Transformers Version 2.0

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by peteynorth, May 27, 2003.

  1. PB379

    PB379 Autobot

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Posts:
    305
    Trophy Points:
    76
    Likes:
    +0
    Another great Chapter Petey, with a few twists and turns.
     
  2. Overlord II

    Overlord II Starscreamicon Leader TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    191
    Likes:
    +10
    There finally caught up....FANTASTIC STORY!!!

    Thank you for the last 5 years and am looking forward with mixed emotions to the finale.
     
  3. JJohnson

    JJohnson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Posts:
    728
    Trophy Points:
    207
    Likes:
    +494
    I take it the corrected version would change all the "between I and he"s in the story to the grammatically correct "between me and him"? (there's at least 1 or 2 per chapter)
     
  4. norvell

    norvell Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Posts:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Likes:
    +0
    i like this story
     
  5. JLBarnett

    JLBarnett Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Posts:
    93
    Trophy Points:
    141
    Likes:
    +0
    can't believe it's almost over.
     
  6. Pasaway

    Pasaway Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Posts:
    501
    Trophy Points:
    147
    Likes:
    +1
    Best FanFic i have ever read.
    I like others will be saving it for re-reading later on.
    If hasbro were smart they would contact you about making this canon in some way, maybe "G3"

    Great Job
     
  7. Overlord II

    Overlord II Starscreamicon Leader TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    191
    Likes:
    +10
    Afraid to ask since it will be the final chapter. but is there any update Petey?
     
  8. Rotorstorm

    Rotorstorm Wreck n’ rule

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Posts:
    13,550
    News Credits:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    362
    Location:
    East Midlands, UK
    Likes:
    +16,313
    Ebay:
    I know what you mean. It's sad as it's going to be the end but at the same time joyous to know it is complete and not a single dud chapter within it.
     
  9. Sledgehammer

    Sledgehammer Ancient and knackered

    Joined:
    May 6, 2003
    Posts:
    2,133
    Trophy Points:
    292
    Location:
    Rochester, Kent, England etc.
    Likes:
    +203
    So very true...can honestly say that I don't think there's been a single chapter where it hasn't been filled with gripping storyline, exciting action and excellent characterisation. Not to mention the clever extrapolation of existing aspects of G1/G2, and some brilliant insights into what makes characters tick. I'm happy enough to let Petey release the last chapter in his own time, rather than rush things, but either way I'm sure that whenever it appears, it'll be more than worth it. :thumb 
     
  10. peteynorth

    peteynorth TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Posts:
    1,113
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Likes:
    +504
    Sorry for the wait guys, I've had a few new responsibilities at work the last several months that have kept me busy, but I'll try and hammer it out in the next few weeks.
     
  11. darksage78

    darksage78 Maximal

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2003
    Posts:
    2,018
    Trophy Points:
    267
    Likes:
    +31
    Sounds good Pete, can't wait for the final installment of your epic saga =)
     
  12. rerunwatson99

    rerunwatson99 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Posts:
    231
    Trophy Points:
    97
    Location:
    Philadelphia area
    Likes:
    +5
    Yeah....I feel like i'm stalking this story!
    Hahah but all and all, everyone is looking forward to this Petey
     
  13. Terradives

    Terradives Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2004
    Posts:
    2,518
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Likes:
    +2,160
    finish it!!! We'd love to see it happen. The end of the opus.
     
  14. Rotorstorm

    Rotorstorm Wreck n’ rule

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Posts:
    13,550
    News Credits:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    362
    Location:
    East Midlands, UK
    Likes:
    +16,313
    Ebay:
    I How's the final chapter going Petey?

    Any idea if anyone from Hasbro has read this? could probably get you a job with them or IDW simply from a storytelling point of view
     
  15. peteynorth

    peteynorth TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Posts:
    1,113
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Likes:
    +504
    Sorry, I started writing something else and went many months without touching this, but I’ve gotten back to it. I hope to be done within a couple weeks, but it’s kind of tricky trying to reconcile the details of this episode with what I’ve written in the previous ones.

    I doubt anyone at Hasbro has read any of this, and even if they have, I don’t think they’d be interested in any of this. This story is pretty much a rehashing of stories written by other people.
     
  16. Anodythe

    Anodythe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Posts:
    2,790
    News Credits:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    207
    Location:
    Maryland
    Likes:
    +8
    Petey, that's good to hear!

    It may be that you are rehashing stories written by others, but you have filled in the holes, corrected many mistakes, and given each character a more rounded personality. I've truely enjoyed reading this "rehashing". I'll read it over again and again, and eagerly await more chapters.
     
  17. Overlord II

    Overlord II Starscreamicon Leader TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Posts:
    1,166
    Trophy Points:
    191
    Likes:
    +10
    +1

    This is most definitely a reboot of G1

    Kinda like "The Incredible Hulk" is a reboot of the pathetic "Hulk"
     
  18. peteynorth

    peteynorth TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Posts:
    1,113
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Likes:
    +504
    Episode 62: Duty’s Reward




    "Primus, talk about downtown!"

    Swoop looked to Snarl, quietly seated to his left, and displayed an amused look. "Did the brooding, masochistic psycho just tell a joke?"

    The left corner of Sideswipe's mouth curled up slightly. "The heart of Iacon has fallen into a sinkhole three times larger than the island of Manhattan, it just seemed like a joke was in order."

    "Me Grimlock amazed spires still standing." Grimlock muttered.

    "Yeah, impressive engineering, but I'm sure they'll have to be torn down at some point." Swoop replied. "A drop like that can't possibly have left their foundations in tact."

    "So where is this endless armada of Jhiaxus's?" Slag grumbled as he peered out the viewport over the seated Snarl's head.

    "Try Blaster again." Sideswipe suggested to Swoop as he too peered out the viewport, just as curious as to why they weren't flying through swarms of Imperial air warriors, not realizing that the formless husks littering the devastated ground were once the air warriors in question. "And see if he knows what that mushroom cloud south of Vector Sigma was."

    Swoop did as suggested. “Blaster, come in, this is Swoop. I’m here with all the Dinobots and Sideswipe, all itching for a fight that by the looks of things seems to be over.”

    “Yeah, it's over alright, my beaked compadre." Blaster's voice came through the speaker on the console. "Any stretch of flat ground around the Spires is currently being used to treat the wounded, so you'll need to put your craft down about half a mile away and cover the remainder of the trip by foot, tire, or in your case, wing."

    "Copy that." Swoop replied as he scanned the area for somewhere appropriate to land. "So, are you going to keep us guessing as to why you're still alive?"

    "Man, there's no way to do that story justice over a communications channel, even for me." Blaster replied with a chuckle. "Get down here and I'm sure that you'll find no shortage of folks that'll fill you in on what happened, though if you find someone with the slightest clue as to how it happened, send them to me, because I still don’t get it."

    “And the cloud near Cybertropolis?” Swoop asked.

    “Scouts, with a search and rescue party on their tail, were sent out an hour ago.” Blaster replied. “We’ll get word to you guys once we know something.”

    "Putting down now." Swoop replied, not fully content with Blaster's evasion on details, but relieved by the impossibility of the Communications Commander's continued existence. "See you in a few."

    "So how are we going to do this," Sideswipe asked "each of us hauls a corpse or do you have some other method in mind for getting these guys to one of the secure labs?"

    "Why bother?" Slag asked. "We should just pyre these hunks of metal and be done with it."

    "Let's see," Sideswipe sarcastically began "the fastest, strongest and most lethal gestalt in history, and a frame built by Unicron that was powerful enough to plow through Autobots like we were nothing; yeah, nothing worth studying there."

    Slag took a threatening step toward Sideswipe in the confined space of the cockpit, but Grimlock's hand being planted on his chest kept the horned Dinobot from taking another step. "Slag stand down. Sideswipe right, frames need to be studied. But me Grimlock suspect any facilities in Spires not in condition for use in foreseeable future. Me Grimlock say leave frames here and secure ship until we get word on where frames can be deposited." The other five robots nodded their agreement and started filing out of the shuttle the moment it touched down, walking past the pile of dead Decepticons as they made their way out.

    As the Autobots made their way over the heavily damaged ground toward the Spires, a dark shadow dropped from an affixed position beneath the shuttle and landed silently on the ground below. Ravage slinked toward the side door of the craft and looked once more to verify that the departing Autobots were an adequate distance before opening a communications channel. "I'm in position now." The feline quietly announced through a secure communications channel. "Instruct Dreadwing to lock onto my current position and begin his attack run in a quarter of a..." the dark Decepticon peered up and analyzed the locking mechanism and security systems possessed by the craft and laughed dismissively before continuing, "make that one tenth of a breem."


    *


    It took a few moments for them to realize what all the dried out husks were covering the ground, but once they did Sideswipe and the Dinobots were stunned at the incalculable number of corpses covering the area surrounding the central section of the sunken city. “Even if we have weapon capable of doing this,” Grimlock muttered, “Prime not have stones to use it.”

    “Yeah, this is definitely not Prime’s doing.” Sideswipe agreed. “And the ‘Cons, Megatron’s Cons that is, would have used it on us were it one of theirs.”

    Sludge looked away from the innumerable dead and into the sky, where he noticed a dark dot approaching them from the sky. “What that?”

    The Dinobots and Sideswipe looked up to where he was pointing, and noticed the quickly growing object as well. Swoop began typing into his wrist mounted computer. “I’m remote accessing the shuttle’s scanners now, and it’s not reading anything off of whatever that is.”

    “Have effective stealth system.” Grimlock muttered as he increased the magnification settings of his optic. “Bomber, based on human design, B-2 me Grimlock think.”

    “Might be Dreadwing.” Snarl suggested. “Con formerly known as Dreadwind. Red Alert’s updated asset report with the allied Decepticons had that listed as his alt-mode.”

    “Something detach from rear of bomber.” Grimlock grumbled right before switching his optic back to its default setting and taking a defensive stance. “Stealth fighter making attack run!”

    “Yep, Dreadwing.” Snarl quipped as he and the others mirrored Grimlock’s preparation for an attack. “Fighter is called Smokescreen, formerly Darkwing. They were attached to Scorpinok’s Nebulon contingent. You guys really should read Red Alert’s reports more often.”

    “Shut up Snarl!” Slag snapped as both the Autobot squad and the aerial Decepticons began firing at each other, Smokescreen covering the distance in a matter of seconds as the slower Dreadwing launched high powered pit-fire missiles from a distance still too great for the Autobot’s weapons to cover.

    “Die Autobots!” Smokescreen bellowed through a commonly-used frequency as he unloaded a pair of pit-fires at the Autobots, sending the group diving away from their point of impact.

    “Primus, these guys are packing a lot of heat!” Slag grumbled as he piled up a couple of dried husks to take cover behind, but both the makeshift barricade and the Dinobot were thrown back by the impact of a pit-fire launched from Dreadwing’s left wing slamming into the base of protective corpses.

    Swoop took to the sky to engage the Decepticons. Like with most aerial battles against Decepticon fliers, Swoop was at a disadvantage in terms of speed and firepower, but held a distinct advantage in terms of reflexes and maneuverability. Smokescreen adjusted to concentrate on the flying Dinobot as Dreadwing launched several more missiles at the ground-based Autobots before veering away. “Prone Autobot asset detected. Gonna blast it to powder while it’s still prone, and then get back to pounding these consumer goods.” This message to Smokescreen was transmitted through the same common frequency as Smokescreen’s earlier threat, and therefore heard by the Autobots.

    “Slag it, he’s going after the shuttle!” Sideswipe yelled out as he sprung from his cover, transformed, and sped back the direction that they had come from.

    The giant bomber condensed in size as it lowered to the ground, did a partial transformation that resulted in a treaded ground combat vehicle with a tremendous weapons array mounted above it, and sped toward the parked Autobot shuttle possessing the Decepticon corpses acquired in Polyhex. Sideswipe had barely gotten to within visual range of Dreadwing and the shuttle as the tank-like vehicle opened fire with enough ordinance to blast a hole in Iacon’s outer wall; certainly more than was necessary to take out an Autobot shuttle. To Sideswipe’s confusion, Dreadwing continued unloading on the destroyed shuttle, to the point where the craft and any contents within would be unrecognizable.

    Apparently satisfied with the level of destruction, the combat vehicle began accelerating to nearly one hundred miles per hour before lifting off the ground, transforming back to bomber mode and circling in the sky a couple of times before turning away and breaking off the engagement. Smokescreen turned away from his battle with Swoop and followed after him, leaving Sideswipe and the Dinobots in a state of confusion and frustration. “Grimlock, come in.” Sideswipe said into his wrist communicator.

    “Me Grimlock here, what happen over there? Sound like Metroplex driving over minefield.”

    Sideswipe walked through the remains of the still burning chunks of shuttle. “Dreadwing destroyed the shuttle.”

    “Contents?”

    “Obliterated.” Sideswipe replied. “He blew his load on this craft, nothing but molten shards left of it and everything in it. I can’t even find a chunk of corpse bigger than a human coin. I figured Galvatron’s corpse would have a couple of decent sized chunks left, but nope; nothing.”

    “Smelt it all!” Grimlock grumbled. “Alright, return central Iacon. Nothing more can do here.” Sideswipe heard Grimlock’s order through his wrist communicator and transformed to head back toward the Dinobots, oblivious to the pair of red optics locked on to him from behind a pile of corpses less than a mile away. Ravaged watched the black Lamborghini speed away, and then snickered as he peered down at the mangled purple corpse laid out next to him.


    ***


    “Quaxilon, over here!” The slender Autobot called out to his comrade as they were making their way through the ravaged street on the outskirts of Iacon toward an elaborate private medical facility, one in comparatively good condition to the remainder of the section, one just outside of the central section that had been dropped by the Swarm’s attack. “This one is still alive!”

    “Combatant or civilian?” Quaxilon asked as he pushed a corpse away from the door of the building that they had been trying to get to.

    “I…I am unable to discern anything about him at all. There’s nothing left of him but skeletal shell and inner circuitry. It’s impossible that he’s still alive, but he is. Come and help me get him into the lab!”

    “My dear friend Balaton, the fact that he is here makes it more than probable that he was a combatant, the fact that he still survives in such a state means that he is very powerful and most likely extremely dangerous. The planet is better served if we allow him to expire.” Quaxilon replied.

    “I will pretend that I did not hear that.” Balatron growled admonishingly as he gripped below the armpits of the impossibly alive Transformer and began dragging it through the corpse-littered street toward the door to the facility. “Despite our shared desire for peace, and your unquestioning loyalty and servitude to Custodex, we took vows to preserve life whenever we could. I should not have to remind you of this!”

    “Fine, bring him to Laboratory Twelve.” Quaxilon, also an Autobot in design, if not ideal, instructed his comrade.

    “Laboratory Twelve? Why would we bring him to our most secure design and experimentation lab? Any of the others have the equipment and supplies necessary to treat this individual.” Balatron questioned.

    Quaxilon pulled the non-functioning automatic doors open and snarled at Balatron as he dragged the patient past him into the building. “He is a warrior, of this I am certain! And there is a very strong possibility that he is a Decepticon, which means that he will decapitate us the moment he is physically able! I will preserve his life, but his continued existence will be in one of the prototype frames! His warrior’s mind and spark will live on, but it will do so in a six foot, weaponless frame!”


    ***


    “Thank you all for coming on such short notice.” Custodex addressed the gathered council in a small theatre on the far outskirts of Iacon that was currently serving as the temporary Council Chambers. “I didn’t dare to hope to have a voting quorum for this meeting, but to see that all but a handful of senators have managed to come here, well, it is truly a testament to your dedication to act on Cybertron’s behalf. I am grateful for the leadership and courage displayed by each of you.”

    Custodex stepped out from behind the small podium and began walking toward the front of the stage. “I trust that you all have had time to read through and evaluate the new constitution, particularly the section entitled ‘The Pax Cybertronia.’” The Chief Consul gazed through the senators and noted that each of them nodded. “Excellent. As nearly all senators are present, I would like to put the ratification of the new constitution to a vote. With the invaders apparently wiped out, the Decepticon army in a state of retreat and disarray, and the Autobot military focused on attaining a final victory over those Deceptcons, this may be our one opportunity to put this to a vote without the heavy hand of the Autobot warrior class applying their now unopposed might to direct us to choose as they see fit.”

    The statement was met by a low rumble of quiet discussion from the group of senators, a low rumble which was interrupted by Senator Kranix standing and addressing Consul Custodex’s call for an immediate vote. “Consul, if I may.” The chamber went silent to allow Kranix to speak. “I recognize and appreciate the desire to get an official set of laws governing our planet enacted quickly; Cybertron has been in a state of lawless war or under the thumb of a genocidal regime bent on the eradication of every race represented here today. But I feel that to hold this vote without the elected representative of Iacon, the force that brought us from the age of genocide to where we are now, would be not only unjust, but given that several of the non-amendable articles of this Pax Cybertronia apply specifically to the dominant faction of that city-state, unacceptable. You would make the very existence of being an Autobot or a Decepticon, our planet’s racial majorities, illegal and punishable by law, and you suggest we vote on this article without giving the representative of Autobot’s most populous segment or any representative for the Decepticons the opportunity to offer a rebuttal or any form of defense. This injustice is further compounded by the fact that the summons sent out for this session seemed to be disguised as merely a show of strength, solidarity and confidence to provide an example and beacon of hope to those Cybertronians fearful after the invasion. Quite frankly, I find the very mention of such an act under such deceptive pretenses to be deplorable.”

    Custodex glared up at the Lithomech elder for a moment before replying. “There are things that I find to be deplorable. Allow me to introduce someone that will describe one of these things in a level of detail that the footage we witnessed before failed to capture. You above all senators should appreciate this as the witness in question is a member of your faction.” Custodex nodded to the side of the stage to prompt his assistants to perform a prearranged task. “Senators, I give you Bralla, care-taker and educator to Lithomech young, a care-taker who was forced to helplessly watch as the Autobot-loyal Guardian Omega Supreme thrust a poison-spewing Decepticon giant upon several of her young charges.” Bralla, the thin Lithomech Femme in question, walked tentatively out onto the stage and stood next to Custodex. Her optics met Kranix’s for a moment, and the Lithomech senator watched sadly as her face momentarily softened under his gaze, but her face became resolutely hard a moment later. A screen lowered from the ceiling and the previously seen footage of the Decepticon gestalt battling Omega Supreme and falling upon four Lithomech young was shown in appalling clarity, this time though, the teacher of those doomed children was there to offer the horrifying details of the event from her perspective. The entire presentation took nearly fifteen minutes, including some gut-wrenching questions from Custodex that elicited even more gut-wrenching answers from Bralla. By the time Custodex thanked the now-weeping Lithomech Femme for her time and courageous testimony; various senators had been reduced to tear-less weeping as well.

    Custodex peered out at the other senators once again, allowing the horror of the presentation to further weigh upon them before continuing. “None of us will describe what was seen and heard just now as anything but horrific, but there may be those who would say that the Guardian’s intention was not to harm the innocents, or that Omega Supreme does not accurately represent the Autobots as a whole. To those possessing this opinion, I present the following.” The screen above the stage once again came to life, this time depicting a carefully edited representation of the battle south of Cybertropolis between Fortress Maximus with the human Cyberwolves and the legions of invading Imperial ground troops. The scene depicted not a defense of a populated city-state, but of a brutal massacre of an incomprehensible scale. Enraged humans screaming in blood lust as they sprayed death from their primitive cannons into enemy soldiers lined up for apparently no other purpose than to be slaughtered. Those images of carnage paled compared to the firestorm of death issued from the cannons of Fortress Maximus, each time they fired was so painfully loud that the senators watching on were forced to flinch with each report. Vivid scenes of the dismembered dead and dying piled in lakes of their own fluids, as well as their cries of pain and suffering was conveyed in gory detail to the voting members of the new government.

    The screen went blank and the sounds of battle ceased, and once again Custodex paused and allowed the senators to absorb the level of savagery that they had just witnessed, before addressing them once again. “I have no vendetta against the Autobots. There have been a great many Autobots throughout history that I have found to be extremely admirable. Even Optimus Prime has numerous outstanding qualities. But at his core, and the core of all those loyal to him, is the desire to engage in aggressive behavior. I do not seek anything punitive, I feel vengeance to be a desire as abhorrent as combat in many ways, but I can not allow these things to be repeated on our planet ever again!” The Chief Consul intently peered from optic to optic throughout the room. “Optimus Prime is a brilliant thinker and orator, but it is not his ability to reason and debate that is fueling my desire to conduct this vote before he can be here. No, my fear is based on what is accurately depicted by the scenes just shown, as well as scenes of murder and chaos that have been the norm for tens of thousands of vorns.”

    “So you fear that the Autobots will impose their will through military might,” Kranix addressed Custodex from his seat “and your solution to this is to force these beings into a situation where either they face exile or incarceration, or they simply use their superior force to ignore or destroy us. Ignoring the fact that your assessment of the Autobots is inaccurate and your presentation against them carefully edited propaganda conveniently lacking an opportunity for the Autobots to offer a defense, your plan of action is tragically flawed.”

    “Tell me Senator Kranix,” Custodex snarled “is it avarice or fear that binds you to the Autobots?” Several of the senators gasped at the accusation. “Actually, you need not provide a response as I already know the answer to that question. I had hoped to keep this matter to myself until I had finished compiling the evidence, but you have forced my hand, my good Lithomech.” Custodex turned away from the now confused Kranix and washed the rest of the governing body with his intense gaze. “My fellow senators and loyal Cybertronians, it is with great regret that I am forced to inform you of a secret pact that I have become aware of. Informants of mine in both the Iaconian Autobots and in the Lithomech community have separately confirmed an agreement where the Autobots would build or locate a new, off-world home for the Lithomechs, clearly an attempt to re-create Kranix’s lost Lithone.”

    “Liar!” Kranix stood and yelled out at the Co-consul.

    “Sosa spelled backward is ASOS!” Senator Wreck Gar likewise stood and yelled at Custodex.

    Custodex ignored the accusation from Kranix and incomprehensible remark from the Junkion, and continued on. “The true contribution of the Autobots is not providing this new Lithone home world; after all, they managed to perform such a feat on their own under more difficult circumstances eons ago. No, the main ingredient the Autobots are using to sweeten this pot is the ability to power such a world. Yes, this back room deal involves the humans and their energy resources as well, my good senators.” Custodex glared back at Kranix. “It seems that your previously inexplicable loyalty to these butchers has been explained.”

