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To Mirror the Broken Glass

Chapter Text

There was something about the underside of the bridge at the edge of town that Miko kept coming back to. Maybe it was the silence. There was a distinct lack of noise, save for the cars that crossed the bridge, which didn't happen often. Not many truly understand the danger of words; they may not break your bones, but they cut the heart and wound the soul. Carefully chosen words and words thrown together in the moment, both can cause more harm than sticks and stones could ever dream of inflicting. The silence was completely devoid of words, and as such, she preferred it over the noise.

Maybe it was the solitude. Alone, there would be no one else to order her around. Alone, there was no one else to judge her. She could do whatever she pleased without fear of anyone mocking her. Under the bridge, she was free from any restrictions and regulations that society placed on her. Anything could be considered normal here in her domain, where she was the only person who ever existed.

Both the silence and the solitude were qualities that appealed to the girl. Miko usually found company unpleasant, and more often than not, the words of others did more harm than good.

Then, maybe there was some third aspect she had not accounted for. Whatever the reason, Miko would have never guessed something would occur under here that would cause her life to take a drastic turn.

Miko had been having a rough time at school. People tended to taunt someone lacking in qualities they possessed. In Miko's case, what she lacked was a voice. She was born mute, and her inability to speak was often subject for mockery. On this particular day, the bullying was worse than usual, and so she felt that a bit of alone time would be needed before she would be ready to rejoin society once more.

She had come under the bridge to think, to take herself away to another place, if only for a moment, so as Miko lay under the bridge, she closed her eyes, and let her mind go adrift. She slowly slipped away from the real world and set sail in a world entirely her own. Imaginary characters, to complex mathematical equations, sentences made of words and of music, it was all there. She had just gotten immersed in her own world of thought when a loud noise snapped her out of her thoughts.

Miko opened her eyes once again, and to her irritation, found herself back in the real world. The girl turned her head over to see what had interrupted her lonely brooding session. To her surprise, she found that what had dragged her back was a battered white and blue helicopter. As Miko inspected the shiny white helicopter, she noticed a bit of movement from the side of the helicopter. With an audible groan, one of the doors creaked open, and a tall, black haired boy emerged from inside. It took a moment for her to recognize the boy as Jack, a boy she knew from her school.

"Get back!" a woman's voice called out from inside the grounded vehicle. Miko assumed that the woman inside was the pilot. Imagine her surprise when the white helicopter before her transformed.

Plates shifted, gears turned, pieces clicked into place until a giant robot woman stood in the place of the white helicopter. The instant after she completed her transformation, the woman scrambled under the bridge. Jack seemed just as surprised as Miko at the sight of the giant robot woman, as he remained standing out in the open, his mouth hanging wide open. Only when the woman beckoned for the boy to follow did he snap out of his daze, and he quickly dashed under the bridge.

As soon as Jack had joined her on the other side of the bridge, the woman brought a finger up to her ear, or rather, the place where her ear would be if she had any ears. Her eyes frantically darted about the area as the odd pair across from Miko's position sat in silence.

"Come on, pick up!" the woman muttered, tapping whatever it was on the side of her head furiously. As the woman continued to tap the side of her head, Jack noticed Miko sitting on the other side. His mouth widened into a smile, and he waved at her from across the bridge. Miko waved back. Only then did the robot woman noticed the girl on the other side of the bridge.

The woman's eyes widened in surprise. She glanced over at Jack. He nodded back at her, and the woman seemed to calm down a bit. As quietly as she could, Miko crept over to the other side to join the two. She sat down beside Jack and signed him a message.

How are you doing? she asked.

Not too well, was his reply.

Miko moved on to another question. What are you doing here?


Miko raised an eyebrow as if to say, what is there to run from when you have a giant robot woman on your side. Her eyes went over to said robot woman sitting beside her, and for the first time, she noticed that the woman was trembling. She looked into her eyes, and through those bright blue eyes, she saw terror.

What are you hiding from? the girl said, curious as to what could possibly make a giant robot fear for their life.

Jack opened his mouth to speak, when a voice interrupted their conversation.


The two children turned their heads to see another robot woman, not much larger than the white robot, holding what appeared to be some kind of weapon to the side of their robot companion's head. The white and blue woman had completely frozen up. At first, Miko did not see what was so dangerous about this other woman, but one look into her eyes told the girl to consider otherwise.

With a loud thud, a second robot beside the woman in black armor. This one was green and yellow in color and had a more bulky frame. The first robot stepped aside, her weapon still pointed at the other woman's head.

"Cliffjumper," the woman barked to her partner. "Take our friend here back to base."

"As you wish."

He reached over and grabbed the woman by the scruff of her neck with minimal effort, before he raised the trembling robot up to the other woman's eye level.

"Please," the woman whimpered, shaking in the larger robot's grasp. "Don't kill me."

The darker woman's lips twisted into a sinister sneer, and she replied, "Don't worry. We won't kill you." She brought a finger up to the terrified robot's face, and Miko noted that the woman had unusually sharp digits. In one, drawn-out motion, the darker colored woman cut open a small wound down the side of the other woman's face, eliciting a cry of pain from the robot woman, all while Jack and Miko watched from below, helpless to do anything.

The black robot watched a strange, bright blue substance ooze out of the wound with hungry red eyes, before she said, "At least, not yet."

The black robot let out a short laugh as the bulkier robot dragged the trembling woman away. Miko hated the fact that she could do nothing to help, but she was too small to make a difference, so all she could do was watch as the scene played out before her.

As Cliffjumper held the struggling white robot off the ground, his darker colored companion raised a finger to the side of her head and tapped whatever these robots had in the place of their ears.

"Arcee here," the woman said as if talking into an invisible phone. There was a short pause, before the robot woman, Arcee, continued. "Yeah, we got her. Just send us the bridge."

Arcee kept a finger to whatever was on the side of her head for a few moments more before she put her hand back down. As soon as she had done that, a swirling green and purple vortex appeared behind the pair of giant robots. Cliffjumper shifted his position so that he was facing the portal and began to advance towards it. The woman in his grasp began to shake even harder.

It was then that Miko was snapped back to reality, and she remembered that she and her friend were at risk of being discovered any second now. Grabbing Jack's sleeve, she gave it a tug to catch his attention. He looked over to the girl, who gave his sleeve another tug as if to say, We need to get out of here before they notice us!

"We're not leaving!" Jack said in response, gently pushing Miko's hand off his sleeve. "We can't just sit here and do nothing!"

Miko threw her hands up in exasperation. Miko knew Jack was a kind soul who always had the best of intentions, but even the most stupid of people would have been able to see that they couldn't do anything. Jack did not take kindly to this gesture.

"You may not care about other people's lives," Jack said, pointing an accusing finger at the girl, "but-"

"Wait." Both children froze. Cliffjumper halted his advance and turned around to face Arcee. "Did you hear that?" the blue robot growled, and the children exchanged glances. Every instinct they had screamed at them to run, but fear had glued them to the spot.

"Hear what?" the woman asked, tilting her head in confusion.

Cliffjumper narrowed his eyes. "We're being watched."

At these words, the children snapped out of their frozen state. They broke into a run, hoping to get out before the pair found them, but their path was suddenly obstructed by a glowing red eye. A giant metallic hand shot out, snatching the two children out from underneath the bridge, and brought them out into the daylight.

"Well, well, well," Arcee said with a sinister smile. "What do we have here?" She inspected the two children with glowing red eyes as they squirmed in her grasp. "It seems that two organics have taken interest in our presence."

"Arcee," Cliffjumper growled impatiently. "The liaison told us to leave no witnesses. Squish 'em so we can get out of here."

"No!" the woman in Cliffjumper's hold yelled, squirming to get out of his grasp. This sudden movement surprised him, and he was barely able to retain his hold on her. "They've done nothing! Let them go!"

Arcee took note of how desperate their captive sounded, and her smile widened. "You know, seeing as how much you seem to care about these organic creatures, I think I'll just go ahead kill them."


Arcee slowly brought her eyes back to the two trembling children she held in her grasp. Her eyes lit up with a sadistic glint as their eyes widened in fear when she brought the blaster up to their position. A low hum filled the air as she prepared her weapon to fire, and the two children could only stare right into the face of their imminent demise.

Something crashed into Arcee. The impact sent her hurtling backward, and she released the two children. They had barely fallen for a few seconds when what appeared to be a robotic bird swept them up into the air.

Now high off the ground, Miko looked down and saw that another robot had entered the scene. This robot was about as thin as a twig; frail enough to be knocked over by a gust of wind. This robot also had similar colors to that of the lady being held captive by the other group.

"Unhand her, fiend!" the robot yelled, striking a stupid pose, an action that Miko couldn't help but roll her eyes at.

"Scrap," Cliffjumper growled. "The Decepticons are here. Let's get out of here."

"Don't worry," Arcee sneered, as she dropped down into a fighting stance. "I've got this." She charged forward with a battle cry, blades extended; only to be knocked over by another blow to the stomach.

Landing on her back, Arcee slowly got to her feet again with a groan. Clutching her stomach, she hissed, "Alright, let's head back to base."

With one last angry glare in the slim white robot's direction, she dashed into the portal. Cliffjumper, however, was having a much more difficult time getting through because of his struggling prisoner.

"Just go through!" the bulky robot snarled, as he continued to drag the smaller robot through the portal with him.

"Soundwave!" the white robot woman called out, trying to escape from the larger robot's grasp. "Help!"

"Shut up!"

Soundwave broke into a run, and in a blur of white and blue, transformed his hands into blasters before he fired away. The volley of fire bounced off the green-clad giant's armor like it was nothing. Now, almost fully emerged in the portal, Cliffjumper used his one free hand to fire back at the Decepticon. Soundwave wove around the blue robot's attacks, and in a last ditch effort, he leapt forward with a battle cry, arms outstretched, only to barely miss grabbing the woman's hand as the portal closed behind the bulkier robot and his captive. Slowly getting back up to his feet, the robot let loose a string of words that Miko guessed were probably some kind of curse words.

Chapter Text

All was quiet on the Nemesis. The only sounds present were the soft clicking of keyboards as the Vehicons at the bridge worked away. For a few minutes, the scene remained calm. Funny how quickly a mood can shift with a single event.

A ground bridge materialized onto the bridge. All the vehicons stopped what they were doing, and turned their attention to the swirling green and purple vortex in the center of the bridge. The first thing to emerge from the portal was a volley of fire. Vehicons standing in the way leapt out of the way to avoid getting hit. Just moments later, a group of bots burst through the portal in quick succession.

The first to exit the portal was Megatron. The moment he stepped onto the bridge, the proud grey warlord stopped and turned around. He glanced back at the portal as if to see if he was being followed.

Next to emerge was Starscream. Skidding to a stop, the seeker briefly stopped to dust himself off, a scowl present on his faceplates.

Soundwave followed shortly after, dragging Airachnid along with him as well, the former cursing loudly while clutching his sides, attempting to catch his breath. The other stumbled out onto the bridge and immediately straightened herself out, pushing her spider legs off the ground, all while throwing paranoid glances around the room.

The last to enter the bridge were a group of Vehicons, dragging a struggling Knock Out through the portal. The group was only barely able to restrain the medic just as the portal closed behind him. Only then did they release their grasp on him, causing the blue Decepticon to stumble forwards.

When he saw the ground bridge had disappeared, Knock Out turned to Soundwave, who was still bent over, trying to catch his breath. "Soundwave!" The white and blue Decepticon seeker stopped talking and turned to face Knockout. "Open me another ground bridge. I've got to get back there!" Knock Out demanded, the desperation clear in his voice.

"Are you sure?" Soundwave questioned, raising a digit in protest, "because-"

"Just do it!" Knock Out yelled, pounding against the desk next to him.

"No! Don't do it!" Starscream yelled back. "Soundwave, I forbid you to ground bridge him back there!"

"But I wasn't-"

"I've got to get back!" Knock Out protested in return. "I've got to save my friend!"

"No, you're not!" Starscream growled, jabbing a digit at his chestplate. "Going back there would be suicide!"

"So we're just going to give up on Breakdown?" Knock Out said, throwing his servos up into the air. "We're just going to leave him there to die?"

"Knock Out!" Knock Out turned to see who had called his name. Megatron loomed over him, a scowl present on his faceplates. "Breakdown sacrificed his life so we could get out of there. He gave his life to us."

"Then why shouldn't we give our lives for him?" Knockout said back angrily.

"Breakdown wouldn't want you to throw your life away!" Megatron growled, in a tone that would have told anyone facing him to back down.

Knock Out hissed angrily in return. "That's what Breakdown would've done," was all he said before he stormed off.

The rest of the Decepticons present could only watch as the blue Decepticon medic left the bridge. For a few moments, the bridge was quiet. Jack was the first to break the silence.

"I thought Knock Out and Breakdown were rivals," Jack said, turning to the leader of the Decepticons. "Why would he care so much about Breakdown now?"

"Knock Out and Breakdown share a deep past," Megatron briefly explained. "They knew each other long before they joined the Decepticons, and they stayed close to each other long after. While they may not seem to enjoy each other's company, deep down, they really do care for each other."

Miko quickly signed something to Jack.

"What's she saying?" the seeker asked Jack. Jack opened his mouth to tell him, but Soundwave beat him to it.

"Competition is what drives some people forwards." Soundwave looked to Miko for confirmation. The mile-wide grin told him he had read her correctly.

"Wait. Soundwave. you know-"

"American Sign Language? I do. In fact, I have all the languages spoken on Earth downloaded onto my processor, and in my free time I-"

"Soundwave?" Starscream cut him off before he could continue to ramble on.

"Okay, I'll shut up."

"You idiot!" Arcee let out a whimper as Optimus' clenched servo punched a hole right next to her head. The Prime turned to his second in command, and growled, "You destroyed our largest energon deposit?"

"Yes, but-"

"You've cost us energon we could have put to better use, and all to pull off a ludicrous plan," Optimus said, pulling his servo out of the wall.

"But Optimus, we did manage to terminate one of the Decepticons," Arcee squeaked, catching the Prime's attention again.

"Who?" Optimus demanded, abruptly turning to face Arcee. "Who did we get?"

"One of the Decepticon medics; Breakdown, or something." The Prime's faceplates quickly morphed back into a scowl, and immediately Arcee knew she had done something wrong.

"Just Breakdown? Just one of the medics?" Arcee barely had time to protest before Optimus grabbed her by the throat. "They still have another medic!" Optimus hissed, pulling the black femme closer. "Killing him won't do us any good!" His optics narrowed, and he sneered, "I should kill you right now."

"Please don't..." Arcee begged for her life. She knew that once Optimus had set his mind on killing someone, he would show no mercy, but she hoped that as his second in command, there was a slim chance that he would relent. But it seemed like she would receive no such treatment.

Strangled noises were that escaped Arcee's lips as Optimus began to crush her windpipe. She desperately clawed at his faceplates, as if that would do her any good, but Optimus refused to let go. Then, just as she had begun to lose hope that she would be able to see another sunrise, he dropped her.

The black femme hit the floor with a loud clatter, and her servos quickly flew to her throat as she desperately gasped for air. She looked up to her leader and saw Optimus glaring back down at her.

"What is that?" Optimus inquired, pointing at something. At first, she could not see what had caught the attention of her leader, until she noticed a shard of white tinted energon sticking out of her subspace storage pocket.

"Oh, this?" She pulled it out, examining it as if it without interest, as if it was just another shard of regular energon. "I don't know. Found it on the floor of the mine before I blew it up." She turned to Optimus Prime, her faceplates expressing an amount of interest as she asked, "Why do you want to know? What's so special about this?"

"Because," Optimus said, a sinister smile slowly growing onto his faceplates as he plucked the shard of energon from Arcee's grasp, "This could turn the tide of this war in our favor."

Chapter Text

Something told Raf that there was something weird about the white shard of energon. Knock Out had been put in charge of inspecting this strange shard of energon, and so far, the medic had noticed nothing unusual. That still did not prevent the broad-shouldered boy from telling himself that something was off about that piece of strange energon.

Ironically, the piece of white energon was called dark energon. It was said to be the blood of Primus, the creator of the Cybertronians, whose corpse just happened to be their home planet. It was called dark energon because it was rumored to have strange powers, powers that often did more harm than good. But they were just rumors, and from personal experience, Raf knew that rumors usually never amounted to more than a bunch of empty words.

Even though Knock Out had dismissed the shard of dark energon as nothing more than a piece of weirdly colored energon, Raf was still a bit suspicious. Whenever he had gotten close to it, the piece of energon begun to act up. He had reported this to Knock Out, but when asked how it had been acting up, he just could not put it in words. As such, Knock Out dismissed this as superstition. However, with his friend's death still fresh in his memory, Raf suspected that Knock Out's head might not have been clear and he could have missed a detail or two, so the boy kept a vigilant watch.

As the boy kept an eye on the white crystal, something moved out of the corner of his eye. He blinked. Briefly scanning the gigantic table surface he was on, he did not notice anything unusual, and dismissed it as a figment of his imagination. Only for the bright pink and yellow potted flower on the table to twitch.

Raf blinked again. He took a cautious step forward. Then another. The potted plant rumbled violently, rocking its pot back and forth. Raf guessed that this had something to do with the shard of dark energon that lay nearby.

The large boy looked over his shoulder, taking his eyes off the shard of energon for a second, and called out, "Knock Out! You should come over and see this!"

No reply came from the Decepticon medic, and Raf assumed that he just did not care. An audible crash came from behind him, prompting him to turn his attention back to the shard of white energon. The pot had burst open, ceramic shards scattering about, and the plant's roots splayed across the floor.

Then, slowly but surely, the flower's roots began to creep forwards towards the white crystal lying on the ground. A small voice told him to intervene, yet he remained glued to the spot.

Like the tentacles of an octopus, the roots slowly wrapped around the white crystal. Once it had a firm grasp, the roots reeled it in, and the shard disappeared under a mass of intertwining roots.

A soft crackling noise broke the eerie silence. A white stain slowly spread over the vibrantly colored petals of the flower, until the flower's petals were bleached deathly pale. As the flower was completely coated in a snowy white color, the crackling gradually ceased, until it had become so quiet one could hear a pin drop.

One part of Raf told him to get closer, while another part told him to back away. Unable to decide between the two options, he stood, rooted in place.

Then, the plant twitched, and Raf decided to take a step back. Slowly, the flower began to lift its head off the ground, eerily silent. The plant twitched again, and then, it turned to Raf.

Raf's eyes widened in fear, and he slowly backed away. He failed to notice the wires protruding out from underneath him, however, and tripped. The boy regained his senses, only to see the flower looming overhead. In a sluggish motion, the flower twisted in a way that looked completely unnatural.

At first, he felt a little tired. Then, his head began to spin, and he was overcome with a woozy feeling. He clutched his head, and as the darkness closed in, he could only watch as the roots crept closer.


Almost instantly, all the energy rushed back to the boy. In an instant, he was wide awake once more. Clutching his head, Raf looked up to see the plant had been cut right down the middle, Knock Out standing over the flower with a glowing blue saw in hand.

"Are you okay?" Knock Out asked the human boy, his tone betraying his concern over his human charge. This surprised Raf, as he had only seen the determined, then moping side of the medic.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Raf mumbled as he slowly got back up to his feet. Both their eyes drifted over to the plant. In between the two lifeless halves of the plant, lay the shard of dark energon.

Slowly, the petals on the flower began to return to their normal shade of pink and yellow. Knock Out carefully plucked the white crystal off the ground, inspecting it with blue optics.

"I guess I should have looked a little harder," Knock Out murmured, feeling slightly guilty for the fact that he had dismissed the shard of dark energon as nothing. He had already lost a friend today, and the last thing he wanted to do was lose another partner.

"Well," Raf said, trying to be positive, "at least we know that dark energon can turn plants into energy-draining creatures."

