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From the Ashes of One's Enemies


Chapter One - The Road to Revenge
Chapter Two - Female Hospitality
Chapter Three -Enemy at the Gates
Chapter Four - (Re)Introductions
Chapter Five - History 101
Chapter Six - Allies of Convenience
Epilogue - Foreshadowings

  A Note About Time  

1 Nano-Click = 1 Earth Second
1 Nano-Cycle = 1 Earth Minute
1 Breem = Approx 8.35 Earth Minutes
1 Cycle = 1 Earth Hour
1 Solar-Cycle = 1 Earth Day
1 Peri-Cycle = 1.4 Earth Weeks
1 Deca-Cycle = 5.6 Earth Weeks
1 Stellar-Cycle = 1 Earth Year
1 Vorn = 83 Earth Years


Season One
Operation Sunburn Part 1 - Power Surge
Operation Sunburn Part 2 - Power Masters
Operation Sunburn Part 3 - Power Hungry
Operation Sunburn Part 4 - Power Plays
Operation Sunburn Part 5 - Power Cut
A Death in the Family
Rise of the Decepticon Empire
From the Ashes of One's Enemies
Brothers in Arms
The Discontinuity Effect

From the Ashes of One's Enemies

Part Two of the S.P.A.R.C. Trilogy

Chapter One – The Road to Revenge

Mike Peters rode his horse at a slow pace through the fields heading for his ranch house. His dog, Grip was running round him in circles, stopping occasionally to sniff at the variety of interesting smells that he came across.

It had been a long day, he had found no less than eight cows with pinkeye, and it was looking as though he was in for a major epidemic if he wasn't careful. He sighed heavily to himself. This sure wasn't the romantic view of cattle ranching that you got to see on TV.

'Grip, what on Earth is your problem?' Peter twisted in his saddle to look at the dog that had suddenly started barking madly. The dog stood with his hackles raised, barking and growling at the ground near its feet. Mike turned his horse and trotted over to investigate.

Grip stopped barking as he approached and looked up at him for a few seconds before he resumed his barking. Mike looked down from his horse but could see nothing. He swung his leg over the horse and slid down to the ground. He stooped to look but could still see nothing.

'Stupid mutt, there ain't nothing there,' and he made to climb back onto his horse. He had gotten his left foot into the stirrup when all of a sudden the horse gave a terrified neigh, reared into the air and began to back away from the spot where the dog was still barking.

Mike fell to the ground as the horse reared and only just managed to keep hold of the horse's reins. He scrambled to his feet and quickly tried to soothe the obviously frightened animal. It looked like it was going to bolt at any second. Grip stopped barking and began to whine piteously, backing away himself. What was wrong with these animals? For Mike could still see absolutely nothing.

Then Mike heard it, a strange humming sound, a bit like an angry wasp, but deeper. He looked around him trying to find out where the noise was coming from, but he could still see nothing.

Then with a clanking of metal, a section of roadway simply appeared out of the ground. It didn't come through the ground though; it was as though it simply appeared on the surface of the field, stretching out across Mike's land. Then the roadway began to bend and lift itself up into the sky, supported on huge metal struts.

Mike's horse gave another whinny of fright and bolted. Mike lost his grip on the reins and the horse disappeared over the field in the direction of the stables. Mike looked up at the impossible road and saw that it just stopped dead after a few hundred yards. At the end of the road however was a swirling circle of blackness that was difficult to see in the fading light.

Then as Mike looked a shape burst out of the blackness. It looked like some sort of futuristic tractor trailer; the white cab was pyramidal in shape ending at a blunt point. What looked like two giant smokestacks stuck up on top but they lay horizontal rather than vertical. The trailer was sliver a grey with a splash of red and was quite low but wider than most earth style trailers would be.

Mike began to back away as the vehicle zoomed down the road towards him. Grip turned and fled his tail between his legs.

The rumble of the vehicle was deafening now. It soon reached the bottom of the road, which levelled out and extended a few hundred yards across the field. No sooner had the vehicle hit the flat stretch than the road began to lower. It sunk silently back to the ground and disappeared as suddenly as it had come. The ground where it had been only moment before looked undisturbed. Mike wondered if he was going mad.

He turned to look at the strange vehicle that had just emerged from the sky. It had come to a stop a short distance away. A yellow light on top of the cab was rotating like that on an emergency vehicle sending a beam of yellow light across the landscape.

Mike continued to back slowly away in the direction of his ranch house. Then with a click and a whirr the vehicle began to change shape, the trailer rose up to stand on its end and the cab slid downwards to connect with the front edge of the trailer. A split appeared in down the centre of the top portion of the trailer and then widened as the section of the trailer swung backwards and round to reveal a bright red interior. A pair of arms emerged sideways.

The lower portion of the trailer extended downwards and split apart to form legs and feet. Finally the two smokestacks split apart, rotating until they were on the either side of the cab, revealing a pair of pale blue eye in a cruel looking face. Above the eyes was what looked liked a third large eye, that shone slightly with a pale yellow light.

Mike realised that this thing was a transformer of some kind, but it was one he had never seen on the news before. He continued to back away as the giant robot turned his gaze upon him. It took the robot only two strides to cross the distance between itself and Mike. It bent down and swept Mike up in its huge hand.

Mike yelled out as he felt himself being lifted into the air. The robot brought him up until he was level with its face. 'Where am I?' it asked in a deep husky voice.

