulas made a sigh that most organics would describe as like letting out a deep breath. "...Okay."

    "Okay."

    "Okay."

    "Okay."

    "Okay."

    "OKAY!" Tarantulas threw his arms up in the air. "Fer bootin' up cold, some ponies you just have to explain everything to, don't you!?"

    Megatron burst into the room, preventing any further hilarious misunderstandings and alarming Raf severely. "Tarantulas, what progress have you made on your plans?"

    "Not much." Tarantulas admitted. He reached into his waist and pulled out from it a hand-held buzz saw that was glowing the same green as the arachnid eyes on his chest, and began to stalk towards Fluttershy. "But I'm sure a good old-fashion dissection will take care of that!"

    Fluttershy began backing away, while Raf raised his hands over his glasses to obscure his vision from the horrific sight. "Um...aren't you Cybertronians?" Fluttershy mumbled. "Don't you have the technological know-how to take a look on my insides without cutting me open?"

    Tarantulas paused. "Yes...but this way is much more fun!"

    Tarantulas continued to approach, eventually making Fluttershy back against the wall. Fluttershy spread her front legs out and held onto the wall.

    "No. She's right. Besides..." Megatron grabbed Tarantulas' arm with his vice. He waggled a finger disapprovingly at Tarantulas. "Wounded hostages fetch much lower prices."

    Megatron let go of Tarantulas' arm. Tarantulas made an indistinct noise of frustration and threw his buzz saw against the ground and stomped off, frustrated he couldn't indulge in his sick habits. "Techno-organic Transmetal knock off!"

    "Forgive him. He's a bit...touchy." Megatron said to Fluttershy. Just because he was a rouge with a superiority complex and no regard for any life but his own, that didn't mean he had to be rude to his unwilling guests.

    "N-n-no p-problem..." Fluttershy stuttered, still shaken from how close that buzz saw got to her.

    "Just to be sure, you do remember it's not a good idea for you to try to escape, don't you?" Megatron questioned coolly, despite the anger that could easily spew forth.

    "Yes."

    "Excellent." Megatron turned away and left the room.

    Fluttershy slumped and sighed. Raf, taking his hands off his eyes, noticed. He also noticed that she seemed even more depressed than she had been the rest of this horrid night. "I know this hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows, but what's wrong?"

    Fluttershy turned her head away shamefully. "Tarantulas told me I was partially Transmetalized, and that meant I would have a vehicular extra mode...but I haven't figured it out what it could be..." Fluttershy sighed again and laid down on her stomach.

    "Um...maybe you could use the time we have to practice and find out?"

    Fluttershy's eyes widened. She quickly got up on all fours. "That's a great idea!" She converted into her green-plated, orange-optic ladybug mode and began pacing around, trying to see if she could somehow trigger her conversion into her undiscovered vehicular mode.

    Meanwhile, outside the abandoned MECH warehouse they were inhabiting, Twilight and Rainbow Dash arrived, Twilight's borrowed scanner leading them right to Fluttershy's signature.

    "She's definitely in there." Twilight noted, checking the scanner again.

    "Right..." Rainbow Dash muttered.

    Twilight glared, not liking Dash's tone. She knew what that tone meant. It meant Rainbow Dash was going to do her thing. Which typically involved charging headfirst into danger with no regard for the consequences. "Don't you think we should wait for Optimus?"

    "Yeah..." Dash nodded, a thoughtful expression on her face. "We probably should..."

    Twilight was glad Rainbow Dash realized they should wait, but that was undone by a realization in short order.

    "...You're going to charge right in anyway, aren't you?"

    "You know it!" Dash took to the air and bolted straight towards the building.

    "Wha-" Twilight stammered, her head twisting from trying to follow Rainbow Dash's movement. She started galloping as fast as she could to catch up with her friend. "Wait for me! At least I'M ALREADY HERE!"

    Inside the base, Tarantulas and Megatron began to discuss their next move, unaware of the elite pony strike team about to break down the door and barge in.

    "Have you found anywhere we could go?" Megatron questioned, hand resting on the back of the computer chair.

    "Yes...I did a search on the computer." Tarantulas answered, turning the computer chair and standing up out of it. He walked towards the hole in the wall where the door used to be. "Our best option is to go-"

    Tarantulas was interrupted by the sound of a click coming from just behind his head. He tensed up and turned around to see the MECH rifle Dash had liberated so long ago pointing straight at his face, Dash's tail arched over her back like a scorpion's tail, the rifle her stinger.

    "Only place you're going is the scrapheap, pal!"

    Twilight, a little late to the party -or perhaps Dash was a bit early- appeared by Rainbow's side, panting from the mad sprint she made to catch up with Dash. "(Huff...huff)...yeah! Where's...Fluttershy, you...tinfoil turkeys?"

    Tarantulas threw his arms up in surrender and started backing away. "Easy now...you have me at your mercy...no need for violence."

    "I'll have you know, I like violence." Rainbow Dash taunted him, walking forward so Tarantulas' face and the barrel of her gun were never far away from each other.

    Tarantulas attempted to make small talk, attempting to plead for his life while not quite doing so. "Eh...who doesn't, really?"

    Dash grunted. She was done making threats, and she was here to rescue her friend, not terrorize some piece of slag metal like Tarantulas. "Where's Fluttershy?" She was about to lower the gun to Tarantulas' chestpiece and pull the trigger when a cheap shot by Megatron threw her around.

    "Grrr! I HATE it when the bad guys don't have the brass bearings to shoot me to my face!"

    Megatron did not care for Dash's chivalry, however, and merrily fired another blast to keep her off her hooves while Tarantulas retreated back into the hostage room.

    "Ooh!" Fluttershy bemoaned, able to hear the sounds of blaster fire occurring from the other side of the door. "That must mean our friends here!" Fluttershy, still in ladybug mode, crawled up the shelf she put Raf and patted his shoulder with her insect leg. "Don't worry, Raf. We'll be free soon."

    "I hope you're right, Fluttershy..." Raf muttered, thinking of the worst case scenario, where Megatron would be able to capture their friends and add to their list of hostages somehow.

    "Oh...I wish I could do something more. Oh...oh! I'm so upset, I could just-I could just transform with meaning to!" Fluttershy did exactly as she said, automatically transforming without being able to control it.

    "F-Fluttershy!" Raf stuttered, awed. "You..."

    "I know!" Fluttershy exclaimed, calming down and quickly turning back into her pony mode before Tarantulas came back into the room. Not a moment too soon, as Tarantulas threw the door open, buzz saw back in his claw.

    Fluttershy narrowed her eyes and growled.

    "Your friends have arrived to rescue you." Tarantulas sneered, a blast of laser fire audible behind him. "As you have no doubt heard. We could use a little extra firepower."

    "W-what are you saying?"

    Tarantulas pointed the buzz saw at her, and a green bolt of energy shot from it and knocked Fluttershy onto her side. Raf, overcoming his fear for a brief moment at the sight of Fluttershy being bullied, jumped off the shelf and ran up to Tarantulas, banging him on the knees. "You- you leave her alone, you big bully!"

    Tarantulas remained dismissive of the human's valiant, but futile efforts, and swatted him aside, his Transmetal sending Raf flying to the floor. The human dealt with, Tarantulas approached Fluttershy with a some sort black USB casing with the Predacon insignia on it.

    "W-what's that?" Fluttershy weakly muttered at the sight of it.

    "Predacon shell program." Tarantulas answered, emanating a sadistic glee. "Never leave home without it. All I have to do is put it in the right slot, and you'll happily fight your friends in Megatron's name!"

    "N-no." Fluttershy whispered, horrified at the prospect. "No...NO!"

    Back on the other side of the door, Twilight and Rainbow Dash continued to exchange fire with Predacon Megatron, each one of them taking a shot with their respective weapon, (in Twilight's case, her horn) only for their target to jump to the side and dodge it.

    "What have you done with Fluttershy?" Twilight demanded.

    "Wouldn't you like to know!" Megatron taunted. He turned his gaze towards the ceiling and, thinking quickly, fired on it, making the plaster crash down from the ceiling onto Twilight, burying her in rubble. Megatron grinned at his victory, but the rubble pile shook and Twilight burst forth from it like a trooper on steroids -which she arguably was.

    "That's it!" Twilight growled, making her way out. "I was trying to be nice to you, but now you've forced my hoof! Dash, I'm going into Terrorpony mode."

    Megatron laughed at such a ridiculous name. "Terrorpony?" He wasn't laughing so much when Twilight' body seemingly burst into purple flames. When the fires extinguished, her body was adorned with purple crystal spikes, huge bony wings poking out from her sides. A disgusting noise came from her hoof, and a very large, long almost...sword-like crystal came out of her ankle.

    She charged at Megatron with her, uh, 'sword' raised. Megatron blocked her attempted slash with his vice, and he and Twilight proceed to fence with each other.

    Tarantulas kicked the door open. "Megatron! I come bearing reinforcements! I have successfully converted Fluttershy into a Predacon!"

    Twilight froze at this. "What?...No...no." Megatron took the opportunity and bashed Twilight aside with his weapon.

    "Excellent, yyyeeess! Bring her here, so that I may...command our new recruit."

    Tarantulas stepped aside and presented Fluttershy, who marched out of the room with a burning determination in her eyes.

    "Fluttershy, attack your former comrades!" Megatron pointed to Dash.

    Dash stepped back, her gaze locking with Fluttershy's. "Fluttershy, no...don't."

    Flutteshy took in a deep breath and huffed. "I..."

    Fluttershy collapsed against the floor, drained of not just her will to live, her will to simply...be. "Like, whatever, man."

    Tarantulas' jaw, such as it was, did its best to drop.

    "Urg...something tells me that wasn't quite you intended to happen." Twilight boasted, getting her strength back up.

    "Silence!" Megatron commanded. "Fluttershy, attack now!"

    "Meh." Fluttershy rolled over on to her other side. "Whatever..."

    Tarantulas curled his claw into a fist, cursing in his head his bad luck. He pushed the thought aside and drew his buzz saw/gun on Rainbow Dash, and the fire fight resumed.

    Raf came to and groaned, rubbing the side of his sore head. Remembering what just happened before he was knocked out, he gasped. "Fluttershy!" He ran out the door to see the fire fight, and saw Fluttershy lying limp and uncaring in the doorway.

    "Fluttershy!" Raf knelt to his knees, pleading for her to come to her senses. "I don't know what Tarantulas told you, but whatever it is, it's not true! You've got to get up and help Twilight and Rainbow Dash!"

    "Whatever..." Fluttershy muttered, rolling over again, this time to her other side. Raf noticed the Predacon shell program chip tucked neatly into her ear.

    Raf put his hand over his face, irritated with himself that he would be so stupid not to realize how easy this would. "Oh come on. It's that easy?"

    Raf reached down and tore the program from her ear, and she was right back to her old self again. "R-Raf? What's going on...oh!" She noticed the fire fight.

    Raf put his hand on her neck to reassure her. "I think now would be a good time to reveal your new trick."

    Fluttershy smiled, catching onto his meaning. She stood up and motioned for the Predacons' attention. "Hey, Tarantulas!"

    Everypony stopped to see Fluttershy standing, a new found true determination in her eyes.

    "Tarantulas told me that I was Transmetal, and that meant I had a vehicle mode...sort of. But the point is, until a little while ago, I had no idea to get into this vehicle mode. But now...now I do!"

    Fluttershy converted into her ladybug mode, and then...her insect legs folded up and were covered by treads like a tank's, her mandibles lifted up, her wings folded down over her sides, and in what Twilight and Tarantulas found most surprising, was that a tri-barreled Gatling gun appeared, mounted underneath her mandibles.

    With a grinding noise, she rolled over to point her fancy new weapon at Tarantulas.

    Tarantulas put his claws up in front of his face to protect himself. "Oh nno!"

    Fluttershy let loose on Tarantulas, as a Wrecker would happily put it, "Pumping him full of holes". (Holes really did start appearing Tarantulas' chest) as she unloaded a whole case into him, pushing him back from the force of the gunfire.

    Tarantulas collapsed, not dead, but now thoroughly no use to anypony. Megatron saw this, and realized he was now outnumbered three -possibly four, depending on whether or not Raf counted- to one, rather than three to two. The girls all realized this, too, and regrouped, staring at him with triumphant smiles as they trained their weapons on him, daring him to fight now.

    "Humph." Megatron lowered his weapon.

    "That's a smart Predacon..." Twilight mused. "I figured out the energy of the portal that brought you and Tarantulas here. I can use my magic to re-create the portal and send you back."

    Megatron grunted again and turned away. Twilight's horn lit up and sent out a straight blast of electricity that turned into a swirling portal of purple energy just in front of Megatron. Megatron collected Tarantulas, throwing the unconscious spider over his shoulder and walking through the portal.

    The danger having passed, Twilight and Rainbow exchanged a happy smile with Fluttershy, who converted to pony mode and returned it. Fluttershy turned towards Raf, who made a thumbs-up.

    Then they heard the sound of a weapon charging, and a blast from Megatron's cannon came back through the portal and hit the computer's controls.

    A klaxon began blaring, red lights flashing. "Self-destruct sequence activated."

    "Self-destruct sequence!? WHY does this place have a self-destruct sequence!?" Twilight screamed.

    "All the bad guy lairs have one..."

    "Can you fix it?"

    Twilight scrambled to the computer and made a quick analysis. "Yeah, I think I can. Give me a moment...come here, Raf, I could use your hacking skills with this."

    "Y-you want my help?" Raf stammered, unable to believe Twilight would employ him even with her contempt for his species.

    "I'd rather we not get blown up, Raf!"

    Twilight helped Raf up onto the adult-sized controls, and working together, the robotic and computer expertise between them enabled to handily and decisively end the self-destruct countdown.

    "Whew!" Twilight wiped her brow. "That's a relief...I mean, I knew I could- I mean, we could do it. Couldn't have done it without you, Raf" She looked to Raf. If Raf was uncomfortable when Twilight asked him for help, it was nothing compared to her giving him praise.

    "But...I thought you hated humans?"

    Twilight wrapped her leg around his shoulder and nuzzled their cheeks together. "I do...I hate them completely...but I don't hate my fellow Autobots at all." She pulled her cheek away, leaving Raf to his blush. "Do you want to ride on my back?"

    "Actually...given everything we've been through tonight, I think I'd like to ride on Fluttershy's...if-if that's okay."

    "Of course."

    Twilight lifted him up with her magic and gently placed him on Fluttershy's back. Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy with Raf on him, all happily trotted out of the base, eager to tell Optimus they had Fluttershy and Raf back safe and sound.

    "Hey..." Raf said quietly. "Does anyone else Predacon Megatron started that count-down as a distraction so he could escape the portal and stay in our universe instead of going back to his own?"

    "No..." Twilight answered nervously. "But that's a good theory...what makes you say that?"

    Raf looked down the road, where he saw skid marks off a motorcycle going off into the distance that the girls had yet to notice.

    "Call it a hunch..."

    *** *** ***

    "Hmmm..." Tarantulas mused, standing on a cliff with his master, bathed under the light of the radiant moon. "That was brilliant, the way you activated the self-destruct sequence to distract them."

    "Yyyeesss, of course it was. I thought of it." Megatron rasped. "But there is a power vacuum int his universe...an empty hole, where a Megatron was. This universe, like our own, was cowered at the name of Megatron, and..."

    Megatron, in his frustration, turned towards the moon and fired at it. He then raised his vice to it and snapped it proudly to the moon's light.

    "IT SHALL DO SO AGAIN!"

    *** *** ***

    Author's Notes

    There are several references in this chapter; tinfoil turkeys, of course, but also the whole Transmetalization thing, the Beast Wars Megatron and Tarantulas appearing, Optimus Primal's small cameo...

    There was a different cliffhanger hinting at the nature of the mysterious portal that brought Predacon Megatron to the Prime universe in the original Fanfiction publishing, but I've removed it here.

    Pinkie is able to understand and even use bleep speech.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
  2. Darkryt

    Darkryt Combiner Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2013
    Posts:
    612
    Trophy Points:
    147
    Location:
    Aether Foundation
    Likes:
    +245
    Quick Notes:

    This Chapter, due to length, has been divided into two parts.

    Ultra Magnus has a much, much different personality in my Fanon and uses the P: RiD mold for his body, so that's why there's Magnum.

    Dreadwing joined the Wonderbolt Academy after wandering around the universe aimlessly in the aftermath of Megatron's demise.


    Engines running hot

    From Cloudsdale to Canterlot

    Flying through the sky,

    thirty-thousand and then some feet hiiiiigh,

    Trailing blazes of smoke and rainbows,

    I thought we'd be so happy and carefree.

    With a Decepticon for my partner,

    A Seeker for my wingpony...

    Everything was going well.

    Then the shadow of justice fell,

    A Seeker faces death with dignity,

    But I want him to stay here with me

    Stay here,

    Fly away with me,

    And we'll fly so far away,

    They'll never have to see

    Losing my wingpony is something which I

    JUST CAN'T COPE

    Doctor,

    Doctor,

    Tell me

    THERE'S STILL HOPE!

    Doctor, Doctor,

    I need some help with my boo-boo's

    Can you find my mommy?

    Doctor, Doctor,

    Can you heal my wounds?

    Can you gi-i-i-i-ive me a loli?

    My heart is bleeding,

    My Spark is leaking

    See him lying there, on that slab,

    Surely there's something in this lab

    To bring him back from the brink

    I need him back,

    I need to think...

    You can see my heart leak

    You can feel my Spark bleed

    Doctor, Doctor,

    You're not the doctor that I need...



    *** *** ***
    And the mercy seat is waiting, and I swear my head is burning, and I feel my body yearning...
    -Johnny Cash, "The Mercy Seat"

    INFILITRATION

    Story 2

    TERMINATION DAY

    (With a Decepticon Symbol in place of the 'A' In "Day".)

    Synopsis:

    Twilight is offered work at a human research facility; Dash breaks down over there being something she can't stop.


    *** *** ***
    It's an odd feeling. Being so integral, so loyal to something, then casting it all away like it's nothing to you anymore. To make the choice to abandon your cause, to desert your soldiers to the nearest one-eyed computer on legs. To simply shed yourself like a used husk... to no longer be that person...


    Or so went Dreadwing's monologue to himself, trailing behind Rainbow Dash, his new captain. It was the strangest thing, how Dreadwing, the bronze-faced, blue-armored Decepticon Seeker, became a Wonderbolt cadet, and thus Rainbow Dash's wingpony. She was a good captain, Dreadwing thought, but he found some of her sudden orders random and questionable. Like trying to clear the clouds in ten seconds flat. To a Cybertronian, clearing clouds was improbable, but really nothing special. To a pegasus pony, it was a test of mettle. Dreadwing had beaten Dash's records of ten seconds flat with a time of 8.47 seconds, but Rainbow Dash insisted it didn't count because he used his trademark Gatling to blast them all.

    "All right, Dreadwing!" Dash shouted, straining her voice so he could hear her over the hum of his own turbines. "Dive!"

    Dreadwing would've questioned her order to suddenly dive down, grazing his wings against the tips of the Everfree Forest they were flying over, had he not learned quickly not bother trying to get a sensible explanation for her flights of fancy. He dived down, following her orders and her example, flying straight through the forest canopy.

    This had the unfortunate side-effect of startling Fluttershy, and her Insecticons, as they were in the forest feeding the animals as Fluttershy loved to do, especially with her Insecticon buddies. They, and the animals they were feeding, scattered and nosedived to avoid being smacked by Rainbow Dash, the living torpedo, or Dreadwing's wings.

    After the unlikely duo pulled up and returned to the sky, Fluttershy took in several deep breaths and stood up right, observing the scene of Dash's and Dreadwing's carnage. No one had been hurt, but the poor little animals were shaking for their lives.

    "I should probably tell Dreadwing and Rainbow Dash they're flying too close to the ground..."

    Fluttershy looked again at all the little animals and big Insecticons around. The squirrels were shivering, the birds were making clusters to defend themselves, and the Insecticons were groaning and rubbing their heads, occasionally looking to each other to make their fellows were in one piece.

    "...Then again..." A rare hint of resentment actually formulated in Fluttershy's tone, seeing all the panicked animals. "I'm not sure I can handle talking to them right now."

    Fluttershy looked upwards at Dreadwing's fading form and pouted. She started walking towards a rabbit to stroke it and reassure it everything was going to be okay. "It's all right, little one...Dreadwing didn't mean to scare, Rainbow Dash is just a bad influence on him."

    Fluttershy looked up again the smoke trail Dreadwing had left behind. She started to wonder about the fact he had defected from the Decepticons, and somehow ended back up on Equestria as a Wonderbolt in training. Then Fluttershy's mind start putting two and together, remembering something that happened to her shortly before Dreadwing joined them...something horrible, something awful.

    Simply remembering that awful experience caused to hyperventilate. A horrible realization dawned, a horrible one. One she wanted to deny even more than anything she had ever wanted to deny before.

    "They're going to come for Dreadwing."

    "You!" Fluttershy pointed her hoof/clamp at one of her Insecticons. "Come here, Johnson. Your Princess has a special assignment for you."

    The Insecticon addressed as Johnson turned to one his fellows, who shrugged at him and bade for him to approach. Johnson tromped towards her and got down his knees, crouching down so Fluttershy could whisper into his audio receptor. "How may I serve you, My Lady?"

    Fluttershy fluttered upwards and began to whisper into his ear.

    Meanwhile, Dreadwing and Rainbow Dash continued to fly on, taking no notice of the animals they had just scared half to death.

    "I know better than to ask, but what was the point of that?"

    "To show how awesome we are flying!" Rainbow Dash answered her Seeker, rolling over to backpedal through the air. She flew back around and perched herself on Dreadwing's wing to take a break.

    "Captain, I am not comfortable with you on my wing like that."

    "Hey, after all that awesome flying, even an amazing flier like me needs a break." Dash breathed on her hoof and rubbed it against her chest proudly.

    Dreadwing's cockpit hissed as it was opened. "I'd much prefer you ride in the seat."

    "What are you, my mother?"

    "If you fall off my wing and forget to fly, I will not have your friends hold me responsible for your death."

    Dash scoffed and rolled her eyes, but she relented and flew into the pilot's seat, buckling herself in as the cockpit glass lowered down.

    Dash put her hoof against her chin, bored already of Dreadwing's interior. She wasn't a fan of technology like Twilight, or distracted by shiny things like Pinkie, so Dreadwing's fancy controls did nothing to stave her boredom. Her eyes rolled from corner to corner, until she saw Ditzy Doo flying nearby, dressed up in her mailmare outfit, cobalt hat on her standing proudly, her mail bags ruffling with each flap of her wings.

    "I wonder where she's headed off to..." Dash muttered. Since the formation of the alliance between Cybertron, Earth, and Equestria, Ditzy Doo's business had skyrocketed. She somehow had the means to get a letter and packages (not exceeding a certain weight limit, of course) to get from one planet to the next, seemingly without the use of a Ground or Space Bridge, or even a star ship.

    "You know what, Dreadwing?" Rainbow Dash whispered, wrapping her ankles around his control stick. "I wanna know what Ditzy Doo has today, so follow her!" Dash jerked the pilot stick to the right, causing Dreadwing to jerk and spin out. Being a professionally trained Decepticon, Dreadwing recovered quickly, and then used gave Dash's hooves a low-intensity electric shock to 'persuade' her to remove them from his controls.

    "I am capable of both following your orders and piloting myself, Rainbow Dash." Dreadwing informed her.

    "Hmph." Dash crossed over her hooves. She raised an eyebrow, taking note of Dreadwing's cockpit. "Hey...why do Decepticons and Autobots come with organic-sized cockpits?" It was a good question. All the Cybertronians Dash had ridden, bar Arcee in motorcycle mode, had cockpits large enough to hold a pony or a human, neither of which was exactly a common sight on Cybertron. The smallest recorded creature there was a pest known as a Scraplet, and the cockpits were much too large for them.

    "Have you heard of Quintessons?" Dreadwing asked. "In the distant past, they attempted to take over Cybertron. The cockpits present in a Cybertronian- if they're present- are leftovers from that time."

    Dash found this to be excellent food for thought. What did these Quintessons look like? Were they big? They had to be, or else they would need some pretty hard brass to try to take over Cybertron.

    Following Ditzy Doo led them right to Ponyville, and Twilight's library. Dreadwing let Rainbow Dash, then lowered himself down to the ground enough that him transforming and landing on the ground wouldn't cause too hard a tremor. It was good of him to be mindful, but there was no avoiding some shaking when a Decepticon-sized entity dropped to the ground from a suspended height. Thankfully, while some flower pots shook and some plats swayed, nothing fell over and broke.

    Ditzy, not noticing or caring she was being spied on, knocked on Twilight's door. Twilight quickly answered. "Hello? Hi, Ditzy Doo! Do you have something for me?"

    "Yes-sir-ee Bob!" Ditzy answered, handing over the envelope in her mouth. Twilight took it with her magic, opening it and unfolding the letter inside, absentmindedly throwing Ditzy her obligatory delivery fee. Ditzy saluted and flew off, while Rainbow Dash and Dreadwing walked up to the library to investigate the mysterious letter.

    "Hey, Twilight!" Dash drawled, Dreadwing crouching down so he could overhear. "What do you have there?"

    Twilight hesitated to answer, unease showing on her face. "It's...a letter."

    "I know that! What kind of letter?"

    "It's a human research facility..." Twilight answered. "They want me for their research."

    "Awesome!" Dash exclaimed, draping a wing around her friend. "I'm so proud of you! Finally, your geniues is recognized!"

    "...Perhaps you didn't hear me, Rainbow Dash; a human research facility."

    Dash's pride at her friend fell away. "Oh, yeah." Dash maneuvered around to get a glance at the letter over Twilight's shoulder. "What are you gonna do?"

    "I don't know." Twilight answered. "I think I'll need to take this to Rung..."

    "Who?"

    "My therapist."

    Dash scratched her head. "I know you don't like humans, but since when do you see a therapist for it?"

    Twilight sighed, folding the letter back up. "Since he decided my 'contempt for humanity outweighed the extent of how they wronged me' or something." Twilight looked down at the letter again, reading it again.

    Dash pursed her lips as Twilight's attention shifted away from her. "Eh...come on, Dreadwing." Dash jumped and did a back flip into the air. "I think I'm ready to fly on my own again."

    Dash turned away and flew straight up. Dreadwing turned around and converted, following after her without any question. At least, none that he would voice.

    Twilight watched them go, before closing the door and navigating her library until she found the terminal she had installed to communicate with any Autobots she had the phone number of, in a manner of speaking. She always enjoyed the many uses of different machines. She was even still working on completing her own GroundBridge in her basement.

    After tapping the highly decorated machine that looked something like an overly decorated personal computer, it unfolded, showing its hinges and a screen. With a light form her horn, Twilight seized control of the keyboard and made it dial Rung's frequency. Static flashed across the video feed, before clarifying itself and turning into an image's Rung's face, with its chin and humongous browplates.

    "Ah, Twilight Sparkle! You called at an excellent time. I was just checking my messages. What do you need?"

    "Hello, Hung-Up," Twilight responded, showing him the same amount of respect and tolerance towards as she did the humans she loathed by not remembering his name. "I have something...interesting here."

    Rung looked annoyed Twilight hadn't called him his actual name. He was starting to suspect she actually could remember it, but choose not to address him with it, just to annoy him. "What is it?"

    "Some humans running a research facility on Earth want me to help with their studies. I don't know how to respond..." Twilight unconsciously held the letter, folding it nervously in her ankle.

    "Oh..." Rung's optics glistened. "Oh, this is perfect!" Twilight could see through the feed Rung clapping his hands together.

    Twilight didn't share his enthusiasm. "Uh, what's perfect?"

    "Twilight Sparkle, I highly recommend you take up this offer!" Rung exclaimed. "By combining these two things – humans, whom you hate, and research, which you love – you can build a positive association to replace your hatred!"

    Twilight looked at the letter again, hesitant, but seeing the truth in Rung's suggestions. "They do seem to have some good equipment and research going on...if I helped, they could probably get something good done..." After a moment of tense silence, during which Rung frowned at her reluctance, she nodded her head firmly. "Okay! I'll do it! I'll take up the research, and I'll learn not to hate the humans...as much! Thank you, Rung."

    "Wha- you said my name right!" Twilight shut the computer off before Rung could lash out further. "Hey!" The hinges collapsed, and the screen folded in with a khoo-choo-chee, causing it to appear less like a computer and more like a trash can with an awkwardly slanted square for a lid.

    Twilight folded the letter up neatly before pocketing it into her tail hairs. She walked out the door, taking a deep breath of fresh air as she got ready to throw herself at the whim and mercy of the human professors who so interested in having her help them study.

    Hmm...maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

    She was distracted by that thought when she saw Rainbow Dash and Dreadwing still flying around Ponyville, Rainbow Dash showing off her flight skills, and Dreadwing following her lead, despite that he questioned every turn she made.

    Twilight shook her head when she saw how other, less steely Ponyvillians than herself had their daily business interrupted by the sound of Dreadwing's engines.

    Rainbow Dash made a loop-de-loop, then flapped her wings in place. She covered her mouth as she yawned. "Okay, Dreadwing...let's head back to the academy. I want to take a nap."

    "You're found of that, aren't you?" Dreadwing muttered.

    "You say something?"

    "Nothing!"

    They flew off into the distance, their shadows fading into the breezes as they flew over the mountain range, back to the Wonderbolt Academy where their bizarre partnership had begun. The sky was quickly fading from blue to red as Celestia made her sun adjust position appropriately to the time of day. Perfect time for take a nap, as by the time Rainbow Dash woke up, it would be time for dinner!

    Arriving at the Academy's elevated plateau, normally inaccessible to those without flight, Rainbow Dash and Dreadwing, Dash stretching her wings and Dreadwing doing an involuntary- actually, it was more like an automatic salute when he had finished transforming.

    "Geez, D.W. What's with the salute? Chillax once in a while." Rainbow told him coolly.

    "Chillax?" Dreadwing questioned, crossing his arms to demonstrate his impatience with Rainbow Dash's language. "I do not understand the meaning of such a ridiculous word."

    They arrived to the cabin with Rainbow Dash's quarters in it, and Dash continued to talk as she pulled out her room key. "It means to chill out and start relaxing." Dash jerked the door open and stepped inside. "Good night, wingpony!"

    "Have pheasant dreams, Captain."

    Dash stopped. "Do you mean pleasant dreams, or do you actually want me to dream about pheasant birds?"

    Dreadwing stared, almost as confused as she was. He pointed a finger. "The first one...I think."

    "Okay. Well, good night- wait..." Dash noticed a silhouette coming through the sky. A ovoid piece as out of place as a cereal oat amongst a jigsaw puzzle against the stars. Dreadwing, thinking the way he was trained to think, his first move was to reach for his Gatling and prepared to fire. As the shadow got closer, Rainbow Dash heard a noise she was struggling to make out with Dreadwing's gun loudly charging right next to her.

    Once the figure was close enough for what lights hadn't been turned off on the Academy's edges to make out, Dreadwing and Dash could both see it was an Insecticon. Dreadwing kept his gun raised, not sure if it was one of Fluttershy's group, or Shockwave's army remnants. Once it transformed and approached them with with a sense of familiarity, they felt like pretty good in saying it was Fluttershy's. This was proven right when they could make out a sticker in the shape of Fluttershy's Cutie Mark on its chest.

    The Insecticon came close enough to speak without shouting, and knelled at Dreadwing. "Princess Fluttershy has decreed she would like to see you."