The doors to the medbay burst open. The pair turned their heads over to see a bright yellow vehicon stumble through the doorway.

"I heard some commotion from outside," the vehicon asked. "You need any help, doc?"

Knock Out's optics looked over at the shard of dark energon, then back to the vehicon. "Tell Megatron I've got something to show him. And tell Soundwave to get some sort of flora from the planet's surface."

The vehicon hastily straightened himself and gave the blue medic a salute, before he dashed out the door.

Alone once again, Raf turned to Knock Out.

"Hey, Knock Out," the stocky boy inquired. "What do you think someone like Optimus Prime is going to do with this?"

It was almost a perfect idea. Almost. From what Optimus knew of dark energon's powers, he could use it to create an unstoppable army of energy draining monsters. He could poison the wildlife with dark energon, giving his forces a powerful edge over his foes. The only problem was, he did not know how he could control such an army.

As it was now, the energy draining creatures attacked anything within range, making them an unreliable wild card. If he could find a way to control this dark energon infected flora, he could create an army that, although not as vast in numbers as that of Megatron's army, would make Megatron's vehicons seem like mere insects in comparison.

He paced around the main room, throwing a few glances at the pile of dark energon crystals that lay on the desk off to his side every now and then.

If only he could find a way to create some sort of bond with them, allowing him to control these dark energon infected creatures.

"Still haven't found a way to control the dark energon creatures?" The voice of his second in command snapped him out of his thoughts. He stopped pacing and turned to face the black femme.

"If I had, I would have already gone out to destroy the Decepticons!" Optimus growled.

"Well, too bad for you, then," she said, uninterested. Optimus glared back at her.

Suddenly, an idea came to him. A sinister sneer formed on Optimus' faceplates, and he strode over to the desk on the side.

Arcee confused as to what her leader had in mind, asked, "What are you doing?"

Optimus did not respond. Slowly, the Autobot SIC crept over to her leader's side. She caught the soft white glow of the shard of dark energon Optimus was holding over his open chest. She barely even had time to widen her eyes in surprise before he plunged the crystal into his spark.

His biolights immediately turned a blindingly bright shade of white, and he opened his mouth to scream in pain, but all that escaped was a burst of light. Arcee stepped back, eyes wide with terror.

Then, slowly, her terror changed to curiosity. After countless vorns of living under Optimus' command, Arcee had grown tired of being second, and if the dark energon killed him, that would save her the work of planning a coup.

Unfortunately for her, the white light coming from Optimus slowly faded as the effects wore off. Soon, the Prime's biolights reverted back to normal. The beams of light coming out of his optics gradually diminished, until they had disappeared altogether.

The Autobot leader's optics snapped open, revealing two deathly pale lights underneath. His newly recolored white optics flitted about the room, eventually landing on the black femme standing beside him.

"Optimus," Arcee asked, examining her leader with cautious optics, aware of what the dark energon could have done to him. "Are you-"

Optimus responded by plucking a shard of dark energon from the pile beside him. He raised his arm high above his head, before bringing it back down onto a small flower, one of Ratchet's various test subjects.

The plant swallowed the shard without hesitation. The flower's petals turned white the moment the crystal pierced through its skin, and the flower sluggishly turned its head towards Optimus. This time, however, the flower did not immediately try to drain his energy. This time, it remained completely still, as if waiting for an order. Optimus smiled, revealing a row of pointed denta.

"I feel fine," the Autobot leader said, turning to Arcee. "In fact, I feel better than ever."

Chapter Text

Shrill bird songs pierced the air. The wind blew through the forest, rustling leaves and causing blades of grass on the forest floor to sway. The sun's rays touched down on the flowers below, revealing the brilliance of their colors, and the animals of the forest went about their daily lives. A green portal opened up in the middle of a sunlit clearing, disturbing the calm of the forest. The animals were thrown into a panic, and they scattered as a stocky grey robot emerged from the portal.

Megatron's optics scanned the forest, taking in every detail the clearing had to offer. Shortly after, several Vehicons thundered onto the scene, their bright yellow armor flashing in the sunlight, weapons raised. Upon setting their optics on the calm scene, however, the Vehicons relaxed. One by one they put down their weapons.

Soundwave was the last to emerge from the portal. The moment he stepped into the clearing, all the other Decepticons present turned their attention to him. The white and blue seeker to step back, and he wondered if he had done anything wrong.

"Soundwave," Megatron called out, "are you sure we're in the right place?"

"Yeah," Soundwave replied with a small nod.

"You completely sure?" one of the Vehicons piped up. "Last time you opened up a ground bridge for us, you sent us to the other side of the world."

"I am positive that this is the right place," Soundwave said back with confidence. The Vehicons murmured amongst themselves, most in agreement. Gradually, as the Vehicons began to quiet, they turned their heads towards Megatron for further direction.

"Alright, men!" Megatron said, his loud voice resounding through the forest. "We're here to investigate the dark energon activity detected in this area. Be on the lookout for anything abnormally white!"

"Yes sir!" the other Decepticons responded in unison, all straightening themselves upright in salute. Then, as quickly as they had arrived on the scene, the group dispersed into smaller groups. The Vehicons faded into the forest, brushing past trees as they split up to explore.

Soundwave brushed aside tree branches as he ventured deeper into the forest. He had a program running on his visor that was on the lookout for anything unusually white, and he kept watch on his visor's console, waiting for an alert that would signal that the program had picked something up. After a while, however, the program still had not picked anything up, and Soundwave found himself lowering his guard. Gradually, his calculated gait changed into a casual stride, and the Decepticon TIC found himself focusing on the other aspects of the forest.

He observed the green plants as he passed by, their leaves rustling in the wind. He saw a mouse scamper past him, a brown blur moving through the forest. His optics followed a group of ants carrying a piece of fruit, split wide open revealing the vibrant yellow flesh that lay beneath its thin red skin. He watched the birds soaring high above, some weaving between the branches of the trees, others flying so high that they were just silhouettes in the bright blue sky. Soundwave released Laserbeak off his chest, and the minicon shot up towards the sun to join the other birds amongst the clouds. He watched as his minicon began to call out to the other birds, and a smile placed itself on his lips. With a quiet sigh, Soundwave turned his attention back to the land in front of him and continued on his way.

Then, Soundwave had noticed something strange; the forest had gone quiet. The usual noises of life were replaced with silence. The birds had stopped singing. The animals no longer called out to each other. Even the wind had ceased to blow, leaving the trees still. The only sound that reached his audio receptors was the sound of leaves crunching beneath his pedes.

The noise in the forest had probably faded gradually as he ventured deeper into the forest, he just hadn't noticed until now. This sudden change in mood sent chills down his spine. He looked to the sky, but Laserbeak was nowhere in sight. For a moment, he considered recalling his minicon but decided against it. He wanted to give her some time to enjoy herself, so Soundwave pressed on alone.

Soundwave walked through the woods, now slightly more cautious than before. His servos raised, he kept himself on high alert for any sounds. He stepped through a thick wall of trees, brushing aside tree branches as they moved to obscure his path, only to stop the moment he saw what was on the other side. As far as his optics could see, a sea of grey, shriveled up trees lay before him. Soundwave quickly pulled up a map onto his visor. The map told him that he was supposed to be standing in the middle of an ocean of lush green woodlands, and yet he was unable to find a single green leaf in his line of sight.

Something had happened here. Something that left all these trees in their current condition, and perhaps that something had something to do with dark energon.

Soundwave tapped the comm-link on the side of his helm. "Megatron? About that dark energon activity..."

The sight of a whole mass of dead trees before him told the Decepticon warlord something was off. The Decepticons had not seen what happened when the creatures spawned from dark energon finished draining energy, but Megatron was sure that this was it.

"Megatron?" Soundwave's voice echoed through the comm-link. "About that dark energon activity..."

"I know," Megatron replied. "I am seeing it right now."

"Really?" one of the Vehicons piped up. "What does it look... oh." From the Vehicon's reaction, Megatron guessed that he had stumbled upon the dead trees as well.

Megatron scanned the clump of dead plants, searching for a deathly pale plant that the Autobots could have used to cause this destruction, but his optics failed to pick up even the slightest trace of white amongst the sea of grey.

"I see you have found my little experiment, Decepticons," a deep baritone voice resounded through the forest.

"Optimus Prime?" he called out, receiving a chuckle in return.

"I thought you would not recognize me after all these years, Megatron," Optimus replied. "I have been playing around with dark energon for a while, and I've learned how to control the creatures birthed by it. Now, witness the fruits of my labor!"

The moment those words reached Megatron's audio receptors, he noticed a flash of white out of the corner of his optic. He lashed out instantly, and a deathly pale tree fell to the ground. He glanced over his shoulder and saw more white plants emerging from the forest, with more plants slowly fading into a deathly pale color. The Decepticon leader gritted his denta, before he let out a battle cry, and charged.

The plants closed in on him from all sides, like a surge of gleaming pale water. Soundwave cut down wave after wave of the oncoming hoard of dark energon infected plants, but no matter how fast he cut them down, new ones swiftly took their place. Because the monsters that kept coming after them were nothing more than organics with a deadly touch, Soundwave was able to easily cut down one after another, but he knew that he could not keep this up forever.

As Soundwave hacked away at the oncoming attackers, he couldn't help but worry about Laserbeak. His minicon's weaponry was much weaker than his own. She was built for stealth, not combat, and if she got within range of those plants... Well, he decided that it would be best if he did not think about that situation.

"I mean, it's not like dark energon affects animals, right?" Soundwave muttered to himself, trying to calm his own nerves.

Then, as his blade cut down another plant attempting to snare him in its grasp, he noticed an opening between the plants. It was small, but it was there, and he planned to take advantage of it. Soundwave reached out and began furiously hacking away at the small opening. White liquid splattered all over his arms, but his pace didn't falter. The space between plants slowly began to widen, until it was finally large enough for him to squeeze through. Without a moment of hesitation, Soundwave transformed, slipping through the gap. He took to the skies, quickly outpacing the vines that reached up to grab him.

The second he was sure that he was out of danger, he pinged Laserbeak. Fifteen seconds later, Laserbeak remained unresponsive, and Soundwave began to panic. Thoughts frantically began to race about in his processor, none of them positive.

What if she had encountered Optimus Prime? What if she had not been able to stay out of reach of the energy-draining plants below?

Soundwave tried to shake the negative thoughts from his mind. He pinged his minicon again, praying to Primus that his creation was not lying offline on the forest floor. A second passed without a response from Laserbeak. Then another second passed. And another. For a moment, he feared for the worst.

Then, the minicon pinged back. The Decepticon TIC breathed a sigh of relief, before he noticed how faint his minicon's signal was. Soundwave quickly sent his minicon a message.

Are you injured? Soundwave inquired, concerned about the well being of his minicon.

Yes, Laserbeak chirped wearily.

Soundwave immediately started to panic. What are your coordinates? He asked the minicon frantically.

The minicon sighed at her deployer's protectiveness. A moment later, Soundwave received a message containing a set of coordinates.

Sensors may be faulty, Laserbeak warned, but her words were ignored. Soundwave had already taken one look at the set given to him by his minicon and took off again.

Soundwave soared through the sky, slicing through the air like a white knife. He glanced at the coordinates one more time to see if he was heading in the right direction. Reaching his destination in a matter of seconds, the drone transformed mid-air and skidded to a stop on the ground. At once, his sensors were taking in every bit of information on the scene, reaching under every rock to see if he could sniff out anything suspicious. As he slowly got to his feet, Soundwave observed the new area that he had entered.

There had been a fight here. What once might have been another section of the forest had been reduced to a mess of wood and ash. Branches lay scattered across the ground, and vines draped down from chunks of wood. All the trees in the area were either filled with holes or had been cut down into splinters. As he looked closer to the smoldering holes in the trees, he noticed a tinge of blue surrounding the edges. From the size of the holes, he guessed that this was the work of Megatron.

"So Laserbeak is with Megatron..." Soundwave said. He straightened himself, reminding himself of why he was here. He scanned the area with his optics but found no trace of either his leader or his minicon. He stepped forward to begin searching for the two. Something metal crunched under his pede, and he lifted it to see what he had stepped on.

Lying on the forest floor was a shriveled grey metal shell. The Decepticon TIC knelt down to get a closer look, and upon closer inspection, he found the Decepticon insignia on its side. Curious, Soundwave hauled away the large piece of wood covering the top, revealing the faded visor of what once might have been a Vehicon.

Soundwave shook his head sympathetically. "Poor bot," he mumbled to himself. "Must not have been able to defend himself." Then, he noticed the long gash down the Vehicon's chassis.

At once, he knew that something not right. No plant was strong enough to dent steel. There was a possibility of the dark energon making the plants tougher, but from what Soundwave had seen before, the dark energon infected plants had been just as easy to cut through as before. Even if there was a plant tough enough to cut through steel, the plants wrapped around their victims to drain their energy; they didn't cut them down. This was not the work of one of the energon infected plants; this was most likely the work of another cybertronian.

"Soundwave! There you are! We've been looking all over for you!" A raspy voice shook the Decepticon TIC out of his thoughts. He lifted his helm to see Megatron approaching him, stepping through the mess of fallen tree trunks. One bright yellow Vehicon followed close behind, and in his servos, he held the limp form of Laserbeak.

Soundwave stepped forwards, servo outstretched. The Vehicon handed Laserbeak to him without a word. Soundwave quickly inspected his minicon for any damage, noting the cuts running down her back.

"This Vehicon here saved your minicon from a dark energon infected hawk," Megatron said, motioning to the Vehicon beside him.

"Thank you," Soundwave said, as he reattached his minicon to his chassis. The Vehicon bowed his head in response. Then, Soundwave stiffened upon realizing what Megatron had just said.

"Wait. A dark energon infected hawk?" he asked, turning his helm to face the warlord.

Megatron nodded grimly. "I'm afraid not even the fauna of this planet is safe from Optimus' warmongering," the warlord grumbled.

"Then," Soundwave noted, "could it have something to do with this?" He motioned his servo over to the offline body lying behind him, a gash running down the middle. Both the Vehicon and Megatron stepped forwards to see. Upon seeing the body, the Vehicon flinched, as if it had brought back bad memories, and Megatron shook his head.

"I mean," Soundwave said, "since a hawk infected with dark energon has shown to be able to inflict damage on our bodies, it's not unlikely to assume that a large animal could have done this."

"This could not have been the work of an animal," Megatron said back. "No animal would have been able to make a cut as precise as that."

"Then who? Humans? Fungus? Space barnacles? Maybe he just tripped and landed on a rock or something."

"This was done by someone cybertronian," Megatron growled.

"So I was right the first time?" At once, Soundwave felt the harsh gaze of two pairs of optics glaring at him, prompting him to stay quiet.

"As I was saying," Megatron continued, "this was done by another cybertronian, and since we know who the only other presence here is, this could only be the work of-"

"Optimus Prime!" The Vehicon's startled cry prompted both Decepticon commanders to turn around. Across the clearing, they saw the Autobot commander emerge from the behind the trees. Megatron stepped in front of his two companions, engines tense, like a compressed spring.

Optimus stopped at the edge of the clearing, glaring at the trio of Decepticons who had survived the initial attack with piercing white optics. Watching the three, calculating, Optimus raised his servo.

A loud roar came from behind, and a crash sounded off not long after. The trio turned to see two pale white bears bursting out of the forest. Their eyes were blank, they were foaming at the mouth, and they looked ready to kill. Soundwave and the Vehicon were barely able to bring their arms up in time just as the bears came crashing forwards.

With a hiss, Megatron extended his blade, ready to come to their aid, only for Optimus to call out from across the clearing, "This fight is between me and you, Megatron!" He turned his helm to see that Optimus had also drawn both his blades and scowled.

"Very well, Optimus Prime," Megatron snarled, raising his blade in the Autobot's direction. And with that, the two leaders charged at each other.

Their blades met with a clang. They immediately reached a standstill, both pressing their blades against the other, neither willing to back down. Megatron was the one who managed to break the deadlock, using his larger blade to push the Autobot's blades to the side. Optimus stepped aside to dodge the downward slash that came shortly after. Megatron raised his blade again and swung a second time, only for his blade to be caught between both of his opponent's blades. In response, Optimus aimed a kick square at his chassis, causing Megatron stumbled back a bit.

"Still using the same old tricks, I see," Megatron said, his sword leveled at Optimus' chassis.

Optimus scowled behind his mouth guard. "You'd be surprised at what I've gained over these past few stellar cycles."

Optimus leapt into the air, swinging his sword down to the ground. Megatron stepped back, and the blade flew past him. The moment the blade collided with the floor, sending pieces of wood flying through the air, Optimus did not waste a single second to continue his attack, thrusting his sword up at his opponent. Megatron jerked his helm back, and the sword that would have sliced through his helm instead darted past his faceplates moments later, gently brushing past his chin.

As Optimus quickly retracted his arm, Megatron went on the offensive, bringing his own blade up into the air, and swinging it down to deliver a crushing blow. Once again, the blade was caught by the cross formed by his opponent's two blades. Optimus threw Megatron's sword to the side, and the warlord stumbled, struggling to regain his footing on the uneven terrain. The Autobot commander took advantage of this momentary distraction and lunged forward. Luckily for him, the Decepticon leader managed to gain a steady foothold again and scampered aside to dodge the deadly blade that was thrust forward. Optimus was quick to follow up, spinning around and attacking with the other blade. Megatron was just barely able to adjust his position and block the second strike, but his larger sword proved to be able to halt his opponent's blade, so the Autobot commander was forced to draw back.

The two now stood a good distance away from the other, blades leveled at their opponent, each watching the other to see what they would do next. Megatron, the first to act, lunged forwards, sword outstretched. Optimus deflected the blow to the side, and quickly launched an attack of his own, swinging his own blade down from above. With his other servo unable to take the blow, Megatron was forced to grab onto his opponent's arm. He was not fast enough, however, and the blade bit into the armor on his shoulder.

Then, the Decepticon warlord felt a wave of tiredness wash over him, much to his confusion. He looked over to the blade embedded in his shoulder, as a quiet popping sound reached his audio receptors. Then, he remembered the shriveled Vehicon corpse lying on the forest floor, the wound in his chest, and realization quickly dawned on him. It had seemed that dark energon had done more than just give the Autobot commander an army to command, but had granted him the power of absorbing energy as well.

Quickly, Megatron tore the blade out from his shoulder and flung it to the ground. Optimus barely had time to widen his optics before he followed his sword to the forest floor, slamming against it with a loud clang. Stunned, he shakily got back to his feet, only for his opponent to slice open a wide gash along his chassis. The Autobot commander stumbled back but was given little time to recover, as the Decepticon warlord followed with a fist to the jaw that sent his opponent flying into the wreckage behind him.

A thud sounded off behind Megatron. Something white flew past the warlord, and two white colored bears crashed beside the Autobot commander. Megatron turned his helm over his shoulder just in time to see Soundwave hurl a large piece of wood. The sharpened branch soared through the air and sunk itself into the roaring bear's tough hide with a meaty thunk. At once, the animal became limp. No blood came pouring out, there was no final roar to mark its demise. Its eyes just went blank.

Now that they were no longer fighting for their lives, Soundwave and the Vehicon stepped over to Megatron's side, their blasters aimed at the fallen Autobot leader. Optimus' optics flitted between the two.

"Well," Optimus growled, his voice echoing off his mouth guard, "It would appear as if I underestimated the mechs you had under your command, Megatron."

Megatron took a step forwards, focused entirely on the Autobot commander, and lowering his blade to the ground. "Might I ask why you did this?" the Decepticon warlord inquired, his faceplates in a scowl. "Why bring these organics into our conflict?"

For a moment, the Autobot commander was silent. Then, he said, "I am simply using all of the resources available to me."

"So, is that how you see the organic inhabitants of this planet?" Megatron spat back angrily. "As nothing more than expandable materials to assist your efforts in the war?"

