CHAPTER 20 Jack was sure he was going to be dead this time, there was no way he could have survived even a brush against the beam that Harbinger fired at him and Optimus. All that he could hope was that he had managed to push his mentor and friend far enough away so that he could continue the fight. Maybe Grimlock and the others had made it too, it was a lot to hope for considering how the Reaper was ripping Hammer apart, but that was all he had left. But yet he could still feel the rain hitting his face, the wind brushing against his skin and hair. He focused on those feelings and suddenly his body began to ache like nothing he had experienced before, it felt like his entire being had been burnt to a crisp. He then heard voices in the distance and turned his face, slowly opening his eyes as painful as it was. He could see along the ground from him was the body of a Krogan lying face down on the ground, his holo-tool was on but fluctuating as the Prime figured out what he was hearing. "My god…, they're all gone." he could hear Dreadwing say with fear and despair in his voice over the active com link (being broadcast by the holo-tool). "Did we get anyone to the beam?" an unknown female voice asked back. "Negative, our entire force was decimated." the former Con replied, making Jack's heart sink as the words burned into to his core. 'We failed!' he thought as he then looked back up to the sky to see the Reaper Beam reaching up into the heavens as the storm clouds continued to battle each other around it's light. "It's too much, we have to retreat. Pull back to the buildings." Dreadwing finished before the power source for the Krogan's holo-tool stopped and it deactivated. Jack then saw Harbinger lift off the ground from behind the Beam, it's yellow eyes not even bothering to look at the devastation it had caused as it headed back up into orbit. The Prime moved his hands and tried to lift himself up, but the pain he felt was so agonising that he collapsed back and grimaced as he felt blood trickle down over his lips from his nose. Suddenly two figures were seen standing over him but could not make out who they were, due to the bright light of the beam stopping him from focusing his vision in his fragile state. He then felt something grab hold of his legs and focused to see the two figures beginning to drag him across the ground and towards the Reaper beam, it's light growing ever brighter the closer he was brought to it. A sound of power building up could be heard as the figures dragged him into the light and suddenly Jack felt himself suddenly thrusted up into the air at velocity. He tried to keep his eyes open but the force that was being pressed upon him as he was being accelerated up was forcing his eyes shut, but he could only making out streaks of white light flying past before everything went dark again. Then just as quickly as he passed out, he was brought back to consciousness by the painful feeling of being dropped down onto a cold, hard floor. He opened his eyes and slowly looked around to see that he was somewhere else. The room was vast and had a metallic look to it. "Where….am…I?" he said as he heard footsteps approaching him from behind. "Where do you think, Darby." a familiar voice said as the footsteps stopped just ahead of him. "…Silas…." Jack replied as he tried to look up at the MECH leader, but could not find the strength to do so. "Pick him up." Suddenly the Prime winced as he felt the two figures grab his throbbing arms and lift him to his feet. Jack looked down to the floor and saw that his Prime armour had been damaged beyond repair, he could even see through to his burnt torso underneath via the odd burnt through section's of his armour. "Look at me, Darby." Slias said, gaining Jack's attention, his eyes widened at what he saw. "What….the hell have you done to your…" he started to say before feeling like his brain was being squashed inside his head, just after seeing his adversary's face. It had now looked like Silas was halfway into becoming a Husk, with Reaper modifications all over his face. His optics were no longer glowing yellow, but bright blue instead. He smiled at Darby slyly. "Save your strength, unless you wish to end up like Optimus over here." Silas stepped aside to reveal the Autobot Leader on his hands and knees, breathing heavily. "Let Darby go and secure him." the MECH leader said as he pointed over to the fallen Prime. Suddenly Jack felt his arms being released and looked to see that it was a Marauder and a Cannibal that had been keeping him subdued, he watched as they picked up Optimus and lifted him to his feet. The Commander then noticed that Silas was still grinning at him. "I warned you, control is the means to survival. Control of the Reapers and of you… if necessary." Jack gritted his teeth as he attempted to move towards his enemy but then Silas just lifted his hand to him, and suddenly Jack's brain felt like it was going to explode as he screamed out loud. The muscles in his legs froze and he could not move from his spot as he put his head in his hands. "I told you to save your strength, your part in this is over Darby. I have control of you all now." the MECH leader replied, but then Optimus lifted his head and stared daggers at Silas. "No, they are controlling you." he spat as the Husks held him in place, but from where Jack stood, he could of sworn that Optimus was saying it to him. The MECH leader turned and faced the older Prime, his expression was one of annoyance. "I don't think so, Prime." he replied with disdain. "Controlling me and a few Husks is not the same as controlling a Reaper." Jack said back as he tried to move, but found himself being held in place by some unknown force. Silas then turned back to the younger Prime and looked at him coldly, his blue optics glowing brightly. "Have a little faith." he replied before he began to walk around the pair. "When the Cybertronians uplifted Humanity, when we found that there was more to galaxy than we had ever imagined. There were some who thought that we were progressing too fast, that our god-like allies were pushing us too far. They were scared of what we would become, of what we would find. But look at what Humanity has achieved, in spite of the Cybertronians influence. Since that moment, we have advanced more than the last ten thousand years combined. And the Reapers will do the same for us again, a thousand fold. But.." he stopped and stared at Jack, making the Prime's head ache even more. "..only if we harness their ability to control." "No, there is no controlling the Reapers. We have to destroy them before they destroy us." Optimus said back, regaining the MECH leader's attention as Jack put his hand to his throbbing head. "And waste this opportunity, never." Silas said as he walked back round the pair. The Commander then looked back at MECH leader. "But your messing with things that you don't understand, with power you shouldn't be able to use." "I…" Silas said as he stopped and looked up to the ceiling, as if he heard voices speaking to him. "…don't believe that." he continued as he regained his composure and looked back at the Primes. "If we can control it, then why shouldn't it be ours?" he finished. "Because we are not ready." Jack replied as Silas looked at him. "No, this is the way Humanity has