No One Left Behind (Alternate Reality Fanfic)

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Blackarachnia Prime, May 10, 2020.

  1. Blackarachnia Prime

    Blackarachnia Prime Active Member

    May 3, 2020
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    Archa Seven. The Cave of Spiders. The Decepticon derelict.

    You already know one version of what happened there. An Autobot’s fateful decision to run, setting in motion a tragedy filled with heartbreak and vengeance. But there can be more than one truth, more than one reality, branching off toward new hopes and new fears. Some tragedies can be tempered with a sprinkling of hope, a dash of salvation.

    …such as when Optimus did not leave Elita-1 behind.


    Optimus and Elita were sailing through the air as the cavern erupted into a blazing inferno around them. If a human had been there, he probably would have called it a vision straight out of Hell. but the two Autobots were rising back to the light, while a swarm of giant arachnids spat and hissed far below them like a pack of demons.

    “Nice work, Optimus!” Elita shouted, her voice filled with triumphant perk. “Now let’s get out of here before the rest of those energon cubes – “

    Her download ability timed out. The grapple snaps, and she falls, the demons below chittering in vile anticipation.

    “Elita!!” Optimus cries out. He fires a second grapple from his free arm. It soars down, encircling Elita’s hand, almost grabbing it, almost

    He misses. Optimus watches in stunned dismay as Elita disappears into the fire and smoke like a damned soul. He manages to reach the precipice’s edge, unharmed. But Elita…


    It was Sentinel, running out from the shadows. He stops at the cliff and stares down into the blazing abyss.

    Optimus seizes him by the shoulders. “Sentinel! Get out, now!”

    “We need to go after her!”

    Optimus takes one glance back down into the cavern. Energon cubes exploding everywhere, spiders crawling, the whole area threatening to erupt any second. Chaos. He couldn’t think, but he had to. “No, no time! The ship’s going to – “

    The smoke clears for a fraction of a second, and it’s that fraction which makes all the difference in the universe. Optimus sees Elita-1, looking up at him from the conflagration as she tries to hold off the spiders with her bare hands. He sees her eyes. He sees the terror in them, the despair.

    They scream: Don’t leave me.

    For Optimus, an eternity seems to pass within his head. Outside, it was less time than the space between a heartbeat. He turns back to Sentinel.

    “You’re right.”

    Even in this desperate moment, Sentinel is smug at the sound of Optimus agreeing with him for once. “Okay then! Let’s – “

    “Get back to the ship!”


    “One of us has to survive this, Sentinel! The Council must be told what happened!” And, without giving Sentinel another chance to speak, he dives off the ledge, plummeting down into the infernal vista below.

    “Optimus!!” Sentinel roars. He stands at the edge, preparing to jump in after his senior officer. “You miserable piece of scrap, there’s no way I’m gonna – “

    The next explosion is the big one. The last one.

    Sentinel is blown into the air, his body smashing through several layers of rock, up, up, and up, until he bursts into the open landscape of Archa Seven, the concussive force of the blast catapulting Sentinel even higher, hundreds of feet into the sky, until he finally descends back down, his shell cracked and blackened like an action figure thrown into a fireplace by a sadistic child. He is half-conscious as he falls. He is completely unconscious after hitting the ground.


    Optimus was mesmerized by how serenely quiet his surroundings had become. One moment ago, the environment was filled with fire, screams, explosions, madness. And then, in the blink of an optic…nothing. Only cold, black silence.

    Optimus slowly realized he was laying on his back on a hard, rocky surface. He was falling after Elita-1, when the entire universe suddenly seemed to end with a horrifying BOOM that almost destroyed his auditory sensors. He must have been knocked into stasis mode.

    He opened his eyes. They glowed a dull blue in the darkness, providing him with the barest suggestion of light. As he stood upright, he felt a ghastly pain shoot up one of the diodes of his left leg. The blast had done a lot more than just ring his neural bell. He was damaged. He couldn’t tell how badly, at least not yet. It didn’t matter. His first priority was –


    Optimus said her name out loud, and immediately wished he hadn’t. He was answered by a familiar, insidious chittering. A few horizontal dashes of evil purple glared at Optimus from the void. Some of the spiders had survived. They were down here with him.

    He unfolded his energy axe and prepared for a fight that he was probably going to lose. Then he heard a truly awful scream. It sounded like Elita, but something was wrong with her voice. It seemed to be…changing as Optimus listened, dropping a few octaves from its peppy, cheerful tone to a darker pitch. Her screech was accompanied by an even worse sound. It resembled the normal transformational din of an Autobot changing form, except it was fused with a grotesque, fleshy sort of noise that chilled Optimus down to his central processor. All of a sudden, he didn’t give a damn about the spiders anymore.

    “ELITA!” Optimus bellowed into the darkness. The spiders immediately began to swarm, triggered into movement by his cry, but they didn’t hold any fear for him this time. They were just pests to be swiped aside. He tore into the loathsome beasts, axe swinging to and fro with unprecedented ferocity, purple blood splashing every inch of his metal hide.

    “Elita! Elita, can you hear me?!”

    Above the insidious chatter of the spiders, Optimus thought he heard his name being weakly called out. “Op…timus?”

    “Elita, keep talking! Help me find you!”


    Now that he had a direction to go, he quadrupled the savagery of his attacks, reducing every spider in his way to a bleeding lump of purple pulp. The glow from his optics revealed a silhouette huddled on the floor, surrounded by a ring of spiders. Strangely, the monsters didn’t seem to be charging at her. They only stood, frozen in place, almost as if they were…confused. Or surprised.


    The silhouette raised a shaking hand. “Op…Op…” She couldn’t utter anything else. The hand fell back down.