Although Optimus said nothing, the silence was telling enough for Megatron. "And why bring us here, but not bring your entire force with you as well?" the Decepticon warlord continued.

At this, the dark-colored Autobot smirked under his mouth guard. "For the same reason that I assume you did not bring all of your men as well; they had other matters to attend to."

"So all of this was just a diversion?" Soundwave growled, stepping forward.

"Indeed," Optimus replied. "This was just a taste of what is to come in the main event." He paused, before he added, "A shame you will not live long enough to witness it."

Suddenly, Optimus jumped to his pedes. Surprised, both the Vehicon and Soundwave took a step back. Megatron, on the other hand, stayed rooted in place, which only earned him a kick square to the chassis. The Vehicon did not hesitate to catch his leader as he stumbled back, hastily helping him to regain his footing.

Taking advantage of this momentary distraction, Optimus Prime swung his arm out, scattering countless small objects across the forest floor. Soundwave was the first to act, quickly firing back at the Autobot commander. Almost instantly, a wall of trees shot up out of the ground, shielding Optimus from the oncoming fire. The deep, sinister chuckle of the Autobot commander slipped through the leaves on the trees, and through the cracks in between Soundwave saw Optimus plunge his blade into one of the bear corpses pinned against the ground. Then, the corpse shriveled up like a piece of fruit sucked dry of its juices. Upon catching a glance at the dark-colored Autobot, he saw that the gash on his chest was sealing up. The trees shifted position, blocking the Decepticon TIC from viewing the Autobot commander, and like a pack of ravenous wolves, descended upon the trio of Decepticons.

Both Soundwave and the Vehicon raised their blasters to the air, ready to defend themselves from the oncoming threat, but Megatron raised a servo to stop them.

"Soundwave," he said, turning to the slim mech, "deploy a ground bridge and get us out of here. There is no need to continue this pointless battle."

Soundwave sighed. "Very well," he grumbled. He quickly entered a set of coordinates into his console. Moments later, a swirling green and purple vortex materialized under the three Decepticons, and they jumped through without a second thought. Just as quickly as it had appeared, the ground bridge vanished into thin air, leaving the dark energon infected plants to scrabble at the ground.

Chapter Text

The silence was unnerving. Staring down at the still figure of Soundwave, Miko's thoughts went to how strange it was to see her normally talkative guardian fall quiet. Idly stroking Laserbeak's still head, Miko trailed her eyes down the blue stripes streaking down his white armor, his cry replaying itself in her head over and over again as she recalled seeing the Autobot Cliffjumper blast him directly in the middle of his chest, watching as he fell to the floor. She quietly thought to herself how much she had enjoyed the company of the communications officer in the short time she had known him. Heck, she would even take Laserbeak as company in the place of Soundwave if it didn't mean she had to suffer through the heavy silence lingering in the air.

The metallic clang of approaching pedesteps resounded in her ears, and she looked up to see Knock Out approaching her.

Seeing the worrying look in her eyes, Knock Out flashed her an empathetic grin. "Before you ask," the blue medic said tiredly, "he'll live. That shot only missed his spark by a few inches."

At this Miko brightened. She paused for a moment before she signed the Decepticon medic a message.

Knock Out hesitated. "It will take him about one to two weeks to recover at best, and at worst a few months," the blue medic said. "His spark wasn't left completely untouched, you know."

Miko sighed, her head lowering in disappointment.

"Hey," Knock Out said from above, a small smile on his mouth. "Don't look so down." The girl lifted her head to meet the blue medic's gaze. "At least he'll still be able to talk."

This did little to lift the girl from her sour mood, and Miko lowered her head again. The smile slowly faded from Knock Out's face, quickly softening into a sympathetic glance.

"Hey, do you want me to take you home?" Knock Out mumbled apologetically, lowering himself to the girl's level. The only response he received was a small nod. The blue medic ex-vented loudly as he slowly rose to his pedes.

Carefully he placed a servo on the table before the girl. "Come on, let's go," he said. Taking one last look at the still frame of her guardian and his minicon lying beside him, Miko turned to face Knock Out again and stepped on to his waiting servo.

Raising his servo and placing it closer to his chassis, Knock Out steadily began to make his way towards the door. The world jostled around Miko as the blue medic took one step after another, shaking her as she sat in his palm. Her eyes once again drifted back to Soundwave's motionless body, trailing down the bright blue stripes streaking down his white armor as they flashed in the dim lighting of the med-bay. Then, they shone no more, as the weak lights went out one by one with the click of a switch. Soon, the only light that remained in the room was the light that leaked in through the door. Even that light disappeared seconds after as Miko watched Knock Out finally close the door behind him, but not before catching one last glance of Soundwave, and as Knock Out walked away from the med bay door, Miko could not help but hope that her guardian would get well soon.

"She's certainly nice company, wouldn't you say Raf?"

Raf looked up from the dashboard he had been staring at for such a long time. "Huh?" was his only response.

"Nevermind," Knock Out muttered, exasperated. He had been trying to strike up a conversation with the children riding inside him, and while he had managed to talk with Miko, Raf just ignored any attempts he made to communicate with him.

Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap.

That's not to say that he was completely silent. Raf had just been tapping the oddly shaped wooden stick he held in his hands instead of actually conversing with anyone else, much to the Decepticon medic's annoyance. Another series of taps reached his audio receptors, derailing his train of thought again, making Knock Out even more agitated.

"Hey Raf," the Decepticon medic called out. "Could you please stop?"

"Stop what?" Raf asked, glancing back at the dashboard.

"Stop the tapping. It's getting on my nerves."

Raf didn't directly reply, but the wooden tapping sound ceased. Knock Out waited a few seconds to see if it would come back. It never did, causing the blue medic to sigh in relief.

"Knock Out?" the boy asked, a downcast look on his face.

"What is it, Raf?" Knock Out replied eagerly. "If you need anything, don't be afraid to say it. I wouldn't hesitate to do anything for a friend."

"I'm starting to think that maybe being involved with the Decepticons wasn't such a great idea," Raf said, his voice tinged with a hint of regretfulness. At once, the run-down blue car screeched to a halt.

"What do you mean?" Knock Out said back.

"Well, it's just..." Raf paused for a moment, thinking about his next words. "It's just that before, all I thought about was how thrilling it would be to participate in a war with giant robots, but now that I've really stopped to think about it, I already have enough on my plate as it is."

"Well, couldn't you find some way to lessen that weight?" Knock Out asked, panic beginning to creep into his voice.

"I'm sorry, it just doesn't work that way," Raf said with a sigh. Suddenly, the world around him transformed into a streaking blur as he found himself thrown onto the sidewalk. The sound of mechanical whirring reached his ears as he slowly began to get to his feet, and he quickly whirled around to find himself face to face with the Decepticon medic.

"Listen here, Raf," Knock Out growled. "I've just recently lost a really close friend. How do you think I'd like to lose another friend?"

For a moment, guilt flashed in the boy's eyes. Then it was gone as quickly as it had appeared, and Raf's eyes steeled once again. "Look, I'm sorry it has to be this way. It's just that with the way things are in my life, I can't take any more."

"Then you're being selfish, Raf," the blue medic hissed, narrowing his optics. "You're only caring about yourself and how it benefits yourself, not how it might affect others."

"Well we can't all be as humble as you," Raf shot back. "Nothing can stay in one place forever!"

"Then have fun walking the rest of the way home," Knock Out snapped, his cooling fans spinning in a frenzy, the blue medic as boiled in rage, "because I'm not driving you."

"Then drive away for all I care," Raf grumbled, kneeling down to pick up the wooden object lying on the concrete sidewalk. Knock Out sent the boy one last angry glare. Raf met his burning gaze, albeit a bit hesitant. The two stayed like this for what seemed like an eternity, before Knock Out angrily ex-vented, transforming back into a beat-up blue car and speeding away. Raf followed the Decepticon medic as he disappeared around a corner. For a moment, his hardened eyes wavered, and a tinge of sadness shone through, but then it was gone. With a sigh, Raf took one last look at the corner, before he slowly began to walk in the other direction under the flickering street lamps.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Airachnid mumbled, twirling a strand of her hair, her eyes to the floor.

"I'm certain!" Jack said, placing an assuring hand on her shoulder. "If I start spending less time at home, my dad will want to know why."

"Yes, but..." the holographic woman said, intensely focused on her feet, "wouldn't it be easier to tell the truth?"

"No," Jack said with a laugh. "Anyone who has met my father before would know that if I told him I was hanging out with a gang of giant robots that transform into vehicles, he'd probably die of a heart attack."

Airachnid choked in surprise. "That sounds dangerous!" the woman said, her eyes big as saucers. "Are you sure he doesn't have any deadly medical conditions?"

"It's just an expression Airachnid," Jack said, motioning her to calm down. "He wouldn't actually die if I told him I was hanging out with a bunch of giant robots."

"Then why not tell him that if it won't kill him?"

The boy sighed in frustration. "My father is pretty protective of me, and if I told him, he probably won't let me come back, especially if he finds out that I'm participating in a war."

"Okay," Airachnid said, attempting to put a weak smile on her lips. Returning the smile, Jack turned back to the door. He stepped under the lamp hanging over the doormat and pressed the doorbell. A quiet ringing noise could be faintly heard coming from the inside of the house.

For a moment, silence was all that was in the air. The two just stood together out in the crisp night air in the peace and quiet.

Airachnid was the first to break the shatter the awkward silence. "I don't think anyone's home," she whispered, "and standing out here just makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe we should head back."

Suddenly, the door was flung open, slamming into the wall with a resounding crash that caused the holoform to jump into the air. Jack, on the other hand, remained firmly planted on the ground as he came face to face with a robust man that towered over him.

"Hey dad," Jack said with a small wave

"Jack!" The larger man exclaimed, a smile lighting up his face. "I was wondering when you were going to get back." Then, he noticed the woman standing behind his son. The woman gave the larger man a meek smile in an attempt to look friendly. Jack's father only raised an eyebrow in response.

"And who is this?" he asked.

Jack stepped aside, bringing the white-haired woman into view. "Dad, this is..." he trailed off, as he suddenly recalled that they had forgotten to forge an alias for her.


"Nice to meet you, Ariana," Jack's father said, extending a hand. 'Ariana' looked utterly confused, completely lost as what to do, and her eyes drifted to Jack for assistance. The boy motioned for her to take the hand.

Cautiously, the holoform extended her hand in return, grasping the larger man's hand weakly, only to squeak in surprise as her hand was roughly jerked in a sudden motion. The smaller woman retracted her hand the instant the larger man released his grasp, shaking her hand out to lessen the pain as she shot Jack a betrayed look. Jack's father just laughed.

"Well, I'm glad to see my son is hanging out with other people," the burly man said, patting the woman's shoulder.

"She's new here," Jack cut in. "She needed someone to help her learn about this place, so I've taken to helping her out."

"That makes sense," Jack's father said, the wide grin on his face only getting wider by the minute. He then turned to the holoform. "Thanks for driving Jack home," he said. "This boy can't find his way out of his own room, and I appreciate your help."

Motioning with his head to the inside of the house, Jack's father said, "You might want to hurry up and get inside. Your supper's getting cold."

Jack needed no further prompting. Quickly turning around to flash Airachnid a reassuring smile and a thumbs-up, Jack had disappeared into the house in a matter of seconds. Jack's father turned back to the woman standing idly outside his door.

"Speaking of supper," Jack's father said, "would you like to stay and eat?"

Airachnid took a step back, her eyes widening a bit in surprise. "I'm sorry, I can't."

Jack's father's smile softened a bit, taking on a more gentle look. "Come on, there's no harm in doing so. I mean, you don't have anyone waiting for you, do you?"

Airachnid pondered this for a moment. The other Decepticons would certainly notice her absence if she did not return in a few hours, but surely they would not mind her staying at her charge's house for a minute or so. Finally, she mumbled quietly, "No, not really..."

"Then what's stopping you?" Jack's father exclaimed. "Besides, it would be interesting to get to know someone my son is spending his time with."

"Alright," Airachnid said, sighing in defeat. Taking one last look behind her, the woman stepped through the doorway and into the confines of her charge's cozy home. The moment she stepped through the door, the face of her holoform was washed over by a wave of comforting heat.

Then, the woman stopped. Turning to the man beside her, she asked, "This might be a bit sudden, but I was wondering what your name was."

The larger man chuckled. "Right," he said light-heartedly. "I guess you're not comfortable just calling me, 'Jack's father' the entire time, can we?" His expression shifted into a bright smile, and he placed a hand on her shoulder. "The name's Rodney. But you can call me Rod as all my other friends do."

Airachnid nodded, quietly absorbing this new information. "Rodney," she repeated as if testing how the word felt on her lips.

Rod patted her shoulder heartily. "Yeah, weird name, I know," he said with a grin. "Now let's get going, shall we? Dinner will freeze over if we wait any longer." The white-haired woman nodded again and continued her way into the house. Rod's eyes followed the woman cautiously step through the hall until she slipped around the corner. As soon as she disappeared from sight, the larger man turned his head back outside. The grin on his lips was gone in an instant, and at once his eyes were scanning the street, a paranoid look drilled deep inside them. He scanned every inch of the empty street, going over dimly lit street lamps and glaring at the slightest twitch in the bushes. Then, when he was completely sure the street was empty, with one last glance at the two houses next door, he slipped inside, closing the door behind him with a click.

This search was going nowhere. The vehicons had been searching the ruins of the energon-disperser for megacycles, but so far the search had turned up fruitless. They had not found anything useful in the wreckage.

Sifting through large chunks of metal, he kept his sky blue optics open for anything on the list of things Knock Out had told him to try to salvage from the wreck. A reactor, a shard of dark energon, anything that had made the machine work, really. He had also added something else to that list: the remains of Megatron.

No bot had seen even the slightest trace of the Decepticon warlord since he had been caught in the explosion set off by the destruction of the energon-disperser, and all the other Decepticons presumed him dead. Although Starscream would have liked to believe that this was not true, all the facts had pointed to his demise. All the Decepticon SIC wished to do with his former leader's remains was to give them a proper burial. Even after megacycles of searching, however, the party of Decepticons he had brought with him had yet to find even the smallest remnant of the Decepticon warlord, and Starscream was beginning to lose hope.

"Commander Starscream," a vehicon called out a few feet away, snapping the seeker out of his thoughts. At once, his expression brightened in hope that the vehicon had found something interesting.

"What is it?" he asked.

"You might want to take a look at this." The vehicon had barely finished his sentence when the Decepticon Commander strode over to where he was standing in a few long strides. Starscream glanced over at the large piece of metal protruding out from the wreckage, only to catch sight of a servo lying underneath it. Megatron's servo, to be exact.

Hastily turning to the vehicon standing next to him, Starscream said, "get the other Vehicons here."

"As you command, sire," the vehicon said as he gave the seeker a quick salute, placing a servo to the side of his helm. Starscream turned back to Megatron's limp servo. For a second, he just stood there, quietly thinking to himself. Then, he quickly strode over to the piece and gave it a quick tug. Much to his relief, the servo did not come out from under the pile, meaning that it was attached to something.

His digits reached under the large sheet of metal, and with all of his might, he attempted to pull it away. The large piece refused to budge, so he tried again. Try as he might, the sheet of metal would not budge.

The sound of approaching pede steps prompted him to look up. Several vehicons strode over to the large piece of metal, falling in place beside the seeker, and without a word, began to haul the sheet off the what was underneath. Slowly but surely, the obstacle was removed from the area, finally revealing the offline body of Megatron. Starscream's spark sank upon catching sight of the once mighty warlord reduced to a limp body battered and torn with scars and scorch marks from the explosion. His search had not been fruitless after all, but to his despair, it had not turned out as well as he had hoped.

The Decepticon commander turned to the vehicon standing next to him. Trying to suppress the emotions that threatened to leak out through his voice, Starscream said, "Contact Soundwave and get him to open a groundbridge at our location."

The yellow drone tilted his head in confusion. "Sir, Soundwave is out of action at the moment."

Starscream mentally slapped himself for his forgetfulness. "I'm sorry, I forgot about that. Just message whoever's on the bridge right now."

"As you command, sire."

The Decepticon SIC turned back to the body lying in a pool of energon. His digits clenched into a fist. His mouthplates twisted into a scowl as he struggled to hold back the tidal wave of emotions battering again his spark, attempting to burst through right then and there. He told himself he would have to wait to bawl his optics out. Now he had to hold himself together. Filled with grief, he turned his back to the body, fearing that another second spent staring at the limp form of his leader would be the final push that he needed to break open.

Then, he stiffened. Something that sounded like the creaking of a hinge slathered in orange rust brushed past his audio receptors. Out of the corner of his optics, he noticed that the vehicon standing next to him had straightened himself as well, and he guessed that he had not been to only one to hear the strange noise. Slowly, the two bots craned their heads back towards the limp form of Megatron. Their optics stopped on the servo extended to them, and Starscream could have sworn he heard some bot's jaw fall to the floor. In an instant, he was by Megatron's side again, and he stared into Megatron's optics, hoping to find the faintest glimmer of life inside them again. To his endless joy, they stared right back.

"Megatron," the seeker whispered in shock, "you're alive!" The Decepticon warlord opened his mouth to say something in return when his optics flickered, and his head lolled back once again. Starscream's spark rate jumped, and he became fearful for Megatron's life. He turned his helm back towards the yellow-clad bot but found that the vehicon had already sprung into action.

"We need Knock Out. Now," the vehicon said, his voice shaking with all the emotions swirling around his processor. There was a pause, before he spoke again, his voice louder this time. "What do you mean he's out?" Another beat of silence as the bot on the other end spoke again. "Oh, for Primus'- of all the times to go missing." The air stilled again, before the vehicon's voice rang out again, his voice escalating. "What's so important? Megatron has just been found to be alive and needs immediate medical attention!"

Starscream began to rise, only to feel something to tug at his servo. He tilted his helm down again, and this time he met two commanding royal blue optics shining directly into his spark. Megatron opened his mouth again, and this time words as crisp and frail as autumn leaves spilled from his mouth. "Starscream. Don't leave me."

Starscream knelt down to face his leader, sky blue optics brimming with concern. "What is it my lord?" he asked.

"Moments before the energon disperser was destroyed, through a burst of energy released by the fragments of dark energon, I was able to catch a glimpse of something to come. Something big, full of hatred and lust for evil."

"What is it Megatron?" Starscream asked, his spark now racing in fear. "What did you see?"

Megatron's optics flickered one last time before his helm snapped straight up again, his optics brighter and stronger than before, steeled with resolve. Then, he spoke, his words echoing through Starscream's audio receptors as loud as thunder; "I saw the eyes of Primus." Then, his helm fell limp again, leaving Starscream alone to ponder the terrible implications of these words his leader had left him with.

Chapter Text

Bumblebee complained loudly as he and Optimus trudged along the rocky valley, their pedes clanking against the cold hard stone that lay beneath them.

"A life of ease builds nothing, Bumblebee," Optimus replied, his optics set dead ahead. "A life shaped by torture creates the best kind of soldier."

The Autobot scout lifted his digit, about to make another remark, when the mech in front of him stopped abruptly. Bumblebee nearly collided with the Autobot leader, only managing to stop himself just in time. He poked his head out from behind the Prime, only to be greeted with the sight of a mechanical pod that towered over him. The scout took a step back, a bit fearful for what could be contained inside it, but when he glanced over to his leader, he saw no such fear present in his eyes.

Wordlessly, Optimus Prime pulled out a cube of energon. He was about to slip it in, when another servo grabbed him, halting his progress. He turned aside to give the scout a furious glare with his blank, pale optics, and Bumblebee was quick to retract his own servo.

A series of beeps tumbled out of his mouth, expressing his worry for what Decepticon lay inside that pod.