    “Let the record show that I vehemently deny the Co-consul’s accusation on every level.” Kranix stated emphatically. “I have never had any secret dealings with Optimus Prime or any Autobot, nor has any Lithomech to my knowledge. I demand to see your evidence and to be made aware of my accusers!”

    “You demand to be made aware of your accusers?” Custodex replied with mock surprise. “Why, could it be because you would provide their names to your Autobot accomplices? Or maybe their human friends would take care of this matter for you? One need not look far to find examples of villains intimidating or eradicating witnesses against them or their associates in Earth history.”

    “Provide your evidence!” Kranix demanded.

    “I most certainly will,” Custodex growled “but at the appropriate time. Corruption charges at such a level deserve their own dedicated session, and such evidence will be provided at that session. Our reason for being called together at this time, however, is to ratify the constitution of this government, and to bring our long-lawless world to a state of order and harmony.”

    “So you conveniently bring about such charges against me at this most crucial moment, and even more conveniently demand to table any aspect of these charges against me for a later date, leaving nothing for the Senate but an accusation?” Kranix clarified in disbelief. “This would be comical were the stakes not so high.”

    “Good senators, I wish to speak!” All optics turned toward the orange Femme standing up from her seat on the opposite end of the auditorium.

    Custodex smiled at the speaker. “The Senate recognizes senator Kandiga of Matriopolis.”

    “Thank you Consul.” Kandiga replied as she returned the smile. “Fellow senators, I will not presume that Kranix is guilty of these charges at this time, regardless of the fact that the Consul bringing these charges against him is above reproach. No, we will deal with Kranix’s guilt or innocence at another session, as was suggested by our esteemed Consul. But regardless of whether or not Kranix is guilty of this particular act of treachery, the possibility for such acts exist and therefore must be pre-empted as best as possible.” The Femme scanned the room authoritatively, giving Kranix a distinct look of scorn as she did so. “I move that an addendum be inserted into the Pax Cybertronia, which, once ratified, will prohibit any outlawed individual or group from making or maintaining contact with any entity that would allow this outlawed element to pose a threat or increase the threat it already poses to Cybertron, be it individual, nation, organization, world or alliance.” Kandiga once again glared directly at Kranix. “We, the elected Senate, must take all necessary measures to ensure that it is the meek that not only inherit, but keep Cybertron.”

    “An excellent suggestion, Senator Kandiga!” Custodex cheerfully boomed. “I suggest we put this proposed addendum into official language, insert it into the Pax, and go about the ratification of this constitution, finalizing our legitimacy as Cybertron’s one true governing body.”

    Kranix could only sit back down in a state of stunned dismay at what he was hearing, dismay which was increased by the enthusiastic response the rest of the Senate had to Custodex’s call to action. His circuits twisted as he was forced to hear Custodex, with the periodic help of like-minded senators, structure Senator Kandiga’s suggestion into a law, one that would be labeled non-amendable; one that would be yet another nail in the Autobot coffin. The Lithomech could only pray silently that the majority of senators came to their senses in the time it would take to find wording for this new legislation, because if the vote were to take place now, the Autobots, and the Decepticons like them, would be outlaws.


    ***

    “Entering Cybertronian orbit now, Ambassador.” The pilot’s voice interrupted the quiet weeping of the woman sitting alone in the passenger section of the micromaster shuttle outfitted with a wormhole generator that the Autobots had donated to the United Nations. “It’s not too late to turn back now.”

    Carly sniffled and composed herself before pressing the intercom button and replying. “Proceed to Iacon Lieutenant. The invasion fleet has been confirmed to have been destroyed and the section of Iacon that we are heading to has been secured.”

    “Yes Maam,” the pilot replied “but it’s more than just your security involved here. In light of what…you’ve lost in the last several hours, you’re certainly entitled to some down time.”

    “I appreciate your concern Lieutenant.” Carly replied, a slight hint of annoyance in her voice. “My son finally fell asleep and I intend to conduct my business here and be back with him before he wakes. And as for my own well being, I can think of no greater therapy than being here to confront the Senate and emphatically inform them of our planet’s official stance should they decide to go through with what I know they’re planning on doing.”

    “Of course Madam Ambassador.” The pilot replied apologetically. “We’re coming to a landing now.”

    “Thank you.” Carly replied as she peered out the port side window to see over two hundred Autobots lined up to greet her. The human woman walked to the door sliding open on the side of the shuttle and watched as the ramp finished lowering to the ground before exiting the craft.

    Standing at the head of the long line of Autobots was Optimus Prime, Elita One, Ultra Magnus and all other top ranking Autobots. Optimus peered sadly down at the newly widowed woman approaching them, the widow of a man that he regarded as family. “Carly, our condolences to you are only outmatched by our own grief at losing Spike; and our gratitude.” Prime lowered to one knee as Carly finally reached him. “He and his comrades saved us all. That is not an exaggeration; the phenomenon that destroyed Jhiaxus’s fleet did not extend to Cybertropolis, and therefore, were Spike, the Cyberwolves, Maximus and Cerebros not there to oppose them, there would be two hundred thousand of Jhiaxus’s ground troops arriving in Iacon as we speak. All of Cybertron owe their lives to your husband and the other defenders of our planetary capital.”

    Carly had been fighting to maintain her composure, but finally gave up the fight and began sobbing. Arcee broke formation behind Elita One and ran to her human friend, kneeling next to Prime, leaning forward, and doing what she could to try and hug the vastly smaller woman. “I’m so sorry Carly. Is there anything we can do?”

    “No.” Carly responded as she pressed her cheek against Arcee’s much larger cheek, but then pulled away and peered up at Prime’s optics. “You really couldn’t oppose two hundred thousand, could you?”

    Prime shook his head. “We’d do our best, and our troops would fight with exceptional valor, but no, with the city-state’s perimeter defenses in shambles we would not be able to oppose that many for very long, especially in our current battle weary condition.”

    Carly lowered her head and shook it gently, a light chuckle making it out between sobs. “He was right. Being there…fighting there…dying there, it did matter. He really did need to make a stand there.” She looked back up at Optimus Prime. “Thank you for sharing this with me, Optimus Prime. I’ve never been happy to be proven wrong in an argument I’ve had with my husband before, but this time it means everything for him to have been right.” A new set of tears streamed down from the outer corners of the woman’s eyes as she shifted her gaze to cover the multitude of Autobots lined up to greet her and honor her fallen husband, a man they all counted as their fallen friend and brother. Hot Rod and Goldbug in particular were barely keeping it together, with the latter appearing to be going through an inner turmoil that seemed to counter his expressionless facial features and the emotionless personality he had adopted since his near-death experience that led to this new frame and identity.

    “There are many Autobots who wished to be here, but there are wounded and missing that need to be attended to, as well as verifying that there are no civilians caught in the rubble that need to be rescued.” Optimus Prime mentioned to the woman. “Sideswipe in particular wished me to convey his condolences, as well as to let you know that he will contact you once he was finished with the search and rescue project he and the Dinobots are currently involved with.”

    “I apologize for interrupting the reminiscing of the fallen human.” The voice in Russian-accented English startled everyone, and upon seeing the black metal jaguar standing only a few dozen yards from their position, the Autobots immediately drew their weapons and formed a defensive ring around Carly and the pilot that had flown her to Cybertron.

    “I’m not seeing anything in the skies!” Jetfire called out as he scanned the area above them all.

    “Nothing to the west!” Ultra Magnus announced.

    “Nothing but the damn cat!” Kup growled as he quit scanning the east and leveled his rifle at Ravage with dozens of other Autobots.

    “Please, hold your fire.” Ravage pleaded, though from the tone of his voice it was clear that he knew that the Autobots would not be shooting him unless provoked, and he had no intention of provoking them. “I come to you with an offering.”

    “Yeah, we know. You’ve brought us Ratchet’s murderer!” Wheeljack snarled as he stepped forward and intimated that he would be unloading his rifle into Ravage’s head.

    “One soldier in a war killing an enemy soldier?” Ravage replied calmly. “This is not murder.”

    “Attempting to justify the unprovoked slaughtering of a physician while in a battlefield hospital will not help your situation Ravage!” Prime snapped as he too leveled his rifle at the spy. “I’m of a mind to instruct my troops to open fire, though I intend for my shots to be the first to connect, so I strongly suggest that you divulge what it is you have to offer and pray that it’s enough to keep us from avenging a dear friend.”

    A broad smile stretched across the feline’s face, revealing his deadly fangs. “Megatron.”


    ***


    “Excellent! You see, being well connected has its benefits.” Quaxilon smiled up at his partner from the computer console in their shared office. “A copy of the new, recently revised Pax Cybertronia, before the ratification vote has even been conducted.”

    Balatron grumbled at his boastful friend as he studied the chart of their patient. “Good for you. I’m sure this will reinforce your name dropping nicely to make you especially popular at parties.”

    The other physician only smirked at the comment as he rose to his feet. “Contact me if the patient regains consciousness.” Quaxilon instructed Balatron as he made his way out of the office and to the door of the facility after tucking several data-pads under his arm. “I don’t expect that he will before I return, but just in case,”

    “Yes, I’ll be sure to do so.” Balatron replied as he returned to straightening up the front room of the facility. “Now go bask in the glory of Custodex’s gratitude and praise when you present him the results of the first successful transplantation of an existing Cybertronian into a protoform derived frame. I’m sure he’ll be especially pleased by the fact that it was a large warrior that was converted into miniaturized, unarmed and energy efficient frame. He’ll see it as a virtual castration, as no doubt will the patient when he finally comes to.”

    “I’m sure the entire Senate will be pleased by this news.” Quaxilon shot back as he stepped through the door. “I’ll make them all aware of your invaluable contribution to this revolutionary process. And I’ve left you a copy of the Pax on the hard drive in case you wish to witness history before it’s been made.”

    “Yeah, yeah.” Balatron muttered to the now departed scientist and physician. “I’ll be sure to print out an engraving on polished Cybertronium and mount the document over my dormancy chamber. And I have no doubt that my invaluable contributions will be summarily ignored. Only the contribution of those that kiss the Chief Consul’s phosphorescent skid plate will find their way into the history tracks.” The scientist grumbled as he left the front room and entered the hallway that led to the various laboratories.

    “Such a pessimistic attitude to have.” Balatron’s optics darted up toward the end of the hallway, where a human sized construct stood ominously. Despite his tremendous size advantage, Balatron felt extremely intimidated by the miniscule patient. Not only had this creature come back on line hours before they had anticipated, but he had managed to get out of his restraints, and even appeared to have made some modifications to his own frame. And instead of trying to escape or hide, this shrunken warrior had sought him out, now glaring at him from the optics planted into his monstrous and heavily altered face. “Haven’t you ever heard that a positive mental attitude is the key to a lifetime of happiness? Just look at me; I don’t see this as a ‘virtual castration’; I see it as exactly what I need at this point in time. It’s perfect for lying low as things shake out and evaluating where to go from there.” The smaller robot began marching toward the scientist. “Plus, it takes me back to my roots; a nanite-incorporated frame scaled to a size that I used to be able to shrink to anyway, well, almost. And should I ever desire a larger frame, I’m resourceful enough to make any modifications; that, or have dear old Dad hook me up. Bwa ha ha haaaa, tee hee heee!”

    “Stay back!” Balatron raised one hand in an authoritative manner, trying to keep the fear that was rising within him from showing. “Perhaps you are disoriented and have not fully taken into account your situation, but you would have to be crazy to think you have a chance of overpowering me in that shrunken frame!”

    “I am not disoriented in the least.” The smaller robot replied. “Though I most likely am a bit off center in the rationality department; I was already a little loopy prior to being destroyed the first time and having Dissociative Disorder Disease heaped upon me at my rebirth, and being destroyed and rebuilt twice more has made me that much more fun!”

    “I’m serious; keep away from me you maniac!” Balatron stumbled back away from the maniacal little patient marching toward him. “I don’t want to hurt you, but I will defend myself, even if that means damaging a newly awakened patient!”

    “I have been online for over an hour now, and while you and your colleague were gabbing it up, I was busy improving upon your work.” With that, two long, narrow cannon barrels extended from each forearm of the small robot.

    A look of confusion and fear came over the face of Balatron. “What are those? What have you done?”

    “I’ve re-fanged myself, twit!” The robot snarled right before opening fire on the larger robot. The rounds were small caliber and each impact caused minimal damage, but hundreds sprayed forth in a matter of seconds, causing immense pain to the larger scientist. The small assailant stopped as he got to within a few yards of the larger robot, which was now crouched on the floor, covering his head with his arms and whimpering. “You’ll find that this torrent consists of more than just stinging rain!” Balatron hesitantly raised his head to look out at his attacker, only to have one of the rebuilt assailant’s barrels shatter through his optic and open fire on his cerebral circuitry. Fluids spurted up and splashed against the newly rebuilt and resized frame, which caused the awakened patient to laugh uproariously. “My my my, what fun this new outlook on life provides!” The little killer peered into the office to his right where both Quaxilon and Balatron had emerged from a short while before and then peered down at the corpse he was currently standing upon. “Hmm, since you’re busy being dead, you wouldn’t mind me taking a gander at that copy of the new constitution on your hard drive, would you?” The patient reached down with his claw-like hand and gripped Balatron’s dead chin, twisting it back and forth in a negative manner. “No?” He released the chin, allowing the head to drop and slump to the side. “Good, I didn’t think that you would.”


    ***


    “I don’t like this!” The imposing leader of the Combaticons grumbled to Scrapper as they made their way through one of the hallways of the subterranean facility that the surviving Decepticon army had regrouped to after fleeing the certain death falling upon Iacon. Of course, within minutes of arriving they received word from the scouts left behind that the Autobots had somehow pulled victory from the jaws of defeat and managed to negotiate a peace with the dark invincible sea of death that was now a shimmery white cloud. Onslaught had always regarded Optimus Prime as a strategic genius on par with himself, but there were a handful of victories that the Autobot legend had pulled off that left the Combaticon nothing less than stunned. Moments like this left the Combaticon Commander humbled and questioning his ability, and perhaps even right, to oppose someone who was either brilliant beyond his reckoning or blessed by some higher power. Of course, the tasks that were always at hand pulled him out of such pondering very quickly. “No, I don’t like this at all.”

    “But you’re the one that cooked up this scheme, aren’t you?” Scrapper replied with a bit of confusion in his voice.

    “Yes, in a general sense,” Onslaught snapped as the two entered a lift to take them to the ground level, “but the plan I presented specifically saw that my entire team would be included.”

    Scrapper nodded as they sped up toward the surface. “I see, but it could have been worse for Brawl. I mean, he could have been picked for the role that got assigned to Archforce. At least here he has a fighting chance.” The doors of the lift parted and the two exited into a vast room with a few hundred weary Decepticon warriors, the sounds of a distant, but not too distant battle leaking into the structure. “The fact is that there are a very limited number of slots available, and those slots have to go to individuals with unique or at least rare skills or abilities, and being a member of a gestalt team doesn’t quite cut it. Besides, I’m sure that we’ll find an adequate candidate to take on his gestalt role, and my team will be happy to make the necessary modifications.”

    “If being a member of a gestalt team doesn’t quite cut it, then explain how Bonecrusher, Long Haul and Scavenger made the list?” Onslaught snarled as he marched through the ranks of Decepticons, who despite their fatigue, were gearing up to take part in the battle that was apparently being waged a couple miles to the north.

    “Individually they may not be as useful as Vortex at interrogation or Swindle at procurement,” Scrapper replied, “but in our team dynamic they play important and irreplaceable roles. There’s a lot more to the Constructicon team than just Devastator.”

    Onslaught snapped to a halt and turned to face Scrapper. “I suggest that you not take that position, Construction. My unit was the most well oiled combat team in Decepticon history. My five soldier unit was overwhelming numerically superior forces in strategically superior positions and laying claim to Autobot strongholds long before we had Megatron’s unified Decepticon Army to fall back on, much less Bruticus.”

    “I agree completely,” Scrapper replied, taking a tone intended to calm the Combaticon down without sounding conciliatory, “your unit was and still is our best long and mid range strike force, and now with the Predacons out of the picture, you might even be in contention for the close quarters melee title. But that’s because of your brains and artillery, Vortex’s lightning speed and utter ruthlessness, Swindle’s ingenuity and sneakiness, and Blast Off’s long range surveillance and firepower. Brawl’s a blunt tool who, gestalt capability aside, can be replaced by dozens of other big, strong, tough goons.” Onslaught leaned in close to Scrapper, his face displaying as much anger as his long optic and lower faceplate could display. “You may not like that assessment, but I severely doubt that you can question it.”

    “I can and will question it,” Onslaught snapped, “starting with pointing out that your assessment of Brawl applies equally to Bonecrusher and Long Haul, and lacks the presence of some sort of psychological disorder, which Scavenger definitely has.”

    “Psychological disorder? You’re telling me that that loud belligerent psychopath doesn’t belong in a Cybertronium straight jacket?” Scrapper turned to see Brawl approaching them and took on a hushed tone. “Alright, diplomacy aside; what we’re planning on doing is something that Brawl will never be able to do, no matter how much you try and drill the ability to shut the slag up into him. And as I said, it could have been worse for him.”

    “What’s going on Boss?” Brawl questioned. “Why are we holding here? Ol’ Tryp is tough and all, but even he’s gonna need help, especially given how low on Energon he is.” Almost on cue, the sounds of distant battle ceased.

    “We have our orders, Soldier.” Onslaught replied, glancing up at the sight of the approaching Soundwave. “Now return to your post and await further orders from Soundwave.”

    “Yes sir.” Brawl replied before turning and heading back to his previous position.

    “Confirmation received; Trypticon has surrendered.” Soundwave reached Onslaught and Scrapper. “Preparations here; completed.”

    “Good.” Onslaught responded. “Make it real.” The Combaticon Commander stepped forward and glared directly into Soundwave’s optic. “And just in case you aren’t picking my brain, yes, my strongly suggested recommendation that you lead this doomed effort was in part due to you framing me and my team and sending us to a disembodied brig for tens of thousands of vorns. If you make it out of this, I’ll consider all debts squared.” Soundwave just glared at the Combaticon as Onslaught and Scrapper turned and headed back toward the lift.

    The Communications Commander continued staring at the departing pair, but was pulled away from his contemplations by an incoming message. “Speak.”

    “Hello ‘Wave, guess who.” Blaster’s voice emerged from the small speaker mounted on Soundwave’s forearm. The other Decepticons went silent; the only sound was that of the lift doors coming to a close, cutting Scrapper and Onslaught off from the rest of them.

    “Convey message.” Soundwave calmly ordered.

    “I guess you never were one for small talk.” Blaster replied. “Our message is simple. Surrender now and you will be unharmed and treated fairly.”

    “Alternative?” Soundwave goaded his Autobot counterpart.

    “I think you know the alternative.” Blaster responded. “You can fight, but your forces are in no position to hold out for long. You are all battle-weary, low on energon, and surrounded in a position from which there is no escape. PredaKing and Scorponok are dead, and Trypticon has surrendered, leaving you with a roster of super-warriors that combined can be taken out by either Omega Supreme or Sky Lynx. We on the other hand are fully fueled, and while battle weary, we’ve never had greater morale and dedication to our cause. You’re pinned down, all of you, and we know this is the best shot we’ve ever had at all out victory. And Soundwave my friend, once we start shooting, we ain’t stopping until every last one of you is either dead, or on your knees begging to be taken into custody. This offer for a dignified surrender is for a very limited time.”

    “We want assurances.” Onslaught’s voice, and the muffled echo of he and Scrapper’s footsteps as they exited the lift in the lower section of the structure, came through the channel. “What you consider fair treatment may differ from what we consider fair treatment.”

    “It most certainly does differ,” the voice of Optimus Prime came through, “and believe me, that fact is to your benefit.”

    “None the less, we need any terms spelled out in detail before we accept them.” Onslaught replied.

    “What is going on here?” Megatron’s bellowed voice could be heard in the background.

    “Wha…nothing is going on Lord Megatron.” Onslaught replied.

    “Identify yourself!” Megatron’s voice, now clear, cut into the frequency hosting the multi-party conversation.

    “It’s over Megatron.” Prime’s voice authoritatively announced. “Surrender now or be destroyed.”

    A chuckle preceded Megatron’s response. “I faced down a god in a destroyed frame and refused to surrender, do you really think that I’ll be walking out of this structure with my hands in the air to the likes of you?”

    “No, I don’t, but I must make the offer all the same.” Prime replied.

    “Lord Megatron, please reconsider.” Onslaught’s voice came through. “We are in no…” a thud, presumably caused by a strike from Megatron, silenced the Combaticon.

    “Shut up!” Megatron bellowed. “We are Decepticons, the rightful rulers of the universe! We will not surrender, regardless of the odds stacked against us!” Several seconds passed before the Decepticon Commander continued. “You have your answer Prime, come forth and die!”


    *


    Prime shook his head sadly and switched off the communicator on his wrist. Standing to his right, Ultra Magnus leaned in toward his commander. “They’re not going anywhere; we’ve got time to call in the Dinobots. We’re undoubtedly going to have to go in there after the Decepticons, and nobody’s better equipped to charge into those tunnels and handle the close quarters fighting that will be going on in there. Especially with Omega Supreme and the Protectibots headed to Cybertropolis to recover the remains of Spike’s team, Cerebros and to secure…” Magnus nearly choked on his fallen friend’s name, “Max.”

    “No.” Prime replied as he consolingly placed his hand on his friend’s large shoulder. “We should not allow Megatron any more time to get further entrenched in the mines than he’s already had. Besides, this assault needs to be a controlled endeavor, which is not Grimlock’s strong suit,” the Autobot leader removed his hand and peered into his friend’s optics, “and while killing Galvatron may have gotten Sideswipe a bit closer to coming to terms with his brother’s death, if he were to learn that Megatron was in the depths of a Cybertronium mine, he’d charge like a maniac and get himself cut to pieces. So no, they continue digging for survivors and getting the wounded medical attention and remain ignorant of this little skirmish until it’s over.”

    “Can’t argue with your reasoning,” Magnus replied, “but I know a lot of the guys wouldn’t mind having Grimlock in front of them while charging this position.”

    “I understand.” Prime acknowledged his second before addressing the rest of the troops. “Alright Autobots, you all know what to do. Let’s end this!” As one, the well-positioned Autobots fired upon the long-abandoned Excaviton ore processing plant that had been built over the dig site’s main shaft. The ancient structure shuddered under the onslaught but held, and return fire lanced out from the structure. The Autobots continued their barrage, but were interrupted as the ground beneath them began to shudder violently. Prime immediately braced himself and called out to his army. “Alright Autobots, it appears that Megatron is going with defense option four! Implement countermeasures!”

