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James "Razorsaw" Backes ([personal profile] razorsaw) wrote2010-04-25 09:25 pm

Transformers Animated: Return to Cybertron - Chapter Two

Transformers Animated
Return to Cybertron
Chapter 02 - Shadow Walk

Written By: Razorsaw

Transformers Animated is the property of Hasbro and Takara-Tomy. This fic is completely non-profit and exists for my own personal use and amusement. No infringement on the rights of the original creators is intended.

Sunstreaker as portrayed in this story is based on a concept created by Teal. I did not create this version of the character. All other OCs are my creation, save for those elements based on existing Transformers characters from other series.

”To deny fate is to walk in darkness.”

It wasn't that Megatron liked his new accommodations. Far from it, in fact. He just knew that they bore no threat to him.

Warpath had realized this from the start, and it disturbed him greatly. The Decepticon leader had been in Trypticon prison for less than a solar cycle, and he had already begun to make Warpath feel like he was being undermined. And so, he watched the security camera footage of Megatron, analyzing his every move and looking for a sign of weakness... and all the Decepticon did was sit quietly in his cell.

Megatron was not going to be a model prisoner. This, Warpath knew. But he wasn't going to allow this Decepticon to make a fool of him either. Warpath was going to break this monster. He was going to prove his own superiority over the villain who'd defeated him massacred so many of his comrades...

“Warpath, the variable voltage harness is ready.”

Warpath rose from his seat, and turned to face Padlock. “Great," he said, in a sadistically happy tone. “Get Megatron to the chamber. It's time to have some fun! Kapow!"

The variable voltage harness was a torture device. Anyone who was hooked up to it would have their pain receptors stimulated with electrical charges of varying intensity. The higher the setting went, the more painful it would be for the bot hooked up to it, and prolonged exposure to it could cause a Cybertronian's mental pathways to degrade. These facts made it the kind of device that Autobot command didn't want the public finding out about.

It was also one of Warpath's favorite devices. He'd used it on that traitor who'd been thrown into the stockade from boot camp. Warpath hadn't gotten any information, but he'd broken that piece of scrap.

And now, the voltage harness was proving itself to be one of the few things that could make Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, scream in agony.

“Where is the new Decepticon command base?” Warpath demanded.

Megatron's only reply was a shriek of pain. The dial went up.

“What are the locations of the Decepticon Generals of Destruction?”

No answer. Warpath intensified the harness's power.

“What were your final orders to the Decepticon army before being captured?”

Only more screaming, which beget even greater punishment from the harness. Megatron never wavered. Never gave Warpath any information, or even so much of an inkling of it. In the end, the security chief slammed his fist into the control panel and shut it off.

“Padlock, get this piece of trash back to his cell. BLAMMO!” he ordered.

Without a word, Padlock complied.

“My my, lord Megatron, you look absolutely fabulous!”

The words of the Starscream clone Ramjet managed to annoy Megatron even as he lumbered past his cell in a weary haze. He had held his ground, but the interrogation session had taken his toll on him physically. However, even in this state, he was able to see the pained looks in Lugnut and Shockwave's optics as he was led past their cells.

Good. His recent defeat hadn't done anything to shake their faith in him. They were still usable.

Soon, both he and his Autobot escort reached his cell. Despite his recent ordeal, the Decepticon smirked. He sat down on the stool provided him, and sat there calmly as Padlock... disabled his stasis cuffs. Then, the young Autobot opened the side of Megatron's helm, inserting a device into Megatron's comm unit.

“My task is complete,” said Padlock, stepping back. “There will be no trace of this Autobot's sabotage, Lord Megatron. Mindwipe sends his regards."

“Ah yes, do thank Mindwipe for me,” Megatron responded, sitting back. “I do appreciate him taking time out of his latest project to assist me.”

Padlock left without another word. Several cycles later, he would snap out of it with no idea of what he'd done. Satisfied with the results, he activated the device that the security officer had installed.

[Can you all hear me?] he transmitted, without aid of his vocal processor.

[Lord Megatron! At last we can communicate! Our glorious rise from the ashes can now begin!] Lugnut, obviously.

[My my! This is truly a remarkable innovation! May I just say, Lord Megatron, that you are truly inspiring even in the wake of such an inglorious defeat!] The sniveling, sycophantic tone told Megatron that this was the voice Starscream clone called Sunstorm.

[I can't hear anything! All I'm doing is talking to myself!] Ramjet again.

[OOOOO! NOW I HAVE NEW VOICES IN MY HEAD! THIS SHOULD BE FUN!] And that could only be Blitzwing.

As could be expected, it was Shockwave that was the first to say something semi-useful. It is good that we had other agents on Cybertron besides myself, lord Megatron. Mindwipe and his men have been assisting me since I was first installed as a double agent. I knew they would come through for us.

[Hm.] replied Megatron. [Don't be so quick to commend him, Shockwave. He only assists us when it's convenient for him. You helped his little band stay hidden under the Decepticons' nose, and in return, he has aided us in eking out this modicum of subterfuge. To him, all debts have been squared, and he owes us nothing. Even for a Decepticon, Mindwipe and the rest of his order are truly only loyal to their own ambition... they're just smarter about it than the likes of Starscream.]

[Starscream is a paragon of loyalty and devotion! I am so happy to be derived from him!]

[Yes, that's very nice, Ramjet,] transmitted Shockwave, patronizingly. [So, Megatron, we have full mobility now. I trust we will begin our escape attempt?]

[Yes!] Lugnut. [These pitiful Autobots will learn that these walls cannot contain the majesty of Megatron! We will burst out, and-]

[Silence. We're not going anywhere.]

At that, the communication lines went dead silent. That is, until...