    Optimus broke through the circle, tearing through the spider that was in his way as if it were a cheap plank of wood. The others started to recede into the cavern’s gloomy nether regions, as if they dully sensed that these two invaders were now beyond their ability to kill. Optimus reached the figure and knelt down beside her.

    “Elita,” he said, as softly as he could manage. “Elita, I’m here.” But even in the darkness, Optimus could see something wasn’t right. Elita’s shape looked…twisted, somehow. Deformed.

    “Optimus…” Her voice was being choked off by sobs. “S-something’s…wrong …”

    He clasped Elita’s face in her hands. “Let me look at you.” Optimus turned her countenance towards him…and was barely able to stifle a gasp of horror.

    Elita’s bright, sunny features had been hideously mutated into those of a monster. Her forehead had become a gruesome network of purple veins, while two arachnid-like appendages jutted out from either side of her face. The bright blue eyes had doubled into four blood-red slits that glowed with an evil menace. A pair of fangs protruded from her upper lip.

    “Elita, what did you…?”

    “Panicked,” the creature whispered. “Tried to…use my power on them…” The red eyes cried bitter, organic tears of self-remonstration. “Stupid…stupid…”

    Optimus tucked his arms beneath Elita and gently lifted her off the ground. He looked around, but saw no sign of the spiders. They had vanished as quickly as they appeared, presumably into warrens and holes scattered throughout the underground.

    “It’s all right. I’m getting you out of here.”

    Elita wrapped her arms around Optimus’s neck. He walked hurriedly into the surrounding darkness, carrying Elita with him, hoping, praying that he would find a way back to the light.


    Sentinel felt as though he’d been on an all-night energon bender. He had a headache with the intensity of a supernova, and his auditory sensors were still ringing from the blast. He opened his eyes and immediately winced at the glare of Archa Seven’s sun. He slowly rose to his feet. He had to place both hands on his head to keep the world around him from spinning. He was dirty, dented, but alive.

    Optimus, he brooded to himself. That arrogant jerk. I’m the one who says we’ve got to save Elita, but no, Mr. Big Hero Autobot has to do it all on his own. The next time I see his dumb, stoic face, I’m gonna –


    He turned around and instantly dropped his massive jaw at the sight of Optimus running out of a nearby cave. He was covered from head to foot with purple gore.

    “Optimus,” Sentinel snarled, steeling his fists. “I’m going to smash you into a pile of…” His anger disintegrated into horrified disgust when he saw the abomination Optimus was cradling in his arms. “What IS that thing?!”

    “Get the med-bay online, stat!”

    “Is…is it contagious…?”

    “The med-bay, Sentinel!” Optimus ran past him. “Now!”

    Sentinel couldn’t think. His lips curled with revulsion. “For Primus’s sake, stop touching it!”

    Optimus uttered a Cybertronian profanity and bolted for the exploration vessel. The ramp automatically opened upon sensing a senior officer approaching it. He raced up the walkway and rushed Elita-1 into the ship’s tiny med-bay. All the lights switched on as he entered. He carefully lowered Elita down onto the levitating white platform.

    “Teletran-6, give me a diagnostic!” he barked at the ship’s computer. Elita’s body was scanned three times over by a shining green laser.

    “Subject has been fused with living organic matter,” Teletran-6 explained with an infuriatingly calm feminine voice. “68.8% of interior cybernetics infected by unidentified alien tissue.”

    “I know that, damn it! Can you fix her?”

    “Probability of successful sterilization: Zero. I lack the knowledge and equipment to perform an operation on this scale. Subject must be taken to Cybertron and analyzed by professional medics.”

    Optimus cursed again.

    “You actually brought it on board the SHIP?!” he heard Sentinel shout behind him. Optimus closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and turned around. Sentinel was standing in the doorway, staring at Elita-1 with unbridled loathing.

    “Sentinel,” he said, picking his words carefully, “it’s Elita-1. She tried to use her ability on the spiders. It backfired.”

    That’s…Elita?” Sentinel couldn’t believe it.

    “Fire up the engines. We’re going home.”

    Sentinel didn’t move. He kept glaring at Elita’s body, stunned beyond the capacity to even speak.

    “Sentinel!” Optimus assumed the most authoritative tone he could muster. “Get this ship off the ground! That’s an order!”

    Sentinel fixed Optimus with the most hateful expression he’d ever seen on a robot’s face. “This is your fault.”

    Optimus suddenly felt very tired. “Sentinel. The ship.”

    With a shudder, Sentinel walked out of sight in the direction of the cockpit. Optimus was about to follow him, when he felt Elita’s hand suddenly grab his arm. He looked down to see Elita-1’s four eyes staring up at him with an expression of helpless terror.

    “Don’t leave me alone,” she sobbed. There was a strange fear in her voice, as if she was frightened that she would somehow lose herself as soon as Optimus left the room.

    Optimus was torn. Should he go to the cockpit, and make sure Sentinel wasn’t cracking up from seeing Elita? Or should he stay with Elita, and keep her from…whatever she was afraid of?

    He made up his mind. Optimus sat down on the adjacent chair, holding Elita-1’s hand. “I’m not going anywhere.”

    “Thank you,” she wept. “Thank you…”

    The ship’s engines roared to life, and they departed Archa Seven. No one left behind.


    “Cadet Optimus. Cadet Sentinel. You stand accused of trespassing on an organic planet in violation of Cybertronian law, resulting in the tragic mutation of Cadet Elita-1 into a techno-organic hybrid.”

    Ultra Magnus presided over Optimus and Sentinel like an ancient machine of legend. He was an old Transformer, but age had somehow only increased his magisterial presence, instead of taking away from it. The courtroom was mostly empty, aside from a few record bots monitoring the proceedings.

    “Before I pronounce judgment, do you have any final statement?”