    "Oh..." Dash noted. "Uh, okay." Dash came out of the door, but the Insecticon stomped its foot in front of her, preventing her from passing Dreadwing's leg.

    "Him." The Insection said, pointing at Dreadwing with its long, sharp claw. "Alone."

    "Wha..." Dash muttered. She wanted to fly up into the Insecticon's face and punch him for daring to suggest taking her and Dreadwing apart, but she knew better than to think she could dent its tough hide.

    "It's all right, Captain." Dreadwing assured her, putting his Gatling back into his holster for it. "I seriously doubt Fluttershy is capable of any unscrupulous dealings."

    Dreadwing followed the Insecticon out of the plateau and to the landing bay, used for both landing and taking off, much to Dash's discontent.

    Watching the two titans fade away into the night, before the lights of their power sources revealed themselves again as they transformed and rose up, Rainbow Dash had to chide herself for thinking as silly thoughts as she was. This was Fluttershy they were talking about. She would never do something questionable, even to a Decepticon, much less a former Decepticon. This was one of her best friends! How could she have questioned her motives? On top of that, Dreadwing was a highly trained and skilled warrior! If Fluttershy had something a nasty surprise waiting, he could take care of himself.

    Perhaps it was because she gotten closer to, and more protective of Dreadwing than she fully realized, more than she was comfortable admitting. He was good wingmech -wingman, wingpony, oh forgot it. Point being, he would be hard to replace. It was rare there was somepony who had not only the patience, but also the flight skills to put up and keep up with all the nonsense Rainbow Dash's adrenaline-demanding flight patterns would put her partner through.

    She took another glance at Dreadwing's flames trailing behind him. She sighed, not fully grasping why she worrying about him so much, and went into her quarters to take that nap.

    Dreadwing flew uncomfortably next to the Insecticon. Not that he was afraid Fluttershy had ordered his head on a pike, or something. But why had she called him at all? What did she have to talk about that couldn't be talked about in front of Rainbow Dash?

    "Insecticon..." Dreadwing asked politely. "Why does her majesty Fluttershy wish to see me?"

    The Insecticon groaned. "She said she wanted to talk to you."

    "About?"

    The Insecticon flew onward, focused on maintaining its course. Dreadwing decided to get his answer, he'd have to be a bit more forceful. He tipped over slightly and banged his wing into the Insecticon's hide, doing no damage, but all the same giving it plenty of warning of what would happen if he didn't answer.

    "About?"

    "She...did not say." The Insecticon rasped.

    "Hmph." Dreadwing muttered. Looking at the shape of the ground below, Dreadwing made a conclusion. "This isn't the right path to Fluttershy's log cabin."

    "No." The Insecticon admitted, showing no sighs of wanting to deceive Dreadwing. "No, it's not."

    "Where are you taking me?" Dreadwing demanded, making sure to emphasis the Insecticon would not like what was about to happen in his tone.

    "Just keep flying. We're almost...correction, we are there." The Insecticon dived, and Dreadwing, though still suspicious, followed. They converted to automaton form, and landed. Dreadwing was graceful, though forceful, bending his knees to blunt the impact. Meanwhile, the Insecticon was entirely forceful with no hint of grace.

    "No, no, no." Dreadwing heard Fluttershy's voice chiding. "You're supposed to play the-"

    "Fluttershy!" Dreadwing snapped.

    "Oh my!" Fluttershy exclaimed, turning around as she jumped off her hind hooves ten feet into the air. She didn't think to use her wings, so she dropped right back to the ground. "Dreadwing!" Fluttershy huffed, hoof on her heart as she tried to regain lost breath. "You startled me."

    "Hmm. My apologies." Dreadwing said curtly, scanning the scene. Before him and Fluttershy was what appeared to be a warehouse with a huge slider door, big enough to fit any of her many Insecticons. Fluttershy herself was sitting at the bottom of the door, while beside her were three Insecticons, each with white bibs and black neckties that had been refitted to fit them. One of them had a cello hung limp in his claws.

    Fluttershy righted herself and cleared her throat. "Ahem...shall we go in?"

    The two Insecticons without musical instruments shoved their claws under the door and forced it open. Dreadwing was still uncertain, but he didn't see any normal tells of murderous intent, so he followed her inside.

    "What the huh!?" Dreadwing shrieked in surprise at what was inside. There was a large table set up. A very large table. Large enough to seat him and a few Autobots. There were two seats, positioned opposite, each Cybertronian sized. Placed at one was plate of gourmet organic food, not that Dreadwing knew, and to the other was an oil can twisted and banged into the shape of goblet. It was also lit with candles.

    "Please." Fluttershy asked him, gesturing to the empty seat as she fluttered up and sat in the one with the organic food. "Have a seat."

    Dreadwing did so, made too vapid by how simply odd this was, did as she requested. His jaw still half-open in confusion, he glanced down at the goblet and saw it was full of brown oil.

    "W-what is this?" Dreadwing pointed at the cup swirling in front of him.

    "It's premium." Fluttershy answered like a goblet made out an oil can filled with premium fuel was the most common thing in the world. "Please, drink up!" Fluttershy held up her own cup, a wine glass with purple fluid in, and swirled it around. "Indulge yourself..." She happily sipped from her cup, her eyelids at an uncharacteristic for her low point.

    Dreadwing looked down again the goblet, and picked it up. He eyed it curiously, still not sure he should drink it. If Fluttershy was going to kill him, it would probably be with poisoned beverages. She could walk away, and not have to see the horror on her victim's face as they died, while still being sure they were dead. Upon further reflection, he realized she had no motive to kill him, so he cautiously sipped it slowly before putting it back down.

    Fluttershy seemed amused by this, giggling. "There's no need to be conservative. I have plenty." Fluttershy clapped her hooves together. The Insecticons that were outside, came inside. The one with the cello took up Fluttershy's side and began to play the instrument. One Insecticon took Dreadwing's goblet and poured into from a filled oil tankard, acting as the water pitcher.

    Dreadwing glared at the cup as it was set down for him, then he looked at Fluttershy.

    "So, how's life with Dash at the Academy?" Fluttershy asked, making small talk as she cut into her food with a knife and a fork.

    "It's fine." Dreadwing answered.

    "Good, good...she's not working you too hard, is she?"

    "No?"

    "Excellent..."

    Dreadwing was no conductor, but the music the cello-playing Insecticon sounded more like a funeral dirge, rather than the appropriate dinner music.

    That was all he needed to put the puzzle pieces together. His last clue. The final hint.

    Dreadwing sighed and put his hands on the table. "How?"

    Fluttershy seemed taken aback by this. She dropped her silverware, then picked up a napkin to wipe her face, even though there was nothing on it. "How? How what? What do you mean?"

    Dreadwing slammed his fists on the table, making the silverware clatter and both their drinks splash in their cups, though they didn't spill onto the tablecloth. "How do I die?"

    "D-die!?" Fluttershy screamed. "Why would-why would you think you're going to die, and how would I know?"

    "Your Insecticon is playing a funeral dirge." Dreadwing pointed, pointing at the Insecticon in question. The Insecticon appeared uncertain whether or not that meant he should stop, so he kept playing. "You're being extraordinarily nice to me...even by your standards. You have a set-up, an expensive drink, a waiter to attend my every whim...and given what I know about you and your kindness, my conclusion is that you're trying to soften the blow before you tell me I'm to join the scrapyard in the sky, as you would any of your friends! Am I wrong?"

    Fluttershy looked away.

    Dreadwing stood up from his seat and slammed his fists again.

    "Tell me, Fluttershy! Am I wrong!?"

    Fluttershy continued looking away, staying silent.

    "Well..." Dreadwing narrowed his optics and grimaced. "The only OTHER reasonable explanation is that you harbor ROMANTIC FEELINGS FOR ME!"

    Dreadwing got a stark-raving mad grin on his face as he watched Fluttershy be boxed in by his verbal checkmate. "Well?"

    Fluttershy sighed, then let loose. "Okay! Yes! You're right! You're going to die! Violently, painfully, and miserably!"

    Dreadwing's grin did not falter, and he eased himself back into his seat. "There. Was that so hard?"

    "Yes." Fluttershy whispered, though Dreadwing didn't hear her.

    Dreadwing grunted. Pushing his seat out, he got up and began to walk around. He covered his face with his hand, not sure what to think about this revelation. Removing his hand from his face, he sighed. "How? How do I die?"

    "They're going to come for you." Fluttershy answered, feeling guilty that she was telling him this, as though it was her own fault that Dreadwing was doomed. "And I think you know who I'm talking about."

    Dreadwing turned away from the table, from Fluttershy's face. "What would you have me do?"

    "Go to Cybertron." Fluttershy answered his question.

    Dreadwing turned back around and raised his brow.

    "I..." Fluttershy fiddled with her hooves. "Tricked them into thinking I was dead once already. If they came here to Equestria, and found I was still alive...they would kill me, and this time, they would make absolutely certain I was dead."

    Dreadwing stepped back, bewildered, before getting another crazy smile on his face. He was a stalwart solider, and did not fear the eyes of death in battle. Staring at Fluttershy's eyes, and pretending that they were death's was a disjointing experience. He wouldn't recommend trying it to anyone he liked.

    "You want me...to return to Cybertron...to die...so you can live!? Fluttershy!" He pointed at her. "I didn't think you capable of such a selfish request!"

    The Insecticons growled while Fluttershy flew out of her seat. "Oh, no! It's not selfish at all!"

    Fluttershy put her hoof against her chest.

    "I am not afraid to die."

    Dreadwing glared.

    Fluttershy rubbed the back of her neck nervously. "But...on Earth, when Twilight died, Pinkie Pie almost killed herself before we found out Twilight...and if she reacted that way to losing Twilight, how do you think she and the others will react to losing me!?"

    Dreadwing gritted his teeth. Her point was illustrated to him perfectly; for Twilight to die was one thing, but losing somepony as sweet, giving and selfless as Fluttershy would be enough to push anypony to their breaking point.

    "Very well." Dreadwing said solemnly. "I will do as you ask. I will depart for Cybertron in the morning."

    "Thank you..." Fluttershy muttered. "I really appreciate you doing this...it means a lot to me."

    Dreadwing snorted, then approached the door. He stopped just short of it, to Fluttershy's curiosity, and turned around, heading back to the table and gulping all the premium that was in the goblet. After putting it down, Dreadwing walked towards the door, before bursting into a dash and transforming into the night.

    Fluttershy looked down. She put her hooves over eyes, lowering herself to the ground as she broke down crying.

    *** *** ***

    The morning after, Rainbow Dash awoke and just had a feeling. Just-just a feeling that she got in her bones, that seemed to say today was going to be very unpleasant for her. As she yawned and stretched out of her bed, she tried to ignore it. She got out of bed and her quarters, and was quite startled to see no sigh of Dreadwing's vehicular mode parked anywhere nearby.

    "Hey." Dash called for the attention of the nearest cadet, coming out of the quarters next to her. "Have you seen Dreadwing?"

    The cadet shook his head no before pulling down his goggles and flying off.

    "Hmm..." Dash looked around the area, quiet clonks from her hooves emphasizing her worry about Dreadwing. Dreadwing was a loyal, dependable solider. It wasn't like him to just disappear and go out for fast food or something. It was completely like Dash to do that, but not him.

    "Maybe Twilight or somepony will know where she is..." Rainbow Dash galloped towards the edge of the cliff, waving goodbye to her commander Spitfire as she passed. "My wingpony's missing, so I'm gonna go find him! See ya later, coach!"

    Spitfire showed no displeasure at this.

    Rainbow Dash jumped off the cliff edge, wings naturally flaring out as the ground beneath her hooves ran out. Wasting no time, she made a beeline for Ponyville, flying as fast as she could – which as anypony would attest, was pretty freaking fast. She made no notice of the clouds or how they moved so slowly it was like they were in a different time to her, focused only on getting home and finding out where her wingpony went.

    Some ponies waved at Rainbow as her signature bolt of rainbow colors curved into view, but like the clouds moments ago, she ignored them. Unlike the clouds, which couldn't feel, the ponies wondered what was causing Rainbow Dash to ignore everything around her even more than usual.

    Determined to find out what happened, Rainbow Dash charged into Pinkie's residence which was also partially partially her restaurant as well. Everypony who was usually there at this time was there on time.

    Unlike her partner, today.

    There was Twilight, Rarity, and Fluttershy, with Pinkie Pie on the other edge of the counter, doling out coffees, sweet drinks and morning pastries as customers ordered them.

    "Hey." Dash approached the table where Twilight, Rarity and Fluttershy were seating, causing whatever conversation they were in previously to cut short. Dash didn't pick up on Fluttershy's nervous expression. "Dreadwing's disappeared on me. Does anypony know where he went?"

    Rarity and Twilight looked to each other while Fluttershy started shrinking into her seat.

    "No." Twilight answered.

    "How bizarre. I understood that Dreadwing was actually quite punctual." Rarity added.

    "Think, Rainbow Dash." Twilight pointed her hoof. "Did Dreadwing say or do anything to indicate where he might have gone?"

    "No...although, now that I think about it." Rainbow Dash turned a suspicious eye on Fluttershy. "One of Fluttershy's Insecticons came over in the evening and said she wanted to see him." Rainbow Dash put her hooves on the table forcefully, while Fluttershy shifted her eyes. Rainbow Dash recaptured her attention by slamming her hooves on the table. "Do you know where he went, Fluttershy?" Dash snarled in a tone she didn't normally like using with Fluttershy.

    Fluttershy shifted her eyes one more time, before cracking in the face of pressure. "Yes! Yes, I do! I-I asked him to go Cybertron so that I-so that I could live, and none of you would have to deal with the grief of me dying."

    Rarity and Twilight looked to each other.

    "Fluttershy, darling, whatever do you mean?"

    Fluttershy ducked into the table. "Do...any of you know the Decepticon Justice Division?"

    Rarity and Rainbow didn't, but Twilight did, and this was clear from the blush on her face.

    "They tried to kill me once for that time I pretended to be loyal to the Decepticon Cause, you know, when they took over Canterlot." Fluttershy explained. "I managed to fool them into thinking I was dead, but yesterday, I realized they were going to come for Dreadwing sooner or later, so I asked him to leave so the Division wouldn't discover I was still alive."

    Rarity and Rainbow struggled to process this, while Twilight thought about what she had done involving the D.J.D.

    Rainbow Dash leaped over the table and grabbed Fluttershy by the shoulders. "YOU ASKED MY WINGPONY TO DIE ALONE!?"

    Everypony in the restaurant noticed Rainbow Dash's outburst. It was hard to miss. Twilight and Rarity got out of their seats and put themselves in front of Rainbow and Fluttershy before rumors of Rainbow mistreating Fluttershy could spark.

    "Nothing to see here, everpony! Just a light- well, actually a very large misunderstanding between friends." Rarity assured the crowd, waving a hoof. "Rainbow, darling, you're making a scene." Rarity whispered to Dash. Dash rolled her eyes and let go of Fluttershy, but it was clear she was still furious.

    "Why don't we go outside?" Fluttershy meekly suggested, amber eyes trained on Pinkie. The four of them got up and began to shuffle towards the door, Rarity and Twilight smiling extra at everypony extra forcefully to protect Rainbow's reputation.

    Once inside, Rainbow Dash raised her hoof to punch Fluttershy in the cheek, but managed to stop herself. "Explain this to me again, Fluttershy." Rainbow Dash demanded. "You asked Dreadwing to go to Cybertron, so these...Decepticon Justice guys could kill him!?"

    "Pardon me, but I find the idea of Decepticon justice somewhat...contradictory." Rarity interjected.

    "It's less like justice and more like single-minded fanaticism that punishes deserters of all shapes and sizes." Twilight added. "Actually, I take that back. Pardon my pun, but 'Fanaticism' doesn't really do them justice."

    "You didn't see them, Dash." Fluttershy reminded her, speaking fearfully. "They were...unnatural. There's no way you could have stopped them. We would all try to fight them, and then we would all get killed. At least this way, some of us survive..."

    "There's nothing that I can't stop!" Dash snapped at her, but Twilight held out her hoof to Dash's chest.

    "No, Rainbow Dash. She's right. I-I met their leader." Twilight admitted.

    "And you survived?" Fluttershy whispered.

    "If we tried to fight him, I'm pretty sure he would obliterate us, our friends, families, and everything in the area, just for good measure." Twilight explained, ignoring Fluttershy's question. "At least with their new target on Cybertron, we could probably fight them with better chances there."

    "On their home turf!?"

    "Actually, their 'home turf' is a far-off planet called Messatine." Twilight corrected her.

    "How do you know so much about them, Twilight?" Rarity questioned. Again, their questions to Twilight were ignored.

    "There's five of them...Tarn, Kaon, Tesarus, Vos, and Helex." Twilight rattled off, listing all her mysteriously acquired information for all of them to hear, to better prepare for the fool's task of fighting them on Cybetron.

    "I think it was Helex and Vos who came to my house..." Fluttershy muttered.

    "They all have their own unique powers, alternate modes are almost entirely composed of torture devices. Armor is coated with unknown materials that makes them more or less invincible..." Twilight let out a deep breath. "We may need to get Optimus Prime's help."

    "May?" Rarity repeated.

    "I'm going to get Spike to write a letter to Celestia so we can use the Space Bridge in Canterlot."

    The four of them started walking towards Twilight's library, but then they stopped and turned around to Fluttershy.

    "What do you think you're doing!? You can't come with us! Then there will have been no point in you asking Dreadwing to leave!"

    "I-I want to help." Fluttershy stuttured. "This is all my fault, after all."

    "Darling." Rarity put her hooves on Fluttershy's shoulders. "None of this is your fault at all. You were merely trying to protect your life, and by extension, our sanity." Rarity pulled her close and nuzzled cheeks. "There is no need to apologize for looking out for us."

    "Okay.."

    "Maybe you can gather a troop of Insecticons." Twilight suggested helpfully. "Uh...just make sure they leave your name of their war cry."

    Fluttershy nodded, and then they were on their way. Within minutes of arriving at the library and sending the letter, there was a Space Bridge opened up for them to jump into and find themselves in the Autobots' base, going from one end of the solar system to the other within a matter of minutes.

    As they tumbled through the Bridge, landing on a platform, Twilight was too eager to ask for help to realize they were interrupting something. "Optimus! We need-"

    "Autobots, I cannot overemphasize the importance of your task." said Optimus' stoic voice, as he gestured at the computer.

    "Oh..." Twilight realized she had spoken out of turn and backed away. In front of them, separated the safety railing were three Autobots whom Twilight guessed were who Optimus was talking to. Ultra Magnus, Optimus' more laid back brother and leader of the Wreckers. (By "laid back" that meant "Reckless, violent, and everything a Wrecker hopes to be.") Recently returned Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots and – as Rarity eloquently put it - "The Autobot's Decepticon," as Grimlock was somehow more violent than Magnus, yet remained firmly on the side of good. Grimlock was pretty much the biggest jerk one could be while still (barely) being an Autobot. He looked a little uncomfortable, having to crouch to fit inside the base.

    There was a third one they didn't recognize, who seemed to have Magnus' colors, but a model of Optimus' body as his framework. Steel bars were visible in his proudly protruding chest, and he was adorned with the power lines found in Cybertronians every so often. Twilight could easily sense the friction between him and the two loose cannons he was standing in between.

    "It is paramount that these Decepticon uprisings on the expanse of outer space be immediately quelled, or at the very least, contained to the planets they are stationed on. Lest the Decepticons under Shockwave's Neutrality Agreement hear of it and decide they'd rather follow the lead of these warlords and their blood lust, rather than Shockwave's logic."

    "'Kay." Magnus said.

    "Any excuse to bust some heads." Grimlock muttered, pounding his fists together.

    The 'bot they didn't recognize saluted, apparently taking the situation more seriously than Grimlock of Magnus. "I will do my best to quash these uprisings, and any thoughts of rebellion, sir." His voice was extremely stern. Quite possibly sterner, and definitely less warm than Optimus'

    Optimus nodded to let them all know he heard what they said. "Autobots-"

    "Who's the new guy?"

    Every Autobot in the room turned to the ponies.

    Optimus cleared his throat and stepped forward. He gestured an open hand at the new arrival. "May I present, commander of the Cybertron Elite Guard, Magnum."

    "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Magnum." Rarity said sweetly.

    "It's a pleasure to meet you, Magnum, sir." Magnum tersely corrected her, hands on his hips.

    "Uhp uhp uhp!" Ultra Magnus objected. "She's a Wrecker, Magnum. She answers to me."

    Magnum was appalled by this. "This organic is a member of your Wreckers? Why am I not surprised?" He pointed a finger at Magnus, who rolled his optics back. "Putting an organic in harm's way is one of the most sacred Autobot codes, so it's no surprise to see why you would put this pony in the line of fire!"

    "At ease, Magnum." Optimus said coolly, attempting to defuse the situation before it escalated into blows. That was bad enough itself, but with Grimlock here, he would no doubt be eager to encourage a brawl. "These ponies have demonstrated not only a willingness to throw themselves into the fray, but an aptitude for it as well."

    Magnum seemed placated by this, but he still looked displeased.

    "Well, on the bright side," Ratchet interjected, glaring at Magnus, Grimlock, Rainbow Dash, and Twilight all in turn. "It's nice to have someone here who actually respects proper procedure for a change."

    Twilight was shocked that Ratchet had included her in that group. "Wha- since when do I not follow proper procedure!? I always follow proper procedure!"

    Ratchet raised a finger of his own. "Raising undead Terrorcons with which to terrorize a human populace is not proper procedure!"

    Magnum looked to Ratchet, then to Optimus, then to Twilight. "Is this true? Have you been dabbling in the forbidden art of Dark Energon?"

    Twilight was wondering what Optimus meant when he mentioned Decepticon uprisings, so she decided now was good time to ask. Hopeful that would diverge the conversation enough that Magnum wouldn't be able to mount an investigation into her recreational activities. "You said something about Decepticon uprisings, Optimus?"

    "Yes." Optimus answered, turning back to the screen. "As you know, when our home world of Cybertron went dark, our kind scattered across the galaxy, spreading our war to countless other worlds. Now that news of Megatron's demises has reached these outposts, ambitious warlords are escalating their actions."

    "Precisely to what end, we don't know." Ratchet chimed in. "All we can speculate is that either without Megatron's orders, they're free to cause carnage as they please, or that they hope to convince the Decepticons to flock to them and carry on the war."

    "I have contacted various Autobot commanders to dispatch squadrons to attempt to control the situation." Optimus concluded.

    "How about it, Rarity?" Ultra Magnus said, pointing at her approvingly, which made her blush. "You wanna go into space to wreck and rule?" Magnum scoffed. Magnus noticed, but didn't say anything.

    "Well..."

    "Take your time." Magnus assured. "I have some prep to do if the Wreckers are gonna go into space. Mostly, it's just figuring out where in the Pony Hell Wheeljack went."

    Magnum didn't hold his breath this time. "Ultra Magnus, these are guests in our base of operations, and we should be polite to them." This time, Magnus scoffed.

    "That's enough." Optimus warned them.

    Twilight cleared her throat. "Anyway, the reason we came here is that we need help to fight the Decepticon Justice Division."

    For all their seriousness, or in some cases, reckless bravado, every Autobot in the room was aghast at this.

    "Fight the Justice Division!?" Magnus exclaimed. "Have you gone mad!? You can't fight the Justice Divison! It's- it's suicide! With more letters! It's suicide, with more letters." He pounded his fist into his hand to emphasize his point. "It's certain death with delusions of survival!"

    "Please!" Twilight pleaded. "They're going to come for Dreadwing! Rainbow Dash's wingpony!"

    "Dreadwing? The Decepticon Seeker captain?" Magnum questioned, not up to speed on Dreadwing's status.

    "While the Decepticon Justice Division is feared, and rightfully so," Optimus said. "I cannot let them punish Dreadwing for the simple crime of not wanting to fight anymore. Ratchet, contact the Rescue Bots, and have them prepare the Space Bridge."

    "Optimus, are you sure you want go down this path?" Ratchet objected. "Tarn will certainly make every effort to extinguish your Spark, if given the opportunity."

    "Rest assured, old friend..." Optimus spoke comfortingly at first, but his tone turned darker as he continued on. "I have no intention of giving him that opportunity."

    Twilight cleared her throat. "Um, Optimus? I...I met Tarn before."

    This seemed to quickly catch Optimus and Ratchet's attention.

    "I...really don't want to risk seeing him again." Twilight admitted. "And I've...accepted an offer to come work at a human facility for scientific research. So...I'd hate to abandon my friends, but I really don't want to see Tarn, so could I do that instead?"

    Optimus gave a rare smile, no doubt pleased Twilight had developed past her contempt for humanity enough to accept a work offer. "Of course, Twilight Sparkle. Tell Ratchet the coordinates, and he will prepare the GroundBridge."

    Twilight smiled back, happy Optimus understood. "Oh! Rarity, Rainbow Dash! Make sure you go get Shining Armor's help! His Dark Energon infusion should provide a substitute for me!"

    Twilight dashed down the stairs, ran to Ratchet's feet, and quietly whispered the coordinates. Ratchet pulled the Bridge, and Twilight was gone a moment after.

    "Are we...sure Shining Armor will be so pleased as to provide such a tactical advantage?" Rarity questioned. "I've noticed he's not nearly as enthusiastic as our dear Twilight during symbiosis."

    "Either way, Dreadwing is in danger and needs our help." Dash retorted, concerns about Dreadwing's survival being more important to her than Shining Armor's comfort or discomfort.

    *** *** ***

    Elsewhere, several miles away, Twilight stepped out of the GroundBridge to be treated a sight she found most welcoming- a laboratory. A nice, big, laboratory to boot. There were multiple buildings, one in the center that was larger than any of the others, but they all shared a white color scheme and glossed over azure windows.

    Surely, there was a plethora of interesting human scientific devices inside for her to use!

    Speaking of humans, there was one at the door. She was around middle-age, about average attractiveness with long black hair. She was dressed in the typical (or stereotypical, if Ratchet was asked) white lab coat over a magenta shirt and black pants.

    "Hello!" Twilight waved to her. "I'm Twilight Sparkle. I was sent an invitation asking if I wanted to come work here?"

    "Ah, so that's what a pony is doing out at my humble laboratory!" The human said, coming closer for to her to talk. "I was wondering what an alien like yourself might be interested at my simple work office."

    Twilight chortled, taking a look up at the building complex. "If that's humble, I don't even want to know what you call great."

    Both Twilight and human shared a good laugh at her jab. The human offered Twilight her hand nd introduced herself. "I'm Professor Lucy Suzuki. I work for the pharmaceutical division of Sumdac Systems."

    "Sumdac Systems?"

    "That's the name of the laboratory! Named after our founder, Issac Sumdac!"

    Twilight smiled, feeling oddly like she and this human could get along with each other. Even if she reminded her of Ditzy Doo on her more directionally-challenged days. "I...like it?"

    "So, what's a fancy-schmancy alien like you doing, coming to help our primitive tech?" Lucy asked.

    "Well, hahaha," Twilight chuckled nervously as she followed behind Lucy to the gate. "I kind of hate humans, so I was hoping that if I worked here, I could get over it through positive association. I hate humans, but I love science."

    Lucy frowned. "Aww, that's a shame. Come on!" Twilight was surprised when Lucy offered her hand without any concern for Twilight's contempt. "I'll take you in for a tour, and maybe you can see we're not so bad after all!"

    Twilight smiled anxiously, before giving her hoof. "I think I'd like that."

    Lucy, with a surprising amount of strength Twilight was surprised by, Lucy excitedly ran into the facility, dragging Twilight with her. Twilight was amazed by everything she saw. There were geraniums that were quite large and healthy – a far cry from the pollution and poor plant care she had taken all humans to engage in. She saw briefly caught glimpses into the various buildings, where lights and sounds of all sorts of scientific experiments were being done, much to her increasing excitement.

    Twilight stumbled when Lucy suddenly stopped and let go of her hoof. Twilight turned to see another human, male, short, overweight and with a skin a shade lighter than Agent Fowler's. His black hair pointed upwards with a white stripe in it.

    "Oh, I'm so sorry, Professor Sumdac!" Lucy apologized, clasping her cheeks with her hands. "I was just so excited to show Twilight here around the facility and-"

    "It's all right, Doctor Suzuki." Sumdac assured her, waving a gloved hand. "Did you say Twilight Sparkle?"

    Twilight caught the mention of her name and grinned to show she was paying attention. "That's me."

    "Oh, how splendid!" Sumdac jumped up and down like an excited child, clapping his hands. "I heard about your scientific experience, and was hoping you would lend your valuable skills to my facility, but I knew about your issues with...my kind. So it is good to hear you've accepted my proposal!" Sumdac gave her a thumbs up.

    "Well, I'm ready to get to work, Professor!" Twilight saluted.

    "Glad to hear it, Miss Sparkle. I believe the botanical division is trying to splice some Oriental plants together." Sumdac pointed at the direction which Twilight assumed was the botanical house. "Why don't you see if you can help them out a little?"

    "I'll do my best."

    Sumdac walked off, excusing himself as he had more business to deal with, being the head of a huge company that didn't limit itself to just one branch of science.

    Twilight whispered into Lucy's ear after Sumdac had left. "Is wrong of me to think he looks like a pineapple with banana slugs for arms?"

    Lucy giggled. "No. I think that, too."

    "You know what, Doctor Suzuki? For a human, you don't seem that bad."

    Twilight took another look around, and heard a very reassuring sound. The sound of an electric power surge as something, somewhere went horribly wrong, as science is wont to do, that would inevitably have to be contained by saner individuals in specialized suits.

    "I think I might like it here."

    *** *** ***

    On Equestria, Applejack charged into the Guard's quarters, startling Shining Armor, causing him to flail around and fall back from the table he was discussing important matters on with his guards, whom he had just embarrassed himself in front of.

    "Shining!" Applejack snapped. "The gals and Ah are gunna go fight these rowdy Decepticons on Cybertron, and Twilight's not available. We're drafting you in to fill in for anything that may need some Dark Energon, or doesn't need it, but she gives anyway."

    Shining looked around his guards. He lifted his pink helmet off his head and held in front of him. "I'm sorry, guys, we'll have to finish this later." The guards all muttered words of sympathy and understanding. Shining turned to Applejack, putting his helmet back on. "You know I don't like using the Dark Energon in my blood!"

    "Well, tough." Applejack spat at him. "Me and the girls are down a Terrorpony, an Insectipony, and a nest of Insecticons, so we need yer help."

    Shining sighed, and resigned himself to oblige. His natural sense of chivalry, combined with the fact his parents raised him to be courteous to mares, meant he could not say no, not with a clear conscious, at least. "Fine...let's go. Soldiers, tell Celestia to fire up the Space Bridge."

    Shining walked besides Applejack to the Space Bridge platform, high on a platform in Canterlot where it was visible for all the ponies below to see so they would know where to go in the event they should decide they would like to go and see Cybertron or Earth up close with their own eyes. Shining noticed that Rarity didn't seem to be too in love with the mission they were going on. He found this alarming, as usually, Rarity would adopt the mask of destructive-loving attitude of a Wrecker when Cybertron was involved. Rainbow Dash also looked extremely disgruntled and bitter.

    "Uh...you okay there, Rainbow Dash?" Shining asked.

    "No." Rainbow answered forcefully.

    "Okay! I'm...loving this mission already." Shining said sarcastically as he let the magic disguise fade and reveal his mutations.