to evolve." "There is always another way." Optimus said while looking directly at the younger Prime again, confusing him even more. Silas though stood as though his confidence was at it's highest. "I have made it my life's goal to study the Reapers since their discovery, and I know with certainty that the Crucible will allow me to control them. The device is just down there." he said as he pointed down the hallway that had appeared behind him. Jack looked at him with an unconvinced expression. "And then what?" "Look at the power they hold, look at what I can do with it." Silas then said as he clenched his fist, which made it glow with purple energy, causing both Jack and Optimus to suffer seizures as the two Husks holding the older Prime suddenly turned to dust. Everything went white for Jack as the overwhelming pain took his attention before it finally stopped and both he and his mentor breathed heavily as the MECH leader stared at them. "I see what they did to you." Jack spat back at him in anger. "I took what I wanted from them, made it my own. This isn't about me or you, it's about things that are so much bigger than all of us." Silas replied as he stretched his arms out and looked up to the ceiling. "He's wrong, don't listen to him." Optimus said as Jack looked over to him, only for Silas to stand beside the older Prime. "And who will you listen to Darby, an old Prime who is stuck in his ways. Seeing no way to end this conflict but down the barrel of a gun. And what if he is wrong, what if controlling the Reapers is the answer. Because while you two were unconscious, the Crucible has docked with the Citadel…and with the three of us are aboard, if you hadn't noticed." Jack shook his head in response. "It doesn't matter, because if we destroy the Reapers now, then it ends today. But if you can't control them.." This gained an angry reaction from Silas as he gritted his teeth and flapped his fist at the Prime. "But I can!" he spat back, not even attempting to hide his rage. "Are you willing to bet Humanity's existence on it." Jack shouted back as suddenly Silas's expression changed to uncertainty before looking down to the ground and holding his hands in front of his face. "No, No, it will work." he replied as if trying to convince himself of it. "You can't, can you. 'They' won't let you do it." the younger Prime said back as he could see the MECH leader's resolve begin to falter. But then Silas looked back at Jack, his face full of rage and he violently pointed back at him. "No, I'm in control. No one is telling me what to do!" he spat back at the Commander. Optimus just stood there and looked between both the men. "Listen to yourself, you're indoctrinated." he said, and the older Prime's words seemed to echo throughout Jack's mind as he looked at Silas. "No, No! The two of you are so self righteous. Do you think power like this comes easy, there are sacrifices." the MECH leader said back with little conviction, but much anger in his tone. "You sacrificed too much." Jack said confidently, as if he knew some hidden truth all of a sudden. Silas though was almost rabid as he began to move franticly. "Darby, I… I only wanted to protect Humanity, the Crucible can control them. I know it can…..I …just." he said before trailing off and looking up as if hearing things. "It's not too late, let us go. We can do the rest." Jack said calmly, hoping that he might be able to get through to the MECH leader. Silas then put his hand up to his brow and thought for a second. "I…. I… cannot do that, Darby." he said as his voice and expression showed the inner struggle he was facing with himself. "Of course you can't, Silas. You are theirs now." Optimus replied before looking back at Jack. Silas then walked behind the older Prime and took his pistol out from it's holster on the Autobot's utility belt. "You, you would undo everything I have accomplished." the MECH leader said as Optimus fell to his knees. Silas then pointed the gun at the older Prime's head. "I cannot let that happen." he said as Jack watched. Because of you, Humanity is already undone." Jack replied. "That's not true!" Silas spat back as he started to lose control again. "The Reapers have the Citadel, they have us fighting each other instead of fighting them!" the younger Prime spat back, his own anger now boiling over. "I just need to…." the MECH leader replied in a rage as he stepped towards Jack. "You did exactly what the Reapers wanted. Your still doing it now, because they control you!" the Commander shouted back, causing Silas's erratic behaviour to continue as he began to pace from left to right, waving the pistol about. "No, No,…" he shouted. ",You were supposed to protect Humanity, but you failed!" Jack continued to say, as Silas held his head in his hands, looking like he was in great pain before staring daggers at the younger Prime and charging at him. "NO! I am the savior of Humanity, the pinnacle of our species." he shouted as he lunged at the Commander, but then Jack found that he could move all of a sudden and then dodged Silas's attack, grabbed his arm and twisted it. The MECH leader winced as Jack pulled the pistol away and turned around to face his adversary before pulling the trigger, sending Silas flying on to his back before smoke began to rise up from the bullet hole in his chest. Jack looked down to see the blue light from the MECH leader's optics and other Reaper modifications fade to nothing. "You have done well." an unknown voice spoke out from behind the younger Prime, it sounded old and wise, but gentle and warm. Jack turned round to see Optimus standing there, looking completely fine. His eyes though glowed with a white light as he smiled at the Commander. "Step into the light." he said, the voice certainly wasn't Optimus's, as whoever this was pointed to the hallway that Silas had gestured to earlier. Jack looked back to see that a bright white light was shining from the bottom of the hallway. He had no idea what was down there, but he felt that he could trust this being who was impersonating Optimus. So he nodded back to him and began walking down the hallway, leaving Silas's dead body and that room behind him as white light surrounded him. PRIME EFFECT 3 The Prime could not believe his eyes when the white light died down to reveal that he was in a completely new location, not dark and metallic like the room that he faced Silas in. His surroundings from the mountains that he saw in the distance, to the very ground that he stood on was made of crystal. But not in an artificial way, it all looked like it had formed naturally. It all looked so perfect and beautiful, the Prime lost himself in his surroundings as he stared wide-eyed before up into the sky to see it full of stars. He also saw what on Earth would be called the ' Northern lights', as the waves of blue and green coloured light moved through the night sky effortlessly. "Those stars are the sparks of Cybertronians that have past beyond your world." that voice spoke again from behind Jack, as a bright light shone from the same direction. The Prime turned around only to be nearly blinded by intensity of the white light as it moved toward him. "You need not fear me, for I am both a friend and watcher of you, Jackson Prime. You have carried a part of my essence with you after all." the light spoke, Jack's eyes widened again as he realised who was speaking to him. "Primus!" he said with a half gasp before the white light then dimmed and reformed to take on the an almost ghostly image of Optimus Prime. "Yes, Disciple of mine. I am Primus and I bring you here within the Matrix, so that I can I bestow on you the wisdom to prevent the apocalypse that is about to by unleashed." the deity said in return as Jack still stood there completely dumbstruck. "I'm…. in the matrix?