Optimus just replied, "Only Wheeljack has enough firepower to destroy this containment pod, but since he is not with us, our only option is to open up this Decepticon invention and put an end to whatever lies beneath before it can retaliate."

Without sparing the scout a second glance, Optimus slipped the cube into the pod, watching as its faint blue glow disappeared inside, before drawing his blades.

A faint click sounded off from inside. Gears shifted on the surface of the capsule, and the cover parted, and the two Autobots lifted their arms to shield their eyes from the blinding flash that emerged from within. Optimus cursed, and he threw down his arm as quickly as he could, thrusting his blade into the capsule. His attack to be stopped in mid-air, and his optics onlined only to see two large servos clamped around his blade.

"I know that Soundwave can't come because he's injured,"


"Knockout is currently overseeing an energon mining operation,"


"And the Eradicons can't come because you don't want to attract attention,"


"But why did I have to come along?"

Starscream relayed his disapproval to Airachnid. "I'm having you come along just in case the Autobots show up."

"But I can't fight," she said. "I'd do more harm than help."

"Oh please," the seeker replied. "I'm sure you could at least figure something out with those extra limb-things you have on your back. Besides, that's only saying if the Autobots show up. This is Decepticon business, and if they have any sense, I doubt they'd waste any manpower on something like this."

"Yeah, well-"

"We're here," Starscream said, cutting her off, much to her chagrin.

The pair transformed in a flash of spinning gears and sliding plates, sliding down onto the rocky surface below. Sparks flew out from underneath their pedes as the skidded to a halt, barely stopping before the ledge of the cliff, only to see that they weren't the first ones to arrive.

The two opposing sides froze as they caught sight of each other. The red mech took this momentary distraction to his advantage and yanked his attacker's arm deeper into the capsule. Before Optimus could react, the mech bashed his helm against the side before delivering a blow to the side of his face.

Starscream stepped forward to join the other mech, but a light tug on his right servo prompted him to stop.

"What are you waiting for?" he asked, glaring at Airachnid. "We have to go help him!"

"But that's Optimus Prime down there," she replied. "We need to get out of here!"

Starscream let out a huff of annoyance, torn between himself. After a moment of debate, he finally said, "Fine, we'll leave." Turning to the red mech, he called out, "Skyquake!"

At once, the red mech's optics were on him. Quickly, he ducked under the Autobot leader as he swung a glistening white blade at him, before breaking into a sprint towards them.

"Get him!" Optimus roared, pointing a sword at the fleeing Skyquake. Bumblebee whipped out his blasters, but his red energon bullets scattered about, enabling Skyquake to escape without a scratch.

Skyquake jumped over the ledge, finally coming face to face with the two other Decepticons, and asked, "What's the plan, fellow Decepticon?"

"Now that you're here, we've got to get out of here," Starscream replied, motioning to Airachnid, who had already prepared herself for takeoff.

Skyquake chuckled nervously. "Well, the thing is, I don't have an alt-mode."

Starscream sighed in annoyance, prompting the red mech to put up his servos defensively. "Hey," he said, "it's not my fault. Being in stasis for such a long time just erased a good chunk of my memory."

"It looks like we'll have to get a groundbridge, then," Starscream concluded. Catching sight of the Autobots approaching their position, he turned to the spider femme beside him. "Airachnid, get us a groundbridge while Skyquake and I hold off the Autobots."

"But-" Airachnid's protest went unheard, as just then, the two Autobots burst onto the cliffside. In an instant, both sides had blasters pointed at each other. Red and blue lasers filled the air, blasting craters into the ground, blowing apart rocks lying around. Airachnid was the first to scramble for cover, slipping behind a boulder leaning to the side.

The moment she was sure her back was covered, she activated her comm-link. Static was all that she could hear on the other end.

"H-hello?" she called out. "Anyone?"

The only sound she received was static. Airachnid tried again. "Hello?"

This time she heard a faint voice slip through the comm-link. The words were nothing but a few mumbled lines of gibberish, but she could still detect their presence.

"Hello? Is this the Nemesis?" Airachnid asked. The voice on the other end still sounded like an incoherent mumble, barely going above the static. The spider femme quickly adjusted her comm-link, before she said, "This is Airachnid, can you hear me?"

"...Nem.. ...cou...u ple..e...ust yo...omlink?"

Airachnid fumbled with her comm-link, attempting to hastily readjust it. "Airachnid to Nemesis bridge, we need a groundbridge as quickly as possible."

"Sor...I ca...unders...ou...uld yo...y again?"

"Groundbridge. We need a... uh..." Airachnid paused, a bit unsure of herself.

Just then, the boulder she was hiding behind burst apart, sending rocks hailing down onto the ground. Airachnid peeked out from behind what remained of the boulder, just in time to see Starscream fire a missile into Optimus Prime's chassis, sending him stumbling back. Catching sight of the femme behind him, he turned to Airachnid and asked, "Any luck?"

The spider femme shook her helm. A frustrated look flashed across Starscream's face. He opened his mouth, when suddenly Airachnid yelled, "Look out!" The Decepticon commander turned around, only to spot a gleaming pale blade enter his vision. Without warning, two slim appendages shot forward, striking the Autobot leader just as he was about to cut through the smaller mech.

"Thanks," Starscream said, turning his helm back to Airachnid. "I'll switch places with you to see if I have better luck with getting us a groundbridge."

Before Airachnid could protest, the Decepticon commander had already run off, leaving her with Optimus Prime. The Autobot's optics flared as he watched Starscream fleeing, growling as he lifted himself off the ground again, preparing to follow him. Acting quickly, the femme said, "Hey!" redirecting his attention to her.

Almost instantly, she found herself regretting her decision. As soon as he laid optics on her, the femme saw a glint of malice in his optics. "Airachnid, was it?" the Autobot leader said, his voice giving away the malicious grin hid under his mouth guard. "You've just made a grave mistake, little femme."

Bumblebee found himself on the defense as the larger Decepticon warrior rained blow after blow onto the Autobot scout. While Skyquake had yet to land a hit on him, his constant attacking barely left any opportunity for the scout to retaliate, and even when he did get an opportunity to attack, his attacks seemed to barely faze his opponent.

He danced, he wove, and he slipped between attacks to the best of his ability. Eventually, he began to get tired. He knew he couldn't keep this up forever. Taking one look at the red mech, however, he saw that his opponent looked completely unchanged, his face still set in an emotionless expression.

As Skyquake swung his servo at the purple and white mech one more time, Bumblebee twisted to the side, the blow missing his faceplate by inches. He then proceeded to retaliate with a powerful blast to the face. Skyquake raised a servo and the energon bounced harmlessly off. He swung another punch at Bumblee, only to have him evade the blow, leap upon the shoulders of the red mech, and kick off the back of his helm. This attack actually put a dent in his armor, and by the time Skyquake was able to strike back, the scout was already out of reach.

Then, the two stopped fighting for a brief moment, giving themselves a moment to catch a breath, but keeping their guard high.

Bumblebee was the first to break the tense stillness, speaking in a series of inquisitive beeps and whirrs.

"Yeah, I'm Skyquake," the red mech boasted, bashing a servo against his chassis. "At least, I think I am."

At this, the scout looked bewildered. A bunch of disbelieving beeps emitted from his voicebox, his servos stretched out in question.

"Prolonged stasis. It's relaxing, but it can also cause memory loss."

The fighting robots once again fell into silence, observing their opponent, waiting for someone to make a move. Not even the small pebbles dared to make a sound. Then, a commanding voice suddenly spoke through the Autobot's comm-link.

"Bumblebee, get down," Optimus said with a growl. "Fowler is approaching this location quickly. If you don't get out of the way, you might be caught in the crossfire."

Sending an affirmative message back to his leader, he shot his opponent one last look, before he abruptly transformed and raced away. As the scout drive off, the Decepticon watched, confused. A roaring sound tore through the air, prompting him to look to the sky just in time to catch sight of a black jet soaring overhead. Skyquake widened his optics widened in realization, but he only had enough time to raise his servo over his face before bullets ripped through the open air.

Debris was thrown up off the ground as metal hailed down on the ground, trailing up towards the lone Decepticon. Bullets hammered against his scarlet armor, missing the more sensitive flesh buried underneath. Even though the assault left him with nothing more than a series of dents in his armor, the force of the attack was enough to get him to take a step back. Then, as soon as it had begun, it was over.

Skyquake peeked out from behind his arm and caught sight of the jet flying away. With an irritated huff, he brought out his own weapon. Chasing after the fleeing craft, he began to fire streaks of energon into the sky. The jet managed to evade every single one of his blasts, leaving Skyquake in the dust, much to his frustration.

A second growl echoed into the air, and the grounded seeker turned his helm around, noting the presence of a second jet. This jet was colored a shade of dark grey, with lighter grey stripes running down its frame, and it took Skyquake a moment to recognize Starscream soaring after the enemy jet. Energon bullets erupted from the grey jet's blasters, streaking past the black jet as it wove through the air, missing it by mere inches. Starscream then fired a missile at the other jet, and the explosive cut through the air with an audible hiss. Twisting and turning, the plane just barely managed to avoid the streamlined projectile, prompting Starscream to sigh over the comm-link.

Suddenly, the other jet dropped its speed, slipping behind Starscream and catching him off guard. Now it was the black jet's turn to attack, forcing Starscream onto the defensive, and he found himself weaving through the air, attempting to avoid damage to his fragile wings. Finally, he transformed in mid-air, and whirled around to face the other plane. The black jet's pilot was surprised by this sudden transformation, and was unable to avoid the Decepticon's servos when he reached out and clamped onto the wings of the aircraft. Once latched on, the seeker threw the jet to the ground, firing into the engines as it fell to ensure that it would not be able to resume flight.

Skyquake's optics followed the jet as it plummeted to the ground, and a smile flickered onto his mouth. He had found his alt-mode. Just as he was about to make a break for the crash site, a white and blue blur appeared at the edge of his field of view. Turning to the side, he saw Airachnid scrambling away from the towering form of Optimus Prime. As soon as she noticed him, she sprinted towards him, the Autobot Leader not too far behind. Optimus took note of the Decepticon towering overhead, and his optics steeled. With a battle cry, the dark mech lunged at the red seeker, blades outstretched, glistening with a soft, pale glow. Just as Airachnid slipped by him, Skyquake, in turn, leapt at the Autobot leader, drawing his servo back, before he swung it forward in a powerful blow. The Autobot's sword only managed to scrape the paint off the seeker's armor, while Skyquake was able to land a solid hit square onto the Autobot commander's helm, sending him reeling. Skyquake then stepped forward and swung with his other servo, knocking Optimus' helm to the other side, before he wrapped both servos around each other and swung one last time, hitting him hard enough to send him flying.

Turning his helm back to the femme behind him, the red mech said, "Come on, we're getting out of here," before he ran to where he had seen the jet fall. Airachnid was all too happy to comply.

The crash site was not too easy to miss, as the pillar of smoke gushing out from the wreckage could be spotted from miles away. As the two Decepticons entered the area, they were met with the sight of a plane laid slanted on the ground. Aside from the small fire clinging onto the tail, a bent wing and a few disjointed parts, the black jet looked unharmed. It was then that Starscream leapt down before them, causing a startled Airachnid leapt into the air with a terrified squeak. The other Decepticons present gaze her a weird look, before Starscream turned back to Skyquake.

"Will this aircraft suffice?" he asked, motioning to the black jet.

Skyquake nodded. "Probably."

"Good," Starscream replied. "We should probably get out of here before the Autobots catch up." Then he paused. "I believe there was a dark-skinned human pilot in there," he said, pointed a digit to the empty cockpit, "but it seems as if they've just disappeared."

Skyquake just mumbled in agreement, focused on scanning the vehicle. His eyes glowed for a moment as his processor took in every detail of the craft, salvaging what was in working condition and filling in the rest. Plates of armor began to shift and twirl, sliding apart and locking into different places as his body quickly adjusted to the new alt-form. Slowly, the armor stilled itself, and Skyquake flashed the other Decepticons a smile.

"Let's go," he said. Just then, the two Autobots burst into the area. In a flash, the three Decepticons transformed and took to the skies, fleeing the scene with a noisy roar.

Chapter Text


Hearing his name, the mech looked up from his console to see Knock Out approaching. Then, he looked to the ground and saw Jack approaching him as well.

"Knock Out, Jack, What brings you here?"


"Wait." Soundwave held up a servo to silence the blue mech. "Let me guess. Laserbeak messed up your lab."

"No," Knock Out said, "It's-"

"Someone's been stealing from our energon stores."

"No, it's just that-"

"Starscream needs me to take over command of the Decepticons for the day?"

"No," the Decepticon medic hissed. "Will you please, just let me spea-"

"Wait a minute." Knock Out groaned.

"The only bots out of the Nemesis are that group of Vehicons you sent out to mine for energon," he said in frustration.

"That's not was I was going to ask about," Soundwave replied. Turning his helm to Jack, who was standing just below the console, he asked, "Weren't there three of you?"

"Raf left us, remember?"

"Right," the white mech said. "Sorry, my memory hasn't been up to speed recently." Then he paused, quickly recounting the humans present. Noting something was missing his back stiffened in sudden realization, and he slowly turned to Knock Out. "Where's Miko?"

"That's what I've been trying to say!" the Decepticon medic replied. "Jack here says she never showed up to school, and her parents claim she never came home last night either."

For a moment, Soundwave was silent. Then, he started to pace around the room, muttering to himself. "Where was she last night? She couldn't be here; I remember sending her home... She must have stayed here late into the night... Knock Out was away, so who drove her back..." His voice slowly faded, and his pacing came to a stop.

"Then who drove her home last night?" Jack called out from the floor.



Miko slowly opened her eyes as she gradually drifted back into consciousness. The first thing she became aware of was how uncomfortable her bed was. As her head began to clear, the first thing she noticed was that the material beneath her was leather, not the fabric of her bedsheet. In an instant, she snapped to attention, sitting up straight to get a better view. The second thing she noticed was that she appeared to be on the inside of a car.

At first, she assumed she was inside Knock Out, only to realize that the seats were too well taken care of to belong to the Decepticon medic. His armor was always worn and covered in scratches, and his interior only displayed this same lack of care. Then she spotted the Autobot insignia smack dab at the center of the steering wheel, and only then did she decide to start panicking.

A sputtering cough emitted from the front of the car, like the sound of an engine starting up, as if the Autobot was just coming online. Instantly, the girl froze in fear, despite knowing that such an action would be completely useless.

Then a voice fizzed to life from the comm-link inside the car. "Ratchet speaking. Ready to send you the groundbridge when you're ready."

"Ready for pickup," was the reply.

A second later, a portal materialized before the vehicle, swirling bright green and purple. Just then, a beeping noise began to sound off from the front of the car. Miko glanced at the screen put up beside the steering wheel and saw the name Soundwave above the black background. A sound rung out like the ringtone of a phone, as if Soundwave, for whatever reason, was trying to contact this Autobot. She leaned forward to get a better view, but she lost her balance and slipped forward instead, landing with an audible crash. The girl froze again. If whoever was carrying her had somehow not known about her presence before, they would certainly know now.

Apparently, the Autobot had not actually known that they had a passenger on board, as Miko heard what sounded like a surprised cough in what she could have sworn was Airachnid's voice.

"What are you doing-" the Autobot, Wheeljack, as he was called, said in what really sounded like Airachnid's voice. The speaker was cut off as the voice from before called out again.

"What's taking so long? Are you in need of assistance?"

Miko slowly got to her feet, clutching the side of the seats, when the car lurched forward, once again causing her to lose her balance and fall back into the seats. With a roar, the car leapt into the portal, and the surroundings shifted into a cold, grey area walled off with metal that reflected what little light was present.

The world around the girl suddenly shifted, whirling around, twisting into a confusing mess as parts folded in and pieces revealed themselves into the open. Then, the tumbling machinery came to a halt as suddenly as it had started. Looking into a mirror lying on the desk to the side, she saw that the car had transformed into a black robot, with dull orange and blue stripes running down his sides. From out of the other side of the windshield, the girl was able to catch sight of a shiny grey robot dashing out from behind a console.

"Wheeljack, glad to see you've finally arrived," the grey Autobot said, his blood red optics hastily scanning up and down the larger bot's frame. "Maybe now we'll be able to turn the tide of this war to our favor."

Wheeljack just grumbled in response. "Just show me where I'll be staying here, Ratchet," he mumbled, surprising the girl inside him at how tired his voice suddenly sounded compared to just seconds before. "I need to recharge after traveling such a long distance."

"Of course," Ratchet said with an eerily wide smile. Without another word, he turned around and headed straight into the dark hallway leading further into the base. Wheeljack lingered in the main room for a moment longer, Miko noted, quietly assessing his surroundings, almost as if he were trying to gather as much information as possible and store it somewhere else for later use. Then, he turned towards the hallway and stepped into the darkness as well.

As her vision was engulfed in pitch black, it was then that the full realization of what was happening right now hit her; she was now trapped inside the Autobot base, all by herself. The fact that she was actually inside an Autobot did nothing to repress the feeling of terror that was building up inside her. Miko was on the verge of panic, when she suddenly realized that the Autobot she was inside had yet to reveal her.

At once, she began to ponder what reason could this Autobot have for keeping her presence unknown to the other bot standing right in front of him? He would have clearly known that she was there. He couldn't have forgotten in such a short amount of time. Maybe he wanted to build up a feeling of safety, only to crush it all at the last second. Then again, maybe this Autobot wasn't all he seemed to be.

Then, they stopped. Miko was able to barely catch the figure of Ratchet in the darkness reaching to the side. With a hiss, a door on the wall slid open, revealing a room equally as cold and metallic as the main room before.

Turning his blood red optics back to Wheeljack, the grey Autobot said, "Feel free to take as long as you like to recharge. Though not too long, or Optimus might get mad at you."

Wheeljack just grumbled as he shoved past Ratchet and stormed into his room. Without a second glance, he slammed the door behind him. He proceeded to walk over to the other end of the room and sat down on the flat berth that lay against the wall.

A minute passed, completely in silence. The girl concluded that the Autobot carrying her had fallen into recharge, and a feeling of relief washed over her like a cooling breeze. She slowly reached a hand to the side of the wall, trying to find a way to escape, but to her disappointment, she was unable to find an exit.

"What are you doing here?" Knock Out's voice called out. Miko froze, afraid that she had been caught.

"Primus, I forgot I was supposed to drop you off last night..." This time, Airachnid's voice spoke out, confusing the girl. "Now you're inside the Autobot base with me... how am I going to explain this to Soundwave..."

A metallic bang resounded through the small chamber, turning the robot's attention to the girl standing in his cabin, hand against the wall. Noting the Autobot's silence, Miko signed out a message to him in sign language.

"Do... I know you…" he softly murmured, repeating the message to himself as he slowly attempted to decipher her words. "Oh. I think so," he quickly replied in a voice that sounded a lot like the new mech that had joined the Decepticon ranks.

Miko then signed him again, this time pointing to the Autobot insignia on his steering wheel.

"Oh, this is just a disguise," the mech said in Soundwave's voice. "I'm a Decepticon. A Decepticon spy, I mean. Makeshift is my designation."

The girl gave him an inquisitive stare, telling him something with a handful of hand motions. "The changing voices?" he asked in return. "I'm just switching my voices depending on who the words I'd say would be most fitting for. Just to ensure I stay true to my acting."

Miko's questioning look only intensified at this, and she asked him something else. "Why? It's so I don't mess up when I can't break character, because if I do... well, it isn't going to be pretty, that's for sure."

The girl paused, before signing to him again. "Yeah, well I'm just trying everything I can to ensure that I don't slip up," Makeshift said, only to stop for a moment, before quickly drifting back to his original train of thought. "Primus," he said, Airachnid's voice displaying his internal panic, "when Soundwave finds out, he is not going to be happy..."

It was then that he noticed Miko's sideways glance, as she signed him another message.