    They stepped into the Space Bridge and stepped out onto a suspended metal bridge on Cybertron, somewhat like a Cybertronian version of a freeway. Shining hadn't been there before, so the splendor of seeing the planet of metal for the first time appeared to him for the first time. That was quickly soured, however, by him noticing the presence of Changelings strapped to metal grids that electrocuted them with they fidgeted too much, drawing on their magic to power the planet itself. Dreadwing was on the bridge, overlooking the streets below where Autobot with ground-based vehicular modes were stuck traveling.

    "Dreadwing!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, running up to her wingpony.

    "Rainbow Dash?" Dreadwing questioned, confusedly turning around. "What are you doing here?"

    Rainbow Dash beat her hoof against her chest. "I'm here to keep Tarn from sending you to the scrapheap!"

    Judging from his expression, Dreadwing didn't what to think about this at first, but he figured it out. He stomped towards her, shook his first, and growled. "There is a reason Fluttershy asked me to leave Equestria and come here, Rainbow Dash! Tarn does not care how many other that will have to fall, or what he will have to destroy to get to me!"

    "I know!" Dash growled back, stomping forward at him in response. "But I won't let him get you! You're my wingpony – my partner – and that means I have to look out for you!"

    Dreadwing's optic twitched. "Ever since last morning, I have been having doubts of my change in allegiance, and this is my answer! Do you not realize you are walking straight into the jaws of death!?"

    "Yeah, I know! DO YOU!?"

    "NAAAHH!" Dreadwing raised his fists into the air and stomped on the ground. "A Seeker faces death with dignity!"

    "Yeah?" Dash countered.

    "Should we do something?" Shining whispered to Applejack.

    "You know wut, Shining? Ah reckon yer right." Applejack answered. She walked up and put a hoof on Rainbow Dash's wing. "Maybe Dreadwing's right, R.D. Maybe we should just fall back and let him do what he's gotta do."

    Dash's jaw dropped, offended at the notion. "I didn't come here all the way to Cybertron to help Dreadwing just to leave him to die!"

    "I DID NOT ASK YOU TO COME HERE!" Dreadwing bellowed at them. "All you had to do to GET here was step through a Space Bridge." Dreadwing pointed in the direction of Kaon, where Shockwave's Tower and his own Space Bridge resided. "And that is all you have to do to leave!"

    "I..." Dash snarled. "Am...not...going...to leave...you...alone."

    Dreadwing raised his finger to say something, but he was cut off by a piercing scream from a voice that pierced their souls.

    "DREEAADWIIIING!" The unmistakeable deep voice of Tarn screamed so loudly that it was audible for miles. It was as deep as an organ being played in low timbres to mourn someone's passing. The voice rattled their bones and stopped their hearts. "We know you're here! Come out and face us, traitor!"

    Rainbow Dash was surprised that the 'Justice' Division was here already, but she regained her composure and started barking orders. She pointed quite emphatically at Dreadwing. "You. You will stay here. That is an order from your captain. Shining Armor, Applejack, Rarity and me will go and deal with Tarn and his goons." Dash turned to her friends. "All right, ladies, let's roll out!"

    They galloped across the bridge, tails waving in the wind, before Dreadwing could even articulate his protests against this. Dreadwing gritted his teeth and turned with his arms crossed, unable to bring himself to disobey a direct order from somepony who was technically his commanding officer...even if he disagreed with it.

    Rainbow Dash took the lead of the group. It was her wingpony on the line, and therefore her mission , after all. After some galloping, they swerved around to look over the edge of the bridge to see the Decepticon Justice Division looking around the town square, scaring the various crowds of Autobots and Decepticons who up until now were just minding their business. Little Pony and human tourists, visiting to see Cybertron, followed their lead and got out of there.

    "There they are..." Dash growled to herself quietly. Each one in turn. Vos, black and silver with a faceplate, who appeared to made out of things a pony would find in a torture dungeon reconstructed into a robot. Kaon,named after the city, who, mostly beige, with little pink grooves on his, a pale, long face, and two electric generators pumping in and out of his back like pistons. Helex, extremely dark green almost to the point of being black with a window in his chest. Tesarus, whose face was covered by a red 'X' shape, a gnashing pit in his chest, and two huge claws coming out from his back like cords. Then there was Tarn himself. Purple and white, his shoulders were made entirely of treads, he had two cannons on one arm, one atop the other, and the Decepticon symbol etched into his face.

    "Dreadwing!" Tarn aimed his cannon and blasted an unfortunate wall whose only crime was being a wall. "Come out here, NOW! You are one of the worst traitors Kaon has ever found! You were loyal once to the Cause! What possessed you to join with these ponies instead?"

    Rainbow Dash snarled, but being so high up on the bridge, Tarn thankfully didn't hear her.

    Tarn took a look around and made a frustrated noise. "Bah! Decepticons! Spread out and see if you can find him!"

    The other members of the Division nodded, and they spread out, marching in four different directions to find the Seeker who had abandoned the cause.

    "I will find you..." Tarn growled.

    "Oh, this is perfect!" Dash said, thinking she was talking to herself. She rubbed her hooves together in anticipation.

    "What's perfect?" Shining Armor asked.

    "Tarn's all alone!" Dash answered as she raised her rifle and charged it. "We'll just kill him, and that will convince the others to back off!"

    "Ah'm not so shore that will work..." Applejack muttered. Rainbow didn't hear her and let off her shot, sending a red laser directly down from their position, straight into Tarn's face. There was an impressive display of smoke and fire.

    "Nice!" Shining complimented. "I didn't think that would really..."

    Once the smoke cleared, they could Tarn's face was completely intact.

    "...Work." Shining finished.

    "Who did that?" Tarn looked left and right, before looking up to see Rainbow Dash and her team staring down at him. "Ah! Now there's something you don't see everyday." Tarn converted into his vehicular mode – a tank with gunner chairs for the other members of the Division to ride in- and angled his barrel up at the bridge. "A bright, cute Little Pony with a death wish!"

    Tarn fired. A metal sphere launched out of his cannon, its shape masking its nature as an explosive shell. It hit the bottom of the bridge, causing it to collapse. Rainbow Dash flew off before the rubble could clip her on the wing, and Shining conjured his force field spell to protect himself, Applejack and Rarity. Rarity chose a more direct approach and just levitated herself and them to another bridge. The rubble from the bridge landed on Tarn himself, burying him in the bridge's ruins. Dash smirked, confident Tarn had just terminated himself by crushing his body under the weight, but Tarn burst out of the rubble in his robot mode, screaming bloody murder and promising to take his anger out on them. He converted to his tank mode again and fired at Rainbow Dash, who causally moved out of the way, leaving the shell to explode in the air harmlessly.

    Tarn converted again and began to march towards Shining Armor, Applejack and Rarity. Dash pounded at him with her rifle, but each shot did little more than produce a cute 'Pa-ding!' sound as it hit against Tarn's seemingly-invincible armor.

    Rarity charged her magic and joined in on firing on Tarn, but her magic did as much good as Rainbow's gun.

    "Watch..." Shining said to Rarity. "Twiley told me that Dark Energon has at least one use for it that I can use."

    "An' that would be?" Applejack questioned.

    Shining's horn began, well, shining intensely, a sphere of purple light forming around it. A six-pointed star flew out from the sphere and hit Tarn in his chest, causing a cluster of Dark Energon to spontaneously sprout from his armor plating. The light on Shining's horn remained, attempting to use symbiosis to bring Tarn under his heel.

    "Rrraagh!" Tarn screamed and ripped out the cluster with his bare hands, before tossing it to the ground and blasting it with his cannon, causing the shards to scatter bomb the area around him.

    Shining's jaw dropped. Twiley had been insistent that even Shining could utilize the Dark Energon for this purpose, and this had been the Dark Energon's chance to prove to him it wasn't completely horrible, and for it to fail so badly, at now of all times made his stomach lurch badly with the sting that came with failure.

    Shining saluted at Rainbow Dash. "Rainbow Dash, ma'am, you're leading the mission. My purpose being here – to provide Dark Energon- has failed. Permission to make a tactical withdrawal?"

    "Denied!" Dash shouted at him. "However, I will grant you permission to 'run away like the little pansy you are'." She added coldly.

    Shining bit his lips, but after creating a few force fields here and there for Applejack's and Rarity's retreats, he silently galloped along the bridge, fleeing from the fight, a new objective now dominating his mind. Applejack muttered something about him being easily discouraged, and looked down to see Tarn was still approaching their position.

    There were some more powerful blasts coming from another overlook which made him stagger, but the zealot continued his march. After being made to stagger several times in a row, Tarn lost his temper. "Rraagh! Who's shooting at me now?"

    Tarn turned around to see Optimus Prime and Bulkhead standing on the edge of the bridge Tarn had destroyed. Optimus and Bulkhead leaped off the edge, on the ground where the battle was proper.

    Bulkhead put his fingers to his head and waved Rarity. "Sorry I'm late, my little Wrecker!"

    "I forgive you!" Rarity shouted back at him playfully.

    "Optimus...Prime." Tarn snarled. "It is fitting, then, that at last, I can punish the Decepticon's largest traitor- the friend of Megatron who abandoned him when the war broke out." He was referring, of course, to Optimus' former friendship with the deceased Megatron before Megatron fell into insanity.

    "It was Megatron who caused the war." Optimus reminded him, pointing a finger at Tarn. He converted his arms into their blasters. "And I was friends...with D-16."

    D-16 was the name Megatron was assigned by his superiors before Megatron took a new name for himself. The mention of Megatron's pre-Decepticon name, the flag of the rampant slavery that incited Megatron's rebellion. Tarn, of course, knowing all the history of the Decepticons and their upbringings, knew the meaning of D-16, and being reminded of glorious Megatron origins as a measly working-class slave miner, made him fly into a rage.

    "AAAAAARRAAGH!" Tarn screamed, firing his cannon at Optimus without any of his normal precise aim. "I was here for the traitor Dreadwing, but you I will terminate with extreme gratification, Optimus Prime!"

    "I look forward to it!" Optimus answered, defiant to the end, running around to avoid Tarn's blasts. Bulkhead fired what shots he could, but even consider how much more powerful his Autobot blasters were compared to Dash's human-made rifle, it didn't seem to faze Tarn in the slightest.

    "Optimus, blasters aren't working!" Bulkhead rather exclaimed rather panicky.

    "Maintain fire!" Optimus ordered, shooting his blasters at Tarn and strafing the Decepticon. A shot from Tarn's hit Optimus square in the gut, and sent him flying. He seemed to tumble backward in the air in a phenomenon known as bullet time, doing a full flip before landing on his back, dust from the ground coming up in puff as his weight displaced.

    Bulkhead was temporarily distracted by the defeat of his leader. "You're gonna pay for that!" The ex-Wrecker converted his arms to melee configuration and rushed Tarn, smacking him in the face and making him stagger backwards before Tarn realized what happened. Tarn froze...and then slowly turned to Bulkhead, who realized he may have made a mistake. Tarn proceed to slam his fist into Bulkhead's cheek, knocking his lights out. Bulkhead collapsed unconscious to the ground. Tarn looked at him almost pitifully, wondering if it was even worth it to bother killing this measly Autobot. But then Tarn looked ahead, and saw Optimus on his hands and knees, trying to push himself up. Tarn causally strode towards the Last Prime, then slammed his foot into Optimus' back, pushing him back down.

    "So here we are, Orion Pax." Tarn hissed. "You, beneath my foot, which you are not even worthy to give a message to, let alone be crushed under it." Tarn emphasized the word by pressing hard into Optimus' back.

    Dreadwing, gazing out into the distance, sighed. He heard the plonk of hooves behind him, and turned to see Shining Armor coming to join him.

    "Hello, Captain." Dreadwing spat at him, meaning no ill will towards Shining, but letting his resentment at Rainbow telling him to stay show through. "Have you news of how the battle goes?"

    "Not really..." Shining admitted. "I tried to use Dark Energon on Tarn, and it didn't work out so well, so I withdrew."

    Dreadwing gave him a hard glare. "You abandoned your comrades in the middle of a skirmish!?"

    "Well, when you put it that way..." Shining scraped his hoof. "But look at this way; they wanted me for Dark Energon, I gave Dark Energon, and it didn't do anything. So I asked to be excused, and I was."

    "Hrrrm..." Dreadwing turned away, obviously still upset, but unsure what to say to express his dissatisfaction with Shining's answer.

    Shining trotted up to the ledge and threw his front hooves over it. "Don't get me wrong, though, I hear what you're saying, big guy."

    "Mmm...do you now?" Arms resting on another ledge higher up than Shining's, Dreadwing was skeptical.

    "Yeah. I never would have left if Dash told me to stay and fight for my friends..." Shining said. He rested his head in his hoof. "I'm just...a little shaken up right now. Dark Energon. Need I say more?"

    "No." Dreadwing answered irritably, hearing an explosion from the fight echo off in the distance.

    "It's all about loyalty, man." Shining harped, going into full-on hippie mode. "If you need to leave, and your friends are okay with that, then you can leave."

    Dreadwing raised a browplate, intrigued by Shining Armor's notion. "Is that so? … It must be nice to have friends."

    "Not nearly as nice as having a wife..." Shining muttered dreamily. His eyes popped as he realized he was going off-topic. "Ahem...anyways, it's nice to know your friends will support your decisions, no matter what."

    "Yes..." Dreadwing answered quietly, looking down. He pulled his arms off the ledge and turned away, walking away from the ledge and towards the destroyed bridge.

    "Wha-where are you going!?" Shining exclaimed.

    "My Captain, my friend, Rainbow Dash, did not support my decision to face Tarn alone." Dreadwing snarled at him, pulling out his sword to Shining's alarm. "The mercy seat is waiting for me, Captain."

    Dreadwing turned, sprinted forward, and converted into his Lightning mode. He flew over the edge and towards the bridge where Rarity and Applejack had gone to after the first bridge was destroyed, transforming and landing on the now-vacant bridge with a thump, and crouched to observe the battle.

    Applejack charged at Tarn's foot and bucked it, putting in all the force her hind legs could muster, but Tarn punted her aside before doing the same thing to Rarity. Tarn stomped Optimus' back again and raised his cannon-arm. Borrowing a trick from Megatron's own book, Tarn's cannon lifted up slightly, and a blade unfurled from underneath the barrel. It was a long, black blade with white rim, with a tip that curved like a scimitar. The blade was raised, Prime was pinned. Everything was set for Tarn to deal the killing blow.

    Dreadwing reached to his hip and whipped out his pistol, but one of his many weapons, and fired at Tarn's head. The bullet bounced off harmlessly, but it caught Tarn's attention. "Who's shooting at me NOW!?" Tarn shrieked, but he was elated to see it was his original target, Dreadwing. "So, Dreadwing! You finally show yourself!"

    "What!?" Dash screamed. She flew to the bridge and landed by Dreadwing's feet. "Dreadwing, what are you doing? As my wingpony, I ordered you to stand down!"

    Dreadwing looked at her and grunted. "I was a Seeker." Dreadwing crisscrossed his arms and ripped the Wonderbolts' logo off his wings, revealing the Decepticon symbols underneath. Dreadwing literally toss them both into Dash's face, where the stickers stuck to her cheeks. Rainbow Dash peeled them off, and cried, looking at the discarded stickers in her hoof. She looked up at Dreadwing, wanting, but unable to say "How could you?"

    "And as of this moment, I am no longer your wingpony, but a Seeker again."

    Dash tossed the stickers to the ground. "No! I'm not going to let you do – this!" Dash's voice turned stained, as she felt cold metal pressing against the back of her neck. The tip of Dreadwing's curved sword.

    "I will not have my loyalty or honor disgraced by having you and your friends die for me." Dreadwing informed, speaking without a trace of sadness or fear in his tone. He removed the sword from Dash's neck and turned towards Tarn. "TARN! I know you have come for me! Come to the elevated platform due northwest of here, and I will meet my fate with dignity."

    "Excellent..." Tarn was so pleased Dreadwing had given himself up, he forgot all about executing Optimus.

    "I won't let you do this!" Rainbow Dash yelled at Dreadwing. Dreadwing turned to her and punted her off the bridge to the ground below. Dash grunted when she hit the ground, too surprised to spread her wings.

    To ensure none of them would follow him and as a result, get themselves killed by Tarn and his cronies, Dreadwing pulled a plated bomb and threw at the ground. The blast was fairly tame, compared to what his bombs usually did, but the resulting shockwave was enough to knock Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and the briefly conscious-again Autobots out.

    Tarn was close to the epicenter of the blast, and when the smoke cleared, not only was he uninjured, but he hadn't even been moved from the bomb's pressure wave, even though he was right next to it.

    Dreadwing, his challenge to Tarn issued, and his former Wonderbolt captain unable to stop what had been set in motion, Dreadwing turned, transformed, and flew off the platform where the Decepticon Justice Division would spend all day waiting for him. So even though he specified sunset for the time, the Division would be there all day from this point onward, waiting for him...and they would rampage again in search of Dreadwing if the Seeker didn'tturn up. That was fine, as Dreadwing was a mech of his word. He would be there.

    Dreadwing flew to the platform he specified, northwest. The platform didn't much to note about it, aside from the fact it was dark green with a grid pattern. The time neared sunset as he approached, and as predicted, the entire Decepticon Justice Division was gathered, waiting impatiently for him and ready to slag this traitor and move on to their next target.

    Dreadwing transformed and landed on the rim of the platform and stood to face them.

    Tarn pointed to Kaon, who converted into his alternate mode. Calling it a 'vehicle mode' would be misleading, as he turned into a Cybertronian-sized electric chair. "Into the chair."

    Dreadwing regard Kaon's for a minute, as if in contemplation. Then he whipped out his pistol and shot out the generator on Kaon's chair-back. Kaon short-circuited, electric sparks flying from, and automatically transformed back to robot mode. He staggered, trying to stay on his feet, but was overwhelmed by his overload and fell.

    The other Division members looked on in shock, then turned to Dreadwing with anger written on their faces.

    "You want to kill me?" Dreadwing screamed at them. "You want to slaughter me like a pig in a barn!? No! You do not have the right to kill me!"

    Dreadwing drew his blades, one thin and silver, the other broad and blue, shaped like a thunderbolt, and crossed them in a 'X', making a echoing clang at the Division.

    "Come hither...and earn it."

    The Division members that still stood shook their fists, then charged at Dreadwing. Helex came at him first and knocked the swords out of Dreadwing's hands, but Dreadwing countered by slapping a bomb to Helex's face. Helex flailed backwards as he attempted to pry the bomb off his face. Next was Tesarus, who launched his corded claws at Dreadwing. Dreadwing grabbed the cables before the claws could grip him, and swung Tesarus by them, throwing the surprised fanatic off his heel struts. Tarn came at Dreadwing and got a good slap in, making Dreadwing stumble, but before Tarn could press his advangtage, Dreadwing recovered and gave Tarn a boot to the stomach, throwing him backwards. Vos leaped on Dreadwing and wrapped his arms around Dreadwing's neck and tried to choke him. Which didn't make much sense, as Dreadwing was a Decepticon and therefore did not need to breath. Dreadwing bent over and threw Vos off his back to the ground and stomped the leathery 'bot in his stomach, but Tesarus got up and launched a claw from behind, seizing Dreadwing by the midsection. Dreadwing struggled against the bind, then with some difficulty, reached for his sword on the ground, grabbed it, and used it to slice Tesarus' claw off.

    He fought long.

    He fought hard, against the beat of the setting Cybertronian sun.

    He fought nobly, even as he fought for his life.

    Every time their armor and his blades would graze,

    He'd make sure they could see his face.

    He fought long.

    He fought hard, refusing to fall until the fight was done.

    He fought honorably, to the bitter end...but ultimately...

    It was a fight he
    could not win.

    Dreadwing batted Vos away again, and prepared to strike a killing blow, but Tarn came behind him and stabbed through the back with his arm-blade, impaling Dreadwing through his chest. Tarn jerked his sword and watched with masked glee as Dreadwing gasped and fell. Tarn raised his hand to signal their work here was done. Helex picked up the unconscious Kaon, and they left, to go wherever they went when they weren't hunting Decepticons or Autobots down.

    Rainbow Dash woke up around the same time as Applejack, Rarity, Optimus, and Bulkhead did. Dash rubbed her head. "Oooh...what happened?"

    Rainbow Dash's eyes popped, and she looked around, remember exactly what happened before she blacked out. Dreadwing. Dreadwing renouncing his allegiance to the Wonderbolts and renewing his commitment to the Seekers by throwing the Wonderbolt stickers into her face, just after... just after he challeged Tarn.

    "No!" Dash screamed to herself, taking to the skies and blazing through skyscrapers. "No, no, no, no!"

    After some manevering, she passed by a building, but as she passed it, she caught a glimpse of a claw that could only belong to Dreadwing, she backed up and headed straight for it.

    "No! NO!"

    Rainbow Dash crash-landed, skidding to a halt on the platform, looking on in denial at Dreadwing's broken form. His left leg had been severed below the knee, several parts on him were sparking, and his expression was an expression of pain that was only half-finished before he offlined, causing him to look really stupid.

    Optimus' fingers reached over the platform, and he lifted Rarity and Applejack up as Bulkhead crawled beside him. "Rainbow Dash, are you all right-?"

    "Oh my..." Rarity murmured, seeing Dreadwing's body.

    Applejack put her hat over her chest, as she always did when she wanted to be sure everypony knew she meant was saying. "Ah'm so sorry, R.D...Ah guess there are some things you just can't fix..."

    "No!" Rainbow swore, in denial that there were things that just couldn't be fixed. In denial her newest and best wingpony was dead before her eyes. She began pounding on his still-attached leg, her hoof making thumps against the navy blue metal.

    "No! NOOOOOO!"

    *** *** ***

    Author's Notes

    Dreadwing's exclamation of "What the huh!?" is from the 2013 Littlest Pet Shop series, which I have introduced into this continuity in a 'Bonus Story'. I hope that a MLP/TF/LPS crossover isn't too weird for anyone reading this.

    I like Tarn, but I realized the reason he was featured so rarely in the comic is because he's invincible. Kind of hard to have an invincible make frequent apperarnces and still have a good story. An invincible villain who makes occasional appearances, on the other hoof...
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  3. Darkryt

    Darkryt Combiner Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2013
    Posts:
    612
    Trophy Points:
    147
    Location:
    Aether Foundation
    Likes:
    +245
    Into the mercy seat I climb, my head is shaved, my head is wired, and like a moth that tries to enter the bright eye, I go shuffling out of life, just to hide in death awhile... -Johnny Cash, "The Mercy Seat"

    INFILTRATION

    Story 2 (Continued)

    TERMINATION DAY

    (With a Decepticon Symbol in place of the 'A' In "Day".)

    Synopsis:

    Both Rainbow Dash's and Twilight's research go up in flames.

    Twilight watched with fascination at the plant before her on a dissecting tray, watching as it grew right before her eyes. "Wow...isn't science amazing?" Twilight oohed to herself, putting her knees on the table to enjoy the sight. The two human scientists next to her nodded. Unlike Lucy and Sumdac, they weren't so big on having a pony – an undead pony with magic that quite easily kill them at that – helping out with what was supposed to be their project. Before either one of them could express disapproval and upset Twilight, Lucy burst into the door.

    "Hey, Sparkly!"

    "Hello, Doctor Suzuki." Twilight greeted mechanically, too enamored with the plant to care much. "Have something for me?"

    "No, not really..." Lucy answered as she waltzed into the room. "And please, call me Lucy."

    "Uh-huh..." Twilight nodded, eyes still more on the plant. The plant was starting to grow a little beyond what the scientists had prepared for.

    "Uh, Miss Twilight?" One botanist raised his hand. "The plant's not supposed to be growing that large..."

    "It'll be...fine." Twilight attempted to assuage his worries, but the plant's vines began growing larger and thickening. It also began to make noises that Twilight was sure would turn from what they were into snarling if the plant was allowed to grow. Seeing the potential danger, Twilight relented. "Okay, okay, I can fix this." She beamed the plant with her magic, setting it aflame. The plant shrieked, its vines curling from dehydration as the flames burned through its veins. The fire alarm system went off, subjecting Twilight, Lucy, and the two botanist to an unwelcome shower. Twilight, not wearing clothes anyway, only found it mildly annoying that her damp hair drooped into her eyes. The botanists in the room grumbled about their lab coats being wet. Lucy airily laughed it off and draped her arm around Twilight's neck.

    "How about we go find something else for you to do?"

    "Sounds good!" Twilight eagerly agreed, making an observation that, if that little burnt pile where the plant used to be was the result of her working on a plant, she'd probably do better with something else.

    They walked out of the botany lab to be welcomed by the sight of Shining Armor wandering around, being at the same time fascinated by the scientific innovation going around him and intimidated by the science-y science his puny knight in shining armor mentality didn't really understand.

    "Shining Armor!" Twilight exclaimed, happy to see her brother here. She ran up to and they embraced in a hug. "What are you doing here? You were supposed to be backing up the others' against the Division!"

    Shining chuckled awkwardly. "Heh-Heh...yeah...that didn't go so well, so I left. I heard you working at a facility, so I thought I might as well visit."

    "Oh..." Twilight looked down. She had known him long enough to understand what he meant when he said certain things, and she knew he was talking about the Dark Energon. Somehow, it wasn't up to snuff. "Yeah..."

    Twilight removed herself from him, then trotted away slowly. Shining grew concerned, as her legs were moving stiffly as though her body was numb. "Twiley, what's wrong?"

    Twilight ignored him and continued on her way. Shining sighed and trotted the opposite direction from her. Lucy noticed the cloud of depression hanging on between the two siblings, and resolved to treat at least one of them, so she ran up to Twilight to take her turn at asking what was wrong.

    "Hey, Twilight! What's wrong? Seems like Shining said something that upset you..."

    "He did." Twilight admitted, coming to a stop for her new friend. "He resigned from a fight with some Decepticons who were causing some trouble, and I told Optimus I was scared to see them again."

    Lucy put her hand to her chin. "Were you?"

    "Yes...but not for the reason Optimus and the others think." Twilight answered, and Lucy could tell Twilight was feeling guilty about something. "It's because I did...something for the Decepticon in question and I couldn't think to bear what would happen if Optimus found out, and especially from that Decepticon, out of them all."

    Lucy put a hand on Twilight's back and rubbed it comfortingly, hoping to sooth the horse and assure her she was among friends and could talk freely without judgment. "Would you like to talk about it?"

    "No. Come on." Twilight tore away from Lucy and pointed a building that had a plastic sign in the shape of a Tesla coil mounted above the door. "I want to go see what's in there." Twilight, regaining her enthusiasm at all the wonders Sumdac Systems' advanced technology had to offer her, quickly dashed towards the door.

    "Ah," Lucy sighed in relief and clapped her hands together, happy to see Twilight could shake off her depression so quickly. "The electricity building..." Lucy ran after her into the building.

    Shining Armor watched them go, equally glad that Twilight could get so happy so quickly. He then felt the familiar feeling of somepony bumping into his chest. He and it were well-acquainted with each other, as he couldn't count on his tail hairs the number of times Twilight had ran straight into his chest because she wasn't looking in their childhoods.

    "Oh, I am so sorry!" The human that ran into him said, throwing his arms and backing away. "I wasn't looking where I was going, and-"

    "Hey." Shining Armor put a hoof on the human's shoulder. "It's okay. Used to happen to me all the time. Brought back some good memories..." Shining Armor rubbed his chin, reminiscing of better times with his sister. He then noticed the distinctive 'S' logo on the uniform of the human. "Hey, aren't you Issac Sumdac?"

    "Hmm? Oh. Yes, I am."

    "I heard about what you did for Twiley..." Shining told him. "It's good of you to give her a chance."

    "Oh yes." Sumdac nodded, agreeing with Shining Armor's statement. "I read her military file, and I have no doubt whoever wrote was extremely biased about it."

    "Wha-Twiley has a military file?" Shining questioned.

    "Yes." Sumdac rolled his eyes. "You should have seen it. 'Insane Pony fanatical to the Canterlot cause only granted amnesty by virtue of serving the Autobots'." Sumdac scoffed. "Unbelievable."

    Shining's interest was piqued, as he was fairly sure from Sumdac's sample of the file's writing that he knew was behind it and its obviously slanted view. General Madison. A human military commander Shining had yet to meet himself, but going from Twilight and her friends' reports, he was a real piece of work with a grudge against whoever looked at him funny. He dismissed the thought, as inspiration to investigate a human General was not what he came here for. "Excuse me, Mister Sumdac."

    "Professor Sumdac."

    "Professor." Shining nodded his head. "But you know about Twiley being infected with Dark Energon?" Sumdac nodded. "Good. I want you to remove it."

    "What!?" Sumdac exclaimed. "But according to my sources, who I assure you, are not only very reliable, but law-abiding, removing the Dark Energon from Twilight Sparkle's body could kill her!"

    "I know." Shining Armor said. "But I read about the work you do, and I think, I think if anypony can do it, it would be you."

    Sumdac shifted his eyes away. "It doesn't seem particularly right to do this."

    "Listen to me, Professor." Shining said, raising his hoof. "Dark Energon is an evil, evil substance, and the less of it there is in the universe, the better. Don't you think that's worth doing, if you can do it?"

    Sumdac rubbed the back of his head, agreeing with Shining's sentiment, but also still thinking of his own strict set of moral values.

    Shining Armor kept on pestering him, though, telling Sumdac all about horrible experiences Shining Armor had because of the Dark Energon infusion in his own bloodstream, trying to press upon Sumdac the need for this to be done.

    When he was done, Sumdac crossed his arms. "From the sound of things, Captain Shining Armor, sounds as though you are looking to expunge the Dark Energon from yourself, and your sister is merely a test subject."

    Shining instantly moved to defend himself from his accusation, but as soon as he adopted his defensive stance, he found his mouth couldn't form the words to express how this was not a selfish attempt at regaining his own normalcy.

    "Well?" Sumdac questioned.

    "Just-just do it!" Shining snapped, shaking his hoof, intimidating Sumdac into submission, as Sumdac did not think he would be able to last long in a fight between the two of them. "The Dark Energon NEEDS to be gone! You understand me!?" Shining turned around and stomped towards the exit, his tail whipping back and forth in rage.

    Sumdac pulled out a cell phone and dialed a number on it. "Hello. It's Sumdac. Yes. I need an experiment arranged. We're going to remove the Dark Energon from Twilight Sparkle. Yes. Yes...don't you think I know it's her life support!? She'll be in danger if we do, but I have just avoided a confrontation with her brother, and I have no doubt he will petition Celestia to bulldoze the whole facility if we don't!"

    Sumdac didn't know Shining Armor that well. As upset and resentful as he was, Shining Armor wouldn't go that far, and if he did, Celestia would never approve. But Shining's outburst had scared Sumdac.

    Inside the electricity building, Lucy sighed and hang up the phone. She pouted, seeing Twilight, unaware her brother had, for all intents and purposes, authorized for her to be sent into the mercy seat. Twilight was playing with a plasma ball, touching her hoof to it and being absolutely enthralled with how the electric currents responded to her hoof, forgetting she was here to work and not play.

    Lucy cleared her throat and prepared herself for what she just been ordered to do. "Hey, Twilight Sparkle?"

    "Yes?" Twilight answered automatically, but remembering what happened with the plant earlier, she turned to Lucy sooner. "Sorry, yes, Doctor Su- I mean, Lucy?"

    Lucy smiled warmly. "Could you come with me? I just got a call for another experiment we want you to do..."

    "Ooh!" Twilight squealed and clapped her hooves, excited at the idea of further experimentation. "What is it?"