…. Wait, what happened back there. I mean with Silas, I mean I realise now that Optimus was…. He was you in there wasn't he." "Yes, I was there to help you see the truth." "What truth?" Jack asked with a confused look. "The truth that everything you have just witnessed has been a lie." Primus replied, gaining another dumbstruck look from the Prime, before anger took over. "Don't lie to me, I saw my friends and the woman I loved die back there!" he spat back at the apparition before it changed again, this time to a human sized Alpha Trion. "I do not lie, Disciple. I bring you only the truth. Sinice you are a Prime, you know that all connected to me via the matrix only speaks truthfully. I am no different." he said as he looked at Jack with a knowing but supportive expression. "Then when did this….." the Prime was about to ask before looking down at himself to see that his armour was back to it's untouched state, his injuries were gone as well. It then clicked in his mind. "I am dreaming aren't I. The last thing I remember was our tank being overturned by an explosion." "That is correct, you are as of this moment still lying unconscious inside that tank on the battlefield, in the city you call London." Primus replied with a nod. "Well I guess I have picked a great time to be dreaming, haven't I." Jack replied in a half joking tone, earning a slight smile from the deity. "Now there is the man that I bestowed with the Human matrix of leadership, the shadow that has been cast over your soul for so long has finally faded away." "What do you mean by that?" the Prime asked, earning a stoic look from deity. "This may be hard for you to hear, but for the last year you have been under the threat of Reaper indoctrination. You were almost under their complete control before I stepped in." Jack's expression changed to one of complete shock. "What!, when did this happen and how?" "You remember when you came in contact with the Reaper artefact that your people called 'Object Rho'?" Primus said as an image of Jack approaching and being zapped by it played in front of him. "Yes, I do. I remember that only too well. But I felt fine after and was even given a clean bill of health." "Perhaps so, but Reaper indoctrination is a very dangerous method of control. It is subtle at first and slowly breaks down the will of those under it's thrall, until they become mere puppets of the Reapers. Those under the effects of indoctrination will begin to have hallucinations…" the deity said as another image played out in front of Jack, this time of the boy back on Earth. The images shown were of him playing in the park, hiding in the air duct and his death at the hands of the Reapers. Jack just stood there and watched. "The boy wasn't real, was he? And then there were the dreams." he said before thinking about them as Primus watched. "Yes, the boy was not real. His image was used by the Reapers or more in particular the one called Harbinger to try and break your will, therefore progressing the indoctrination further. And then taking into account the friends that you have lost, the battles that went against you. These also helped to further weaken your resolve." Jack then had an expression of understanding as he looked at the deity. "I can see that now, the last final dream I had. I saw Harbinger in it, why didn't I think more of it at the time?" "Because the Reapers whispers into your mind, prevented you from doing so. When it came to the final push, Harbinger connected to you again while you were unconscious and played an elaborate faux that showed the ones you cared for the most dying before you. This tragedy would then have you fall completely under their thrall. That was when I stepped in, I originally believed that the matrix would offer you some protection, but with everything that has happened to you over the last year. I needed to take action myself." Primus replied before Jack looked at him curiously. "Wait, why would the Reapers want me under their control? I would think that they would rather kill me." "Because you, Jackson Prime, are what they call a 'nexus', you turn one way and the whole galaxy has a tendency to turn the same way. The Reapers knew that the galaxy would listen to you and help you bring their plan to fruition." the deity replied. "You seem to know a lot about the Reapers, why? What are they planning?" Jack asked as he let his curiosity get the better of him. "I am old, Jackson Prime. My time goes back as far as what your species call the 'big bang', the very creation of the universe. And in that time I have seen many, many things. I will tell you about the Reapers and what their true goals are, but you must listen to my story to know the whole truth." Primus replied, earning an surprised and alert expression from Jack. "But we don't have time, you say that I am still very much in the fight. Then we are wasting time with this now." "Time has no meaning right now as only a few moments will pass in the waking world, for your mind is within the matrix. When you awaken, you will be ready for what lies ahead. But for now….., listen to my story." Suddenly Jack found himself surrounded by space and stars while Primus's voice spoke. "At the beginning of the universe, when you and your species were not even a thought amongst the cosmos. There was the first beings, the first life forms to achieve sentience, to evolve and expand throughout their own galaxy, That was my species and we called ourselves 'Aeons'. After a time we came to find that we were not the only ones to have been blessed with the gift of life, as we found that many galaxies had worlds that had given birth to life, though no where near our level of evolution. We decided to watch these young species and guide them when necessary, for we knew that there was only one absolute in cosmos, one constant that kept the universe in sync. And that was the balance between light and dark, order and chaos. What you would call good and evil. We had learnt this because each Aeon was born with a brother that was the opposite of them, the mirror image if you will. I was no different and my brother was the one you would know as Unicron." The Prime kept quiet as an image of Unicron and Primus standing side by side appeared before him, both looking like the other, but with immediate differences. "Unicron was always impatient and quick to anger, while I myself was more composed and reserved. But we always kept each other in balance." "How did you watch the galaxies?" Jack suddenly asked out loud, feeling curious at what he was looking at. "There are an infinite number of galaxies in the universe disciple of mine, as there are also an infinite number of us. Each pair of Aeons receives a galaxy to watch over and guide, to help keep the balance of light and dark for that cluster of stars. And so Unicron and I