"You think he's found out? What makes you think... oh." Suddenly, the mech was able to recall that Soundwave had attempted to contact him a minute earlier, and quickly put two and two together.

"Oh for..." Makeshift hissed in Starscream's naval-y voice. "I have to get you back. If anything happens to you, Soundwave would kill me." He paused. "I could try to sneak out sometime, but it might make the other Autobots suspicious... it might take too long for the Autobots to trust me enough to leave me at the base alone..."

In response, Miko hastily signed another set of words. "Why do you need to go?" Makeshift said, echoing her message. "Well, it's really dangerous here. I'd feel really bad if I was responsible for getting Soundwave's charge killed."

The girl's hands came alive once again as she said something else in sign language, ending with a small shrug. "You think you could stay here?" the Decepticon spy asked, this time speaking in the Autobot femme's voice.

Miko nodded in response. She made another sign to Makeshift, to which he replied, "Oh, there aren't many places I wouldn't be able to fit in." Then he paused, his red optics drifting to the ceiling, quietly reconsidering. "Actually," he said, switching back to Starscream's voice, "there are a handful of tasks that would be easier for a person of your size to complete."

The girl replied with a nod, telling him something in sign language once more. "Yes, we might as well make the best of our situation," Makeshift replied, nodding slowly in agreement. Then, he said in Airachnid's voice, "You have to be really careful not to get caught, though. If you're captured, I don't believe I would be able to help you."

Looking a bit confused, Miko signed something, pointing to him, and giving him an inquisitive look. Shifting into Skyquake's voice, the Decepticon spy replied, "I may have his looks, but I don't have even a fraction of his firepower. I'm a spy, remember? I'm not supposed to be getting into firefights."

Chapter Text

It was supposed to be a simple mission; get in, get the reactor, get out. From what little intel he received about the convoy, Silas knew that the objective would be transported by vehicles taking on the appearance of civilian transport to avoid catching the eye of any unwanted observers. Even if the government had a decently sized guard waiting inside, with the limited space available for the government to work with, he was confident that he could get past them.

When his agents reported that the drivers were the only people accompanying the cargo, he was confused. He knew the whole purpose of transporting the package in civilian vehicles was to avoid attracting attention, but leaving such a valuable item completely defenseless?

Something wasn't right. Still, Silas decided to ignore the strange feeling he had, and go through with the mission, bringing only a few men for backup just in case they ran into any trouble.

Silas kept his helicopter high above the route he had been told the transport would take. He had a few cars positioned on the cliff above, in case there was a last minute change of plans on the government's end.

A train emerged from the tunnel first. Silas let it pass without sparing it another glance. As soon as the train had run all the way through the tunnel, a hulking white truck plowed through, followed by a purple car streaked with white, and a green striped black car. Like a bird of prey, the helicopter descended onto the truck.

A man stepped outside and fired a grappling hook onto the truck's trailer. Several more men came forward and slid down onto the top of the trailer. They whipped out a series of tools, and in a shower of sparks, they tore a hole in the roof.

A few soldiers jumped into the hole. Moments later, a head poked out of the hole, and a hand beckoned the rest to come down. One by one, they leapt into the trailer, ready for whatever threat they might encounter beneath. Silas jumped in last.

Besides the sunlight pouring in from the hole in the roof, the inside of the trailer was pitch black. Silas motioned his men to fan out among the strange large boxes scattered around them. They made a hasty search for the thing they had come to take, a powerful nuclear battery, but all they could find were more of the strange boxes.

A voice boomed from somewhere in the room. "Looking for something?"

The men were instantly on guard, and the sound of clicking as the guns were put at the ready echoed within the confines of the trailer. Silas cursed. He fumbled with his intercom for a second, before he managed to put it up to his mouth.

"Daniel, was it?" he growled over the speaker. "Do another scan of the trailer. I know that the scanners didn't pick up anything in here, but clearly, there was a screw loose in there because that initial scan you did was wrong."

"Surprised?" the voice said tauntingly. "In case you were wondering, the nuclear reactor isn't here anymore. We dropped it off at the last stop."

A voice broke out amidst the static, giving Silas a garbled response. He replied, "You still didn't pick up anything? Did you double-check the scanner?"

Something brushed against his boot. He glanced down, and almost wished he hadn't. At his feet, he found a man sprawled on the floor, a series of deep gashes etched into his chest. His wounds, however, were completely dry, and his face was shriveled up like an empty husk.

"You have your own men hiding among us, we have our men hiding among yours," the voice continued. "Those idiots at the Pentagon thought human guards would be good enough for this job. As you can see, I've taken care of that little detail. Meanwhile, I've been preparing my own little welcoming committee."

"Daniel," Silas said, slightly panicked. "Get us out of here."

Static was all he heard on the other end.


An explosion from outside rocked the trailer. The men left inside the trailer glanced at each other uneasily, and the boxes surrounding them rattled.

Silas changed the channel on the intercom with a flick of his thumb. "Darius! We need back up, now!"

A hollow metal crunch resounded through the trailer. Silas looked back just in time to see an unseen claw tear through a crate. He took a step back, only for something to punch through the crate behind him, knocking the intercom out of his hands.

Before he had a chance to retrieve it, the crates around his men burst open in a shower of wooden splinters. Wildcats stepped out from the debris, too numerous in the cramped space to count. Their fur glistened a deathly pale in the dim light, and they looked scrawny and half-dead as if they had been starved. Their eyes were hollow, the mist swirling inside making them look dull and lifeless as they pulsed with the same white energy radiating from the crystals jutting out of the back of the wildcats.

Someone made the mistake of firing. The bullet completely shredded through one of the first beasts, leaving a nasty gash cutting deep into the flesh. The beast crumpled to the ground, only for another to step in and take its place. Even worse, the others took the gunshot as a signal to attack, and in a heartbeat, Silas and his men found themselves fighting for their lives.

Their efforts seemed to be fruitless; for each one of the beasts they gunned down, two more slipped in. The metal walls were smeared with white, and the floor was decorated with the bodies of the deathly pale wildcats, heaped into misshapen piles of fur and flesh, but they just kept coming.

In all the action, it would be easy to forget where they were fighting. The driver, however, seemed eager to give them a reminder.

The truck hit a bump in the road. A soldier on his left faltered, and the cats surged forward. Silas managed to push them back, but when the cats finally cleared, he quickly noticed that one man had a thin slash carved through his clothes, a few trickles of blood beginning to seep out. Silas wouldn't have spared the wound a second glance if the man hadn't suddenly crumpled to the ground, and shriveled up into a dry husk. The others could only watch in horror as the man cried out, and fell to the floor, his body completely drained of life.

A laugh echoed through the cramped space, deeper and more menacing than the voice they had heard before. The voice reverberated through the trailer's walls and shook Silas to the core, and a trace of fear flashed in his eyes as the cats continued their never-ending onslaught. 

Skyquake sat perched atop the ledge overlooking the Autobots as they raced along the road below him. A party of vehicons stood beside him, awaiting his orders, but he had no intention of giving the command; at least, not yet.

Right now, he was entirely focused on keeping his aim on the glaring white truck tearing down the road. He kept his weapon steadily trained on the Autobot leader, while underneath, the cogs of his mind twisted in haste as he busied himself in a series of calculations only understood by him.

His commlink buzzed. Skyquaked pressed a digit to the side of his helm. "Skyquake here. What do you want?"

"Skyquake!" Starscream said on the other end. "Something's come up."

"What is it?"

"Soundwave was right. A group of humans has broken into the trailer. Save them before the Autobots find them."

Skyquake opened his mouth to protest but thought better of it. He wouldn't want the guilt of letting whoever was in that trailer die on his shoulders.


Skyquake stopped himself moments from firing a shot. "What is it?" he hissed back.

"Please try to keep a low profile."

Just then, two Autobots (Bumblebee and Wheeljack, if Skyquake's memory served him correct) rounded the corner, tearing through what appeared to be human vehicles as more drove behind in pursuit.

Through the mess, the red seeker locked eyes with the striped black Autobot. Wheeljack's optics slipped to Skyquake's blaster. It would take a complete scraphead to not realize what he had been trying to do.

Skyquake fired. Effortlessly, Wheeljack crushed his digits around the front of one of the cars beside him and threw it past Optimus Prime.

The bolt of energon cut cleanly through. The car went up in flames. When the smoke became thin enough to see through, the trailer was cut loose.

To Wheeljack's credit, he had planned on going for Optimus Prime. Maybe the shot would have killed him, or maybe he would have seen it coming. Just moments before he had taken the shot, however, Skyquake had counted on Wheeljack assuming he would be going for the Autobot leader, and as a result, changed his aim to sever the trailer from the truck instead.

"Skyquake," Starscream stuttered from the other end of the commlink. "Did I just hear-"

"Our cover was already as good as blown," Skyquake replied, and with a flick of his fingers, he sent the vehicons racing down the hill.

The air was a mess of bullets and energon bolts as Optimus Prime finally transformed out of his vehicle form.

"Wheeljack!" he called out as the mech in mention batted another car off the side of the cliff. "We have no reason to linger anymore, and the Decepticons will soon be upon us. Tell Bumblebee that unless he would like to bring the Autobots another man down, he needs to come with us."

Wheeljack nodded wordlessly before he turned to Bumblebee and motioned for him to follow.

Optimus raised a digit to the side of his helm, but something stopped him. He tilted his head to the side, his expression remaining as cold as ever, and an energon bolt whizzed past his head.

As Skyquake let out a curse, a groundbridge materialized before the Autobot leader. The seeker took aim at him again, but he had already disappeared. Wheeljack and Bumblebee followed shortly after, just as the vehicons finally made their way down the slope, leaving behind a sprawling disarray of mangled cars and smoke.

Chapter Text

"What's with the rush?" Raf asked as the bridge of the Nemesis came into focus.

"Something big is coming," Skyquake replied, "and the commander is having me help the Eradicons maintain a patrol schedule, so I'm afraid I can't stay for long." Taking a stop by the large computer at the head of the bridge, Skyquake quickly let down the humans down next to Soundwave, much to his annoyance.

"Hey!" Soundwave exclaimed. "You can't do that!"

"They're your problem now," Skyquake said, waving his servo dismissively as he slipped out of the bridge, leaving Soundwave with the children.

Soundwave stared at the children. The children stared back at him. In the dead silence that followed, Miko whipped out her laptop and started typing away.


"What's the big deal?"

"I'm afraid I can't tell you that," Soundwave said, quickly backing off.

Raf huffed. "Alright. Then what can you tell us?"

"Whatever else I have lying around in my memory banks."

"Like what?" Jack piped up.

"The entire English dictionary, all the Decepticon protocols, Starscream's personal schedule-"

"Maybe something that can be condensed into a minute?"

"Why?" Soundwave glared down at the children.

"Well, when you start talking, you have a tendency to get carried away," Raf said bluntly.

"Hey!" Soundwave shot back. "You know, if you'd talked less and listened more, it would be less of a bother."

A message popped up off to the side of his hud.

Miko: "I can't speak, and I still find it annoying."

Soundwave groaned in annoyance. "Can't you be on my side for once?" he said, throwing his hands into the air. Miko looked up from her laptop to give Soundwave a glare.

"Hey, Soundwave?" Jack called out from the other side.

Soundwave glanced in his direction.

"The giant schedule you have on your computer says that you were supposed to pick up Laserbeak right now."

The mech fell silent. He lifted a servo to his chest, and suddenly broke out into a panic.

"Ohmigosh!" he said, running around like a headless scrapling. "I was supposed to pick up Laserbeak today and I completely forgot and I hope he isn't mad at me and-"

As Soundwave continued to ramble on, he stumbled off toward the elevator when Raf yelled, "What about us?"

Soundwave stopped in his tracks and turned his faceless helm back to face the children. "Oh. Right."

He held out a white servo onto the table, and the three children climbed on. Carefully, he lifted his servo back into the air, and he took off toward the elevator again.

They climbed up through the Nemesis, until the elevator doors finally slid open again with a quiet hiss. Soundwave tore down the halls, keeping the children safely tucked away, passing by small droves of bright yellow Vehicons, turning a few heads along the way. At last, they came to a screeching halt in front of the medbay doors, and Soundwave barged in without a second word.


A heap of blue armor tumbled to the floor into a disheveled mess. Soundwave froze, only to relax his stance when he realized that it was just Knock Out.

"Primus, Soundwave," he groaned. "Don't barge in like that. Might get me to throw my tools out of order."

"An apology of the most sincere degree, milord," Soundwave replied, giving him a mock bow, "But I have merely returned to retrieve my minicon."

Knock Out ex-vented, and he made an offhand motion to the side. "Laserbeak is back there. I'd have roused her from recharge for you, but she really doesn't like it if it's not you that's waking her up."

"That's good to know," Soundwave said absentmindedly as he let the children back down on the table. The lanky mech strolled around the medbay, and it didn't take long for him to find Laserbeak resting on top of a table a few steps down.

With a light brush of his digits against his minicon's back, Laserbeak slowly slipped back into consciousness. Soundwave gave the minicon an affectionate nuzzle, and Laserbeak chirped in delight. Far away, Miko gave the minicon a quick wave as Soundwave cuddled her in his arms. Laserbeak nodded back, and Miko smiled.

Soundwave turned around to leave but stopped when he notice Knock Out's optics flicker momentarily.

"Are you okay?" he asked, taking a step toward Knock Out. "You look like you're about to fall into stasis."

"I'm fine," the blue mech said, waving a servo dismissively.

"You don't sound like it," Soundwave said back, unconvinced. "You don't have to run yourself ragged, you know. You need time to recharge, just like the rest of us, because if you don't then-"

"That's enough, thank you," Knock Out hissed, and his optics flickered momentarily.

A surprised silence hung in the air, before Soundwave replied, "Just make sure you get enough energon, 'kay?"

Then Soundwave left, so completely distracted by his minicon that he forgot about the children, leaving Knock Out with them instead.

"Well, he's certainly forgetful," Knock Out said with a chuckle. Miko nodded in agreement.

"What have you been up to?" Raf asked.

"Oh, I've just been keeping stock of our medical supplies," he replied. "I've been busy day and night trying to make sure everything's in tip-top shape."

"What for?"

Knock Out stiffened. "None of your fragging business!" he snapped. The children took a startled step back, and even the Decepticon medic seemed surprised at this sudden outburst.

"I guess I really do need a break after all," Knock Out sighed, clutching his helm.

Poking his helm out into the hallway, he signaled down a group of Vehicons passing by. The Vehicons exchanged confused looks, before they cautiously approached the medbay door.

"Do you think you can look after the lab for a few minutes?" he asked them.

The Vehicons looked amongst each other, before a few of them muttered, "Sure."

Knock Out smiled. "I'll be back in a few cycles. Just keep the children safe, and make sure nothing blows up."

"Well, at least nothing blew up," Jack said.

Knock Out kept staring in shock. Over the course of a few minutes, the lab had somehow become a complete mess: equipment strewn all over the desk, a smoldering mess of wires entangled on the floor.

At the center of it all, was the children, and the only Vehicon left.

"Yes," Knock Out mumbled, putting his face into his servos, "but what I want to know is how in Primus's name did my lab end up like this."

"Well, you see, Raf asked-"

"Don't pull me into this! I didn't ask for anything."

"What are you talking about? You told the Vehicons to do all those crazy things."

"Vehicons can do idiotic things on their own, you don't have to pin the blame on me."

The Vehicon standing behind them cleared his throat, but they paid him no heed.

"But it's your fault."

"It's their fault for listening to me!"

"Guys," Knock Out said, finally lifting up his helm, "just- can you just go? I'm going to need a minute to clean this up."

The Vehicon complied wordlessly, grabbing the children and putting them down on his shoulders.

When he finally stepped out into the hall, and the medbay doors slammed behind him, he slumped down against the wall. He emitted a static-y sigh that jostled his entire frame. Instantly, Miko perked up. She elbowed Jack and pointed up at the Vehicon. Jack took a closer look, and noticed that the Vehicon was actually-


The mech in name stiffened. "Scrap," he muttered in a rough imitation of Skyquake's voice.

The Vehicon's helm parted into a series of plates that all flipped over to reshape into the sharp-edged helm of Makeshift.

He put on a smile, and turned to the children on his shoulder. "Surprise! It's me!" he said.

"Why'd you make yourself look like that?" was the first thing Raf asked.

Makeshift's smile disappeared. "I was avoiding my responsibilities."

Jack gave Makeshift a look. "Why would you do that?"

"Makeshift! Where are you!" Soundwave's voice rang out through the cold hallways of the Nemesis. Makeshift winced. His helm disappeared in a twisting mess of plates, and Airachnid's face took its place.

"Scrap," he said, and his optics flew around in a panic.

Just then, Airachnid walked by, humming to herself. Makeshift pulled her aside, and the first thing she said when she saw him was, "Do I really look like that?"

"No time to explain, just take the children," Makeshift replied.

Airachnid gave him a confused look. "I will, but why are you wearing my face?"

With a sigh, Makeshift changed his face back. "Now take the kids."

Airachnid plucked the children off the shapeshifter's shoulders hesitantly. "Why were you wearing my face any-"

Makeshift took off before she could finish, leaving her in stunned silence. When she opened her mouth to call after him, Soundwave appeared around the other end of the hallway.

"Airachnid! You wouldn't have happened to see Makeshift pass by, have you?"

"I-I think he went down that way," she stumbled out, pointing down the hall.

"Thanks!" Soundwave started down the hall, but stopped before he passed her. "Another thing; if you find the children, keep them with you. Wouldn't want them to get stepped on or anything."

Airachnid tried to tell him that the children were with her, but he was gone before she could say a word. She gave an irritated ex-vent, before she walked down the metal halls of the Nemesis, her spindly pedes tapping lightly against the cold floor.

From her shoulder, Raf asked, "How did he not..."

"I don't know," she replied, stopping by an elevator. She stepped inside and pressed the button for the deck. "And on my break, too."

"Where are we going?" Jack piped up.

"The deck." Airachnid stopped herself before she glanced at the children on her shoulder. "Would you be fine if we went up to the deck."

The children exchanged glances.

"I could go for some fresh air."

"I mean, since we're already on our way."

Miko just shrugged as the elevator doors opened to the deck of the Nemesis.

The sun shone warmly down to the deep blue floor. The deck was barren, save for Airachnid and the children as the strode out into the open. Carefully, Airachnid plucked the children off her shoulders with the appendages on her back, and gently put them on the ground. Then she got up and stretched her servos into the clear sky.

"Why were you going to the deck anyway?" Jack asked.

"I was going to go for a fly," she said, "but now I have to watch over you guys, so I put it on hold."

"Why can't you take us for a ride?"

Airachnid shifted her pedes in discomfort. "Starscream would get mad."

"Oh come on!" Raf cut in. "Why can't you bend the rules a bit? He doesn't have to know!"

Airachnid still remained skeptical. "But-"

"Come on, there's no harm in having a bit of fun every once in a while!" Jack encouraged.

Finally, Airachnid caved. "Oh alright," she said, throwing a paranoid glance around.

In a shifting whirlwind of gears, she transformed into a white helicopter. A door flew open, inviting the children inside. They climbed in, closing the door behind them, and the blades on top began to stir.


In an instant, the door flew open, and the children flew out. Airachnid was on her feet in an instant, standing straight enough it looked like she would topple over.

"Starscream!" she barely managed to say.

Starscream glared down at her and she withered under the disapproving glare he shot her.

"What were you doing?" he said, an angry glint in his optics.

"I was just gonna fly around for a bit," she mumbled, trying and failing to look away.

"With the children?"


Starscream pinched down on his face. "I thought I warned against flying solo, but it seems you were going to ignore my orders."

"I'm sorry?" Airachnid replied. "I never heard."

Starscream didn't look surprised at this. "Ah. I keep forgetting you like to keep to yourself. Well, now you know."

"But why?"