[I LIKE THIS PLAN!] announced Ramjet.

Jazz didn't like coming back to the cyber ninja dojo. Once, it had been a place where dreams could be realized, where Autobots with great aptitude and talent could come into their own... Now it was just a painful reminder of things that were lost, and Jazz wasn't the kind of person who liked to dwell. He especially disliked being forced to do so.

But when he'd been called about a break-in, he knew he had to be there.

“I'm sorry to have asked you you here, Jazz,” said Star Saber, Jazz's senior and the warden of Trypticon prison. “But unfortunately, I can't get in contact with anyone else. Cliffjumper is busy on council business, and regarding the order... Tap Out and Star Upper are out on the fighting circuit again, and most of the others are off-planet on various missions...”

“It's all good, Saber,” he said, addressing his senior with familiarity. “I mean, not like I'm doin' anything between chillin' and Sentinel trying to get me court martialed.”

“Oh, how's that turning out?”

“Mudslinger threw out that turkey's case earlier this solar cycle.”

Star Saber had to laugh at that, but as they entered a particular portion of the dojo, he quickly grew serious. So did Jazz.

“The break in was detected eight megacycles ago,” Star Saber said gravely. “I got called in after Prowl's funeral to check it out, but when I got back, whomever had been here was already gone. But, well, as you can see, they left us quite a bit to look at....”

“Grody scene, man,” Jazz replied, followed by a whistle. As Star Saber appeared befuddled by Jazz's use of an earth euphemism, Jazz stepped forward for a closer look. There were skid marks on the floor, burns on the walls... and portions of both that had been melted.

“Whoever broke in found some serious trouble. A real trip to Nowheresville...”

“And you all still haven't put the pieces together? I'm almost disappointed in you Cyber Ninjas.”

Jazz and Star Saber spun around at the sound of a new voice... and saw a blue, yellow, and orange mech standing there. He had a demolitionist body type, but the flamethrowers had been removed in favor of holders for two sets of stasis cuffs. The Autobot's head reminded Jazz of things he'd seen while studying earth culture - particularly, old earth detective shows. His helmet looked almost like a fedora, with two backwards pointing antennae, and his optics looked similar to a set of eyepieces that were referred to as sunglasses.

“Who are you?” Star Saber demanded, narrowing his eyes. “This dojo is a secure facility. Who authorized you to be here?”

“Nightbeat, from Section Alpha-31 of the high command,” the Autobot stated, flashing a badge marked with the Autobot symbol that differed from the norm in that there was a sword through the middle. “You fellas look like you've got a real mess here, but don't worry. Nightbeat's on the case.”

Jazz and Star Saber both paused at that. Section Alpha-31... it was a branch of the military that existed outside the rank and file of the Autobot army. Every Cyber Ninja had been scouted by the group, and only one had been accepted: the hunter, Devcon, who had been underground for stellar cycles. Alpha-31 was thus an enigma to a group that thrived on being enigmas themselves.

“I see,” growled Star Saber, hiding his annoyance and suspicion rather poorly. “Then I'd be interested in your... "assessment" of the scene.”

Nightbeat grinned at that, and strode forward into the ravaged part of the corridor. “Well, first of all, there was more than one intruder. And there was a fight... course, both of things would be obvious to anyone.

“This is obviously the work of someone using a chemical agent,” he stated, gesturing to the melted areas. “I'd guess some kind of corrosive, radioactive agent.

“And there are two types of burn marks on the wall,” Nightbeat continued. “You can tell by their coloration... the blackened ones were caused by some sort of incendiary weapon. Flamethrowers, more than likely. The others are electrical burns. You can tell by their narrower scorch radius, and the blue scarring they left on the metal. I'm guessing they were caused by an energy stinger-type weapon. I'd hazard a guess that he was the one being attacked, and judging by the damage done to the security panel outside, he was the original intruder as well.”

Energy stingers? That certainly got Jazz's attention. Of course, his first thought was a long shot. Bumblebee's body type was a common one. But, then again, he had a tenuous connection to the dojo through Prowl...

“I believe that sums it up. We're looking for at least one Autobot with energy stingers, and two unknown entities with incendiary and chemical warfare capabilities.”

“You missed something,” Star Saber replied curtly.

Nightbeat looked offended. “Balderdash. What could I have possibly-”

Star Saber gestured, silently, towards the ceiling. Nightbeat blinked his optics and looked up, following where the Cyber Ninja was pointing... and found claw marks etched into the metal's surface.

“... Ah yes. Those. Hrm.”

Nightbeat's reaction non-withstanding, the implication was clear. There had been four mechs present in the dojo. And now, they were gone.

And Jazz was starting to think there was more going on than a simple break-in.

Sari sighed as she sat underneath a structure in the Cyber City square, careful to avoid being seen. After leaving the Science Guild and Perceptor, she had headed off on her own, trying to process everything the science-bot had told her. It was a lot to take in... Not only was she not a normal human girl, a hybrid of Transformer and human life, but apparently her creation - no, her birth - was due to some unknown person. Someone whose true intentions she had no idea of.

She hated not knowing what other people knew about her. But unlike her father, there was no one to get angry at. No one to get answers from. Not without knowing the identity of the transformer in that video...

“Even when times are sad, don't feel down! Just be glad, and take away that frown!”

Sari nearly jumped up at the sound of a much larger being's voice. She stood up and looked around, seeing an orange and gray Autobot leaning against the structure she was using to hide. He wasn't that big, actually. In fact, he looked smaller than Bumblebee, and with a helm that looked like a human child's ball cap, he appeared rather young as well. Well, for a Transformer.

But the thing that stood out the the most was the absolutely unnerving smile he was wearing on his face.

“Um, hi,” said Sari, nervously. “You... aren't going to try and squish me now, are you?"

