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James "Razorsaw" Backes ([personal profile] razorsaw) wrote2010-04-18 09:55 pm

Transformers Animated: Return to Cybertron - Chapter One

Transformers Animated
Return to Cybertron
Chapter 1 - Dividied Paths


Written By: Razorsaw

''The roads we walk are not always roads we walk together.''



Trypticon. A massive, monolithic building that served as the final destination the worst of the worst of the Cybertronian race. Be they traitors, petty criminals, or Decepticons captured during the war, everyone knew that if you were sent to Trypticon, you were finished. Only one person had ever escaped from those monolithic walls, and he had come out as a shadow of his former self... broken, insane... completely different from what he'd been before.

And now it was playing host to its most prestigious tenants yet.

"Star Saber must be pitching a glitch right now," stated a mech named Padlock, as he and his fellow security team members stood in the prison transfer bay. He was an olive colored mech, with a wide-brimmed visor on his helmet and a badge-like Autobot symbol that identified him as a lieutenant in the prison's security force. He was younger than his co-workers, and comparatively much more naive. "We've never had such high priority detainees here before..."

"And where else would you send 'em?" said the gravelly voice of Warpath, the prison's head of security. He was giant by Autobot standards, with a massive radar mounted on his chest... or rather; it had been a radar, until he converted it into a sonic disruptor.

Many of the prisoners, and even members of the security team, had joked that Warpath was as bad as the Decepticons themselves. Warpath had beaten respect into every prisoner who'd walked through the prison's walls... and, just as often, fear as well.

"It's not like they can hold 'em in Fortress Maximus. BAM! POW! Military complex my skid-plate... one gun's not enough, even if it can blow up something like-"

"I think," interrupted a green, black, and silver mech named Hound, "that the warden is merely worried that there will be an incident while he's away. This transfer should be going on while he's here... after all, this is Meg-"

"I don't care who he is!" snapped Warpath, wheeling around and poking Hound forcefully on the chest-plate. "You may be Star Saber's second-in-command, but matters of security are MY responsibility! KAPOW! And in case you didn't realize... I'm Elite Guard myself! Megatron's not gonna set one servo out of line as long as I'm here! KABLAM!"

"Uhm, sirs, I'd hate to interrupt you, but... they're here."

Both Hound and Warpath looked up, the former looking relieved that he wouldn't have to deal with an argument with the latter. A blue and silver shuttle was coming in for a landing, and it caused all three, as well as their company of Autotroopers, to stand at attention.

Once the ship had landed in the transfer bay, its rear hold opened up. The bot that emerged from it first was a yellow, black, and silver robot whose chest was emblazoned with the symbol of the elite guard. He had a smirk on his face that indicated arrogance and absolute self-confidence, and his armor had a lustrous shine that almost made Padlock's optics hurt. He sauntered forward towards the prison company, carrying himself in a pompous, self-assured manner.

"Sunstreaker," said Hound, stepping forward and saluting. "I'm pleased to welcome you to Trypti-"

"Oh please, Hound," chided the Elite Guardsman. "You don't need to stand on ceremony with me. Besides, I want to get done here as soon as possible... a champion like me can't be seen in this den of n'er-do-wells."

He ended that sentence with a sideways glance to Warpath, which made the massive Autobot growl. "Blammin zappin pretty boy zowin..."

"I see," said Hound. "I suppose you must be eager to attend the funeral ceremony..."

"Eh?" said Sunstreaker, stroking his chin. "... Oh, right, for the Cyber Ninja who united the Allspark again. Is that today? Whatever... I suppose I could show up for a few holo-image shots.."

Hound had to suppress a grimace. "I see. But um, the task at hand..."

"Oh right," said Sunstreaker, snapping two of his servo's fingers. "Bring them out, Checkpoint."

The robot that emerged first was an Autobot, colored white and black, and emblazoned with hazard stripes. He wore the badge of the Autotrooper police force, and his comparatively unique model set him apart from the company of nearly identical mechs that followed him out of the transport, leading their prisoners along.

Said prisoners were all unmistakable. The stasis cuffs they wore did nothing to decrease the menace that one felt as they looked upon some of the most formidable members of the Decepticon faction: The monolithic, powerful Lugnut. The cycloptic and wily shape-shifter Shockwave. And of course, the most terrifying of them all... the despotic and legendary Megatron.

But not even that could keep the overzealous Warpath from stomping forward and getting in Megatron's face, trying to be intimidating. "Well well well," said the large Autobot, who was still dwarfed by the Decepticon. "Oh how the mighty have fallen... I bet you don't even remember me."

Megatron calmly quirked an optic. "Should I?"

"You nearly off-lined me in the final battle of the Great War, KABLAM!" hissed Warpath, his words seething with hate. "I was left steaming wreck along with what was left of Omega Supreme... before you and the rest of your army ran off like cyber-foxes with their tails between their legs, BLAMMO!"

Megatron simply stared at Warpath for a moment... before smiling.

"I'm sorry... there were so many of you Autobots falling that day... I'm afraid I can't remember which one you were. So many of you screaming, begging for mercy... you all kind of blur together, really..."

What followed was a long period of silence, where Warpath seemed to barely be containing his wrath. But to everyone's surprise, the red mech drew back, and head out of the transfer bay.

"Make sure that scum gets locked up in our highest security cell, BAZAM!" Warpath bellowed. "Then prepare the variable voltage harness... high command wants us to get whatever secrets we can out of these war criminals..."