    "Follow me, please." Lucy gestured towards the door. Twilight followed eagerly. As they walked across the courtyard of the facility towards where the extraction process would be set up almost as soon as it had been ordered thanks to the lightning-quick staff of the Sumdac industry. Hearing Twilight's gleeful pitter-pats behind her, Lucy reflected that it was uncannily like leading a lamb into the slaughterhouse. Only, while the lamb being slaughtered was unfortunately the only way to get a commodity- lamb meat- this, was just luring a pony into a pointless experiment.

    Once inside the building with the required equipment, Twilight could instantly tell something was up. Inside, there were half-circle computers set up, blinking shadowy green, blue and red lights. There was a seat, presumably before the test subject – Twilight's eyes widened when she realized the test subject was her- and a variety of manipulator arms with pointy things attached to their ends.

    "Into the chair, please..." Lucy said.

    "W-what's this test about?" Twilight stuttered, no longer so confident and happy in her pursuit of science. Before anypony could answer her questions, a trio of lab assistants ran up behind her and shoulder-charged her, sending her flying into the chair. Automated restrains on the chair began activating, pinning Twilight to it. The chair elevated into the air and adjusted herself. The manipulator arms began moving, clicking their claws and testing their syringes.

    "W-what are you doing!?" Twilight screamed.

    "Your brother really wants us to remove the Dark Energon from you." Lucy sadly informed her.

    "WHAT!? You can't do that! That will kill me!"

    "I know, I know. But Professor Sumdac told us to go ahead and do it." Lucy covered her face, unable to bear seeing what she was overseeing any longer. Her voice started breaking as the full implications of the betrayal she had just made occurred. "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry."

    "You can't- urgh!" Twilight grunted when a syringe stabbed into her chest. "You can't do this to me! I may not have wanted it I knew all the facts, but the Dark Energon is a part of me now!"

    Lucy started crying. Feeling the tears build up in her hands, Lucy took them off her face and realized all she had to do was say one word to make this right. "Stop. Stop the experiment, right now.

    A machine operator whistled. "Sorry, Lucy, no can do. Ain't no stopping it once its started."

    The syringe pulled back, drawing Dark Energon blood from Twilight's chest.

    "No! No!" Twilight flailed and struggled, slamming her hooves against the restraint. "You can't do this!" Her veins started glowing. Emanations of energy like purple braziers began to swirl around her body. Her voice took on multiple tones and timbres, taking up different pitches for each syllable, sometimes repeating like an echo. "It-it-it-it is a part of me (part of me)..."

    The operator raised an eyebrow. "Okay. She's on purple fire and talking in multiple voices. Should we be worried?"

    Twilight jerked, and broke free of the restraints. She wrapped her hoof around the manipulator arm that took her blood sample and pulled it, tearing it from the base with superhuman, (superpony?) strength and tossing the humongous piece of machinery aside like it was just a loose tiny gizmo. Seeing this brightly-colored, big-eyed pony lift up an expensive and heavy piece of technology without any effort, everyone in the room reasonably concluded the answer to the operator's question was-

    "Yes."

    Rainbow Dash sat on the Autobot-sized work table, looking up at the computer monitoring Dreadwing's slow decline into complete death. Optimus and Bulkhead had helped Dreadwing up and brought him to the nearest Autobot infirmary, where a middle-sized, red and white, polite, chipper Autobot by the name of -get this- First Aid set him up and diagnosed him. Dreadwing was bolted to the table by metal plates, his limbs were still sparking, and his face looked like it was wearing a stupid, gaping expression because his limp jaw was hanging loose.

    "He's lucky. He's still alive...for a few megacycles, anyway." First Aid had said. "Make due with what you have."

    Climbing their way up, Applejack and Rarity got onto the table with Rainbow Dash. Seeing the way Rainbow Dash's eyes were nearly taped onto the monitor, Rarity and Applejack gave worrying glances.

    "Ah'm sorry, Rainbow Dash." Applejack brought her hat over her chest. "We all did our best, but sometimes our best just isn't...enough."

    Rainbow Dash continued watching the spikes in the display of the monitor, acting like she didn't hear them, or that they didn't even exist. Applejack and Rarity decided to leave her alone to mourn.

    "Hey." First Aid greeted, walking back into the room. "Question for you, Rainbow Dash."

    Like her friends before him, Rainbow Dash ignored him, focused on the monitor.

    "What was your relationship with Dreadwing?"

    First Aid thought she was going to continue ignoring him, so he turned to leave the room.

    "He was my wingpony." Rainbow answered at last.

    "Ah. So, your..." First Aid took a stab in the dark to guess what 'wingpony' translated to Cybertronian terms. He was fairly good on the mark, too. "Flight partner, then?"

    "Yeah..."

    Rainbow Dash was startled when she felt a cold presence around her back, but relaxed when she saw it was just First Aid's metal hand on her back, fingers wrapped around her shoulders to comfort her.

    "I am so sorry for your loss."

    Rainbow Dash would've dismissed him. She wanted to swat his hand off and tell him he had no idea what kind of loss she was going through right now, seeing Dreadwing, a proud warrior, slowly die on a medical table. She couldn't bring herself to, as First Aid sounded so...sincere.

    "You know what it's like to lose a partner?" Dash questioned him.

    "No." First Aid took his hand off her back, and headed towards the door, presumably to attend to other patients. He stopped at the door and rested his hand on the frame.

    "But I do know all life is precious."

    He left, finally leaving Rainbow Dash alone. Rainbow Dash sniffled, not because she was alone, but because she was alone with a chassis that was soon due to be a corpse. Cybertronian funeral rites would dictate Dreadwing's body would be either launched into the nearest sun, or melted down into scrap metal to make new protoforms. It was beautiful, in a way. Several Pony and human cultures had beliefs that the passing of old life lead into the creation of new life, but Cybertronains malleable metal frames could be melted down and used to carry out that belief.

    Rainbow Dash sighed, and looked to a second medical table, stationed opposite the one she was using as a perch. She noticed a large purple device with yellow paint on the end, just before it turned into a claw.

    "Huh." Her attention finally turned away from the monitor, Dash wondered what the device was. She shouted. "Hey, First Aid? Could you come back here?...Uh, please?"

    "Please wait a moment! I am in the middle of a delicate operation!" First Aid yelled back. Rainbow Dash heard a surge of coursing electricity, followed by what was probably a pained shout, but she wasn't sure. "Uh...guess now I'm not! Just hold in there, solider; the random shocks should stop in a while."

    First Aid came back into the room with her, leaving his other patient to recover. "What's wrong, Rainbow Dash? Monitor show something unusual on the monitor?"

    "No, no." Rainbow Dash shook her head. "I was just wondering what that thing there on the table was." She pointed the claw device.

    "Oh. That." First Aid realized, and Rainbow Dash could hear a definitive drop of politeness in his tone, disappointed Rainbow Dash would notice that device of all the things on either table. "We call it the Spark Harvester. Came from The Institute."

    "Spark Harvester?"

    "Yeah. It..." First Aid paused, not comfortable with telling Rainbow Dash about what the device did, given her current emotional state and her partner's current physical state. "It harvests the Spark. We tend to use it only in the worst cases, as a humane to euthanize patients unable to be saved."

    Rainbow Dash frowned. That had to be one of the worst things she ever heard...yanking a Cybertronian's Spark out – ripping their soul – as way to humanely put them out of their misery.

    First Aid nervously tapped his index fingers together. "Would you...would you like me to use it on Dreadwing?"

    "No."

    First Aid exclaimed in relief, pretending to wipe sweat off his brow. "Whew! That was close. I thought you were gonna say yes, which would be bad, 'cause I wasn't gonna do it anyway."

    "Yeah..." Dash muttered, looking down and seemingly not caring about what First Aid had to say. She jumped down and flew onto the floor, looking up at Dreadwing. For some reason, even though she said she didn't want First Aid to use it, she kept looking at the Spark Harvester.

    "Hey...does it just extract the Sparks, or does it extinguish it?"

    "It just extracts them." First Aid answered. "Extinguishing is usually done by external means like crushing between a vise...wait, why?"

    "Just wondering..." Dash lied through her teeth, an idea forming in her mind. "Could you use it to move the Spark to somewhere else?"

    "I...don't see why not." First Aid answered.

    "I'm...gonna go for a walk." Dash said, trotting towards the door and walking past First Aid's leg.

    "Good idea." First Aid made a thumbs-up. "Go do that. Get some fresh air before you get any crazy ideas."

    Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. Twilight, Rarity, and Pinkie all sometimes had crazy ideas, but Rainbow Dash only ever had 'awesome' ideas. Sometimes she would go down as far as displaying that she only had 'cool' ideas, but never so low as 'crazy'.

    Stepping outside the sliding doors of the infirmary, Rainbow Dash stopped and took in a deep breath, appreciating the fresh, clean, crisp air after being stuck inside the stale, stuffy infirmary for so long. She stepped in place a bit, stretching her wings and legs before she began her actual walk. She flew up straight into the air and crash-landed her way down to the nearest lower level of tiered Cybertronian city.

    From up above on the nursery, the place below didn't look so bad, but actually on it, Rainbow Dash found it was lit rather dimly, looking almost like it was night. She felt rather liked the suspended bridge – a different one from earlier. Cybertron had a lot of suspended bridges. After all, its original inhabitants could turn into cars at the drop of a hat! But it seemed rather like going under it would be like going into a sewer entrance.

    Not one to let an unsettling atmosphere scare her away from the promise of an adventure, Rainbow Dash reared up and charged at the bridge.

    Rainbow Dash was expecting it to actually be a sewer. To have a bunch of unpleasant smells and rivers full of run-off from factories coursing through, stinking it up, but she found on such thing. It was more like an underground highway, with street lamps lighting up the way.

    She walked through the street, feeling actually rather bored by it. What she wouldn't give for something exciting to happen, for something to pop out of the ground and scare her, give her a fight, and have her trounce it...

    Something to keep her mind off Dreadwing...

    "Ow! What the-!?" Rainbow Dash bumped into something heavy, solid, and metal. Looking at it, she found it was a leg like a Cybertronian. At least at first glance. Taking a closer look, Rainbow Dash could tell it wasn't Cybertronian. She knew Cybertronians came in all shapes and sizes, but there was something off about this one. For one thing, it had a beautiful, almost haunting sheen to its golden color.

    Looking up, Rainbow Dash saw the head and torso of the strange robot thrown back against the wall. It's head was simple in design, having no features beyond its smooth roundness and a zigzagging maw for a mouth. There was a hole in its chest like someone had just stabbed it. Rainbow Dash worried she may have just come across the corpse of a murder case, when she heard a noise.

    "Hey! What's the big idea-!?"

    Rainbow Dash saw the shadow of...some Cybertronian running off into the distance, a humongous sword hanging off his unknown shoulders. He looked extremely sharp and angular.

    Rainbow Dash decided she didn't want to go after him. She was afraid that the assailant may decide to have her join this strange golden robot. At least, that's what she told herself, but in truth, seeing Dreadwing nearly bite it had robbed her of her aggressive, fighting spirit.

    Rainbow Dash looked around again and saw two huge swords lying, just out of the gold robot's grasp, with Energon and a weird light green substance that must have been the gold robot's fuel bled out onto the concrete. Seeing all this, Rainbow Dash figured there must have been a fight -not necessarily a murder- and relaxed a little bit.

    She climbed up the golden robot's leg, then noticed something shimmering on its chest. She flew up to take a closer look and saw it was some sort of screen flashing information, green text on a black background.

    "Legislator..." Rainbow Dash read out loud. "Extremely powerful, excellent fighter... non-Cybertronian, but has trans-formative abilities...can be deactivated and used for spare parts as you like."

    Rainbow Dash was surprised by the next bit of text that flashed. The text turned red.

    "Defective unit...best left for scrap, as per instructions of...Drift?" Rainbow Dash read aloud. Dash didn't know any Drift, Autobot or pony, but if he was willing to leave his name on something he killed, there must have been some murky water she didn't know of that made it 'okay'.

    Rainbow Dash considered all the possibilities for this thing. Despite how little she knew, despite the moral implications, she kept coming to the same conclusion.

    Using the Spark Harvester.

    Rainbow Dash exercised an unusual for her amount of caution, to make sure no one saw her bringing a Legislator into the building. It was definitely challenging, as the Legislator was not only huge, would clonk loudly when moved, but Rainbow Dash loved a good challenge.

    After getting some tow cables that put out enough work to overcome her lack of sufficeent strength, some dragging and too close for comfort encounters that nearly resulted in her being found out, Rainbow Dash finally managed to bring the Legislator into Dreadwing's assigned room.

    Rainbow Dash, pulling the inactive Legislator by the arm in her mouth, dragged up it to the medical table and propped it up against it. Once the Legislator was rest, she took a moment to breath. She beat her hoof against her chest. Rainbow Dash closed her eyes to think about her plan, then opened them to observe the Legislator. To observe what would be...

    Rainbow Dash rubbed the Legislator's shoulder.

    Dreadwing's new body.

    "Rainbow Dash, what is that, and what are you doing with it?"

    Rainbow's eyes widened. Oh scrap! She turned to see Rarity standing in the door. Rainbow flew up, trying to use her wings to hide the Legislator from view. "What's what, Rarity?"

    "That...thing." Rarity moved her head to see what parts Rainbow Dash was blocking, but Rainbow Dash kept moving.

    "Slag it, Rainbow Dash! Let me see its face!" Rarity, infuriated, activated her magic and threw it Rainbow Dash aside, putting Rainbow Dash on her head and allowing Rarity to see the Legislator's face in full view. "I repeat..." Rarity drawled. "What is that?"

    "It's...It's something called a Legislator." Rainbow Dash answered. Rainbow Dash pointed to the Spark Harvester. "See that tool on the table? It's called a Spark Harvester. I thought- I figured that I could use the Harvester to put Dreadwing's Spark inside the Legislator and-and keep him alive."

    Rarity's jaw dropped. "Rainbow Dash! That is – is wrong on so very many levels!" Rarity turned around to leave. "Using a device to remove a somepony's Spark...unacceptable! I don't care what your excuse is, Optimus would never allow such a-"

    "Can you honestly tell me you don't know what it's like to know you might be able to save a partner and not even try it?" Rainbow Dash shrieked.

    Rarity froze like someone in the hallway had just thrown a sword into her chest. Rarity then looked over her shoulder at Rainbow Dash, giving her an extremely disapproving glare.

    "I know more about what's it like to nearly save a partner than you will ever know." Rarity gritted her teeth and hissed in a way Rainbow Dash didn't think was possible for ponies to do.

    Rarity stood there in the hallway for a little while, leaving Rainbow Dash to wonder what Rarity was talking about.

    "That...hey, are you talking about that time Bulkhead got injured our first time on Earth and you went back in time heal him?"

    "Yes..." Rarity rasped, too quietly for Rainbow Dash to hear. "Injured."

    Rainbow Dash scuffed her hoof. "So, uh. What- what do you-"

    Rarity turned around. "I will help you."

    Rainbow Dash blanched. "What?"

    "I will help you transfer Dreadwing's Spark into that...thing." Rarity explained, trotting back into the room. "Just tell me what you need me to do."

    "Oh, uh, okay." Rainbow Dash completely lost her train of thought, really not expecting Rarity to say something like that. Rarity walked to the base of the medical table the Extractor was. Rainbow Dash pointed to Dreadwing's chest, where his Spark lay. "Push his chest until you find the button that opens it, and work on pulling his Spark while I try to open the Legalator."

    "Legislator." Rarity corrected.

    Rainbow Dash pulled up her hind legs and bucked the Legislator square in the chest. Rarity was about to scold her for treating Dreadwing's new host body so abusively, except the Legislator's body seemed to sense Rainbow Dash's intent, its chest letting off steam and hissing before opening like the same way a Cybertronian's would.

    Rarity grabbed the Extractor in her magic, and tapped the butt of it to Dreadwing's chest. Dreadwing's chest-cockpit pulled back like a windshield, and his own engines pulled away, revealing a bright, blue glowing orb levitating inside Dreadwing's internal systems. Rarity sang about her feelings.

    Because that's what they do in the show.

    Rainbow, Darling,

    I know what it's like to see a partner harmed

    With my help, we'll keep your wingpony from buying the farm

    I still remember that cold night,

    With that dark crystal's cursed light...

    Way up high on the clifftop,

    A little boy tried to stop me,

    And then...then I couldn't make the blood stop.

    It all fell apart.

    A titan appeared before me and exiled me to a rock where the grpyhons roam,

    An isolated land filled with sea and sea foam.

    I thought I was alone, but then I found my friend.

    And with her help, I made my nightmare end.

    That's what happened back then.

    That's why I'm helping you now.

    I will help you up on your hooves,

    I will show you how.

    How to keep your wingpony with you,

    Without that friend's help, I don't know what would have become of me.

    That's what happened then.

    That's why I'm helping you now.

    I will help him on his feet.

    I will make him shout out loud!

    No pony knows what I did to make things right,

    No, no one understands what I did that night.

    It was a painful lesson to learn.

    Everypony is bliiind to

    The turmoils

    In a so called 'Wrecker Pony's' mind...

    It took awhile to for me to understand...

    We shouldn't revive our friends, just because we can.

    Just because we can revive them,

    Doesn't mean we should.

    (But Rarity!

    If we don't try,

    How will we know whether it's bad or good?)

    (I know, if we pop his hood,

    We'll see his Spark is still pumping.

    We'll see his Spark is still aliiiive!

    Annnndd...that's all we need...

    To make sure he survives.)

    ...

    Just a little working together,

    (Working together!)

    We'll make everything better, yes,

    Yes, we shall scrub off all that rust,

    (All that rust!)

    We'll keep him from biting the dust!

    I see his optics...so lifeless and dark...

    (We see his optics!)

    But we will bring power (Power!) back to this departing Spark!

    Levitating the Extractor to it, the machine knew what it had to do, and instantly extended its claw out to grab the Spark and take it from Dreadwing's chest without Rarity telling it to. It was somewhat unnerving.

    Nervously, and increasingly losing her confidence that this was the right thing for her to do, Rarity levitated the Extractor to the Legislator, where once again, the Extractor knew its goal and extended, inserting the Spark into the Legislator's chest. The Spark fidgeted and shook almost in protest, before the Legislator's panel closed.

    The Legislator picked up where Dreadwing's Spark left off, fidgeting and twitching and jerking. Electricity began jumping from its shoulder to its arms to its knees.

    As the sparks' burning got brighter, Rainbow Dash and Rarity turned to each other.

    "Perhaps this wasn't the best idea, darling."

    "What are you talking about? It totally is!"

    "Rainbow Dash, do you realize what I mean?"

    "Oh. Oh, no, I thought you meant "Best Worst Idea Ever", like, as in, the best of your worst ideas."

    "Oh, well in that case, yes."

    "Is this getting confusing?"

    "A little."

    Before their confusing conversation could get more so, the Legislator reacted to the infusion om Decepticon life-force, blasting them both away with a huge blast of unstable electricity, sending them flying onto their sides against the second medical table.

    After a moment, the white flash cleared from their eyes, and they could the results of their handiwork. The Legislator was standing, and its optics were glowing a deep shade of carmine. Dreadwing's eye color.

    "Rainbow Dash? Rarity?" The Legislator droned at them, speaking in a robotic, emotionless tone that had Dreadwing's voice running through as some sort of undercurrent. Dreadwing raised his new arm, observing his new hand, twisting it at the wrist.

    Rainbow Dash beamed and rushed up to hug her creation's leg. "Dreadwing! You're alive!"

    Dreadwing did not share her enthusiasm. "Rainbow Dash...are you sure of that? Are you certain that I am...alive?"

    "You're talking, aren't you!?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, a tear in her eye. She moved herself from him a little, and rubbed her hoof along his ankle. "You're alive...you're alive, I'm so happy..." She hugged him extra tight. "We're gonna have so much fun together...I'm gonna show you all the things we never did...teach you to play horseshoes..."

    There was a clonk, startling Rainbow Dash. She pulled away to look at him, and his optics turned from carmine to cyan.

    "Pony detected." A computerized, soulless voice bleeped at her in a tone without fear or empathy. "Prepare to be...Legislated."

    "Who in the Pit are you, and what did you do with Dreadwing!?" Rainbow Dash demanded, bucking the Legislator by in its boot. The Legislator, in response, punted her across the room.

    "I am a Legislator."

    "Oooh...kaaay." Dash drawled. "You know what? For simplicity's sake, I'm gonna call you 'Larry.'"

    "Legislator units do not respond to individual names-!"

    Rainbow Dash flew up and bucked the Legislator hard across the cheek, making its head do a 360 degree spin.

    The Legislator became much more cooperative. It raised its hand like it was preparing for a handshake. "Hi! My name is Larry!"

    Rainbow Dash smiled. "That's better."

    "It still doesn't solve the real problem, here." Rarity reminded her. "I believe the problem lies within this Legislator's … own Spark. " Rarity raised an eyebrow. "Is the root of the problem. We should try to figure out a way to disable it."

    "How are we gonna do that?" Rainbow Dash questioned, holding Larry by the neck as causally as Fluttershy holding one of her choir birds on her leg. "I didn't see a Spark in there!"

    "I was speaking figuratively, darling. I believe Shockwave should hold the answer." Rarity suggested. "He is a Decepticon most in tune with his 'logical side', as it were."

    Rainbow Dash shuddered. "That computer on legs? I know he's complying with Celestia, but he still gives me the creeps."

    "I know, darling, but he's our best bet right now."

    The Legislator's head jerked, electricity sparking from its neck as the two different AI's within competed for dominance.

    "Rainbow...Daaash." Dreadwing's voice came out of the Legislator, and he sounded quite pained. "What's happen...niiiing?"

    "Don't worry, D.W!" Rainbow Dash insisted, flailing her front legs around, calling Dreadwing by his nickname. "We're gonna make you better, okay? It'll be all right, you'll see!"

    "Hmm...we'll need someway to get him out of here with anypony noticing." Rarity realized.

    Rarity gazed upwards at the Legislator's massive, towering frame.

    "That could prove difficult."

    Rarity's ears flattened against her head when she heard footsteps come from the door.

    "Hey, Rainbow Dash!" First Aid shout cheerfully. "I was hoping to get your mind off things, so I went out and-" First Aid saw the Legislator, which looked at him balefully, as though it had no thoughts of its own. "Okaay!" First Aid threw his hands in the air and slowly backpedaled out of the room. "I can see you lovely ladies have everything under...control...here..."

    First Aid took off running down the hallway, his arms flailing behind him.

    Rainbow Dash looked at the Legislator's face, and grimaced. "I'm sorry, Dreadwing...I didn't think it would turn out this way."

    Dreadwing said nothing, but that could have been because he was preoccupied fighting with the Legislator for control of its body.

    Rarity put her hoof to her ear, pressing and activating her Commtab earpiece to the nearest 'public access' frequency. "Hello? Decepticon HQ? Come in, Decepticon HQ. This is Rarity Belle of Equestria. We have something of a situation. What kind? Well, uh...we have a very strong, very proud Decepticon' Spark stuck inside a new body, and it's...it's not working as well as we hoped."

    Rarity proceeded to provide a more detailed explanation of what was going on.

    "You'll send somepony right away? Really!? Thank you so much, darling! … No. No, sir, I am not flirting with you. It's just a little speech quirk of mine."

    Rarity took her hoof away from her ear and exhaled. "Guess what? They don't really have anything bothering with them, so somepony should arrive right away!" Rarity smirked to herself. Just as she predicted, using the words 'strong' and 'proud' to describe him made the Decepticons, otherwise chafing under Shockwave's truce agreement, much more willing to help,

    They heard a GroundBridge's telltale whir hum open and then close outside.

    "Come on, come on..." Rarity motioned for Rainbow Dash to hurry, and both ponies ran up to the Legislator's legs to stabilize Dreadwing as he staggered his way out the door. They didn't really support him, due to their weight difference. But the feeling of warm hooves on his otherwise cold boots gave the dazed and disillusioned Dreadwing a sense of direction for where he needed to amble about.

    They managed to get out through the medical facility. Sometimes passing doctors or exiting patients would stop and stare at the Legislator, but they would think better when they caught Rarity giving them an evil eye like a woman scorned.

    "Well, doctor?"

    "What are you looking at, huh?"

    "Nothing to see here! Move along!"

    Once they got outside, Rarity was elated to see Shockwave had been kind enough to send Blackout, a large, hefty olive green Decepticon that could throw down with the best of them. Blackout tried to make a human gesture with his round claws, but he didn't do it the right way and just made himself look silly. Rainbow Dash didn't understand why Rarity was so happy, forcing her to explain that with strength like Blackout's to help, they could get to Shockwave's laboratory in no time.

    Blackout converted to his six-bladed helicopter mode and lowered a winch for them to use. Rainbow Dash took the tensile cable into her mouth and flew it around her Legislator buddy's arms and legs, tying them together, before placing the hook of the winch into the Legislator's back. Rainbow Dash signaled to Blackout for lift-out, and Blackout shook like he was nodding his head before lifting the Legislator up and flying in the direction of Kaon. Rainbow Dash helped Rarity up and hitched a ride onto the Legislator's boots. Normally, she would've just flown by herself alongside Blackout, but Rainbow Dash didn't want to be any closer to those rotors than she had to. They were kinda loud, and she didn't want to hurt her ears.

    "Rainbow Dash..." Dreadwing's distorted voice droned from under the rotor's incessant whirring. "Why would you do this to me?"

    "What?" Rainbow Dash's mouth hung limply, confused. "I-I was trying to heal you! To patch you up!" Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and sniffed, holding back a tear. She wanted to say "Don't worry, D.W! Everything will be all right!" but honestly, she didn't know anymore how all right everything was going to be.

    "We're here!" Blackout's low voice shouted at them as the looming grey tower of Kaon's chieftain became visible in the distance. Even though Cybertron was alive and well, producing Energon and everything, much of Kaon, including the so-called throne room, still looked barren and undecorated. Deteriorated from misuse. The Decepticons liked it that way.

    At the bottom of the tower, Shockwave himself was waiting outside the doors, ready to tackle whatever problem that had occurred.

    Blackout lowered himself down to the tower's property and retracted his winch suddenly, causing Dreadwing, Rainbow, and Rarity to drop the ground clumsily.

    "You could have given us a warning, darling!" Rarity protested, rubbing her sore...Cutie Mark. "Oooh..."

    "Well?" Shockwave demanded, ignoring the oh-so-pressing needs of Rarity's ever so delicate bottom, darling, and getting straight to business. "Who and what is the patient?" Shockwave pointed at the Legislator. "Is this it?"

    "Yeah." Rainbow confirmed. "It's Dreadwing. Some really uncool Decepticons tried to send him to the scrapheap, and I tried to fix him by transplanting his Spark into another body..."

    Shockwave glared disapprovingly. "Illogical. How much do you understand of Cybertronian biology? You should not have attempted such a complex operation without the proper training."

    Shockwave moved towards the Legislator and silently regarded it for a second. He walked around and slammed the barrel end of his arm cannon and started pushing the Legislator into the tower.

    "I have set up an emergency lab on the ground floor of the tower." Shockwave explained. "There, we can examine this creature and prevent it from going amok the populace."

    It took Rarity a moment to catch the way Shockwave was speaking. It was almost...urgent. "Lord Shockwave, darling, what's the rush? You seem eager to strap Dreadwing to an operating table."

    Shockwave stopped. "I am concerned of a greater threat here than an mere surgery gone wrong. You explained to my secretary on the commlink that we do not know the origins of this golden robot. It is a logical cause for alarm."

    Shockwave resumed shoving and pushing the Legislator through the doors of the tower, into the lobby where some medical tools, monitoring equipment, and an operating slab had set up. Shockwave pushed Dreadwing into the slab and activated it.

    Beams of light-blue energy appeared, wrapping around the Legislator's wrists and feet, binding to the to the table.

    Rarity worriedly put a hoof to her chin, while Rainbow Dash kept gazing at the Legislator's face, wondering if her wingpony was going to make it.

    Shockwave wasted no time. He quickly set to work, hooking up a helmet with blinking lights typical of mad science experiment subjects to the Legislator's heads. The lights blinked out in a sequence, and data began streaming onto a computer monitor.

    Shockwave examined the computer's received transmissions, and appeared to not really understand what it was saying. "Illogical."

    "What? What is it?"

    "This creature has no Spark." Shockwave answered, raising his cannon-arm for a gesture. "Only an an advanced artificial intelligence. Logically speaking, that should mean Dreadwing's Spark should not have any difficulty in assuming control of the body."

    "But..." Rarity supplied for Shockwave to continue.

    "The artificial intelligence continues to reject the new matrix introduced by the Spark. Which … is not...possible." Shockwave blinked, his large, red optic gazing at the computer screen. An illogical conundrum the likes of this one had never grazed Shockwave's being before, and it infuriated him he could not deduce what the root source of the problem was.

    "I will need to conduct further research." Shockwave said, dashing towards the table and sifting through the medical tools. Shockwave picked up a short black tool that ended in an open hole and tilted in his claw.

    "Rainbow Dash..." Dreadwing groaned.

    "I'm here, Dreadwing." Rainbow Dash leaped onto the bottom of the slab.

    "I was going to redeem myself..." Dreadwing said weakly. "Through my death, I was to become a Seeker again, renouncing the Wonderbolts...and instead of dying like a warrior, you've condemned me to this miserable half-life."

    Rainbow Dash opened her mouth to say something, slamming her hooves on the slab, but nothing came out. Dreadwing turned his head away and rested his optics.

    There was a furious, pounding knock on the door to the tower. Whoever was on the other side wanted in, and they were mad.

    "Who could that be?" Rarity used her magic to push the deployment button, allowing the doors to unfold to reveal their mystery uninvited guest.

    He was an Autobot. Average sized, turned into some kind of sports car. His shoulders were ridiculous long in the back, and his entire frame was angled and pointy, making Rainbow Dash think of a samurai. His head had a crest with a yellow paint app, his helm was white, and his face was silver. His paint was white, excepting for the silver on his joints, and covered in red splotches meant to resemble various Japanese characters, including katakana and kanji. Why an Autobot would choose to dress himself up in human characters he probably couldn't understand...Rarity had no idea.

    "Where is it?" He demanded. "Where's the Legislator?"

    Shockwave quit fiddling with his tools and turned to glare in the Autobot's direction. "Why do you want to know? What is your name?"

    "Drift." The Autobot said rudely. "I'm sort of...in charge of this Legislation unit, and I heard about it being carried off."

    "Yeah." Rainbow Dash stepped forward, irritated that Drift was trying to get in the way of Dreadwing's recovery. "I'm using it to fix up my buddy! You got a problem with that?"

    "Yes, actually!" Drift shouted. "There's a reason I diced that unit up and left it for scrap! It's defective!"

    "Wait..." Shockwave held his hand out. "So you know where this Legislator creature came from?"

    Drift scowled. It was obvious to Rarity that question led into territory Drift wasn't willing to explore. "Yes...yes, It just so happens that I do."

    "What threat does it pose to Cybertron and my Decepticons?"

    "Absolutely none...unless it goes haywire." Drift glared at Rainbow Dash. "Which it did. Now, if you would kindly surrender that unit back to me, I would be more than happy to take off your hands and dispose of it properly."

    "Legislate..." The Legislator growled, shaking under its restraints and attempt to wriggle free.

    "Ah, shut up!" Dash barked at it. She turned back to Drift. "And you! You... I'm trying to fix my wingpony using your – thing!"

    "My 'thing' is dangerous and unhinged!" Drift pointed a finger for emphasis. "It doesn't respond to orders! If it got loose, the results could be disastrous!"

    "Legislate..." The Legislator growled, a little louder this time.