“Oh, that would be sick! I'm Wheelie, friend to all things, metal or organic!”

Sari quirked an eyebrow. “Did... did you just rhyme all of that?"

“Wheelie” giggled, pushing off of the sculpture and putting one of his hands up in a wave. “Though I've been around only a very short time, I often find excuse to rhyme! But it's not about me, so please, share your problems with Wheelie!”

Okay, yeah, this was really weird. Sari stepped back a few feet. “Um, I'd like to, but I'm meeting two of my friends here soon. They should be around any minute."

Wheelie seemed saddened by this, and he sighed. “Aw, that's too bad. I have to admit, I'm quite sad. But I can deal with it, hope you and your friends make a game of it!”

And so, the bizarre little Autobot began walking off, mumbling childishly to himself. Sari stared at the strange bot until he was out of view, wondering just... what made an Autobot like that. He didn't seem like he was that bad, and he appeared rather young, but at the same time... the rhyming didn't sound like childish sing song. It sounded like there was something... off about him.

“Hey Sari!”

Sari really did jump this time. She landed on her feet, and quickly wheeled around on one heel to yell at her friend, having recognized it as Bumblebee's voice.

“Bumblebee! Don't scare me like- ...that?!”

Sure enough, it was Bumblebee standing before her. But it wasn't Bumblebee as she usually knew him. His armor was now colored completely differently. Though there was still quite a bit of yellow, it was a more gold-like shade, and it was combined with black and silver. And then there was what was on his chest...

“Elite Guard symbols?! Bumblebee, what the heck happen-”

“Shhhh!” Bumblebee hissed, leaning down close to where Sari was and pressing one of his finger servos to Sari's mouth in order to silence her. “Keep it down! They're not real...!”

Uh oh. That wasn't good. “Bumblebee,” Sari hissed quietly, drawing away, “what are you doing pretending to be a member of the Elite Guard?!”

“No time for that now,” Bumblebee said, before transforming into his vehicle mode. “I'll explain on the way, alright? Get in!”

Sari gave her friend an odd look, before sighing and climbing in on the driver's side. “Fine, but can you at least tell me something” about what you're doing?!

Bumblebee started driving, and then replied giddily, “I've found a way to bring him back, Sari!”

Sari's eyes widened. “Bring him back? B-bring who back...?”

“Prowl! I've found a way to bring back Prowl!”

Optimus had no idea what to do. Just megacycles before, he'd been asked by the Autobot council to succeed Ultra Magnus as the leader of the Autobots. Little over a stellar cycle ago, he'd been a disgraced academy washout leading a repair crew, and now... now he was being asked to become Magnus?! It was a large set of plate armor to fill...

The young Autobot sighed, looking out the window of the room he'd been given in the Metroplex. He didn't like being given special treatment, but at the same time, he needed someplace to be alone to think. He was weighing options in his mind, considering the reasons to accept, and the reasons to refuse. Of course, the foremost thought on his mind was that Cybertron would indeed need a new leader if Ultra Magnus could never return to full strength. But on the other hand...

However, he found himself jerked out of his thoughts by the sound of the door opening. He knew he should have locked it. The Prime turned around, preparing to address his visitor... only for his optics to widen at the sight of who it was.

“... Sentinel...”

The blue Autobot stared back at Optimus, a grave look on his face. “Optimus."

Neither of them said anything for a while after that. Optimus stood there, shuffling his stabilizing servos in a nervous manner, while Sentinel glared daggers at him. Optimus's optics were fixed on the ground for what seemed like the longest time, but eventually, he looked up, and began to talk. “Look, Sentinel, you've probably heard-!"

But he never finished the sentence. Instead, he was interrupted by Sentinel's fist slamming into his jaw.

Optimus's body fell back with a crash. He looked up, a mixture of anger and rage on his faceplate. “What the slag was that for?!” he demanded, getting up and balling his hands into fists.

Sentinel didn't answer. He just came at Optimus again, swinging high this time, only for Optimus to grab it in mid-swing. Sentinel's optics widened, but he began to retaliate...

... only for the other Prime to prove faster, slamming a fist into Sentinel's mid-section. Sentinel gave a grunt of pain, feeling his internal gearing seizing up. But he didn't linger. He fought back.

“I've worked hard from the moment I came on-line! But no, everything comes naturally to god ol' Optimus!” Sentinel roared, striking Optimus across the face.

“Worked hard?! You're only in the Elite Guard now because I covered for you! Twice!” Optimus responded, driving his knee up into Sentinel's chest.

“DON'T YOU DARE SAY THAT!” screamed Sentinel, before striking Prime's forehead with a headbutt. “I've done some dodgy things sure, but I always fought to get ahead! I made it into the Academy! I made it into the Elite Guard! I never asked for you to be so slagging self-sacrificing!”

Optimus recovered quickly, and caught two more punches from the other Autobot, grappling with him. “And how did you repay me, huh Sentinel?! You embarrass me at every opportunity, and when I trusted you with leading Cybertron, you made a mockery of everything we Autobots believe in!”


Optimus let out a bitter laugh at that. “The only... thing you love Sentinel... the only thing you believe in is yourself!”

And that triggered something in Sentinel. He relented for a moment, and stared at Optimus, with a slack jawed expression. But then he snapped, and he wrenched his arms free from Optimus's servos, and threw wild punch after wild punch at Optimus's chest-plate. His attacks were uncoordinated and sloppy, but fast, strong, and unhinged.


With that last word, Sentinel's fist impacted with the wall, only inches away from from Optimus's head. The red and blue Prime stared at Sentinel, shocked at the words he'd just said... as Sentinel fell to his knees, head in his hands.