Padlock moved to walk in step with Checkpoint and the Autotroopers. "Um, right..." he said, before noticing something about one of the Decepticons. "Hey... how come there's a deadbolt over the big guy's mouth?" he asked, referring to the fact that Lugnut had the lower half of his face covered.

"He wouldn't shut up about how 'the glorious Megatron would make us all pay,'" Checkpoint replied, making a face and rolling his optics. "I couldn't slagging take it anymore."

"... Ah," said Padlock. "Right. Well, come along then," said the security officer, taking his enforcement rod and jamming into the skid plate of the nearest Decepticon. "Get moving, you!"

Shockwave recoiled in pain, before looking back at Padlock with a ominously glowing optic. "Don't you dare touch me, you insignificant little piece of shrapnel..."

"So shoot me," Padlock grunted, as they began to lead the Decepticons into the prison. Hound, meanwhile, watched, and frowned to himself. He had a feeling that this was only going to be the start of a very long, stressful stellar cycle...




"... when I first met Prowl, he was looking for a direction in life... for something to be a part of... trying to find his way. In those early days, when he was a member of my crew, he set himself apart from the rest of us. He never tried to open up... and I kept thinking that it was him who needed the rest of us. I wasn't proven wrong, but... in the end, we needed him just as much as he needed us."

Optimus Prime looked out at the congregation surrounding him. Members of the high council, distinguished members of the Autobot military and elite guard. Scientists. Old friends and comrades... teachers from the academy... it felt like all of Cybertron was here.

And foremost among them, standing near Optimus's podium, and the pod that lay at the foot of it, was his crew. Said pod carried the lifeless shell of their fallen comrade... a dear friend named Prowl. As it happened, they had all gained a great deal in that final battle with Megatron, but had lost a good deal more.

"I would often give this speech about how we were all cogs in the great Autobot machine," continued Optimus. "I still believe that. Prowl brought us back the Allspark... something that we thought would never be whole again. But at the same time... my crew... my family... the entire planet of Cybertron... we've lost a part of ourselves... something that we're never going to get back. But at the same time... we have a new future... and Prowl would want us to move towards that..."

Optimus sucked in a breath, and raised his fist to the sky.

"Till all are one!" he cried.

"TILL ALL ARE ONE!" the crowd returned - even Sari, who was as much an alien to Cybertron as Optimus had once been to Earth.

Yes, everyone called out that sacred creed... all save for one.

The short, scrappy, yellow mech whose optics were fixed on Prowl's pod.




The rest of the funeral went by in a haze for Optimus, Ratchet, Bulkhead, Bumblebee, and Sari. There were words said, grand speeches by people who didn't even know Prowl, and yet had no problem making a spectacle out of his memorial. In particular, that old mechanoid Alpha Trion had rambled about the importance of the Allspark, and barely even mentioned their fallen friend. Eventually, though, it all came to an end, and Prowl's pod was laid to rest in the tomb that was used as the resting place of "Cybertron's greatest heroes."

Now they were alone, together in a single car transport, sitting in awkward silence.

"I... I'd never been to one of those before," said Sari, finally breaking the quiet. "Not even back on Earth..."

"...I've been to one," Optimus said, sorrowfully, staring at the floor of the car. They all had an idea of to whom he was referring, and that made everyone exchange uneasy glances. Ratchet just grimaced however, recalling too many bad memories all at once.

"So what do we now?" asked Bulkhead, abruptly mentioning the thing that was on the back of everyone's mind. Since coming back to Cybertron. the entire experience had been like a whirlwind, culminating in Prowl's funeral. Now... now after being pulled in a million different directions, it seemed like they were now stalled.

"I've been asked to a special meeting of the Autobot council," said Optimus, managing to reply while simultaneously not exactly answering Bulkhead's question.

"And I need to visit Arcee in the Cybertron Central Infirmary," said Ratchet. "They say her rehabilitation is just about complete."

"So that just leaves us," said Bumblebee, spring up. "You know, I've never been on Cybertron with you and Sari, Bulkhead... I'll show you all my old hangouts! There's this one body shop place run by an old friend of mine... you guys'll love it!"

Bulkhead and Sari stared at him, before looking at each other uneasily.

"... what? What is it?" asked Bumblebee. "Come on, guys, if that doesn't sound like fun, we could just-"

"It's not that," said Bulkhead. "It's just... I was invited to meet with a lot of high profile members of the Science Guild about my work with space bridges, and..."

"... they also said that there was something they could tell me about where I came from," replied Sari. "And about all those other protoforms..."

Bumblebee blinked. "Oh, well, alright... that's cool, I guess..."

"Hey little buddy!" said Bulkhead, standing back up. "Don't be like that... tell ya what, you meet up with us after we're done and we'll do whatever you like, huh? How's that sound?"

"Y-Yeah!" said Sari. "Of course, there's a chance people might run away screaming at the sight of me..."

Bumblebee blinked... and then grinned. "Alright then! You guys better not stand me up...!"

Everyone was just about to reply, when suddenly, the transport stopped. The car's doors opened, and everyone stepped out, amidst a crowd of Cybertronian commuters.

"Um, I'll be seeing you all soon," said Prime, before heading off.

"Me too, kid. Keep your skid-plate outta trouble," said Ratchet, walking off in his own direction.