    "Um...everypony?" Rarity said quietly, hoping to draw attention to the Legislator before something bad happened. "I really think we should-" Rainbow Dash and Drift's argument continued to escalate. "No, no, darlings, I really think we should-"

    "LEGISLATE!"

    The Legislator broke free of the energy shackles binding to the slab, raising its fists into the air in triumph of its escape.

    Shockwave raised his cannon and fired, but even though his Hyperflux Cannon was incredibly powerful, and the shot landed a direct hit into the Legislator's waist area, it didn't do a thing to the haunting gold armor, except for a few clouds of smoke.

    "Hold that thing!" Drift ordered, overestimating his authority.

    "No!" Dash protested. "That-...my wingpony is inside that 'thing'!"

    The Legislator had other ideas, uncaring for the fact it carried Dreadwing's Spark within itself. "LEGISLATE!"

    Drift drew two short swords and charged at his malfunctioning servant, leaping into the air with impressive hang time, but the Legislator caught him by the leg and hurled it him against the wall.

    The Legislator stomped towards the door, knocking Shockave to the ground along the way, and stopped just short of Rarity and Rainbow Dash. Rarity froze from fear, while Rainbow Dash didn't want to hurt her wingpony. It looked at them, then appeared to decide the two cowering mares weren't worth its time. It resumed its march and punched its massive fist through the door, making the entire wall around crumble down into dust. It marched outside, regarded its surroundings, and then jumped off and transformed into a simple 'spaceship' looking jet with four engines that somewhat resembled the oringial Ark in appearance.

    Drift, recovered, ran outside with Rainbow Dash and Rarity following, just in time to see the Legislator's jet flames billow out behind it in the wind as it flew out of their reach.

    "Slag!" Drift swore. He looked at Rainbow Dash accusingly.

    "What?"

    "This is all your fault."

    "Well...yeah, but..."

    "We need to find that thing before it hurts someone!" Drift transformed into a white car with a short roof and very long hood and front, with a spoiler on the rear and his Japanese paint details in full view. He popped his doors open for the ponies to climb inside. Once Rarity was in the driver's seat, Rainbow in the passenger's and they were all buckled up, Drift put his pedal to metal and burned rubber as he drove in the direction they had saw the Legislator fly to.

    "Why'd you do it, Dash?" Drift questioned from his dashboard display.

    "I...what!? What do you mean!?" Dash punched said dashboard.

    "How do you know our names?" Rarity asked. "We didn't introduce ourselves to you..."

    "Please." Drift dismissed the forming implication he might have some bad company supplying his information. "Elements of Harmony. You're famous! Anyways, Why did you try to bring your wingpony back to life like that?"

    "Well, I...I thought I could resurrect him..." Dash admitted.

    "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

    Dash turned her head away, looking out the window at the fading blurs of Cybertronian buildings as Drift passed them by, trying to think of anything else but what she had done. She sighed. It was hard for Rainbow Dash to confront the reality of what was happening.

    Death, while not unheard of, was nowhere near as common on Equestria as it was on Earth and especially as it was on Cybertron.

    "Got him!" Drift exclaimed as the golden spacecraft the Legislator's turned into appeared in the reflection of his windshield. Drift opened his car doors and ejected both pony passengers before transforming and drawing his swords.

    The Legislator rocked back and forth, unsure where it was supposed to go. The ship ultimately decided to go downwards and swerved down to a lower level, where innocent human and pony tourists were attempting to enjoy Cybertron's natural landscape. The Legislator transformed and landed forcefully on the ground, causing a tremor that knocked all the puny organics off their feet.

    "Scrap." Drift swore under his breath. Not waiting up for Rarity or Rainbow Dash, Drift jumped down to confront the Legislator.

    "Don't hurt him!" Rainbow Dash shrieked. "Dreadwing's still in there!"

    "He shouldn't be." Drift growled, charging at the Legislator with his swords raised. While appearing well cared for and sharp to the common pony's eye, the blades did little besides produce golden Sparks from the Legislator's frame.

    Rainbow Dash picked Rarity up and flew downwards to the scene of the battle. Rarity prepared a spell in her horn and started blasting away at the Legislator, trying to subdue it without harming it too badly, as per Rainbow's request.

    "Rrraah!" The Legislator screamed in rage, having enough of these petty organics fruitlessly efforts to harm itself. The Legislator grabbed Drift by the head and tossed the Autobot into a nearby wall, causing the wall to crumble away and collapse on top of Drift. Amazingly, Drift never let go of his swords even as he was thrown against a building and buried under rubble.

    "Dreadwing!" Rainbow Dash called out. "Dreadwing, I know you're in there! Fight it! Fight if off and take control!"

    "Eeerrr..." The Legislator turned its empty blue gaze on Rainbow Dash, and Rarity got the feeling Rainbow's attempts to appeal to Dreadwing's Spark wouldn't work.

    The Legislator began to march towards them. Rarity gritted her teeth. Her spells didn't work, and her hooves weren't strong enough to give a good enough buck, and Rainbow Dash was without her rifle. Looking at Rainbow Dash, though, Rarity couldn't help but feel that even if Rainbow Dash did have her rifle, it wouldn't do much good, as she too much in denial to move.

    Before the Legislator could raise its fists and pound them both into paste, they were rescued by a most peculiar savior; a piece of music being played from somewhere above in the several towers overlooking the streets.

    The Legislator suddenly stopped in its tracks, frozen by the music and its eerie beauty.

    In Rarity's opinion, it was a pretty piece. To Rainbow Dash, it wasn't much to throw a fuss over, as she was more into rock tracks and guitar solos than classical pieces and long-winded crescendos.

    The more it played, though, the more they felt like listening to it. It really was a beautiful piece.

    Drift's optics widened in horror, as he recognized the piece that was playing. He looked upwards and saw the vague silhouette of a Decepticon-built robot playing a violin in the suspended bridges of the district.

    "The Empyrean Suite...Rarity! Rainbow Dash! Cover your ears!" Drift struggled, trying to tear free from the rubble. The rocks began to shift, and scraps of plasters began to tumble downwards, giving Drift some hope of success.

    "Oh...my." Rarity muttered, eyes turning dull and started to wobble in place. She fell against Rainbow and wrapped a hoof around Rainbow's neck. "Rainbow Dash, I'm sorry!"

    "I'm sorry, too!" Rainbow Dash screamed back, wrapping her hoof around Rarity.

    "What for?"

    "I don't know!"

    "Oh, I'm so sorry you don't know!"

    "I am too!"

    The two mares cuddled their heads together and began to cry, while the Legislator stood there. Made into motionless from the Empyrean Suite and its strange, ill-defined power.

    "Rrrah!" Drift shouted and was able to tear himself free of his plaster prison. He got to his feet and narrowed his optics at the spiky shadow on the bridges above.

    Calculating the exact trajectory of where he needed to be to do what he needed to do, Drift put one of his swords away and flipped the other over in his hands so he was gripping it by the blade like a throwing knife. Taking precise, deliberate aim at the shadow, Drift hurled his sword upwards with all the force he could muster. The blade missed its mark, and the shadow moved deftly to avoid being grazed by it, but Drift's goal had been achieved; it stopped playing the Suite, and, recognizing that its presence had been spotted and its musical talents was unappreciated, the mystery newcomer ran away to cover. Rarity and Rainbow Dash slowly began to crawl of their trance.

    "Uhh..." Rainbow and Rarity rubbed their heads, confused about why they couldn't remember the last few minutes, aside from some odd feelings of sorrow and remorse for things they were sure weren't their fault.

    Rainbow Dash immediately noticed that the Legislator's optics had changed from the Legislator's own aimless blue to Dreadwing's focused carmine red. Dreadwing's optics were glowing with a new found clarity.

    "Yes...I realize what I must do." Dreadwing said weirdly. He transformed and flew off.

    "Dreadwing!" Rainbow Dash cried with alarm. She galloped forward and flew up herself, her rainbow trail burning behind like angsty chocolate candies. "Wait! We can still talk things out, can't we!?"

    "Rainbow Dash!" Rarity exclaimed, worried what Rainbow Dash would do with herself or Drift to hold her back from doing anything stupid. Rarity looked to Drift as the Autobot walked into her peripheral vision. She looked up to him, pleading he might have something to help them out now.

    "It looks like Dreadwing is heading towards the medical facility." Drift observed. He put his hand to his head. "Drift to Commander. Requesting GroundBridge to nearby triage facility."

    A GroundBridge opened up near them, only something was off about it. It wasn't green with energy swirls of pink in it. Instead, it was dark red with darker reds that were nearly black on it.

    Rarity looked to Drift.

    "What?" Drift questioned. "It's, uh, powered by Red Energon."

    Rarity pursed her lips, almost certain Drift wasn't telling the whole story about his red Bridge, but she did not have the time or resources to grill him about it now.


    "Dreadwing!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, still following the golden spacecraft closely behind. "Dreadwing, pull over and land! We can talk about this...can't we?" Rainbow Dash's eyes got a little watery, but she did not cry. Rainbow Dash was a tough pony who did not cry, no matter how horrible of a condition her wingpony was put in, trapped inside a body not his own, sharing it with an of the most single-minded AI's Rainbow Dash would ever meet. Rainbow Dash was focused on following her wingpony, she didn't even register they heading back to First Aid's workplace.

    Dreadwing transformed and went charging inside. Rainbow Dash landed in front of the entrance and just stared at the door while Dreadwing went further inside.

    "This is all my fault..." Rainbow Dash admitted, having a moment of realization brought on from the sight of the medical facility where this misadventure and descent into madness started. "I couldn't just let him die like he wanted! I couldn't let him redeem himself, because I was...what? Too selfish to not like letting one of my most unexpected friends die? Oh!" Rainbow Dash groaned, while Drift's GroundBridge materialized next to her, Rarity and Drift stepping out of it. "Hey, guys..." Rainbow Dash weakly waved at them.

    "You can wallow in self-pity later!" Rarity snapped at her. "I don't know what Dreadwing intends to do inside there, but we can't let him any of the patients inside!"

    "Right..." Rainbow was motivated to take action, but only barely. Rarity ran forward and nudged her head against Rainbow's back, pushing her inside while Drift dashed ahead of them to deal with his wayward Legislator.

    In the hallway, First Aid was walking along, checking off his cyber-clipboard, not really in a hurry. All the patients currently in the building were either recovered or in a comatose state after a delicate surgical operation. He paused when he heard loud, clanking footsteps and looked up from his clipboard and saw the Legislator's highly motivated marching.

    "You're...back." First Aid noticed. He turned around and ran down the hallway, hoping to avoid unintentionally earning the Legislator's wrath.

    "Dreadwing grunted, irritated at this Autobot medic who wasn't really helping him with his plans. Groaning like an organic zombie with a thorn in its foot, Dreadwing slowed his march and limped down the hallway, the Legislator's zigzagging mouth opening vaguely, not truly with or without the intent to speak.

    "Dreadwing!"

    Dreadwing turned around at the sound of his name, but he only briefly glanced back at the pony who had been, for a brief period of time, his aerial captain.

    "Stop where you are, defective unit." Drift growled darkly, advancing with his swords raised. Rarity was starting to get the idea that Dreadwing or no, Drift intended to cut the Legislator up into little tiny pieces small enough to be melted in a human-scaled incinerator.

    Dreadwing backed away from Drift, then took off running down the hallway, swerving into a room.

    Rarity blinked as she realized the room he was heading in...was the room his old body was in.

    "Oh dear." Rarity murmured, starting to think of what Dreadwing intended to when he got there.

    The trio ran after him, and found him there, standing over his own body while absently grasping at the medical table.

    Rarity gasped, her fears confirmed. Rainbow Dash was probably going to break down when she realized it on her own.

    Dreadwing continued grasping, and he turned around when he figured that the reason the tool he was looking for wasn't there. "Where is it?"

    "This?"

    Drift, Rarity and Rainbow Dash turned around and watched as First Aid came into the room, carrying the Spark Extractor in his arms.

    "This..." First Aid reflected, looking down at the horrible machine. "This was given to us by The Insititute. Called a 'good will gift'. We put it to use to euthanize patients too damaged to be saved... you want it, don't you?" First Aid held the Extractor up for Dreadwing to see. Dreadwing's optics were glued to it, and he nodded. "Mh-hm. So you can use it on yourself?"

    "And end this torturous half-life, yes." Dreadwing answered.

    "Hmph." First Aid lowered the Extractor. "Well, I suppose I can understand that you're suffering...but I don't believe in mercy killing."

    Dreadwing's shoulders sagged. "I...see. I..." Dreadwing raised his hand. "I commend you for sticking to your world views."

    "Thank you."

    Everyone sat in silence, contemplating what this meant, and how Dreadwing wold learn to cope with his new body.

    Dreadwing took them all by surprise, lunging at First Aid and yanking the Extractor out of the medic's servos, shock factor keeping anypony from reacting and doing anything. Rainbow Dash was helpless to do anything but watch as Dreadwing took the Extractor and jammed into his chest, forcing the Legislator's panels to open and reveal his Spark, which the Extractor reached out for and grabbed without even needing to be told. The Extractor's claw began to pull the Spark out, but was jammed by the wires surrounding it. The claw continued, determined to fulfill its task, and continued pulling, slashing and cutting the wires. The Legislator's body fell down, the wires that were severed vital enough that the Legislator couldn't continue to support itself without them. The Extractor, falling out of the Legislator's hand, acted on its own and began to crush the suffering Spark by squeezing around it until it dissipated into the ether, to join the AllSpark with Dreadwing's departed twin, and all the departed Decepticon Sparks Dreadwing had fought with millions of years ago during the War for Cybertron.

    Rarity turned to Rainbow Dash. "Rainbow Dash?"

    Rainbow Dash turned away and walked outside of the room. "I...I need to think. I'm going to fly around." Rainbow Dash did exactly as she said and flew up, her rainbow trailing leaving behind a flash was still beautiful, but not nearly as sparkling as it usually was.

    *** *** ***

    At Outpost Omega One...


    Shining strolled into the room, whistling a tune.

    "You seem happy." Ratchet grumpily muttered.

    "Yup!" Shining proudly answered, flailing around and pushed himself up against the guide rails. "Got Professor Sumdac to take the Dark Energon out of Twiley, and I'll be next!"

    Shining's eyes widened when he heard glass shattering and hooves banging. An uneasy of air of accusations from the smoke of the Aubobots' combined exhaust and judgements from enraged mares began to form around the room in a fine, invisible misty veil.

    "W-what?" Shining asked. "Did I do something wrong?"

    "I still can't remove the Dark Energon from Twilight Sparkle, even WITH CYBERTRONIAN technology available to me!" Ratchet shrieked, crushing the tool he was holding in his hand as he spoke. "What makes you think a bunch of humans can do any better with their own!?"

    "I..." Shining stammered, not expecting such a violent response to what he thought was doing the right thing. "I didn't mean...I though Twiley..." Shining fell silent when he saw the angry glares Pinkie, Applejack and Fluttershy were giving him.

    "Of all the scrapbrained, smeg-headed, ponyfeathered and tarred ideas..." Ratchet muttered, giving Shining a dirty look. Optimus seemed strangely unconcerned.

    "Okay, okay..." Shining admitted. "I'll go round up a few Guard buddies...go to Sumdac Systems, stop the operation, apologize to Twiley..."

    "You'll need to do a lot more than apologize," Ratchet growled, "but I'll prepare a GroundBridge for you."

    *** *** ***

    At Sumdac Systems, the GroundBridge opened up and Shining came bounding out, a small group of troops behind him, apologies already pouring out from Shining's muzzle. "Twiley, I'm so sorry for trying to have Sumdac do that- I just thought maybe I could remove it from myself and-"

    "Uh, sir?" One Guard said, trying to interrupt Shining Armor.

    "I was so excited that I could be maybe be normal again that I forgot about your feelings and-"

    "SIR!"

    "What?" Shining snapped, but taking the time to chew out his subordinate made him realize what was wrong.

    Twilight Sparkle was standing in front of them, her Dark Energon in maximum effect, her usually hidden bony wings in full view, her back to them and her view on the Sumdac System's entrance.

    Or rather, where the Sumdac System entrance used to be.

    Where once stood proud steel building gleaming in the daylight as the future of science was propelled forward, instead there were burning piles of smoking ash as the rubble began to burn into ash. The rising pillars of metal were replaced, one by one with twisting towers of smoke. The soft, gentle crackle of the flames contradicted against the enormous burning inferno they were making. The once bright green grass was now a field of dried out, shriveled burnt husks of lawn. Shining couldn't see the passed out bodies of the humans reaching out to comfort their coworkers, lying on the grass without no movement whatsoever, but his imagination stepped in and provided them well enough.

    Shining Armor blinked, realizing all the potential casualties and in denial his little baby sister could cause so much destruction on such an intense scale.

    "Twiley?" Shining Armor spoke up quietly.

    Twilight turned her head slowly toward them, her Dark Energon eyes glowing dimly, but glowing none the same with the utmost disregard for any life that she dubbed beneath her, and at the moment, it seemed that Shining Armor was one lifeform who was indeed beneath her.

    "I want to thank you, Captain." Twilight said to her brother. She got up and began to trot towards him. He backed as she got closer. "For this reminder. Every time. Every...single...slagging...time I put my trust in a human, it backfires. I get betrayed, backstabbed, and just generally not treated very kindly."

    Shining didn't even try to defend himself. He simply nodded and let Twilight talk.

    Twilight raised her hoof, and a sickle of Dark Energon formed from it which she pointed quite emphatically at Shining Armor.

    "How an emotionally insensitive pony like you got to be Captain of the Guard is something I will never understand. Hmph." Twilight huffed and threw her nose in the air, galloping towards the still-open GroundBridge. "I...tried to keep anything fatal from occurring."

    Shining collapsed on his haunches, gazing into the endless flames.

    "Sir?" One of the Guard's questioned, concerned for Shining's emotions and sanity.

    Shining sighed and put a hoof on his head. "Just...just recover all the humans in there and make sure they're safe. Go...just go."

    Twilight stepped through the GroundBridge, and from the way her wing was bouncing, everypony could tell she was upset about something.

    "Twilight?" Applejack spoke softly. "What's wrong?...Aside from yer brother being an idjit, of course."

    Twilight kept walking, ignoring her friend and not in the mood to talk.

    Shining Armor trotted in from the Bridge, grimacing. "Twiley-"

    Shining Armor ducked suddenly as spikes of Dark Energon flew towards him with the intent to cut.

    "I don't want to hear a word from you." Twiley snarled.

    "But Twiley!"

    "What did I just say!?"

    Another Bridge whirled open in the middle of the base while Shining kept trying to voice his protest.

    "Hmm? Strange..." Ratchet looked at the base's internal monitors, and judging from the readings that it was an Autobot Bridge from Cybertron, Ratchet pulled up the lever for their own Bridge, closing it before they crossed streams and caused an accident.

    An Autobot walked out of the Bridge. He was somewhat similar to Smokescreen in build, but his colors were much less flashy. A simply black and white color scheme with a most peculiar badge on his chest; a white Aubobot symbol inside a police star. He only had three fingers plus thumb, and two rockets were mounted over his shoulders. His head a red crest, and his face an orange visor, but no plate.

    He looked down at Twilight. "Twilight Sparkle?"

    Twilight looked up at the sound of her name. "That's me. Who are you?"

    "Officer Prowl, member of the Autobot Secret Police." Prowl answered in a matter-of-fact tone that told Twilight he was not going to be easy to socialize with.

    Prowl raised a small, elongated pistol at her and pulled the trigger. Rather than a bullet or laser, a glob of orange goo shot out and smashed into Twilight's hooves, binding them together so she couldn't move. "Hey!" Twilight prepared a spell.

    "I wouldn't do that." Prowl warned her. "The Investigator Special is perfectly harmless by itself, but highly conductive. If you'd like to electrocute yourself, fine. But more importantly, you, Twilight Sparkle of Equestria, are under arrest for reckless endangerment, industrial sabotage, arson, for the destruction of Sumdac Systems. You are set for trial by Chief Justice Tyrest on Cybertron."

    Twilight could only blink and stare.

    Prowl raised his free hand, which converted into an odd device. Two black ridge-covered prongs forming the shape of hoof, ending in little silver balls. Opposing arcs of red and blue electricity traveled between the balls, and Twilight was lifted up from the ground onto them. She quickly realized the prongs were suitably altered to be magnetic to the gel Prowl had splashed her with.

    "Oh...well..." Shining muttered. "Maybe I did something wrong today..."

    "Maybe!?" Twilight growled.

    "But at least nothing I did was this bad!" Shining Armor boasted as Prowl turned to reenter his own GroundBridge.

    Prowl stopped suddenly and turned back around. "About that..." Prowl fired his gel gun at Shining Armor, slathering him in the same gel. Prowl aimed the prong device and magnetically brought Shining up to it as well, where the Captain and Twilight had to very uncomfortably sharing their hanging space. "You, Captain Shining Armor, are under arrest for unauthorized experimentation and failure to represent rights. Your own sister. How could you." Prowl spoke like he was trying to be scolding, but his tone was so bland and flat it was hard to realize that was what he was doing.

    Shining Armor sighed. He supposed he deserved this.

    "Optimus!" Twilight protested, flailing and struggling on the Prowl's prongs for Optimus' attention. "Optimus, do something!"

    Twilight watched as Optimus' crimson silhoute got smaller and smaller as Prowl walked further and further into the Bridge.

    "Optimus!"



    "OPTIMUS!"

    Twilight sniffed. Optimus wasn't going to help her this time. It was on her own that she destroyed the facility. It was by her own initiative that Sumdac Systems was no more.

    The GroundBridge swirled shut, whirring as it did.

    Everypony and bot gathered stood in silence, in complete shock and awe over what just happened over the last twenty minutes from Shining going out to rescue Twilight, to Prowl arresting them and Optimus' total lack of reaction to Twilight's desperate pleas.

    "Optimus..." Ratchet turned to his commander, a slight note of grief in the medic's tone. "I understand if you are upset by Twilight Sparkle's actions, but how could you stand there and do nothing!? Not even a word!?"

    Optimus shook like he just came out of a trance. He reached his hands over the sides of his head and tugged, pulling out some ear buds that had been attached. Optimus pressed a button the computer, and the soundtrack he had been listening to stopped. The Prime turned to his distraught medic.

    "My apologizes. I was listening to music. What is the status?"

    Ratchet's mouth contorted in ways it probably wasn't supposed to, words insufficient to fully describe his disbelief that the reason Optimus Prime had done nothing was because he was distracted listening to music.

    Ratchet groaned and put his hand over his head crest. "You've been spending far too much casual time with Princess Celestia..."

    To Be Continued!




    Author's Notes
    Shining was resurrected using Dark Energon, too.

    Fluttershy was nearly killed and feinted the D.J.D, and Twilight made a deal of questionable nature in a Bonus Story.
     
  4. Darkryt

    Darkryt Combiner Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2013
    Posts:
    612
    Trophy Points:
    147
    Location:
    Aether Foundation
    Likes:
    +245
    These changes, ain't changing me, the goldhearted boy I used to be...

    You got to help me out,

    Don't you put me on the backburner, You know you gotta help me out.

    The Killers- All The Things That I've Done


    INFILTRATION

    Story 4

    A Pony Criminal in Optimus Prime's Court

    Synopsis:

    Twilight Sparkle gets a trial!


    *** *** ***

    Optimus Prime had his hands on the controls, drumming them as he contemplated Ratchet's recount of recent events. It was obvious to all in the room that Optimus wasn't sure how to immediately handle the situation, what he wanted to say with Prowl, and Pinkie's air headed inquiries for Optimus to explain the "Autobot Secret Police" fell on deaf receptors.

    "Optimus..." Ratchet said softly, putting a hand on Optimus' large pauldron to gently remind the Prime that he had people he could turn to if he was lost.

    "What do we do!?" Pinkie cried, panic setting in. "Shining Armor asked the Sumdac peoples to hack into Twilight, but then Twilight blew up the lab, so now everything's all tonky-wonky! It's...It's..."

    Seeing Pinkie Pie was unable to figure out what this situation was, Optimus decided to clarify for her. "A moral dilemma." Optimus turned his head away, the gears in his head turning. Literally and metaphorically. The intricate systems inside the Autobot leader's head squeaked within his cranial module, not that the ponies could hear the parts suffering under the mental toil as Optimus tried to exercise a passionless, detached judgment on Twilight's actions. She was his friend, but their contradicting attitudes towards humans provided Optimus Prime no shortage of spare headaches lying around, should he need a migraine to get out of jury duty that weekend.

    "Should we...attempt to rescue Twilight?" Ratchet meekly asked.

    "No." Optimus answered resolutely. "Though Twilight's actions may have been the result of provocation, we cannot simply overlook that the destruction of Sumdac Systems was her own doing."

    Another GroundBridge hummed to life in the base, and everypony gathered turn to look at it as Prowl stepped back into the room.

    "Optimus Prime, Sir." Prowl stood rigidly and saluted. "Dai Atlas and his council have been in discussions regarding Twilight Sparkle's and Shining Armor's impending trial."

    Ratchet turned and closed his optics, unsure of he could face Twilight being tried and hang like a common criminal.

    "And?" Optimus asked Prowl, maintaining a serious tone of voice that hid his own internal struggle and doubts.

    "Given the variety of factors and species involved, they have come to the conclusion it would be best for Twilight Sparkle's trial to be held on Cybertron using a jury mixed between Cybertronians, humans, and Ponies." Prowl explained.

    "Hmm." Optimus lowered his head towards the ground. That made sense. A pony had destroyed a human facility, so it was only logical that both the humans and ponies be brought during the deliberation of a trial, and as the Autobots were well-known to be supporters and protectors of the ponies...

    In matter of fact, Optimus had a suspicion sneaking up on him over the last few days that some humans were dissatisfied with how often Optimus went to meet Princess Celestia over how often he went to meet with whatever human nitpicker had been chosen to rip into the Cybertronians' conduct on Earth. Optimus had tried to explain that several of his visits were the Princess were casual in nature, meant for her and him to engage in Equestria's take on mini-golf or similar leisurely activities, rather than discuss new cross-alien legislature. But the American representative wouldn't have any of it.

    Prowl pulled out a short Cybertronian glyph and presented to Optimus with all the mirth and vigor of an animatronic in an abandoned amusement park. "As the leader of the Autobots and our current Prime, the council has decided to include you in the jury, Optimus Prime, Sir."

    "Their opinion is noted." Optimus said, taking the glyph from Prowl. Prowl gave one last salute, before returning to his Bridge and leaving the base.

    Pinkie, Fluttershy and Applejack gathered around as Optimus held up the glyph in his hands, observing and reading its contents. Optimus' optics shifted from one side to the another as he scanned the datatrack for all of its legal doubletalk and nonsensical citations saying, in layman's terms, "You've got jury duty! Yay! It stinks to be you!"

    When finished with the disk, a panel on Optimus' arm shifted and popped open, which Optimus deposited the disk into it.

    "Y'all...y'all 'ill decide Twilight is innocent, right?" Applejack asked, swinging her hat over her chest like she always did when suffering from heavy emotion.

    "She blew up a facility." Ratchet sternly reminded Applejack. "Twilight Sparkle may be our close friend, but let us not forget that she also engaged in the destruction of her own free will."

    Applejack pursed her lips. "But Shinin' Armor done tried to get those science guys to cut the Dark Energon outta Twilight!"

    "Yes..." Ratchet hissed, irritated by Applejack's insistence on proving Twilight innocent.

    "We will wait for the trial." Optimus cut them off coldly, seeking to avoid the difference between Ratchet's and Applejack's point-of-view from escalating into blows. He also wanted to be sure he didn't have Applejack's, Pinkie's or Fluttershy's desperate pleas echoing in his ears in the middle of the trial and affecting his decision of the verdict.

    A mixture of beeps came from Ratchet's arm. "Hmm?" Ratchet raised his arms, a panel splitting in two and opening up to reveal the diagnostic screen which Ratchet used to monitor the life signs of Team Prime. "What's this?...it appears that I have a … text from our friends at the Littlest Pet Shop."

    "Oh!" Fluttershy squealed. She heard about the incident a few months ago where the Cutie Mark Crusaders went to Earth and got themselves entangled up in some weird robot conspiracy involving the Littlest Pet Shop of Downtown City, and she was thrilled beyond words at the chance to see the talking animals that lived there. "What does it say!?"

    "I'm not sure..." Ratchet admitted. "Herd 'bout Twi...blowing SS. Thoth...how do I read this... 'U' could use 'sum' chering...arrow sign. P-P-Pillz send Bridge." Ratchet shook his head, the the shorthand message making even less sense now that he had read it out loud.

    "What does the Egyptian god Thoth have in common with this message?" Optimus questioned.

    "It's shorthand!" Pinkie exclaimed, bouncing into the air and flailing her limbs around. "You know! L-three-three-T LEET speak!"

    "I do not know!" Ratchet insisted, infuriated at the implication he would ever engage in such simplistic and ridiculous language as this...L-three-three-T speak.

    "Blythe's asking to send a GroundBridge!" Pinkie translated the message for him.

    "Hmm." Ratchet snorted and rolled his optics, but he turned around and pulled the GroundBridge lever anyways. He wondered what the full message meant when translated, but didn't bother to ask Pinkie to do that.

    When the Bridge opened, everypony was greeted by an impressive and annoying display of streamers worthy of Pinkie's own antics, followed by kazoos, trumpets, and loud marching-band belly drums as Blythe and a parade of unusual earth animals marched in from the Bridge. Ratchet's features contorted with barely restrained rage as the self-invited parade came marching in.

    "Hey, guys!" Blythe waved, stopping her drum for a second. The brunette sixteen year old girl with a head large enough to compare to Raf's awkward noggin was wearing a marching cap on her head. Around her were a slim gecko, a blue mongoose, and King Charles Cavalier Spaniel dog that Twilight's colors on it. "I heard that Twilight did...something..bad? My source wasn't too clear on specifics, but anyways, I figured you could use some cheering up!"

    "What we need right now is not 'cheering up', Miss Baxter, but-" Ratchet ranted, but he stopped short when he noticed Applejack scowling at him. She wanted some cheerin' up to be had, slag it, and she wasn't going to let the cranky medic's lack of sociability get in the way of that. "Uh...proceed, Miss Baxter."

    Pinkie, Applejack and Fluttershy eagerly galloped over to Blythe and her animal friends. It was a strange thing; the pets of Downtown City were multicolored and could talk, just like Equestrian Ponies, but Blythe, for some reason, was the only human known to understand them. The ponies, being animals themselves, understood them just fine. Pinkie Pie liked to postulate, supplying the supposition citing the reason was that the pets of Downtown had suffered a slathering of poisonous pollution was the reason for their similarity to the Ponies. Blythe preferred not to question it too much, or she'd start thinking up scenarios like Pinkie Pie's.

    Ratchet sighed. He turned to Optimus, meaning to ask what Optimus intended to do during the trial, but when he saw the furtive look on Optimus' faceplate, his questioned was replaced by an entirely different one. "What's on your mind, Optimus?"

    "It is these pets." Optimus answered, cocking a browplate at them. "I have a feeling we will be seeing more of them...I have feeling we will be needing more of them."

    Ratchet rubbed the side of his head. He couldn't imagine any possible situation were the Littlest Pet Shop Pets would be needed to do anything for the Autobots that the Ponies couldn't provide by their own. "Are you...certain, Optimus? They lack the Equestrian's magic, and..." Ratchet glanced at the gecko as it tried to perform a dance move for Fluttershy, only to trip over over its tail and roll and tumble into the base of Ratchet's work desk. "Quite a few other things."