“... Sentinel,” Optimus said after a long silence.

The other Autobot didn't reply.

Optimus stared at his friend (were they even still friends) kneeling on the floor and frowned. The anger he'd felt moments before had evaporated, and was now replaced by pity. He pushed himself off the wall, and walked past the blue Autobot, putting his back to his once and former colleague.

“I can't be blamed for... for you never telling me this,” he replied, feeling a bit of static in his vocoder. “I never set out to prove that I was better than you. If anything... back in the day, before everything happened, I always thought that the two of us were were equals. In a way, we still are. If anything, you've just shown me that you do have convictions... that you do have people, things you care about more than yourself...”

Optimus then shook his head.

“But all the same, you can't judge every one and every thing that sets you back in life, Sentinel. There's not a day that goes by I don't regret what happened to Elita. But when I did what I did, I didn't take the fall to protect you. I took the fall because I felt I owed it to her, not you.

“Are you scared, Sentinel?” Optimus finally asked. “That everyone will abandon you now? For spark's sake, you're an Autobot. History... the council... Elita... none of those people or things will ever vindicate you. I can never vindicate you. The only one who can do that is yourself. For your own sake, Sentinel... get up and move forward.”

With that, Optimus strode forward, exiting the room. In a strange way, this incident with Sentinel had helped him realize something about himself, and brought him closer to the problems weighing on his spark.

He only hoped that it would do the same thing for the Autobot he once called his best friend.

Bulkhead hadn't felt this good since the day he'd been promoted to an official space bridge technician, and that was saying something. He had only known Glyph for a very short time, but... there was just something about her. It wasn't just that she was cute. She was adorable of course, but-

“Bulkhead? Are you listening?”

The big green Autobot was jarred out of his musings by Glyph's voice. “Um, my bad!” he said, flailing his massive arms for a bit. “I-I was thinkin' about somethin'...”

Glyph giggled softly. “That's fine. Anyway, I was just getting to this next thing I wanted to show you,” she said, tapping away at her console's keypad. Bulkhead piqued an optic ridge and leaned down, looking over her shoulder. This ended up looking rather odd, what with their size difference..

“This is the data I've accumulated on the civilization on Archa-9,” explained Glyph. “There was a big battle there during the Great War, with the Autobots and Decepticons fighting over a power source the locals called the “Divine Light." The Autobots tried to protect the people there, but the whole campaign ravaged most of their civilization. All we know about it is the samples and records we've managed to recover...”

Bulkhead nodded. A long time ago, he would have been bored by this kind of thing, but Glyph... she had this way of making it sound so alive. The kind of way art and space bridge construction seemed alive to him..

“You've really put a lot of work into this,” said Bulkhead, staring intently at the information on the screen.

“... Yeah,” Glyph said, sadly. “Unfortunately, the Guild doesn't really see archeology as a very essential program. If I could just visit Archa-9 and get a real look at what its people and their history have to offer, I could change a lot of minds...”

Bulkhead looked at her with a surprised expression. She had put a lot of emotion into this final words “Change minds? Waddaya mean?”

“It's not just about the the Guild,” said Glyph, and Bulkhead could see the passion stirring in her eyes. “Haven't you seen how isolated we've become, Bulkhead? We Autobots keep to ourselves, but wave our authority out to the rest of the galaxy anyway! We don't even take the time to learn about other cultures! We barely even take the time to learn about our own! If I could just show them a piece of another world... a piece of their history, and make them see it the way I do... I could work towards changing all of that!”

Bulkhead stood there, amazed at what Glyph had just told him. But then, his spark fell as she began to retreat back into herself.

“But who am I kidding? Archa-9 is a restricted organic planet... You need special dispensation to even go to that sector. And you heard Wedge earlier. My department may not even have funding by the end of this stellar cycle...”

Glyph's optics fixed themselves on her keyboard, and Bulkhead felt his spark sink further. His servos clenched into fists, and he knew what he had to do.

“Hey, what kind of talk is that?” he asked, shaking her chair a bit. “You know what they called me when I first started boot camp? A mudflap! Then there's my friend Bumblebee! Our sarge called him that cuz he thought he was just a bumbler! And our bossbot got thrown out of the Academy, but now everyone on Cybertron respects him! And the entire guild wants me, a big dumb gearhead, to help them out with the space bridge program! If we could come this far, think of what you could do! You just gotta fight to prove yourself to everyone, Glyph!”

Glyph sat there, staring wide-opticed as Bulkhead's words started to sink in. As for Bulkhead, the larger Autobot could finally narrow down just why he felt he had a connection he felt to Glyph: She was like him. No one took her seriously, no one saw the talent she had to offer. She was feeling just like Bulkhead did when no one saw what he was really capable of.

At last, Glyph began to smile, feeling heat rising beneath her faceplate, turning her cheeks red “Th-thank you Bulkhead... I-I will do that... th-thank you so much...”

Bulkhead could only smile, wrapping his arm around her. “Awww, it's no big deal... I'd do the same for anyone who was importan-”

And at that, he stopped mid-sentence.

Glyph blinked. "Bulkhead? Bulkhead, what's wrong?”

Bulkhead removed his arm, and ran for the door, shaking the room as he hurried along. “I forgot I was supposed to meet with Sari and Bumblebee! They're gonna think I ditched them!”

Glyph gaped as Bulkhead transformed and sped out the door. Then she realized what was going on, and quickly sprang out of her chair. “W-wait for me!” she cried, transforming into her own vehicle mode and speeding after him.

Several cycles later, they both blew out of the Guild building, passing two particular Autobots along the way.

“Where do you suppose they're going in such a hurry?” the Autobot called Wheeljack asked his superior.