Bulkhead and Sari managed a tiny nod, before heading off as well, the larger of the two letting Sari nest under one of his shell panels in order to hide her from potential onlookers.

Bumblebee stood there, staring at his own stabilizing servos, before giving out a grunt of annoyance and heading off on his own.




Three Megacycles later, Optimus Prime found himself in the Metroplex, the seat of government for all of Cybertron. The councilroom's main chamber was intimidating, and adorned with murals of significant events in Cybertron's history. He couldn't help but feel small, especially when he looked at the image that depicted the first Magnus forging the container of the Allspark...

"Well well well, Optimus Prime, as I live and oscillate," said a familiar voice. "Been a long time."

Optimus wheeled around... and smiled at what he saw. There was a short, red and black Autobot with two horns adorning his helmet standing there. Optimus reached out and joined hands with the other mech.

"Cliffjumper," said Optimus. "We haven't talked since you communicated with us on Earth..."

"Yeah, not exactly the best situation for two academy chums to reminisce," said the smaller Autobot. "Man, I never thought we'd both be here... one day I'm playing secretary to Longarm, and you're heading up a repair crew... and the next, I'm head of Autobot Intelligence and you're the planet's greatest hero!"

Optimus felt a bit ashamed upon hearing Cliffjumper's commendation, but he suppressed it, and nodded. "Well, it's a long way from our days in the academy, back with Sentinel and Elia-1..."

Cliffjumper's optics blinked, and he was about to comment, when the doors to the chamber opened. In walked several very famous mechanoids: Alpha Trion, the duly elected head of Cybertron's civilian authority; Botanica, a green, yellow, and light-red colored femmebot who represented the planet's energon cultivation and industrial areas; Mudslinger, the individual in charge of the council's ethics board as well as public relations; Avalon, a gold and red mechanoid who spoke for the various business guilds; and finally, Xaaron, who oversaw the non-military peacekeeping operations on Cybertron.

"Optimus Prime," said Alpha-Trion, striding forward. "It is a great honor. We never really had a chance to speak during the funeral, but I have followed your career with great interest.!"

Optimus was legitimately surprised by this. "Um, thank you sir," he said, shaking servos with the older Autobot. "Though I can't imagine why you'd be interested in me of all people..."

"Don't sell yourself short, Optimus," said Cliffjumper. "You really made a mark when you started showing what your crew was up to on Earth."

Yes, but that's only in the last stellar cycle, Optimus remarked inwardly.

"So this is the great Optimus Prime," said Mudslinger, striding forward. Prime had seen archival recordings of the councilor, but none of them had focused on the shrewd, scrutinizing expression that the blue and orange Autobot was showing now. "Hm, if I'd known then what I know now, I never would have ruled against you during that whole nasty business with your colleague. What was her name...? Ariel? Aelita? ... Ah! That's right. Elita-1!"

Optimus's optics widened. "You... you ruled on that?" asked Optimus.

"Hm? Oh, no, I wasn't the only one who did it. But Ultra Magnus heavily considered my advice when he made his decision. If only you'd said something of course, that whole ugly mess could have been avoided..."

Optimus felt his spark sink, and he firmly decided that he didn't much care for Councilor Mudslinger. Cliffjumper saw his old academy colleague's reaction, and coughed. "Hey, um, why don't we talk to Optimus about why we asked him here, eh?"

"Ah, yes, indeed," said Avalon, nodding. "Now, this is all strictly informal, as we can't make a ruling without Perceptor here... but the Council has made an important decision..."

"That's right," said Xaaron with a mischievous smirk. "You do know Ultra Magnus isn't expected to make a full recovery, right?"

Optimus blinked his optics yet again. "Well, yes, but... he's not going to go offline, is he?"

"Of course not," replied Botanica. "It is unfortunate, but... Ultra Magnus is an older mechanoid. They don't even make replacement parts for his body-type anymore. When his recovery is complete, he'll no longer be able to participate in combat. He'll be something of an invalid for the rest of hs days."

"And thus he'll lose his standing in the eyes of the military," added Xaaron. "And even though Megatron's been captured, it's not likely that the Decepticons will be ceasing their aggression."

"We need a new leader," stated Alpha Trion. "Someone who all of Cybertron respects... someone whose already done great things for our people. We need you, Optimus Prime."

Optimus's eyes widened, and... he found it somewhat harder to stand up. "Me-?! What-?! But... Sentinel-!"

"...Has infringed upon the rights of the citizenry, openly defied the Council, and nearly led Cybertron into a panic," replied Alpha Trion. "You, however, have defeated Megatron, and returned the Allspark to us... the Decepticons would fear your very name, and the military would unquestionably accept you as their commander in chief."

Cliffjumper nodded in agreement. "Optimus, I've known you and Sentinel for mega-cycles," he said. "And really... I know who I'd cast my lot in with. And besides, haven't you EARNED IT by now?"

Optimus's jaw fell open, as he didn't quite know how to answer that. And then, very quickly, he felt the optics of all the councilors on him, looking at him with expectancy.

And Optimus had no idea what to tell them.




Ratchet couldn't believe his optics. The scene before him, it just... it just wasn't possible.

He was in the Central Infirmary, but not in any of the medical wards. Rather, when he'd arrived, he'd found that Arcee was in one of the combat rehabilitation centers - the kind of place warrior bots used to get back in gear before returning to active duty. And what he saw her doing there was... frankly remarkable.