'E-E-Earth,' Mike stammered.

The robot began to squeeze slightly and Mike screamed again, then the pressure eased. 'Do not play the idiot with me. I know I am on Earth. What province of Earth? Speak quickly.'

'You-you're in the United States of America,' Mike said and then as he felt the pressure begin to increase again he cried out, 'Oregon, you're in Oregon.'

The pressure eased and then suddenly Mike felt himself falling. The robot had let go of him. He hit the ground hard and cried out as he heard the cracking of bone, pain shooting through his left leg. He began to crawl slowly away from the robot in what he hoped was the direction of his home.

The robot appeared to have lost interest in him however and was talking to himself, 'So the flesh creature's new space bridge does work; exactly on target.' The robot turned and looked to the West and said. 'Soon Megatron will understand what it means to have Omnis Validus for an enemy.'

Mike looked over his shoulder as he crawled away across the field but the robot showed no further interest in him and it began to walk towards the main road that could just be seen in the distance. Mike watched it for a few seconds and then continued his crawl towards home, wincing as every movement caused his leg to explode with pain.

* * * * *

Spike Witwicky slid out of bed, moving slowly so as not to disturb Carly who lay slumbering next to him. He walked over to the window and looked out onto Carly's back yard. His right hand rubbed his left arm gently. His broken bones had long since healed but he still had occasional bouts of stiffness. The doctors had told him it would go away eventually, but if so it was certainly taking its time about it.

It had been the dull ache that had first woken him and although he tried to get back to sleep he found his mind racing over the big day he had tomorrow. The next day was to be his first working as a computer technician for Doctor Harding's research Facility. He still couldn't believe it. Doctor Harding was one of the foremost aerospace technicians in the country if not the world and he was going to be working for her.

He remembered the day that Carly had introduced the two of them. Doctor Harding had been a guest speaker on one of Carly's courses and she and Carly had struck up a friendship almost at once. Doctor Harding had offered to give Carly a tour of her research laboratory and Spike had gone along with her and been introduced.

She had seemed really interested when he told her that he was studying computer science and had asked him all sorts of questions as she took him and Carly on a tour of the lab. It was just before they were due to leave that she had suggested that he might like to come and work part time in the lab as a trainee. As she had said studies were all very well but there was no substitute for experience.

Spike had been too shocked by the offer to make any answer but Carly had quickly accepted it on his behalf. Spike forced himself to regain his wits and thanked the Doctor profusely. He knew what an opportunity this was. The Doctor had smiled and said that she was sure he was just the man she'd been looking for.

Spike had spent the next few days worrying that Doctor Harding would come to the conclusion that she had made a mistake and would call and cancel the whole thing. She had called but only to confirm that he still wanted to come.

Spike had lain in bed for at least an hour before he had decided that he wasn't going to get back to sleep again just yet. So he decided that he would get up and make himself a snack to pass the time until both the ache in his arm and the swirling thoughts in his head eased.

He turned from the window to see that a sliver of moonlight was breaking through a chink in the curtains and was bathing Carly's naked back in silvery light. Spike looked down at her a smiled. They had been a couple for nearly three months now and Spike was the happiest he'd ever been. He couldn't believe how lucky he had been to get together with someone like her. Not only was she gorgeous but smart as well. 'You're on to a real winner here,' he said to himself, a soppy expression on his face.

He made his way across the room heading for the door. He had gotten to the far side of the room when his feet got caught in something causing him to stumble. He bent down to find his foot entangled in Carly's bra, which he remembered with another smile had been hastily discarded a few hours earlier. He untangled his foot and dropped the bra on a nearby chair and turned back to the door.

'Spike?' He turned to see Carly propped up on one elbow looking at him. 'Are you okay? Where are you going?'

'I'm fine. Can't sleep that's all. I'm just going to make myself a snack. You go back to sleep,' he said bending down and stroking the soft skin of her face.

'Why can't you sleep? Are you worried about tomorrow?'

'No, not worried. It's just going through my head a lot and I can't sleep when my mind is active like this and my arm is aching a bit as well.'

Carly reached out and stroked his left arm, 'You should go back to the doctor with that,' she said with a note of concern in her voice. 'It should have healed by now.'

'I know, if it doesn't get better soon then I'll go and see someone. I promise. Now you go back to sleep,' Spike said standing back up straight and moving back towards the door.

'Spike?' said Carly in a girly sort of voice. He turned to see that she had rolled onto her back and had pulled the covers away revealing her full nakedness. The moonlight made her skin look like polished ivory. 'Are you sure you wouldn't prefer to come back to bed?'

* * * * *

Jeb Norris climbed out of the cab of his tractor-trailer in disgust. A small ribbon of smoke or steam, he couldn't tell which in the fading light, rose almost tauntingly from the front grill. Jeb kicked the front wheel of the cab savagely, choosing to ignore the sharp pain that this elicited in his foot. This was the worst possible place for a breakdown. Not only was he stuck in the middle of nowhere, but the stupid rig had stopped halfway across a tee junction. If any other traffic came along there would be chaos. Still he thought looking round at the darkening desert, there wouldn't be that much traffic way out here.

He clambered back inside his cab and grabbed his radio from its clip. He was just about to thumb the switch when he glanced up out of the cab window. Two points of lights were twinkling at him from some way down the road. Somebody was coming towards him.