”It is of no importance to us,” said Perceptor. ”Now come, Wheeljack. We must analyze the Allspark, as Alpha Trion requested.”

“'Elite Guardsbot Side Burn dates cyber-pop star Rosanna! Femmebots everywhere cry out in anguish' Oh yeah! I'm a stud!”

“You are the kind bolt that is for holding the metal plates together? I do not get it.”

“It is, how do you say, turning of the phrase brother. It means that he is being popular with the chick-bots.”

"Oh. Then why was he not saying so?"

Side Burn, sighed as the twins Jetfire and Jetstorm debated the particulars of what he'd just told them. Side was a blue, lightly armored Autobot, with optics covered by a special six-slotted scouter. It was actually a sophisticated targeting mechanism, but more importantly, it looked good on him. Clipped to his back was a shield that served as part of his vehicle mode and the energy crossbow he wielded in battle.

“Guys, guys, you're missing the important thing,” he said, showing the twins his data pad, which had a Cybertron Network site called up. “I've finally hit the big time! My comings and goings are big news! Every femmebot on Cybertron wants to know what Side Burn's up to!”

Jetfire narrowed his optics, as he looked at the site Side Burn had pulled up. “'The Cyber City Courier?'”

“Ah, that is the reporter site that is always making up the out landing stories, yes?” asked Jetstorm, just before he realized what that meant and glared at the other Guardsbot. “... Side Burn, are you sure that the story is real?”

Side Burn balked. Okay, he had submitted the story himself, but he actually had been on a date with Rosanna! “H-Hey, guys!” he shouted. “Sometimes they report real stuff! I'm dating, her honest! I can even introduce you to her!”

The flat look the twins gave him showed Side Burn just how much they believed his story. As their disapproving stares burned into the core of his spark, he felt his resolve slipping away.

And he relented. “You guys suck,” Side Burn groaned, turning away.

“Be cheering up!” said Jetstorm, putting his arm around Side Burn's shoulder as he started to lead him out of the commons room, a sort of "break room" the young members of the Guard used to intermingle. “I'm sure you will be impressing the ladies one day!”

Side Burn just muttered to himself that he was already impressing them , causing Jetfire to laugh. However, in mid-laugh, he saw something pass by the door open frame. Jetfire's optics widened, and he ran out of the room, looking down the hallway... but whomever it was, it had already moved out of view.

“Brother?” asked Jetstorm. “What is wrong?”

“I thought I was seeing Bumblebee in the hallway,” Jetfire replied. “But he was not as he should be...!”

“Bumblebee? Why would Bumblebee be here?” asked Jetstorm, surprised that Jetfire would mention one of the Autobots they'd met on earth. “He is not Elite Guard.”

“I am not knowing, brother,” replied Jetfire. “Perhaps I was just seeing things.”

Side Burn just stared at the twins, and then sighed, shaking his head. “And you guys were making fun of me.”

“This is a really bad idea Bumblebee,” Sari said, even as she was sitting in Bumblebee's driver side seat. “They're gonna catch us!"

“And since when are you the voice of caution when we're doing stuff like this?” Bumblebee chided, sounding much too carefree for what they were doing. He turned a corner sharply, heading down another corridor and grazing the wall, jostling Sari a bit with the impact.

“Nng!” grunted Sari. “Watch where you're driving! And for the record, this isn't some hair-brained scheme like sneaking out to Burger Bot, or attaching my dad's rocket boosters!”

“Just calm down,” Bumblebee hushed, before coming to a a sudden stop. “We're here.”

Sari got out, and Bumblebee quickly transformed. “... Oh gee,” said Sari upon seeing where they were. “A set of doors. Bumblebee, you've found the secret to eternal life.”

“Ha ha,” Bumblebee replied, as activated his stingers. Before Sari could ask him what he was going to do with them, he zapped the security panel on the wall.

“Wh-what are you doing?!” shouted Sari. She had expected sneaking in through an air vent, or at least something more subtle than that.

“Getting us inside,” Bumblebee replied as the doors opened, not even hesitating for a moment as he strode inside.

Sari scrambled after him, intent on telling Bumblebee just how crazy he was acting. He still hadn't told her anything about how this was all connected to getting Prowl back, much less how they were supposed to gain anything from breaking into Elite Guard headquarters. However, the half-human found herself stricken with silence as she got a good look at the room they'd just broken into.

“The Elite Guard armory,” Bumblebee replied, whistling. “Man, what I wouldn't give to mod myself up with these babies!"

Sari just followed him quietly, looking at the various weapons that were mounted in the room. It was less an armory, and more a museum; a showcase for what were clearly legendary weapons. She looked closer, and the Cybertronian letters' meanings became clear to her, allowing her to make out their names. Things like the Requiem Blaster. The Master Sword. Hytherion's Fang...

Suddenly, Sari came to a stop, as she caught sight of one weapon in particular. It was a sword. It was more mundane-looking than the other weapons, but somehow entrancing. It had a purple colored hilt, and a long, blue blade etched with ornate markings. On the hilt, there was something that looked like a jewel, but when Sari looked closer, she could see that it was more like the face and hands of a clock.

”Rhisling,” said Sari, without even bothering to read the naming plaque. She reached out to touch it, only for her eyes to light up and an image to flash in her mind, causing her to grab the sides of her head.

It was... it was the same as the video Perceptor had shown her, only this time, it was like she was watching it from inside the stasis pod. She could make out more of the figure now... he was white and purple, with armor that looked almost like a knight, and with slowly turning gears that were visible beneath his armor plating. His face was covered by a mask that looked like the Autobot symbol...

... And then suddenly he was gone. She was... sleeping somehow, only to be awakened by... by her father? But something was missing. A spark. She was different now. Different from the other protoforms, but still somehow alive...