were given what you would call 'The Milky Way' and we took this galaxy into our arms to watch and nurture. And at first, everything went as it should have as life began to appear throughout your galaxy, the first sentient beings of the very first cycle of the Milky Way. But then we saw something that began to trouble my brother, the new life forms had begun fighting each other. Starting wars and wiping out the others. Unicron became enraged by this, saying that free will was a poison and that we Aeons should be more hands on with the younger species, but I always believed that if left alone and given the chance, the younger ones would see the error of their ways and work together for the common good of each other. My brother would not hear of it, he was convinced that he was right and the two of us would argue for entire ages about this as the galaxy continued to turn and grow. Soon enough I began to see this change in the species that spawned in our galaxy but Unicron, he had become a stranger to me as all he saw was the wars and death that a number of the young races would bring to each other, and so my brother chose to act. He took the form of a planet, a planet that could consume and purge anything in it's path. He chose to destroy those species that had chosen war and death, believing them to be unable or unwilling to change their ways." Primus said as Jack then saw the planet form of Unicron, it looked more natural and biological than machine and he watched as it started to feed off and destroy entire worlds. "My brother had broken the one rule that we Aeons were never to break, which was to not physically interfere with the natural order of a galaxy. So I chose to react, but I did so in a way which kept the rule unbroken in my case. So I brought life to thirteen special sparks, they had synthetic bodies, but I gave them sentience. The one thing that the synthetics that my race originally created had none of. For after seeing how the younger races of this galaxy fared, I believed that this merging would produce beings who would prove themselves worthy. Not only of being my children, but also of putting a stop to my brother's evil ways. But they would need something special to help them, so I gave them a piece of my spark to use so that they could stop my brother, since the two of us are linked together." An image appeared in front of Jack that showed the silhouettes of this group and that one of them held an object that glowed brightly, the Commander recognised these people instantly. "The Thirteen Primes and the Matrix of Leadership." "Yes, my Disciple, and I gave the first matrix to the lead Prime, the one called 'Prima'." Primus replied as an image of the Prime appeared before Jack and he was holding the Star Saber in his hands. "Wait, the first matrix?" "There have been three matrices that I have passed down to those I found worthy of becoming my disciples. The first was to Prima, the second was to Optimus and the third and 'final' one was to you Jackson Darby. May I continue?" the deity asked somewhat frankly, which surprised and embarrassed the Commander. "Sorry, yes…. Please contiune." "Thank you. The Thirteen fought many battles against my brother and stopped him from devouring many worlds, but still he managed to wipe out a number of civilisations in our personal war. But then one day, my disciples managed to injure Unicron and prevent him from changing his form to that which he had used to wipe out billions. And he then disappeared into the darkness, for what would feel like an eternity. The Thirteen searched the galaxy several times over while looking for my brother, until they found him and finally defeated him. And while his body floated through the galaxy, I gave my disciples a home, a world….. And they called it Cybertron. I then chose to relinquish my physical form and so joined my spark with the core of this world, so that I could then bring my creations new life, and from the well of All-sparks the entire Cybertronian species were born. And as I watched my children build a world that any father would be proud of, little did I know that Unicron still had his claws dug into this galaxy. For though his body had drifted through space until it became the first rock of your home world called 'Earth', he had already left a legacy of his own." "The Reapers, I know how they were created. Lucifer showed me." Jack said as images of the black behemoths appeared around him. "Yes, the first three Reapers. Harbinger, Sovereign and the one you named Lucifer. After the later had gone rogue, the other two purged several civilisations and converted them into more of themselves before going quiet suddenly. But I had not noticed since I was more engrossed with how my own children were growing, under the leadership of the thirteen before they joined the All-spark. Then in what took several hundred million years, the Cybertronians had mastered space flight and also built the Space bridge network. It was now what my children would call the 'Golden Age of Cybertron'. They had begun reaching out to other worlds and species and working with them. It was also at this time that the Citadel appeared, no one knew what it was, but the organic races that found it, believed that it once belonged to a race long since dead. So they made it the heart of the galactic community. But then something happened, it was something that I should have seen coming far sooner as the signs were already there." Primus said as an image of two of the Thirteen appeared before Jack. "Just before fading away, the Thirteen were betrayed by one of their own, his name was Megatronus. He had turned on and murdered Solus Prime in what appeared to be a fit of jealously and rage, after she had chosen another for herself….a spark mate if you will. But I fear that my brother before his defeat had managed to poison Megatronus' spark. Because before that day, none of the Thirteen would have acted in that manner. At the time I thought the incident was over, but since what happened later, I fear that Unicron had a hand in the events that followed." the deity continued as Jack then saw the end of the golden age and the start of a conflict that he knew only too well after being told about it by Arcee and the other Autobots and experiencing it's twilight years. "The Great war." "Yes, my children had done the one thing I believed not possible of them. The Cybertronian race was split right down the middle, Autobots and Decepticons. And worse still, the Decepticons leader was called Megatron (having named himself Megatronus before), it is ironic that it was that name he had chosen for himself. After spending the ages arguing with Unicron about the nature of free will and what he believed it would ultimately lead too… war and destruction, and yet now he was being proven right. For millions of years as the war ravaged the surface of Cybertron, I felt each and every bomb that went off or city that was destroyed. I had lost faith in my own creations as the lineage of Primes had failed, but that was until one day when one in particular appeared before my very spark." "You mean Orion Pax." the Prime replied. "I looked into his spark and saw the very same values and courage that the Thirteen had within them originally and so gave him the second Matrix, thus reformatting him