    "Intuition." Optimus answered briskly, crossing his arms and taking an observational post of newfound interest in the Littlest Pets...

    *** *** ***

    Meanwhile, on Equestria, Princess Celestia was just stepping out of a late night shower and would soon be going to bed. Puffs of relaxing steam leftover from the draining hot water wafted through the air and continued to relax Celestia's body even as she left the warm afterglow of the tub. She would've loved to hop back in and take another, even longer, hotter showing, but there needed to be some hot water left for Luna afterward, so she abstained. Instead, Celestia levitated a towel around herself and began drying herself. Being royalty, Celestia's towels weren't purchased by herself, but by servants after they had been shopping around for the best, softest, most soothing brand of towel in all of Equestria.

    Which was fortunate, as she was going to need all the soothing she could get.

    A white flash appeared in her bathroom, forcing Celestia to close her eyes at the sudden burst of photons. Grimacing as she raised a hoof to block the light, Celestia opened her eyes and saw that it was a Royal Guard brandishing a letter in his magic. He saluted. "Your Royal Highness!"

    "Ahh..." Celestia grumbled as her eyes as the pain in her eyeballs started to subside, at least enough she could focus her attention on the Guard who so rudely interrupted her bath time activities. "What is it, Lieutenant?"

    "A letter." The Guard answered, bringing the piece of paper closer to Celestia. "Trust me, Princess; I know how much you like your late night showers, and would never interrupt if it were not something of great importance to you."

    "Is that so?" Celestia asked, taking the letter into her own magic and unfolded. She had a brief idea that if the letter turned out to not be as important as he claimed, to talk to him in threatening tones and make it seem like she was going to vaporize him, when all she was really going to do was send him out the door...with a well-aimed buck to his Cutie Mark.

    Such mischief as the Princess liked to engage in was not to be, however, as the letter was every bit as important as the Guard claimed it to be.

    "T-thank you for bringing me this, Lieutenant." Celestia stuttered at the Guard as her eyes painfully narrowed on the letter, hoping that maybe she had misread a part of it. After re-reading it, turning it upside down and sideways and reading it like that, Celestia's lips blubbered as it occurred to her that no, no this was not a prank or cruel joke like she had started hoping. This letter was very much real.

    Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor were due for trial as early as tomorrow. Celestia was flabbergasted that the Cybertronian Court had enough free time on their servos to set up and arrange a trial this early. Didn't these Cybertronian understand things, like, a period of investigation before trial? Perhaps Cybertronian justice worked differently than Equestrian.

    "Oh, Twilight..." Celestia whispered breathlessly, grabbing the letter with her hoof and crumpling it against her chest. The paper creased and crinkled as she held it until it perfectly hugged every curve of her little pony chest. "What am I going to do with you?"

    *** *** ***

    Twilight Sparkle paced around the Autobot jail cell while Shining Armor laid on the ground, his muzzle drooping and popping out to the sides the way a dog's jowls did when they were at rest. On a dog, though, it was nothing special, just something that happened due to their physiology. On Shining, it made him look pathetic. Which was exactly how he felt right now, so it was a win-win.

    Twilight continued pacing, the sounds of her hooves lifting up and clinking on the metal floor keeping Shining Armor from going to sleep. Twilight had forgotten all about being angry with her brother, worried over how badly Celestia was going to take the fact of her rampage. Was she going to be exiled? Was Celestia going to banish her to the moon, or...send her back to Magic Kindergarten!? She would've preferred to be in a, cold, lifeless metal jail cell than in Magic Kindergarten!

    Wait a minute, she was in a cold, lifeless metal jail cell.

    Twilight stopped, trying to make more coherent thoughts pierce through her panicked thinking so she could assess the situation more logically. She was on the cusp of starting a new train of thought when the small device around her horn activated and gave it her horn a smack.

    Twilight snarled in frustration at the device. A small brown collar that fit onto her horn with a small pedal attached to it by a hinge. The Autobots who threw her in the cell explained it was simple device to keep her from using her magic to make an escape attempt. Not an unreasonable precaution, given her vast reserve of magic, but the simple machine worked by detecting movement, so any sudden jostles would give her a most uncalled for bop. Shining Armor had one on, too, but as he was loafing loftily as lazily as lagging ladybugs, it didn't bother him too much.

    Twilight resumed pacing, nose pointing to the ground. She raised a hoof and exhaled sharply, clearing her mind so she could formulate a plan. She began conversing with herself. "Okay. There's no getting out of a guilty verdict. Shining Armor saw you at Sumdac Systems after you blew it up. So the best thing to do would be to enter a plea bargain while praying nopony – no human was hurt irreparably. Yeah!" Seeing that was the best her situation was going to get, Twilight gave an eerie gleaming smile into the darkness of the cell. "No problem! Just...plead guilty and try to get off with a reduced sentence!" Her eye subtly twitched in denial.

    Ideally, in Twilight's schizophrenic, Compulsive Disorder Obsessive mind, she would get a reduced punishment and have to serve 20 years in Autobot Prison for destruction of property, which would surely be better than whatever Celestia might do. Celestia might revoke her student privileges, or take her from her friends and Ponyville for a refresher course in morality. Or worst or all, the Princess might give her a lecture! Anything but that!

    Shining Armor signed and scuffed his hoof across the ground, lifting his head up so his muzzle stopped looking like a pale intimation of a resting boxer pup. "Twiley..."

    The sound of Shining Armor's regretful voice snapped Twilight out of her delirium, for now, at least. Twilight blushed, having forgotten she was sharing this cage with somepony, let alone somepony she was so close to. Twilight cleared her throat and turned around. "Yes, B.B.B.F.F?"

    "I'm sorry." bled out of Shining Armor's mouth. He got to his hooves shakily while still looking at the ground. "I shouldn't have told Professor Sumdac to experiment on you... I just...I just wanted to stop being a Terrorpony." Shining looked at her, and his cerulean eyes were abnormally wide, and if Twilight wasn't mistaken, at least partially wet. "I wanted to stop...being a freak. Is that a crime?"

    Twilight chuckled, much to Shining's confusion. She trotted up to her brother and cupped his chin, bringing it upwards. "No. No it's not." Twilight then slapped Shining so hard across the cheek it made his head turn 60 degrees, away from her. "But signing me up for an experiment without my consent is!"

    "Oh, yeah!?" Shining shouted at her, wanting to defend himself and rebuke her for hitting up, but having no real moral ground to stand on. "Well...this is all the Cybertronians' fault!"

    "What!? Where did that come from!?"

    "You heard me!" Shining snarled, his teeth showing as his lips vibrated. "Ever since the Decepticons came to Equestria, life has been nothing but miserable!" This wasn't he wanted- what he wanted was to get Twilight off his back- but it seemed as good a time as any in the future to air his grievances regarding their bot buddies. "First, I can't defend you when they start loading you full of Energon-"

    "Shining, even if you were there, you couldn't have done anything!" Twilight tried to explain to him, but Shining kept ranting.

    "And then you go Earth, and come back as undead freak of nature, a sin against all that Celestia represents! Then there was Starscream killing me, you resurrecting me. Oh! And let us not forget when you unleashed Thunderwing on the Crystal Empire with Trixie!"

    "That was partly your fault..." Twilight muttered to save face. Shining blamed himself for that incident, but it wasn't entirely Twilight's fault, as the Dark Energon had taken her over at the time. More so than usual, that is.

    "What have the Cybertronians given us since they got here, huh!?"

    "The Space Bridge." Twilight answered meekly. Honestly, she was frightened by how worked up Shining was. It reminded her far too much of when he was similarly enraged at their wedding.

    "Yeah? Recently, we got a shipment of Energon to power that Bridge. It started disappearing over night. One of my Guards admitted he was taking some for an experiment. That 'experiment'? It was selling it to ponies."

    "That's a perfectly legitimate business-"

    "In syringes." Shining clarified, letting Twilight fill in the blanks. Energon, when injected in sufficient dosage into a pony's bloodstream, had a narcotic effect on them, diluting their memory and putting them into a stoned like high where everything was funny to them. Twilight didn't even have to think to realize the impact seeing one of his trusted Guardsmen selling it off to ponies had on him. Not least because he began to outline it for her.

    "This was a Guard. That I trusted. Who was protecting the Princess and was selling Energon to ponies on the street! Look me in the eye and tell me that's not the Autobots' fault."

    Twilight did exactly as she was told, pressing her nuzzle against his and narrowing her eyes as locked their visions together. "It was not the Autobots' fault. If that Guard was crooked, then he was probably selling other things before the Autobots came along and just used the Energon as a new venue!"

    Shining was horrified, too dumbstruck to form any words at Twilight's accusation that one his Guards was corrupt even before the Cybertronians appeared. "You. Take. That. Back."

    "Make. Me. Mister. With. Your. Oddly. Punctuated. Speech!"

    "YAAH!" Shining Armor charged at his younger sister, the younger sister he had been so close with during their childhood, and locked horns with her. Twilight snarled and pushed back, ready to power up her Dark Energon mutations and used the power from them to lift her brother up and hurl him into the wall with all the superhuman strength afforded to her by the Blood of Unicron they unwillingly shared. Before anything could come of it, however, the little devices on their horns responded to their movement and gave a solid smack to both their horns. They yelped, rubbing their sore horns, and separated from each other.

    "Ow!" Shining Armor's lips warbled in the nonexistent wind as he growled at the inanimate device. Seeing that as an inanimate object, it wasn't going to respond, Shining had a realization. He put his hoof down and gave his sister his best apologetic stare. "This is stupid."

    "You're stupid!" Twilight spat at him like a filly throwing a tantrum. "This CELL is stupid! These stupid devices on our horns are stupid! Prowl is stupid!" Twilight, continuing her new 'theme' of having a hissy fit, slammed her hoof into the ground several times. "Your face is stupid!" Having resorted to that uncreative, childish remark, Twilight realized she herself was being stupid and sighed, dropped to the ground, and flopped over onto her back. "You're right. We're siblings. We shouldn't be fighting like this. "

    "Glad we agree!" Shining Armor perkily announced, trotting over to give Twilight a helping hoof up. "Come on, L.S.B.F.F."

    Twilight chuckled at Shining's humorous attempt to take her nickname for him and make into his nickname for her.

    "I just...I just want to know everything's going to be all right." Twilight admitted.

    "It will." Shining assured her, even though all signs and evidence pointed to everything being anything but all right. "I'll make sure of it. Big Brother's honor."

    "Hmph. You shouldn't put something so valuable on the line for a promise you can't keep."

    Before they could keep talking and work their out differences in opinion like the mature adults they insisted on being treated as, they heard footsteps. Autobot footsteps. The warden was coming in to check on them. Twilight whimpered and shivered when she heard them. Each echo was a reminder that there was a reason she was in here, trapped in a cell with her horn made useless by a stupid pedal device.

    The hexagonal doors to their holding cell shifted, clicked and hissed open.

    "You two!" A red and blue Autobot with a faceplate and helmet that made Twilight think of a human astronaut's outfit. From his above-average body frame, muscular build, and ball shoulders, Twilight couldn't help but think he was an Autobot generic. "Sun's come up. Your trial is ready."

    "Wha..." Twilight stammered. "It's morning all ready!?"

    "We didn't sleep all night!?" Shining Armor exclaimed. He stole Twilight's catchphrase and mannerism for a second, putting his hooves over his head. "Oh, this is terrible! We can't defend ourselves in a trial operating on no sleep!"

    "Wait...wait, I don't feel tired." Twilight realized. "The Dark Energon...of course, the Dark Energon! We still have plenty of energy! Um, you know, strictly speaking, we don't actually need to eat or sleep...we just...do it anyway..." Twilight scraped her hoof nervously, avoiding Shining Armor's eyes. "So we can feel normal..."

    "Come on, you two." The Autobot guard barked at them gruffly, not noticing they were in the midst of discussing their biological peculiarities. "I don't have all day."

    The Guard began escorting them out of the building. Of course, Twilight realized. Why would the courtroom be in the same building as the prisoners who were being courted? That would be silly. The Guard didn't put them in any stasis cuffs, as being four-legged animals who move one set of legs and then the back set of legs, handcuffing them would have rendered them totally immobile, which didn't work out so well when their oppressors decided it was time for them to move.

    *** *** ***

    "Well, well, well!" A dusty green and yellow Autobot fembot chided, gathered in front of a crowd, mixed of Cybertronians and Ponies, and even the odd human here and there, scattered about the crowd. Rather like trying to pick a violet out of a field of dandelions. A really big field of dandelions. They were waiting outside the courtroom building, and the aforementioned fembot, by the name of Glyph, was an enthusiastic reporter eager to get first come, first serve of the trial of Twilight Sparkle. Accompanying her was Photo Finish, a fashion critic on Equestria with an odd accent, in order to provide perspective from the ponies' view of things.

    "Glyph – that's me!" Glyph boasted to the cameramech. "Here with Photo Finish, here to cover the impending trial of Twilight Sparkle for the destruction of Sumdac Systems on Earth. As you know, Photo Finish, Twilight has engaged in several large-scale acts of terrorism on Earth before the Autobots' presence was fully revealed, but was never held accountable for any of them. All that is about to change!"

    "Yes, yes." Photo Finish nodded her head in agreement, though Glyph wasn't sure if the pony was actually paying attention or just pretending so she could hear the sound of her own, accented voice. "Furthermore, this tryal is of interezt to all species involved in the alliance."

    "Mh-hmm!" Glyph nodded. "Pony, human and Cybertronian! Humans because, well, it was their building that got blown up. Ponies because it was one of their most well-known and respected members who did the exploding, and Cybertronians because they had a relationship with the Ponies prior to their revelation to the human populace. This couldn't possibly have anything to do with the suspicions of the humans about the Ponies and Cybertronians working together on projects and leaving the humans out of it."

    There was an awkward silence that felt odd, like melted butter, actually, as Glyph and Photo Finish that with the lack of a human news reporter to go with them, they were adding fuel to that fire by providing evidence of a bot and a pony, together without a human.

    "Hey, uh, someone write down a note for me to go get a human partner, huh?" Glyph asked her recording crew. "Wait, scrap, is this live!?"

    "Yes." The cameramech confirmed, dashing Glyph's hopes that perhaps they could edit that line out.

    "Well..." Glyph attempted to salvage her pride and dignity for the camera, for the viewers, for the people! They deserved to see a calm, cool, collected news reporter like herself. "There you have it, folks! Live, off the cuff footage of the trial, no editing or pre-scripting done at all! Right here, right now. Live action- is that Optimus Prime!?"

    Glyph turned her head and nearly made a sort of 'squee' noise in delight upon seeing it was, in fact, the crimson form of Optimus Prime striding into the crowd, attempting to squeeze his bulky frame through the narrowest corners of the massive audience while mumbling and muttering apologizes and excuses as he attempted in vain to maneuver through without bumping into anyone.

    "Come on, come on!" Glyph beckoned her cameramech, and they were off speeding towards the Last Prime for an exclusive interview. If she got to interview Optimus Prime, her ratings would go through the roof! No news reporter on Cybertron would ever even come close to her level or recognition!

    "Optimus? Optimus? Optimus Prime, Sir!"

    Hearing his name called, Optimus turned around for whoever was vying for his attention. His optics blinked as he noticed it was the fembot waving her arms and whistling at him. "Hello, Glyph. May I be of service?"

    "Yeah, yeah, you may!" Glyph enthusiastically told him, missing the somber timbre of Optimus' always low and stoic voice. "How do you feel about Twilight Sparkle getting a trial? She is one of your friends, after all..." Glyph added coyly, suggestively raising her browplate.

    Optimus sighed, the exhaust on his back fidgeting. "I only wish I would have been able to converse with her prior to the trial, outside the courtroom's notice, so as to get her perspective on things. Now, if you will excuse me, I have be in the courtroom." Optimus excused himself and walked off.

    "Optimus, wait!" Glyph insisted, determined to get a more thorough interview for her precious ratings. "Can't you answer a few more questions? Optimus?... Optimus?" Glyph's voice became increasingly less hopeful the more she spoke, as soon Optimus adapted and disappeared into the crowd. An impressive feat, given how clumsily and awkwardly he was moving when he arrived.

    The Autobot guard stood silently behind the Sparkle family siblings to the courtroom. Sometimes he would step forward and smack away a reporter who decided they could get close for a question.

    Twilight and Shining Armor had some trouble climbing up the short step of stairs leading to the courtroom's entrance. It was a tiny staircase, but it was fitted to Cybertronians, not Ponies. Twilight thought about teleporting, before remembering the stupid thing on her horn preventing her from spellcasting.

    It took them awhile, but they were successful in clambering up the stairs and standing in front of the courtroom door, where the only step left would be to wait for the door to open and walk into their sentencing.

    Looking at the door, Twilight was reminded of a cathedral. The door was triangular in shape, but curved and rounded on the sides. The way parts of formed a circle and popped forward marked it most definitely as a Cybertronian entryway. The circle shifted to the right, then dropped into the floor, tearing away at the door's bottom, while the top of it split in two and drew upwards.

    "In." The Guard instructed the two ponies.

    They followed the Guard's orders, ignoring their own nervous feelings and jittery hooves. Twilight found that walking into the dark corridor of the hallway, with no choice but to listen to her's and the Guard's footsteps echoing in the hall, it seemed like the aura of the room wasn't just rubbing it in that she had done something wrong. It was practically boasting about it.

    The lights on the ceiling were large circles with no coloring to them, shining only a bright white that was somehow gloomy and despairing despite its neutral color. Twilight, in her feverish pitch of mind, imagined it might have been the Sparks of criminals long past warning present and future accused to abandoned hope.

    Twilight wished the lights would suffer a short-circuit, just so she wouldn't have to see Shining Armor's face as they were marched into a court they had no hope of leaving without a guilty verdict.

    They saw an open entrance with no door up ahead, and they figured it must be the courtroom proper. Twilight and Shining stepped through, but the Guard stayed behind to keep watch in case they got any ideas of escaping.

    The courtroom seemed mostly the same as human or pony one, though larger and with a metallic glint in the waxed floor. Twilight could see her reflection sparkling in the floorboards, and even a neat-freak like her thought the janitor must have loved his job just a little much.

    "Hmm..." Twilight looked around the room, and noticed that the audience was mostly filled with Cybertronians, all of whom were well-trained and respectable enough not to look at her as she walked down the aisle. As she walked, though, she noticed a dark-skinned human female with red hair done in pigtails waiting by the entrance. She was wearing a yellow suit of some kind.

    Twilight stopped to greet her. "Hello. Who are you?"

    The woman chuckled. "I'm Sari Sumdac."

    Twilight blinked, trying to take in this information. "Wow! Professor Sumdac must be quite the catch, then, to get somepony as young as you!" Sari did not appear to understand Twilight's compliment. Twilight rubbed at the back of her neck shyly. "Uhh...sorry that I blew up your husband's factory."

    Sari guffawed. "Hahaha! What!? No, no...I'm his daughter."

    "Oh! My bad." Twilight grinned, trying to mask her swelling, though deserved feelings of guiltiness and shame. She had a terrible thought; if Sumdac had a daughter, how many other workers at the facility had children of their own? Children that needed tending. Children that needed their mommies and daddies to teach them the ways of the world...

    Twilight felt like she could cry, but she held it in. She knew that didn't fly well with a court, and served no practical purpose.

    Steeling herself to meet her fate with dignity, Twilight huffed and threw her nose in the air. Shining Armor didn't understand what she was doing.

    The two siblings began their long trek towards the stand where the accused was to make their case and took their seats. The managers of the courtroom had been so kind as to wield booster seats to the bottoms of the robot sized chairs to give the two ponies an easier time getting in and out of it.

    Adjusting her rear to sit as comfortably as she could, Twilight took notice of the lone Autobot standing in front of the judge's pedestal. Prowl, looking displeased. Twilight got a hunch he always looked like that. From his posture and position relative to the judge's seat, Twilight figured he was here to play prosecutor, which gave her a realization that really would have helped if she had it earlier.

    "Oh my gosh! Shining, we don't have a lawyer!"

    Shining took on a blank face that Twilight found laughable, but this was no time to be laughing. "You're right! They can't- they can't prosecute us without a lawyer, can they? Are Cybertronian laws different?"

    "I don't know!" Twilight started gnawing at the tips of her hooves.

    Both siblings fell quiet, hearing a jet engine whistle silently. Prowl looked upwards, and the auditorium followed his lead. Noticing how they all appeared to be looking at something, Twilight followed suit and saw a small ship flying in from the doorway. Twilight didn't like poking fun at things, but she found there was no other to describe it other than a golden boat with large red wings stuck to the sides. The boat-ship flew over the judge's pedestal and transformed, landing into it. The form appeared to be Autobot in nature, and was quite angular in design. His face was gray, blue optics, and his helmet had so many different ridges on the head and sides Twilight couldn't keep track of them all. His shoulders appeared to comprised of furnaces, and his waist was so thin it was like his chest was just one block attach to the top of a pole with his thighs being two blocks attached to the bottom.

    Prowl cleared his throat. "Hm-hm! As Chief Justice Tyrest could not present to today, we shall the honorable Senator Dai Atlas serve in his place."

    "Very good, Prowl." Dai Atlas spoke, and his voice was a very deep baritone. It made Twilight think of somepony who was a good bot, but had trouble socializing. "Before we begin the trial, have all deliberations been prepared?"

    "Yes, Your Honor." Prowl answered, saluting with the excitement of a wood board.

    "The destruction has been the subject of a proper investigation?"

    "Yes, Your Honor."

    "All the witnesses have been sworn in?"

    "Yes, Your Honor."

    "We have a jury?"

    "The accused has had their say in choosing a public defender who will accurately represent their interests to the best intent?"

    "Er..." Prowl stammered.

    Dai Atlas sighed, and Twilight got the feeling this wasn't the first Prowl had let a tiny detail like, say, getting a lawyer for the accused, slip under his radar. "Again, Prowl?"

    There was a very, very loud obnoxious chatter, which Twilight and Shining heard as "Wait!" but all the Autobots understood as animal noises.

    Everyone in the room craned their necks towards the entrance, and they all saw an orange hedgehog wearing a tuxedo, standing in the entrance, standing on his hind legs and holding his front paws out dramatically. One of Princess Luna's bat-eyed Night Guard was standing with him.

    "Russell?" Twilight whispered. What in Celestia's blazing saddle was a Littlest Pet Shop pet doing here in a court of Cybertronians!?

    Russell began chattering and squeaking, gesturing with his front paws. Twilight and Shining understood him perfectly, but it was all meaningless noise that distracted the inhabitants of the courtroom to Prowl and Dai Atlas.

    Russell eventually stopped squeaking and crossed his arms. Once he stopped talking, the Night Guard next to him cleared his throat.

    "Ahem. He says he's here to represent the interest of his clients, Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor. I'm here to translate his speech as a neutral party with no stake in the outcome of this trial, to ensure the accused does not misinterpret his speech to serve their own ends."

    "That's incredibly well-thought out." Shining Armor reflected.

    Twilight felt differently, if the hoof now covering her forehead didn't make that clear enough. "Russell...why?"

    Russell and the Night Guard walked up to the accused stand, and the Guard helped Russell onto the table so Dai Atlas could look at them without having to lean over the judge's table.

    "Well, hardly an orthodox procedure for a lawyer, but the defendants are in no position to object, and I, for one, do not care so long as he has a license."

    Prowl's head began to let out a wisp of smoke.

    "Um..." Twilight grew concerned and cleared her throat. "Is the prosecutor in good health?"

    Dai Atlas looked to Prowl and didn't seem all that bothered. "He's fine. Just doesn't like the unusual, is all." Twilight didn't know that this was an understatement.

    Russell shirked and tugged at the collar of his suit. Thankfully, Dai Atlas didn't ask him to produce his license, so his lack of a proper one was overlooked.

    "Now, are all members of the selected jury present, and equally representing the interests of all three species?" Dai Atlas questioned, pulling out a discus and reading it off. "Sari Sumdac ..."

    "Here!"

    "Acting Decepticon Lord Shockwave."

    "Present."

    "Agent Dutch..."

    "Here."

    "Cybertron Elite Guard Magnum..."

    "Present and accounted for."

    "Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadence..."

    "Present."

    Twilight's jaw dropped, and for the first time, she actually bothered to look at the juror's seating and saw that the all three Princesses were there, wearing stoic masks of detachment that hid whatever emotion they were feeling inside. Twilight supposed she should have felt good about that; that Celestia wouldn't let the obvious disappointment in her student show through, but instead, Twilight felt pained.

    Why won't you let me see your feelings, Princess?


    Dai Atlas continued reading off juror names, and after the next few went by, Twilight heard was quite possibly the only name that equaled Princess Celesta in the dread she felt when hearing it spoken as a member of a jury.

    "Optimus Prime..."

    There was no answer.

    Dai Atlas looked around the room. "Optimus Prime?"

    Everyone in the audience began murmuring and passing speculations from one audio receptor to another. It was extremely unlike Optimus Prime to be late for anything. Metal hands covered the gaps between faceplates and audio receptors. Shadows subtly shifted from the all the crowd's hushed whisperings cowing against the very nature of the courtroom, which was to seek out fact and expose truth, not meet up and swap gossip. Dai Atlas noticed the hustling of the surprised court audience. "Silence! Cease your rumor mongering! I am sure there is a perfectly valid excuse as to why our good Optimus is late!"

    "Present and accounted for, Senator." Optimus announced, entering the room from the entrance. "My apologies for my being late. I was unsure if I would be able to set aside my personal feelings for the case..." Optimus' optics glinted in Twilight's directions, and Twilight hung her head, knowing he was referring to her and their strained friendship.

    "I have every faith in your ability, Optimus." Dat Atlas assured him.

    Twilight kept her eyes trained on him every step he took towards the jury booth. For a moment, Optimus spared her a glance in return, and Twilight was sure his optics would be full of rage, screaming with indigenous fury, "Why would you do that!?" … but instead, they were as stoic and detached as ever, perhaps with just a tiny little hint of – was that concern?

    By Primus,
    Twilight swore in her head, I know you're my friend, Optimus, and that you're one of the most caring beings available on call, but I blew up an entire complex! I don't deserve your concern! … As much as it makes me feel better.

    Optimus continued on and took his seat on the bench, his crimson form seemingly duller under the shadowed, dim lightning of the room.

    "Now, shall the trial begin?" Dai Atlas questioned. In turn, Prowl gave a nod of the head. "Excellent! All parties in the matter of the State Vs Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor are accounted for!" Dai Atlas brought out a gavel and slammed it. "Prowl, make your case."

    Prowl swept his hand through the air, trying to be fancy, but his inherent attitude that constrained him from sociability prevented him from doing anything too elaborate or flashy. "Thank you, Your Honor." Prowl then paced back and forth in front of the pedestal of the judge, going into detail of what the Sparkle family siblings had done, and why – in his oh-so-humble opinion- that they should be hit with the hammer of justice with such a fierce brutality that shan't walk for weeks.

    "Twilight Sparkle has been on record, multiple times, as having a contempt and hatred for humanity, which by itself makes her dangerous." Prowl recounted. "In addition to that, she has previously attempted to destroy and or take over human settlements, and was never held accountable for any of the destruction she caused. It would be remiss if this court failed their opportunity to correct this oversight and find Twilight guilty of super massive destruction."

    Prowl was using so many unnecessary, excessively sized wordage that even the studious scholar was having trouble keeping up with the majority of his pontificating. What she could make out, though, suggested to her he was bitter that she had been granted amnesty for her crimes on Earth during her first voyage there.

    "As for Shining Armor, his crime is that he authorized the experiment on Twilight Sparkle that led to her rampaging to begin with." Prowl continued. "While I do not believe he set out with hostile intent, it should still be noted it was the direct result of his actions the destruction of Sumdac Systems occurred."

    "Noted." Dai Atlas nodded his head to show he understood. Dai Atlas turned his gaze downwards at Russell. "Your defense, porcupine?"

    Russell chattered angrily, shaking his paw at Dai Atlas.

    The Night Guard cleared his throat. "He's a hedgehog, not a porcupine, and his name is Russell Ferguson. "

    Russell began squawking, arguing a defense that secretly, he and Shining had worked while Prowl made his argument. As the Night Guard had to translate, Twilight found herself lulled quickly into the lure of being bored to sleep as her makeshift lawyer's defense was repeated.

    "Shining Armor had authorized the experiment with the hopes it would enable him and his sister to remove their Dark Energon infusions. Twilight Sparkle, meanwhile, is unwilling to engage in any attempts to purge her Dark Energon infusions because she is afraid it won't work and therefore kill her. In this regard, it can be argued that, from Twilight's perspective, the Sumdac Systems' scientists were going to kill her in the name of science."

    "And it is such a crime that Shining Armor wants to be normal again?" Russell questioned. "Is wrong to desire that he could live among his fellow equines as an equal, without the stench of undeath sneaking over every corridor? Is that so wrong!?" Russell shook his fists into the air.

    Dai Atlas chuckled when the Night Guard finished translating Russell's heartfelt, warmth defense. "Cute, Mister Ferguson, and not entirely inaccurate, either. No..." Dai Atlas rubbed his chin in contemplation, and Prowl became alarmed, thinking that perhaps Russell's impromptu defense was enough to persuade Dai Atlas to turn the other cheek.

    Dai Atlas slammed his gavel down. "However, this court operates on the letter and spirit of the law. Emotions, though they do matter significantly, are from the sole cause of determining guilt of the condemned. Prowl. Your response?"

    Prowl sneered. "Let us not forget the several instances where Twilight Sparkle used her connection with Princess Celestia to avoid several potential causes of disciplinary action."

    "What!?" Twilight lost her temper and slammed her hooves. "Objection! I would never do anything like that!"

    "Sustained." Dai Atlas said with a hint of irritability. "On what occasion was Twilight's relation ship the Princess used specifically to avoid a charge?"

    "The Want It Need It Spell incident a year ago, not to mention Thunderwing's unleashing on the poor folk of the Crystal Empire." Prowl answered.

    "The Want It Feed It- The need-want - the thing with the spell does not involve Cybertronians or humans, so it is outside the purvey of this court. As for Thunderwing, I'm given to understand that Twilight was not entirely under her own control during that time...?" Dai Atlas put his hands together under his chin and leaned forward, curious what other mudslinging tactics Prowl was going to resort to.

    Prowl grunted and narrowed his visor at Russell, communicating without words that the police-bot was not going to stand for Russell's attempts to have Dai Atlas look at this more from Twilight's point of view. "Sir, if I may be so bold, I'd like a recess."

    To Twilight's surprise, rather than the audience, it was the jury who muttered. The jury that included her mentor, her foalsitter, and her Prime.

    "Why is that, Prowl?"

    "I believe I may be able to gather sufficient evidence from the crime scene to prove, without a doubt, that Twilight Sparkle is guilty as charged."

    "And Shining Armor?" Dai Atlas questioned.

    Prowl looked taken aback, and Twilight thought back to how she thought Prowl wanted to make her answer for the crimes she had been granted amnesty for during her first trip to Earth. Now, she was absolutely sure that was his motivation; justice could go take a slagging. "Erm, Yes, Your Honor. Him as well."

    "Granted." Dai Atlas slammed the gavel down. "2 Megacycles so that the jury may deliberate preemptively, Prowl may reexamine the crime scene, and the defendants may discuss their strategy."

    Dai Atlas slammed his gavel. "This court is now in recess! Parties may leave the courtroom, but don't go too far."