Arcee was slashing targets and practice drones with two energon-swords, making quick work of them as she moved with grace and precision. In the entire time Ratchet had known Arcee, he'd known her as a victim... someone who needed his help to be rescued. And yet, now...

"I... I didn't know she was trained as a warrior," stammered Ratchet as he looked through the center's observation window.

"Apparently she was once one of Cybertron's finest swordfighters. Or rather IS one of them," said First Aid, a red and white Autobot medic who had been Arcee's attendant while she was at the infirmary. "You only knew her when she was injured... but to work in Intelligence, you have to be ready to fight back... It makes sense that she'd know how to defend herself."

Ratchet nodded, slowly. It was true... the only times he'd gotten a glimpse at the real Arcee was when she was injured prior to them being captured by Lockdown, and in the short moments during and after the final battle with Megatron. He had only learned anything about her life prior to the accident second-hand, and not from interacting with Arcee herself.

"I guess... I didn't know what to expect," sighed Ratchet.

"No one ever does with these things," replied First Aid. "This really is unprecedented... no one has ever completely recovered from a total memory wipe. It's a miracle."

Miracle. Ratchet didn't like that word. After all he'd done to try and help Arcee, it was the Allspark's power and Sari that had saved her. Yes, they'd used his EMP generator, but he had been told what to do with it...

"Looks like the simulation is over. I'll leave you two to talk, then."

Ratchet looked up with a start, but before he knew it, First Aid was gone. And soon enough, Arcee walked in from the training room, stowing her swords in her back vehicular shell compartments. She then saw Ratchet, and her expression brightened.

"Ratchet!" the pink Autobot exclaimed as she hurried over to him. "It's good to see you."

"Ah, um," said Ratchet, straightening up. "It's, ah, good to see you too, Arcee... Looks like you've been doing pretty well after being offline for such a long time."

Arcee paused at that, and took on an expression that reflected hard thought. "To be honest," she said. "It doesn't feel like it's been a long time. The whole ordeal with Lockdown... the Great War... for you it was millions of stellar cycles, but for me, it's like it was all yesterday..."

Ratchet nodded slowly. "I guess... you've been briefed on everything that happened afterward, with-"

"Omega Supreme," said Arcee, finishing his sentence for him. "Yes, I heard about it. Though, it was easy to figure some things out for myself when I came back on-line and found myself standing inside him..."

Ratchet could only nod again, his optics finding the floor. Arcee looked at him quizzically... before walking forward, and putting a hand on the old mech's shoulders.

"Ratchet," she said, gently. "I know it was a hard thing to do, but I knew the risks when I took them. We didn’t know each other for every long, but you picking up where I left off... helping Omega like you did... I'm glad someone like you came to both of our rescues..."

Ratchet looked up, his jaw hanging open. Arcee was smiling at him, and... in the face of that, he couldn't help but smile back.

"Ehh...! You're back on line and First Aid told me you made a full recovery before walkin' outta here," he said, putting his arm around the smaller Autobot's shoulder. "Why don't I show you to the best oil joint on Cybertron?"

Arcee laughed. "Is it still MacAddam's Old Oil House?"

Ratchet laughed too.

"You know kid, you and I are going to get along just fine..."




Sari sighed, leaning her head on her hand as she sat on one of the Science Guild conference tables. She was in the process of wondering just how a half-organic Transformer protoform could be completely ignored in a room full of robots whose purpose was to study unique scientific discoveries.

The answer? Was Bulkhead.

"Bulkhead, I've seen your aptitude tests! You're a space bridge GENIUS - even more brilliant than the great Spanner himself!"

"I have several theoretical concepts I'd like you to look at, Bulkhead... Perhaps you could help me in the areas where I've been having trouble!"

"Bulkhead, I read your notes on the spacebridge you built on earth... I couldn't make out most of it, but the parts that I could read were simply brilliant!"

Sari had expected her time on Cybertron to be different. The fact that she was half-organic had to mean something, right? At this point, she was half ready for someone to start fleeing from her like she was some kind of monster. That would have at least been mildly entertaining.

Then, just as Sari was thinking of hovering up and touching one of the scientists just to see what would happen...

"You are the half-organic formerly known as Protoform T4R4-5RT0N6."

Sari looked up with a start, and saw a mostly red Autobot looking down at her. He had a bulb-shaped head, a rather thin build, and a visor that looked almost like a pair of bifocals in front of his optics. A device that looked some kind of scope was mounted on his shoulder.

"Um yeah, I guess," said Sari, standing up. "You're... Perceptor, right? Head of the Science Guild?"

"Correct," replied the Autobot. "I would like to show you something. Come along, this way."

Sari blinked. "But, Bulkhead..." she said, looking towards where her friend had been. Then she blinked, and saw that Bulkhead and his collection of admirers were gone. She turned back to Perceptor... and found the Autobot already walking away.

"Stupid impatient egghead," Sari muttered. "Stupid Bulkhead ditching me..."

Sighing, she activated her skates and her rocket pack, and took off after Perceptor...




Bulkhead had to get away. Away from all of those bots who were hounding him.

It wasn't that he didn't like being recognized for his skill. In truth, he really had been bothered all those times people had made light of him and called him a giant gearhead, or when they insulted for being a lowly spacebridge technician...

But at the same time, he hadn't expected all of this. They were acknowledging him, but they were also smothering him. It was completely overwhelming. Bulkhead needed a few moments of peace before he could even think of facing them again. In fact, he was considering finding Sari and ducking out somehow...