into Optimus Prime. I placed with him the last hope I had of ending this conflict. But it would still be millions of years before that day would come." Primus said. "I know how that war ended, I was there. But what about the Reapers during all of this?" Jack asked. "Forgive me, Jackson Darby, but at that time I was still in mourning for the failure that my children had shamed me with during the great war. I am as guilty as they were for focusing in on themselves and not noticing the cyclical purging of organic life from the rest of the galaxy every hundred thousand years for the many of millions of years that the war transpired. It was not until you were made a Prime and given the third matrix, then I accessed your memories and saw the Reapers. I then looked back through the countless cycles of the past and saw the countless harvests of organic life in the galaxy. Centillions of lives lost in the time between the start of the war and the point in which they were about to return for your cycle. I also saw that the Reapers had never once touched a single Cybertronian life, and it was in that moment that I realised that the war that had split my children in two was really his doing and was a way to spite me for my beliefs. And that was why the Reapers, his creations never attacked Cybertron. He was ensuring that my pain in seeing my children fighting each other would continue forever. The Reapers had a stranglehold on the galaxy and used both the Space bridge network and the Citadel, a device of their own construction to ensure that their master's will would carry on." "You said that the Reapers have goals? What else is there other than the purging of all organic life every cycle?" Jack asked. "In the countless cycles that the Reapers have destroyed all life in the galaxy as they also built up their numbers, I have seen that Harbinger is indeed the one leading them in their master's absence. It has learnt what the value of hope is to the organic races that they purge, and so during one early cycle the Reapers left a blue print for the next cycle to find. This blue print would offer hope to those that would face the next culling a hundred thousand years later. "You mean the Crucible. Are you saying that it is not the salvation that we were led to believe?" the Prime asked. "The Crucible will only ensure your destruction, Jackson Darby. Because it will resurrect my brother…. Unicron the Chaos Bringer." "I don't understand, I thought Optimus extinguished Unicron's spark years ago. When he used the matrix on him." Jack replied. "No, my brother was only put back into stasis lock. When I created the matrix, I ensured that it would only defeat him, not destroy him. Because I did not want to see Unicron die, I only wanted to help him see the error of his thinking. He is after all…still my brother." Primus answered. "Wait, you mean he is still…." the Commander said as he realised what the deity meant. "Yes, Unicron's spark is very much alive, down in the core of your world. Why do you think the Reapers attacked and lay siege to Earth before any other planet in the galaxy. They wanted ensure that their master was safe and prepare for his return." the Aeon replied which earned a look of horror from the Prime. "My god, how does the Crucible achieve this?" "Once it joins with the Citadel, they will form Unicron's new body, but it is not the only attempt the Reapers have made to resurrect their creator, for you have already destroyed one once before." Primus said, earning a curious expression from Jack. "It was when you destroyed the Quintesson home-world just over a year ago." the deity added, earning a wide-eyed expression from the Prime as he remembered. "The Human Reaper, that was meant to be a body for Unicron." The apparition nodded in return. "Yes, you see after waiting for so many cycles and witnessing the organic races of each fail to successfully build and deploy the Crucible every time, Harbinger became impatient. So during the cycle that came before yours, it harvested and re-purposed the Lithone species. And made it their mission to find one that it would consider worthy of harvesting and building into the body for their master." Primus said. "And it chose Humanity because we defeated it's brother Sovereign and ended the Reapers original invasion three years ago." Jack replied, warning a nod in return from the deity. "But even though you destroyed that prototype and ended the threat it presented, they still had their original plan to fall back on. You see when the Crucible and Citadel are together along with the Reaper beam that is connected to the Earth, which is not unlike an umbilical cord. It will transfer my brother's spark into it and his new body will take form from the combined two (the crucible is like a blank protoform). Once complete, Unicron will finish what he began and destroy all life with his children at his side. And then he go about rebuilding the galaxy as he sees fit." "Then let me wake now, I still have time to stop it." Jack replied. "I am afraid that it cannot be stopped, the Reaper's and my brother's endgame is already under way. But there is a way to end the threat posed by both once and for all." Primus said with a stoic expression. "I'm all ears, tell me what to do." the Prime said. "Like I said before, my brother and I are linked. One cannot exist without the other, so if the power of the matrix is unleashed into his spark. It can destroy him." "But you said that the matrix isn't powerful enough to do that, what aren't you telling me, Primus?" Jack asked with a curious and stern look. "I see that there is no point withholding the truth from you, Jackson Darby, as you know the matrix is a piece of my very spark. As you are a keeper of such a piece, it connects you to me and I to you. Now if the matrix is released into my brother's spark, I will add my very essence to it as well and so my spark and Unicron's will cancel each other out, the resulting release of energy will then destroy the Reapers as well." Primus replied. "But such a release of energy would only effect a sector of the galaxy, how do you plan to have it cover the entire galaxy?" Jack then asked, suddenly feeling confused. "Have faith, Disciple of mine." the Aeon simply replied with a smile, then it was then that Jack realised what he meant. "The space bridge network, since Unicron will have the Citadel as part of his body, then it will connect him to it. The energy release will then spread out and cover then galaxy." the Prime answered, earning a nod from Primus. "You are indeed wise Jackson Darby, yes the very device that the Reapers created to control the space bridge network can also be used to end them." "Okay, so I just need to wait for Unicron to reawaken and then enter his body via the Reaper beam. And then unleash your's and the matrix's energy into his spark to end this war." Jack said with confidence, but this was met by a stern expression from Primus. "No, Disciple. You are still Human, if you were to unleash the matrix's energy then you would likely not survive the exposure. Plus the Human Matrix of Leadership is not meant for this crisis, but for one many centuries from now." "What do you mean?" Jack asked, again feeling curious about the Aeon's words. "Focus on the here and now, Prime. You and Optimus must enter Unicron