“Alright! This is it!”

Sari was snapped out of her vision by the sound of Bumblebee's voice, causing her to let out a short cry of frustration. Once her wits were back, though, she ran towards the sound of his voice, to one of the other weapon racks, and... saw Bumblebee breaking into a storage case. Before she could tell him to stop, his stingers succeeded in breaking the lock, and he pulled out the weapon inside: a long Cybertronian pole-arm with curved blades at both ends.

“The Spark Naginata,” Bumblebee said, his voice sounding oddly vacant. But he wasn't reading the name from anything. “This is what we need, Sari!"

No. No. Sari's mind was screaming his was very bad. “Bumblebee, put that thing back right now!” she demanded. “There's no way we can steal that thing!"

Bumblebee seemed to snap out of whatever was going on with him, and gave her an annoyed look. “You've been fighting me every step away on this, Sari," he said. “It's like you don't even want Prowl back!"

“Of course I want Prowl back!” Sari shouted, her voice heavy with a desperation for Bumblebee to listen to her. “What makes you think I wouldn't want him back?! But these weapons... these things...! It's dangerous to mess with them! And how do you even know we can use this to do that?!”

Before Bumblebee could answer, a voice came from the front of the armory. “Who's in here?! You might as well surrender now... you're up against the shining star of the Elite Guard!"

“Sunstreaker, do you have to be doing that every time we do anything?” said a second voice, which they both recognized as belonging to Jetstorm.

“Yes, yes I do!”

Bumblebee acted quickly. He grabbed Sari and transformed, pulling her into his rider compartment. With both her and the weapon tucked away inside, his seat belts quickly snapped up, wrapping around Sari and holding her securely. So securely, she couldn't transform into her warrior mode.

“Bumblebee!” she screamed. “What are you doing?!”

Her friend didn't answer. Instead, he activated his boosters, deploying them and bursting forward, knocking over several of the weapon racks. He then surged past four Autobots, two of which Sari recognized as Jetfire and Jetstorm, along with a blue and white one and a yellow one.

They didn't waste any time in pursuing him. Jetfire and Jetstorm both assumed their flight modes, while the other two followed along on the ground, taking the form of cybertronian cars.

“Bumblebee!” shouted Jetfire. “I was knowing it was you! What do you think you are doing?!”

Bumblebee didn't answer. “That's what I'd like to know!” screamed Sari, as she continued to struggle against her bonds.

When no proper response came, the jet twins combined in mid-air, assuming their combined jet mode. “We do not want to be doing this," two voices stated simultaneously, as the combined vehicle began to spin. “But you are giving us no choice!"

Seconds later, a storm of wind and fire came roaring at Bumblebee, too fast for even Bumblebee's boosters to evade. The vehicle seemed to be consumed in the blaze, prompting the two jets to disengage and land in robot mode. The other two bots came up behind them and transformed as well.

“Heh, looks like that intruder is just like you, Sunny,” chided Side Burn. ”Flaming.”

Before Sunstreaker could respond to Side Burn's insult, Bumblebee came roaring out of the flames. He rushed past them, several green bombs bouncing out of his rear compartment and exploding into a green mist. The four robots' optics widened as they realized what was happening... and then fell to the ground, portions of their armor corroding.

“Bumblebee!” Sari screamed in terror. “What the heck was that?! What did you do to them?!”

Bumblebee gave her no answer. Instead, the sides of his vehicle mode converted into arms, and he deployed his stingers...

... shocking Sari violently with them. Sari screamed, until Bumblebee shut off the electrical stream, upon which she fell forward, hitting her face on the Autobot's steering wheel.

”Wh-why...” Sari whispered, just before fading into unconsciousness amidst the blaring of Bumblebee's car horn.

And once again, Bumblebee gave her no answer.

“Chug! Chug! Chug!”

The chant echoed through Maccadam's Oil House as the newly recovered Arcee attempted to down an entire tankard of premium petroleum in a single, long gulp. Before long, she finished and slammed the tankard down, wiping the excess from her mouth before looking up at everyone with a triumphant grin, causing the bar to erupt into cheers.

Ratchet was sitting not too far away, with the biggest smile he'd worn in a long time on his face. In the short time they'd been there, Arcee had asserted herself as the life of the party, and it warmed his spark to see her enjoying herself.

“Your friend's quite a femmebot, Ratchet,” said a silver, bronze, and red Autobot. “She's not taken, is she?"

Ratchet glared at him. “She just got out of the Central Infirmary, Chromedome. Don't even think about it.”

Chrome laughed a bit, showing he didn't take things as seriously as Ratchet. “Touchy, aren't we?” he asked, before striding over towards Arcee. “Looks like the little lady won! You know what that means, right guys? Maccadam, another round of oil for everybody, on me!”

Another cheer went up from the crown as Ratchet settled into his seat. As the silent bartender began to redistribute drinks, Arcee strode over and sat down next to the medic.

“Woo...! I feel like it's been ages since I've had this much fun,” she said, with a knowing grin.

“Technically, it has,” said Ratchet, as their drinks were brought their way. He lifted his tankard, and the two of them clanked theirs' together in a toast before Ratchet continued. “I have to say though, Arcee, you're full of surprises."

Arcee winked at him. "Stick with me, docbot... I'll show you a couple more before we're done,” she said, before taking a drink.

Ratchet's faceplate turned a shade of red, but before the could respond, he felt a buzz from his comm unit. “Just a second," he said to Arcee, before bringing a servo up to the side of his helmet. “Prime? Yeah, what is it?”

”Ratchet, where are you? I just got a call from Elite Guard security about Bumblebee!”

Ratchet scowled. “What's that turbo revvin' young punk done now?” he asked.