A hollow cry tore through the sky; it sounded like the call of an eagle, only torn to tatters and violently sewn back together in a distorted screech. Airachnid was on the ground in an instant, blasters whipped out in a panicked frenzy. Starscream was quick to raise a servo, signaling her to calm her nerves.

"They're close," he said. "They probably haven't found us, but they're close. I'll have to tell Soundwave to speed up the ship for a while."

"What are you talking about?" Airachnid stuttered out.

Starscream turned to look down at her, the frustrated light still lingering in his sky blue optics. "The Autobots are planning a strike, which you might have known about if you weren't so busy keeping to yourself."

Airachnid shrunk back, a guilty expression on her face. Turning to the children, Starscream knelt down and put a servo on the ground, allowing them to hop onto his palm. The moment they were comfortably settled in his servo, Raf burst out talking about everything that had happened that day. Starscream responded with a few absentminded murmurs, as he stepped into the doors leading back into the Nemesis. He slipped inside before he stopped for a moment to glance at Airachnid. She seemed to snap out of whatever deep thoughts she was having, and quickly scrambled after him, leaving the cold open sky as the doors closed behind her.

Chapter Text

Arcee was in a foul mood; even more so than usual.

"Something's going on," she hissed as she paced around her quarters. "Something's going on, and Optimus seems intent on keeping me in the dark. And I don't like being kept in the dark."

Cliffjumper, brooding quietly in the corner of the room, just growled. "If he had told me, I would have told you," he replied stiffly.

Arcee cursed. "Of course. He knows you too well."

Cliffjumper grunted, "I could extract information from someone within our ranks, such as Bumblebee."

Arcee shot him a glare and shook her helm. "As much as I'd like that, I'm afraid I can't risk losing any more favor with Optimus," she said. "And Bumblebee could care less about what we do and don't know, so he probably hasn't been told much."

"It's a start."

"I guess it is," Arcee said reluctantly. She spun around and headed towards the door. Just as she was about to step out, she stopped and turned to face Cliffjumper.

"Don't let anyone in here while I'm gone, alright?" she said with a devilish smile.

Cliffjumper replied with a nod, before turned back to whatever he was doing before. Satisfied with his response, Arcee finally slipped out the door.

She found Bumblebee in the storeroom, picking out a cube of energon. When she entered the room, he gave her no indication that he had noticed her.

Quietly, she slipped beside Bumblebee. "Hey, Bee," she drawled. "Do you have a moment?"

Bumblebee shrugged, not bothering to glance in her direction.

Accepting that as confirmation, Arcee asked, "What can you tell me about the... thing Optimus has planned?"

Bumblebee gave her a curious look and beeped another question in reply.

Arcee seemed to take great offense in this. "I am your superior," she growled, "and as your commander, I have to know what is going on with the Autobots."

Rolling his optics, Bumblebee gave her a vague and seemingly random answer.

"Birds? As in those frail, flying organic things? The ones with feathers?"

Bumblebee nodded and snarkily beeped something in response, as if it were obvious.

This only provoked Arcee further. She lashed out, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck, and she said, "I outrank you ten times over. If you are hiding something from me, I have the authority to force it out of you."

Of course, the Autobot scout was quick to remind her that she was still treading on thin ice with Optimus. Arcee just bared her denta, but she begrudgingly let him fall to the ground.

Bumblebee dusted himself off, before pointing Arcee toward the medbay and telling her to buzz off. He took a moment to sip from his energon cube, only to spit it out moments later, and an angry series of beeps and whistles quickly followed. As Arcee walked past him, she snatched the cube from his servos and slipped out the door before he could say another word.

Ratchet was her next interrogation target. When she stepped into the medbay, Arcee had to momentarily shield her maroon optics from the glaring lights overhead. Her optics quickly adjusted, and she heard Ratchet say from the far end of the room, "Arcee! To what do I owe the pleasure to?"

"Bee was rummaging through your personal storage," Arcee said, tossing him the energon cube. "Frankly, I feel sorry for him, because whatever you put in it is disgusting."

Ratchet snatched the energon out of the air, and the grin on his face widened. "So, what is it you need this time, darling?" he said, voice dripping with plastic sweetness. "Information, perhaps? Maybe you'd like to know what our exalted leader has planned for us?"

When Arcee shot him a suspicious look, Ratchet just tapped the side of his helm. "I know many things, commander."

Getting impatient, Arcee barked, "I gave you your cube, docbot. Now talk."

"An exchange of goods, then?" Ratchet sneered. "Is that how you want to play?"

"It's the only way I can get you to play."

Ratchet gave a mock sigh. "Alright, I suppose I can give you one, for this small favor." He got up, and walked in a small circle before he turned back to Arcee.

"Optimus's little scheme involves dark energon," he said. "That's why he has me involved."

"I know it involves dark energon!" Arcee snapped. "Tell me something I don't know, Primus dammit!"

"Ap ap ap," Ratchet said, waving a finger at her. "Me first."

His digits tapped once against the desk, before he asked, "How are you feeling today, darling?"

Arcee narrowed her optics. "What are you up to now?"

"Is it really so wrong for me to ask you such an innocent question?" Ratchet said, dragging his sharp digits on his desk, causing the air to be filled with metallic screeching. "After all, I feel... fantasssssstic."

"I suppose my day has been fine," Arcee replied flatly, giving the medic a sideways glare. "What are you putting the dark energon in."

"Birds. But you already knew that, didn't you?"

Arcee groaned. This was getting nowhere.

"I believe you know what dissection is," Ratchet said, nonchalantly plucking a small blade lying on the desk.

"I've known you far too long to forget," she replied, folding her servos across her black chassis. "Where is this going? If you need volunteers, just spit it out."

"Nowhere nearly that dirty, I can assure you," he said, idly twirling the blade in his digits. "The corpses I have in the back are more than enough to satisfy research for the next week." He paused, before he continued, "What I want to know is if you've ever heard of the concept of a c-section."

"Can't say I have. Now-"

"That wasn't a question."

Arcee scowled. "Of course it isn't," she hissed.

"You see, a c-section," he said, "is a human method of reproduction that involves slicing the carrier open, and, you see, when I found out about this the other day, I couldn't help but notice similarities to the word dissection. Do you believe these two words might have anything to do with the other?"

Arcee replied with a scoff. "The human language is crude. I doubt this is anything more than a coincidence."

"Of course."

"What does Optimus hope to achieve through this new plan?"

"Why, to bring the Decepticons down to Earth." Ratchet chuckled at his own joke. "Now, tell me- do you have any thoughts on the more... affliction based method of interrogation?"

"What kind of a question is that?" Arcee replied, raising a brow. "As long as it brings us closer to winning, it has my full support."

"It's just that whenever Optimus begins one of his 'interrogation sessions', you never seem to be in the room," Ratchet said, taking a dark gleam in his optic. "Of course, I always stop by to watch-after all, it's just music to my audio receptors- but I never took you as the squeamish type."

"That's enough!" Arcee yelled, slamming a servo on the table. She took a moment to compose herself, before she said, "This has clearly been a waste of my time." Quickly, she spun around and left the medbay.

As she got further and further, she could still hear Ratchet call out tauntingly, "Imagine that! The great Autobot second-purging her tanks like a sparkling at the sight of a little energon!" His cackling still followed her long after his voice had all but faded away.

Arcee continued down the hall, and found herself trying to put together the few pieces she had. So Optimus was planning on bringing down the Nemesis with a few dark energon-infused birds. The only problem was that their recent heist at the zoo had only yielded them a total of four of the avian organics; a far cry from what she would imagine they'd need to take down something as big as the Nemesis.

Then, just as she reached the central hub, she heard a loud metal clang. Moments later, she saw Bulkhead stumble out of the room, muttering curses. When she was sure he had passed, Arcee took a peek inside, saw the main computer tilted slightly to the side, and guessed that Bulkhead must have knocked it over.

"What an idiot," she hissed.

Quietly, she crept over to the computer and moved it back in place. When she finished, she took a peek at the screen. Fowler's name was printed on it in big, white letters. Underneath was a message reading: "Are you there Prime?"

She quickly looked around to make sure no one was watching, before she typed in a reply.

"I am here. What do you need?"

A moment passed before she got a reply.

"Have you released them yet?"


"How many do we have now?"

Arcee drew back from the screen, a little confused. "Four," she finally replied.

"I'd thought we'd have more by now."

Now she was even more confused. How were they going to get more?

Someone growled behind her. She looked over her shoulder and caught sight of Wheeljack standing in the shadows, boring into her with his imperial red optics.

"Wheeljack," she said, trying to make sure her face didn't betray the nervous feeling slowly rising inside her. "What brings you here?"

Wheeljack just narrowed his optics. For what felt like an eternity, Wheeljack didn't speak; he was a mech of few words. She remained thankful that he hadn't drawn his swords yet, at least.

Then Optimus stepped out from behind him.

"O-Optimus!" Arcee said, immediately wilting under his gaze.

"Arcee." He said blankly. He motioned for Wheeljack to leave, and the red striped Autobot slipped away into the dark.

"What are you-what are you doing here?" Arcee said, quickly losing her cool. Funny how her calm facade could crumble at the drop of a hat when the wrong people showed up.

Optimus growled. "Don't try to play me for a fool," he replied, leering over her. "If I leave you out of something, it's for a purpose, so try not to poke your digits into things that you have no business knowing."

With that, he jabbed a digit at her, knocking her over. He left her on the ground and walked past her, not even sparing her a glance as she scrambled away.

Chapter Text

A dim glow painted the cold metal walls with soft yellow light. At the middle of the room, the Decepticons sat around a table, playing cards under the shadows carved deeply into the floor.

"Still can't believe you found a printer this size, Soundwave," Skyquake said, shuffling the domino-printed cards in his servos.

"The hard part was finding the paper," Soundwave replied from his seat next to him, not even glancing up from his hand of cards. "You see, there was this small factory really deep into that forest out in Maine. I really had to go out of my way to find it."

Knock Out, sitting on the other side of the table, looked up and put down his cards. "You didn't steal this paper, did you?" he said, a worried look crossing his face.

"I'd say it's more... borrowing it," Soundwave said. "Only there was no one around to ask for permission from."

"You call it borrowing. I call it stealing."

"Details, details," Soundwave said, waving a servo in dismissal. "The important part is I got the paper." He paused for a moment to take a quick peek over the table. "Speaking of which, who's turn is it?"

"Airachnid's," Knock Out said. He stopped to pick up an energon cube to his side, and took a sip.

"Huh?" Hearing her name, Airachnid finally looked up from her place next to Knock Out.

"It's your turn to go," Soundwave said, giving her a friendly nudge.

"Oh, right," Airachnid said. She fumbled a bit with the cards in her servo, before finally putting one down on the trail of cards pointing at her direction.

Soundwave took a moment to lean over the table and steal a glance at her cards. "That's... not going to work," he said after a moment of thought.

She frowned, confused. Taking a second look at her cards, she quickly realized her mistake and spun the card around.

As she slowly lifted her servo, she asked, "A-a quick question: what is he doing here?" She motioned toward Knock Out, indicating it was him she was talking about. "Isn't he supposed to be keeping Megatron alive?"

"It's his off day," Soundwave said, and a schedule popped up on his visor to prove his point.

"But why are you and Skyquake here as well?" she asked, throwing Skyquake a quick glance.

The only reply she got was Skyquake quietly pressing a digit to his glossa.

"Anyway, you'd need me to set up the game," Soundwave said. "If I wasn't here, we'd have no game to play."

Just then, the doors behind them slid open. A group of vehicons walked in, quietly murmuring amongst themselves. When they caught sight of the Decepticon officers sitting around the table playing cards, some exchanged weird looks. Most didn't give them a second glance and walked past, taking an energon cube out of storage on their way out. One by one, the slowly filed out, until only one vehicon remained.

The last vehicon approached the Decepticon officers in a casual saunter, energon swirling in his hand. As soon as he stepped into the light, his armor quickly folded in on itself, revealing the blue tint and spiny helm beneath. Makeshift pulled up a chair to the table and wasted no time in making himself comfortable.

"Is this a bad time to say I want in?" he said in Airachnid's voice.

Off her corner of the table, Airachnid muttered, "I feel mocked."

"We're almost done, so yes," Soundwave replied briskly.

Makeshift quietly nodded, before he dove right into his energon.

With Makeshift out of the way, Soundwave motioned for Knock Out to make his move. With a flick of his servo, he tossed a card to the end of a trail of cards lying on the side. Soundwave leaned over the table to get a closer look and gave Knock Out a glare.

"Do you know what you've done?" he exclaimed, flinging his servos outward in a dramatic fashion.

"As a matter of a fact, yes," Knock Out replied smugly, nodding to Skyquake. The heavy-set seeker just grinned in victory and placed his last card right behind Knock Out. The only bot that seemed surprised at Soundwave's preemptive call was Airachnid, and even then, her reaction amounted to a confused furrow between her optics.

Soundwave ex-vented as he gathered the cards into a pile. After a quick shuffle, he passed out a hand of cards to the other Decepticons at the table. When he was done, they settled into quiet chatter as the game began.

"So, what took you so long?" Knock Out asked, turning to Makeshift.

The shifty Decepticon slouched down further on his chair and replied in Starscream's voice, "I had to find a way to ditch the children with Starscream." He stopped to give Skyquake a sideways glare, before he said, "Thanks for that, by the way."

Skyquake shrugged as he put down another card on the table.

"The kids are probably still listening to that old stick rant on about slacking off," Makeshift continued, this time using Soundwave's voice. "He'd lose his processor if he found out about this little gathering."

"He never lets us have any fun," complained Soundwave, who had been eavesdropping on the conversation. "He says we're supposed to focus on the war effort, but surely a little relaxation won't kill us?"

"Don't we have off days?" Airachnid said, cutting in.

"Only because I had to haggle it out of him, and even then we're still not allowed to leave the ship."

Knock Out clicked his digits against the table. "I'm usually not one to complain, but nothing I do ever seems to be enough for him," he grumbled. "I'm not First Aid; I can't do everything, thank you very much."

The ship rumbled. The Decepticons stopped, and the room became quiet. Cubes of energon carelessly scattered on the table swished gently inside their containers, until they finally settled back down again.

"What was that?" Airachnid squeaked, shrinking back into her chair.

All optics in the room turned to Soundwave. A display appeared on his visor for a moment, before it slipped out of existence.

"Engine problems," he said dismissively. "I just sent a few vehicons to check it out. Probably a minor malfunction."

"You're not even fully off-duty," Makeshift said in Soundwave's voice. "It's no wonder you're TIC. You could spend an entire day in your berthroom and Starscream wouldn't bat an optic, because you'd still be getting work done."

Soundwave raised a servo defensively. "Well, at least Starscream doesn't expect you to get something done every second of the day."

An alert popped up on his visor. The other Decepticons paused again as they waited for Soundwave to respond.

The alert disappeared as quickly as it had disappeared, and it was a few moments more before Soundwave spoke. "Just something on the deck. Probably some passing debris."

As the room was beginning to settle back into a relaxed atmosphere, another alert opened on the glass visor. Then another, and another, until the entire screen was filled with blaring alerts.

"Something tells me it isn't just space debris out there," Airachnid said, rising from her chair, ready to spring away at any moment.

Soundwave checked the exterior cameras. What he saw stunned him into silence.

"Oh Primus," he hissed the moment he broke out of his surprise. "Something's happening."

"What?" Skyquake exclaimed, jumping to his pedes. His weapons were already in his servos, crackling in anticipation.

"We're under attack," Soundwave said. "It's finally happened. We're under attack!"

An alarm shrieked through the halls of the Nemesis. The ship rumbled again; the tremor was hard enough to knock the Decepticons off their pedes, as Starscream's voice rung out clearly.

"All Decepticons! To your stations! We are under attack! Defend the ship by any means necessary!"

Chapter Text

A storm of white feathers foamed around the ship in a thick fog; it was as if the sky had been bleached a deathly pale. The floor of the Nemesis shook with the steps of the thousands of mechs that roamed the halls, the air alive with panic as the crew raced to their stations like insects in a hive.

Amidst the tempest of pedes and the terrified shouting, the three children struggled to keep themselves above the noise. A screech rumbled through the halls as a thousand talons scraped against the thick metal armor of the ship. The glass at the front of the bridge was already worn thin with scratches. The creatures outside were nothing more than a streak of white, their unearthly wailing swaying the ship precariously as they swept across the sky. Desks were toppled onto their sides in a hasty makeshift barrier, scattered across the floor as Vehicons huddled behind them, blasters pointed at the windows.

At the back, Starscream stood hunched over a microphone, barking orders through the Nemesis's commlink.

"Vehicons in the back quadrant, secure the fuel lines! Vehicons in the starboard quadrant, get to the cannons!"

A quiet ding signaled the arrival of the elevator; a welcome respite from the tense atmosphere on the bridge. All heads turned to the doors as they slid open, and in walked Soundwave, Skyquake, and Makeshift.

Miko turned to Soundwave the moment he stepped onto the bridge. What took you so long? she signed.

"I was on the bottom floor," he replied. "These elevators move really slowly, you know."

Starscream made an annoyed sound with his vents, and his silver wings twitched. "I assume the others were with you?"

"They were. I sent Airachnid to help the Vehicons in the back, and Knock Out to help reinforce the cannons portside."

Without missing a beat, Starscream started issuing orders. "Skyquake, take care of the children. Soundwave, increase the power in the engines and pull us out of this onslaught."

From the corner, Makeshift cleared his ventilation pipes and Starscream turned his glare to him. "What do I do?" Makeshift asked.

An unsure look crossed Starscream's face. He hesitated before he replied, "Go help Airachnid with the fuel lines, I suppose."

Makeshift nodded eagerly and began back toward the elevator.

"Can I go too?" Jack asked from below the Decepticons. Starscream turned to him and regarded him with inquisitive optics. "I don't just want to stay here while all this is going on," he added, looking back pleadingly.

Finally, Starscream said, "Fine, you can go."

Jack gave him a grin as he stepped into Makeshift's already waiting open servo. They stepped under the harsh light shining down from the top of the elevator, and the doors closed behind them with another ding.

"A slight problem with your plan, commander Starscream," Soundwave spoke up, optics fixed on the console in front of him. "All this clutter in front of the ship is interfering with the navigational system."

"Might I ask how?"

"I assume this has something to do with the dark energon inside them."

Starscream scowled. "Well, you better come up with something quick. The vermin outside won't wait for you to ward them off, after all."

Just then, the ground heaved, and everyone stumbled forward. The ship continued forward after a second, but the momentary stop left everyone looking around in uncertainty.

"Wait," Raf said, suddenly jumping to his feet. "Don't we have shields around the Nemesis?"

"Yes," Soundwave replied, "but it was never meant to take this many attacks at once. Besides, we can't use all the power to the shields while the engines are running. Wouldn't want this big hunk of metal to fall into the sea now, would we?"

"But what if you slowed down for a bit?" Raf said, taking a step forward. "Then you could blast these pesky little critters off our tail."

This perked Soundwave's interest. He turned to Starscream, looking at him questioningly.

"Just don't drop us out of the sky," he replied with a huff.

Soundwave turned back to the kids with renewed vigor. "Great thinking, Raf!" he said. He turned to Miko, but stopped short when he found her writing on a pad of paper.

Without prompting, she flipped it over to show him. On the top were the words, "Good Ideas from Raf Counter", and beneath that, three marks were etched in graphite.

"She thinks I'm stupid," Raf growled.

Miko just stuck out her tongue.

"Anyway," Soundwave cut in, "Miko, do you think you could help with this?"

The mute girl nodded, grinning as she was lifted off the ground. As soon as they reached the console, Soundwave started typing away, and Miko hooked herself up with her computer. As the faint beeping sound of the keyboard filled the dense atmosphere, Raf turned to Starscream.