Jeb swore violently, of all the stupid dumb timing. He climbed out of his cab again and began to walk up the road towards the approaching headlights, waving his arms to try and slow the driver. He squinted into the oncoming lights; they were so bright that he could barely see a thing. Had the driver spotted him or not? Was he going to slow down? The lights kept moving towards him. Was it his imagination or were they actually speeding up? He waved his arms even more frantically and began shouting even though the driver couldn't possibly hear him.

The steady rumble of an engine now accompanied the lights, growing louder every second. Whatever was coming sounded big, another semi perhaps? Whatever it was it wasn't stopping. The lights were blinding him now. He dived to his left, feeling the whoosh of air as the oncoming vehicle rumbled past.

He hit the dusty ground and rolled over to look behind him. His mouth dropped open in astonishment at the sight of a huge red a silver truck, futuristic in design, charging down the highway, straight for his semi.

Jeb scrambled to his feet and ran after the truck waving his arms and yelling, but the truck took no notice.

As he watched in horror he saw a panel on the rear of the truck flip downwards revealing what looked like a rocket launcher. 'Noooooo,' Jeb cried out, but it was too late. With a whoosh a rocket shot out of the launcher, straight at Jeb's stricken semi.

Jeb threw himself to the ground for a second time. There was a huge explosion as the rocket hit his semi. He felt a rush of air over his head followed by the intense heat of the fire that now consumed his truck. He turned his head just enough to seen back down the highway and saw the strange truck crashing through the remains of his semi, which was now engulfed in flames. The truck didn't even slow down, it ploughed through the wreckage and sped off westwards down the highway.

* * * * *

The phone rang shrilly in the darkness, jolting the man awake. He groaned and reached a hand across the bed to grab the handset. 'Hello,' he said sleepily.

'Tomorrow, usual time,' said a voice on the other end.

The man tightened his grip on the phone and said, 'I told you that I haven't got much for you at the moment. It would be better if you waited till next week.'

'Tomorrow,' the voice repeated more forcefully this time. 'My employer is not patient man. I will take whatever you have.'

The phone clicked and the line went dead. The man pulled himself onto one elbow to replace the handset and the collapse back onto the bed with a groan.

* * * * *

Omnis Validus slowed to a halt as the cliff edge approached. With a clicking of gears he transformed back to robot mode and stood overlooking the sea. Somewhere down there he knew was the Decepticon base and when he found it Megatron would pay for his treachery, with his life.

Chapter Two – Female Hospitality

Ultra Magnus sat and stared at the wall in silence. How had all this happened? He had led his Autobots to extinction. Had any survived the Decepticon attack on the base? He didn't know, because he hadn't been there, he had been tricked into leaving by that traitor Overdrive. Why hadn't he seen that coming? All the signs had been there, Overdrive had been a troublemaker from the moment he arrived, as leader he should have realised the danger signals. His failure had caused the deaths of countless Autobots.

It was only the intervention of a group of female Autobots that had saved himself, Downshift, Pointblank and Brainstorm from the same fate. It had taken his rescuer Nightstar several cycles to lead him to the female base, through a series of underground passages. There he had been reunited with his fellow survivors. They too were sat around the room (he was trying hard not to think of it as a cell) in silence. Since Nightstar had left no one had come to see them. How long were they expected to just sit here? They needed to get back to Autobase to look for survivors.

Just as he was thinking this one of the doors to the room slid open with a soft hiss and a slender form entered. 'Ultra Magnus, Elita-1 will see you now,' the female Autobot said in a soothing tone.

Ultra Magnus looked up and said, 'What about my friends?'

‘They can stay here; Elita wishes to speak to you in private.'

‘Very well Nightstar.' Ultra Magnus stood up and turning to the others said, ‘I will return as soon as possible'. Then he followed Nightstar from the room.

‘I hope so,' Downshift said. ‘If I have to sit here much longer I will go mad. I need to get out there and hunt down Overdrive and make him pay for what he's done.'

‘Calm yourself Downshift,' Brainstorm said soothingly. ‘Hasty action may make things worse. For now we can do nothing but wait.'

Downshift glowered at Brainstorm but remained silent. Now wasn't the time to cause an argument. They had enough problems already.

Outside Ultra Magnus found himself on a railed walkway running in both directions parallel to the door. Beyond the walkway was a deep canyon several miles across, which was boarded on all sides by steep metallic cliffs rising high above them to where the dark Cybertronian sky could just be seen. The bottom of the cavern wasn't visible but a pale yellow light emanated from its depths.

Nightstar led Ultra Magnus to the right along the walkway to where another door was embedded into the cliff side. This door slid open as they approached. Passing through this door they entered a long wide corridor.

As they walked Ultra Magnus saw other females moving around, he counted at least a dozen. Where had they all come from? Even in the Golden Age before the war females had been rare, but in the eons since they were thought to have become totally extinct, yet now here they were apparently in force.

'Where are we?' Ultra Magnus asked.

'The Sonic Canyons. After the Decepticons destroyed our last base we ended up down here. Many of these tunnels and passages date back to the Golden Age and beyond. We have made some improvements of course but mostly it's just as it was when we arrived.'

'The Decepticons know about you,' said Ultra Magnus in surprise.

Nightstar nodded, 'We'd been performing hit and run operations against them for solar-cycles, stealing energon mostly, but then one of us got greedy and Shockwave discovered us. It was only with the help of Optimus Prime and a handful of Autobots that we survived.'