and it is he who must unleash the power of the matrix he carries. As he is Cybertronian, Optimus will be able to survive the release of it's energies and mine." Primus replied with a stern but stoic tone, gaining a nod from Jack, but then the young Prime looked to the horizon and his eyes widened as it suddenly dawned on him. "If this works, you and Unicron will cancel each other out, then that means that Cybertron will truly become a dead world and everything that is connected to you will die out too." he said while holding his hand over his chest plate and feeling the pulsing energy of the matrix under it. "No, Prime. The matrix you carry will allow a piece of me to survive this, I assure you." the deity said while placing a transparent hand on Jack's shoulder, but he just looked back with worry written on his face. "But what about the well of All-sparks, it is still the only way for Cybertronians to gain new sparks, and ensure their future. If you die then it will go dark and you will condemn your children to extinction." Primus though continued to offer Jack a gentle smile. "As I said, have faith and trust in me, Jackson Darby. Because for every door that is open, then one must close. And for every door that closes, one must then open. I will not leave my children to such a fate, because since they met Humanity, not only has the war come to an end, but they have also gone on to make a positive impact on the galaxy. That is all down to your race's positive influence, you have helped my children evolve and grow past their old ways and in turn they have too helped yours over come the troubles that have plagued your species since your creation." "Primus, I must ask. You have been so against killing your brother, why the change now?" Jack then asked. "Because I am tired and I have lived far too long, as my brother has too. And I believe that it is time to free this galaxy from the shackles that we have wrapped it in. Too much life has been lost in our names and it must stop, and if we must lay down our lives to do so….then so be it. It is now it is time for you to reawaken, Jackson Prime. I ask you and Optimus to help me end this conflict once and for all. Farewell, till all are one." Primus finished before everything around Jack went white before going black. Jack found himself in darkness yet again and yet completely peaceful, like everything he had just witnessed with Primus was just a dream. After his conversation with the Cybertronian deity, Jack now knew the truth and also a way to stop it. All that was left was to reawaken and make it happen, he just hoped that there was still time to do so. So he focused on that on waking up and so he felt himself begin to stir as mumbled sounds started to echo in the darkness around him and slowly they became clearer until they were the voices of those he recognised only to well, as they spoke around him. One of them was of a person that he loved more than anything, she sounded quite distressed at the moment. PRIME EFFECT 3 "Come on, Jack, wake up." "Arcee, still no change?" Garrus said. "No, I don't get it. The crash knocked us all out, but surely Jack would have come too by now?" the femme replied with worry and concern in her voice." "Optimus is exactly the same, Arcee, I can't help but feel that there is a connection." Jazz could be heard saying from just aways as Jack began to force his eyes open, banishing the darkness around him as light flowed over his being. "Wait, he is coming too." Arcee said as the Prime squinted, his eyes readjusting to the over abundance of light that they were exposed too. Until the lights formed an image in front of him, one of the most beautiful faces he had ever seen smiling back at him with relief in her expression. "Jack, are you alright?" the femme asked as she cupped his face in her hands and stroked his cheek with her thumb. "I think so, how long was I out? Jack asked before his lover pulled him up in to a hug as he sat there. "Not long since we woke up, Pal." Jazz said as he turned and looked over to the partners, giving Arcee a knowing smile. "Arcee was worried." he added gaining an embarrassed smile from the femme before A groan could be heard from Optimus as he too sat up. "Optimus, take it easy. Don't know if you might have suffered a concussion of something." Jazz said, but the older Prime ignored him and looked at Jack. "Jackson, I had a vision." the Commander looked over to his mentor, his eyes widening in response. "A vision?" "Yes, from ... Primus." Optimus replied as the tank suddenly went quiet as everyone took in what he had just said. "Me too." Jack said, making Arcee look at him with he same curiosity as she had the older Prime. But before she could say anything, Jack was on his feet and he tapped his com link. "Jackson Prime to Admiral Bryce, come in. I repeat Jackson Prime to Admiral Bryce, do you read?" But all he could hear was static. "Damn, Garrus. Do you think you can help me get a transmission to the Ark?" Jack asked as Garrus stood beside Grimlock and Smokescreen. the Turian activated his holo-tool, but then shook his head after seeing the data on it's screen. "I don't know, Jack. With our close proximity to the beam, the interference it is giving out is pretty high." The younger Prime walked over to a console and turned it's holo-interface round so that he could read it (the tank has overturned). "What if we boost the transmission by sending it via this tank's sensor array." Garrus walked over and joined him at the console and looked at the screen, he smiled at what he saw. "Yes, this could work. It will take a few minutes." "Get it done as fast as you can, Garrus. We need to warn Admiral Bryce not to use the Crucible." Jack replied earning a more confused look from everybody (minus Optimus). "Why do we now not want to use the Crucible, it's the only way we have to defeat the Reapers." Smokescreen asked, gaining the Commander's attention. "Because believe me when I say, if we use the Crucible then Unicron will return and we will all be dead." Meanwhile flying through the heart of the battle high above the Earth, Admiral Bryce was watching it all unfold before his eyes as the fleet was still in this fight against the Reapers despite the losses they were experiencing. He had seen a good many of their ships being destroyed in this fight already, but since calling Lucifer in, at least they were now starting to get more into this fight (which was far more one sided before hand). He looked out through the Bridge canopy and saw a Turian dreadnought, an Asari cruiser and a Quarian life ship take out a Reaper with combined firepower, that was one of only a few casualties that they had imposed on the Reapers in this battle before Lucifer had shone up. He then looked over to see the enemy sending more ships at the Crucible which had only entered the battle a few minutes prior. "All ships, this is Admiral Bryce. Defend the Crucible, we need to protect it at all costs." he said into his com link, before seeing more of his ships being destroyed with ease. This gave him a stone faced expression before looking down to his com officer. "Any word from Hammer?" "Negative, Sir. We are picking up interference from the beam. It is dampening communications with our forces on the ground." the officer replied, making the Admiral just stare back out at the battle. 