”He attacked an Elite Guard facility,” replied Optimus. ”He disabled Jetstorm and Jetfire along with two others, and stole a weapon from the armory. He has Sari with him!"

Ratchet stood up with a start, spilling his drink. "HE DID WHAT?!", he said, prompting a look of concern from Arcee. Ratchet didn't have the best opinion of Bumblebee most of the time, but what Optimus was describing seemed drastically out of character. “Where the slag is he?!"

”Everyone lost track of him once he escaped Fortress Maximus. You'd better get over there, Ratchet. I'll meet you there”

Ratchet nodded. "Alright," he said, closing the channel. He then turned to Arcee. “Something bad's happened. I need to get to Elite Guard headquarters, on the double”

Arcee's expression turned serious, and she stood up. “I'm going too then, Ratchet," The look on her face told him that she wouldn't put up with being argued with.

Ratchet didn't like it, but he accepted it with a short nod. “Then come on," he said, transforming into vehicle mode. “I'll fill you in on the way there." Arcee followed suit, and together they tore out of the bar, heading for Fortress Maximus. Whatever Bumblebee had done, Ratchet was determined to get to the bottom of it.

Sari's eyes slow fluttered open, the world around her a haze as she began to regain consciousness. She felt pain... great pain, and still had the lingering memory of... of...

Being electrocuted by Bumblebee.

Finally, though, her vision cleared, giving her a view of the world around her, albeit still through a mental haze. That came from her being jarred by the sight of a demonic-looking, skull-like head looking at her from behind a transparent tank. Sari recoiled and screamed, but found it impossible to flee or transform.

“Mindwipe. The techno-organic has regained consciousness.”

Sari looked around, frantically. She was strapped into some kind of device, unable to break free even with her techno-organic body's strength. She was in some kind of vast, white room, that somehow looked familiar...

Oh god. There were Decepticons there. One was the skull-headed one that had greeted her upon her awakening, and another was a black and orange titan that seemed to be emanating fiery red heat from beneath its armor. Standing a bit further away with his arms crossed was a purple and black Decepticon with a mask and a pair of bat-like wings that hung down like a cape.

“Excellent, Blight,” said the latter, his eyes glowing ominously. “Bumblebee, bring me the Spark Naginata."

Sari gasped upon hearing Bumblebee's name, just as the small Autobot strode into view. He wasn't acting like himself though... now he was moving more slowly, less deliberately, like one of her father's automatons. And in his hands was the weapon he'd stolen from the armory, which the Decepticon then took from him.

“Bumblebee!” she screamed. “What are you doing?!"

“He can't hear you, my dear half-human child,” said the purple and black Decepticon. “Though he doesn't realize it, this young fool has been in my thrall this entire time."

And with that, everything suddenly made sense. Bumblebee's strange behavior... him attacking her... this was all because of him.

“You monster!” she shrieked, struggling against her bonds, her anger towards what Mindwipe had done making her respond more harshly than she would otherwise. “You're not going to get away with this! Whatever you're planning, someone's going to stop you!

Mindwipe stared at her, and his mask snapped down, revealing his face beneath it. It had pointed features, and a chin guard that almost looked like a beard along with a set of pointy fangs sticking out of his upper jaw. There was no malevolent, satisfied grin, like the kind she'd seen worn by Megatron and Starscream. Instead, he had a somber, serious look on his face.

“You have no idea what I aim to accomplish,” he said, quietly. “But in the end, you will see the benefits of what we are about to do here. Blight, activate the device.”

The green Decepticon nodded, and moved to the machine Sari was hooked up to, activating by way of the attached computer console. Spikes and wires shot out, attaching to and piercing the flesh of Sari's body, causing the girl to scream in pain. But even through the agony, she could feel the data surging through her techno-organic circuitry, taking control of her body's functions. A familiar power rose within her, with a greater intensity than the first time she'd lost control.

“You have absorbed a portion of the Allspark's power,” said Mindwipe, turning away. “I have studied the legends and the ancient technology for countless stellar cycles. I know that we can use your energy to activate the Spark Naginata's true power...”

As Mindwipe gripped the weapon more tightly, its twin blades began to glow with a red aura. Sari felt herself becoming connected to it... and then, to far more than just that. She also realized just where they were: This was the mausoleum that they'd moved Prowl into, the resting place for fallen Cybertronian warriors.

Mindwipe lifted the Naginata, as all of the preservation pods started to glow one by one. “This is the end,” cried the Decepticon. “The end of all fear! The end of war! The end of strife, and of loss! THIS IS THE DAY THE CYBERTRONIAN RACE CONQUERS DEATH!”

“N-no...” Sari whimpered, as Bumblebee looked on emotionlessly

And inside one of the pod, a long dead Cybertronian body stirred.

The dead were about to rise.



Well, here we are everyone, over the hump of my innaugural TF fiction. The next chapter brings "Return to Cybertron" to a closer, and I'll be releasing Chapter 3 along with the epilogue that ties everything up. But don't worry, this won't be the end of my extended Animated universe!

Anyway... heh heh, I said last chapter that we'd be finding out what the deal with Mindwipe was. I guess he's still a bit mysterious. But hey, the next chapter will be getting into him heavily, so those of you in suspense, just hold on a bit.

I'm very happy with how this chapter came out. I've waited a long time to do that scene with Optimus and Sentinel, and I hope all of you enjoyed it as much as I did. I really do hope it was as powerful as I intended for it to be. And Glyph, Bulkhead, Ratchet, and Arcee got a bit of progression, which is good. As for Bumblebee... am I setting him up to be knocked down, or am I building him up? Find out next chapter, guys.