    “Optimus ordered me to head for the ship so he could go after Elita-1 alone,” Sentinel said, simultaneously sad and confident. “If he hadn’t done that…if the two of us had gone down there, instead of just one…she might not have been…” he had difficulty uttering the next word. “…corrupted.”

    “So you’ve testified, Cadet.” Ultra Magnus sounded unconvinced. “But I sense there is more to this story than meets the optic sensor. Whose idea was it to go to Archa Seven?”

    Optimus steeled himself. You can do this.

    “I was the senior cadet, sir,” he said, doing his best to keep his raging emotions from spilling out for the entire courtroom to see. “Everything that’s happened to Elita-1 is my responsibility.”

    Ultra Magnus nodded, but Optimus knew that he knew something was amiss. “Anything you care to add, Sentinel?”

    “No, sir.”

    Optimus took a sideways glance at Sentinel. His rigidly stoic face betrayed no obvious emotion, but Optimus could feel the resentment radiating from him like a red star. Was Sentinel angry because Elita was now a mutant? Or was he angry because he didn’t get to be the one who saved her life?

    Ultra Magnus sighed, leaning back into his seat. “Then you leave me no choice. Cadet Optimus, you are hereby expelled from Autobot Academy, and ineligible for service in the Elite Guard.”

    Optimus felt his spark plummet down as Elita had plummeted down into the fire, but he could only bow his head in consent.

    “I had hoped someday you would achieve greatness,” Ultra Magnus continued, his words echoing throughout the chamber with a terrible finality, “perhaps even prove yourself a worthy Magnus. But you attempted to be a hero without thinking of the safety of your fellow Cadets, and must be punished accordingly.” He turned his gaze to Sentinel. “Cadet Sentinel, you will return to Autobot Academy and complete your training…on probation.”

    Sentinel’s mouth twitched in protest, but he wisely kept silent. Optimus couldn’t help feeling the smallest twinge of satisfaction. Obviously, Sentinel had hoped to get out of this mess scot-free.

    “Elita-1 will remain hospitalized inside Med-Center Alpha under indefinite observation.” Ultra Magnus brought his hammer down with a resounding clang. “Judgement has been passed. These proceedings are concluded.”


    Optimus and Ultra Magnus didn’t utter a word to each other as they walked down one of the many corridors of Cybertron’s main med-center. Optimus was directly behind Sentinel, quiet and taciturn. Ultra Magnus marched with militaristic authority, but Optimus could still feel suspicion grinding away inside his central processor.

    “I always knew you had a special spark, Optimus,” Ultra Magnus finally said. “Your stellar cycles of service had more than proven it. But I can’t reinstate you in the Elite Guard.”

    “I understand, sir.”

    “As for Elita-1…” Ultra Magnus shook his head. “She’s fared the worst of you all.”

    Optimus didn’t want to ask, being afraid of the answer, but he had to know. “How is she doing?”

    Ultra Magnus stopped in his tracks. “I’m sorry, Optimus, but it’s unlikely the medics will find a cure for her anytime soon. The arachnid organics have been completely integrated into Elita-1’s central processor. They can’t be removed without killing her.” Optimus realized with a terrible foreboding he had more to say. “There’s something else. I received a report from Dr. Torkuli this morning. It seems Elita-1’s mind has been affected as well.”

    Optimus’s vision grew foggy. He desperately wanted to lean against the wall for support. But he couldn’t. Not with Ultra Magnus here.

    “Affected…in what way?” he managed to ask.

    “Her memories are intact, but her personality has changed. Drastically. She’s become…aggressive. Malicious. She attacked two med-droids who were trying to take a sample from her arm. They were almost demolished before the security officers could sedate her.”

    Merciful Primus, please help her, Optimus thought with exhausted despair.

    Ultra Magnus turned around. “Are you sure you want to see her? It won’t be pleasant. At all.”

    Optimus could only nod.

    “Very well.” Ultra Magnus strode down the hall, with Optimus directly behind him, as if nothing had taken place between them. They came to a door with holographic words covering the window:




    Ultra Magnus placed his hand on the door’s surface. There was a soft click, and the sign shut down, followed by the door opening wide open.

    The room was large and sleek, comprised of smooth white surfaces, a glass portal that looked out on Iacon’s beautiful landscape of towering monuments, and an energon-recharge antechamber, although it looked as if it’d been hardly used. Despite the ominous sign outside, Elita’s accommodations had a serene, almost gentle atmosphere of rest and sanctuary.

    Elita sat on a stasis platform, fitted out in a white hospital medsuit, shoulders hunched, facing away from Optimus and Ultra Magnus. She didn’t acknowledge their presence at all.

    “Good luck,” Ultra Magnus murmured to Optimus before shutting the door.

    Optimus slowly approached Elita. He stopped a few feet away from the platform. He wondered whether to speak first, or allow Elita to respond in her own time. He settled on the latter. Many minutes passed in dry, sterile silence. Elita didn’t move. Still, Optimus waited.

    “You should have let me go offline,” she said at last. The change in her voice was terrible to hear. The spunk was gone, replaced by a hard, sneering cruelty.

    “What would you have done in my place?”

    “I would have run,” she answered without hesitating.

    He walked over to the portal and stared out at Cybertron’s mechanical landscape. “Do you want me to apologize for rescuing you?”

    Elita-1 raised her head, glaring at Optimus with four red slits of evil fire. “You call this a rescue?”

    “Sentinel thinks both of us should have gone after you.”

    “Maybe he had the right idea.”

    “It was madness, Elita. Everything was exploding, the cave was coming down on us…I had to make the call.”

    “Easy for you to say,” she snarled. “You weren’t the one in the pit. You weren’t the one who...” She trailed off, leaving the unfinished sentence to hang in the air like an accusation. Another chunk of time passed in quietude.