"... So this is the space bridge genius. Feh. Not impressed."

Bulkhead's optics widened, and he looked up... and saw no one there. "Uhhh...?" asked the giant green Autobot. "... I'm not starting to hear things, am I?"

"Down here, you great lummox!"

Bulkhead's optics blinked, and he indeed looked down... way down. Standing there, with his arms crossed and a perturbed looking expression, was an orange and grey Autobot who was incredibly short. No, he didn't just look perturbed... he looked like he was barely suppressing a temper tantrum. There was a strange looking curved antenna on the front of his helmet, which seemed to twitch as well.

Next to Bulkhead, he looked positively minuscule. In fact, Bulkhead could only see the top of his body over his own large chassis.

"Aw hey, little guy!" said Bulkhead, smiling. "Did you get separated from your tour group or something? I'll help you find your teaching unit... newly protoformed kids like you shouldn't be wandering about on their own!"

The smaller Autobot's optic twitched, and seconds later, Bulkhead found the tiny robot standing on his front hull and pulling on his jaw plate.

"WHO THE PIT ARE YOU CALLING A LITTLE GUY?!" the yellow mech raged. "WHO ARE YOU CALLING A PROTOFORM SO SMALL HE COULD PASS FOR A MINI-CON?! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, I'M LIKE A TINY LITTLE MECHLING WHOSE LESS SIGNIFICANT THAN A SCRAPLET?! I'M WEDGE, YOU GIANT MUDFLAP! I'LL SEE YOU THROWN IN THE STOCKADE FOR SLANDER! I'LL-"

"Wedge! Down boy!"

The bewildered Bulkhead soon found a pair of servos yanking "Wedge" off of his hull, and setting the flailing, frothing Autobot down on the ground. It took a moment for Bulkhead to get his wits back, but when he did...

... he found his optics widening. Standing before him was another robot that was smaller than he was, but not nearly as tiny as her colleague. She had the same body mold as his friend Bumblebee, but was clearly a femmebot. Her colors were blue and silver, with yellow markings. She was carrying a data pad, which she carried close to her chest-plate, and had a concerned, somewhat uncomfortable expression on her face.

And Bulkhead couldn't help but stare at her, transfixed.

"Hmph," grunted Wedge, "Glyph... it's not often that you venture out of your laboratory. What are you doing messing with my affairs?"

"Glyph" sighed, and shook her head. "Wedge, you may be the resident 'prodigy', but that's no reason to accost Mr. Bulkhead like this," she said, sounding as though she'd had to deal with issues like this before. On numerous occasions.

"I am 'accosting' him because everyone thinks this over sized lummox is a space bridge genius," Wedge retorted, looking at Bulkhead with disdain. "Look at him, does that look like someone who could be classified as having more than a 10 watt mega-processor?"

Glyph looked back at Bulkhead, who had something of a dumb smile and a blank look on his face.

"... That doesn't change the fact that his test scores are unprecedented," said Glyph, who felt somewhat put upon. "Really, Wedge, someone else getting credit for a change doesn't mean they're a threat to you."

Wedge just hmphed. "I'll see what Perceptor has to say, then, when the Guild is working out who will receive grants in the coming stellar cycle," he said, transforming into his vehicle mode: a small vehicle that looked like an Earthling bulldozer. "You know, I hear that the archaeology department might be getting their funding scaled back this time..."

Glyph's optics widened, but before she could reply to that, Wedge drove off. She let out a sad sigh, and turned back towards Bulkhead. "Sorry about that," she said. "Wedge is a bit... well, okay, he's really hard to know sometimes..."

And then she saw that Bulkhead was still staring at her with that dumb, happy look.

"... Um," said Glyph, in confusion, "are you okay?"

A moment passed before Bulkhead snapped out of it, and he laughed nervously, rubbing the pack of his head. "Oh yeah...! Um, I'm fine... I'm just kinda... overwhelmed about everything... being the toast of the Science Guild and all, yannow... bein' bothandled by some pipsqueak..."

Glyph managed a small smile. "That's alright," she said, shying back a little. "Um, I'm Glyph... part of the archaeology department... it's a pleasure to meet you..."

"It's a pleasure to meet you too!" Bulkhead exclaimed. "Um... that is... I... well, you seem kinda nice, and..."

Glyph's optics widened, and she felt a bit of heat rising beneath her faceplate. She suddenly looked more self conscious, and shied back a bit more. "Um, thank you," she said softly. "But I'd better be going... I have a lot of work to do..."

"Oh hey!" exclaimed Bulkhead. "You do? Could I come along...? I mean, archeology sounds interesting!"

Glyph looked up, startled. "Y-you really think so?" she asked, before managing another small smile. "Th-thank you... I'm honored someone like you w-would show an interest..."

Bulkhead grinned. "Hey, don't talk like that," he said. "I'm just a guy. I put my armor on one plate at a time, same as anybody!"

Glyph chuckled. "Alright then. Um, this way, then... Bulkhead...!"

With that, Glyph turned to lead him to her office. Bulkhead happily followed along, feeling for the first time happy to be where he was that day.




"You are a protoform who was previously protected by the Cyber Ninja Corps here on Planet Cybertron. That is, until you and your fellow protoforms were stolen by the traitor Lockdown, who we now know collected them as part of a business arrangement with the Decepticon leader Megatron."