"So," he said, "while the computer geeks do their thing, can I go help Knock Out with the canons?"

"I'm afraid that won't be necessary," Starscream replied, giving him a quick glance.

The lights in the ship flickered out momentarily. A brief murmur of panic passed through the bridge, and several vehicons glanced around in confusion, lowering their weapons.

Then, a flash appeared outside the window. There was a loud commotion among the creatures clinging to the outside, and in a flurry of pale feathers, they were gone.

"We did it!" Soundwave exclaimed from his end of the bridge, throwing his servos into the air. Miko copied him with a bigger smile on her face.

"I'm surprised it was that easy," he quickly added, "but at least it's over."

"It's never that easy," Skyquake spoke up. All optics turned to him. "Something's bound to go wrong."

"He's right," Starscream said, putting his chin into his servo. "This is a lot, even for the bearer of the Matrix. Optimus wouldn't put himself under such strain for something as meager as this." He turned to Soundwave. "Give me a readout of the damages."

A diagram of the ship flashed across Soundwave's visor. It warped out of existence as quickly as it had appeared, leaving the familiar black screen over Soundwave's face. The Decepticon intelligence officer, on the other hand, seemed troubled.

After a minute of silence, he said, "They were going for the engines. We would've slowed down either way."

"We've played right into their hand," Starscream hissed.

A beeping noise rang out, and everyone glanced at Soundwave's console. There was an alarm plastered over the screen, flashing in bright red. Miko, being directly under the screen, was the first to read it.

"What does it say?" Raf asked from the other side. The air around them grew tense as they waited for an answer.

Finally, Miko signed a reply. Bad things

Chapter Text

"I think we should be fine."

Down in the Nemesis, Makeshift gave a satisfied ex-vent as he secured the energon line into place. He slowly raised his servos as he stepped away, and quickly looked over his handiwork. Behind him, Airachnid stood on a platform overlooking the two other vehicons present in the room, with Jack on her shoulder.

"Not my best work, but it'll do," Makeshift said, tapping his pede skeptically.

The two other vehicons didn't respond, engrossed in their own work. Silence hung in the cramped atmosphere. A scraping sound resounded through the chamber every so often, but aside from that, it was fairly calm.

Eventually, the quiet scraping sound stopped. It took a moment for anyone to realize it, but when they did, Jack was the first to voice the unsaid words in the air.

"Is it over?"


The tension in the room unwound in an instant. The vehicons exchanged glances, and one of them shrugged. Makeshift slouched back, wiping a servo across his forehead, and Airachnid and Jack simultaneously gave a sigh of relief.

Then the room shook, and everyone snapped to attention.

The sound of blaster fire tore through the calm like a match set on oil. There was a scream, and something fell to the ground.

Then, silence.

Makeshift was the only one brave enough to take a look outside first. As he quietly slipped out the door, his paint job washed over in a dark purple, melting his form into the shadows of the Nemesis. The Vehicons followed shortly behind, dimming their visors as they readied their blasters. This left Airachnid for last, cowering behind the others, darting her optics around the chamber in frenzied paranoia as her spider legs carefully skittered along the floor, careful not to disturb the human boy on her shoulder plates.

They stepped into the hallway, optics prying for the slightest disturbance: the energon splattered across the floors, the stench of scorched metal wafting in the air.

A light flickered. Something clattered against the ground. In an instant, everyone's weapons were turned behind them as Airachnid scrambled to the back, pressing herself against the ground in a frantic attempt to make herself as small as possible. As the confusion quickly died down, they only found themselves staring at the open medbay doors.

The tearing of metal shook the empty halls, rattling the sparks of the unsuspecting band of Decepticons. Were they humans, goosebumps would have lined their skin as they stood frozen at the dead center of the barren hallway.

"I think that takes care of the last of them." The unmistakable voice of Arcee resounded through the halls, and Makeshift and the Vehicons exchanged worried glances.

A few beeps and whistles gave a reply; Bumblebee was on the scene as well.

"I know what Optimus said," Arcee replied. "You don't have to stay over my shoulder every online klik of my life. I just need to take care of an old debt."

Bumblebee emitted a confused series of beeps.

"For what?" Arcee snarled. Pedesteps echoed through the halls. "I'm going to make that blasted spider pay for what she did to Tailgate, that's what!"

All optics went to Airachnid. As Jack looked over his shoulder to give her a look, Airachnid shrank back under the glare of her teammates.

Chapter Text

"The Autobots have bridged onto the ship!"

Starscream cursed. "Slowing the ship was a mistake," he hissed angrily. "Now they've anchored a groundbridge onto the Nemesis."

Miko made a taunting face at Raf, who just scowled in response.

"Now is not the time to mock each other," Starscream snapped. "We've got to take care of the Autobots before they cause too much damage."

"That's going to be a problem," Soundwave said over his shoulder. "They've bridged very close to the engine room."

"Just our luck." The snarl on Starscream's lips twisted downward, and he leaned over the commlink on his desk. "All Vehicons attending to the engine room, defend the starboard side; the Autobots are on the ship."

Starscream shut off the commlink, his piercing optics scanning the bridge as he tried to form a plan in his head. The Decepticon SIC was incredibly focused under pressure, and as his optics snapped around the bridge, his frown deepened in an expression of deep thought.

"Soundwave," he said firmly, finally turning to the Intel Officer. "Bring the ship back to full speed. We don't want the Autobots anchoring another bridge."

"A bit too late for that, boss," Soundwave said, his digits tapping the keyboard frantically. "They've got a bridge on the port side as well."

"Then what are you waiting for?"

Soundwave jumped, and he quickly turned back to his console, muttering a garbled response. He waved his servos across the screen in broad strokes, hastily moving things across the holographic screen. The ship rumbled again as it thrust itself forward, and as he began to slow down his panicked movements, Soundwave grinned beneath his visor.

"Vehicon squads 4, 6, and 7; dispatch from the life-support ward to the port side."

His tall strides carried him with purpose as he walked over to the heavyset seeker idling off to the side. As his spindly legs clicked against the floor, Skyquake's navy blue optics turned to meet his, hardened to the blaring alarms and panic around him.

"Skyquake!" Starscream said. "I need you to take all the Vehicons on the bridge down to the engine room on the port side."

"Can do," Skyquake grunted in reply. A swift signal with his servo sent the Vehicons marching out of the bridge doors, blue visors glancing wilding around in anticipation, leaving the bridge in complete disarray with desks and other assorted items toppled over as leftovers from the previous assault. Amidst the thundering of the marching pedes, Starscream caught a flash of white and blue and pulled Soundwave out of the crowd before he could go any further.

"Just what do you think you're doing?"

Soundwave stopped. He turned to face Starscream and said, "Helping?" before adding a deep voice, "My people need me! I must go to them!"

"No, they don't," Starscream replied, stopping him from leaving. "You're much more useful up here, keeping track of the battle from above."

Reluctantly, Soundwave raised a servo, on the verge of protesting. He turned his helm to the side, quickly contemplating his options before he thought better of it. With a tired vent, he trudged back to his desk as his visor flickered with the gentle creaking of the ship.

"What about us?" Starscream glanced over at Raf, standing with a determined look on his face. Miko sat behind him, busily typing something on her computer.


Raf gave Starscream a cocky grin. "We want to help too, right Miko?" He turned to the girl, only to be met with a dismissive wave. "Alright," he said. "I want to help."


"What?" Raf said, frowning.

"The battlefield is no place for children," Starscream scolded. "How many times must I repeat myself?"

"We've done it before!" Raf said as he took a step forward, challenging the Decepticon SIC.

"I'd rather not push our luck," Starscream replied before he turned back to Soundwave, cutting off Raf before he could make any further comment. "Give me a readout of all the Autobots onboard."

"The life signals on the port side match those of Autobots Bulkhead and Wheeljack," Soundwave said, keeping his attention focused on the screen in front of him.

A small grimace took to Starscream's face. "How their infighting ends up damaging their surroundings more than themselves, I'll never know. Let's hope Knock Out and Skyquake can subdue them before they reach the ward."

"As for the starboard side..." Soundwave slowly lifted his servo away from the desk and held his silence for a moment. "Autobots Bumblebee, Arcee, and Cliffjumper appear to be tearing up the starboard side. Sir."

This triggered a response from Miko, who suddenly looked up from her computer. She jumped to her feet and tugged on Raf's shoulder. The larger boy turned to her with a confused look, and she tried to sign him a message.

Her hands were messy and panicked. He stared at her for a minute, trying to decipher her words. Slowly, realization dawned on him, and he turned to Starscream.

"Isn't Jack on the starboard side?" he asked, a tinge of fear in his eyes.

Starscream frowned, and his earlier order quickly resurfaced in his mind. He turned to ask Soundwave something, but found his station empty. The sound of sliding doors was all he needed to know where he had gone.

Chapter Text

Arcee turned the corner, blaster primed to tear through the first thing that moved. To her disappointment, the only thing that greeted her was another empty hallway dimly lit by the lights embedded in the floor.

"Primus damn it," she muttered as she began walking down the abandoned corridor. "What is it with these Decepticons? When you're in the mood to take some helms you can't find a single one, and when you just want to keep your servos clean they just seem to be around every fragging corner."

"Don't know," Cliffjumper replied, following close behind, brandishing a blaster in each servo.

Arcee scowled and scanned the hallway for any signs that might betray any Decepticons hiding in the corners. Finding none, she motioned for Cliffjumper to move up as she pressed onward, completely unaware of the Decepticons hiding just above her helm, barely hanging on to the small indents in the ceiling.

As the two Autobots disappeared from their line of sight, the Decepticons gave a small ex-vent of relief. The danger had passed for now.

Then Airachnid slipped. One of the spider legs coming off her back lost its hold on the wall, and it gave off a subdued screech as it slid down. She quickly managed to regain her grip on the wall, but it was enough to make Arcee and Cliffjumper hesitate.

Slowly, Arcee retraced her steps, maroon red optics betraying a hungry gaze as she primed her blaster. The Decepticons trembled as they heard her steps getting louder, completely terrified at the thought of being found out; Airachnid most of all. Who were they to try to take on the Autobot SIC?

So Arcce got closer and closer, all while the four Decepticons (and one human boy) hid up in the rafters like a bunch of lost bats, the tension between them like a wire stretched to the edges. Someone had to snap, and Makeshift was the first to break the silence.

"Frag it," he hissed, before letting go of the ceiling.

His pedes hit the floor with a clang. The moment he dropped down, Arcee and Cliffjumper looked taken aback; they had been expecting to be the ones to catch their quarry by surprise, not have one drop in on them instead.

In a single swift motion, all the spines on his armor disappeared under large plates as they shifted in rapid succession, and a darker shade of blue washed over him until an exact likeness of Cliffjumper stood in his place.

The two Vehicons dropped down beside him and began to open fire. Cliffjumper leapt in front of Arcee, using his larger size to shield her from energon blasts.

With Arcee temporarily out of sight, Makeshift whipped out his weapons and yelled to Airachnid still hanging onto the ceiling, "She's after you! Get out as quickly as you can!"

Airachnid nodded, too scared to give any other reply. She released her spider legs from the rafters, landing on the floor on her pedes before she sprinted off as quickly as she could.

As soon as Airachnid was well down the hall, Makeshift turned his attention back to the duo of Autobots. Together the three Decepticons put down a constant barrage of fire, preventing the two Autobots from getting any closer. Each hit that bounced off Cliffjumper's armor forced him to take a step back as he shielded his face with his servo.

While the Decepticons were focused on pushing the larger Autobot backward, Arcee slipped out from behind her partner, weaving around the torrent of bullets soaring past her. The one of the Vehicons noticed her dancing through their onslaught, and turned their focus to her, but somehow she always found a way to evade his attacks.

Her graceful pedes brought her closer to the Decepticon line, and the Vehicon tried to take a swing at her. Arcee ducked, and the Vehicon's servo went straight over her helm. In retaliation, she swung her servo into his helm, tearing his neck cables with a single swipe as she glided past him. The Vehicon's visor quickly flickered off, and Arcee dashed past the rest, too focused on finding Airachnid to pay attention to the other two Decepticons still online.

With only Makeshift and a Vehicon putting pressure on him, Cliffjumper began to make progress towards them. The Decepticons tried to keep him at bay, but with only two of them left, they were bound to leave small gaps in their barrage. Slowly, Cliffjumper moved his servo away from his face, revealing one of his crimson red optics. Now that he had an optic on the enemy, he was able to aim with his other servo and return fire with his slower but more powerful blaster, severing one of the Vehicon's blasters from him in one clean shot.

Airachnid didn't think about where she was going; she just ran. The sound of blaster fire still rang in the halls, and as her pedes clicked against the ground she desperately prayed to Primus the others would buy her enough time to get to somewhere safe.

"Hey, Airachnid?" Jack asked from her left shoulder.

"What?" she hissed between her denta.

"I know this might be a bad time to ask-"

"N-not at all. Go ahead."

"Why does Arcee hate you so much?"

Airachnid momentarily sped up, before slowing her stride into a walk. As she pressed onward, she glanced away from Jack nervously and said, "It's complicated."

"Oh." Jack sounded a little disappointed.

"Not to pry," Airachnid said, flinging a gaze over her right shoulder, "but why does it concern you?"

"Well, it's just that the few times I've actually met her, Arcee seems to hate you specifically more than anyone else. I thought maybe I could help with that."

A soft chuckle slipped through her lips. "I wish it were that easy."

Pedesteps began to echo through the halls, and Airachnid froze on the spot. The sound wasn't heavy enough to be anyone larger than Airachnid, like Makeshift or Cliffjumper, and Vehicons traveled in groups while this sounded like only one bot. It didn't take a very fast processor to guess who was coming towards them.

"Speak of the devil," Jack muttered.

Airachnid broke into a sprint, throwing down her spider legs to lengthen her strides. Behind them, Arcee's voice rang out, "You're not getting out of my sight!"

Taking a glance to his left, Jack saw a glint of black armor flashing in the dim light. There was a loud metallic clang as Arcee struck the other side of Airachnid's helm, sending her stumbling back.

For a second, Jack found himself flying off Airachnid's shoulder. Moments before he hit the ground, she caught him in her servos as she hit the floor, leaving scratches on the metal as she slid on the dark blue floor for a bit, before coming to a stop. She checked the boy in her servos as she shakily got to her pedes.

Down the hall, Arcee cursed as her blades had failed to deploy, and it took a minute for her to unsheathe her weapon. She turned her attention back to Airachnid, meeting her terrified gaze with a glare hardened with hatred.

Chapter Text

An explosion shook the engine room. The Vehicons stationed inside exchanged worried glances, but still refused to leave their posts.

Another explosion, closer, louder. Two Vehicons shuffled. A few of the others raised their blasters to the door.

The behemoth that kept the Nemesis in the sky continued to sputter. Exhaust vents wheezed, and motors tugged against each other as the engine sparked with energy. Despite the chaos around it, the engine carried on running.

With a hiss, the doors began to bend. A low hum filled the room, and every blaster in the room aimed at the doors, glowing blue and primed to fire. One Vehicon backed into a corner, trying to put as much distance as he could between himself and the door.

A guttural roar filled the packed chamber. The doors tumbled off their hinges, and before a single shot could be taken there was a flash of red, and a helm-less corpse fell to the floor.

"Sixty-one," Bulkhead said.

Wheeljack remained silent as he separated the top halves of two Vehicons from their lower halves. Energon dripped out of the exposed flesh, and what remained of the Vehicons crumpled backward.

"Sixty-two," Wheeljack replied.

No sooner had the first severed helm hit the floor, the room became alive with blasts of blue energon. Stray bullets grazed the walls, leaving scorch marks on the inside of the ship. Most found their mark in the armor of an Autobot. Not that it mattered.

The Vehicons' blasters did little against Bulkhead's thick armor, and the bullets bounced harmlessly off as he charged towards the Decepticons. He swung his wrecking ball wildly around the room. Any Vehicons unfortunate enough to be hit were immediately crushed into a lifeless husk and thrown aside. The few Vehicons who managed to avoid it met a swift end by Wheeljack's swords.

Mechanical wailing echoed within the confines of the engine room. Energon splattered all over the walls, staining the blue metal with Cybertronian blood. It was, simply put, a massacre.

"You're in my way," Bulkhead said as he hurled his wrecking ball at Wheeljack.

The other mech barely managed to step out of the way and shot him an angered glare as the wrecking ball knocked over a small group of Vehicons behind him. He snared the cable as it strung by, and before Bulkhead could react, he flung him over his shoulder. The last thing the poor Vehicon in the corner saw was the Autobot's form hurling towards him before his immense weight squeezed all the energon out of the Vehicon like an orange.

Arcee tore up the walls, eyes wild with a frenzy akin to that of a half-starved bear. Airachnid just tried to stay clear, and Jack watched hanging from one of Airachnid's spider limbs.

"Get back here, Decepticon glitch!" Arcee howled as she swung wildly, "or I'll sever your limbs one by one."

"I was just leaving," Airachnid said, and she sidestepped another blind slash.

With a hiss, Arcee caught her neck and pinned her to the floor.

Airachnid's ex-vents became short and raspy. Her servos tried to claw at the digits wrapped around her neck, but her efforts failed to leave more than a scratch on the Autobot's armor. With sadistic glee, Arcee's grin revealed more of her denta as her grip only tightened. And Jack could do nothing to help.

Nearly out of her line of sight, Arcee saw a flicker of movement. She rolled off Airachnid moments before the spider leg came down onto the floor, forcing her to release the Decepticon's neck in the process.

Before Airachnid could tear her leg out of the ground, a servo came down on it. The thin plating on her leg shattered instantly. Airachnid could only gawk as her leg hung limply over her shoulder.

"No more playing dirty," Arcee said. "Not after what you did to Tailgate."

Jack stole a glance at Airachnid, who seemed on the verge of crumbling. Her mouth appeared twisted in a wavering line, and her optics shimmered with uncertainty. She looked ready to hide in the first opportunity that presented itself. So what had she done to Tailgate?

He never finished that line of thought. Arcee leaped at Airachnid, blades outstretched. Airachnid managed to jump over her, but when she tried to take a stab at her with another spider leg, Arcee pushed off the floor with a servo, and the strike fell onto the floor. As the leg pulled back, Arcee grabbed ahold and tore at it, ripping the flesh with a metallic screech, spilling energon onto the floor. A pained gasp slipped out, and Airachnid clutched her ruptured leg with frightened eyes. She turned to run, but Arcee had her digits wrapped around her fragile neck cables before she could get an inch down the hall.

In a spark-beat, she became aware of the blade hanging over her optics, and the single thought that echoed in her brain-almost to the point of driving her mad-was how strangely the white light seemed to shimmer in the reflection.

The walls of the Nemesis trembled as one of the two Cliffjumpers barreled through the hall, curling his digits into fists and winding up for a strike. The other Cliffjumper did likewise with a roaring battle cry. Their servos met in the middle, but the first Cliffjumper easily overpowered the other and slammed him into the wall.

Makeshift quickly transformed back into his original form, clutching his ringing helm. Everything felt like it was tossing and turning, and when his optics came back into focus he saw a servo raised above him. An undignified squeak came from him as he shifted again, this time to avoid his helm from being crushed.

As Cliffjumper lifted his servo to strike again, the Vehicon behind him began peppering him with blaster fire. The attack barely left a mark on the armor, but it did remind Cliffjumper about the Vehicon's presence. In retaliation, he swung around and fired. There was a raspy cry, like rust grating against a knife, and the Vehicon clattered to the ground clutching the hole in his chest, still steaming with heat.

With that distraction out of the way, Cliffjumper turned back to the Decepticon shifter. What he received instead was a spinning kick to the face. He reeled back. To his surprise, he found himself clutching the side of his helm.

Makeshift jumped to his feet, now wearing the face of the Autobot SIC. He craned his neck to the side and dropped into a fighting stance, optics burning with determination.