    “So, what did the wise and venerable Ultra Magnus have to say?” The venom in her voice was dulled but still fresh and dripping. Elita-1 worshipped Ultra Magnus while she and Optimus were training at the Academy. Now she only had contempt for him, just as she seemed to have contempt for everyone.

    “I’ve been expelled from the Academy. I’ve also been forbidden to join the Elite Guard. Sentinel’s going back to the Academy…on probation.”

    “What about me?”

    “Hospitalized indefinitely.”

    Elita smirked. “Of course. Out of the three of us, that macho moron is the one who gets away with a slap on the wrist.”

    Optimus didn’t disagree, but the way Elita brushed off Sentinel with such ease disturbed him. “Is that who we all are to you now?” he asked softly. “People to hate?”

    “Where has love gotten me?” Elita-1’s fangs glinted in the light. “Here? Locked up in the one room on all of Cybertron where no one will stare and scream at me? Why don’t they just put me up as an exhibit? Think about it, Optimus: I could be Iacon’s main attraction! Aliens from all over the galaxy would flood in to take a gander at me! ‘Here she is, ladies and gentlemen! The Freak of Archa Seven!’”

    “Nobody’s called you a freak, Elita.”

    “Maybe not in my face,” she hissed. “But I hear them outside the door, whispering, gossiping about the techno-organic THING locked up in her room, tutting and shaking their heads in patronizing pity…”

    “Elita, if you want to talk, we’ll talk. If you want to be left alone, I’ll go. It’s your call, just like coming to save you was mine.”

    “Then here’s my call,” Elita spat. “Get out!”

    Optimus started towards the door. He was halfway across the room when Elita said: “I’ve tried to take myself offline.”

    He stopped in his tracks. Hearing Elita-1 say that out loud was bad enough, but the flat, emotionless way she uttered it was so much worse. It would have been better if she had spoken with the same caustic, abrasive tone she used before. Why was she telling him this? Was she just trying to get a rise out of him? Or was it something else?

    A dozen possible replies flitted about inside his neural circuits. In the end, he could only settle on one. “Why?”

    “Aside from the fact I’m not exactly a photogenic Autobot anymore?” She scratched at a fang in her mouth. “I’m DONE being treated like a lab experiment every day, poked and prodded by nattering medbots, having one sample after another carved out of me again and again. Either I go offline, or…I make everybody ELSE go offline.”

    “Elita, please…don’t hurt yourself. Don’t end it this way. Not after everything we’ve been through together.”

    Elita-1 turned her red gaze to the floor. There was nothing more to be said. Optimus walked out.


    Ultra Magnus found Optimus sitting on a stasis platform in the main lobby. He was looking at the wall in front of him, his face blank.

    “Did you get through to her?” Ultra Magnus asked.

    Optimus didn’t respond, but that was an answer in itself. Ultra Magnus let out a long sigh as he sat beside Optimus.

    “I’m sorry,” Ultra said again. “I know you and Elita-1 were…close. This must be extremely painful for you.”

    Optimus had nothing to say.

    “I have some good news,” Ultra Magnus said, hoping to improve Optimus’s mood. “I was able to pull some strings and get you your own ship to command.”

    Optimus looked at Ultra Magnus. His expression remained placid, but his blue eyes glowed a little brighter. He stood up, and saluted Ultra Magnus.

    “Thank you, sir. You won’t regret it.”

    Ultra stood alongside Optimus, returning his salute. Optimus suspected a part of Ultra Magnus couldn’t help being amused at exchanging military hails inside a hospital’s waiting lobby. “Congratulations, Optimus Prime.”

    Ultra started in the direction of the main exit. As a Magnus, his day was still crammed with endless tasks and ceremonies to perform.

    After a moment, Optimus called out after him. “Sir…there’s one thing I’d like to request.”

    Ultra Magnus stopped and turned. “Yes?”

    “I want Elita-1 to be part of my crew.”

    Ultra Magnus was too much of a professional to allow the shock to appear on his face, but he needed a few seconds to process the question all the same. “I beg your pardon?”

    “She’s going to a dark place, sir,” Optimus clarified. “A very dark place. If she stayed here at the med-center, I’m afraid she’ll go mad. She wouldn’t fit in anywhere else on Cybertron, for that matter. The humiliation she’d have to endure, the persecution…”

    Ultra Magnus dipped his head by an inch. “I know.”

    “I have to try to help her, sir. I owe it to her. Like Sentinel said at the trial…if I’d brought him along with me…”

    Ultra Magnus marched in a straight line towards Optimus and came to a halt exactly one foot away from him. “Do you have any idea what you’re asking?” he said, coolly but with an underlining concern. “Elita-1 is mentally as much as physically unstable, Optimus. I know it’s harsh for you to hear, but she cannot be allowed to roam free.”

    “I believe freedom is exactly what she needs right now, sir.” Optimus steadied himself for what he was going to say next. He had asked himself over and over if telling Ultra Magnus was a good idea, but as Ultra was the only one who held the keys to Elita’s possible salvation, he had to put everything on the line. “While I was in there, Elita-1 said something that…disturbed me.”

    “What did she say?”

    “She said…she’s tried to take herself offline.”

    Ultra Magnus’s blue eyes glowed brighter. He turned his gaze away from Optimus. “I see.”

    “I don’t why she told me that,” Optimus went on. “She would have known that I couldn’t keep it from you. Either she’s trying to get herself locked away forever, or…she’s screaming for help in the only way she can now.”

    Ultra Magnus folded his hands behind his back. That movement implied he was sinking into deep contemplation. Optimus could only wait, and hope.

    “You do realize,” he said, slowly but firmly, “that her statement only proves she’s mentally unsound.”

    Optimus felt his spark sink. This was turning out to be a stupid idea after all.