    Twilight stepped up out of her chair and landed on the floor. She looked over her shoulder area to see the jury – the Princesses and Optimus among them- get up and walked to a door she hadn't seen when they came in to deliberate. Twilight didn't quite get the purpose, but she supposed there was something to be said of having two deliberations of the same trial at different times, for comparison before the final rendering of the verdict.

    "What do you want to do, Twiley?" Shining asked, putting a hoof on her for comfort.

    "I don't know." Twilight answered, shaking her head. "I just...don't know anymore. I want to go for a walk...you know, fresh air."

    "Of course." Shining Armor nodded his head. "We'll be right here when you get back...not that we have a choice."

    Twilight chuckled and trotted weakly towards the door. The Guard stationed at the door looked down at her, as if to say "Where do you think you're going?"

    "I'd like to take a walk." Twilight informed him, not liking the filthy glare reflected in his optics.

    "It's all right, Solider."

    Twilight whipped around, seeing to her surprise and disbelief Princess Celestia.

    "She won't go anywhere." Celestia assured the Guard.

    "Mm." The Guard nodded and stepped to the side.

    "Thank you, Prin-" Twilight attempted to thank her Princess, but when she turned back around, her Princess was gone as mysteriously and suddenly as she appeared. "Oh!" Twilight groaned and ran out the door, tears welling up in her eyes. "How could I be so stupid!?"

    Twilight ran and ran, and ran, and then for good measure, she ran some more. She turned into a lavender bolt too quick for the crowd gathered outside the courtroom to see, catch, or in some cases, ask questions. The highly trained unicorn had no problems ducking and swerving around every corner she came across until she was somewhere far away from the courtroom and all the judging ponies within.

    Finding herself in a Cybertronian alleyway, the kind of alley no respectable pony wanted to be caught in late at night, Twilight curled up into a ball amidst a pile of scrap metal and continued to cry, sniffing as she let her tears flow.

    "The Princess must hate me now..." Twilight muttered, rubbing her puffy eyes. "She'll never forgive me for this. I'm going to be sent to-to Autobot Jail for the rest of my undead life! WHAAAAN!" Twilight let out a distressing wail which, to a passing or nearby mugger, would've been a honey-sweet, irresistible siren's song. She realized this and quickly covered her mouth before she attracted any unwanted company.

    She sat there, still as a cat, waiting for any signs of signals that she drew in a bad crowd with her noise making. For a brief, hopeful moment it seemed like maybe she was lucky enough to have not, but that changed when she heard a Decepticon's footsteps coming nearby.

    "Scrap." Twilight cursed under her breath. She wasn't sure what that bot was going to want, but she began charging up a spell just in case. A real big, nice, destructive one at that.

    Twilight was incredulous it was not a Decepticon, but an Autobot that was approaching her. She maintained an intimidating pose and bared her teeth, whinnying to let him that she meant business.

    "Whoa, whoa!" The Autobot held his hands up at her. "Cool off the throttle, will ya?"

    He didn't seem that odd for an Autobot. His paint job was mostly blue and white, with a green visor and white faceplate. That was a bit weird, though. Twilight's understanding of it was that most Autobots had blue optics. His shoulderpads were large and went over his head, while limbs were all long, yet blocky.

    "There's no need to be so violent, as much as we all love violence. I mean, who doesn't, right?"

    "Celestia." Twilight answered automatically. "Optimus. Ratchet. Magnum. Fluttershy. Cheerilee."

    "Okay, okay, yeesh!" The blue Autobot waved his hands. "I didn't mean to be so literally! It was an expression!"

    "All right..." Twilight turned her head away, motioning for him to speak, before remembering where she was. She aimed her horn at him again. "What do you want?"

    "You!" The Autobot answered, pointing to her with his index finger like she was a gold doubloon inside a oyster shell. "Or rather, The Institute wants you."

    The sky turned black behind the Autobot, and a crack of white thunder flashed behind him. Then the sky went right back to normal. Twilight stared confusedly.

    "Yeah...that always happens, for some reason." The Autobot sheepishly admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. "Every time I say the name."

    "The Institute?" Twilight questioned. The same thing happened; the sky behind her turned black, and white thunder tore through the black before the sky turned back to normal. "Huh."

    "Anyways, I know you, but you don't know me. Name's Toxin. I'm what's called a mnemosurgeon."

    Twilight raised her eyebrow. "Mnemosurgeon?" Being such a book nerd, Twilight understood a few words of Latin here and there and recognized the affix and its meaning; 'memory'. "Wouldn't...wouldn't that mean you...perform surgery on memories?"

    "Yes." Toxin answered, putting his hands together amicably. "But we're not here about me. We're here about you."

    "M-m-me?" Twilight stammered, pointing a hoof at herself. She looked down to the ground. Perhaps it was her modesty. Maybe she was humble. Or perhaps she was feeling guilty over having blown up Sumdac Systems, but she couldn't help but think the same sentence she soon voiced to Toxin. "I'm nothing special..."

    Toxin laughed. It was a merry laugh, full of mirth and warm, but somehow it still sent chills up Twilight's spinal cord. "What are you talking about? If you were nothing special, The Institute wouldn't be interested in having you come help with their research!"

    Twilight looked up at him, wondering if maybe Toxin's eccentricities were because he lived far away from anywhere a sane, normal Cybertronian would consider hospitable, and as a result, he never learned what was and was not socially tolerated. "You do know I blew up the last research facility I worked in, don't you?"

    Twilight had underestimated how fraggin' nuts Toxin was. Most ponies would cue this a red flag and then not want anything to do with her after hearing that, but Toxin just laughed again and even gave her a thumbs-up. "That's just the kind of attitude we're looking for!"

    Twilight blanched. "You...look for ponies who blow up research facilities they work at?"

    "Eh...not in those exact terms, but more or less." Toxin tapped his fingers together. "You see, Madame Sparkle, The Institute is a research facility active on Cybertron before the War. It shut down as the conflict became too great to ignore. But now that Shockwave has re-energized Cybertron with the Changeling Batteries, its starting back up again. We've observed your scientific pursuits, Twilight Sparkle, both before you went to Earth and after. We have come to the conclusion that you would be a perfect fit for our restart. Whadda ya say?"

    "I would love to!" Twilight happily exclaimed. Working with humans was one thing, but this Institute...sounded fantastic to her ears, somehow. She wasn't sure what it was. Perhaps it was the fact they didn't care for her explosive tendencies, or maybe Toxin just seemed really friendly, despite his mannerisms. She frowned when she remembered she had a trial she needed get to back to soon. "Oh, but I can't...I'm being tried for the facility I blew up, and I'm pretty sure my verdict will be guilty."

    "Whaaat?" Toxin screeched. "Oh, well, now that just won't do!" Toxin rubbed his chin. "I know!" He snapped his fingers, and Twilight could tell from the look on his face...plate that he had an idea. "How about you hire me as your lawyer?"

    Twilight shook her head, not sure she heard that right. "Um, well, I already have a lawyer...a hedgehog."

    Toxin attempted to scoff derisively, but his lack of lips prevented him. "Well...no offense to your hedgehog friend, but if you replaced him with me, you would have the whole resources of The Institute backing you. There's no way you could lose!"

    Twilight furrowed her brow, wanting to accept Toxin's offer- he seemed so friendly. "Mm...I'm not sure the Princess would approve me taking this mech I found on the street in as my lawyer."

    "What if..." Toxin hesitated. Twilight was sure there he was holding a card he had yet to play that he didn't want her to know, but might just persuade her to do as he asked. "I told you I knew exactly what was in your laboratory? Both of them, and we still want you?"

    Twilight was baffled. She was the only one who knew about her second laboratory- the one where she kept the remnants of a variety of ill-fated experiments involving Cybertronian tech. Toxin knew what was in it, and still wanted her into this Institute.

    "Tell you what." Toxin snapped his fingers. "How about I get you clear of this trial, and then you can decide whether or not you want to come work with us?"

    "You can do that?" Twilight asked, rightfully skeptical. While hopeful that maybe, she could atone somehow, the more she had a minute to think about it, the more she realized there was very little chance Toxin could actually succeed at getting her off.

    "Can and will!" Toxin bombastically pointed his fingers at her. A click of the teeth gesture would not have been remiss, had Toxin teeth.

    "I still don't know..." Twilight murmured, scraping at the general direction of the ground.

    "Twilight Sparkle...The Institute is very interested in having you there."

    Twilight Sparkle raised her head at him, still with a confused look. She took a deep breath and thought over the situation carefully.

    Twilight activated her comm.

    "Shining Armor? Tell Russell he's fired. Nothing personal, I've just found someone better."

    Thanks to Toxin transforming into his vehicular mode – a Cybertronian racing car- Twilight quickly returned to the courtroom before the recess was up, where Russell was much distraught over being replaced.

    "You can't replace me!" Russell protested when Twilight arrived, prancing through the entrance to the courtroom with a renewed spring in her step. Toxin walked into the room behind while Russell continued chattering and squeaking, making arguments as to why he should be allowed to stay on as Twilight's defense attorney.

    "Are all parties returned?" Dai Atlas questioned, taking another scan around the room. There were affirmative nods all around. Prowl remained deathly silent, glaring at Toxin with contempt. Dai Atlas raised up a discus. "I'm given to understand that the party of Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor have replaced by their lawyer with a new one?"

    "Yes, Sir, Your Honor!" Toxin confirmed, sauntering to the side of Twilight's and Shining's chair. "Toxin of The Institute, here to represent the best interests of my clientele."

    Twilight didn't notice, too absorbed in trying to think of what miracle Toxin would pull out of thin air, Optimus' furtive biting of his lips at the mention of The Institute.

    Dai Atlas tilted his head. "The Institute, you say? This should be interesting! We last left off at an unsubstantiated claim by Prowl of Twilight Sparkle using her royal connections to go scot-free. Let us continue, shall we?" Dai Atlas leered at Prowl knowingly.

    "Right, then." Toxin mumbled, walking to the middle of the room and beginning to grandstand. "Friends, Cybertronians, Ponies, lend me your ears!"

    "Oh, please." Prowl muttered. "I've read better paraphrases off the back of-"

    "Shut up, Prowl." Dai Atlas snapped. "Continue, Defense."

    Toxin went in for the cheap shot. "As I was saying, before Prowl so rudely interrupted me... do we not all understand the mental taxes placed upon us by our siblings? By not wanting to fail our relatives and mentors?"

    "Objection! Relevance!?"

    "I'm going somewhere with this. Don't worry your pretty light-bar head." Toxin mocked. "Anyways, where was I? Oh yes! There is plenty of historical precedent as to how, when Shining Armor is involved, Twilight Sparkle's judgment is in doubt. His wedding, for instance, not mentioned the Dark Energon infusions that are the very root of this mess!"

    Dai Atlas shook his head, and the jury whispered among itself.

    Toxin raised a finger. "Twilight Sparkle is a very kind, caring, and generous pony." Twilight blushed profusely, but she got over it quickly be recalling the reason she was here. "And even the best of us sometimes have a bad day, and that is what I would to express to the court here; that Twilight Sparkle simply...had a bad day."

    Dai Atlas tucked his lips in, as if expecting more from Toxin. Toxin got the message and hastily stammered to buy some time.

    "Uh uh uh and, um...I'm sure she would do anything to make up for it!" Toxin added, turning to Twilight Sparkle. "Isn't that right, Twilight Sparkle?"

    "Anything." Twilight squealed out. "I would go back in time and stop myself from doing it. I would go to a human school, study human biological, and perform surgeries on each and every employee of Sumdac Systems so they wouldn't live with any permanent damage. I would study law and get them all the full extent of their life insurance, if I knew it meant they could forgive me."

    The audience murmured, while Celestia looked downwards. Dai Atlas pursed his lips.

    "A heartwarming sentiment, Miss Sparkle, and perhaps the humans would accept a quid pro quo...but as I told your brother before our recess, this is a court of the letter of the law." Dai Atlas crossed his arms and drew himself up to an impressive height that quashed all thoughts of atonement and hope from Twilight's mind. "Does the defense have any last tricks up its sleeve before I deem it time for the jury to deliberate?"

    "Yes, actually." Toxin answered. "You remember when you said this would get interesting? Here is where it gets interesting, Your Honor." Toxin walked up the Dai Atlas's chair and handed the acting judge a discus. Twilight noticed what appeared to be a black Autobot symbol on the disk.

    Dai Atlas took the disc and scanned it over. Whatever was on it seemed to frighten him. His fingers started shaking, his teeth began to chatter, and he brought his hand up his mouth and nearly bit his finger off.

    "Um...in light of the shocking evidence on this disc, I find I have no choice but to declare a mistrial." Dai Atlas announced. He banged his gavel. "This trial and its sentencing are hereby postponed indefinitely."

    The jury suppressed surprised whispers. The audience started exchanging rumors again, although this time, they wised up and left the courtroom while Prowl was outraged.

    "Senator! You can't really let Twilight Sparkle off that easily-!"

    "Silence!" Dai Atlas ordered him. "That is my ruling, and it is final!" Dai Atlas jumped out of his seat and transformed into his flying boat mode, rocketing out of the courtroom with the haste of the March Hare.

    Twilight should have been elated; she should have been overjoyed. She should be leaping into the air and hugging her brother, exchanging relieves with Shining Armor about how they just barely got off the hook...and yet...she couldn't. Something was going on. Something scary was on that disc.

    "Did we win?" Shining confusedly questioned thin air as the courtroom continued to thin out.

    "I don't know..." Twilight admitted. "I honestly don't know."

    Meanwhile, Toxin was rubbing his chin. "Mmm...time travel...now there's a thought."

    "You won't get away with this!" Prowl shouted at Toxin, pointing his finger angrily. "I'll see to it Twilight Sparkle AND you are both found guilty!"

    "Yeah, yeah..." Toxin ignored him and walked towards Twilight.

    The jury began leaving, and Sari Sumdac stopped for a minute to look at Twilight before she headed out the door. Twilight looked back, and saw the sincerity in Sari's dim blue eyes.

    "I meant every word." Twilight told her. "Whatever it takes to fix it, I'll do it, no matter what."

    This seemed to be good enough for Sari, who chuckled and smiled lightly. "I'm glad to hear that, Twilight Sparkle...you really are just a walking catastrophe waiting to happen, aren't you?"

    "Yeah...well..." Twilight rubbed the back of her neck nervously.

    "Oh, and...my dad checked out of the hospital today." Sari informed them as she walked off. "He'll need some fresh air for awhile, but he and every one of his employees are going to be fine. Looks you're really off the hook this time."

    Twilight sighed and wiped her forehead. "Whew! I can forgive myself for a little, teeny-tiny complete and utter annihilation of a building, but I'd never be able to live with myself if I hurt somepony."

    "Twilight Sparkle..."

    Twilight, Sari, and Shining Armor whipped their heads up to see Optimus addressing them.

    "Could I talk-"

    "Ah, ah ah!" Toxin had the gall to interrupt Optimus Prime. "That'll have to wait, Optimus." Toxin scooped Twilight into his palm. "Right now, there's a room in The Institute with this Little Pony's name on it!" Toxin transformed, a chute opening up as he did so that Twilight fell in that brought right into his vehicular mode's driver seat, and drove out the door.

    Celestia walked up to Optimus Prime. "Is...something wrong, Optimus?"

    Optimus didn't cut any corners in his answer.

    "Yes."

    Toxin was soon driving out on the streets, quickly passing the audience outside the courtroom of outraged executives demanding Twilight's head, curious, but unaffected Autobots wondering the outcome of the trial, and eager reporters seeking to ask questions well outside their right.

    Inside the car, Twilight started fiddling with Toxin's buttons. "Could you lower the window? I want to feel the wind on my face."

    "Of course." Toxin's right-side door window slid down, allowing the breeze to whip Twilight's mane as Toxin continued driving. There was nothing quite like the feeling of the wind on her face in a car going 80 Mph or more to reassure her she was a free mare. She knew where Toxin was taking her; the location of The Institute and its grand designs. Thoughts of guilt about she had gotten away with so much without even getting a slap on wrist were buried in the back of Twilight's mind beneath piles of other clutter. The unicorn was so excited at what new inventions The Institute might have she could hardly think of anything else.

    "Oooh! Do you guys have a particle collider synchrotron?" Twilight asked.

    "No...uh, yes...uh, maybe. I don't know." Toxin answered. "Ah! We're here."

    "All ready?"

    "Eh, you tend to get places when you ignore the speed limit like I do."

    Following that remark, Twilight uncomfortably opened Toxin's door and stepped out to at last hold her gaze on The Institute's building, while Toxin converted to robot mode behind her.

    It wasn't an impressive building. It was little more than a large, beige square with a glass door in front. Twilight was underwhelmed by is unassuming appearance. The only thing assuring this was The Institute were the large black letters mounted above the door spelling as such. Underneath the sign was a motto, also done in black letters, with a black Autobot insignia with white trim next to it.

    The Institute

    We Do What We Must, Because, We Can.


    "Doesn't look like much..." Twilight muttered.

    "Trust me. It's bigger on the inside. Come on." Toxin gestured for her to follow him as he entered the establishment, flicking the glass doors open with a wave of his hand without even touching them. Twilight did as instructed and followed him inside.

    The inside was more along the lines of what Twilight was expecting. Tables huge to her, but normal to Cybertronians were everywhere, and on every one of them was a piece of technology, if not a collection of scrap metal and spare parts meant to be assembled into technology.

    Twilight oohed at all the various piece of machinery, which was split between things she could recognize and things she couldn't, as well as a few things she were sure were the result of a scientist taking some parts and just smashing them together until they vaguely resembled something with a purpose.

    There were two scientists out, working on one table with blowtorches drawn and fire safety mask worn. One of them looked like Toxin, but orange in place of white, and white in place of Toxin's blue, while the other mostly white one appeared to have wings on his long, detached arms. Twilight presumed he was an Aerialbot, a special type of Seeker that defected to the Autobots, even though she knew not all flying Autobots were Aerialbots, and the Aerialbots were far from being scientists.

    Toxin cleared his throat and waved his hand for his colleagues' attention. "Ahem. Hey! Hey, everybody! Guys! … PHARMA! CHROMEDOME!"

    The two of them stopped working on what they working on – to Twilight, it seemed to be a mechanical armadillo made of water canteens fused together, but...Cybertron...doesn't have armadillos. They adjusted their safety visors, revealing their faces; the orange one had an identical face to Toxin's, but with orange plating and a yellow visor. The other had a red helmet that curved at the top and white face- an actual face.

    "Pharma," Toxin gestured to the winged Autobot, which made his identical copy Chromedome by elimination, "Chromedome, meet Twilight Sparkle." Toxin gestured to the horse at his feet.

    "Oh! Is she the one the bosses have been raving about-?" Pharma questioned, but Chromedome silenced by placing a hand over his mouth.

    "Eh-heh, she can't know about that." Chromedome hissed. "Apologies, Miss Sparkle, but you understand how these bureaucracies work, don't you?"

    "I do." Twilight nodded her head. She kept watching Chromedome and Pharma with interest piqued.

    Chromedome removed his hand from Pharma's mouth, and Pharma cleared his throat.

    "Ahem...anyways, Toxin's been telling us about how you are on the fence about joining our lovely Institution!" Pharma declared, raising his hands up. He pointed to the corner of the room, where, a keyboard, a double bass and a musical triangle and bar sized to Autobot scale were at rest.

    "So we decided to prepare a little musical number to help you convince you!" Pharma declared, clapping his hands together and rubbing them excitedly.

    Pharma, Chromedome, and Toxin, after placing Twilight gently on a table's vacant corner for a better view, walked over and each took an instrument; Toxin, the triangle, Chromedome, the keyboard, and Pharma, the bass.

    Chromedome began the composition, his fingers trawling along the keyboard, making a somber, Blues musical tone that made Twilight feel inexplicably sad. Her lips started to pout, and her shoulders sagged.

    Chromedome noticed, stopped playing, and snapped his fingers.

    "Got you, didn't we?"

    Chromedome began playing a much more lively, faster score that made Twilight's hooves want to dance of their own accord. Pharma began strumming the base, and Toxin carefully timed when he clanged the triangle to give the best contrast against the other instruments. They started breaking out into song to go with their music.

    Welcome, Twilight, dear, to the Institute!
    We'll have such a jolly good time,

    If you would just sign this here dotted line.

    Welcome to The Institute! The Institute!


    Pharma took over the singing.

    If you ever get a cold,

    You'll see why they call me Mister Pharma Ceutical!

    There's nothing I can't fix

    With my patented polyon stitches!

    Something fantastic which

    I couldn't have made without this establishment's riches!

    And if during testing, you accidentally got shot

    You can be sure I'll patch you back up

    Before your wires start to rot!


    Pharma stopped singing, then he and Chromedome clasped hands, swung each other around and began playing the others' instrument while Chromedome picked up the lyrics.

    Don't mind if there's a corpse that starts talking;

    Just keep it bolted or it's a dead mech walking.

    We never use an unwillingly donated body

    Though for some reason, not a lot of people donate, oddly.

    Maybe it's got something do with the fact

    You stroll out the trade market and just buy bodies in the afternoon

    Oh well, but I digress

    There are other ways to safely run your tests

    Our practices are fair and safe;

    With science, we are masters of our fate

    There's no need to worry about morality;

    We've all sighed the-


    Toxin, Chromedome and Pharma sung the next line together.

    NECESSARY formalities!

    Toxin then took over;

    If all this talk of bodies is giving you a scare;

    Then we're sorry dear, we just mean you have free reign here!

    Though we sometimes have our bad days where something pink turns brown,

    Always we help each other out of the grooound...

    Do you ever wish you could fall up

    Instead of always falling down? (Down-down-downedy-down-now)

    Well, at The Institute, The Institute, you can!

    Are you a victim of gravity?

    Well, working together, we can stop it, you and me!

    Twilight frowned. "Well, I'm starting to be convinced, but...what if I don't meet your boss's requriments?"

    The three Autobots laughed. They whipped out hats, tuxedos and canes from nowhere and sung to a different tune and dancing. It was like a barbershop quartet, but with three members instead of four, so...barbershop triplet?

    Oh, Twilight, Dear, you have absolutely nothing to fear;

    Truth is at one point or another, we've all been there.

    Maybe you tore open a portal far from home;

    Maybe you just gave our boss a scare;

    But the fact of the matter is, when you're here, you're alone.

    We have each others' backs,

    We're tight-knits as stones!

    If all this talks of experiments gone awry,

    Begin to give you a scare,

    Well, that's not what we meant;

    We just mean you have free reign here!


    "What about reindeer?"

    "What? No, nothing about...uh...scrap, I forgot the rest of the lyrics."

    To recover from the mishap, the three bots began swapping instruments and rhythms, leading to such interesting variations as; Chromedome playing the keyboard with his feet, doing an Irish jig, Pharma playing the bass with using Toxin's triangle as a guitar pick, and Toxin playing his triangle by grabbing the back of Chromedome's head and banging it on the triangle. Chromedome didn't seem to mind; in fact, Twilight thought she heard him mutter "Why didn't I think of something like that?"

    There's no need to be droll;

    Just spice things up with a few charged electrodes!

    We got a whole variety from turbo boosters, spare accelerators, cogs and gears, copper wires, Robo-rooters, axles and oil tears, turbofoxes breathing fire, AAANDD some wet wipes, just in case you make a mess while you're playing mad science with us alien robots from outer space!

    We'll so much fun at The Institute,

    At The Institute, The Institute,

    Come and study with us!


    Toxin dinged his triangle one last time. Twilight fell onto her rump, bouncing like a baby's cradle as her weight shifted on the table, but that didn't stop her from clapping! "Whoo! Yay! Brave! Encore!"

    "I'd rather not." Toxin politely declined, sounding exhausted enough from his first song.

    Twilight righted and composed herself. "Anyways...yes! Yes, I'll join The Institute's research!"

    "Vunderbar!" Toxin exclaimed, throwing his comrades away from him as he brought his arms in elation. "Let's get started right away! Um- unless you had something you needed to do today?"

    "Not that I can recall...I'm sure Optimus will tell my friends what happened..." Twilight looked sadly away, remembering the trial and how Toxin had saved her from a condemnation sentencing.

    "Hey, cheer up!" Toxin encouraged. "Live in the now, Twilight, not in the past."

    Twilight closed her eyes. "You're right, Toxin. You're right."

    In short order, Twilight Sparkle was back on the ground, with her own little play set of arc wielders and scrapmetal to create whatever she could imagine on the little table that was sized to her species.

    "Mmmm..." She picked up what she made so far – a steel sphere rusted brown- and examined it before tossing it aside, deeming it as useless as the scrap she had used to make it. "Gotta think bigger..."

    She was so wrapped in her work, she hadn't thought about Sumdac Systems or Sari or Issac or Lucy, or noticed when Shining Armor came galloping into the building, looking for her, until he shouted her name.

    "Twiley!"

    "Shining?" Twilight turned just in time to see a blur of white fur crash into her and lock into a bonecrushing bearhug. "What...are..." Twilight strained her words, her windpipe being choked by her brother's strong muscles. "You doing here?"

    "I've been looking everywhere for you!" Shining explained. "No one knows where you went since you disappeared Sumdac Systems is fine!"

    "Disappeared? Shining, I understand if you want to pretend I'm innocent, being your little sister and all, but I burned that place to the ground!"

    Shining drew back and gave her a confused glare. "Twiley, what are you talking about? The place is fine."

    "But-but-" Twilight stuttered, before having a moment of brilliance. "Toxin! Did you use your freaky mnemnosurgery on my brother?"

    "Twilight Sparkle," Toxin appeared in an instant at her call. "I swear to you, I did not tamper with your brother's memories. Cross my Spark and hope to fly...tic, stick a cupcake in my optic."

    "Hmm." Twilight grunted, but she was sure Toxin was aware of the kind of havoc Pinkie Pie wreaked when a Pinkie Promise was disabused.

    "The timestream, on the other hand..." Toxin mysteriously slipped out. "Why, I didn't take your suggestion of going back in time to prevent you from destroying the facility to begin with to Spark, and then carry out that out while using specially modulate gear to make so only you remembered what happened. No, I did not!" Toxin spoke in a mocking tone that made it clear that was exactly what he had done.

    Twilight put a hoof to her chin. Toxin had gone out and undid her crime, without informing or asking for her permission to do so. She had to wonder what the legal area was for this sort of thing.

    She wondered if she really realized what she was getting into, signing up for...

    The Institute.

    "Shining...I think I may have signed a deal with the draconequus, and the draconequus was clever enough to keep me from realizing it until my name was already on the dotted line."

    "Huh?"


    *** *** ***
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  5. Darkryt

    Darkryt Combiner Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2013
    Posts:
    612
    Trophy Points:
    147
    Location:
    Aether Foundation
    Likes:
    +245
    Sunli Nevla. That was the name of an atypical blue mongoose with the ability to speak, standing triumphant over the defeated remains of Lord Shockwave. His trusty steed, a sea green Little Pony by the name of Fizzy, and he were standing atop of pile of grey and lifeless rubble left over from the furious battle that just taken place. It was long, hard, and Sunli was low on energy- yet strangely, his perfect blue coat had nary a blemish.

    Sunli's long, flowing silvery mane billowed in the wind, his sword held high as he prepared to deal the final blow to the heartless Decepticon buried under the rubble below.

    "No...no, please!" The normally emotionless Shockwave begged as Sunli raised his sword to deliver the final blow. "Have mercy, O Sunli The Magnificent!"

    "You have no mercy, Shockwave." Sunli snarled, "And now, you beg for it. I thought-"

    BLEEP BLEEP!

    Within the Autobot base, Sunli's tall tale was interrupted by a rather annoyed bleeping from Bumblebee. The Littlest Pet Shop Pet had seriously exaggerated the story of how he helped Bumblebee out earlier today.

    "What's his problem?" Vinnie, Sunli's camp gecko companion, asked of Bumblebee's translator, Raf. But Raf couldn't understand him, so Raf needed his own translator – which was where Pinkie Pie came in.

    They had been conversing for the last few minutes, discussing the excited day they had. Pinkie carried Zoe's inquiry over to Raf, who translated Bumblebee's thoughts without the muted Scout even needing to voice them.

    "He says Sunli isn't telling the story right." Raf answered, which Pinkie translated into a whinny that Vinnie understood.

    "And we should know!" Pinkie added. "We were there, for pete's sake!

    "So what is the story?" Vinnie rather impatiently demanded, over the clicking and computerized beeping of Ratchet's work in the background.

    Bumblebee bleeped out his response.

    "He says he'll tell if Sunli promises not to interrupt again." Pinkie translated.

    "Fine...but my story had a better ending!" The mongoose shook his paw at Bumblebee, earning a dismissive whir from the Scout.

    Yeah, right. Bumblebee scoffed in his bleep speech. Pinkie and Raf knew they didn't need to translate that.

    Bumblebee made a noise of crackling static. To Pinkie and Raf, it sounded like he was clearing his throat. To the Pets, it sounded like he was dying.

    Ahem! Let's start from the beginning. I'm Bumblebee, and I want to tell you a story.

    The story how, earlier, today, I totally ruined Twilight Sparkle's wedding.

    Hey little sister what have you done?
    Hey little sister who's the only one?

    It's a nice day for a white wedding.
    It's a nice day to start again.

    White Wedding - Billy Idol,

    INFILTRATION

    Story 4

    (Tran)siste(o)r Of The Bride


    *** ***

    It all started during the mornin'...what am I, Scottish, now, or something? mornin'...I mean, morning. Princess Cadence and Twilight's friends had taken us – that's me and Team Prime- to go and explore the Crystal Empire and learn about it. Naturally, Optimus jumped at the chance. Smokescreen wasn't invited, as he was assigned to Equestria anyways...Ooh, I remember when we got there. It was the first time any of Team Prime had seen the Crystal Empire up close. On the edge of town, Optimus stopped and gazed up wistfully at the looming spires of the Crystal Castle...

    The Ponies and Team Prime noticed that Optimus was lagging behind them.

    "What's wrong, Optimus?" Cadence asked.

    "It is this place." Optimus answered. "It reminds me of Crystal City, a city we had on Cybertron before the War. I wonder if it has been restored..."

    "Oh..." Ratchet moaned sadly and turned to face the same spire Optimus was looking at. "I guess it does kind of resemble the once great Crystal City of Cybertron..."

    "Yeah, okay, nope, nope, nope!" Cadence insisted, and the members of Team Prime that were now longing for a return to a simpler time before the war found themselves being dragged across the ground by their feet against their will.

    "This is going to be a happy occasion, Optimus." Cadence growled, horn aglow. "None of this mourning and longing! You are going to stay here, you are going to enjoy yourselves, and everypony will have a good time!"

    Ha ha. That really shut Optimus up good. Cadence gave us the royal tour of the entire Empire and all its districts. When we got close to the Crystal Castle, Arcee and Rainbow Dash had to leave to deal with a slight nuisance. But that's a whole nother story!

    Where was I? Oh yes! After Rainbow Dash and Arcee departed, Cadence had the great idea that it would be good idea to have us all stop by the spa and get genuine Crystal Massages from genuine Crystal Masseuses By the AllSpark, they just have Crystal Everything, don't they? What's next? Wait, let me guess! Crystal...Shampoo! Crystal Oil! Wait, that might actually be interesting, actually.

    But I'm getting sidetracked. She led us into the spa, where Twilight's brother joined us. He kept giving Optimus the evil optic. I'm starting to think he doesn't like us, for some reason.


    "Here it is!" Cadence exclaimed, gesturing towards the building that was actually large to hold a Cybertronian or two or four, in this case. "Go right on in!"

    Optimus ducked his head and made his way inside, careful to avoid hitting his head on the ceiling of the door frame.