    An enormous maroon right fist burst up through the ground, withdrew and was immediately followed by the left fist blasting up as well. Both giant hands grabbed the ground beneath the scurrying Autobots and began tugging downward. Various other tremor inducing strikes from beneath the surface riddled the ground of the area, resulting in a pair of purple hands breaking through as well as a set of spiked black fists, and soon Abominus, Devastator and Piranacon were tearing the ground apart from underneath the attacking forces, causing dozens of Autobots to slide down into the exposed mines beneath. Abominus glared up and was about to gleefully call out a battle cry, but his upward thrust left arm was snatched in the jaws of Sky Lynx, and the Terrorcon gestalt was hurled upward into the sky and flipping over the frame of the giant bird/cat that was finding its footing, planting its front feet firmly on patches of ground not yet torn into the tunnels below, and mule-kicking the plummeting Abominus as the monstrous Decepticon fell just past Sky Lynx’s rear section.

    Devastator began to climb out of the subterranean tunnels, but seemed to lose his grip and slip back down below. As the original gestalt fell back into the depths of the mines, dozens of Decepticons swarmed upward and took his place on the surface battle field. Piranacon successfully made it to the surface, gripped his sword and a rifle made up of Skalor tightly, and started to clumsily bear down on the various Autobots firing on him. He failed to recognize the significance of the Autobots ceasing their fire upon him until both Superion and Computron were upon him, immediately raining blows upon the aquatic combiner. Piranacon lashed out at the Autobot gestalts, trying to bludgeon them with the two weapons he wielded, but Superion got his hands up to sufficiently block the blows while Computron maintained the offensive, battering the Seacon gestalt repeatedly about the head. Piranacon released his sword to try and catch himself as he fell to the ground, and soon released Skalor too as the Autobots continued pummeling him from above. The Autobots maintained the offensive until there were six battered Seacons laid out across the cracked and torn metal ground.

    The swarms of Decepticons that emerged from the ruptured ground as well as those charging out of the processing plant were quickly put on the defensive by the Autobots, who had anticipated such an attack and quickly regained their composure and responded to the counterattack effectively. The Stunticons, who were among the ground forces charging out of the processing plant, gathered together. “Let’s slaggin’ gut these fender-hats!” Motormaster bellowed out. “Merge you flamboyantly painted trunk-bumpers!” With that insult, the four other Stunticons merged with their hated leader and formed the giant Menasor.

    “Magnus,” Prime called out as he charged across the battlefield, leaping craters and avoiding shots from hopeful Decepticons, “take command! I’ve got Menasor!” The Autobot Commander finally reached his destination, the battle station made up of his trailer, which had been strategically placed for a frontal assault, but which he now felt would be of more use as armor. The base reconfigured and wrapped itself around Prime, creating a fifty-foot super warrior that bounded through the warriors possessing a level of speed, balance, agility and grace only slightly less than Prime’s unarmored form. The Autobot Commander sprinted across the stretch of ground covered by the six battered and now unconscious Seacons, stooping over mid-stride to scoop up Piranacon’s previously discarded sword and continuing his charge toward the Stunticon gestalt who was now roaring near the front of the scorched and pockmarked processing plant.

    Menasor finally caught sight of the charging Autobot legend bearing down on him, and yelled out an incoherent battle cry as he raised his rifle to shoot the Autobot. Prime twisted as a shot came out at him, narrowly avoiding getting hit in the chest, and continued his charge at the larger Stunticon. With forty yards to go Prime leapt to the air, tucked his knees into his chest, and thrust out his feet as his body leveled out, slamming the bottom of his giant metal boots into the chest of the Eighty-foot gestalt. Menasor was stunned and sent stumbling back, releasing his sword but remaining standing despite the power of Prime’s strike. The armored Autobot was immediately back on his feet and charging Menasor before the Decepticon could react, delivering a right thrust kick to the inside of the gestalt’s knee that buckled it and forced the Stunticon to lurch forward a step. Prime leapt forward, spinning to plant his left shoulder against the back of Menasor’s right shoulder and rolling across the back of the gestalt, landing on the ground behind him. The confused Menasor turned around in an attempt to follow Optimus Prime’s movements, and just as he turned his head he had both optics sliced out by the slashing tip of Piranacon’s sword. “Aaarrrrrrr!” Menasor roared in furry and pain, but Prime paid little notice as he thrust the tip of the sword into the abdomen of the giant Decepticon. The blade only went in a few inches, but it was enough to cause the slow but powerful gestalt a fair bit of pain.

    Menasor opened his mouth to unleash another roar, but numerous cannons mounted all over Prime’s armored frame erupted to drown the cry out, blasting the Decepticon and sending him stumbling back again, this time away from the facility. Prime followed the barrage with a series of slashes to the head and upper torso of Menasor, cutting small but painful gashes in monstrous Decepticon’s face and body and keeping the gestalt clumsily backpedaling. Prime took advantage of the distraction the minor injuries were causing the gestalt and leapt up, raised the sword high over his head, and came down slamming the blade of the large sword powerfully onto the forehead of Menasor, sending the Stunticon falling to the ground and leaving an ugly dent in his forehead. The dazed Menasor looked up and clumsily reached for Prime with his right hand, which Prime sidestepped and then thrust the tip of the blade down upon the linkaging that connected the torso formed by Motormaster and the arm formed by Drag Strip. The linkaging mechanisms in Menasor’s arms were the most exposed of all gestalts, and Prime’s attack took advantage of that as the tip of the sword cut into the link and the continued thrust caused the blade to saw through various key components that kept Drag Strip a functional arm. Menasor screamed at the sudden pain, but was too slow to stop Prime from pulling the sword back, raising it high and coming down hard on the linkaging system.

    Menasor’s right arm remained attached, but his hand dropped to the ground with a thud and lay there uselessly. The Decepticon gestalt looked as his non-moving fingers in disbelief as Prime raised the sword again for another strike, but a dozen charging Decepticons pulled his attention away from the downed and crippled gestalt. Blitzwing led the charge, but Prime quickly twisted and swung the blade, catching him mid-torso and sending him flying back, a deep gash cut into his side that would likely not kill him, but would leave him unfit for combat without extensive reconstruction. Various other Decepticons rushed the Autobot leader, but the cannons mounted over his frame erupted and sent all but one Decepticon scurrying away. The one Decepticon to maintain his charge, Six-Shot in wolf mode, shrugged off the ordinance arrayed against him and slammed into Prime, sending the armored Autobot stumbling back. Prime immediately planted his foot to stop the backward movement and sent a hard right cross that caught the wolf right on the top of the head, sending Six-Shot hurtling back, but landing on his feet. The metal beast began circling the Autobot, snarling as he contemplated his next assault on the Autobot Commander.

    Menasor started to get to his feet, but the recently separated giant blue lynx of Sky Lynx pounced on the gestalt and started battering the Stunticon with its giant bladed forepaws. Menasor was beaten back savagely and collapsed through the front of the processing plant, separating as Lynx once again slammed its paw hard on the Stunticon’s chest. The four smaller Stunticons painfully rolled away from their leader, who raised his head in a dazed manner. “Slaggin putty-tat.” Motormaster then glance up at the giant blue and gold feline glaring down at him. “Oh slag.” The head of the lynx shot down and snapped the head, shoulders and upper chest of the Stunticon leader in its jaws, planted its left forepaw on the Stunticon’s waist, and then jerked upward, tearing Motormaster’s torso in two.

    “Oh sweet Primus,” Breakdown’s gaze was locked onto the waist and legs of his now dead leader, “we’re free.” He peered up at the giant feline that had killed Motormaster. “We’re free!”

    Lynx lowered his monstrous head and glared intently at Breakdown, but his gaze seemed to encompass the other surviving Stunticons as well. “Discard your weapons and lie on your bellies until told to do otherwise by an Autobot. If I see you do anything else I will see to it that you die. This is the last offer of surrender that you will receive.” The four Stunticons immediately complied, including the psychotic Wildrider and the severely wounded Drag Strip, who struggled to roll his battered frame over, but finally managed to do so, not bothering to watch as the giant blue feline charged away to assault other Decepticons.

    Six Shot’s armored vehicle mode spun around a crater with chunks of metal jutting out that used to be the ground covering it, cutting between combatants before veering back toward the enormous armored Prime and firing repeatedly at the Autobot leader. Prime absorbed the barrage with minimal sign of discomfort and returned fire, blasting the multi-changer’s front and sending the speeding vehicle end over end into the air toward the giant Autobot. Prime reared back to deliver a straight right to the vehicle hurtling toward him, but the armored battle car transformed into a sleek spacecraft and blasted over the red leader just in time to avoid the punch. Prime twisted quickly and raised his left arm to fire after the speeding space ship, but Six Shot banked and blasted out of range a moment later. Prime watched the multi-changing super warrior speed into the upper atmosphere and disappear from sight. The Autobot leader then looked back toward the battlefield and recognized why Six Shot would be so ready to flee. The Decepticons were being routed; the last pocket of resistance that was actually offering any significant resistance were those Decepticons still taking cover from within the processing plant.


    *


    “What the slag is Megatron waiting for?” The predominantly green Eagle Eye bellowed throughout the front room of the processing plant. He jerked up to a standing position and charged across the floor, ducking and dodging the weapons fire that was blasting through the wall and blown out doors and windows, finally making his way to Soundwave. “Did you hear me? Where the slag is Megatron?”

    Soundwave pushed the angry robot back away from him. “Do not question Megatron.”

    “I will question him!” Eagle Eye bellowed through his faceplate. “I have no problem putting my neck on the line if it means I get to kill Autobots, but it’s us that’s getting killed! Get him on the slaggin’ horn right slaggin’ now or I’ll head down there and make him fully aware of the slaughter going on up here!”

    “Megatron’s orders were that nobody…”

    “Shaddup!” Eagle Eye interrupted the blue Communications Commander. “I’m heading down there.”

    “I’m coming too!”

    Eagle Eye turned to see the predominantly blue Decepticon running his way across the floor. “Fine, just stay out of my way Counter-Punch!”

    Counter-Punch reached the green flier and trotted past him in the direction of the lift to the rear of the room. “No problem. I just witnessed a few things the Autobots were doing that might be of interest to Onslaught.”

    “Fine,” Eagle Eye spat back as he and the blue and yellow robot sprinted toward the back of the room, “just leave me alone!” He hit the button on the side of the lift door to summon it, and they both slid inside the moment the doors opened.

    Counter-Punch took a step back so that he was standing behind and to the left of Eagle Eye, who was preoccupied with thoughts of what he was going to say to their absent leader. “Sorry Eagle Eye, but I won’t be able to leave you alone.” Eagle Eye turned to see the tip of Counter-Punch’s rifle lined up with his face, the blue Decepticon’s free left wrist raised to his own face. “Hey Blaster, I’m going to need all ‘Con optics focused on you guys.”


    *


    “Is he slaggin’ nuts?” Drench asked as he watched the Autobots cease their assault on their position and Optimus Prime disengage from his armor before walking out in the open area directly in front of the facility.

    “Decepticons, this is your last chance!” Prime called out loudly. “Discard your weapons and exit the building with all limbs and other anatomical grippers empty and fully exposed!”

    “Hey Wave’, has Rumble arranged the explosives?” Drench questioned Soundwave. “Because it looks like the Autobots will be pushing their way in here once we tell them to slag off and perforate their leader.”

    “You can ask me directly, plate-face.” Rumble snapped out as he peered through a crack in the wall and contemplated taking a shot at the exposed Autobot leader. “And yeah, the bombs are in place and ready to blow. We just need to get into the mines and activate the remote over…” Rumble turned around toward the rear of the room to where he had placed the detonator, and was stunned to see a yellow Autobot holding it in one hand and Eagle Eye’s large rifle in the other, “oh slag.”

    The yellow Autobot, Punch, began spraying ordinance into the Decepticons spread out along the front of the room and running toward the front door, blasting it open as he dove through. The few Decepticons that had any idea of what was going on could not react in time to do anything to stop the intruder who had miraculously managed to gain entrance into their midst without being seen or setting off any of their alarms. Punch rolled on the ground outside and popped up to sprint forward toward the Autobot lines, which had erupted into a wall of firepower that seemed to mold itself around him and slam into the face of the processing plant, ensuring that any Decepticon that planned on going after the yellow Autobot would either change his mind or be annihilated. Punch tossed the remote to Optimus Prime as he got to him and continued running toward an upward tear in the metal ground that several of his comrades were using as cover.

    “Slag, Punch, where the smelt did you come from?” Beachcomber asked.

    “And more importantly, why the slag didn’t you transform and get here faster and with a lower profile?” Tracks heaped his question on top of Beachcombers. “I was sitting here ready to spray right above your position the moment you wised up and transformed, but you never wised up.”

    “Yeah, wisdom was never my strong suit.” Punch replied absently, peering forward at Prime and the Decepticons beyond him wondering if this impending victory truly meant that this would be the last time the services of Counter-Punch would be required, a prospect that filled his spark with both relief, and to his dismay, dread.

    It was in his nature to never burn bridges if he didn’t have to, which is why he didn’t transform; a Decepticon catching sight of a vehicular form identical to that of Counter-Punch’s on an Autobot that mysteriously popped up within their ranks would likely be able to put two and two together. This might be the end of the Decepticons, but that’s what everyone was saying after the resurrected Optimus Prime led the retaking of Iacon, yet here they were many months later slugging it out with Megatron’s forces. And even if this was the final battle of the war, was Punch really ready to close the door on Counter-Punch? It was more than just a role played by an actor; he had become Counter-Punch; taken on his behavioral traits, adopted his mannerisms, and even, he reluctantly admitted to himself, embraced his values. There were a great many things that the Decepticons represented that were appalling to Punch, but there were also a great many aspects of Decepticon culture and camaraderie that he would find himself longing for, aspects that had become a part of himself, whether exposing predominantly blue or predominantly yellow coloration.

    “Decepticons,” Prime called out loudly the moment the Autobots ceased their protective cover fire for Punch, “I hold a detonator for what I assume are explosives planted throughout your current position, explosives that you undoubtedly planned on detonating once you had retreated into the tunnels beneath you and Autobots were swarming into the building. I’m counting to fifteen before activating the detonator. That’s not enough time for more than a very few of you to withdraw into the protective depths, but it is enough time for you to exit the building through the front and surrender. The choice is yours, but I’m beginning the countdown now.”


    *


    “Smelt it all, where the slag did that Autobot come from?” Drench snarled as he cautiously raised his head and peered through the smoke and dust at his Decepticon comrades.

    “Fifteen!”

    “Guy had Eagle Eye’s rifle.” Rumble muttered out. “My guess, he found a way through the tunnels and intercepted Eagle Eye and Counter-Punch and came up here via the elevator shaft.”

    “Fourteen!”

    “Slag, which means the shaft might be compromised!” Drench snarled.

    “Thirteen!”

    “Well boys, even if I could miracle us a way out of this mess, it wouldn’t be implementable in the next…”

    “Twelve!”

    “Twelve seconds, so I’m takin’ my chances with Prime. I recommend you all do the same.”

    “Eleven!”

    “Besides, my guess is that Megatron’s miles from here, he’d have joined us already if he were still in the area, so it’s not like we’re abandoning him.”

    “Ten!”

    The red and yellow Decepticon rose to his feet, tossed his rifle through a hole in the wall, and marched to and then through the door, his hands in the air.

    “Nine!”

    The remaining Decepticons began scrambling after him in the exact same manner.


    *


    “Combaticons except for Brawl over there, Constructicons, Dreadwing, formerly known as Dreadwind, and Smokescreen, formerly known as Darkwing…”

    “Wait, we saw Devastator on the battle field.” Magnus’s whisper interrupted Punch’s equally quiet report to Optimus Prime as they walked at a distance from the surrendering Decepticons.

    “Look, I’m just telling you who was down there prior to the battle.” Punch snapped back. “And if you recall, Devastator withdrew pretty slagging quick and is unaccounted for now, so I suggest we be prudent and assume that the Constructicons are still down there with Megatron.”

    “What’s the likelihood that they have an escape route that isn’t in the Excaviton blueprints?” Prime asked.

    “Pretty good.” Punch replied. “I’m not aware of any, but Megatron’s savvy enough not to get chased down a hole with only one opening.”

    “Either that, or it’s a trap.” Magnus added.

    “Also entirely possible.” Punch answered. “Megatron spent the entire time we’ve been here down there with the Constructicons and Onslaught, he wouldn’t let anyone other than those guys and Soundwave down to see what they were doing, and all sorts of supplies were sent down to them. Dreadwing and Smokescreen were called for after we got word that you were attacking Trypticon. Not sure what their purpose was. Oh and I heard Archforce was sent down there before I made it here.”

    “Archforce?” Magnus asked. “A platoon leader if I recall correctly. Tough in a fight, but not especially bright. I don’t see why he’d have been called into Megatron’s inner circle.”

    “Neither do I, but that’s what I was told when I got here.” Punch replied. “Though I hear a lot of stuff from these guys that’s slag, so I honestly doubt a twit like Archforce would have been called to Megatron.”

    “But he’s unaccounted for on the surface.” Magnus noted.

    “I don’t even know that he made it out of Iacon.” Punch answered. “I mean, it’s possible, but I doubt it.”

    “So basically you were to wait for us, engage us, and when we overwhelmed you, lead us into this facility and throw the switch as you guys headed down.” Prime asked for clarification.

    Punch nodded. “That’s pretty much it. We were to descend, being led by Soundwave through a series of tunnels to…wherever. Frankly, we were all expecting Megatron to emerge from below and take command, but obviously that never happened. I wish I could tell you more.”

    “Don’t worry about that, you’ve provided us with more than anyone could have hoped for.” Prime said to the spy. “I’m going to interrogate Soundwave now, so in light of his ability to read minds, I suggest you take off.”

    “Aye aye, Chief.” The yellow Autobot trotted toward a group of Autobots standing guard over a large group of surrendering Decepticon rank and file.

    Prime and Magnus marched intently toward the Decepticon officers being segregated from their troops and being watched over by a group of Autobots under the command of Blaster. “Any attempt to transmit?”

    “Nope,” Blaster replied, keeping his optics firmly on Soundwave “nothing going out or coming in to him.”

    Prime nodded and grabbed Soundwave by the arm, pulling him away from the other Decepticons. “We’re going to have a little talk.” The large, blue Decepticon silently allowed himself to be led away from the group and turned so that he and Prime were face to face. “I’ll get right to it; where’s Megatron?”

    “Exact location: unknown.” Soundwave replied.

    Prime remained staring at the Decepticon in front of him for a few moments before going on. “Understand this Soundwave, I almost hope you don’t inform me of where he is. You see, one way or another we will be locating Megatron, but the deal someone negotiated out of me on your behalf is contingent upon your cooperation. If you fail to inform me of Megatron’s whereabouts, you will not only be on the list of Decepticon war criminals that I present to the new government once power is transferred, it will be near the top.” Prime stepped in close, his optics narrowing. “Oh yes, I can feel you trying to pry your way into my mind; don’t bother, I could have kept you out with ease even before gaining the Matrix, your attempts now do nothing more than tickle.”

    Soundwave nodded. “Attempts ceased and will not be resumed.”

    Prime continued his heated stare. “Now, as I was saying, a deal has been worked out where you would be eligible for special consideration. In exchange for your complete cooperation, you would avoid prison, forced stasis, disembodiment, execution, or whatever other punishment that the new government will have for war criminals.”

    “Belief that Custodex’s new government will honor treaties made by soldiers is foolhardy.” Soundwave replied back.

    Prime stepped back. The Decepticon’s statement could be construed as being argumentative, but his concern was valid and stated in a manner that was non-combative, merely matter of fact. “I see why you would believe that, but Custodex’s own stated reverence for the old government and rule of law, which you helped to destroy, will force him to honor such treaties. Despite what Custodex’s rhetoric would have you believe, Sentinel Prime, who was already fighting the Decepticons in the defense of Iacon, was eventually approached by what remained of the Planetary Senate and requested to take on the role of Magister Populi until the Decepticon threat was eliminated or a peace achieved. Sentinel Prime was granted leadership over all citizens of Cybertron, and by succession, that leadership passed on to me. The fact of the matter is that Cybertron is not without a legal government, and never has been.” Prime folded his arms and allowed Soundwave to absorb what he had just heard. “It’s something that only myself and a few others are aware of, but I am the legal ruler of Cybertron, and will be until the ratification of the new constitution. And once this is pointed out to Consul Custodex, I think, for the sake of a smooth transition from one legal government to another, he will hold to the legally binding contracts already in place.”

    “Very interesting,” Soundwave commented, “but I fear you underestimate the level of his spitefu…” The blue Decepticon suddenly froze.

    “Incoming transmission, Prime!” Blaster called out and ran toward his leader and the prisoner being interrogated.

    “NO!” Soundwave bellowed out, his normally emotionless voice now conveying a frightening degree of anguish and fear. “NO!” The prisoner jerked his arm free from Prime’s grasp and began sprinting toward the processing plant that he and the other Decepticons had filed out of just minutes before. A thunderous overhand right from Prime that landed directly in the center of his upper back sent the Decepticon flying face first into the metal ground.

    Prime immediately turned away from the downed prisoner and looked to Blaster. “What was the transmission?”

    “Coded, but I’m cracking it as we speak.” Blaster replied as he covered Soundwave with his rifle. “Older code, it’s as though whoever sent it didn’t have time to be picky.”

    “Traitors!” Soundwave bellowed toward the building before twisting his frame to look up at his captors. “Please, they’re killing him!”


    (continued on next post)
     
  19. peteynorth

    peteynorth TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Posts:
    1,113
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Likes:
    +504
    Episode 62 (continued from previous post)

    “Holy lug nuts; and I thought Polyhex was beat to slag!” Barrage muttered as he trudged over the wasteland of outer Iacon, he and his team approaching the savage tear in the ground where the central section of the city had been forcibly dropped just hours before. “What a lousy smelting day; our Pred brothers are slagged by Galvatron, then the righteous kill they set up for us was snaked by the slagging Dinobots and that pavement jockey, and we finally make it to Iacon to find that it’s been decimated with no sign of the other ‘Cons or the Autobots. So now what do we do?”