    Ultra Magnus locked Optimus with a cold stare. “If I were to authorize her release,” he said, “she would be your responsibility entirely. You alone would have to answer for her actions. All of them.”

    “Yes, sir. I know.”

    “But do you understand?”

    Optimus straightened up. “Yes. I do.”

    Ultra Magnus stood immobile for a long time. Then he turned his back to Optimus.

    “Elita-1 will be released from this facility in three paracyles,” he said with a detached soldier’s demeanor. “You are to collect her in this lobby and transport her directly to the ship you will be assigned.”

    Optimus saluted, but Ultra Magnus had already walked away.


    Elita stood in front of her room’s portal, staring out at the bustling world of Iacon with simmering resentment. A med-droid whirred cheerily into the room. She spun around and hissed. “What do you want?”

    “Ultra Magnus has greenlighted your release from Med-Center Alpha,” the med-droid chirped. “You will be escorted in three paracycles to the lobby, where Optimus Prime will assume authority over your personal care and conduct.”

    Elita’s red eyes widened in astonishment. “Optimus?”

    “Please prepare yourself for the time of departure,” the med-droid warbled, and rattled out into the corridor.

    Elita-1 remained by the portal, unsteady and uncertain.



    The hanger bay doors swished wide open, and Optimus walked inside to get the first look at his new ship. He knew it was foolish to have high expectations. It’s not as if Sentinel could have secured the command of an omega class dreadnaught for an Autobot expelled from the Academy. He predicted a medium-sized patrol dispatcher, at the very most.

    In less than a microsecond, he realized his expectations had still been too high.

    The vessel was, for lack of a better phrase, a piece of scrap. Its hull was an intensely unattractive color scheme of orange, red, and grey. Dirt and soot seemed to cover every square inch of its exterior, and oil steadily dripped from its exhaust vents to the floor.

    “Excellent,” he sighed.

    A grizzly old Autobot with white-and-red armor rolled out from beneath the ship’s belly and rubbed his hands free of oil. “I know, it may not look like much, but this one’s still got plenty of stellar cycles left in him,” he grumbled at Optimus in a voice that seemed made of gravel. He looked sideways at a pair of Autobots attempting to fix the ship’s rear engine. “It’s the young ones you’ve gotta worry about.”

    Optimus followed the old Autobot’s gaze, and saw a giant green Autobot trying to free himself of a tangle of wires wrapped around his arms. A miniscule, yellow-plated Autobot who squawked like a hyperactive energon abuser made an effort to help, zapping the giant’s arms with a blast of raw energy.

    “Owwwoooooowwwwww!!” The giant green guy yelled.

    Optimus felt depressed.

    The craggy old robot extended a hand. “How ya’ doin’. Name’s Ratchet. Part-time medical officer and full-time mechanic.”

    Optimus grasped Ratchet’s hand, but couldn’t suppress a slight frown. “Shouldn’t that be the other way around?”

    Ratchet shrugged. “Beats me. I just fix stuff, ships and Autobots alike. The two jokers over there are Bulkhead and Bumblebee.”

    “Optimus Prime,” Optimus said, submitting himself to his fate.

    “Pleased to meet you, kid.” Ratchet looked around. “Shouldn’t there be somebody else with ya?”

    “Yes. Elita -1.”

    “I don’t know the details, but didn’t she go through some kind of trauma on Archa Seven? I heard crazy stuff about giant purple spiders, but that’s about it.”

    “She…” Optimus took a breath. “She’s given herself a new name. Blackarachnia.”

    Ratchet cocked an optic brow. “Well, that doesn’t sound sinister at all.”

    You have no idea, Optimus thought, but kept a straight face. “She’ll be along. She just had to pick up her…” he was about to say mask, but changed the word to: “…helmet.”

    Ratchet was instantly suspicious. “What does she need a helmet for?”

    They heard the hangar bay doors slide open for another visitor. Optimus and Ratchet turned around to see Elita-1 standing in the gateway, carrying an attachment full of items and spare parts she had brought for the journey. Elita’s face was concealed behind a helmet shaded black and dark-yellow, colors which matched the rest of her armor. The only thing that remained the same was the Autobot insignia on the front of her neck. Four red slits glared balefully under the helmet. They surveyed the ship with a look of intense disdain.

    “Holy…” Ratchet caught himself just in time. “Uh…welcome to the crew, ma’am. Name’s Ratchet.”

    Elita-1, or Blackarachnia, peered at Ratchet as if he were a roadblock in her path.

    He scratched the back of his head, desperately searching for the right words. “So. Erm…why did you call yerself Blackarachnia?”

    “Do I look like an Elita?” she retorted with a cold snarl.

    “No, I guess ya – “

    Blackarachnia strode towards the ship’s ramp without even looking in Bumblebee and Bulkhead’s direction.

    “I know it may not look like much,” Ratchet began, reciting the same speech he gave Optimus, “but this one’s still got plenty of – “

    She walked past Ratchet and ascended the ramp in chilly silence.

    Ratchet turned to Prime, jutting an angry thumb over his shoulder. “That girl’s gotta learn some damned manners.”

    “She was a lot nicer, before…” Optimus faltered.

    “…before Archa Seven.”


    Ratchet shook his head, throwing his oily towel into a nearby toolbox. “Well, it’s not like I’ve ever been mutated into a techno-organic hybrid, so I’ll cut her some slack.”

    “Thanks. She’ll appreciate it.”

    Ratchet scrutinized Optimus with a cautious expression. “Why do I get the feelin’ you’ll be doin’ most of the talkin’ for her?”

    Optimus was about to reply, when he was interrupted by Bumblebee. “Hey, it’s our new captain!”

    “New captain?!” Bulkhead blurted, actually sounding excited. The mismatched pair joined Optimus and Ratchet in front of the ramp.