Sari looked up, uneasily, at the massive computer that Perceptor was working on. The screen was displaying images of the Cyber Ninja dojo and Yoketron... from both before and after the massacre that Prowl had described after their last run in with Lockdown. She had been somewhat disconnected from the story when Prowl told it, but hearing those events described, seeing the images of both her place of origin, and the Autobot who once protected her... it left a hollow, sick feeling in her heart.

"So... that's how I ended up on Megatron's ship...?" asked Sari, clutching a hand to her chest.

"Indeed," said Perceptor, calling up an image of Megatron and the Decepticon ship, the Nemesis. The latter was shown in the state she'd seen it in... crashed on the moon's surface. "Without access to the Allspark, Megatron repeatedly used these protoforms to bolster the Decepticon ranks after the end of the war. And furthermore, we know that his former subordinate, Starscream, used a number of them in cloning experiments."

"Wait wait wait," said Sari, standing up. "Are you telling me I'm related to a bunch of Decepticons...?!"

Perceptor turned and gave her a flat look. "The concept of relation for Cybertronians is rather fluid. Particularly, it is usually only used in reference to a split protoform, or a spark that is divided upon activa-"

"Ugh," said Sari, holding up her hands. "Nevermind. so this explains how I got to Earth in the first place... but how did I end up in my dad's lab?"

"That question brings us to what I wanted to show you," said Perceptor, calling up some new data. "We have been able to acquire the navigation and security data for the Nemesis from the wreckage on planet Earth's moon. It appears that the ship, and thus your fellow protoforms, were in space, 1,876.5 lightyears away from earth at the time of your supposed discovery by your father... not crash-landed on earth, as you previously believed."

Sari's eyes widened, and she stood up with a start. "Th-that's impossible! I had to have gotten to earth somehow! You said I was one of those protoforms, right?!"

"Indeed," answered Perceptor. "The pod you came back with, the one that your parental unit discovered, is indeed one of the stasis pods used to preserve the protoforms under Yoketron's protection."

"Then how the heck did I get to earth if the Nemesis wasn't anywhere near the planet?!" she exclaimed.

Light glinted across Perceptor's visor. "Patience. The answer lies in this security video."

Perceptor called up said video, and Sari looked up at it intently. She saw the chamber where she, Bulkhead, and Bumblebee had discovered the other Protoforms. Starscream was also there, looking rather frayed and unhinged. The Decepticon stopped to look at one of the protoforms, grimacing in disgust, before walking onward, scratching his servo's claws against his rear plating.

"... Am I supposed to be looking at something other than Starscream scratching his butt?" Sari asked.

"Again, patience."

Sari scowled, but nodded, continuing to watch the video display. Nothing happened for several moments longer... until the scene started to drastically change.

A bright light filled the screen, as what appeared to be a space bridge portal opened right in the middle of the chamber. And then, to Sari's even greater surprise, someone stepped out of it, as though it were the easiest thing in the world. At this point, the image began to scramble, but she could make out the form of a large white, purple, and gold transformer, with what appeared to be wings and a sword. Whomever he was, he touched his hand to the same pod Starscream had been scrutinizing before... and then moments later, both it and the pod vanished along with the portal.

"... what... what does this mean...?" asked Sari, mystified. "Who... who was that...?"

"Unknown," replied Perceptor, in emotionless monotone. "But whomever he is, he has the ability to open space bridges willingly. More than likely, he was the one that brought you to the planet Earth."

Sari looked at the Autobot scientist, obviously troubled. "Are you saying that someone meant for all of that to happen...?!"

Perceptor nodded. "Indeed. For whatever reason, some unknown party sought to ensure that you arrived on Earth. There, your protoform collapsed into a form resembling that of indigenous life forms, and was reset to scan data from organics rather than mechanical life forms. This individual did far more than allow you to meet your father, Sari. They ensured that you took the form you are in now... a hybrid of Transformer and human life... a being like no other in the known universe."

Sari just gaped, and sat down. It was all too much to take in... she had known something was fishy about her birth even after they'd found the other protoforms on Megatron's ship, but now...

Rather than answers, Sari now had even more questions running through her head.




"I must have a dozen screws loose," remarked Bumblebee.

The yellow Autobot was working at a security panel... in a place he shouldn't have even been in. This sector was forbidden, and Bumblebee had barely been able to get past the security patrols that kept people out. But he had to get a look at what was inside the building he was breaking into. He needed to see it. He needed... closure.

And with a spark from one his stingers, he finally succeeded in an override that got the door open. Bumblebee scrambled inside before he could be noticed... and entered the Cyber Ninja Dojo.

Once he was in, he instantly saw the similarities in style to Prowl's old room back on earth. That brought a pang of regret to Bumblebee's spark, as he remembered his friend... the times he'd heckled Prowl for letting an organic tree grow in his room. The times he'd annoyed the ninjabot by sneaking in without asking and then bothering him.

It was then that Bumblebee realized his and Prowl's interaction involved a lot of him being annoying and Prowl yelling at him.

Then he realized something else. Prowl had told them that Lockdown had basically sacked this place, but now it was in pristine condition. He knew no one was using it, so why was it all fixed up like this?

... Eh. The other Cyber Ninjas probably wanted to restore the memory of this place, even if no one was using it. It was impractical, but he could see why a bunch of stuffy mumbo jumbo ninja bots would want to keep it preserved...