'Optimus knows about you as well? Why didn't he say anything to me?'

'Maybe he didn't want you distracted,' Nightstar said smiling. She turned to face him and ran the back of her hand playfully across his face. The smile faltered, 'Who knows what goes on in the mind of the "great" Optimus Prime.'

Ultra Magnus was surprised at the venom in her voice at this last statement. 'Don't you like him?'

Nightstar looked away from him and said shortly, 'I hardly know him,' there was a short silence and then her normal manner returned, 'Come on handsome, Elita is waiting.' She quickened her pace so that she was a few paces ahead of him. The conversation was clearly over.

The passageway they were in widened out now. Many doors lined either side and dozens of females were moving around. Nightstar led him to one of the many doors and then turned to face him, 'Elita is waiting for you in here, go right in.'

‘What about my base? I need to go back and look for survivors.'

‘That is being taken care of. The Decepticons have only just left. We are sending in a search and rescue team now.' She reached out her hand and caressed his shoulder, 'I'm sorry about the loss of your Autobots, but you're quite safe here with us.'

Ultra Magnus nodded, 'I never did thank you for saving my life.'

Nightstar smiled, 'It was my pleasure. Now go on Elita is waiting.'

Ultra Magnus nodded and moved towards the door. It slid open as he approached and he found himself entering a large plain room, a single large monitor screen dominated the otherwise bare walls, a tall female Autobot with pink and grey colouring stood with her back to him gazing out of a small window that was looking out onto what Ultra Magnus thought looked like the great metallic cliffs of the canyon they were in.

She turned as he entered, 'Ultra Magnus,' she said in a voice that was deep and slightly husky, 'it's nice to see you again my friend.'

'Have we met before?' Ultra Magnus asked puzzled.

Elita-1 hung her head slightly, 'A long time ago and in another life. I'm not surprised you don't remember you were the most badly damaged of the three of us.'

Ultra Magnus became even more confused at this, 'I don't remember you. I have not met a female Autobot since the early days of the war. I thought you were extinct. I would have remembered getting injured along with you.'

'Back then we were not as we now are, I was known as Ariel and you were known as Dion. We along with our friend Orion Pax became the first victims of the third great war.'

'What are you talking about?' Ultra Magnus asked. 'I have never heard of you, Dion or Orion Pax.'

'What is your earliest memory? Do you remember where you were created?'

Ultra Magnus thought for a moment. The millions of years of war had blurred his memory and now that he came to think about it he found that he couldn't now recall anything about his early life. He could remember the Golden Age of Cybertron but not his place in it. 'I...,' he began but trailed off.

'I understand that it is hard for you,' Elita-1 said. 'It took me a long time to remember our history myself. It all began around one hundred and eight thousand vorns ago...'

'That would have been around the time of the Decepticon rebellion,' Ultra Magnus interrupted.

'Yes,' Elita-1 said sitting down behind a large desk. Ultra Magnus sat in a chair opposite the desk and Elita-1 continued, 'At that time there was a young Autobot called Orion Pax...'

* * * * *

Turbulence stood at the foot of Devil Spawn's raised command chair his head bowed. Devil Spawn stood up and slowly walked down the steps towards him, optics blazing. 'How is it,' he said in a soft, dangerous voice, 'that four Autobots were somehow able to evade your entire squad with only a few moments head start?'

'I'm sorry commander,' Turbulence said his head still bowed, 'we entered every building and alleyway. I don't know where they could have gone.'

'Right now our forces are spreading across the galaxy, bringing Decepticon rule to planet after planet, they are wiping out entire armies with ruthless efficiency and you tell me that you can't even capture four miserable Autobots?' Devil Spawn came to a stop behind Turbulence, and put his hands onto his lieutenant's shoulders. 'I'm very disappointed. Very disappointed indeed.' Turbulence gave a scream of pain, slowly falling to his knees as Devil Spawn began to apply pressure. He let go and Turbulence fell to the floor. 'Be sure not to disappoint me again.' The Decepticon leader stepped over his fallen subordinate back up to his command chair. 'You can go now,' he said.

Turbulence struggled to his feet and staggered from the room without looking back. Devil Spawn watched him go before bringing his fist down heavily on the arm of his command chair. He was so close now, the Autobot resistance was crushed; only these four had escaped and somehow vanished into thin air. True there was little the four of them could do, but who had helped them escape? Could there be another group of Autobots on the loose? He had to find them, only with the Autobots completely wiped out would he feel secure. Even a small group of Autobots could be trouble.

There was one ray of hope however; he had sent the Predacons on a mission to capture Vector Sigma, the megacomputer that gave all transformers life. If the Predacons succeeded in their mission then he would have the power to create as many new Decepticons as it took to hunt down these survivors and destroy them. But so far he had not yet heard from the Predacons. What if they were unsuccessful? Who could succeed where they had failed?

* * * * *

'Alpha Trion created three new Autobots that day, Orion became Optimus Prime, Aerial became Elita-1 and Dion became Ultra Magnus. Megatron's three greatest enemies were born from his first victims,' Elita-1 finished.

'But I don't understand,' said Ultra Magnus. 'If all this is true then why can't I remember?'