For the record... regarding my treatment of Wheelie here... I am not, I repeat not out to bash him. I just always saw Wheelie, and thus, found him most interesting when he was treated like a young child who was somewhat "off." I'll be getting into just what his role is soon. As for Nightbeat, keep your eyes on him. He has the same body-type as Hot Shot, which is based off of the fact that his G1 counterpart was once a remolding of a Hot Shot mold. Side Burn is, of course, from Robots in Disguise, and you'll recognize Chromedome from Generation 1. His appearance is a small in-joke referencing his relationship with Arcee in the Headmasters cartoon.

Speaking of references, can you readers spot the reference to Shattered Glass in the story? And for the record... yes, everyone, Wedge from the last chapter is a pastiche of Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist.

Well, I've rambled long enough. Here's some more bios... featuring Side Burn, Chromedome, and the councilbots from last chapter. Seeya next time!

Name: Chromedome
Function: Science-Officer
"We must face all challenges head on!"

In his earlier days, Chromedome thought he was destined for work in the science guild. However, his zeal to see his ideals applied clashed with the more methodical approach of others working under Perceptor, and he transferred into the military in order to apply his talents in the field. Chromedome is always thinking of new advancements, and can run multiple complex calculations at once. However, this makes him appear unfocused and scatter brained, and makes it difficult for him to work with others. He was once considered for the rank of Prime, until it became apparent that his subordinates would find it difficult to comprehend his orders. Chromedome is definitely talented and passionate, but he needs a good leader to keep him on the straight and narrow.

* Transforms into high-speed land vehicle.
* Talented inventor, with an advanced processor.
* Dense head armor and powered neck pistons allow him to deliver powerful headbutts.

Name: Side Burn
Function: Elite Guard Speedy Knight
"Hey baby, come here often?"

Side Burn once held the record for being the youngest bot to attain membership into the Elite Guard. Unfortunately for Side Burn, that record was summarily shattered by Jetfire and Jetstorm. Nevertheless, he remains in good spirits and tries to set himself up as an older brother figure to the twins. Side Burn is also a shameless flirt, and will not hesitate to use his position in the Elite Guard to impress the ladies. The only downside is that his "attention span" for relationships is short, and that he'll quickly move on from one femmebot to the next - sometimes without telling the first one. But despite his youthful indiscretions, Side Burn is a skilled and valued member of the Elite Guard.

* Transforms into high-speed pursuit vehicle.
* Wields solitarium-arrow crossbow and refraction shield.
* Advanced targeting scouter installed over optics.
* "Speed Break" ability allows him to briefly accelerate to high speeds, followed by a severe cooldown and system burn out.

Name: Avalon
Function: Autobot Council - Head of Business Guilds
"A stable economy yields a stable civilization."

Some call Councilor Avalon cold and professional... and they're exactly right. He ran his own shipping company prior to being elected to the council by his fellow business bots, and he applies the same philosophies to his political career as he did his private one. In short, he's primarily concerned with the bottom line, and can be quite ruthless when situations call for it. He's managed to broker trade deals with several alien races, including the devious and often hostile Quintessons. Many people may not like Avalon, but you have to agree... he gets results. He often butts heads with Councilor Botanica.

* Top of the line personal parts, and sleek, well maintained vehicle mode.
* Well read on political, economic, and scientific subjects.
* Incredibly persuasive.

Name: Mudslinger
Function: Autobot Council - Head of Ethics Committee
"Justice is blind, but I am not."

Mudslinger is the Autobot Council's director of ethical affairs, overseeing violations and investigations in both the government and military. In short, when someone steps out of line, Mudslinger is usually the presiding representative. Though final decisions ultimately fall to Ultra Magnus, Mudslinger's advice carries great influence with the Autobot leader. Many prisoners in the Trypticon stockades owe the fact that they're there to Mudslinger. Numerous stellar cycles have made Mudslinger cynical, and this influences his decisions greatly. In short, he sees corruption everywhere... that is, save for in himself.

* Transforms into an all-terrain vehicle.
* Knowledgeable in all matters of crime and punishment.

Name: Xaaron
Function: Autobot Council - Head of Planetary Security
"The price of peace is constant vigilance."

Councilor Xaaron has been alive for a long, long time - almost as long as Alpha Trion. Living through the horrors of the great war has taken its impact on him, but it hasn't made Xaaron lose track of his ideals, his optimism, or his free-wheeling approach to planetary security. You see, Xaaron isn't afraid to bend the rules, and at times can be somewhat unsubtle in his methods. Its not to say he's hot-headed or inexperienced, because he clearly knows what he's doing, it's just that the wily old buzzard is about as subtle as a mass hammer to the head. This causes him to butt heads with other members of the council, particularly Mudslinger and Botanica. Xaaron's dedication is without question - he's seen a Cybertron in ruins, and will do everything in his power to prevent that from happening again.

* Head of planetary security. Oversees Autotrooper precincts and emergency response divisions.
* Transforms into Cybertronian transport vehicle - dangerous due to long periods of not transforming.

Function: Autobot Council - Civilian Representative
"Never forget what or who we are fighting for."

Many of the other Council members come from a military or prestigious background, but this is not the case with Councilor Botanica. Originally a scientist working on ways to improve the cultivation of crystalline energon, Botanica began her political career when she began to realize that many of Cybertron's working class were beginning to be disenfranchised by the post-war system on Cybertron. Thus, she changed her focus and entered the political arena, seeking to improve their standing in the eyes of the planet's lawmakers. Her progress has enjoyed some success and suffered some heartbreaks, but nevertheless, Botanica will keep fighting for the day when a worker bot or energon farmer enjoys the same level of respect as a warrior.

* Transforms into a mobile communications relay.
* Can generate and control the flow of electricity, both offensively and in order to re-power machinery.

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