... And Bumblebee instantly felt guilty for thinking that, as though it were he was spilling crude oil on Prowl's memory.

He sighed, and moved further into the dojo... eventually coming to a room that made the small Autobot gasp. Mounted throughout this chamber were holographic busts of assorted Autobots; a who’s who of Cybertronian warriors and heroes. He instantly scrambled forward, like a protoform meeting his idols.

"Tap Out!" Bumblebee exclaimed at the sight of the first mech he recognized. He had followed the boxer's career since he'd come on-line. Who could forget his match with... Oh, by the Allspark, there was also a bust of Star Upper, Tap Out's greatest rival and the bot he'd defeated in the Ultimate Iron Warrior tournament from way back when. And there was Star Saber, the warden of Trypticon prison, the famed hunter Devcon... even Ultra Magnus! Every single one of them was legendary in their own way.

As Bumblebee was fanboying over the busts of Roadhandler and Grandus, recalling the match where the former defeated the latter in a match, earning himself the title of "The Micromaster"... Bumblebee noticed something out of the corner of his optics.

It was a bust of Prowl.

Bumblebee approached it cautiously, as though it were the real Prowl in front of him. He stared at it for a long time, before bowing his head. His servos shook, and the young mech grit his teeth....

... before punching outward, slamming his fist into the wall as it went right through the holographic display. He looked at the statue with anger and sadness, his whole body shaking.

"Why?!" Bumblebee screamed. "Why did you have to go and die on us?! That's not... that's not the way things are supposed to happen! We were all supposed to be okay...!"

Bumblebee collapsed onto his knees, but his anger didn't subside. "You were always lecturing me, acting like I didn't know anything! Treating me like a kid. B-but you were trying to make me stop being such an idiot, weren't you?! You and the others always knew better... and I always kept making the same mistakes. Now Optimus is Cybertron's biggest hero... and Bulkhead's some genius. Ratchet's got his friend back, and Sari... Sari's finally getting answers..."

He looked up, staring at the holographic memory of Prowl. "I'm left behind, Prowl... I was always talking about how fast I was, but what did I really do? I screwed up Wasp's entire life, and now I'm just spinning my wheels! Everyone's moving forward, and I'm just stuck here... What am I supposed to do?! The docbot won't give me a lecture, and you're gone, so what the slag am I supposed to do?!"

And then suddenly, all the lights in the dojo went black.

Bumblebee scrambled to his feet. He looked around wildly, but all he could see was blackness. "U-um," he called out. "I'm sorry! I know I shouldn't be here, I just needed to see what my friend was all about..."

As his voice trailed off, Bumblebee heard no answer. He grit his teeth, and started to fumble around to find a way out... when he smacked into something large and heavy. Bumblebee looked up in confusion...

... and screamed, as he saw the glowing outline of face looking down on him. There two optics and a mouth twisted into what appeared to be a rictus grin, an intense fiery light burning out of all three points. Then, more parts of the mech continued to light up, as though there was simmering heat beneath his armor plating. With his form illuminated, Bumblebee could see that he was big.

Decepticon big.

"What's wrong, little Autobot? Are you afraid of the dark?!"

Bumblebee didn't answer. Instead, he transformed and sped off, directionless and driven by fright. He couldn't see where he was going... and smacked into another glowing object appeared in his path.

This one was not framed by glowing, fiery panel lines. Instead, he let off a sickly, radioactive glow that revealed multiple glowing chemical tanks built into his body. His head resembled what happened when you stripped a mech's faceplate and helmet off, revealing a monstrous visage not unlike a human skull.

"Allow us to provide a nightlight for you, little mechling!"

Bumblebee backed up, only to end up running into the other one. Bumblebee jerked his vehicle mode forward and twisted himself to the side, hitting a wall. Oh slag, he thought. He was in a corridor, trapped, quite literally caught between two... two monsters!

"That's enough, Blight, Brimstone..."

Suddenly, the lights were back on. Bumblebee could see his attackers clearly now... They were both large, hulking mechs. The first one had two cannons that looked like they served as flamethrowers or mortar launchers. Meanwhile, while the second looked like he transformed into a mobile chemical plant, and the bot's armor armor looked like it'd suffered from heavy radiation damage and corrosion.

Emblazoned on both of them were Decepticon symbols.

Before Bumblebee could properly react, something new dropped down from above. This mech was taller, but thinner in comparison to the others. He had bat-like wings on his back, clawed hands, and his head seemed to be covered by a sort of battle-mask that resembled some kind of monster. He too wore a Decepticon symbol.

But before Bumblebee could scream, the mech's mask flipped down, covering his chest, and the Decepticon reached out and grabbed Bumblee by the chin, his eyes glowing ominously.

"Hello, little Autobot," the third Decepticon stated. "My name... is Mindwipe."


TO BE CONTINUED


AUTHOR'S NOTES:

Well, that was a fun ride. I've been working on this story, or at least, had the ideas for it for quite some time. I know it's not the most original of ideas, but the chance to pick up where the Transformers Animated series left off is a temptiing one. I liked the finale, but there were so many mysteries left unsolved, so much potential for things to continue. That said, I hope I can do the series justice.