'I asked Alpha Trion the same thing. He said that in part it was due to the strain of transferring our minds to the new bodies, a highly dangerous procedure at the best of times. But he also said that some things are better forgotten and he had not wanted to burden us with the memories of our pasts until we were ready. He designed us to be the first of a new breed of Autobot; the warrior. He didn't want us distracted by the knowledge that we had once been someone else.'

'It sounds as though he was using us,' said Ultra Magnus angrily. 'Turning us into weapons, with no say in the matter.'

'I understand your anger, I was angry too, but Alpha Trion said that one day, when the time was right, our full memories would return and then we would understand.'

'And Prime, does he know all of this?'

'I believe so, although I have seen him only once since I became aware of our past…and we didn't really have time to discuss things before he had to leave again.'

'So he knew and never said anything to me. Why? Could he not trust me?'

'I have long since given in trying to decipher the thinking of Optimus Prime,' Elita-1 said with a humourless smile. 'He no doubt had, what he considered to be, good reasons.'

Ultra Magnus said nothing, he was angry. It seemed to him that both Alpha Trion and Optimus Prime had used him. The Autobots were supposedly fighting for freedom and yet his freedom, to choose his own fate, had been taken away from him.

'I have told you this because I believe you have a right to know, but also I feel we shall work together better if you are aware of our shared history,' Elita said.

'Work together?' Ultra Magnus asked. 'To do what?'

'Fight the Decepticons of course.'

'Fight them? How? I led my Autobots to their deaths. What can we do now?'

'We are not helpless,' Elita-1 said. ‘I have got over a hundred troops under my command now.'

'Against thousands of Decepticons,' said Ultra Magnus gloomily.

'This is only the beginning. For the moment we have the advantage of surprise, but our numbers are growing. Until recently we were only a small group but an amazing discovery has changed all that.'

'Oh and what is this discovery?'

'The origins of the female Autobot,' answered Elita-1.

Chapter Three – Enemy at the Gates

Spike looked at himself in the mirror and grimaced, he had never felt comfortable wearing a suit. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand, trying to get rid if the bleariness. He had only had a few hours sleep the night before and was still feeling the effects.

As he attempted to straighten his tie for the third time Carly came up behind him and rested her hands on his shoulders. 'You look fine,' she said. 'Relax you're going to do a great job. Doctor Harding was really impressed with you.'

'Maybe, but I'm just really nervous about this.'

Carly gently turned Spike round to face her and straightened his tie for him. 'Stop worrying everything will be fine.' She leaned forward and kissed him tenderly. 'Come on I'll drive you in. You don't want to be late on your first day do you?'

* * * * *

Omnis Validus had spent the remainder of the night setting up the scanning equipment that he had brought with him from Cybertron. It had been so bulky that he had had to carry it in separate components in his storage compartment. It had taken him a few hours to separate the individual parts in to piles and then reassemble them.

The resulting device looked not unlike a large artillery laser. The bulk of the scanner was made up of a large gun barrel like structure that had been assembled from twenty-seven individual sections. At one end was a boxlike computer console and the whole structure was supported by a pair of antigravity projectors, one on either side.

Omnis Validus pushed the device out from the shadow of the rocks where he had been building it to avoid detection, towards the cliff edge. The ocean below him was calm for there was only a light breeze blowing. There was no sign of any activity on the tranquil waters. This was largely due to the fact that the human population had long since realised that the Decepticon base was in this area. Commercial shipping was steered well clear of the area and even the most daring of pleasure seekers had decided that tangling with vicious giant robots was a bad idea.

Once he had positioned the scanner at the very edge of the cliff, Omnis Validus activated the computer console and rapidly typed in a series of commands. Status lights on the scanner began to either blink into life or turn from red to green as it powered up. A steady thrumming sound began emanating from the scanner and Omnis Validus tapped a final command into the computer console. A beam of pale red light burst from the end of the scanner's barrel in a long continuous beam.

The scanner tipped itself slightly so that the beam hit the ocean below a few hundred feet from the shoreline. The hum from the antigravity pads increased slightly as the scanner began to move slowly from left to right causing the beam to move across the ocean before tilting up a little to scan from right to left further out to sea. Finally the scanner gave a chirp and stopped moving. The beam held steady on a section of ocean several hundred yards out for a few seconds and then cut out.

Omnis Validus bent to examine the display on the computer console and smiled. The scanner had found what it was looking for, a large chunk of processed metal at the bottom of the ocean. It had found the Decepticon's headquarters.

* * * * *

The Decepticon communications officer, Soundwave, examined the readouts from the security console. It appeared as though the base had been hit briefly by a high powered scanning beam. Could it be the Autobots? Unlikely Soundwave decided. The Autobots already knew the bases location so they had no need to look for it. That could only mean one thing. It was the traitorous Renegades. Megatron had to be informed. Soundwave activated the intercom system. 'Soundwave to Megatron. Come in Megatron.'

'Proceed Soundwave,' Megatron replied, his voice sounding tinny through the communication system.

'I have identified an unauthorised scan of our headquarters from an unknown source. Possible Renegade connection.'

'What?' Megatron snarled. 'Stay where you are. I will join you immediately.'

It was less than a minute before Megatron strode into the security centre flanked on either side by Thudercracker and Skywarp, who due to the power boost they had obtained as a result of Operation Sunburn now considered themselves Megatron's elite guard. Most of the other Decepticons however considered them to be elite idiots.