    “Oh my gosh, this is just about the neatest thing ever!” Bumblebee saluted Optimus, as did Bulkhead. “Cadets Bumblebee and Bulkhead, reporting for duty, sir!”

    Optimus returned with a relaxed salute. “At ease, Cadet. We’re all just getting to know each other.”

    Bumblebee glanced around. “Hey, where’s the spider-lady? I’ve GOTTA meet her!”

    Optimus winced. Ratchet noticed, and put a hand on Bumblebee’s shoulder. “Uh…kid? You want to get done fixin’ that fuel converter?”

    “Huh? Oh, right! Sorry! Be right back!” Bumblebee bolted to the rear end of the ship. Bulkhead saluted Optimus with a big, goofy smile on his grey face.

    “I’m Bulkhead,” he said, like a child meeting the principal of his school for the first time. All Optimus did was repeat his salute. Bulkhead waddled after Bumblebee.

    “You might want to see how…Blackarachnia’s settling in,” Ratchet said. “Somethin’ tells me she’s going to be a galaxy-sized load of trouble if nobody keeps an eye on her.”

    “She won’t be a problem,” Optimus answered. “I guarantee it.”

    Ratchet scratched his chin. “Well, okay, kid. I’ll trust ya on this one.” He leaned back on his ancient gurney and rolled under the ship.

    Optimus walked up the ramp and entered the ship. The inside was about as impressive as the outside, albeit a little cleaner. He strolled down the main corridor until he stopped by one of the doors. He could sense Blackarachnia was in there. He didn’t know how, but he felt it all the same.

    He knocked gently. “Blackarachnia?”

    No answer. Optimus took a step forward, and to his mild surprise, the door slid open. She left it unlocked.

    Blackarachnia stood beside a stasis platform, unpacking her gear. She had taken her mask off. She didn’t bother to look at Optimus as he walked in.

    “How are you doing?” he asked in a low voice.

    She sighed. “About as well as can be expected.”

    “I think you’ll like the crew,” he said. “They’re…a little quirky.”

    “If I was still Elita-1, maybe I would have liked their quirkiness,” she retorted. “Right now they’re just annoying.”

    “What do you think of your room?” he said, knowing full well she had picked her accommodations without asking any of the others first.

    Blackarachnia looked around for a moment.

    “It’s…doable,” she said indifferently.

    “If you have anything to tell me, anything at all, I’ll be on the flight deck, familiarizing with the controls.”

    She shrugged. “Whatever.”

    He headed for the door.


    He turned around. Blackarachnia had stopped unpacking. Her eyes were still directed away from him. “Thanks…thanks for getting me out of the hospital.”

    Optimus’s lips formed the smallest of smiles. Then he walked out.


    “Many millions of years ago, war raged between the forces of the heroic Autobots, and the brutal Decepticons. The Autobots battled valiantly in the name of honor, their courageous exploits bringing hope and glory to a beleaguered war-torn planet, and inspiring countless generations of robots yet to come online.”

    “Whatta load of scrap metal!” Ratchet grumbled as he clomped onto the main flight deck. “Why do you waste your time with those old history vids?”

    Optimus stared at the viewscreen in front of him, unable to stop watching, no matter how corny the vid became. “All the great Autobot leaders learned from the past.”

    “Look around, Prime!” Ratchet swung his arm to encompass their view of the desolate asteroid field outside their ship. “The Great Wars ended centuries ago.”

    “But you were there, Ratchet. You saw some action. What were the Decepticons really like?”

    “Trust me, kid…you’re better off not knowing.”

    “But I want to know. I have to know. Just in case…”

    “…what?” Ratchet asked, wearily. “In case they come back? Forget about it. We’ve got more urgent autocrap to deal with, like…” he jabbed a sarcastic finger outside the ship’s viewport. “…keeping the young ‘bots from burying us under a scrap-ton of asteroid rubble.”

    Turning his head, Optimus saw a familiar silhouette swaying back and forth beneath a rocky cliffside.

    “Bumblebee! My wrecking ball’s stuck again!” Bulkhead’s ponderous voice burped from nearby speakers. Optimus stood upright with a quiet little sigh – one of many he’d made over the past thousand cycles – and headed for the loading bay. Ratchet followed him into the elevator.

    “How’s Blackarachnia been doing out there?” Optimus asked as they descended into the ship’s bowels.

    “You kiddin’, Optimus? When that girl works, I stay out of her way.”

    The Autobots walked out into the loading zone, a large, dark space filled with sparkless machines. Their footsteps echoed throughout the hall as they approached the ship’s primary docking tube.

    “Come on, Ratchet. You can’t still be on bad terms with Blackarachnia, after all this time?” Optimus said as he pushed a button.

    “Look, kid: I know she’s a good ‘bot at heart,” Ratchet said as the tube extended towards the asteroid’s surface. “But that organic half of hers put a mean streak in her wider than Bulkhead’s rear fender.”

    “Bulkhead and Bumblebee seem to getting along with her just fine.”

    “That’s ‘cuz they don’t know any better,” Ratchet grumbled. There was a reverberating clang as the tube came into contact with the asteroid. Optimus and Ratchet switched to vehicle mode, and drove into the tube.

    Outside on the asteroid, Bulkhead hung from a dangerously thin grapple, the first half of his name turning out to be the probable cause of his undoing.

    “I don’t like heights, Bumblebee!!” he called out.

    Bumblebee hopped briskly past the gargantuan Autobot and ascended the steep cliffside. “Cool your circuits, Bulkhead! I’m working as fast as I can.” He reached the cliff’s summit, where two giant orange prongs jutted out of the ground like the horns of a massive minotaur. Just another faulty space bridge in an endless line of space bridges that needed endless maintenance. “And you know there’s no ‘bot faster!”