    I have to admit, I'm impressed by the Crystals' extravagance. This was a building they made 1,000 years ago, and it was big enough to let Team Prime and I in!

    Inside, Crystal Ponies were diligently at work, scrubbing the manes of clients with relaxing crystal shampoo. Bubbles of frothy pink formed on their heads as the masseuses' hooves went to work scrubbing every lock of hair and with it, every knot of tension the client may have had formed in their bodies.

    Princess Cadence hadn't just brought the Team here on a whim; they were raised platforms of steel bars everywhere, each at a specific height to corresponded to the Autobot it was meant for. The Crystal Ponies had been prepared for this visit. Cadence directed each robot into their respective places and blew a whistle, giving the order for the masseuses to come forward start their work on each robot. Each team of ponies went up the platform's ladders and reached their hooves through the bars to start working out the kinks in each robot's shoulders. How machines got kinks in their shoulders, the Crystal Ponies didn't know. The due that was working on Optimus' right shoulder, however, managed to accidentally bust his shoulderplate open, exposing a piece of branch that was tangled in his wires.

    "How did that get there?"

    Optimus remained silent, unusually so.

    "An excursion with the Princess gone awry, perhaps?" Ratchet grumpily suggested, before moving his arm to give his masseuse better access to the sensitive parts. "Oh, right there! Apply some pressure directly below the collaborator..." The Masseuse didn't understand what he was talking about and just proceeded as normal. Ratchet turned his attention back to Optimus. "You have been spending some time with her, as of late..."

    Optimus looked away bashfully. "Please, Ratchet. Remember what Her Majesty Mi-"

    "Optimus! You know I don't like my full name being used!"

    Optimus nodded in Cadence's direction. "Remember what Her Majesty Cadence said. This is to be a happy occasion."

    "All right..." Ratchet reluctantly admitted. "But we do need to have some talk about that some time. I'm worried some of Princess Celestia's..." Ratchet gazed downwards, unsure what to say. "Mischievousness will rub off on you."

    Optimus' optics droned as he looked away again.

    I stood there nervously. No pony seemed to notice my own masseuse hadn't arrived while all the other bots were getting tickled and rubbed. I wasn't jealous, per se, just...felt like I had been singled out.

    "Ooh!" Cadence whined in sympathy, noticing how no one was attending to Bumblebee. The Princess looked around for the masseuse scheduled for him and came to the conclusion that she hadn't shown up to work today because she was sick or something. "Is nopony attending you, Bumblebee?" Cadence asked the small mech, her voice laced with the kind of concern a grandparent gives their grandchild when they see they've run out of milk to go with their cookies.

    Bumblebee nodded shyly.

    "Here." Cadence volunteered, flying from Optimus' platform to Bumblebee's. "Let me fix that..." Cadence stepped in place nervously, and looked at Twilight, still on the ground. "This will be new! I've never given a neck message to a robot before!"

    "If anypony can do it, it's you!" Twilight assured her former foalsitter.

    "Wish me luck..." Cadence muttered, before cricking her neck. Cadence cracked her wings against, beating them on each other to remove any stiffness that might interrupt Bumblebee's neck message. "All right..." Cadence reached her wings through the bars of the platform and applied her feathers to the side of Bumblebee's neck. "Is here good?"

    Cadence didn't notice Bumblebee's optics dilate. Unbeknownst to her, she had touch a sensitive spot; the very spot where Megatron had held Bumblebee's throat while crushing his voicebox. Bumblebee's neck had healed since then, repaired over countless time by wielding meant to deal with more recent battle damage from more recent battles. Yet, he still felt it.

    Bumblebee saw him. Bumblebee saw Megatron, holding his throat. Twisted shrapnel pointed upwards. The wreckage left over after Megatron had finished rampaging through the forward base. Fire and pillars of ash twisted and wove through the air, the glare of the heat painting Megatron's silver body as black as his Spark truly was. Megatron's sharktooth fangs visible as he grimaced from Bumblebee's refusal to divulge the information the Decepticon Lord sought.

    Bumblebee readied his blasters, and perhaps the fact he could access them now when he couldn't have during that event should have tipped him off to the fact this wasn't actually happening, but merely a traumatic echo of what happened. It didn't matter in his mind, though; all that mattered was getting out and escaping.

    Bumblebee raised his blasters and fired at Megatron's face. Even Bumblebee's most well-executed barrage of laser fire only seemed to phase through Megatron's body, prompting Megatron to laugh, mocking Bumblebee's inability to hurt him. Bumblebee shrieked and went for the simple approach, clawing at Megatron's face with his hands, trying to scratch his face. Megatron didn't laugh so much at that.

    Meanwhile, to those who didn't accompany Bumblebee to La-La Land, The Crystal Ponies ran and ducked when Bumblebee started firing randomly through the spa for seemingly no reason. Ratchet raised his arms to block Bumblebee's shots from hitting a pony or two, and Twilight and Cadence could only watch in horror; Bumblebee was clearly on a mission, and there would be no easy stopping him.

    Mercifully for everypony, Optimus specialized in doing things that weren't easy.

    "BUMBLEBEE!" Optimus shouted and grabbed his Scout by the shoulders, applying enough pressure to snap Bumblebee out of his mirage, but not so much so the smaller mech's armor would crack.

    I felt so ashamed. Optimus was angry with me. I just had nearly shot organics, one of our biggest no-no's. I looked around and saw all the pits and smoke wisps rising into the air from where my shots had seared the walls. But- but it wasn't my fault! I didn't mean to! I saw Megatron's face! Optimus!


    Bumblebee looked up at the larger robot who had him held firmly, and his widened optics told Optimus all that Optimus needed to know.

    "Bumblebee..." Optimus muttered silently, closing his optics. "Come here..." Optimus took his hands off Bumblebee's shoulders and bent down to hug him, patting the Urbana 500 on the back. "Come here, solider...he can't hurt you anymore... it's all right."

    Bumblebee bleeped sorrowfully and wrapped his arms around his father figure's back.

    Seeing the shots had stopped, everypony and bot began rising up from their covers, to see the sight of Optimus holding Bumblebee so tightly.

    Cadence put her front hooves on the bars, and looked at Twilight on the ground. Twilight shrugged with as much uncertainty was Cadence was feeling.

    Shining Armor raised from his cover. "I hope you're giving some good reprimanding, Optimus..." Shining muttered, and he was infuriated when he saw Optimus not just not reprimanding Bumblebee, but hugging him! Shining's muzzle rolled like a revving engine as he growled.

    Optimus gave Bumblebee one last pat on the back before separating from him and putting his hands on Bumblebee's shoulders in a much more comforting manner. "All better, Scout?"

    Bumblebee bleeped and nodded.

    I'm sorry, Optimus...

    "Princess Cadence." Optimus said seriously, turning towards the Crystal Matriarch. "I believe it would be best if any further festivities were postponed."

    "Of-of course..." Cadence nodded, putting her hoof to her mouth sadly. She meant when she said this was going to a happy occasion, but she could see trying to force the events she had planned wouldn't be stubborn, it would be stupid, so she let Optimus decision pass. It saddened her that it would come to this.

    "Nice going, Bumblebee!" Shining Armor scolded. "Cadence said this was going to be a happy day, and you singlehandedly ruined it! Very nice, Bumbler!"

    But...but...oh!

    Bumblebee ran out of the building, his car doors swinging up and down on their hinges, beeping sadly and rapidly in lieu of the ability to properly wail and voice his depression.

    "Hmph." Shining felt rather pleased with himself that he had brought a big, bad Autobot to tears, but that dissipated when he turned around and saw Optimus snarling at him. The disapproving glare of the Last Prime, to Shining, felt like he had dunce cap slapped on him, sprayed with dog training water, and then had a metal pole shoved into his spine.

    Optimus pointed his finger rigidly at Shining, and Shining prepared himself for a long-winded lecture about overstepping his boundaries, but instead, Optimus humphed and turned towards the door.

    "Twilight Sparkle, if you would accompany me..." Optimus said.

    Twilight looked to her brother, humphed in his direction, and pranced behind Optimus' leg out the door.

    Shining watched her go, then noticed his wife looking at him as well.

    "Shining...is something going on?"

    Shining rubbed the back of his neck sorely. "Yeah..."

    *** *** ***

    Elsewhere, in the rebuilt Kaon, while Optimus and Twilight struggled to comfort Bumblebee in the Crystal Empire, the imposing Decepticon enforcer Blackout lumbered through the halls, a half mind to visit Shockwave in his laboratory.

    Shockwave had recently rendered all access to his lab null and void, announcing he had a secret project. The Decepticons knew, when Shockwave said something was a secret project, that meant he had a secret project. Any Decepticon foolish enough to barge their way in Shockwave's lab despite his warnings could very well find himself reallocated to a job managing scrap, regardless of their actual function.

    Blackout's three-fingered claws fiddled with a tanker of oil. The mustachioed, grasshopper like Decepticon stared the tanker, giving off an unusual pink bubble from inside, and reconsidered whether or not he really wanted to go through with this.

    Blackout closed his optics and sighed.

    "Hey!"

    Blackout opened his optics and turned around – something that wasn't easy for him and his large bulk in the hallway, barely enough to keep a Leaper inside. Blackout saw that Barricade, a mouthy little speed demon of a Con who turned into a police car, ironically.

    "What ya up to, Blackout?" Barricade asked. It was rare for anyone to dare to even come close to Shockwave's laboratory after the announcement Shockwave was beginning work on some super-secret project.

    "Nothing," Blackout fibbed, trying to hide the tanker in his claw behind his back.

    "Oh come on!" Barricade protested, trying to hop over and look over Blackout's large back. "I know you got something! What are you doin', huh? So close to Shockwave's lab, to boot?"

    "I'm..." Blackout hesitated. "Playing a prank on him."

    Barricade whistled. "Whoa! Really? Playing a prank on Shockwave? That's...like, playing a prank on...well, actually, Shockwave's such an emotionless dweeb I can't really think of a good comparison- hey!" Barricade was so caught up in his rant, Blackout had time to enter the entry code into the door to Shockwave's lab, slip through the door, and by the time Barricade noticed, Blackout was already on the other side with the door closing.

    "See ya!" Blackout waved at Barricade through the closing doors. Barricade fumed.

    On the other side, Blackout saw Shockwave at work, pushing buttons on a terminal that was mounted on a very, very large tube full of yellowish green liquid of questionable nature.

    Shockwave continued his work, then stopped abruptly, sensing the presence of an uninvited guest. His shoulders tensed, and he turned around. "You better have a good reason for intruding on my work, Blackout."

    Blackout was always impressed with out how Shockwave's tone could express contempt while still maintaining an even tone of voice.

    "Er, yes..." Blackout muttered, noticing that there appeared to be a shape within the tube. "I've made this experimental new fuel, Lord Shockwave."

    Shockwave gave Blackout an interested optic, as though he might just forgive Blackout for intruding on his experiments. "Illogical...I mean, unusual. I did not take you for a scientist, Blackout."

    "Well..." Blackout muttered. "It was actually something of an accident, really... I'll just leave it here, on your table, and you can try it when you need to refuel."

    "Very good." Shockwave agreed. "Now leave me be!" The thing in Shockwave's tube, whatever it was, seemed to twitch. "I have much work to do!"

    "Of course, My Liege." Blackout bowed and made haste to leave the room. Once outside, Blackout sighed, putting his claw on the wall in remorse. At least Barricade had left, so Blackout didn't have to deal with his mouth.

    "Is this really what Megatron would have wanted?" Blackout asked himself, knowing he would not get an answer.

    Blackout took his claw off the door and started walking down the hallway. "Is this the path he would have me walk down?"

    Blackout left the tower, heading towards a landing pad attached just to the side of the tower. Blackout looked around, contemplating all he saw. Cybertron's artificial sun burning brightly in the sky. The glow of Changeling Batteries assuring the populace the world was alive and well.

    Blackout converted into his vehicular mode and flew loops around Kaon, eventually passing enough towers that he transformed again and landed just in front of a huge statue of Megatron that had been erected in the late Lord's honor while he was still alive.

    The area around was as desolate and empty as the grave. It still looked dead, despite the fact Cybertron was very much alive now. As no one was there, Blackout had the whole area all to himself. Blackout looked up at the amazingly accurate statute. The sculptor had gotten everything right, from Megatron's pauldrons, to his claws, to his fangs.

    Blackout contemplated the statute for a moment, before dropping to his knees. Being so large, he made a particularly heavy and forceful thud as he bowed, begging for his dead master's forgiveness for any mistake he may have made in giving Shockwave the experimental fuel.

    "Come what may, know that everything I do, I do for you, My Liege."

    *** *** ***

    Everypony stopped whatever they were doing when Optimus Prime came into Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle at his side. Mothers stopped watering their plants, lumberjacks ceased cutting up wood. The sight of Optimus was still breathtaking to him, as despite his best efforts to relate to them on a personal level, they still found him to be as intimidating as the idea of Celestia walking into town unannounced. Optimus did not show his botheration that ponies were staring at him, merely carrying on his way as he walked Twilight to the library.

    "Thank you for walking me home, Optimus." Twilight passed platitudes towards him as she put her hoof on the door to her treehouse home. "You're a real gentlecolt, hahaha..."

    Optimus maintained a neutral expression. Twilight wasn't surprised he wouldn't laugh at his joke. Getting him to give anything but a neutral or grave expression was feat into itself.

    "Twilight Sparkle..." Optimus said seriously, catching her attention just before she went inside the open door.

    Optimus crouched down to speak with her on a more equal level. "I would like to discuss Shining Armor's treatment of Bumblebee earlier today."

    Twilight looked away. "Well... I'm not sure what's happening exactly, but I think he's blaming you and all the Cybertronians for things that Starscream and Megatron did."

    "Mm." Optimus grunted, then turned to leave, his metal footsteps tromping across the grass. Tromp, tromp tromp.

    "One last thing...Twilight Sparkle...do not think Toxin's tampering with the timestream has escaped my notice."

    Twilight blanched and quickly whipped her head around, only to see Optimus had vanished into thin. Twilight wondered how he did that. Autobots couldn't do teleportation magic, or...any magic at all, as far she knew, Matrix notwithstanding, and if were a GroundBridge, she would have heard the whirring of swirling warp energies.

    Twilight continued into her home, rather shaken from the revelation Optimus somehow knew about what Toxin did for her. How? Was it just a premonition that came with being a Prime? Did the Matrix of Leadership grant divine protection from manipulation of time or something like that? Twilight sighed and resolved not to think of it, or what Optimus was going to do about it. This was getting too stressful for her.

    She trotted inside her house, bucked her door closed behind her, and took her usual roost at a table, levitating a book out from the shelf and placed it on the table, splitting it open for herself to read and forget about everything going on today.

    Just as she started to ease into her chair, brushing away thoughts of The Institute and ridiculous scenarios of punishment from Optimus, she heard a knock on the door.

    Twilight groaned in frustration, almost ready to use her magic and vaporize whomever was on the other side of the door for interrupting her time just as she was finally starting to unwind. She pulled the door open with her magic and saw the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Scootaloo, Applebloom, and Sweetie Belle waiting outside the door with innocent smiles on their face.

    Twilight chided herself for thinking so silly, but their smiles seemed entirely too innocent. It didn't seem like they were trying to hide the fact they either wanted something or had just inadvertently unleashed an ancient evil deity (again). Rather, they seemed to just be happy about something that Twilight didn't know of.

    "Hey, Twilight!" Apple Bloom greeted. "We heard y'all have been down lately..."

    Scootaloo produced a tall glass cup from her wing, full of light colored juice that gleamed in the reflection of the sun pouring on it. "So we made you this lemonade!"

    "Okay..." Twilight took the glass into her magic and stared at it for a little bit. After a moment of feeling like she was being watched, Twilight look up from the glass at the Crusader fillies, still eagerly gathered around her door and watching her with bated breath, waiting for her to sample the lemonade.

    "Thank you, girls. I'll enjoy this while reading my books." Twilight took the lemonade into her house and magicked the door shut, before placing the lemonade on the table with expert precision, at a safe distance from her book where it wouldn't soak into the pages if it was unceremoniously knocked over.

    Twilight heard the Crusaders groan from the other side of the door, disappointed they couldn't see Twilight's reaction to their heartfelt attempt to make some perking lemonade for her.

    Twilight stared at the tall glass on her table, giving her best scrutinizing glare. There was another knock on the door that caught her attention, but before the unicorn could groan again, Applejack barged her way inside without any regard for whether or not she had been invited.

    "Ah jus' saw Apple Bloom walk off from 'ere." Applejack relayed to Twilight. "She seemed mighty upset 'bout sumthin'. Any idea wut?"

    "Yeah." Twilight gestured Applejack to come over to the table. "Take a look at this."

    Applejack stepped forward and lowered her head so her head was even with the absolutely sparkling lemonade. "'Kay. Wut about it?"

    "The Crusaders made this. Your sister made lemonade." Twilight explained.

    Applejack frowned. "But that's not an apple drink..." Applejack sniffed cautiously at the edge of the glass. "Unless they put apples in the lemonade...?"

    "I don't think they did. Look at it. Took a real close look at it..."

    Applejack did as Twilight instructed, glaring at the lemonade with the burning hot intensity of an apple pony at heart being made to eat carrots in the winter or starve to death of frostbite and hunger.

    "There's nothin' wrong wit' it." Applejack concluded.

    "Exactly!" Twilight decried. "There's no- no funny colors, no tentacles popping out of the glass, no dark and ominous murmurings- it's just a flawless glass of lemonade – made by the Cutie Mark Crusaders?"

    Applejack thought about this for a bit.

    The Cutie Mark Crusaders were the reigning local queens of making simple tasks and things somehow go impossibly wrong. Oh, sure, a particularly clumsy little filly could cause a chain reaction that could bring the entire school studio's set of its most recent play come crashing down, but the Cutie Mark Crusaders doing the same thing would somehow result in dragons running loose through the school and most of town as well.

    "Yeah. Okay. Ah see yer point. Sumthin's not right 'ere. Wut do y'all think we should do?"

    "I don't know..." Twilight shook her head, causing her mane to sway. "Just … go talk to them. See if something's getting them down, or- I don't know..."

    "Ah will..." Applejack nodded and left the house, calling her sister's name for a hopefully brief talk. "Hey, Apple Bloom!"

    Twilight used her magic to close the door, then took another glance the flawless lemonade. Lemonade. From the Cutie Mark Crusaders, that had absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    Twilight shrugged. "Well, I suppose that since the only thing that's wrong with it is that there's nothing wrong with it..." Twilight levitated the glass to her muzzle and took a sip. Putting the glass back down, Twilight smacked her lips to judge the lemonade's taste.

    "A bit on the sweet side." She concluded, before going back to her book.

    Then she felt something like a spring going sproing in her head. She rubbed at her forehead, feeling for any unnatural bumps or unusual occurrences.

    "Okay, well, that was weird...maybe there was something in the lemonade after all." Twilight massaged her temples for a little while, trying to think of what the worst-case scenario would be so she could take precautions against it. For once, she wasn't able to think of it, but that may have been because she was just distracted from the odd feelings.

    "That's funny..." Twilight murmured to herself. "I have the strangest..."

    Seemingly automatically and without thinking about it all, Twilight's hooves moved up and closed her book, before her horn lit up and carried the book back into its place on the shelf.

    "Spike!" Twilight called. "Could you come here, please? I want to write the Princess about using the Space Bridge!"

    "Coming!" Spike quickly appeared, waddling down the stairs with some papyrus and an ink-soaked quill, freshly plucked from a healthy bird of some sort. "Where do you want to go?"

    "Kaon." Twilight answered. "Cybertron. Shockwave's lab."

    Spike was confused and uncertain about this. "A-are you sure, Twilight?" Spike scooted his foot across the floor, trying to appear innocent so Twilight would maybe take pity on him and listen to his advice. Not that she ever did. He was determined to try, though. "I've heard awful stories about what happens when somepony gets into Shockwave's laboratory without his permission."

    Twilight's posture immediately turned disapproving. "From whom, Spike? You better not be hanging out with Grimlock...he's a bad influence."

    "No, no. Smokescreen."

    "Oh...well, that's...no, actually, that's still a bad influence, but it's better than Grimlock, at least. Yes, Spike, I'm sure. I've got a pretty good feeling about this one, and I'd like talk to Shockwave."

    Twilight was sure, but Spike still was not. Twilight kept him informed of all the meetings and social and political things she had to attend to, being the Princess' student. Granted, he didn't always retain it, but he thought he'd be able to mention if Twilight had offhandedly mentioned, "Oh, hey, I have a meeting with the DECEPTICON LORD next Tuesday."

    Spike wanted to continue to argue against it, although he hadn't discounted the possibility she did mention it and he forgot. Unable to come up with anything that would be a sufficient deterrent, he scribbled on the quill and breathed fire on the letter, magically transporting through realms in ways similar yet completely incompatible to a GroundBridge.

    In short order, a Space Bridge appeared just outside the library, which Twilight stepped into after stepping out her abode.

    Spike sighed and shrugged, the Space Bridge's lights going away as quickly and smoothly as they had appeared. He never liked it when Twilight met with the Decepticons for peace talks. They had been responsible for the destruction of several buildings.

    There was another knock on the door that Spike knew it would be left to him to answer. Something about perturbed Spike. It sounded like a metal knock, like on a Cybertronian, but it was much too quiet sounding to actually be an Autobot or Decepticon.

    Nervous, Spike pulled the door open and saw the strangest Autobot he ever laid eyes on. Granted, he hadn't seen several well-known Autobots in person yet, but that didn't change the fact that this was one was strange.

    He was only a head or two taller than a human. His colors were familiar to Spike, and it took him a moment to realize that was because they were the same blue with yellow zigzags as the Wonderbolts' costumes. His face had a brown visor and silver faceplate, along with a rounded forehead bump and two antennae on either side. They seemed rather emotionless, even for a Cybertronian. Spike wondered if perhaps the disjointed neck was evidence it was not his face, but a helmet.

    Spike had heard of Mini-Cons, but from what he heard, they turned into weapons or something else that was connected to their larger partner, like a drone jet or tiny engine. This Autobot had two pillars on his back that seemed to be currently unemployed cannons and two gun emplacements on his forearms, and appeared to turn into a jet all his own, as evidenced from the cockpit in his chest.

    "You're a small Autobot." Spike commented.

    "Yeah." The Autobot answered. "I'm what's called a Micromaster. Means I'm tiny. Name's Tread Bolt. Is the master of the house home?"

    "No..." Spike didn't know why, but he was getting a real bad vibe from this Tread Bolt guy. Maybe it was the aerial alt-mode – Spike didn't know jet modes were uncommon to Autobots, but not so rare as to be exclusive to Decepticons. Maybe it was the Autobot sigil rendered in gold.

    "Great! In that case, you're going to take me to Twilight's secret laboratory."

    Spike frowned. He didn't like Twilight's secret lab. It was a lab she kept in a warehouse away from Ponyville, connected to a GroundBridge in her home that specially locked the coordinates. Spike was aware of it because, like most everything, Twilight delegated the task of tidying up the messes she left in to him. He really didn't like what he saw in there; disembodied horns from Equestrian criminals, severed Vehicon claws from war victims... it wasn't pretty.

    "No." Spike crossed his arms and sulked.

    Treat Bolt glared. At least, that's what Spike assumed him to be doing. It was hard to tell with that helmet.

    "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear..." Treat Bolt pointed the gun emplacement on his forearm emphatically at Spike's face. "You're going to take me to Twilight's secret laboratory."

    Spike gulped, not keen on the idea of an Autobot frying his face. Come to think of it, he didn't like the idea of his face being fried at all, though his obvious crush on Rarity may have allowed her to coax him into letting her do it for whatever reason.

    Held at gunpoint, Spike went down to the terminal controlling Twilight's customized GroundBridge, which looked like a trash can when not in use activating it, causing it and the entire library foyer to, well, transform. The 'trash can's' lid unfolded into a Cybertronian control terminal. The floor of the foyer broke apart into panels, pulling away in slices into other parts of the floor as a metal, silver platform rose out of the hole and covered in place of the pink wood previously there. On the platform was a silver arch adorned in Cybertronian runes and glyphs, as well a few ridges for structure support.

    Spike pushed a button on the terminal, activating the GroundBridge within the arch. Green electricity shot from one side of the arch to another, before swirling around and forming a green circle that never stopped spinning.

    "Thanks, kid!" Tread Bolt 'thanked' Spike for his 'cooperation'. "Oh, and, uh, tell anypony about this, and..." Tread Bolt pressed the barrel of his emplacement against Spike's neck. "Ka-pow. You get what I'm saying?"

    Spike nodded. He got what Tread Bolt was saying, most certainly. Kinda hard not to when the person you're talking to is pressing a cannon against your neck.

    "Good!"

    Tread Bolt converted into his vehicular mode- a jet with the pillars on Tread Bolt's back as a sort of booster of some kind, and jetted through the GroundBridge.

    Spike was going to push the button and deactivate the flow of Energon, and by extension, the whole Bridge, thereby trapping Tread Bolt in the laboratory, as it was in a warehouse far away from Ponyville, and only Twilight knew its real location exactly, but Tread Bolt flew out of the bridge, a piece of bundled up paper stuck tightly into the side of his nosecone and flew out the door. Despite Tread Bolt's attempt at being mindful by doing a turn, his wings still smashed through the door of the library, cutting a thin line into the walls, knocking the wood out of them onto the floor in the form of debris...

    Debris Spike would inevitably be called upon to clean up. Spike sighed.

    *** *** ***

    In Kaon, the Space Bridge materialized just outside the entrance to Shockwave's laboratory, much to the surprise of the loitering Barricade, who panicked and backed against a wall before Twilight stepped out. Seeing it was just a pony, Barricade relaxed, then promptly panicked when he saw it was Twilight Sparkle, the Student of Celestia, Element of Magic, First non-Cybertronian Winner of the Cybertronian Annual Spelling Bee and all sorts of other intimidating titles.

    "Hello, Barricade." Twilight greeted him in an odd tone of voice. Barricade couldn't quite his servo on what was so odd about it. "Could I see Shockwave?"

    "Ooh, I don't know, O Powerful Student of A Living Solar Goddess." Barricade humbly answered, laying on the flattery so Twilight wasn't tempted to smite him for his usual trash-talking mouth. Twilight didn't get it, not realizing that by Solar Goddess, Barricade meant Celestia, as in her mind, she wasn't a goddess. An extremely long-lived entity with the power over her planet's very sun and magics beyond the ken of modern unicorns, yes, but not a goddess.

    "Shockwave doesn't like being interrupted when he's working on a project."

    "Please, Barricade." Twilight asked him in a very...a very flat tone. "I insist."

    "Ooo-kay, but don't say I didn't warn you." Barricade reached his claw over and pushed in the access entry code into the door control. The door slid away with a cross between a click and a hiss.

    "Thank you." Twilight said to him before walking into the room.

    "Oh..." Barricade muttered. His own social circles being mostly comprised of Deceptcions, he wasn't used to being the receiving ends of polite manners. "You're welcome!"

    The door closed behind Twilight, trapping her in the room with what Barricade assumed to be an about-to-become-very angry Shockwave.

    Inside the room suggested differently, however, as Shockwave was enraptured with whatever was currently floating inside his tube. Twilight could only vaguely make it out, but it struck her somewhat as possibly being something that was alive.

    Twilight brought her hoof in front of her mouth to catch and lingering bacteria and cleared her throat. "Ahem. Lord Shockwave?"

    Shockwave made a jerk and nearly fell against the test tube, barely reaching his claw out in time to grab onto the tube and prop himself up for support. He turned around to Twilight, and was quite obviously frazzled her unscheduled visit, more so by the fact he hadn't expected any one to come trotting into his expansive lair of a laboratory. "Twilight Sparkle. You startled me. I do not like to be interrupted when I am working..." He glared his cyclopean optic at her so she would get the thinly-veiled hint and exit the room posthaste before he made her leave.

    "I'm sorry." Twilight said calmly. "I just wanted to...hang out with you."

    Shockwave glared. "Hang out? I do not understand the premise of the notion. Regardless, I have much to do." Shockwave pointed his cannon-arm at the test tube.

    "Uh-huh." Twilight noticed the experimental fuel Blackout had brought earlier and focused her attention on it. "Well, hanging out is something friends do."

    "I would not consider us friends." Shockwave retorted. He meant entirely in a factual sense, but his words seem to wound Twilight deeply. In face, she was almost on the verge of crying. A beep came from Shockwave's wrist panel before he could contemplate the strange organic secretion forming under Twilight's optics.

    "Humph. It would appear I have been working too long without recharging." Shockwave observed, examining the message on his wrist panel. Dimly remembering Blackout's words, Shockwave walked over to the desk, ignoring the emotionally wrought pony now sitting on her haunches on the ground, and grabbed the tanker. A wire unfolded from the Decepticon's back which moved through the air with all the grace of Soundwave's famous tentacles, then poked a hole into the tanker and began to siphon what was in it into Shockwave's fuel tanks.

    When his refueling process was finished, Shockwave felt the same sproing go through his head as Twilight had earlier. Shockwave put a claw to his face and began calculating where the sproing came from.

    "Blackout will need to be informed we will not be using this fuel." Shockwave murmured to himself, holding up the tanker, which he logically concluded to be the source of his unusual phenomenon. He looked down and saw Twilight, who was crying softly.

    "Twilight Sparkle, why are you upset?"

    "Be-because you said we weren't friends!" Twilight wailed, collapsing onto the ground.

    "Twilight Sparkle..." Shockwave said again, this time in a much kinder voice.

    Twilight stopped crying for a moment and wiped her tears off before looking up at him.

    "Would you forgive my earlier rudeness if I..." Shockwave gestured to the test tube. "Allowed you to help with my project?"

    Twilight sniffed, wiped a tear from her eye, and smiled softly. "I would like that, Lord Shockwave."

    "Please." Shockwave put a hand to his chest. "Just Shockwave should suffice. That is what...friends do, is it not?"

    Twilight followed behind Shockwave with a spring in her step and stars in her eyes, eager to put her own scientific knowledge to good use helping Shockwave's project- whatever it was- reach fruition.

    The next morning...

    Lying in his personal room next to Cadence in the Crystal Castle, Shining Armor drearily got out of his bed. With a yawn of his mouth, a stretch of his front legs, and a crick of his neck, he hopped down from his bed, leaving his wife to enjoy a few more minutes of precious, precious sleep.

    Making his way out of the bedroom, he crashed into the hallway into one his Guards with a yellow coat and blue mane, causing them to tumble down the hallway and nearly roll over a passing serf-maiden, who shrieked and made herself scarce.

    "Whoa, solider!" Shining gently scolded his wayward cadet, once they had stopped tumbling, which landed them in a dog pile, Shining on top of the Guard in a suggestive position, though neither of them picked up on it. "Where's the fire?"

    "Sorry, sir." The Guard apologized, quickly raising a letter clenched in his hoof. "We received this in the mail yesterday, and thought you should be the first to know of this."

    "What's this?" Shining took the letter with his magic and unfurled, making sure to work out the creases so it was easier to read. It was an awfully elegant letter, being pink with gold trim that curled around the border of the paper.

    "Dear Shining Armor..." Shining read aloud. "You have been invited to the wedding of... no, that- that can't be right."

    "What is it, sir?" The Guard questioned.

    Shining Armor flipped the paper around so the Guard could it.

    "Dear Shining Armor..." The Guard repeated, reading out loud... "You have been invited to the wedding of...Lady Twilight Sparkle ... and...

    Lord Shockwave?
    "​
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013