For the record, in regards to all of the OCs... as this is the introduction to the world I'm trying to create - or rather expand upon - some characters have been neccessary to add to the mythos. Mindwipe there at the end is based on the G1 character of the same name, and you'll be finding out just why he's on Cybertron. Everyone else, save for Blight and Brimstone, are based on existing Transformers characters, but they won't be stealing scenes from the main characters. Some, like First Aid and Checkpoint, won't even be reappearing at all. Other stories will feature OCs as needed, or appear in stories that show what's going on outside of the main cast. Even then, though, I need to find a decent rhythm and keep from introducing too many plot elements at once. This first chapter just has quite a few cuz... well, first chapter.

Other notes... Warpath and Glyph are background/minor characters from the show who had their backstories fleshed out in bios featured in the Transformers Collectors Club magazine. They are given expanded roles here... because I had a good idea for Glyph and I thought Warpath would suit what I'm doing with Megatron. Keep your eyes peeled folks.

That said, I hope you look forward to chapter two. Just what trouble is Bee in this time? What will Optimus decide? What's happening to Sari? Will Bulkhead get the girl?

Does Captain Fanzone hate machines for completely upstaging him?

See you next time folks. Please enjoy these bios I've written for the supplementary characters appearing in the story.





Name: Padlock
Function: Security
"What you lock up, I keep in!"

Padlock has served under Warpath and Star Saber for a long time. In all those years, he's seen a lot of things that would trouble any other mech, both from the prisoners and from their jailers. Nevertheless, Padlock has managed to keep up a level of relative optimism, and hasn't let the darkness of his job darken his view of the world. He himself is a fair and just security guard, but he also knows his place and knows that he can't exactly change things on his own. Nevertheless, he's able to get tough when his job requires him to, and is quick to use his stasis shock-rod, which is capable of locking a foe into vehicle mode when it is used at full power.

Abilities:
* Transforms into a light-armored cargo transport.
* Enforcer rod locks enemies into vehicle mode.
* Decryption processor allows him to create and break effective locks.

Name: Hound
Function: Deputy Warden
"No one can escape justice."

During the Great War, Hound was in charge of tracking enemy combatants, as well as deserters and traitors to the Autobot cause. By the time the war ended, he had seen his share of tragedy and carnage, and once the war ended, he was eager to retire his position in peace. However, when Star Saber requested Hound take a position as his second-in-command at Trypticon Prison, he felt he had to accept, in order to help safeguard the peace he fought so long for. Unfortunately, Hound is at odds with many of the policies inside the prison, and often butts heads with Warpath, who is responsible for much of them. Nevertheless, Hound diligently forges on, hoping for the day when he sees his goals realized.

Abilities:

* Transforms into all-terrain vehicle.
* Advanced sensory systems, allowing him to pick up distant sounds, hack enemy radio signals, identify and trace heat signatures, etc.
* Trained in boxing by the Cyber-Ninja Tap-Out.

Name: Sunstreaker (created by [livejournal.com profile] teal_dear)
Function: Elite Guard Cavalier
"Aren't I just brilliant?"

Many wonder how an Autobot like Sunstreaker could make it into the Elite Guard. He's vain and more focused on keeping his reputation and chassis sterling than actually helping anyone. Few realize just how true the term "beauty is only armor-thick" is with a bot like Sunstreaker - he earned his position by stepping on everyone below him, as well as by lying, cheating, and bribing anyone who could help him along - and that's just scratching the surface. It's no surprise that he works well with bots like Sentinel Prime, but even he would be disgusted if he knew just what sort of things Sunstreaker is capable of to get his way. Nevertheless, Sunstreaker guards his secrets well, and only time will tell if anyone ever starts to see him for what he is.

Abilities:
* Transforms into a high-speed racing vehicle.
* Can absorb solar-radiation and fire it back in the form of a destructive beam.
* Agile and incredibly light on his feet.

Name: Checkpoint
Function: Peace-Keeping Officer
"No one gets through me!"

While many Autobots have the ambition of going into the military, Checkpoint wanted to join Cybertron's planetary peace-keeping force from the day he was protoformed. After graduating boot camp, he signed up for Cybertron's police force, and made officer in relatively short time, distinguishing himself from the other enlistees and in-service-from-protoform Autotroopers that he worked alongside. He is thus trusted with many high-profile assignments, working security for everything from meetings of the Autobot council to dangerous criminal transfers.

Abilities:
* Transforms into high-speed pursuit vehicle.
* Wields an energy-riot shield that he can extend to form a roadblock.
* Commander of personal Autotrooper squad.

Name: First Aid
Function: Caretaker
"A standard-unit of caring is worth a kilo-unit of cure."

Unlike Autobots like Ratchet, First Aid never experienced the horrors of war personally. Rather than work as a field medic during the Great War, it was his job to patch up those who made it back from the front lines. What he did see was the effects it had on his patients, and as a result, he took on a warm, caring personae to ease their trauma. He continues his work to this day in the Cybertron Central Infirmary, working with those who were permanently damaged during the war, as well as with Autobots who return home injured from missions in deep space. First Aid works both as a surgeon and as a rehabilitation technician.

Abilities:
* Arms contain built in surgical tools.
* Skilled surgeon and counselor.

Name: Wedge
Function: Architect
"Who are you calling small?!

A prodigy and member of the Autobot Science Guild. Wedge is easily angered and is extremely sensitive about his small size. He is noted for his many architectural achievements, and has designed the Elite Guard headquarters, Fortress Maximus. He leads his own research unit, aptly named the Build Team.

Abilities:
* Stronger than his size might indicate.
* Arms allow him to manipulate and reshape the structure of metals.
* Destructive temper.

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