    Bumblebee’s arm transformed into a laser rifle, which he used to fire multiple concussive blasts into the rock above Bulkhead. With that task done, he started slamming his foot repeatedly into the loosened boulder. Bulkhead swung more wildly on his grapple as the vibrations reached him.

    “Ulp!” Bulkhead grabbed his mouth. “I think I’m gonna blow a gasket…”

    “Try to hold it in a little – “ Bumblebee’s sentence turned into a scream as a bigger chunk of stone than he expected broke free, sending Bulkhead and himself falling to a painful doom. “ – looooooooooongeeeeeeerrrrr!!”

    A line of purple-tinged silk shot seemingly out of nowhere, instantly bursting outwards into an intricate spider’s web. Bulkhead and Bumblebee landed with a loud, harmless boing, the web even managing to hold the former’s weight (plus a few stray rocks).

    Blackarachnia stood at the edge of a crag, almost glowing with seductive darkness. The anger and misery from her first few weeks as a techno-organic creature had dissipated, leaving behind smug confidence paired with a sassy charm.

    “What would you boys do without me?” she said with a coy smirk.

    “Uuuuuuhhhhhh…” Bulkhead struggled to free himself from the sticky threads. “Probably go off-line.”

    Optimus and Ratchet pulled up. The maintenance crew’s leader was the first to shift out of vehicle mode. “All right, what seems to be the problem?”

    Blackarachnia jerked her thumb in the direction of Bumblebee and Bulkhead. “Ask the two goofballs. I just work here.”

    “Just a slight…mmmfff…” Bumblebee was trying to extricate himself from Blackarachnia’s web, but was only getting further entangled. “…miscalculation I made, bossbot! I forgot to…ooof…factor in Bulkhead’s weight, and…”

    “Stop struggling, you yellow doofus,” Blackarachnia sighed. “You’ll only get yourself stuck in there.” She leapt down from the crag and casually sliced both Autobots free with her razor-sharp fingers.

    “Hey!” Bulkhead shouted. “Watch it with those thi –“ The strands snapped, and Bulkhead grunted as he hit the ground alongside Bumblebee. “Owwwwww!”

    “You’re welcome,” Blackarachnia said sultrily, brushing her hands free of dust.

    Bulkhead slowly rose to his feet, rubbing his rear end. “You know what I can’t figure out? Why would anyone want to transport to this allspark-forsaken sector?”

    “Not to, you big lug,” Blackarachnia said. “From.”

    “There’s been rumors about the Decepticons making a comeback,” Optimus clarified. “None of them confirmed, of course, but all it takes for a massive infiltration of Iacon is one unsecure space bridge. That’s why we’ve got to bolster their alarm systems on top of repairing them.”

    “Just a teensy little reminder,” Blackarachnia said. “You guys would have been digging in the exact wrong spot if I hadn’t pointed it out.”

    “Aw, come on!” Bumblebee pulled the last strands of web from his foot. “It’s not like we would have stumbled across another Autobot who’s been hanging around here for a thousand stellar cycles or somethin’!”

    Blackarachnia looked at Bumblebee, one of her red eye slits arching slightly. “Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.”

    Optimus slammed his foot down on the rocky cliffside, striking an appropriately heroic pose in front of everyone. “Okay, I know we’re stuck out here in the middle of nowhere on a thankless assignment…”

    Ratchet smacked a hand to his forehead. “Oh Primus, here we scrappin’ go…”

    “But remember: we’re all cogs in a great big Autobot machine, a machine that’s…”

    “…that’s stronger than any one component part, that can move mountains, bladdy-bah-blah-blah,” Blackarachnia finished, flapping her hand about in the air. “That pep talk was cheesy the first time you said it, Optimus. Now it’s just making our auditory sensors crash. Come up with some new material already.”

    Optimus glared at Blackarachnia. She glared back.

    Despite of everything, he smiled, but only big enough for Blackarachnia to see. “Okay. I will,” he said softly.

    Blackarachnia’s lips tugged into a facsimile of a grin. Then she turned away before any of the other ‘bots could notice.

    Ratchet was getting exasperated. “Whenever you two love-servos are done making sparks at each other, there’s still a damn space bridge we gotta – “

    Almost as if it was reacting to its name being spoken aloud, the space bridge exploded into life, tossing Autobots and rocks of varying sizes of every direction.

    “Now I’m DEFINITELY gonna blow a gasket!!” Bulkhead screamed as he was flung through the asteroid’s orbit. Blackarachnia shot a strand of web at one of the space bridge’s prongs, catching Optimus as he flew past her.

    “Blackarachnia! Hit the…”

    “I’m on it.” She shot a ball-shaped projectile of silk at the kill-switch. The space bridge’s engine powered down, and everything returned to relative normalcy. Bulkhead swayed on his feet.

    “Where’d you learn moves like that?” he asked, still dizzy.

    Blackarachnia smirked, flexing her wrists. “Turns out Autobot Academy training and techno-organic skills make for a hell of a combination.”

    “That was the coolest thing ever,” Bumblebee squealed, having already recovered from almost being swept right off the asteroid. “Could you bite me and turn me into a spidery techno-organic ‘bot person?”

    She looked at Bumblebee as if his head had just exploded.

    A piercing blue light emanated from a nearby fissure, cracked open by the energy lash from the space bridge. Optimus was the first to approach it.

    “You found something, bossbot?” Bulkhead said.

    Optimus unholstered his ax without saying a word.

    “Prime!!” Ratchet yelled. “No – “

    He sliced a vertical line straight down the rock surface. The boulder split wide open, revealing a large, octagon-shaped device with blue streaks on its surface that glowed brightly enough to make the whole area look as if it was under the sea. The Autobots gathered around for a closer look.

    “What is it?” Bulkhead said, fascinated.