    Venom looked over at Barrage and wished he had something to tell him. Ideally it would have been something inspirational, but at this point he would have settled for just enough to keep his two soldiers content. Unfortunately, he wasn’t even able to come up with that. “I wish I knew.”

    Chop Shop ran up atop a pile of debris, which had until very recently been parts of housing facility in the outskirts of Iacon, and after picking out a shiny object from the rubble, peered in various directions. “I can’t see anything but ruins and these blasted corpses. Maybe all the Autobots and Decepticons are dead?”

    “Then where are Jhiaxus’s forces?” Barrage snapped.

    “Why, they’re all around you.” The voice coming from within a pile of shredded metal a few dozen yards from the position of the former Insecticons-now Predacons called out before letting loose with a long bout of chuckling. Venom, Barrage and Chop Shop raised their weapons and covered the small robot as it emerged from its hiding place, walking over and giving one of the lifeless shells a gentle kick. “And a surprisingly low number of casualties aside, the Autobots and Decepticons survived the battle, though the coming peace may not be as kind to them as they were hoping for.”

    “What in the pit are you, what are you babbling about, and why shouldn’t I stomp you to an oily pulp?” Chop Shop growled as he ominously marched toward the small robot that intruded on what they had considered to be their private discussion.

    “Because, my dear Insecticon, I’m in a position to drastically improve your futures.” The newly rebuilt Torrent replied. “The only one as a matter of fact.”

    “Explain yourself, and do it quickly Micromaster!” Venom threateningly commanded.

    The smaller robot shrugged. “Alright, no need to be so testy. But first, let me set you straight about one thing; I’m not a Micromaster, I’m a few large steps up the evolutionary ladder from them. And this evolutionary rung that I find myself on has more than enough room for me to invite some friends.”

    “I’m sorry,” Barrage interrupted, “but are you offering to make us like you, and expect us to see that as anything but an insult?”

    Torrent stepped forward angrily and pointed up at the green Barrage. “I am, and I do! I dwelled within a frame constructed by a god, and at the time just prior to my metamorphosis, was the only one on this planet able to lay claim to that. I was stronger, faster and more durable than the three of you combined, so if I can find some charm in this shrunken new suit, then you big bugs should jump at the opportunity I present you!”

    “A frame constructed by a god?” Venom asked skeptically. “You’re claiming to be Cyclonus, Scourge or one of the Sweeps, is that it?”

    “Tee hee hee ha ha haaaaaa!” The diminutive robot laughed loudly before turning to the red, pincer-bearing Decepticon and using a voice he had not used in quite some time. “Hey Chop Shop, any side effects from last night’s bender?”

    Chop Shop gasped and took a step back. “Kick?”

    “Bwa ha ha ha haaaaa!”

    “Enough!” Venom snapped loudly. “Maybe you are, or at least were, who you’re claiming to have been, but even at your best you were a bit off psychologically.”

    “Oh, don’t fret about that.” Torrent replied. “I’m waaaaaay off now, that’s for certain!”

    “Yeah, no question about it,” Barrage commented, “he’s definitely not all there.”

    “Well of course I’m not all there, you twit!” Torrent snapped back. “There are chunks of me that Unicron didn’t chose to recycle floating around in space, there are still bits of my old skull rusting on the red dirt of Charr, a huge portion of my mortal remains were consumed by that flying plague, and the rest is laying on the floor of a lab not far from here. So yeah, aside from my spark, brain and a couple feet of neural circuitry, there’s precious little of me left here.”

    “Right.” Venom replied. “This is a very good reason for us not to take your suggestion to undergo a complete rebuilding, into drastically smaller frames I might add, seriously.”

    “Hmmm, yes,” Torrent replied, “I do see your point. Now let me present some reasons why you should take it seriously. First, the truce between the Autobots and Decepticons is over, so the Autobots will kill you the first chance they get. Second, and don’t interpret this as me ratting you guys out, I keep my confidences, just ask Chop Shop;” Torrent made a clicking sound with his monstrous mouth as he pointed and nodded at the dark red Insecticon/Predacon, “but the Decepticons will eventually figure out that you played a role in turning on Galvatron, unless I’m misinterpreting Barrage’s righteous kill comment, which I know I’m not.” The small robot chuckled at seeing Barrage wince by the revelation that he had been heard earlier. “So, while Megatron may be pleased with you at first for turning on his hated clone, he’ll eventually wonder if you’ll be gunning for him too. And I’m afraid that after Starscream, he won’t be taking chances with potential usurpers anymore. That leaves the new government; perhaps they’ll be more merciful with you?” Torrent pulled out a small data pad from a compartment on his back. “Well my friends, I’m afraid that’s a big negatory as well. According to their new constitution, Decepticons not in possession of special dispensation are to be regarded as war criminals and relegated to a disembodied existence.” Torrent shrugged. “I personally would prefer execution to that, but everyone has their own preferences. Don’t worry though, while not lumped in with us, the Autobots don’t fare much better. And both Autobots and Decepticons will no longer be able to exist as Autobots or Decepticons in this brave new world.”

    “All of which is interesting if true, but I fail to see why this should compel us to undergo whatever procedure turned you into this and take on smaller, less powerful frames.” Venom replied.

    “Alright, stay the way you are. But prices will be put on the heads of Venom, Barrage and Chop Shop by three factions, and minor reconstructive surgery isn’t going to fool anyone.” Torrent answered as he shrugged and started turning away from them. “Fortunately for me, I’m not as short-sighted as you three. While there are some nice features in this frame, I honestly don’t enjoy being human-sized and vastly de-powered. But I know Torrent would be hunted by the Autobots and the new government alike, so for the time being, it’s best if there’s no plausible way for them to identify me as Torrent. And they’d never suspect the mighty Sweep would be hiding out in this miniscule, fuel-efficient frame.”

    “Wait.” Venom called to the departing robot, and continued as Torrent turned back to face him. “We have…certain anatomical features that we’d like to keep intact. Is there any way to undergo this process while keeping these features?”

    “Probably.” Torrent replied. “While I was completely rebuilt, the nanites were able to record and incorporate physical traits possessed by my previous frame into this new one, though the pacifistic twits that performed the procedure on me made sure most of the goodies my Sweep frame held were weeded out. But they won’t be overseeing your transformation, so I don’t see any particular problem for you guys. Plus, it should be particularly easy for you three as your frames already utilize nanite technology, which can relay technical specifications from old frame to new with seamless perfection. But how identifiable are these anatomical features of yours? If their existence can be used to reveal your identities, then perhaps you’d be better off without them.”

    “The primary feature that we’d like to be carried over is known to no living being outside of us three.” Venom replied. “And I suppose you will find out about it as well during the course of the metamorphoses, Torrent.”

    “Whoah, we’re not really going to do this, are we?” A startled Chop Shop blurted out.

    Torrent ignored the objection as he replied to Venom. “You don’t have to worry about me divulging your little secret; I’ve got as much to lose if this little group of ours doesn’t get along as you do.” The small robot began leading them back toward the medical facility that he had just left. “And in the spirit of our changing of identities, I guess we should adopt new designations. From now on, call me…heck, it’s just too much fun not to leave them at least a little hint. Call me Torrential.”

    “Fine, whatever.” Venom replied. “I’m sure I’ll be given a vehicular mode, but I want my nanites to retain the genetic data of my beast mode just in case there’s another famine or I find myself on an organic world sometime. As for my name, if I must change it then it might as well be Cicadacon.”

    Torrential cocked his hideous head to the side disapprovingly. “Really? Cicadacon, that’s the best you can do?”

    “It will suffice!” The former Venom snapped. “Predacons, choose new designations!”

    Both Barrage and Chop Shop pondered what to call themselves for a few moments before Barrage’s chuckling revealed that he had a new name in mind. “Oh yeah, I’ve got one. Gotta love old school Decepticon traditions. By my conquest in battle, I am entitled to take the name Ramhorn, so I will.”

    “Hey, good choice buddy.” Chop Shop commented. “I’ve got a name in mind, but it’s more geared to a form I’d prefer over the beast mode I currently have.”

    “What organic mode do you have in mind?” Cicadacon queried.

    “Domain: Eucarya. Kingdom: Animalia. Phylum: Anthropoda. Class: Crustacea. Order: Descapoda. Family: Caridea. Genus: Homarus. Species: Americanus. Common English designation: Lobster.” Chop Shop parroted the classification that Soundwave had provided years earlier for the interesting animal that Chop Shop had found in an Earth water body.

    “Kind of moving away from the Insecticon theme there, aren’t ya’ pal?” Torrential pointed out.

    “Might as well,” Ramhorn replied, “we consider ourselves Predacons.”

    “And what is the name that you have to go with this new alternate form?” Cicadacon asked his red teammate.

    “Sea Clamp.” The former Chop Shop announced proudly.

    “Excellent names, well, aside from Cicadacon, but disappointment in the decisions of the second best leader in Insecticon history is something that we’ve all gotten used to.” Torrential snickered. “Now my friends, let’s get you to the operating table, shall we?”


    ***


    The vast, subterranean expanse was awash with Autobots scurrying about, most were examining potential hiding places, escape routes, and looking for potential traps. Others were collecting data and performing the other activities that would be expected to be done at a crime scene. In the center of it all, standing over a brutally charred, dismembered and barely recognizable corpse was Optimus Prime, staring down at the deceased frame as though in a trance. Magnus quietly walked up from behind Prime and stood next to him, looking down at the dead body at their feet. “The evidence seems to support the call for help that Megatron sent to Soundwave.” The Autobot second in command nodded to various other destroyed and lifeless frames scattered throughout the underground chamber. “They were desperate; Megatron was leading with his ego, and while his leadership may have been a big step up from Galvatron’s, the ‘Cons had had enough. And while several of them paid dearly for it,” Magnus turned back toward the corpse below him, “they finally managed to assassinate the Slagmaker.”

    Magnus bent down to one knee, reached out and gently lifted the black and still hot fusion cannon affixed to the right shoulder of the mangled frame. After nearly a minute, he finally figured out how to get it detached, and pulled it off of the shoulder, snapping several cables connecting it to the dead robot’s inner workings in the process. Rising back to a standing position, Magnus offered the weapon to Prime for inspection. The red Autobot Commander accepted the implement of mass destruction and examined it closely. He knew this weapon well, he had been on the receiving end of it, one of a tiny few that had and that still functioned. He had examined the damage and tombed the dead caused by this vile device for countless eras. Perhaps no other single weapon in history had a body count the equal of this one. Prime winced in disgust and pushed the cannon back into Magnus’s hands. “Get this thing away from me.”

    “Of course Prime.” Magnus stated and turned to give it to Hound, who was walking by with collected evidence to bring to the surface. “Take this up to Blaster. I don’t think I need to point out the significance of this particular item.”

    “No sir,” Hound muttered as he hesitantly accepted the weapon with a look of fearful awe etched into his face, “I’ll see that this is dealt with accordingly.” The green Autobot continued on to the lift.

    “So how do you see this happening sir?” Magnus asked as he turned back to his leader.

    “It seems too simple, but everything we’ve seen so far leads to a scenario where Onslaught, the other Combatacons sans Brawl, the Constructicons, and those fliers turned on Megatron.” Prime replied. “With the element of surprise, the firepower at Onslaught and Dreadwing’s disposal, and the confined quarters making it difficult for Megatron to evade the shots and later the blows from Devastator, the idea of them overwhelming him is plausible. Now we just need to find the Constructicons and the three Combaticons that appear to have survived and escaped.” Prime stepped away from the corpse they were assuming to be Megatron and started toward the others, three smoldering and obliterated frames, but caught sight of Wheeljack examining the remains of Smokescreen. “Wheeljack?”

    The white Autobot immediately got to his feet and ran to Prime. “Yes sir?”

    “You accessed the Darkmount medical records shortly after the Decepticons abandoned it, correct?” Prime asked.

    “Yes sir.” Came the reply.

    “You have Megatron’s spark signature readings, correct?” Prime asked.

    “Yes I do Prime.” Wheeljack came back. Prime stepped back and motioned toward Megatron, and taking the hint, Wheeljack retracted his hand and replaced it with a long, narrow piece of scanning equipment and began scanning the interior of Megatron’s chest through a brutal tear in his chest armor. After an analysis of the data, a second reading, and a second verification of the findings, Wheeljack looked up at his leader and nodded. “Residual energy signature is a perfect match for Megatron’s spark signature.”

    Prime nodded. “I was brought into existence to oppose him, and now he’s gone.” The Autobot legend pulled himself out of his contemplations to deal with the situation at hand, turning to another corpse sprawled across the floor, one even more destroyed than that of Megatron, especially the upper torso, where a hole, presumably from Megatron’s fusion cannon, had been blown straight through the chest. “I suppose getting a spark signature reading from Onslaught is impossible, but verify those of Dreadwing and the other one.”

    Wheeljack nodded and stood up. “His most recent name was Smoke…”

    “Don’t use that name.” Prime calmly but assertively interrupted. “Just verify the signature. As straight forward as the events that transpired here seem to be, I’m still going to want Nightbeat to conduct a thorough examination of this scene. Once our search for the remaining Decepticons has completed in this vicinity, I want the area secured and left as undisturbed as possible.”

    “Prime,” Blaster called out as he entered the subterranean chamber, “I have something you should know about.”

    Prime nodded and marched out to meet his Communications Commander. “What is it Blaster?”

    “The planetary Senate has been called to session.” Blaster reported.

    Prime nodded. “Yes, we knew that. That’s why Carly traveled to Cybertron.” The Autobot leader gently twisted his head quizzically. “I just figured that Skids would be of more use helping with search and rescue as opposed to putting together a public service message instructing the public that all is well and to remain calm.”

    “Well Prime, it appears that Custodex is trying to pull the steel wool over our optics.” Blaster replied. “I’ve received word that the new constitution has been completed and is being voted on.”

    “What?” Prime’s loud voice echoed throughout the underground chamber.

    “They can’t do that!” Magnus, who had followed Prime, insisted.

    “If they have a quorum, and all senators were sent a call to attend, even calls misrepresenting the purpose of the session, then yes, they can.” Prime muttered as he pondered this turn of events. “They’re obviously not in Cybertropolis…”

    “They’re using a theater on the outskirts of Iacon.” Blaster pre-empted his Commander’s question.

    Prime nodded as he pondered the possible ramifications, and weighed them against his continued presence at this location. “Where’s Skids?”

    “He just finished his shift searching for survivors in Iacon and is on his way to the theater with Carly.” Blaster’s voice carried a slight measure of concern.

    Prime nodded again. “Good, we need to head there as well. You’re coming too Magnus.” The Autobot leader began marching back in the direction from whence he came, his two officers following him out. “Kup, I’m leaving you in command while I’m gone.”

    “Sure thing Prime.” Kup replied to the departing Commander.


    ***


    “Senators, please, may I have your attention?” Custodex called out to the boisterous group of elected officials all currently engaged in their own discussions either regarding the significance of what they had just cast their secret, and in many cases, not so secret electronic ballots for, or the alleged pact that the Lithomech Senator Kranix had entered into with the Autobot military. “Please, the results are in!” The Co-Consul called out, knowing that this statement would gain the attention of all in the large theater. Within a few seconds all discussion came to an end and all optics were planted upon the glowing frame of the robot standing upon the stage. “Thank you.”

    The straight faced Consul peered out over the crowd for several moments, revealing nothing of the results with his facial features. His bright optics studied both the group as a whole as well as many individuals nervously awaiting his announcements of the results, even his emotionless countenance could not hide the fact that he was relishing the attention devoted to him. Finally, after nearly a minute of silence, the Consul gave a barely noticeable nod before allowing himself a broad smile. “Senators, it is with great pleasure that I inform you of the momentous event that our courageous struggles and perseverance has brought from an impossible dream to a glorious reality. For the first time in tens of thousands of vorns, a near inconceivable span of time defined by chaos, murder, carnage, starvation and lawless evil, our world has a legitimate government designed not by those embodying might, but by those embodying right.” A cheer went out by all but a handful of the senators, the eruption of voices pounding the walls of the theater. Those not cheering, primarily Kranix and Wreck Gar, shook their heads in despondence at what they considered to be an ill-informed and short sighted rush to push through perhaps the most important legislation in their planet’s history without a full evaluation of all the bills being voted into law; primarily those laws that this new Pax Cybertonia decreed to be unchangeable under any circumstances. These non-amendable dictates that would now govern their world for as long as the Pax Cybertronia was the legitimate constitution made their planet’s saviors, the Autobots, fugitives and outcasts. Custodex had gone so far as to specify that any attempt to nullify these dictates would result in the nullification of the constitution as a whole. “Today marks the greatest day in the history of our world, and each one of us had a hand in seeing it through to fruition! Excelsior my brothers and sisters!”

    The applause thundered against the walls of the theater, the sound an added insult to the great injury done to the planet as far as Kranix was concerned, and too much for him to stand any longer. The Lithomech rose to his feet and made his way through the other seated senators toward the exit. Wreck Gar noted his intended departure and began following him toward the door as well. Kranix finally reached the doorway, flanked by two guards who did nothing to oppose his exit, and threw the pair of large doors open into the hallway leading to the outside. At the mid-way point of the hallway, approaching the theater with great intensity was the human Ambassador Carly Witwicky being escorted by Skids. Skids caught sight of Kranix. “I just now got word of what the true purpose of this assembly was!”

    “I’m so sorry,” Kranix muttered to the newcomers, “you’re too late.”

    “So I hear.” Skids replied as he continued at a slightly slower pace toward the applause and cheering ahead of him.

    “There’s more.” At this point Skids and Carly had reached the doorway and Wreck Gar was standing next to Kranix, exchanging sad but friendly nods to the Autobot and human. “As I am sure that you are aware, your faction name as well as symbol are outlawed, along with those of the Decepticons. Those not deemed war criminals by the Senate will be allowed four hundred breems to renounce their faction name and remove their brand, taking on a new cultural identity or none at all.”

    “That’s more time than I thought was to be allocated.” Skids observed.

    “Yes, one small change to the plan,” Kranix replied, “but that’s not what I was referring to. Your outlaw status carries with it a ban to make or retain contact with any entity that can be construed as threatening to Cybertron’s security, or be in a relationship with an entity that would enable any outlaw individual or group to be in a position to threaten Cybertron in any way.”

    “No.” Carly snarled, her fury evident in her facial features.

    “I’m sorry, but yes, that includes the Autobot’s relationship with Earth.” Kranix clarified.

    “Well,” Carly’s rage remained on her face, though a cold edge was conveyed by her voice, “that narrows my options to one, the only one I really want to present to these bastards.” She looked up at Kranix and Wreck Gar. “The only downside to what I need to do is that I will genuinely miss the two of you.”

    Kranix was a little surprised at first, not aware of what she was referring to, but then seemed to understand. “And I will miss you as well, but I completely understand.”

    Carly marched into the theater and toward the front section, where Consul Custodex was waving and smiling to the other joyful senators. He caught sight of the human and a look of confusion and apprehension came over his facial features. He watched her ascend up the micromaster stairs and make her way toward him. “Ambassador Witwicky, what a pleasure. You’ve come at a historical moment for Cybertron.”

    “Yes, congratulations on your new constitution.” Carly replied. “I would like to contribute to this bit of history if I could by addressing the Senate. My peers at the United Nations have prepared something for me to say.”

    Custodex was very nervous, not that the humans would be taking an active interest in these events, but that this woman, who had just lost her warrior husband hours before, was the one sent to address them. “Certainly you are entitled to some personal time before carrying on your duties.”

    “Thank you for your concern,” Carly replied, barely a hint of sarcasm in her courteous voice, “but I assure you that I am quite able and comfortable delivering this message.”

    Custodex’s face clearly displayed the anxiety that he held. “I see. I beg that you and your superiors take time to reconsider the mistake I fear that you are about to make.”

    Carly tilted her head lightly and offered a smile. “I’m afraid that the decision has already been made. I was given a few different addresses, one for each possible outcome to this vote. I’m merely conveying the well thought out message that the United Nations put together for this eventuality, a message that every member nation agreed upon.” The woman shrugged. “Who am I to argue with the unanimous wishes of the entire United Nations assembly?” Carly turned to face the now silent senators, all of whom had been watching her and Custodex intently. The Ambassador gave them all a warm smile before finally addressing them. “Hello, I stand before you once again to convey greetings and to congratulate you on your new legal government on behalf of the United Nations of Earth, and to relay our official reaction to it.”

    The robots watched her intently and with varying degrees of apprehension. The humans were unabashed allies of the Autobots, and had gone out of their way to make that clear to this Senate. The appointment of this woman as Earth’s ambassador was clear evidence of it; she being present to deliver this message in the wake of her tremendous personal tragedy seemed to be even clearer evidence of that, and a likely hint as to the content of the message to be delivered. The vast majority of the assembled senators didn’t particularly care for humans, but the fossil fuel resources of Earth had been critical in bringing the famine to an end and were seen as essential for Cybertron moving forward, at least until their large scale conservation plans could take effect or a new source of energy could be found.

    Carly scanned the entire theater with her red and puffy eyes before continuing. “Earth has valued its relationship with non-Decepticon Cybertronians since shortly after our contentious first contact with your species the better part of two of our decades ago, and we had been looking forward to an enduring friendship that would be mutually beneficial, allowing both worlds to grow together for countless vorns to come. But the Cybertron we envisioned this enduring relationship with was one that possessed the Autobots. I do not wish to be dismissive of any race or faction, but it has continually been the Autobots that have gone out of their way to see to our protection, our improved quality of life, our enlightenment, and that our influence on Cybertron extended beyond merely our fossil fuel resources.”

    “Ambassador, please,” Co-Consul Saloria stood up and courteously addressed the human woman, but her interruption was interrupted as well by the sudden sound of the double doors that Carly and Skids had arrived through being pushed open. A moment later, Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Blaster, Jetfire, Hot Rod, Jazz and Goldbug made their way to the side of the audience section of the theater, causing many a hushed utterance from the seated senators. They stopped and remained standing, their optics all fixed on their friend and widow of their fallen brother, giving her supportive looks and slight nods of encouragement. Carly smiled warmly at them as a tear streaked down her cheek and dripped from her jaw to the floor. Saloria watched the show of devotion between the now-outlawed robots and the human woman, for whom she was just now beginning to appreciate the amount of emotional pain she was enduring and the level of strength to overcome it and be here. None the less, Saloria had a duty to her world to do whatever she could to act on its behalf. “We are well aware of your amity toward the Autobots, and we respect your relationship with them, but please do not sever ties with our planet because of legitimate concerns we have with them, or the measures that are necessary to ensure our safety and sovereignty.”