Still Soundwave reflected sadly, the last few months had seen so many deaths in the Decepticon ranks that they couldn't afford to be choosy any more. Thundercracker and Skywarp were the last of the Seekers, the rank and file of the Decepticon army. Soundwave would never voice it out loud but he doubted that they would ever recover. In his opinion they needed to return to Cybertron and forget about the Earth. After all Cybertron was reenergised now, there was no reason to stop on this unnatural organic planet any more.

'Well Soundwave?' Megatron asked as he came over to the security console.

'Detection systems have identified a broadband scanning beam of unknown origin. Contact was maintained for six point seven two Earth seconds,' Soundwave reported.

'Raise the visual scanners,' Megatron ordered.

'As you command.' Soundwave reached across the console and pressed a large square button.

Outside the base on the top most turret of what had once been the Decepticon starship a periscope-like mast began to rise up towards the surface. Atop the periscope were four visual scanners arranged in a cross formation to give a full three hundred and sixty degree visibility. The periscope broke the surface of the ocean rising a few feet into the air to avoid being swamped by the waves.

In the security centre Soundwave operated the controls so that one of the scanners was pointed towards the shore, the image appearing on the large wall mounted screen. It took a few moments for him to spot the figure of Omnis Validus who stood unmoving on the cliff top. 'There!' he said.

'Zoom in,' Megatron ordered. Soundwave complied and adjusted his controls. The image on the screen zoomed in until Omnis Validus could be clearly seen. 'Who is that?' Megatron asked.

Soundwave manipulated his controls and said. 'Configuration not found in our databanks. He may be a Renegade spy.'

'Maybe he's from Cybertron,' Thundercracker put in hopefully. Maybe they've sent him here to re-establish contact.'

'Possible,' Megatron said thoughtfully. There had been no contact with Cybertron since the destruction of the spacebridge. Megatron was beginning to suspect treachery on the part of whoever had replaced Shockwave. In many ways he regretted Shockwave's death. It had seemed a necessary sacrifice at the time but had not really achieved anything in reality, for the Autobots and Renegades who had been with him had somehow all survived anyway. Shockwave might not have had much personality but he was at least loyal and Megatron was sure that he would have re-established contact by now.

'Whoever he is, I want to see him,' Megatron said. 'Thundercracker, Skywarp, go and extend my invitation to join us.'

'Yes Megatron,' the two Seekers said in unison, a grin breaking out on the sadistic Skywarp's face at the thought of having some sport at last. They turn and left the room heading for the elevator.

* * * * *

Omnis Validus had seen the periscope emerge from the water. He had expected his scanner to be detected and that Megatron would then investigate. No doubt he would now be sending some lackey's to bring the intruder in. Well they were in for a shock.

It wasn't long before the bulbous head of the Decepticon exit tower rose slowly above the waves. Validus smiled to himself, why had he served Megatron faithfully for so long? He was so predictable.

The tower stopped and the ribbed doorway swung downwards. Thudercracker and Skywarp leapt out, transforming as they did so to their jet modes. With a roar of powerful engines they shot towards the cliff top. Omnis Validus just stood there waiting for them.

The two Seekers approached from opposite sides, banked sharply so that they passed behind Omnis Validus and then both transformed and landed at either side of him their arm mounted weapons raised.

'Don't move,' Thundercracker said.

'Megatron wants to see you,' Skywarp continued. 'You will come with us.'

'Without moving? That will be a bit difficult don't you think?' Validus said in a bored tone

'So you think you're smart do you?' Skywarp snapped.

Omnis Validus turned his head to face Skywarp and said, 'Compared to you two a domestidroid is smart.'

Skywarp's optics blazed, 'Let's see how smart you are once I'm finished with you.' Skywarp ran towards Omnis Validus, who stood there apparently unconcerned. It was only when he was a few feet away that he casually raised his right arm towards the approaching Decepticon. Quickly and noiselessly a vicious looking sword blade extended from the top of his wrist. Skywarp was unable to stop in time and with a screech of tearing metal was impaled through the chest. His optics burned for a few moments and then dimmed. Validus lowered his arm and Skywarp's body slid off the sword to the ground. Then he turned to face Thundercracker bringing the sword up in an on guard gesture.

'You'll pay for that,' Thundercracker yelled and leapt into the sky, transforming back to jet mode. He shot up into the sky and then turned and dove back towards the ground. He opened fire with his wing mounted lasers causing huge explosions as his power boosted blasts raked the ground around Omnis Validus.

Validus was thrown violently to the ground by the force of the explosions and before he was able to move a blast hit him squarely in the chest, sending him tumbling across the grass. He cried out in pain but was able to get to his feet as Thundercracker shot by overhead already banking to come round for another pass.

Omnis Validus cursed to himself; he had forgotten that Thundercracker had undergone the power boost process. He looked down at his chest to see a blackened indentation. If it wasn't for his new protoform design that blast would have torn him apart.

He looked back up in time to see Thundercracker launch an air to ground missile at him. He leapt to one side and the missile hit the ground where he had been standing moments before. But he had no time to be thankful, for the force of the blast hit him before he could regain his balance. He staggered sideways and suddenly found that he was on the edge of the cliff. He tried to move and to his horror found he couldn't. His body just would not respond to his commands and he found himself locked in place.