'Come on, someone open those arms already, we can't keep suffering losses like this.' he thought as he hen moved his gaze to the Citadel which was still locked down. On board the Council station, a man was walking through it's shiny metal hallways as he casually made his way towards the council Chamber. He then caught sight of his reflection on a glass screen that was deactivated. Silas smiled at himself as he looked back at his glowing blue optics. 'These Reaper upgrades are working better than I would have imagined.' he thought before he caught sight of three figures running around the corner at the end of the corridor towards him. Silas then smiled as he got a better look at them, they were Husks. He then placed his hand up and they stopped there in front of him. "Stand aside." he said back and they did just that, allowing him to walk on uninterrupted. 'That has been the one of several groups of Husks that I have easily gotten passed with the aid of my implants.' he smiled as he continued down the corridor until it opened up into the Citadel gardens. As the MECH leader looked around, he saw the they were full of Husks, Cannibals, Marauders and Banshees. But they did not even waste their time with a look, his grin simply widened as he walked right through the middle of them and then up the stairs that lead to the council chamber. Once he was right outside of the next room, he tapped his com link. "Team Alpha, it's time. Open the arms." he said before walking into the chamber. "Arms opening. Good luck, Sir." the team's commander replied. Bryce's eyes widened as he watched from the Ark's bridge while the Citadel's arms began to open and spread out. 'My god, he did it.' he thought, before tapping his com link. "This is Admiral Bryce, move the Crucible into place, I repeat, move it into place. It is time to end this war." The massive super weapon then began to move around the Citadel while the station's arms continued to open, revealing the city-like wards on their inner sides. In the Crucible control room, Kranix and a team made up of scientists and officers from every world involved in the war, were busy monitoring the super weapon's systems. The Lithone walked up to a Turian who was piloting the Crucible. "That's right, keep it steady." he said before Bryce's voice came through on the inter com. "Ark to Crucible, this is Admiral Bryce. can you read me Kranix?" The Lithone tapped his com link. "Admiral, we read you loud and clear. We are all ready here, bringing the Crucible in for final approach and dock." "Very well, Kranix. The show is your's now. 'Shield' and 'Sword' fleets will keep the Reapers off your backs." Kranix then closed the transmission and watched as they began turning the Crucible to face the back of the Citadel as the station's arms began to move out further, giving the station a star-like shape. Bryce and his command staff watched the Crucible as it was on final approach before Jack's voice came up on the inter con, though it had interference blended with it. "thi... Jack...ime. Adm...an...ou...hea..." Bryce looked down to his com officer. "Clear that up, that interference must be messing with their signal from the Citadel." The officer shook his head in return as he brought up the signal and it's location on his holo-screen. "Sir, the signal is not coming from the Citadel, it is coming from Earth." Bryce stared at him in disbelief. "Clear it up, Ensign, and put it on all speakers." The Young officer nodded and typed on his holo-controls before the Prime's voice came through perfectly. "Admiral Bryce, this is Jackson Prime. Do you read?" "Loud and clear, Prime. Could you please tell me why you are not onboard the Citadel?" the Admiral asked frankly. "Sir, none of Hammer made it to the beam, Harbinger wiped them out. Smokescreen has had a look outside, its a graveyard out there apparently." Jack replied. "Well someone made it, because the Citadel arms are open and we are docking the Crucible as we speak." Bryce said back as he continued to watch both the Lithone device and the Citadel nearing each other. "Stop it now, don't connect them!" Jack shouted back, startling the Admiral. "Why the hell not?" he replied with the same tone. "Sir, the Crucible and Citadel will not destroy the Reapers, they will instead bring about the return of Unicron!" Jack answered, making the Admiral's expression become one of shock. "Unicorn?" he replied back. "Unicron, Sir. Look, I haven't got time to explain. But if you have ever trusted me, then I ask you to trust me again now. We have all been duped by the Reapers, the Crucible was never our salvation...it is their's. Stop it now!" Jack said with urgency in his voice. Bryce look around with shock on his face before tapping his com link. "This is Bryce. Kranix, belay my last order. Do not dock the Crucible. I repeat, do not dock the Crucible!" In the super weapon's control room, the scientists all looked at each with confused expressions as they heard the Admiral's voice on the intercom. "Do not dock the Crucible!" The pilot turned to the Lithone with a worried look on his face. "Sir, I will stop the docking procedure." "That will not be necessary." Kranix replied with a blank expression which confused the officer and his colleagues as they stared at both men. Bryce watched as the Crucible continued to move closer to the Citadel. "Why haven't they stopped? Kranix, this is Admiral Bryce. Cancel the docking procedure, do you read?" The ensign looked up from his console. "Sir, someone has just cut off the transmission." "What?" the Admiral said back with a confused expression before looking back at the Citadel and Crucible outside. Back in the control room of the Lithone device, the only person still standing was Kranix, he holstered his pistol and looked at all scientists that lied dead around him, all had smoking bullet holes either in the back or front of their heads. He smiled and turned back to the console and activated his holo-tool. "Bagu, it is time. Begin integration protocols." he said as the Lithone VI appeared beside him and nodded. "by your command..., Creator." The console then came to life as it's screens began showing data scrolling down them. Meanwhile on the Citadel, Silas's smile grew even wider as he walked through the Council chambers towards the podium. His holo-tool activated on it's own and beeped at him, so he typed a command on it's keyboard interface and suddenly heard the sounds of machinery activating and working from behind the chamber's walls. Then on the podium, a column suddenly rose out of it, then two rods slid out of the front of the column. 'I forgot to thank Sideways for his role in this, since he attacked the Citadel and gained the data for me. He made this moment possible.' he thought as he walked up to the two handles. Suddenly the Citadel shook as both it and the Crucible connected, resulting in the column powering up. A bright purple holo-screen activated over the rods and began scrolling data. 