    The woman’s head snapped away from the Autobot newcomers and lost the affection that had been on display. “With all due respect Consul Saloria, both my superiors and myself find the legitimacy of these concerns to be very suspect,” Carly replied respectfully but with a clear edge in her now slightly-quivering voice, “and these measures that you claim to be necessary, we find to be completely unacceptable. This safety and sovereignty that you just now are able to enjoy has been purchased for you with Autobot sparks…” Carly choked slightly as her eyes shifted over to those of Hot Rod and then Optimus Prime, but after just a moment she turned back to Saloria and continued, “and human blood. Every faction represented here has suffered unimaginable losses, but with the exception of the Junkions and a handful of individuals from other factions, only the Autobots have put themselves in harm’s way on a grand scale for the benefit of others, on Cybertron, Earth and Nebulon. This is not to be construed as a judgment of, or insult to any faction, but to punish the Autobots for such a tremendous sacrifice is…” Carly was losing ground to her rage with each passing syllable, but she kept it together, despite the angry tears forming in her eyes and the hint of her voice breaking as she addressed the metal aliens listening to her, “reprehensible.”

    “Perhaps we should be dealing with a member of your species less emotionally involved in or blatantly biased toward the Autobots.” Consul Custodex arrogantly and dismissively suggested as he stepped forward in an attempt to calm the other senators.

    “A fair recommendation and one I made to my superiors when I was offered this position and which I’ve repeated to them several times. But they’ve insisted I’m the human for the job, and as for the news I’m about to covey,” Carly shrugged, “I’m just the messenger. So I’m afraid that you’re stuck with both me, and this decision.” She then looked back toward the Senate, a hard look coming over her face. “We, the sovereign nations of Earth, stand united in our decision to take the necessary measure of severing all ties with Cybertron until such time as the Autobots are equal and recognized citizens of Cybertron, entitled to all rights, freedoms and privileges provided by such citizenship. Until that time…” she turned and glared with unconcealed hatred at Custodex, “lose our number.”

    Custodex returned the glare with unrestrained disdain of his own. “So be it. We will have little difficulty making do without your crude. Enjoy returning to your primitive existence, live out your days with the limited technology that your species has managed to develop on its own as it rapidly contaminates and eventually destroys your own world.”

    “Enough!” Prime roared as he marched toward the stage. “You will conduct yourself in a manner befitting a Consul of the Cybertronian Senate, and you will apologize to the Human Ambassador for your disrespect and childish insults! Do it now, and see that such regrettable behavior is never repeated!”

    “How dare you?” Custodex roared back. “Who are you to bark at the Consul of the Cybertronian Senate, the ranking leader of this planet?”

    “You lead nothing until I grant you that power.” Prime calmly but very authoritatively replied as he climbed the steps and stood in front of Custodex, glaring optic to optic with the politician whose demeanor went from rage to worry.

    Custodex stared anxiously into Prime’s optics as he stammered out his response. “I…I…I thought…” A hard look came over the Co-Consul. “So you plan to usurp the civilian government that you vowed to see to the creation of. I feel foolish for having ever believed you capable of integrity and honesty; that you would ever be willing to submit to anything other than your own base and destructive desires!”

    “Silence!” Prime commanded. “I’m not here to usurp anything. If you had possessed the courage to remain with the old senate in the days immediately preceding its final collapse, you would have been present for Sentinel Prime being summoned and granted the position of Magister Populi until such time as the defeat of the Decepticons or the creation of a peace with them, a position that was passed on with the Matrix to Orion Pax, who the Matrix and burden of leadership transformed into Optimus Prime. I am not just the military leader of the Autobots, I am Magister Populi of Cybertron, the legal ruler of this planet and have been since the day I became Prime.”

    Custodex was thrown by the announcement, but only momentarily. “Provided this is true, which I do intend to verify, it is merely semantics. A pathetic attempt to justify a military coup!” The Consul looked down at the human Ambassador before returning his gaze to Prime. “Nothing more than a Caesar!”

    Prime mirthlessly released a chuckle. “No, not a Caesar;” Prime looked affectionately at Carly before returning his gaze to Custodex and continuing, “a Cincinnatus.” Prime noted the surprised displayed by Custodex’s wide, bright optics. “Sorry, I lack the symbolic fasces to hand over to you, but the power that they would represent will be transferred to this governing body today none the less. I just have not done it yet, nor will I until you swallow that staggering ego of yours and do the right thing by apologizing to Ambassador Witwicky for your childish insult.” With that Optimus Prime stepped away from Custodex and gestured for him to comply with his previous command.

    Custodex stared at Prime in disbelief for a few moments before slowly twisting his head down toward the human woman, and after several more moments, swallowed his pride and forced himself to humbly ask forgiveness. “Ambassador Witwicky, my previous comments regarding your world were regrettable, untrue, and said in anger.”

    “Save it!” Carly replied shortly.

    Custodex nodded and turned back to Optimus, who met the gaze and nodded before turning to address the Senate, raising his right hand as he did so. “Let the record show that on this day, I, Optimus Prime, Military Commander of the Autobots and Magister Populi of Cybertron, stand before this noble assembly of elected senators and recognize this governing body as the ruling Senate of the sovereign planet of Cybertron, relinquishing the role of Magister Populi that was lawfully bestowed upon Sentinel Prime and passed on to me by right of chosen succession. May Primus look upon you favorably and guide you in your stewardship of Cybertron.” Prime lowered his hand. “With that out of the way, I would also like to formally renounce my citizenship of this planet. I will acknowledge this government, but I will not renounce my Autobot heritage, nor will I live under clearly unjust and non-amendable rules set forth in a hastily agreed upon document by ill-informed administrators drawn together under false pretenses. Those Autobots willing to drop their Autobot designation and symbol are welcome to do so, and will face no opposition or recriminations of any kind from me, nor will I tolerate opposition or recriminations toward them from anyone. Those unwilling to abandon being Autobots are welcome to leave with me.”

    “All fine and good, Optimus Prime,” Custodex interjected, “as long as you realize that you are forbidden from relocating to Earth, or any location that could be seen as a threat to Cybertron or this governmental body.”

    Prime glared at Custodex. “We’re the ones that have, after many sacrifices, eliminated that vast majority of threats to Cybertron. And if I wanted to pose a threat to this governmental body, I wouldn’t need to travel to Earth to do so.” Prime then looked directly into the midst of the senate body. “And as I am no longer a citizen of Cybertron, I am not bound by your laws.” Prime looked sadly at Carly before continuing. “But I will not make Earth a target by making it the home of the Autobots. There are enemies of ours that remain unaccounted for, as well as the potential of Cybertron targeting us in the future for any number of reasons. History is replete with ambitious individuals attaining power, who despite the good intentions of the founders of the society they belong to, manage to turn that society into an aggressor. Custodex seeks to remove the warriors from Cybertron, failing to realize that aggressors will spring up again on this planet, and his short-sightedness has all but assured that the means to keep these aggressors subdued will not be in place.”

    “I am pleased to hear that you will not be making Earth your home.” Custodex pressed. “But our laws, whether you recognize them or not, forbid you from making contact with that world.”

    Prime turned again to the Co-Consul. “Well then, Consul, if at any point you feel that your laws have been violated, then by all means,” Prime turned his body so that he was squarely in front of the glowing and nervous Custodex, punctuating his challenge by folding his arms and glaring with extreme intensity into the Consul’s optics, “come and enforce them.”

    “Prime?” Blaster hesitantly stepped forward. “Believe me, I really don’t want to interrupt what might result in Custodex being planted in the floor, but you need to hear this. I’ve got an incoming message, verified that it’s legit, and directed them to this location. I’m transferring the call to you now.”

    Prime nodded and touched his outer helmet as the call came in. “Prime here.” Prime’s optics blazed a bright blue as what he heard stunned him. “No, just come in!” Prime then looked toward the door that they had all come in from and those standing in proximity to it. “Move away from that entrance and clear a path, now!” The Autobots that accompanied Prime turned and made sure that anyone in that general area was dispersed.

    “Your authority does not exist here, Outlaw!” Custodex snarled, but was ignored.

    “Optimus, what is it?” Carly called up to the Autobot leader. Prime looked down at her and stared at her, despite the majority of his facial features being obscured by his faceplate, the woman could recognize what seemed to be a mixture of elation and confusion. The Autobot clearly wanted to say something to her, but this seemed to be a rare case of Optimus Prime being unable to articulate what needed to be said. “Prime?”

    The sound of the doors being thrown open echoed through the theater, those assembled now stunned into silent anticipation. A moment later a motley combination of humans, micromasters, and full-sized Cybertronians hobbled their way into the chamber, leading the group was Spike Witwicky, his armor removed, much of his face covered in his own dried blood from the deep gash cut through his left cheek, over his left eye and into his forehead, blood soaked and mostly dried into the T-shirt and dungarees he was now wearing, and clutching tightly in his fist were chains linked to numerous dog-tags dangling several inches below his grip. The weary group marched in front of the senators, all displaying varying looks of discontent, but the rage possessed by Spike seemed nearly palpable as he glared heatedly at a few senators and then toward Co-Consul Custodex. His rage increased as he marched toward the stage glaring at the planet’s ranking politician, but he then caught site of his wife, a look of absolute shock on her now pale and wide-eyed face, the lips of her open mouth trembling as shallow breaths entered in tiny rapid gasps and then out in tiny, equally rapid gasps, and the rage in Spike’s eyes vanished and were immediately replaced by unrestrained elation.

    It was too much. Carly could not allow herself to believe what she was seeing. It had taken every ounce of strength in her being to force her body out of her home on Earth, away from her now-fatherless son, into a shuttle to a far away planet that the only man that she’d ever loved had fought for and died on, his body likely never to be recovered and brought home, to face the cowards who sat back as he sacrificed himself and his comrades for them, rewarding his valor with spite and insults, and their comrades with banishment. The only thing that had kept her going was rage at these cowards and the desire to issue Earth’s response to their cowardice personally. Fury had kept her going, but that fury had abandoned her as she looked upon the bloodied and battered face of her husband, still very much alive. Her composure, which had been faltering even before his entrance, was completely gone, a sob bursting forth from her quivering lips as she forced her fingers to release the miniature podium that she had been leaning on. A whimper as she directed her wobbly legs to step around the podium and start moving toward her husband, who she still could not allow herself to believe had survived, despite him being right in front of her.

    Spike’s body, though extremely battered and sore, was far more responsive, and he darted toward the standard Cybertronian stairs alongside the stage, easily scampering up all six of the three and a half-foot high steps and sprinting across the stage to his stunned wife, catching her just as she completely broke down. Carly buried her face into his shoulder and gave up all attempts to retain composure and let loose with unrestrained sobbing as she clutched her husband tightly and with the intent, at that moment anyway, to never let him go. Spike squeezed back, kissing the top of her head as he let her ride out the maelstrom of emotions coursing through her convulsing body, holding her securely against him, silently reassuring her that he was still with her, and wordlessly promising that he would not be leaving her again. Whether he would be able to keep this promise in the future, no one could know, but for right now it was what Carly needed. After several minutes of the woman crying into her husband’s chest and shoulder, Carly finally pulled her head back and peered up into Spike’s eyes. “Ha…ha…How?”

    Spike displayed a sad smile. “Maximus. He sacrificed himself to save us. He promised I would be there for the birth of our child.” Spike’s eyes grew wide as he suddenly made a realization, kissed his wife gently on the lips and slid down to his knees and began to gently kiss her abdomen. “Hello little one, I never thought I’d get the chance to tell you I love you in person, but now that I have, I’ll be doing it every day for the rest of my life. I promise.”

    Carly smiled over a whimper and pulled her husband’s face back up to hers. “I love you.” She managed to get out as she peered up at him and gently touched the skin around the slash across his face.

    Spike gave off a smile at seeing Carly’s look of concern at the wound. “Yeah, sorry honey, I’m even uglier now.”

    Carly gently slapped his chest. “Shut up. Don’t joke about this! If you had any idea of what I’ve been…”

    “I know, and I’m sorry.” Spike pulled her in to a tight embrace, closing his eyes for a moment before opening them and glancing up to the robot standing on the stage behind his wife. The look of serene happiness faded as an angry scowl came over his face, and he gently whispered to his wife. “Have you said what you need to say to the senators?”

    “Yes,” Carly replied, looking up at his face and seeing that his heated gaze was fixed on something behind her, something tall and evoking her husband’s rage, “they cut off the Autobots, so we cut of Cybertron.”

    “Good.” Spike muttered as he gently guided his wife toward the stairs, specifically the micromaster staircase next to the Cybertronian standard ones. “Go wait by Prime, I’ll be with you in a few.” Carly didn’t want to leave her husband’s side, but at the same time, given what he’d just been through and what they had all lost, she would never stand in the way of him tearing into the Co-Consul and the other cowards that had spat on their sacrifice, even if she had wanted to, which was the furthest thing from what she wanted. She pecked Spike on his less gore-covered right cheek and headed toward the stairway, her own pantsuit now stained in several places with her husband’s blood. Spike turned back and continued his glare at Custodex.

    “Congratulations on surviving the battle, Captain Witwicky.” Custodex offered condescendingly.

    “Shut your hole you opportunistic coward!” Spike snarled.

    “I will not bear any more insults from murderous war-mongers!” Custodex roared at the small carbon-based life form. “I am the High Consul of the Cybertronian Senate!”

    “Yes, enjoy the title you bought through lies and other unethical means using the currency of the snuffed sparks and spilled blood of those willing to fight the evil that you would bury your head in the sand against!” Spike roared back. “Airing smear campaigns constructed of creatively edited footage and false context just to punish those protecting the innocent for the advancement of your misguided campaign of unfettered non-violence! Peace is a noble cause to strive for, but the only means you propose would be to lie down and die!”

    “I’ve aired nothing but the truth;” Custodex bellowed his counter, “unedited, in its entirety, and all in the proper context.”

    Spike turned and looked to Kranix, who was currently allowing Custodex’s biographer Chroniclax access to his recent memories via jack. Chroniclax and Kranix both turned to Spike and gave him a knowing nod. Spike returned the nod and looked back up at the Co-Consul. “Let’s put that assertion to the test, shall we?”

    Custodex bore a look of confusion, but only momentarily as he turned and smiled at his biographer. “I am pleased beyond measure that you managed to make it out of the kill zone alive, Chroniclax. You, and not these savages, are a true hero of Cybertron. Your footage was essential in cementing the approval of our constitution.”

    Chroniclax displayed a mild wince at the last statement as he headed toward the steps and up onto the stage. “I still live because of these so-called savages.”

    Custodex noticed a change in his subordinate’s typical manner when addressing him, but chose to ignore it for now. “Then I suppose that I do owe you a bit of thanks for bringing my trusted Chroniclax back to me alive and in one piece, Captain Witwicky.”

    “You may want to hold your appreciation until later.” Spike replied as Chroniclax stopped next to him.

    “Sir, per your orders, I recorded all that transpired in the pass south of Cybertropolis, and would like to replay several unedited segments for the governing body now.” Chroniclax stated.

    “My friend, I assure you that that is no longer necessary.” Custodex answered, slowly realizing that his formerly loyal biographer may have been swayed by the humans and Autobots.

    “Sir, it is important that a full accounting of what transpired be made available to the Senate, and to all Cybertron as well.” Chroniclax replied.

    “No!” Custodex insisted, but calmed as he continued. “The recording has served its purpose. As Co-Consul, I deny your request to make public your recording.”

    “Co-Consul Custodex,” Saloria called out questioningly as she stepped forward toward the stage “I would like to see the recording Chroniclax risked his life to acquire. Perhaps some…raw and untouched footage might provide us with a new perspective on things. It certainly couldn’t hurt.”

    “To what end would such a viewing serve?” The suddenly defensive Custodex snapped. “The Pax Cybertronia has been passed, including the non-amendable pillars of our legal system! This viewing can serve no purpose!”

    “It can serve as a possible lesson, as well as to quench my own curiosity.” Saloria replied. “Honestly Custodex, I do not see any problem with the airing of such footage.”

    Spike turned and looked up at Chroniclax. “Do it.” With that, Chroniclax jacked into the podium that Saloria had been standing behind earlier in the session, and the screen above the stage glowed to life. For the next half hour, clips of Spike’s suggesting that the rescue workers use Chroniclax’s shuttle to evacuate, his addressing of his troops prior to the battle, Halpin’s sacrifice to save the rescue party stragglers and the survivors they had found, Spike’s attempt to save Halpin and Amicus, the protective wall created by the ammunition-depleted Wolves to protect the rescue party while Maximus engaged the enormous space craft, Maximus’s desperate rush back to them and transformation to provide them protection at the expense of his own chance to escape to a safe distance, the miracle of his disembodied spark flying past them, the arrival of Hot Spot to transport them through the radiation to Omega Supreme’s rocket section where First Aid was waiting to administer medical care, and Spike’s insistence that he be the last to be transported and looked after medically.

    “Well, clearly my trusted biographer has been unduly influenced by the Autobots.” Custodex announced as the images faded. “Perhaps he has sustained an injury that has made him susceptible to their suggestions.”

    “Go to hell you bastard!” Carly roared at Custodex as she charged back up the micromaster staircase with the intent to attack the giant robot. She made her way across the stage, but was physically stopped by her husband, grabbing her shoulders to stop her and turning her gently to face him. She twisted toward him, initially annoyed at being stopped, but at locking eyes with his she began weeping again and clutched him tight. “Oh Spike, I’m so sorry! I knew it was bad…” she whimpered “but I couldn’t have imagined!”

    “It’s fine, I’m here with you now.” Spike reassured his wife, trying to comfort her against the torment of seeing the hell he and his comrades had gone through just hours before.

    “I have not been influenced, nor have I been injured, and I will be willing to submit to a medical examination to confirm these claims.” Chroniclax responded loudly to Custodex’s suggestion. “I just witnessed firsthand words and deeds that ran contrary to the dogma that I have been spoon-fed since I was brought on line.”

    Murmurs, which had started mid-way through the showing of Chroniclax’s documentary footage, grew louder throughout the senators at Chroniclax’s suggestion of Custodex’s willingness to misrepresent. Looks of shock and growing regret came over the faces of the senators, particularly that of Saloria. She looked up; her facial features displaying what could almost be construed as panic. “Chroniclax, I would like to ask you a question.” The Femme delivered her Co-Consul a hard look before continuing with his biographer. “Are you aware of any evidence to suggest that Senator Kranix has been involved in illicit dealings with the Autobots in any manner?”

    “I protest your questioning of my staff without my permission!” Custodex snarled.

    “You accused a senator of criminal activity and provided no evidence to support your accusation.” Saloria replied, a look of anger coming over her. “I most definitely am not acting out of line in asking your trusted biographer what he knows regarding the matter.”

    “I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing on the part of Senator Kranix.” Chroniclax answered Saloria’s question. “On numerous occasions Consul Custodex has expressed disappointment, displeasure and outright animosity toward the Lithomech Senator due to his perceived friendship with the Autobots, and while news of any untoward collusion between the Senator and Autobots would have been very welcome, none has come to my attention.”

    Gasps filled the entire chamber and whispered recriminations directed inwardly as well as toward Custodex could be heard, and Saloria paused before following up. “If such evidence existed, and Custodex had it in his possession or was aware of it, what would the likelihood of him not making it known to you be?”

    “I cannot say for sure, Consul Saloria,” Chroniclax answered respectfully, “but given what I have been privy to, it would be more than likely that I would have not only been made aware, but acted as backup storage for the evidence.”

    “You overestimate your worth!” Custodex growled out at his once trusted subordinate. “I could sense your weakness, and wisely chose not to share everything with you.”

    “Enough!” The now clearly angry Saloria barked. “You will have an opportunity, no, an obligation to present such evidence. Until you do, Kranix is to be regarded as completely guilt free! I will tolerate no words or actions suggesting his guilt until Custodex is ready to back up his allegations.” The Femme glared at her Co-Consul. “And you had better have something to back them up.”

    Custodex glared back, and then scanned the audience of senators, most of whom displaying varying looks of disapproval at him. “I’ve done what needed to be done here. The Pax has been ratified, the laws that many of you are foolishly now regretting cannot be repealed without undoing all the progress that we’ve made here, and in time we will have the Utopia that the Oracle promised us, you’ll all see!” With that, Custodex marched off the stage and out of the building.

    The room remained silent for nearly a minute before Optimus Prime finally broke the silence. “Well, it looks like I’ve got some packing and planning to do, so I, and any other Autobots planning on remaining Autobots, should roll out.”

    “Optimus Prime, wait!” Amicus, the leader of the rescue team who had accompanied Spike, Cerebro and the others, raised his hand to protest the Autobot Commander’s departure. “My name is Amicus, and I downloaded the Pax Cybertronia on our way here. I was the one that related the fine points to Captain Witwicky.”

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you Amicus, what is it that I can do for you.” Prime replied, not sure as to what this micromaster could possibly add to change the situation they faced.

    “Your faction name and brand have been outlawed,” the small robot explained, “but your ideals, your values, and all that you stand for have not been. There are micromasters across the planet that may have been designed to be Autobots, Incindermechs, Excavitons, and so on, but we have little in common with the larger members of the factions we’ve been born into. We’ve already kind of formed a cultural identity of our own, though informally. Now is the time for us to formally come together and emerge as something new. Our values and goals will mirror yours, and the name I have chosen for us will honor one of your most valiant members,” the micromaster then turned and peered at Spike, “and the symbol I have chosen for us will honor the brave alien friends that fought with exceptional honor and bravery to see that we could live. I announce the formation of the Maximal faction,” bright lights emanated from Amicus’s chest and created a shape against the wall, the shape of the Cyberwolf tattoo, “and this will be our symbol.” Amicus cut the light show and turned once again to Optimus Prime. “And it would be our great honor if you and any other Autobots would accept membership, and in many cases, leadership positions in our faction.”

    Prime looked down on the human-sized robot and pondered the offer for a moment before responding. “That is a generous offer, Amicus, and one that I will definitely be taking under advisement. But for right now, I must address the Autobots and let them know what has transpired here.”