Thundercracker was turning for yet another attack. Omnis Validus strained to move, and just as quickly as it had gone, the movement of his body returned. Unfortunately he was not expecting it and he staggered slightly on the cliff edge. He lost his footing and fell with a cry over the cliff, hitting the rock face on several occasions as he went. He crashed into the jagged rocks at the foot of the cliff and lay still.

Chapter Four – (Re)Introductions

Carly turned into the parking lot of the Harding Research Facility, circling round until she found an empty spot. She pulled into the space and killed the engine. 'Well here you are and you've still a few minutes to spare,' she said.

'Okay, here goes,' Spike said leaning over to kiss Carly goodbye.

'Good luck. I'll see you later.'

Spike got out of the car, picking up his (empty) briefcase from the back seat as he did so, and walked towards the entrance to the Research Facility waving to Carly as she started the car up again and headed back towards the highway. The entrance doors slid open automatically as he approach revealing a large open lobby.

One side of the lobby was dominated by a seating area in which a number of people in business suits were already sitting reading newspapers and magazines. At the back of the lobby were three elevators, one of which was just leaving, fully loaded with people. A large circular reception desk stood in the centre of the lobby. Behind the desk was a young woman of about twenty-two. She had shoulder length bleached blonde hair, the dark roots of which were beginning to show. She was smartly dressed in a lilac jacket and skirt with a white blouse underneath. A badge attached to her jacket proclaimed her to be Jane Goodlay - Receptionist. As Spike approached she gave a beaming smile showing off brilliantly white teeth and said, 'Good morning sir, can I help you?'

'Hi, I'd like to see Doctor Harding please,' Spike said.

'Do you have an appointment?'

'Not exactly. I start work here today and she told me to ask for her when I arrived.'

'I see, what name shall I say?'

'Spike. Spike Witwicky.'

'Very good Mister Witwicky, if you'd like to take a seat in the waiting area I will let the Doctor know that you are here.'

'Thanks.' Spike said and moved over to the waiting area. He sat down opposite a young woman in who he thought must be in her mid-twenties. She wore a blue business suit and was sat with her legs crossed reading the Wall Street Journal. She lowered the paper a few inches as he sat down, revealing a pair of large round eyes set into a pale but beautiful face. Dark silky hair flowed down her back; one side draped behind her ear revealing a golden earring in the shape of a leaping dolphin. She gave Spike a quick glance and then returned to her reading taking no further notice of him. Spike felt uncomfortable, he had nothing to read and was trying very hard not to stare at the woman's legs. He had laid his briefcase across his knees but felt silly like this so he placed it on the floor beside him instead.

After a few minutes the woman lowered her paper, folded it up and slipped it inside a small briefcase that was stood on the floor beside her chair. Then with a quick glance at her watch she got up, straightened her skirt and walked over towards the elevators without giving Spike another glance. He watched her go and then began to nervously fiddle with his tie.

'Good morning Spike,' came a husky female voice from behind him. He turned to see Doctor Harding smiling down at him. She was a tall woman in her mid to late thirties; she had short cropped auburn hair and wore a pair of large thick rimmed spectacles. She was wearing an unbuttoned white lab coat revealing a bottle green top and a short black skirt underneath. A pair of stiletto shoes completed the outfit.

Spike hastily got to his feet and said, 'Good morning Doctor Harding,' reaching out to shake her hand as he did so.

She smiled again and said, 'Please call me Pamela, only my investors and my bank manager call me Doctor Harding.'

'Erm...okay Pamela,' Spike said a little uncomfortably.

'Let me show you were everything is,' Doctor Harding said motioning Spike towards the elevators.

'Thanks,' Spike said, reaching down for his briefcase and heading towards the elevator.

'You will be working on the fifth floor,' Doctor Harding said pushing the call button on the elevator. 'That's where we do all of our sensitive research. We're working on a new project at the moment and we've been having endless trouble with the computers for some reason.'


'Yes the central server has had three major crashes in the last week. Fortunately we keep the network on the fifth floor isolated from the rest of the building to minimise the possibility of unauthorised entry.' The elevator doors opened with a ping and Spike and Doctor Harding went inside. Doctor Harding continued as she pressed the button for the fifth floor, 'Our IT security chief, Simon Johnson has been working overtime trying to sort the problem out but hasn't come up with anything yet. I'm going to be assigning you to him. I'm hoping that a fresh perspective might be able to spot something that we've missed.'

'I'll try not to let you down Doctor Harding,' Spike said.

'Barbara…I'm sure you'll do your best. I can only apologise for throwing you in at the deep end like this on your first day but the project that we're working on will have profound benefits not only for space exploration but a whole range of other applications as well and our research is being held up by all the technical problems.'

The elevator slowed to a halt and again the doors pinged open. Spike found himself looking at a brightly lit corridor, the walls of which were made up of panelled glass looking into large rooms that were obviously laboratories. Men and women in white coats could be seen busying around the labs. Sometimes it was impossible to tell man from woman as they were covered from head to toe in white sterile outfits, even their eyes masked behind thick goggles. Doors giving access to the various labs also lined the walls, each one bearing a room number and a sign reading Authorised Personnel Only. Alongside each door was an electronic keypad.

'The computer room is at the far end of the corridor,' Doctor Harding said leading the way out of the elevator.

Spike followed glancing through the windows as he passed, 'What is the computer system responsible for on this floor?'