'At long last, everything that I have accomplished with MECH, all the sacrifices that had to be made. And it all comes down to this. Control of the Reapers is now in my grasp.' he thought has he reached for the rods, the MECH leader could feel static electricity around the rods, as they hummed with the power coursing through them. He then gripped them tightly as a maniacal smile grew on his face. Silas could feel the energy of the entire Reaper species as he held onto the rods, he could hear all of their collective minds whispering inside his own. "Now you will listen to me, obey me!" he MECH leader said arrogantly before all of a sudden he cried out in pain as the rods in his hands began to heat up extremely fast. "What...is...happening?" he screamed out as he gritted his teeth, his hands became bright red and started to burn as smoke began to rise from them. "We thank you for your contribution, Silas. You have done everything we have wanted you to do and more." a voice spoke in the MECH leader's mind, it was made up of millions of voices all speaking in unison. "No, I am supposed to be controlling you!" he winced before collapsing on to one knee, but he was unable to remove his hands from the white hot rods like some invisible force was holding them in place. "We were in control of you, Silas, whispering into your mind. But you have now served your purpose and once the energy transfer is complete, you will be re-purposed." the Reapers voice replied. "You cannot control me, I am not even Human anymore!" Silas said back as he bit his lip. "But you forget, Silas. Your brain is still organic and is therefore...easy to manipulate and corrupt." the Reapers voice replied, earning a look of horror from the MECH leader as he finally realised what it all meant. "What have I done...wait...Aaarrrrrggggghhhh!" the man screamed as he felt the skin on his hands and then up his arms begin to burn, the pain was unbelievable as it then washed over his whole body and began to transform it. The pain felt like he was being boiled alive as Silas continued to scream, his skin then started to change it's pigmentation, becoming greyish blue with a metallic look to it. His screams echoed throughout the chamber and the gardens next to it, but no one was bothered as the husks just stood where they were. When the transformation finally as finally complete, the rods let go of Silas and he began to look around until he caught his image in a piece of reflective paneling on the wall. He moved toward it until the reflection showed a husk staring back at itself, it's blue optics glowing brightly. A sound could be heard in the adjacent room, the Husk turned and screamed an unholy sound toward it's location before mindlessly running off into the shadows to investigate. PRIME EFFECT 3 Jack held his hand to his com link as his team mates and Optimus surrounded him inside the overturned tank. "Admiral, what's going on up there?" he said with an urgent-like tone. "Oh my god, you should go outside and see for yourself, Prime." Bryce replied over the com. Jack then turned to Grimlock who was standing by the hatch. "Open it up, it's time we got some fresh air." The Dinobot nodded before grabbing the hatch with both hands and forcing it open with a grunt. Jazz nudged Smokescreen's shoulder, gaining his attention. "I could just imagine him doing something similar to you, if you hadn't shut up earlier." he joked, earning a smug look from his friend. "What? Me and Grimlock are like this." he replied while gesturing to his hand, showing two of the fingers, one crossed over the other. He was about to say something else when he suddenly saw the Dinobot just staring at him. "...I'll keep quiet." Smokescreen then said with an embarrassed tone, earning a grin from Jazz. "Move out." Jack said as they began exiting the tank. Arcee was the first to climb out before her eyes caught sight of the area around the Reaper beam. "By Primus..." she gasped, her eyes widening in response. Everyone else got out and went to her side as they too saw the utter devastation lying in front of them. The area was covered in destroyed tanks and MAKOs, while burnt bodies were scattered all over the place. "I told you it was bad." Smokescreen said, while trying to sound sympathetic. "This is what just one Reaper did and our entire ground force ended up like this. What chance do we have against..." Garrus said, before out of nowhere, an extremely bright blue light flew down the Reaper beam and hit the ground hard with a deafening sound, causing the ground to shake hard, knocking everyone on their asses. "What's going on?" Smokescreen asked as the ground continued to shake strongly. "Earthquake anyone?" Jazz replied. "London let alone Britain is not known for having earthquakes, Jazz." Jack answered before meeting Optimus's gaze. "Jackson is correct. It is more likely that the Reaper beam has now been given enough power to tunnel all the way down to the planet's core... to Unicron." "I still can't believe that after all these years, that we have to face the Chaos Bringer again. But with what I heard back in the tank, who am I to argue with two Primes." Arcee replied with a slight smile. "Well what do we do now?" Garrus asked as he readied his weapon. "We have to get to the beam and ride it up to Unicron's body." Jack said back with a stoic tone as he readied his rifle in one hand, while activating his star saber in the other. Arcee then stood beside him. "And then one of you unleashes the matrix on Unicron's spark again." she said while looking at Jack's chest plate. "Yes, but it will be I that does that, Arcee." Optimus said as he joined them and unsheathed the star saber off of his back. " Since Jack is not Cybertronian, he would likely not survive if he were to open the matrix. So I instead." "Well, the quakes have died down somewhat. If we are going to do this, then I suggest we go now." Grimlock said as Garrus looked down at the battle site through his sniper scope. "There are more than a few Husks down there, but we can handle them." he said as they all stood beside the two Primes. "Well then, let's not waste anymore time, roll out!" Jack said as they began to move forward, but then suddenly the ground shook again. Nearly making them lose their footing. "What the…" Jazz said before he was cut off by the deafening roar of a Reaper right behind them. The group all turned to see Harbinger standing directly over them. "Impossible, no one has ever broken free of our indoctrination before." it said angrily as Jack stepped forward. "Well I guess there is always a first time." he replied with grin before he glanced to Optimus and nodded. "Now!" he shouted, before both Primes charged their Star sabers and unleashed a double energy wave which hit the Reaper full on…but had no effect. Jack collapsed to his knees and breathed heavily as everyone looked dumbstruck as Harbinger was still standing, like nothing had happened. "We find your continued resistance tiresome, but you have served us well, Prime. By leading all the fleets of the galaxy here, we can now wipe them all out in a single go. But most importantly you pushed for everyone to help build the Crucible, therefore enabling our Master's return. So before we kill you all, you will bear witness as Unicron returns….now!" Harbinger said before the ground shook strongly again, Jack lifted his head and looked with his team towards the beam, just as a giant glowing purple ball of energy shot out of the ground and rode the Reaper beam up into the night sky. Optimus just looked up with everyone else and sighed. "So it has begun, our darkest hour is upon us."