    ***


    “You wished to see me Elita?” Arcee asked as she tentatively entered the office, one with cracked walls in a lower floor of the now-condemned central Spire of Iacon. All the spires, including virtually all of central Iacon, had been condemned as of that morning. The battle that had sunk the central section of Cybertron’s most prestigious city-state had only occurred the day before, but the damage was such that even the structures that had miraculously remained standing were deemed uninhabitable and would likely need to be torn down in the coming months. The only individuals permitted in the area were search and rescue and Autobot high command there to retrieve what they felt was worth taking with them in their exodus from Cybertron. Nearly all Autobots living out as civilians had immediately accepted Amicus’s offer for citizenship in the new Maximal faction, but very few of those that had been serving Optimus Prime and Elita One in military capacities were willing to discard their Autobot identities, even for a group that seemed to be completely parallel in nearly every way. It was a matter of pride for the soldiers, and with only a day and a half left before the opportunity to change cultural identities and remain on their home world passed forever, Arcee was with the majority of her peers in the intent to remain an Autobot and leave the planet.

    “Thanks for coming, Arcee.” Optimus Prime said as he stood up from a computer terminal and stepped toward the center of the room.

    “Oh, Optimus Prime, I didn’t know that you would…” Arcee then noticed another form behind Prime. “Saloria? What are you doing here?”

    “Hello Arcee.” Consul Saloria addressed Arcee with unrestrained affection. “I came to discuss a proposal with Optimus Prime and Elita One, a proposal that concerns you.”

    Arcee watched as Optimus and Elita positioned themselves on either side of Saloria, and responded with uncertainty in her voice. “Oh, and what proposal is that?”

    “We want you to remain on Cybertron.” Saloria blurted out.

    Arcee’s optics narrowed. “Well repeal that insane legislation that you helped Custodex push into law.”

    “Unfortunately that’s not possible.” Saloria replied.

    “News of a viable central government with an agreed upon set of laws, regardless of the flaws in the system, was met by near-universal celebration across the planet.” Elita One elaborated. “Dissolving this constitution would require a unanimous vote, to which Custodex, Kandiga and numerous other senators have made clear would not be happening as long as they’re in office. And even if you were to change the mind of these senators, the dissolving of the constitution equates to dissolution of the government, and such a prospect has been met by panicked opposition by the populace.”

    “General sentiment is that they don’t want us to be expelled from the planet,” Prime added, “but nobody is willing to revert back to a state of lawlessness, regardless of how temporary, to see that we can stay.”

    “Perhaps in a vorn or two the public will be more at ease with our planetary stability and open to change at that time.” Saloria suggested.

    “In a vorn or two the bureaucracy and all the entities and organizations leaching off of it will be too firmly entrenched to ever agree to a complete governmental overhaul. The system is based in large part on that of the Americans, and while as a whole it’s a good system of government, it’s also a system where term limits are only approved by those such limits would adversely effect, or the outlawing of lobbyists to be done only by those receiving the bribes, and other blatant conflicts of interest and opportunities for corruption; all of which I have no reason to believe will not occur with this governmental body as well.” The younger robot turned to leave. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some packing to do.”

    “Arcee, wait.” Elita One addressed Arcee.

    Arcee halted, but remained facing the doorway. “I know what you’re about to ask; please, ask it of someone else. Please.”

    “There is no one else Arcee.” Optimus Prime said softly. “Custodex’s public image has taken a hit in light of some of yesterday’s revelations, but he’s still got a tremendous amount of support throughout the planet. Any other former Autobot officer will be met with tremendous resistance and will be unlikely to attain any degree of significant political influence.”

    “But you were a member of the New Harbornian High Council, and your term as Autobot Femme Commander during my comatose state was off the books; there is no record of you being the ranking Autobot Femme military leader.” Elita One added. “A clerical oversight during a chaotic and disorganized time, but one that works to our advantage.”

    “And the planet is well aware of my influence on your formative vorns,” Saloria added, “despite the philosophical differences that have come between us in the last vorn.”

    “Please,” Arcee pleaded “there must be someone else that you can ask.” She turned to face the three robots that were asking her to do the unthinkable. “What about Skids? He’s a legally elected senator.”

    “Of a city-state that will be condemned, voted in by and for a group that will no longer be legally recognized as of tomorrow evening.” Prime replied in an even tone tinged with sadness. “And he lacks the non-Autobot military job history that is on your resume. Plus, while I possess a great deal of respect for Skids, he is not the leader or fighter that you are.” Prime paused a moment before continuing. “Perhaps there are others, but you are our best candidate by a wide margin for a great many reasons. Ultimately though, the choice is entirely yours.”

    Arcee remained quiet with her back to them for a moment before addressing them. “Choice? Do my duty by disgracing myself and renouncing my heritage, or act selfishly and wear my Autobrand proudly, leave with my comrades, remain in contact with my human godchild, remain in contact with his parents, two of my closest friends, and watch them bring another ba…” Arcee spun around and looked with panicked optics at Elita One. “I’ll never see the baby?”

    Elita One and Optimus Prime both looked down sadly as Elita One muttered the answer. “No, not as long as Earth maintains its diplomatic break from Cybertron.”

    “You can’t…” Arcee murmured.

    “And we won’t.” Prime replied. “It was unfair of us to ask such a thing of you Arcee. We’ll find another way. I apologize for even suggesting this impossible burden.”

    “But…” Saloria questioned Prime’s sudden dropping of the request.

    “We’re done here.” Elita One said to the Co-Consul of Cybertron as Arcee lowered her gaze and stared at the floor pondering what had just happened. “You may wish to say good-bye, Saloria. Arcee will be leaving with us.”

    Prime and Elita One walked toward the door, Prime placing his hand on Arcee’s shoulder and giving an affectionate squeeze as he passed her. Arcee raised her optics and met the emotion-filled optics of her mother-figure. She loved Saloria, but could not overlook her faults; not anymore. Saloria had a good spark, and meant well, but she had failed to see Custodex for what he was until the previous day, despite obvious indicators being thrown up in front of her for years. And if she had recognized these indicators, then she lacked the strength to address them to herself, Custodex, or the Senate, and such an individual could not be the ranking member of Cybertron should Custodex’s popularity deservedly wane. And if Custodex regained his standing, then Saloria would undoubtedly lack the strength to effectively oppose him. Cybertron needed a strong leadership to herald them through this era of peace, something alien to all but a handful on this planet. The Autobots needed a presence on Cybertron. Arcee allowed herself one quick sob before calling out. “Elita, Optimus, wait!”


    ***


    “Yeah, as if that slag pile Custodex’s opposition wasn’t enough, we now have this new faction of Decepticon-wannabe’s insisting that any attempt to alter the Pax Cybertronia will be met with all legal resistance.” Jazz explained to Spike as they made their way through the hallway of the medical facility on the outskirts of Iacon.

    “When and where did these ‘Predacons’ spring up, anyway?” Spike, a still healing scabbed up gash spread across his upper face, asked angrily.

    “Three weeks ago; the day after the ratification of the Pax.” Jazz replied. “Three micro’s send out a planet-wide announcement that they’ve started a new faction and offered membership to all Decepticons not deemed to be war criminals. No doubt a direct response to Amicus’s invitation for all Autobots to join the Maximals.”

    “Cybertronians emulating Decepticons?” Spike muttered disbelievingly. “Who would join such a group?”

    “Newborns rebelling against Custodex’s overly peaceful dogma by romanticizing a warrior culture that they don’t fully understand.” Jazz replied. “Kind of like humans looking at Vikings as great and noble warriors, when in reality they were just thieves and rapists that targeted unarmed civilians and clergy.”

    “Not a good analogy, for a great many reasons.” Spike grumbled as they turned a corner and continued on. “Who are these micro founding fathers of the Decepti-lite faction anyway?”

    “Unknown. They bear no physical resemblance to any Cybertronian in our databanks, and since day two of the Anno Pax Cybertronia era, the renunciation deadline, we’ve lost any authority to demand they submit to spark-scan.” Jazz explained. “They call themselves the Tri-Predacus Council. The one issuing the announcement and invitation, which was pretty much accepted immediately by every ‘Con in custody, was green and white and gave the name Cicadacon.”

    “Cicadacon?” Spike questioned. “Does he change into a bug?”

    “Not from what I can tell,” Jazz replied, “but their frames seem to have the nanite tech integrated into them, so it’s possible he’ll be able to with a DNA scan and some alterations.”

    “Great. And the others?” Spike asked.

    “Both were mostly dark purple or brown. The really, really ugly one called himself Ramhorn.” Jazz watched Spike turn and stare disbelievingly at the Autobot. “Yeah, not sitting well with us either. Blaster had to be restrained by Prime and talked out of hunting the runt down and squashing him.”

    “This just gets more and more friggin’ ridiculous!” Spike growled.

    “The slightly less ugly one called himself Sea Clamp.” Jazz continued.

    “I can’t find an issue with the name, but I’m sure he’s a prick too.” Spike snarled as the two of them slowed upon drawing near a red robot sitting on the ground outside a door. Spike stopped at seeing the robot and his anger instantly melted away and laughter erupted from him. “Take a look at this slaggin’ guy! What’s up Red?”

    The predominantly red robot turned his head and peered at the newcomers with his brightly shining blue optics, a broad smile spreading across his face. “Not much. What’s up with you, Scar?”

    “The name works for me!” Spike replied as he resumed walking toward the robot, a broad smile on his face as well. “Chicks dig scars.”

    “What?” The robot, Sideswipe, replied with mock surprise. “Then why in the pit do I keep getting repaired?”

    “Because with the way you live, you’d be nothing more than a sparking, broken down lawnmower in a matter of days if you ever stopped visiting the repair bay.” Jazz replied mirthfully.

    “So what’s with the paintjob?” Spike asked.

    Sideswipe shrugged. “Just came to accept Sunstreaker was gone, and that the slagger I let myself become was not honoring him in any way. Plus, Streak would have liked me better the way I originally was, not as some brooding lunatic who gets off on torture. It’s not what he wanted for me, and it wasn’t what I ever wanted for myself.” The red Autobot cocked his head and grinned. “I guess it was just something I needed to do to work through Streak’s passing. A painful journey I needed to take just to go full circle. But the journey’s done.”

    “Your journey was painful for those around you too.” Jazz commented as he made a show of rubbing his cranial shell.

    Sideswipe looked down and nodded. “Yeah, I thought you said that was water under the bridge.”

    “It is,” Jazz chuckled, “I just like seeing you squirm. Besides, if Bluestreak can forgive you, then it’s the least me and the other guys can do.”

    “Yup, and if you don’t, I’ll just have to kick all your asses again.” Sideswipe joked, but offered his hands up conciliatorily at seeing that Jazz didn’t find the comment nearly as humorous as he had hoped the predominantly white Autobot would. “OK, sorry, bad joke.”

    “What are you doing here anyway?” Spike asked, changing the subject.

    “The brass wanted me to undergo a few psyche evaluations while we still had access to the medical facilities.” Sideswipe replied.

    Spike turned and peered up at Jazz accusingly. Jazz shrugged and rolled the primary illuminator behind his optic screens. “He chopped himself up so that a suit he made of another Transformer would fit better. His reason for doing so was valid, but even the Dinobots were a little unnerved by the stunts this guy was pulling, so yes, some head-shrinking was in line.”

    Sideswipe offered Spike a grin letting him know that he didn’t mind the sessions. “Anyway, finished my final evaluation, got the all clear, and on my way out I heard that someone else was in another room and that the work being done on him should be completed soon, so I decided to wait. I’m guessing that’s what you guys are doing here now.”

    Spike nodded. “Yup. Any idea of when he’ll be done.”

    Sideswipe shrugged, but the door he was waiting next to slid open, revealing Bumblebee. “How about now.” The restored Bumblebee said as he stepped through, prompting Sideswipe to climb back up to his feet.

    “I was planning on giving you some company on the way to the taxis,” Sideswipe tapped Bumblebee on his shoulder, “but I guess you’ve already got that covered.”

    “We’ll put up with your company anyway.” Jazz joked as they all made their way back down the hall in the direction that Jazz and Spike had just come from. Several moments later they were exiting the facility and looking out a mile in the distance, where six large cargo freighters were being loaded with the possessions of the hundreds of Autobots intent on leaving their home world.

    “Our last day on Cybertron.” Bumblebee wistfully commented as he gazed upon the giant spacecrafts.

    “Oh, I’m sure we’ll be back at some point.” Sideswipe replied reassuringly. “These idiots will create some crisis for themselves, and then will need to call us to pull their surplus frame mass out of the fire. It’ll probably be less than ten vorns before we start getting urgent requests to come home.”

    “That’s ten of my lifetimes.” Spike replied sadly. “This will be my last day on Cybertron. It’ll be the last day Carly, Daniel and I get to see Arcee.”

    “Are they with her now?” Bumblebee asked, seeing Spike nod the affirmative response to the question.

    “I can’t believe she stopped being an Autobot.” Sideswipe muttered. “I mean, I know why she did it, I admire and am grateful to her for it. Femme’s got some bearings, no question about it; I doubt I’d have been able to join these runts and live amongst these Maximals.”

    “The Maximals are far and away the best of the factions remaining here,” Bumblebee responded, “and as they’ve incorporated pretty much every Autobot remaining on Cybertron and pulled hundreds from the other factions, it’s looking like they’ll be the ethnic majority on the planet.”

    “Whoopee.” Sideswipe grumbled but took on a more neutral disposition as he addressed the white officer. “So Jazz, you at liberty to say where we’ll be re-settling?”

    “First stop will be New Harbornia.” Jazz replied. “It’s developed and has a small but temporarily adequate level of energy resources. From there we’ll launch our campaign to find a more permanent home. At least, that’s the plan for now.”

    “So, anyone got any packing left to do?” Bumblebee asked hesitantly. The Autobots all looked at each other and shook their heads. “Darn, I really could have gone for doing anything other than heading toward the ships.”

    “Me too kid.” Jazz replied.


    (continued on next post)
     
  20. peteynorth

    peteynorth TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Posts:
    1,113
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Likes:
    +504
    Episode 62 (continued from previous post)


    It wasn’t nearly as nice as the home he had prior to the war, but it was far and away more luxurious than what he’d become accustomed to over the tens of thousands of vorns of war. Well, to be fair, Mirage mused as he gazed out over the Cybertropolis skyline from the exceptional view from his well furnished penthouse, most of those tens of thousands of vorns he’d spent off line. He then slowly gazed down at the Autobot symbol he held in his hand. He had requested that the surgeons return it to him when they cut it off his chest and replaced it with a Maximal brand, a keepsake to remind Mirage of the hardships he’d endured while doing his duty for his planet.

    Hardships? Yes, the term was fair. He and every Autobot he fought alongside had certainly endured more than their fair share of hardships. But as the days turned into weeks he found himself staring more and more at this keepsake. Yes, his vorns serving under Sentinel and then Optimus Prime had been difficult, but they had been extremely rewarding. By the time he found himself enlisting in Sentinel Prime’s army he had been stripped of nearly all of his vast wealth, but it wasn’t until he’d been a nearly possession-less grunt living in confined quarters with rank and file Autobots from every economic stratum that he finally felt some degree of worth.

    Mirage scanned the room, the largest of his new home, a home bought with the few but immensely valuable possessions he managed to stash and keep hidden prior to joining the Autobot army, and once again began the now-ritualistic reasoning of why he deserved to enjoy his life on Cybertron, how he had already paid his dues to the Autobots, and how he had nothing to be ashamed of for abandoning his Autobot name and brand for those of the Maximals. His more practical and self-serving thoughts kept stressed that this reasoning only needed to work on him a few more hours. The transports would be taking off soon, it was almost too late to catch them as it was, and once gone, the opportunity to change his mind would be gone for good.

    The blue and white Maximal, a Maximal now questioning his decision to become a Maximal, forced himself to once again marvel at the view outside the window, a view that would only be improving as the city-state grew. Not that it mattered, as by that point he’d have reacquired the wealth and social standing he had prior to the war, and would be living in a larger and better home. It wasn’t just a likely possibility, Mirage would be exceedingly successful; he had the touch when it came to sensing and capitalizing on financial opportunities. He would have the life he had been praying to return to for millions of years. Everything that he deserved to have, he would have. Everything would be just the way it was supposed to be. Life would be perfect.

    “Primus smelt it!” Mirage grumbled as he tapped the communicator on his wrist to summon his assistant, currently his only assistant, but he had been planning on acquiring many more as time went on. “Drudge, come in.”

    “Yes sir?” The voice came through.

    “The shuttle that I asked you to procure for me last week, have you taken possession of it yet.” The blue and white war hero asked.

    “Yes sir, it arrived this morning.” Drudge replied.

    “Is it fueled and ready?” Mirage asked.

    “Yes sir. Do you require me to take you somewhere?” The servant asked.

    “Yes Drudge.” Mirage answered, resigned to the course of action he was undertaking, and more than a little relieved as well.

    “Will you be taking anything with you for this trip?” Drudge asked.

    Mirage looked back down at the Autobrand in his grasp. “Yes, one thing, but I’ll have it on me.” Mirage ran his thumb over the ancient symbol. “I’ll have it on me for the rest of my life.” He muttered quietly.

    “I’m sorry sir, I did not catch that last part.” Drudge stated.

    ”Don’t worry, it was nothing.” Mirage answered as he stood up from his large, comfortable couch. “I’ll be down shortly and want to leave immediately.”

    “Yes sir.”


    *


    “So, will you be running for the Senate in the next election?” Elita One asked as she and Arcee walked toward the freighter that would be carrying the Autobots off of Cybertron.

    “I don’t think so.” Arcee replied as she looked sadly at the preparations for the exodus of her brothers and sisters. “It’s still fairly early, but it looks as though Cybertronian society won’t be coming together into one large faction as Custodex had hoped. As with before, it looks as though the factions will be segmenting into their own cultural regions, and instead of an all-powerful ruling body, the Cybertronian Senate will become more akin to the United Nations on Earth.” Arcee looked ahead and saw Carly waiting with Daniel. The robot smiled sadly at seeing them as she continued her conversation with Elita One. “As such, I’ll probably seek a position of power within the Maximal internal government, which the Maximal Senator will be answering to.”

    “Makes sense.” Elita replied and smiled as well at seeing the two humans. “Have the Maximals decided on a place to settle?”

    The question caused Arcee to chuckle. “Well, Amicus informed me of an informal census that was taken of the citizens of Cybertropolis a few days ago, and over eighty-seven percent identified themselves as already Maximal or intending to join the faction, so, provided those findings are accurate, looks like I’ll be doing some condo-hunting a few blocks from the Great Mother.”

    Elita let out a small laugh as well. “I’m sure Custodex will be thrilled to hear this.” She looked around and shook her head. “We never could have imagined a peaceful Cybertron just a quarter of a vorn ago, one where you would be living near Vector Sigma.”

    “No.” Arcee replied sadly. “And we never could have imagined a peaceful Cybertron where Autobots would be expelled for bringing about that peace.”

    “Which is why you’re staying.” Elita One replied with a degree of forced optimism in her voice. “To figure out a way for us to legally return.”

    The statement was to be taken lightly, but there was nothing light about the burden Arcee felt weighing down on her. But she did her best to push such concerns aside as they reached her human family, one that would soon be permanently separated from her. “It is wonderful to see you Carly,” the large, pink Maximal knelt down and gave a large smile to the little boy next to his mother, “and you too Daniel.”

    Daniel looked up at her, barely holding back tears. “Mommy says this will be the last time we see you.”

    Arcee peered sadly at the child silently for several seconds before forcing herself to gently nod and respond. “Yes my angel, I’m afraid your Mommy’s right about that.”

    “No!” Daniel demanded forcefully as the tears started coming out. “No! It’s not fair!”

    “You’re right Daniel,” Arcee gently replied, “it isn’t fair, but it’s still true.”

    “But why?” Daniel cried.

    Arcee shook her head. “I don’t know Daniel. It doesn’t make sense, but somehow it has happened.”

    The child ran to Arcee and tried to wrap his arms around her shin. “I don’t want to say good-bye.”

    “Neither do I, my spark, but we have to.” Arcee whispered to the child as she gently caressed his back with her right index finger.

    “Hello Arcee.” Spike called out as he, Jazz, Sideswipe and Bumblebee finally reached the other Witwicky’s and the two Femmes, kissing his wife on the cheek upon reaching her. “And hello to you Elita.”

    “Good to see you again Spike.” Elita replied with a smile. The good-bye’s were less painful between the humans and the Autobots, as though the Autobots would be leaving Earth, the prospect of them seeing each other again was still there. But for Arcee and any other Autobot-turned Maximal remaining on Cybertron, this was the final good-bye for the humans. Relations between the worlds might resume, but likely not in their lifetimes.

    Carly turned to the Autobots that had arrived with her husband, and gasped in surprise at seeing Bumblebee and Sideswipe. “Well it’s about time!”

    “What?” Bumblebee chuckled.

    “Does this reversion to your old duds mean that you’ve both worked through what you needed to work through?” Carly asked, but winced just before finishing her question at realizing the insensitivity of it.

    Fortunately neither Autobot seemed offended in the least. “The work is ongoing I guess,” Sideswipe replied with a genuine grin, “but we’re on the right track. Besides, for me it wasn’t a big deal, just a paint job and tossing in my old contact lenses. Bee here had to go through some major reconstructive surgery to go back to looking like a kid.”

    “Which is the point of most plastic surgery I guess.” Spike mused jokingly before turning to Elita One and taking a more serious tone. “By the way Elita One, I’ve already notified Optimus Prime of this, but the preparations have been completed with the moving of Metroplex. Omega Supreme and Sky Lynx just need the go ahead to move him into orbit and through the worm hole to New Harbornia.”

    “Thank you Spike.” Elita One answered, but her attention was drawn to something approaching them from behind Spike and the masculine Autobots. “Greetings Mirage.”

    The group of surprised Autobots and humans all turned to see the blue and white Maximal approaching them. Mirage merely nodded at them as he continued walking in their direction with the apparent intent of continuing on to the ships. “Hello Elita. You haven’t by any chance seen Perceptor, Wheeljack, Grapple, Hoist or anyone that’s good with welding tools, have you?”

    “Uh, no,” Elita replied, slightly taken aback by the unusual question, “but I’m sure they’re here somewhere. We’re leaving within the hour after all. Why do you need a welder?”

    “Mirage reached them but wasn’t slowing down as he held up his hand to display the Autobrand he was holding. “Need to reattach something.” He continued on past them, but twisted his torso back around to look at Arcee. “Oh yeah, hey Arcee,” the Autobot-turned-Maximal intending to turn back to Autobot tossed a datapad to the pink Maximal, “floor plan, list of possessions, account information and other stuff; it’s all yours. I’ve already set the security systems to recognize you as the owner. Your servant Drudge will fill you in on the rest.”