    “Why don’t you touch it and see what happens?” Blackarachnia suggested, a playful little taunt in her voice.

    “Leave it!” Ratchet barked. “Or better still, throw it back through the space bridge. This thing isn’t meant to be found.”

    Optimus picked up something in Ratchet’s tone. “What’s got you so spooked all of a sudden, Ratchet?”

    Before Ratchet had a chance to answer, the Autobot insignia on Optimus’s shoulder began to flesh.

    “Teletran-1 to Optimus Prime, Teletran-1 to Optimus Prime,” the ship’s A.I. intoned smoothly. “Unidentified spacecraft entering this sector. Energy signature consistent with Decepticon warship.”

    Optimus felt a chill. “Decepticon? That must be a mistake. The Decepticons were destroyed centuries ago.”

    “Defeated, not destroyed, dummy,” Blackarachnia snapped back. “Re-upload your history files.” She transformed into her arachnid mode on the spot.

    “GAH!!” Bulkhead blurted out, falling backwards. No matter how many times she transformed, Bulkhead could never get used to that alternate shape of hers.

    “Last one back to the ship gets scrapped,” she snickered, scuttling towards the docking tube.

    The other Autobots swiftly changed and followed Blackarachnia, leaving Ratchet alone to sulk. “That girl is seriously starting to short-circuit my diodes,” he growled as he switched to vehicle mode.


    Back on the flight deck, the Autobots were keeping their optic sensors locked on the viewscreen. Blackarachnia sat between Bulkhead and Bumblebee at the navigator’s helm. The throbbing hum of the ship’s engine did little to ease their anxiety.

    On the viewscreen, an enhanced scan of the approaching vessel confirmed Optimus’s fears: It was indeed a Decepticon warship.

    “You wanted to see action, kid?” Ratchet grunted in Optimus’s direction. “Be careful what ya wish for.”

    “Uh…hello? We’re a repair crew,” Bumblebee said from the helm with a nervous twitch. “Please tell me you’re not actually thinking of taking on Decepticons?!”

    “What’s the matter, yellow ‘bot?” Blackarachnia said. “Starting to live up to your color already?”

    “Patch me to Cybertron Command Headquarters,” Optimus ordered.

    Blackarachnia swiveled around in her chair, locking eyes with Optimus. “You KNOW who’s going to answer,” she hissed.

    Optimus looked at her with a level gaze.

    Snarling quietly, she hit the direct link to Cybertron Command. Sentinel was already smiling when his face filled the entire viewscreen.

    “Optimus Prime,” he said with ingratiating superiority. “You mean they still let you command other Autobots?” He turned his gaze on Blackarachnia. “Speaking of which, has Elita-1…oh, excuse me, Blackarachnia…become a Decepticon turncoat yet?” He feigned surprise. “Whoops! Nope, I see the Autobot insignia’s still on her neckband. My bad.”

    Blackarachnia dug her talons into the console. Her lower right eye twitched.

    “Now’s not the time, Sentinel,” Optimus said, doing his best to keep his anger to a low simmer. “Just put me through to Ultra Magnus.”

    Sentinel’s smile didn’t falter. “Now how could a third-rate rock-buster and a half-organic mutant possibly merit the Supreme Commander’s attention?”

    Blackarachnia slammed her hands on her console as she stood up. “This half-organic mutant will merit his attention by ripping out your - !!”


    Optimus was the only sentient being in all of Creation who could make Blackarachnia stand down. She sat back in her seat, but the murderous expression on her face persisted. Optimus narrowed his eyes at Sentinel. “Teletran-1, display cargo hold visual.”

    A frame displaying the Allspark was instantly screened beside Sentinel. The Autobot’s triumphant smirk disintegrated.

    “I’ll, uh…” he shifted uncomfortably. “…put you through right away.” His undesirable features disappeared from the viewscreen with a loud blip.

    Ratchet shot Optimus an approving little smile. The sage countenance of Ultra Magnus snapped into view.

    “Ultra Magnus here, Optimus. We’re tracking your Decepticon signal.” He turned his gaze downwards, presumably eyeing a computer readout. “Probably just a lost scout ship. Ever since they were driven off Cybertron, the ‘cons have been wandering the periphery. They’d never be so foolish as to invade Autobot space. Still…I’m sending out a strike force to intercept if necessary. In the meantime, you and your ‘bots just sit tight.” His eyes glowed a slightly brighter shade of blue. “And Prime…don’t try to be a hero. Doing that before almost cost you everything.” His visage vanished in the blink of an optic sensor.

    Blackarachnia looked icily back at Optimus. “He was referring to me, wasn’t he?”

    “Probably. But don’t let it get to you. Right now, we have bigger problems.” His fingers began tapping away at the console’s grid-board. “Teletran-1, set a course for the nearest space bridge.”

    Bulkhead swiveled around in his seat. “But Ultra Magnus said - !”

    “With all due respect,” Optimus said, cutting Bulkhead off, “Ultra Magnus isn’t carrying the Allspark.”

    “Can’t argue with that logic,” Blackarachnia noted wryly.

    The ship made a direct beeline for the nearest charted space bridge, piloting through a dense cloud of asteroids. The Autobots were pressed back in their seats as their speed accelerated. Suddenly, a massive shadow loomed over the viewscreen.

    Ratchet leaned forward, unable to believe what he was seeing. “Scrap me! Is that…?!”

    “It looked a lot smaller on the scanner,” Bulkhead mumbled.

    The Decepticon warship had positioned itself in front of the tiny Autobot maintenance ship like a nightmare juggernaut. They all realized to their mutual horror they were dead in its sights.

    “Well,” Blackarachnia said, with a tinge of irony, “now I’m REALLY glad I stayed an Autobot."

    Last edited: May 14, 2020
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