"I could do this all-"

Whatever line Makeshift was about to reference was cut off by a swift blow to the side of the helm. Makeshift tumbled through the air, but quickly caught himself with his servos and jumped right back up again. His blasters were out in an instant.

Cliffjumper snarled and stepped forward to confront him. He scowled. His blaster began to hum. Then something caused him to pause. He reached a servo up to the side of his helm, and after a moment of stillness, he nodded.

When Bumblebee sauntered in from the corner behind him, blasters raised, Makeshift felt more exasperated than surprised. With a groan, he stretched his other blaster to point at the second Autobot.

They stood there for the longest time, guns pointed at each other like a western standoff. Cliffjumper, his face completely deadpan. Bumblebee, his helm tilted in an uncaring manner. Makeshift, his optics narrowed and his pede impatiently tapping against the floor.

"So," Makeshift said, "are we just going to keep doing this or-"

A shot rang out. The impact tossed Makeshift backward onto the floor. His arm was not so lucky; it had been completely blown off, and energon splattered all over the pieces of scrap scattered around the floor. At once, the two Autobots broke from their position, descending upon him like snarling demons with twisted faces onto a ravaged corpse.

The first blow from Cliffjumper sent him crashing into Bumblebee, who fired a few shots into his chest. As Makeshift stumbled back, he felt a crushing force wrap around his helm, and hurl him across the hall. He groaned, and his processor spun. Through the haze, he could just barely make out a shadow looming over him, and white stripes streaking down a blue chestplate.

Chapter Text

Skyquake burst into the engine room to the aftermath of a slaughter. Energon dripped down the walls. A severed helm lay on the floor next to him. A charred scent drifted in the air, and a few of the Vehicon corpses sparked from a few wires sticking out of the gaping wounds littered all over them. The soft glow coming off the thundering engines glinted off the dulled and scratched pieces of armor scattered across the ground, battered and chipped. In the corner, a Vehicon lifted a shaking servo as if to reach for what little life remained in it before his visor finally lost its glow, and his helm slumped to the side. A strangled cry came from another Vehicon, and Skyquake looked over to the engines just in time to see the silhouette of a blade being brought down.

There was the sound of scraping metal, and the cry was silenced. The top half of the Vehicon slid to the ground, and the bottom half fell to its knees.

Rage filled Skyquake's optics, and with a snarl, he whipped his blasters forward. The two Autobots inside, Bulkhead and Wheeljack, snapped their helms toward him. Bulkhead stepped back in surprise. Wheeljack just raised his swords and narrowed his optics, daring Skyquake to attack.

As if on a signal, Vehicons began to pour in from behind the red seeker, and the air quickly reignited with blaster fire. Eager to avenge their fallen comrades, a few Vehicons rushed forward, forcing the Autobots back.

Bulkhead stumbled, not expecting to find himself in the midst of combat so soon. Although the bullets did little aside from leaving a few small black marks on his thick red hide, he almost lost his balance.

On the other hand, Wheeljack easily wove his way between the small gaps in the energon. The scorching hot energon barely touched his armor, but the sheer volume kept him from closing in, so his swords disappeared into subspace.

From behind the sturdy line of Vehicons, Skyquake primed his blasters to fire. A low hum wafted through the air, and the few Vehicons close to him felt the heat radiating from the ends gently brush the back of their helms. With slitted navy blue optics, Skyquake tracked the movements of the Autobots, and he hastily calculated where their every step would take them. With Bulkhead tripping over debris like a lost elephant, the seeker's blaster leveled itself to his bulky frame. The blue energon dripping out of the end of his gun began to glow brighter, began to hum louder. He didn't need to pierce the armor; a single shot to the softer join pieces was all he needed.

From the corner of his optic, something flashed by. Skyquake's helm fell to the floor. There was a small, rectangular object at his pedes. A single glowing red eye returned his gaze, flashing from the top left corner.

"Look out!" was all he could say as he dived past the Vehicons. Several helms turned as he leapt past; he could feel the curious gaze of a few Vehicons boring into him. Some of them stopped firing, and a few saw the grenade that lay at their pedes. Before so much as a word of panic could come from the Vehicons, Skyquake wrapped his servos around the grenade. He hurled it off to the side with a growl, where it exploded without hurting anyone.

Relief quickly turned to fear as Skyquake noticed that he had tossed the grenade over to the engine. The engine stammered as a piece of the protective metal coating disappeared in a plume of heat and shrapnel, and the ship trembled in response. All firing ceased momentarily, and Autobots and Decepticons alike grabbed onto the walls, the pieces of floor sticking out, anything to keep them upright. For a moment, the engines seemed to fail, and fear gripped the sparks of the Decepticons.

When the ship didn't plummet to the hard earth below, there was a collective ex-vent among them, and a few blasters were lowered.

Wheeljack seethed. Another grenade found its way into his digits, and he pulled his servo back to throw.

A slender bolt of energon flashed through his vision. One second he was blinking. The next, a blossom of orange and red engulfed the side of his helm. A static-y scream tore itself from behind his face mask-what was left of it, anyway-and he turned away, clutching the side of his helm.

The Vehicons closed in on Wheeljack, confident now that he could no longer kill them. He stepped back, and a sword appeared in his servo.

In a flash of red, Bulkhead grabbed him around the waist. The Vehicons around them aimed their blasters at him, and the hum of energon echoed in the chamber. He only shot them a hateful glare. The air crackled, and a green portal materialized behind him.

"We'll be back," Bulkhead said.

Dragging Wheeljack behind him, he disappeared into the bridge. It closed with a clap, leaving the Decepticons surrounded by their dead, and the ruins of their engine room.

Makeshift found himself staring down the barrel of Bumblebee's blaster. The red energon deep within the throat of the weapon reflected off his azure optics. The vicious humming of the energon heating up resounded in his audio receptors, completely overtaking all he could hear. And the only thought that he could process was, This is going to sting.

The sting never hit him. Moments before he could fire, Bumblebee let out a cry of pain. Sparks crawled up his armor like spiders spilling out a well, and he crumpled to the ground, steam trickling out of the slots between plates of armor. As the Autobot scout fell away, in his place stood Knock Out, his dull blue armor littered with familiar scratches, his optics still holding their tired look.

"You look like you needed help," he said.

"And not a moment too soon, doc," Makeshift replied, and a piece of Soundwave's visor briefly slid over his optics.

Knock Out helped Makeshift to his pedes. A quick change of armor washed over him, recreating him into an exact likeness of the Decepticon Medic, dents and all. The only difference between the two of them was that one held an electrified staff in his hands, while the other had blasters as his choice of weapons.

Being one of his colleagues, Knock Out found this amusing. Cliffjumper did not.

The two Decepticons readied their weapons as Cliffjumper aimed his blasters down the hall. Knock Out's staff sparked to life. Makeshift's blasters hummed. Cliffjumper just growled.

A low rumble, and the walls began convulsing, like the throat of some kind of creature letting in a shuddering breath. Makeshift found his pedes buckling, and he was barely able to keep his balance. A crash came from his side; Knock Out wasn't as lucky as him.

He turned to see if he was okay. Knock Out jumped to his feet, not even bothering to brush the dust off his armor. They turned back to the end of the hall, but Cliffjumper was gone. There was a wisp of green and purple in his place, but it vanished in a fleeting moment.

With a clang, Soundwave punched Arcee off Airachnid. As she took a second to recover, Soundwave turned to Airachnid.

"You should probably move. Right now."

Airachnid blinked. He was still there-definitely not a figment of her imagination.

At first, relief washed over her. She slowly shifted herself back upright, taking care not to bash the human boy hanging from her spider legs.

"Where's Miko?" Jack asked over her shoulder.

"She's back at the bridge. Don't worry about it," Soundwave said. Then he placed his servos on Airachnid's shoulders, straightening her out. "What you should be worried about is getting away from here."

That snapped her back to the situation at hand. Airachnid could only nod, taking a step away from him. She needed to get out, that was something she understood. Before she could take another step, Arcee suddenly reentered her line of sight, sending him back with a blow aimed across his face. He managed to block her blades by raising his servos to cover his helm, but she kept pressing against him, forcing Soundwave against a wall.

"Go!" he said as he struggled against the sharp blade inching closer and closer to his flesh.

But Airachnid found that she couldn't move. Arcee was so close; her attention could change from Soundwave to her in an instant. Something tugged her to help. She wanted to step in, to throw Arcee off him or send her reeling with a strike to the side of her helm, but her servos refused to go forward.

A crack began to form where Arcee pressed her blade against Soundwave's visor. His strength was beginning to wane; as an intelligence officer, he didn't have the power to match the Autobot SIC.

Then energon hailed down from the sky. Arcee let out a hiss, and her grasp weakened just enough for Soundwave to throw him off. Laserbeak soared under the low ceiling, slipping past Arcee before she could react and hovered over her shoulder.

A signal passed between the minicon and deployer. Laserbeak rushed toward Arcee again, firing tiny bolts of energon at her. As she raised her servos to block the attack, Soundwave lunged for her and delivered a blow to her unprotected lower half. Arcee stumbled back, breaking her guard long enough for Laserbeak to turn around and land several hits on her.

She was dazed and hurt. Her optics betrayed the burning anger in her as she spat out the energon leaking from her mouth. Then she turned around and fled. This left Soundwave standing in front of Airachnid, bleeding energon from her broken spider legs, but relieved to be alive.

As soon as was out of sight, Soundwave turned his attention to Airachnid. "Are you alright?" he said.

"I think so."

Soundwave nodded back before he placed a digit on the side of his helm.

Static spilled out into the open air. Airachnid realized that the crack in his visor must have somehow damaged his commlink. When he looked at her, she opened her own commlink.

From the other side of the ship, she heard Skyquake report that the Autobots had pulled back. Makeshift reported the same.

"They're gone," she said, and a sigh of relief passed between the two of them.

Chapter Text

"So they've left." Starscream frowned, bringing a servo to his chin.

Soundwave nodded. "The Vehicon patrols have reported no sign of the Autobots. Seems like the tides have abated, if only for a moment."

"And the engine room?"

The visor over Soundwave's face sputtered for a moment. Sparks shot out from the cracks dealt out across the center. Colors flickered across the broken glass, before it faded to black, leaving Soundwave to grasp his helm in frustration.

"I think the engine's been a bit damaged," he said, taking a moment to straighten himself, "which is why we've been flying a bit wonky for the past hour or so. Haven't been able to get a second of calm with the way we've been running it, since all kinds of compensations have to be made with this sort of thing. Also it's gonna take a while to clear out the debris and corpses from the engine room, which absolutely reek-"

"Soundwave. You can go now."

"Yes sir, sorry sir." Soundwave gave Starscream a quick salute, before he scuttled out of his line of sight. Not two seconds later and Starscream heard a crash behind him, along with a muttered, "Sorry."

Behind him, the doors slid open and shut. The Decepticon SIC gave a quick vent, before he turned to Skyquake standing beside him.

"Now then," he said. "Let's discuss what happened with you, shall we?"

When Skyquake huffed, he took it as an invitation to continue.

"From what I've heard, you redirected an Autobot explosive into the engine, which is what caused it damage in the first place, am I correct?"

"Did you think I'd want to lose eight of our troops to a grenade?"

The crease on Starscream's brows deepened, and he said, "The grenade shouldn't have been out in the first place. You got distracted."

"I took care of it the situation the best I could."

"Do you know how long it's going to take to repair the engine?" Starscream hissed, jabbing a digit at Skyquake. "A week!"

The red seeker didn't even flinch. "At least the Autobots won't try anything for a while."

"Yes. Especially since we have one of them held captive now."

This was the only thing he had said that got a reaction out of Skyquake, even if the reaction amounted to barely more than a raised optic ridge.

"Which one?" he asked.

"Their scout. Bumblebee, I believe he was called."

The moment the doors to the bridge opened, Airachnid looked up. Soundwave walked out, and she made to follow him.

"Soundwave," she said, "I am so sorry about your visor."

"It's fine," he said, waving a servo. "If you really want to make up for it, bring in Arcee."

Airachnid sputtered and gave him a disbelieving stare. "Y-you want me to-"

"I'm kidding. It's cool."

"But if I hadn't frozen up, I could have helped!"

"Airachnid," Soundwave said, stopping to face her. "It's just a visor. At least it wasn't my face."

"But how are you going to monitor the ship, or all those other things you do?"

"I'll manage. Now, if you'll excuse me," Soundwave said as he turned away, and started to walk down the hall, "I've got guard patrols to set up."

Airachnid watched him leave her behind, and a frustrated frown set in. A thought passed through her helm: I can take care of myself! I'm not some idiotic sparkling. At least, I don't think I am.

Chapter Text

The soft beeping of the monitor thrummed against the sterile silence of the med-bay. In the hollowed-out caverns of the Autobot base, bright lights tore through the darkness in the quarantined corner of the burrow. The smell of burnt energon curled through the atmosphere, and misshapen tools and twisted hooks lay scattered over the white table against the wall. Strangled breathing slipped between the steady beeping, the organic sound contrasting against the digital heartbeat.

*I'm sorry, Optimus is what?* Bumblebee's disbelieving voice broke through the rhythm of the med-bay.

"Dying," Ratchet said in that annoying sing-song voice of his. "Kicking the bucket, inching towards death's door, signing the deed to the farm, however you want to put it."

*But how?*

The medic waggled a finger at Bumblebee like he were some processor-less husk. "Look's like our oh-so-indestructible leader realized he wasn't so indestructible after all."

*My processor hurts already.*

There was a pause. Ratchet's optics grew wide. His grin went wider. A harsh silence nestled into the med-bay as Ratchet gave the scout an unsettling smile, his widening grin only matched by how much Bumblebee shrunk under his gaze.

As if things couldn't get more strange, Ratchet started to sing, his voice like stones etching into steel. "He drank a puddle made of rust and now his gut is busted~"

He tilted his helm towards Bumblebee, and the scout wisely decided to remain silent.

"How would he put it? The spark's going out, something like that. Not like I can do anything about it."

*But you think I can do something about it?*

"Something like that."

Bumblebee coughed and gave Ratchet a stunned look. *What am I supposed to do?* he said. *I'm just a scout. Average, expendable, disposable, call it what you wish.*

"Exactly," Ratchet said, holding up a servo to silence any other comments he might've had. "That is why we're going to get you inside the Nemesis."

Salmon red optics blinked. *You're kidding, right?*

*He definitely wasn't kidding.*

Bumblebee slumped back against the wall. A patrol of Vehicons passed by him, quietly chatting among themselves. His spark stalled as they walked by, afraid of even the slightest noise giving him away. Below him, the ship rumbled as it soared through the sky, and one of the lights above flickered out.

The Autobots hadn't expected to bring down the ship, especially since the Nemesis had a crew several hundred bots strong; the purpose of the mission had been to get him on the ship.

Now? Well, he was wandering through the halls of the Nemesis. It hadn't been easy to break out of his cell, but he had managed. While he wasn't as lithe as Arcee, he could still slip in and out of places undetected.

As the last of the Vehicons disappeared around a corner, Bumblebee let out an ex-vent. Right now, he had his optics set on finding a cure for the ailment assaulting his leader's body-a cure in the last place he ever wanted to be in.

Ratchet had told him to get to the life-support ward. When he asked where it was, the Autobot medic replied, "Just look for the place with the most guards."

He glanced around to the end of the hall. Six Vehicon guards stood guard in front of a door. Starscream's attachment to his leader was a strange thing for sure.

Despite how the ship twisted like a deep blue maze, Bumblebee found it surprisingly easy to navigate. The floors were labeled, and there were signs everywhere to help him if he ever found himself lost, most likely courtesy of Soundwave. The Decepticon TIC probably never imagined that his intensive labeling would be used by the enemy to find their way around the ship. The Decepticons were a weird bunch.

Not that any of that did anything to quell the terror he was feeling right now. He was in the heart of the Decepticon's warship, and would probably be shot on sight. And for what, a leader he was only partially loyal to? A cause he fought for half-heartedly?

Oh well, no time for questions right now. His blasters began to hiss as he stepped out from behind his corner.

The Vehicons went down quickly, as they usually did. They didn't put up much of a fight, and for that he was grateful; fighting tended to tire him out, and after all this sneaking around he planned on putting aside an entire day to recharge.

Of course, all his firing had caused quite a ruckus. If the Decepticons hadn't noticed his escape already, they'd know something was up now. Careful not to set his pede onto one of the Vehicon husks, he slipped into the life support bay.

Unsurprisingly, the room was similar to the med-bay back at the Autobot base. A familiar beeping accompanied the monitor standing vigil over the berth. Wires were strung across the stifling atmosphere, flowing with energon. And who else was strapped to the berth but the leader of the Decepticons, Megatron himself.

*Can't believe I'm doing this,* Bumblebee muttered as he shuffled under the berth.

He pulled out a thing from his subspace (psychi-whatsit cord, Ratchet called it) and plugged it into the stasis-induced Decepticon Warlord. There was a bit off shuffling around as he made himself comfortable on the floor before he plugged the other end into himself and everything faded to black.

Chapter Text

Wading through the mind of the Decepticon warlord, Bumblebee couldn't help but feel as if he were wading through an ocean. The thick atmosphere pressed down on him, like he was carrying the weight of the world, and his robotic limbs struggled to get through.

Neither Arcee or Ratchet could be trusted to complete the task without sabotaging it, Bulkhead was too large to use in a stealth mission such as this one, and no one could ever seem to understand what went on inside Cliffjumper's head, so Wheeljack had selected him to extract a cure from Megatron's processor. So far, however, all that he could find was an endless void.

"I wonder why Megatron has such an empty processor," Bumblebee mumbled to himself as he trudged along an invisible surface. "Surely this can't be the same Megatron who has held his own against Optimus Prime, of all people. Something isn't right."

He carefully extended a servo out into the darkness. The walls rippled, as if it were a wall of water, and Bumblebee retracted his servo. He remained surrounded by nothing, in the middle of nowhere. The air was completely silent, apart from a faint clicking noise he could... wait a minute.

Bumblebee's veins iced over, his engine screeched to a halt as he strained his audio receptors to listen. Silence was all that sailed through the air, and he let himself relax for a moment. Then the clicking started again.

Only this time it was louder.

Bumblebee took a step back, his servoes raised. Shifting the mechanisms in his arms, he pulled out his blasters, glowing red. His optics darted around, searching for any sign of life. The clicking got louder. He looked to the left. Nothing for as far as he could see. He looked to the right. The pitch black looked as if it could swallow him up. Another step back. Bumblebee glanced up.

A pack of small drones hovered overhead, most of them made tiny by distance. In the dim light, their metal forms looked ever-changing, always shifting. Small tendrils trailed out behind them, and in the servos that extended out from their main form were two whips, sparking with energy like live wires.

At first Bumblebee thought he was just seeing things. Then the tiny specks grew larger, and the clicking grew louder, and he knew for sure that he wasn't seeing things. His optics shot wide with panic, and he turned heel and ran.

The splashing resounded through the empty space as his pedes kicked up the water below him.

Chapter Text

It's been two months since I've updated this. I said I'd rewatch Prime through August, and I did. I said I'd continue writing this in September. It's October now, so this is probably a bit overdue.

After going through Prime, I did a bit of reflection on what I was doing with this, and I realized that I had absolutely no idea where I was going. This story just started to become an absolute pain to drag myself through, and I am by no means obligated to follow through with this. I could, but I wouldn't enjoy it, and there wouldn't be much of a point if I didn't enjoy this. So, as much as it pains me to say, this is where this story ends, at least for now.

Maybe, after a bit of time, I'll be inspired to pick this up again or rewrite this whole Alternate Universe from scratch. That doesn't mean I won't write Transformers fics; heck, I've got an idea for one right now, so that's something that might pop up in the near future. At present, though, I'd like to take some time to focus on the other stories I've got up right now.