    Arcee caught the datapad, and stared dumbfounded at Mirage as he continued his search for someone competent to replace his Maximal brand with his original Autobrand. “What?”

    “Congratulations,” Carly said to Arcee, tears barely held within the confines of her eyes, but threatening to come pouring out, “I heard that Mirage has some pretty nice digs.”

    Spike saw the look of pain between his wife and Arcee. “Hey guys, I think the Ambassador has some final details to go over with this Maximal. Let’s give them a moment.” Spike took Daniel by the hand and led him away, with Elita One, Jazz, Sideswipe and Bumblebee following closely behind them.

    A few moments later Carly and Arcee were alone. “Did I ever tell you about the first time I met Spike’s family?” The human asked her pink friend, who shook her head that the story in question had never been relayed to her. “It was the first time Willia…Sparkplug swung by the Air Force Academy to visit Spike. Spike and I had been dating a few weeks, and while we were going kind of slow, I knew he was the one. So while I played it down, I was really looking forward to meeting Spike’s father. Of course I knew who Spike was, you couldn’t get away from the people always asking him what it was like growing up around the Autobots, was Grimlock really as big a bad ass as they thought, and so on; so you’d think I wouldn’t be surprised when, after sliding into the back seat of the blue minivan with Spike, I heard the dashboard say it was great to see Spike again and ask where we’d be eating.” Carly chuckled at the memory. “I nearly had a heart attack at hearing Skids. And Spike and William nearly rolled out their doors from laughing so hard at my reaction.”

    Arcee laughed. “Well it could have been worse. Could you imagine what Hot Rod would have said as you crawled into his backseat?”

    “Ugh, don’t get me started on him.” Carly groaned humorously. “Anyway, that was just the introduction to this crazy extended family of Spike’s. He knew these metal giants, was completely at ease with them, had no fear or awe at all in being around them, they were all just buddies he’d grown up with, and as much as both us of tried, I could never get comfortable around these god-like aliens. It was just too much for me to handle or accept, there was no way that I could ever be comfortable in this world of his. It came to a head that first summer when I was visiting him at Autobot City. He, Rod and Springer were brainstorming ideas on what practical joke to play on Kup when I’d had enough and stormed out of the hangar they were in. I was finished with it; that would be the last time I would go to Autobot City. That is,” Carly couldn’t help but let out a little weep, “that is until an exotic pink sports car with no driver pulled up beside me and asked if I’d like to go window shopping with her.” Both Carly and Arcee shared a sob, though only Carly released tears. “I count that as one of the few truly magical days of my life. I gained a sister that day,” more sobs, and then a weak smile exchanged between the two of them, “and learned to accept, and eventually embrace these godlike aliens.”

    “Godlike aliens brainstorming with a teenager on ways to pull one over on a grumpy old bot.” Arcee chuckled, but turned serious again. “That was a magical day for me as well.” She replied through strained vocal processors. “I’ve been alive a very long time, but in that vast stretch of time, you’re by far the best friend I’ve ever had. We are sisters! Your babies are my world!” Arcee broke down. “What am I doing? I’m not giving you up!”

    Carly stepped forward and hugged Arcee’s shin as Daniel had done just a few minutes prior. “Yeah, I’m sure that the Maximals have someone else that can guide them and keep Custodex in his place.”

    Arcee was in the process of reaching down to caress the woman’s back, but the words forced her to stop. “If they do, I have yet to see such a Maximal.” Arcee let out another sob. “No, there’s too much at stake. I cannot neglect my duty.” She finally did lower her hand and hug the woman to her leg. “I’m sorry Carly; I’ll miss you and your family every day of my existence. Your absence will be unbearable, but for the good of Cybertron, I must endure it.”

    “I know.” Carly cried. “I know.”


    *


    “I was under the impression that Consul Custodex would be seeing us off as well.” Optimus Prime mentioned to Consul Saloria as they stood before the fully loaded transports, all of which were ready to launch.

    “He intended to come and see you off.” Saloria replied. “I won’t lie and tell you that he would wish you well in your journeys, but he was planning on seeing you off. But he sent me a message a couple of hours ago saying that something came up that he needed to attend to. I’ll be happy to convey any message that you may have for him.”

    “I’d rather not subject your audio receptors to anything I’d like to say to Custodex.” Prime growled.

    “I must say that I’m a little surprised that you agreed to go along with this forced exile.” Saloria commented. “To be frank, if you had wanted to stay, there would be no way for us to stop you.”

    “We don’t want to put a legitimate government in a position where they need to try and stop us.” Prime replied. “No matter how vindictive, irrational and irresponsible they’re acting.”

    Saloria lowered her optics. Prime had every right to skewer her. Though she had become an outspoken critic of Custodex in the last three weeks, it truly was a matter of too little, too late as far as the Autobots were concerned. “Well, if it’s any consolation, it looks from the crowd gathered to see you off that Custodex and I will not be remembered fondly for seeing to your expulsion from the planet. In all likelihood, our first term will be our last term as senators. They may even elect senators that will repeal the constitution and write one that is Autobot-friendly.”

    “In time, probably.” Prime replied as he looked off in the distance, where gathered behind a protective barrier that surrounded the launch area, tens of thousands of Cybertronians were gathered and voicing their support and apologies to the soon to be departing Autobots. “But their desire for a stable government is such that they likely won’t do anything to jeopardize things for several centuries.”

    “I fear that you’re probably correct in that regard.” Saloria responded as she caught sight of the approaching Elita One, Arcee, Springer, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus and the Witwicky family. “Before the others get here, I would like to tell you how sorry I truly am for my role in this.”

    Prime looked at her, his optics intent, almost heated, but he soon softened at realizing the sincerity of the apology. “It’s behind us. Just serve Cybertron to the best of your ability, and I’ll consider us even.”

    “Of course, Optimus Prime.” Saloria turned and smiled at the group of robots and humans joining them. “Hello everyone.”

    “You’re the queen of Cybertron, right?” Daniel asked to the Co-Consul.

    “Uh, no young Mr. Witwicky,” the startled Saloria replied, “Cybertron has no monarchy; no king or queen. I am what is called a Consul, basically a senator with the best seat in the house.”

    “But you’re in charge, right?” Daniel asked, and as Saloria pondered the best way to explain her position to a young human child, he assumed that she was and made his plea. “Please don’t make me not be allowed to see Arcee again. Please!” The boy started crying, and a panicked Saloria looked up at the others with a look that indicated clearly that she had no idea of how to react to the boy’s plea.

    “Daniel, don’t.” Spike gently admonished the boy as he wrapped his arm around the child’s shoulders. “I don’t expect you to understand, but it’s not that easy. And it’s not something that Consul Saloria can just undo, even if she wanted to.”

    “Believe me,” the now despondent sounding Femme said, “I want to undo that more than anything.” Spike looked up from his son at her and gave a hard look to the Femme. Saloria took the message. “I am truly sorry for how this turned out. I…I’ve got to go now.”

    “Nice of her to stop by and make Daniel cry.” Springer commented with thinly veiled animosity.

    “That’s enough Springer.” Hot Rod gently scolded.

    Springer looked to his friend and gave a questioning look. “Oh come on, you didn’t like Mother-in-law any more than I do.” The green and yellow triple-changer then looked at Arcee and a look of extreme sadness came over his face. “I mean did.”

    “It’s not an end,” Arcee approached Springer and gently touched his face, “it’s just…it’s just a see ya’ later.”

    “Just do what you can to undo this cluster-slag.” Hot Rod commented to her.

    “I will with every ounce of metal in my frame.” Arcee promised.

    “I’m sorry Autobots, but it’s time to climb aboard.” Prime announced solemnly to the group. A couple minutes later the Autobots were all on board the cargo crafts and the thrusters started grumbling and glowing to life.

    The Witwicky’s and the non-Autobot Cybertronians had withdrawn to a safe observational distance with thousands of other regretful Cybertronians, and watched the painfully historic event of the Autobots withdrawing from the world that they had saved.

    Saloria and Arcee stood on either side of the Witwicky family and watched as the crafts slowly lifted off the metal ground. “Ambassador Witwicky,” Saloria commented as they observed the giant structures ascend into the sky, “has there been any reconsideration of your planet’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Cybertron?”

    “Arcee,” Spike said, “please tell the Custodex cheerleader that until Autobots are walking around on Cybertron, there will be no reconsidering.”

    “She was talking to me, Spike.” Carly said and turned toward Saloria to deliver an official reply, but felt nothing but barely controlled anger when looking upon the Femme’s face. Carly then turned to Arcee. “Tell her what my husband said.”

    The giant space fairing crafts disappeared from view and escaped Cybertronian orbit to begin their journey to find a new home. “Come on,” Arcee said to the humans, “I’ll escort you back to your craft.” The soon to be separated interplanetary extended family turned toward the throngs of fearful and despondent looking robots, most of those nearby seeing the group turn and looking down in shame at recognizing the heroes of the Great War that they had betrayed. Arcee transformed, and the three humans climbed into their sister/aunt for the final time.


    ***


    “Thank you very much Senator Kandiga for escorting me this far, but I fear that I must travel the remainder of the way on my own.” Consul Custodex said with genuine gratitude to the Matriopolin senator.

    Kandiga nodded at the Co-Consul, noting how bright and fluid his frame was against the backdrop of the mouth of the dark metal cave that he was planning on descending to. “If you are certain sir, but I still fear that there may be enemies waiting for the opportunity to assail you physically. As inconceivable as it seems, you do have enemies; ungrateful fools swayed by the Autobots’ lies.”

    “I am aware of my enemies, even now that the Autobots are finally making good on their banishment, but the summons I received was from the Oracle, of that I have no doubt.” The technorganic robot replied confidently as he headed into the downward going cave. “Have courage, dear Kandiga, for now with the Autobots out of the way I will be able to make good on my promise to the Oracle to provide her with an adequate energy source, and she in turn will turn our world into a Utopia.”

    “Primus bless you Consul,” Kandiga exclaimed, “you are a greater hero than our world deserves.”

    Custodex smiled at the praise as he descended into the depths. This was a new location for the Oracle to commune with him, but that was not surprising to the robot. After going down for a little over a mile, a trip which revealed clues to indicate that the hole he was traveling down may have been cut recently, he finally came upon a large chamber, one with many ornate but indecipherable glyphs cut into the walls. This was the location that the Oracle’s message had summoned him to meet. “Hello?”

    The echoing voice was met only by silence for nearly a minute before the Consul noticed movement in the shadows, enormous movements as if a large portion of the wall itself was moving. “Hello Custodex, hero of Cybertron, herald of peace;” Custodex directed a light to the enormous speaker to reveal the thunderous Liege Maximo, his gigantic reptilian frame not altogether dissimilar to his own, “traitor to our species!”

    “What…what in the pit are you?” Custodex gasped, before screaming out at the creature with false bravado. “Where is the Oracle?”

    “The Oracle?” The Liege Maximo chuckled, a sound that filled the entire chamber with dread. “These events took place long after I left this world, about ninety thousand vorns ago if I recall the story correctly, but I believe that the Oracle was nothing more than an Incindermech Femme that claimed to be a seer. Perhaps she was, as I heard that her accuracy was such that she developed quite a bit of notoriety and a fair-sized following. But unfortunately, fame has a tendency to bring some of the dangerous elements of society out of the crevices, and the poor Oracle was struck down by a deranged follower. The Oracle was killed, but her legend lived and grew, to the point where it overtook several other legends and she was soon believed to be the voice of Primus in certain circles.”

    “Liar!” Custodex fearfully accused. “The Oracle is the Voice of Primus! I have communed with her on numerous occasions, received the will of Primus through her, and seen that his will was done!”

    “Silence you insipid imbecile!” The Liege Maximo bellowed. “Primus requires no one to speak for him! And were he to desire a mortal to intervene on his behalf, he’d have chosen one far more worthy than you!” The monstrous creature moved across the floor. “Though, I believed the same of the false prophet that you have been receiving instruction from.” More chuckling shook the chamber. “That the Garbolicanopsil sought out the greatest of heroes to lure into its service. Bah, perhaps that was just an estimation designed to stroke my ego.”

    “That estimation possessed merit, dear brother.” The voice coming from the cavern that Custodex had arrived through. A moment later the speaker, Alpha Trion, emerged. “I have no doubt that had the return of the Autobots not forced their hand, the Quintessons would never have selected Emirate Custodex to be their Champion.”

    “It is good to see you again, brother.” The Liege Maximo said with genuine amity.

    “As it is to see you, A-Seven.” Alpha Trion replied. “Though I barely recognize you in this form.”

    “I chose to keep the reformatted frame that the Garbolicanopsil stuck me with as a reminder of my own failings and the treachery of organics,” the Liege Maximo replied, “but I replaced the genetic material the Quintessons had given me in favor of a different species from their world, a monster that predated their species, a precursor to their Alicon servants.”

    Alpha Trion nodded sadly. “I wish that you had never felt the need to stage your demise. You had more than atoned for the mistakes made while under the influence of the Garbolicanopsil.”

    “What are you fools talking about?” The Consul snarled. “I have never seen a Quintession, much less have been selected by them!”

    “I said silence!” The Maximo roared before continuing with his cordial reunion with Alpha Trion. “I had something to see to completion; a penance that would not be complete until I rid existence of the devious plague of organic infestation.”

    “Brother, how can you not see how drastically that you have lost your way?” Alpha Trion questioned. “Our quarrel was with the Quintessons, not with all organic species! Had you actually taken the time to research your victims before eradicating them, you would realize this!”

    “I’ve done all due research for those creatures, and while some species displayed potential for enlightenment, they all were self serving and capable to deception and treachery.” Came the reply.

    “Deception and treachery?” Alpha Trion was stunned. “How is our species exempt from your campaign of genocide then? In fact, how is it that the father of the Decepticon line is passing judgment on those displaying these traits?”

    “Decepticons are capable of honor and serving the greater good!” The Liege Maximo countered.

    “You base your judgment of the faction on the anomalies, particularly one noble spark that sacrificed all for this planet.” Alpha Trion replied. “Skyfire’s selfless heroism was the exception for Decepticons, not the rule!”

    “Which, I assume, is why you plucked him from his well deserved eternal reward within the Matrix, and inserted him into the frame and mind of an Autobot.” The massive warlord spat back. “You never could accept that the most valiant spark of that age was not an Autobot, so you sought to rectify that.”

    “Now you’re being absurd!” Alpha Trion snapped. “I did what was necessary to keep your ultimate warrior and intended heir from wiping out the Autobots on Earth with his unified Decepticon army.”

    “Bah, I did not return to Cybertron to recycle this debate with you. Just know that the Decepticons never would have been necessary were it not for the horrific evil those altered organics brought to our world!” Maximo snapped back. “Your precious humans only profess friendship to your beloved Autobots due to their fear and desire for technological advancement; technological advancement that would no doubt, in time, result in organic/mechanical hybridization. Just like with the Quintessons!”

    “There is no comparison between those species!” Alpha Trion growled at the gigantic creature, and shook his head sadly at realizing the futility of this argument. “You will not be changing your ways, will you?”

    The Liege Maximo shook his massive head. “No, though I will honor the vow made by my Liege Centuro to your champion, and stay away from Earth as long as Optimus Prime lives.” The technorganic beast then nodded toward Custodex. “Do you wish to be an advocate for this one as you apparently are for the organics?”

    Alpha Trion turned and looked intently upon Custodex. “He is even more hopelessly deluded in his false mission than you are, and lacks the heroic spark of the Garbolicanopsil’s previous victim. I know how you intend to stop him, and I am ill at ease when I visualize it, but he must be stopped, and anything less than what you plan to do will leave open the possibility of him one day succeeding in his quest to allow the Garbolicanopsil to once again reformat the planet.” The ancient Cybertronian turned and walked back into the cave. “I will stand against you in your quest to eradicate the organics, but in this, I will not intervene. Do what must be done brother, and please, rethink your quest of genocide.”

    Custodex watched the old robot disappear into the cave before slowly looking back at the Liege Maximo. His optics barely caught the blur of the twin, barb-laced tentacles whipping out to slice his body into three pieces.


    ***


    “So Arcee, is there any chance I can convince you to run for the Senate?” Saloria asked the pink robot, an individual who at one time hung on her every word, but who now was clearly the dominant and most respected robot in the room, if not the planet.

    “Elita One asked that very same question seven months ago, on the day of the Autobot Exodus. My answer now, as it was then, is no.” Arcee explained. “And besides, I have been offered a seat on the Maximal High Council, and I plan on accepting that.”

    “Perhaps in your new position you will have access to the identity of Custodex’s assassin.” Kandiga, the third robot in Arcee’s living room and now in a protoform-based frame that was five feet tall, muttered with sarcastic anger.

    “I have no idea of what happened to Custodex, and thus far I’ve not seen anything to lead me to believe that any Maximal knows.” Arcee replied with forced calm.

    “Maybe you will be privy to what caused the Maximal Security Agency to get in a tizzy last week.” Saloria suggested, hoping to calm the tension caused by Kandiga’s implication and overall attitude toward the two Maximals. “I may be a Maximal senator, but nobody over there seems to think that entitles me to know what’s going on.”

    “It’s not your rank that’s keeping them from telling you anything,” Arcee explained, “it’s that they see you as Custodex’s torchbearer. The Agency is made up of Maximals devoted to maintaining the safety and security of other Maximals, our interests and the good of Cybertron as a whole, and they see the expulsion of the Autobots as a huge mistake. And while you seem to have had a change of spark on the matter in recent months, they vividly remember your role in that mistake.”

    “The mistake was not weeding out these war-mongers and evicting them with the Autobots that they love so much.” Kandiga grumbled.

    “Anyway, last week’s hubbub was due to the loss of a probe seeking energon or other energy resources.” Arcee ignored Kandiga’s snide suggestion.

    “We lose track of those probes all the time.” The surprised Saloria countered.

    “Yes, but this one had not been experiencing any technical difficulties.” The pink robot walked to the floor to ceiling window and looked out over the eternally growing city. “And it was over Char when the signal was lost.” The room was silent for several moments before Arcee continued. “The Senate has placed over two thousand Decepticon sparks in bodiless stasis and smelted their frames, granted amnesty to a handful of others, but that still leaves a few dozen that are unaccounted for, even before estimating the dozens if not hundreds of Decepticons Shockwave sent out to find energy resources during the famine. Char is one of the few locations that possesses just enough in the way fossil fuel resources to sustain a small contingent for a few years, and is out of the way enough for Cybertron not to bother with.”

    “And I suppose that your militaristic comrades wish to waste precious energy resources to conduct a search to verify that there’s nothing more than dust and rocks on Char?” Kandiga snapped. “Fortunately such an increase in your energon allocation is something that must be approved by the Senate, and I can guarantee you that despite the loss of Custodex and your success at swinging public perception to a favorable view of the murderous Autobots, such approval will never be granted by the Senate as long as I’m a senator.”

    The egging by the contentious former Autobot, now Excaviton Femme had finally gotten a reaction out of Arcee, who turned and glared angrily at the much smaller robot, but calmed a little before lashing out. “You’re probably right about that, and unfortunately, any Decepticons taking refuge on Char will definitely have left by the next election, where, judging by recent public perception polls, you and most of your ilk will be voted out.”

    Kandiga now glared at her host. “Well, you may be right, but you still won’t be able to bring your precious Autobots back even after I’ve gone. As much as I loathe the race, the Predacons have proven most useful at barring any and all useful discussion of absolving the Autobots of their exile. For the first time in lives of all but a handful of living Cybertronians we have peace; your pathetic loyalty to your vicious friends is not incentive enough for us to dismantle the Pax Cybertronia, the very tool that enables this peace!”

    Arcee only shook her head in annoyance before heading toward the door, hoping that her two guests would take that as their cue to leave. “I appreciate the visit and recounting the memories of New Harbornia, but if you Femmes wouldn’t mind, I would like to be alone now.”

    “Of course Arcee.” Saloria replied as she sent an ignored glare at Kandiga.

    The three Femmes crossed the large room toward the foyer. “Your downsizing procedure is scheduled for tomorrow, right Saloria?” Arcee asked.

    “That’s correct.” Saloria said. “I will miss being able to cover more than a couple of feet with a single stride.”

    “Please let Quaxilon know that I will be contacting him later this week to schedule my own procedure.” Arcee asked.

    “It’s about time you two accepted a more energy-efficient frame.” Kandiga sniped. They reached the foyer and Arcee opened the door for them to leave, but they were all startled to see Wreck Gar step in front of the door and prepare to ring the chime. “Oh my!” Kandiga quickly recognized the robot and a look of disdain replaced that of surprise. “Oh, former Senator Wreck Gar, I had almost allowed myself to believe that I would never have to smell you again.”

    Wreck Gar looked down at the miniature Kandiga. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” The Junkion then looked to Arcee and smiled. “And now, here's something we hope you'll really like.” He extended a datapad with a holo-projector to Arcee, which she took hesitantly.

    “And what makes you think you have any idea of what a Femme would really like?” Kandiga continued to insult the good natured Junkion.

    Wreck Gar looked back down at her. “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.”

    “Alright, it’s good to see everyone is reacquainted,” Arcee quickly stepped in before Kandiga or Saloria could express their outrage at the comment, “but it’s time for you Femmes to head on your way, and I have a lot of catching up to do with Wreck Gar.” A moment later the two Femmes were in the hallway just outside the closing door and Wreck Gar had been pulled in. Arcee turned back toward the Junkion and gave a look of mock annoyance. “Let’s see, where to begin? First, things related to Earth are outlawed by the Pax Cybertronia, so your spouting of movie lines needs to cease. Second, I get that you want to offend Kandiga, and can’t blame you for that, but that comment was insulting to Saloria, me and all Femmes and females of any species. And third,” Arcee walked over and gave the Junkion a friendly hug, “I’ve missed you.”

    Wreck Gar squeezed back and smiled at the Maximal. “See, my damie, Pootie Tang don't wa-da-tah to the shama cow... 'cause thats a cama cama leepa-chaiii, dig?”

    Arcee peered completely dumbfounded at the Junkion. “Ooookay. I was going to let the Earth movie quotes slide, assuming that was a movie quote, but I think in order to understand what the heck you’re talking about, I’m afraid I’m going to have to pull the Pax Cybertronia card and insist you activate your speech filter.”

    Wreck Gar immediately adopted a posture of resolute refusal. “You are the vulgarian, you…”

    “Now!” Arcee interrupted. The Junkion grumbled, but seemed to reluctantly acquiesce as he reached beneath his helmet at the base of his neck and twisted a switch with an audible click. “Better.” Arcee smiled as she led him to the living room and directed him to have a seat on the couch. “Now, tell me what you’ve been up to. How is the Junkion colony in the Nebulan system shaping up?”

    The Junkion started to spout something off, but an internal process kept him from saying what he had planned on saying. He tried again, but again was unable to get the intended words out of his mouth. He finally grunted and began speaking. “I…really hate this thing.”

    “I know, but it’s the law.” Arcee replied with a sad smile on her face. “And quite frankly, it is much easier to understand you this way.”

    “Yes, but it takes the flavor out of communicating.” Wreck Gar complained. “It reduces speaking to simply conveying thoughts.”

    “Well yes, but your thoughts can be very flavorful.” Arcee defended.

    “Yeah, it just doesn’t work for me.” Wreck Gar explained, his clear, distinct phrasing seeming to be causing him physical discomfort. “Anyway, I just wanted to stop by, say hello, and deliver that to you.”

    Arcee looked back into her hands at the object that Wreck Gar had given her. “What is this, anyway?”

    “I may…run into some mutual acquaintances of ours from time to time,” Wreck Gar smiled as he saw Arcee perk up with excitement, “and someone you may know asked me to pass this on to you. He claimed it can be construed as being something a prominent member of Cybertronian society would find interesting. A status report is what he said.” Wreck Gar stood up and leaned over to kiss the seated Arcee on the forehead before turning toward the foyer. “He also said that you would probably prefer to be alone when viewing it, so I’ll take my leave now.” Arcee stood up to protest, but a smile and wave from the Junkion silenced her. “It’s been wonderful seeing you again Arcee, and I’ll be sure to look you up whenever I return to Cybertron.”

    Arcee followed him to the door, calling out as Wreck Gar opened it to leave. “Would you like me to get you a transport shuttle back to the space port?”

    Wreck Gar turned and smiled as his hand made its way to where the back of his neck met his cranium. “I’ve built myself a nice little space cruiser of my own, one small enough to park on the roof of your building.” Wreck Gar’s smile broadened as the click of him turning off the speech filter was heard. “No more frequent flyer bitch miles for my boy!” The Junkion stepped through the door and made a dance of his departure. “Oh yeah! Playa…playa! Big…” The shutting door silenced his now-illegal quoting of human entertainment, leaving Arcee alone in her foyer holding the device Wreck Gar had given her.

    The Maximal Femme walked back into the living room and sat on her couch, placing the device on the table in front of her knees. She hesitated a moment, but finally activated the device. A series of lights shot out from the top of the device, swirling around until the holographic image of Springer took shape. “Hey Beautiful. From what little I’ve heard about present day Cybertron, you may be three feet tall now, but I’m sure you’re still beautiful. Anyway, so as not to get you in trouble, this will serve as an official status update of the Autobots. We’ve successfully transitioned the abandoned New Harbornia into an Autobot colony; actually, with Elita One’s guidance it was a fairly seamless transition. Our numbers are greater than what New Harbornia originally held, which isn’t a concern as far as space and materials, but the planetoid’s energy resources would not be able to sustain us were it not for hunting expeditions Grimlock, the Dinobots and Omega Supreme take to the apparently abandoned Quintessa. The Dinobots go to let off some steam by killing a few hundred Sharkticons per visit, Omega Supreme goes to chip away at the Quintesson’s infrastructure so that if they ever do return, there won’t be much there for them to stage a campaign from, and Prime condones it as long as they return from each trip with an ample supply of energon, which is surprisingly abundant on that planet.”

    Arcee smiled as she reached out to touch the hologram, which, being a recording continued on with no notice of her hand passing through Springer’s face. “Currently Elita One is running things on New Harbornia as Prime, Magnus, Jetfire, Hot Rod and several other Autobots are off world to investigate an object that appeared the day before the time of this recording. The object was small, measuring roughly twenty human inches in length and weighing six pounds, thirteen ounces.” Arcee gasped and raised her hand to her mouth at realizing what Springer was describing. “I’ve been informed that this small object, whatever it may be, appears to be in fully functional condition, though, much to Hot Rod’s chagrin, seems to be encased in a substance of pink coloration.”

    “Oh sweet Primus, a girl!” Arcee squealed quietly.

    “I’ve also received that a designation has been attributed to this small object.” A very wide smile came over Springer’s face. “Arcee Maximus Witwicky.” Springer paused for several moments to allow the news to sink in before completing his message. “This object has a lot to live up to with a designation like that, but I hear that its appearance may very well be on par with its namesake; its first namesake anyway, from what I hear it’s much prettier than Maximus, Sparkplug and Spike, though for a human, Carly was pretty darn hot. Anyway, it should do well in living up to its namesakes in facets beyond appearance as well, as this object will be receiving guidance from our best and brightest, as well as the objects that gave rise to it; and the object that preceded it.” A sad look came over Springer’s face. “I’m told that preceding object misses his Aunt Arcee tremendously.”

    A more neutral expression came over Springer’s face. “Anyway, that’s my report. I hope you find it informative Arcee. And should this fall into anyone’s possession other than Arcee’s, say some Autobot-hating senator or other chief muckety-muck, and you manage to crack my clever code, well, come and do something about it.” The hard look that had developed on Springer’s face over the course of the sentence held firm for a few moments before giving away to a smile. “You take care of yourself Arcee, and keep these munchkins in line. I’m sure we’ll be reunited at some point. Until then, just know that I’m eternally yours. Farewell, Springer out.” The image flickered off, leaving Arcee to lean over and place her face in her hands, and within a few seconds the sounds of sobbing cut through the otherwise silent room.


    ***


    Epilogue:


    The slender figure entered the modestly furnished quarters and took a seat in front of a small terminal on the far wall of the room. Just above the terminal was a window displaying the blackness of space interrupted by the countless speckles of distant stars. The figure adjusted an audio receiver jutting out from the terminal and switched on the recorder. "Personal journal of Lomanius, Captain of the Maximal mining ship Claim Jumper; date of recording, one point one eight five vorns Anno Pax Cybertronia."

    The Captain paused to collect his thoughts before continuing. "At the insistence of The Maximal Security Agency, myself, my first mate Kint and one other member of my crew are currently en-route back to Cybertron from an energon mining expedition on the third moon of Vespa. The exact reason for our summons home is still unknown, but we know that it has to do with an alien artifact dug up by the young crewman accompanying us, Snare. The artifact looked to be an archaic and heavily damaged space faring probe of sorts, one with strange writing and symbols on its exterior. No sooner had I begun scanning the writing and images, than the government-issued black box all deep space craft are fitted with started sending encoded transmissions back to Cybertron. Not more than five minutes later I had some Maximal Security agent interrogating me over my communications console and then insisting that I pack up the artifact and that any member of my crew to have laid optics on it return to Cybertron with me post haste." Lomanius sighed before continuing. "I've got a very bad feeling about this."

    A buzzing interrupted the Captain's recounting. Lomanius paused the recording and opened a channel to the cockpit. "What is it Kint?"

    "Sir, we're entering Cybertronian orbit now. We'll be touching down momentarily."

    The Captain nodded. "I'm on my way." Lomanius stood up out of his chair and walked out of his quarters. As he walked down the hallway, Lomanius peered out the various transparent ports at his home world down below. It appeared to Lomanius as though they had entered the planet’s atmosphere a couple hundred miles to the south of Cybertropolis, and the captain’s guess was confirmed as the jagged stretch of mountains appeared through the starboard view ports and shortly after that they approached the Cyberopylae Pass, where the ancient Fortress Maximus silently and eternally stood guard against the foes of Cybertropolis, if only symbolically. A few moments later he was joining a portly Maximal in the cockpit of the large, bulky space freighter. "Any word from the surface, Kint?"

    "Just a location of where to put down; as well as an order not to make any more transmissions to anyone other than the Security Agency." The First Mate replied nervously as he piloted over the outskirts of Cybertropolis.

    "What did they mean 'any more' transmissions? I haven't contacted anyone, and I can't think of anyone that your reclusive fender would contact." Lomanius knew the answer to the question even before he saw look of mock stupidity coming from Kint. "Slag that kid. Who did he call?"

    "That's another weird thing. I traced his transmission and it looks as though he sent a message to the Citadel of the Maximal Council of Elders."

    "What? That's it, it's time Snare and I had a talk. That irritating little rodent has been wearing away at my nerves for months with his smart mouth and constant complaining, and now we're apparently a threat to planetary security because of some pile of rust he dug up." Lomanius growled as he took a seat next to Kint.

    “Yeah, but slag if he ain't the best energon miner we've ever had." Kint chuckled at the irritation their youngest crewman caused the Captain. "Besides, it looks as though that little chat is going to have to wait. See the large hanger with the opening roof? That's where I've been instructed to put down." Kint fearfully peered into the structure, and was both confused and relieved to see one lone figure standing within to greet them. "Whew, that's a relief. I was expecting an army to be here waiting for us."

    Lomanius peered intently at the massive frame waiting for them on the ground. Standing a little over nine feet tall, and nearly as broad as it was tall, the frame was easily one of the largest currently on Cybertron. But the Captain's attention was drawn away from the mammoth physique and toward the horned and helmeted head. "Kint, my old friend, that is an army."


    *


    The imposing figure watched as the mining ship Claim Jumper lowered to the metal floor of the hangar. The ceiling of the structure quickly sealed shut; an ominous display that gave the impression of making sure nothing would enter or exit through it from this point forward. A few moments passed before the exit ramp lowered and the nervous Captain Lomanius made his way down to the floor of the hangar.

    "Welcome back to Cybertron, Captain. I thank you for your expediency, and trust that you have utilized the utmost discretion." The deep voice confidently came through the face plate that covered the nose and mouth of the large robot.

    "Uhh, of course, uh, sir...General...Optimus? I'm not sure how to address you." Lomanius slowly approached the imposing figure standing between him and the only visible door. "And I assure you I had no idea that my crewman was going to send a message. He's young, and doesn't know any better."

    "Ehh, speak for yourself pipe-cleaner." The small speaker made his way down the ramp after Lomanius and displayed a buck-toothed smile that was almost as irritating as his voice. "I know enough not to be intimidated by some mastodonic power-junky who's part of some Gestapo that derives its respect by having its members renamed and rebuilt into the image of some historical figure. And I also know enough to realize that the call I made is the only thing that'll keep us from vanishing off the face of Cybertron."

    "Be silent Snare!" Lomanius commanded the small Maximal as he apologetically looked at the enormous frame, taking time to notice the long and powerful battering rams extending out from the missile banks mounted behind the Optimus's broad shoulders.

    The large Optimus glared at Snare with golden optics. "Your disdain for the Fraternal Order of Optimii is distressing, and reeks of ignorance," the brawny Optimus sniffed the air "though ignorance appears to be only one of the many odors contributing to your stench." Snare's face twisted angrily, but the large robot continued before the young crewman could reply. “We Optimii are merely citizens that answered a call to service, a call to protect Cybertron however and whenever she needed us to, to act as both a constabulary and militia, and to undergo an extensive reconstruction process that would inspire our comrades and put fear into the sparks of those that would pose a threat. We have given up much to protect the likes of you, and it is very disconcerting to have our sacrifices and authority mocked."

    Snare cocked his head and replied. "Ehh, let's not pretend that you're here to protect and serve our shiny skid-plates. We found something we shouldn't have, and you're here to make sure we don't go squeaking about it to anyone, by any means necessary. Isn't that right?"

    Heavy footsteps could be heard from the ramp as Kint slowly made his way down. "Whoah kid, pump the brakes. I'm sure you've got it all wrong." The First Mate nervously looked to the blue-helmeted figure. "He is wrong about that, isn't he?"

    The Optimus looked up to the third returning robot and shook his head. "I'm afraid that the little windbag is correct in this matter. If what you have discovered is what I think you have, then certain alterations will need to be made to your memory banks."

    "No slaggin' way, you horn-headed, walking armory! I ain't no lab rat!" Snare barked out at the authority figure in his whiny voice.

    There was a quiet whir as the door behind the giant Maximal opened. The Optimus spun around, reaching behind his back and drawing forth a double-barreled cannon that was nearly twice the size of Snare. Fluidly lowering to one knee as he moved, the mammoth Maximal leveled his big cannon at the form in the doorway. "Halt!" No sooner had the command been vocalized than the heavily armed Optimus snapped his arm up and pointed the cannon away from the newcomer. "Oh, Your Honor, I was not aware that you would be coming." The Optimus rose to his feet and bowed his head in reverence to the robot in the doorway, re-holstering his cannon to his back as he did so.

    "And greetings to you, Optimus Grand. It is good to see that you're fully recovered and back in action." The pink and white frame stood five and a half feet tall, and had several other alterations, but both the voice and the face were that of Arcee. Arcee peered at the left arm of the large Optimus. "Why is it that your replacement arm's pigmentation and design do not match the one you lost in the battle with the TriPredacus gestalt?"

    "An error on the part of my surgeon, one that I plan to leave in place as a constant reminder of the fugitive Council's treachery, and of the treachery all Predacons are capable of." The large Optimus replied.

    Lomanius hesitantly interrupted. "I'm sorry, but did you say gestalt?"

    Arcee nodded to the Captain. "Much has happened since you left on your mining mission. Most notable of which was an internal power struggle within the Predacon leadership. A rival triumvirate seemingly appeared out of nowhere and somehow garnered enough support to challenge the TriPredacus council that gave rise to the faction. It seemed an internal Predacon matter, something that fell outside of what we could intervene upon at first, but an anonymous source presented the Maximal Security Agency with compelling evidence that the original, and at the time, still sitting council was comprised of Decepticon fugitives.”

    “We sent a delegation to have them address these allegations, and to get a reading of their spark signatures.” Optimus Grand added. “The lifeless frames of the delegation were found floating in the Sea of Iacon.”

    “Clearly desperate, the TriPredacus Council was forced to prematurely launch an uprising that they’d apparently been organizing for quite some time, and shortly thereafter their forces laid siege to Cybertropolis. The Optimii led their forces against the onslaught and soon had the attacking Predacons routed and demoralized. But as Maximal forces sought to apprehend the TriPredacus Council, the seemingly defeated leaders committed yet another violation of the Pax Cybertronia. They merged to form a warrior of such power that our soldiers were ineffective against it. The gestalt marched toward the Council Citadel, unstoppable. Unstoppable, until The One Robot Army stood against it." Arcee looked to Optimus Grand and gently smiled. "Optimus Grand single handedly warded off the monster, both figuratively and literally as he lost an arm in the battle."

    Grand grumbled. "Your praise is unmerited. I failed to capture the TriPredacus Council, and they remain free to plot against us."

    "They are fugitives, hunted by Maximal forces led by your friend Optimus Atrox, and even the Predacons have joined the search. There is little that they can do now." Arcee countered.

    Optimus Grand twisted his head skeptically. "You honestly believe that the new TriPredacus Council is actively seeking their predecessors? I'm sure that they'd offer sanctuary to the fugitives in exchange for, if nothing else, the intelligence on us that they’ve been accumulating for the past vorn or so. In fact, given that Atrox has yet to find them, I'm certain that such assistance has already been given, and the former council has probably found passage off of the planet. I have no doubt that this Hook, Line and Sinker will prove to be just as treacherous as the original TriPredacus Council."

    "Ehh, I'm afraid that I have to agree with Dumbo here. The only good Pred is a dead Pred." Snare turned from Arcee to Grand. "But dontcha think it's a bit hypocritical for YOU to be accusing anyone else of treachery?" The small Maximal blurted out. "After all, you're just a few minutes away from conducting lobotomies on me and my shipmates."

    Arcee quickly looked at Snare and then back to Grand. "What are you planning on doing to my nephew and his friends?"

    The soldier shook his head and raised his hand. "No, the youth exag..." Optimus Grand's optics narrowed in confusion. "Your what?"

    "Her nephew." Snare stepped in front of Grand and smirked. "That's right big boy; Arcee, Maximal Elder and one of the founders of our race, is my great Aunt." The small Maximal's buck-toothed smile broadened. "Still feel like locking horns with me, big guy?"

    Grand glanced at Snare in annoyance before turning back to Arcee. "I am only vaguely familiar with the terms 'aunt' and ‘nephew’. They denote some sort of familial relationship, do they not?"

    Arcee nodded. "In a sense; I have been watching over Snare since he was a protoform. And while I can completely understand your growing annoyance with him, you should know that I am very protective of him and will not allow you to harm him."

    The massive robot crossed his arms and nodded. "Then it appears that we are going to have a problem."

    "Why, what exactly is going on here?" Arcee quizzically peered from one Maximal to the next, finally settling her optics on her nephew. "What exactly did you unearth?"

    "Excellent choice of terms, Elder." Optimus Grand replied. "The transmitted data implies that the object in question was indeed 'un-Earthed'."

    Arcee's optics widened and she remained silent for several moments before finally speaking. "I want to see it.”

    “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Grand replied hesitantly.

    “Excuse me?” Arcee snapped. “I am a Maximal Elder, I certainly have the authority to view whatever this thing may be!”

    “I do not dispute that you have the authority.” The large but nervous Optimus replied. “I’m just opining that perhaps a different Elder with a greater level of detachment may be better suited to examine this item.”

    “A greater level of detachment?” Arcee questioned as she crossed her arms.

    “I have familiarized myself with your history in regards to interacting with that world.” Grand replied, significantly less nervous now. “Your continued use of the term ‘aunt’ does not help to dispel my reservations.”

    “Look here chump,” Snare marched forward “I have no idea of what you two are talking about, but nobody gives my Aunt Arcee the business without getting a few dents! You got that, Faceplate?”

    Optimus Grand’s head twisted instantly toward the advancing small Maximal, and the much larger robot delivered a glare that stopped Snare dead in his tracks. “Tell me something; has your dear old Aunt ever mistakenly called you Daniel?”

    “How dare you?” Arcee roared at the Maximal war hero. “I assure you that my interest in this object is definitely not related to my past relationships with the denizens of Earth, nor will those former relationships in any way cloud my evaluation of this object or the decisions I come to regarding it!” The Maximal Elder marched up to Grand, stood right in front of him, and reached up to jab the tip of her right index finger into his massive chest armor. “And if you ever suggest that those I care for are interchangeable again, I will tear off more than just your arm. That’s not an idle threat!” Arcee’s optics narrowed as she continued to glare at the massive warrior. “And in case you have any doubt whether or not I’ll be able to accomplish such a task, just re-familiarize yourself with my history and pay attention to the parts relating that I’ve killed much bigger robots than you in my time!”

    The two robots kept their optics locked for several very tense moments before Optimus Grand broke the silence. “Fine, but insinuations and threats aside, there’s still a matter of planetary security that needs to be addressed here; and planetary security far outweighs any personal relationships that may be involved here.” Grand cocked his head to the side. “Or do you feel otherwise, High Elder?”

    Arcee continued her glare as she spoke. “Let’s just see what we’re dealing with before you start considering where to begin your incision into my nephew’s cranial shell.”

    Grand nodded, and turned to Lomanius. “Captain, please show us what you have in your cargo hold.”

    Lomanius nervously trotted to the undercarriage of the ship, typed in the lock disengagement code and stepped back to allow the door to the cargo hold to open. “Give me a hand, Kint.” The two then disappeared into the craft, and the sounds of metal scraping on metal came from inside the cargo section. A large, primitive and heavily battered space probe was pushed out of the craft. “This is it. As you can see, it’s little more than space junk that’s so simple that it barely registers as technology. And about the only part of it that’s even remotely intact is this.” Lomainius revealed a golden disk-shaped cover. Apparently spooked by the artifact, Kint scampered away and stood next to Snare.

    “Look, I don’t know where this came from, what these symbols mean, or what data is held within the disk, but I can tell you that even if this is originally from Earth, all I know is that it was found on a moon of Vespa, which I’m certain is nowhere near Earth. So as of right now, we know absolutely nothing that can jeopardize the planet or that violates the Pax Cybertronia. So how about you guys just take this thing off our hands, erase any data related to it from my ship’s computer, and we’ll all pretend this whole thing never took place. I mean, none of us know anything!”

    “Actually sir,” Kint offered as he scrutinized one of the designs on the disk cover. “They’re all binary. It’s simple really. Those fourteen converging lines seem to represent pulsars emitted from a star; the binary used to make up the lines seems to define the pulse frequency. Theoretically you might be able to deduce the location…” a loud clang echoed through the large hangar. “OUCH!”

    Snare put his foot, the one he had just used to kick Kint’s backside, back on the floor and half whispered, half snarled at the First Mate. “Shut up Kint!”

    Optimus Grand marched toward Lomanius and took the golden disk from him. The large robot pulled forth his big cannon, which gave the other Maximals present a start, but he put them at ease as he manipulated his cannon resulting in components rising from the top of it. Small tendrils gripped the covered disk and began scanning it. A moment later a masculine voice in an alien tongue emerged from the equipment built into the cannon; though alien, Optimus Grand and Arcee were familiar with the language.

    “This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”

    Grand twisted his head and peered intently into the optics of the Maximal Elder. “Human. English. If I’m not mistaken, it is a southern dialect from the United States of America.”

    Arcee looked down at the floor as she sadly answered. “The speaker is James Carter, the thirty-ninth President of the United States.” Arcee turned and walked to Snare, placing her palm softly against his cheek. “I’m sorry my sweet child.” She then pulled away from him and started back to the door that she had entered through, calling out to Optimus Grand as she left. “Do what you must, I suppose the Pax Cybertronia must be upheld, but there is to be no damage to any of them, and the memory wipe is not to extend beyond one hour prior to this object’s discovery.”

    “As you wish, High Elder.” Grand replied as he pressed a series of buttons on the com-link in his wrist.

    “Aunt Arcee?” Snare called out to his departing Aunt as over a dozen Maximal Security agents entered the hangar and rushed past her toward the crew of the Claim Jumper. The small, buck-toothed Maximal backed up until he was nestled between his equally terrified crewmates. “We’re all gonna die.”



    The End


    Thanks for reading. Writing this, while overwhelming at times due to the size of it, has been a lot of fun, and having your feedback has made it all worthwhile. Thanks again and I hope you’ve enjoyed the story.