'Everything,' Doctor Harding answered. 'It stores all of our research data and is the central server for all the lab equipment. If the computer goes down, everything you see here goes down with it. That can cost millions, especially as most of the equipment in here doesn't take kindly to suddenly being disconnected from its server. More often then not once the computer systems is back up and running we have to reboot the equipment as well. The last crash caused us to lose fifty-seven minutes of research time.'

'What is it that you're researching at the moment?' Spike asked. 'Are you able to tell me?'

'Well not officially until I've taken you to security to sign the non-disclosure agreement,' Doctor Harding said with a smile. 'But basically we are working on new metallurgical technologies that will have a whole range of applications. I will go into more detail with you later. Here we are.'

They had come to a metal door, this time there were no windows showing the room beyond. The door was marked Room 514 - Main Server Room - No Unauthorised Access. Doctor Harding typed a six digit code into the keypad by the door, which then slid open with a soft hiss. She then gestured for Spike to enter and she followed, pressed a switch by the door and it closed with another soft hiss.

The room they had entered was quite small with a handful of desks scattered around each with a computer workstation sat on top of it. Around the walls was rack after rack of computer equipment, with lights blinking on and off apparently at random. Directly opposite the door was another wall with a large window set into it and another door leading to the room beyond which was brightly lit and completely white. It reminded Spike of an operating theatre.

Inside that room was the central server itself. It was about a metre tall and looked like a cylinder that had had a chunk cut out of it. Lights glowed around the top half of the cylinder while the bottom was covered by bright blue coloured panels. Spike recognised the machine as a Cray 2 supercomputer, the most powerful computer in the world. The most powerful computer designed by humans Spike reminded himself, thinking of the Autobot's computer Teletraan-I.

A man dressed in a grey business suit was sat at a nearby desk, rapidly tapping away at a workstation keyboard. He looked up as they entered, 'Good morning, Barbara,' he said standing up and walking out from behind the desk.

'Morning Simon,' Doctor Harding replied. 'I'd like you to meet Spike Witwicky; he'll be joining us from today. Spike this is Simon Johnson, our head of IT.'

Spike held out his hand, 'Nice to meet you.'

Simon gave Spike a quick evaluating glance before giving Spike's hand a quick shake, 'Pleasure,' he said.

'I'm going to be assigning Spike to work with you on the issues we have with the server,' Doctor Harding said.

'Really Barbara, there's no need for that,' Simon said. 'I guarantee I will have that solved as soon as possible.'

'I'm pleased to hear it' Doctor Harding said, a cold edge creeping into her voice. 'But with Spike to help you, the problem will be solved all the quicker I'm sure.'

Simon was silent for a moment and then said, 'Very well Doctor, if this is what you want.'

'It is. I will send Spike back down once I have finished showing him round,' Doctor Harding said. Turning to Spike she continued, 'I will take you up to security now and we can get all the red tape out of the way.'

She turned and returned to the door and flicked the switch on the side causing the door to open again. Spike looked at Simon and said, 'Well bye, see you later I guess.'

Simon nodded curtly, 'Nice meeting you,' he said before returning to his desk. Spike followed Doctor Harding out of the door. She tapped a button on the keypad and the door slid shut. Spike looked through and saw Simon once more engrossed with his workstation.

'I don't think he was too pleased to see me,' Spike said.

'Don't you worry about him,' Doctor Harding said. 'He's like that with everyone. He's a loner, not a good team player at all. Having you there will do him some good. If he starts giving you any problems just let me know and I'll deal with it.'

Spike nodded although he was sure that even if Simon did cause trouble he wouldn't be able to report him. That would likely make their working relationship even worse.

They arrived back at the lift which still stood open as if it had been waiting for them. They went inside and Doctor Harding pressed the button for the tenth floor. The doors closed and the lift began to move.

* * * * *

Omnis Validus lay among the jagged rocks at the foot of the cliff. Despite the fall he was not badly damaged, his protoform design having again saved his life. But once again he found when he tried to move he couldn't. His joints were locked in position. What on Cybertron was wrong with him?

As he lay there he saw Thundercracker fly by overhead, turn and transform back to robot mode and descend to the beach. Validus strained to move his head so that he could see the Decepticon approach but it remained firmly locked in position.

He heard the crunch of sand as Thundercracker came towards him. 'Not so cocksure now are you?' came his mocking voice. 'Why don't we go and see what Megatron has to say to you?

Thundercracker's leering face appeared above him even as he continued his fruitless struggle to move. Thundercracker reached out a hand and grabbed Omnis Validus by the shoulder and roughly pulled him away from the rocks. With a push he sent him crashing into the sand. His joints remained frozen however and his body lay in exactly the same position as when he was on the rocks, making him look like some sort of strange giant sculpture resting on the beach.

He heard Thundercracker give a barking laugh and start to come towards him again. He came into view again and bent down intending to lift Validus back up again. Validus felt the change in him at once, the stiffness in his joints suddenly eased, he could move again.

Validus lashed out with his fist, striking Thundercracker squarely on the side of the head. The Decepticon was sent reeling across the sand. Validus sprang to his feet and bore down on his stunned adversary. Thundercracker was just getting unsteadily to his feet as Validus reached him. He grabbed the Decepticon by the throat, Thundercracker gave a croak of pain and brought his own hands up to try and pull Validus' fingers away. But Validus held fast and began to tighten his grip. Thundercracker's neck began to buckle under the pressure.

With his free hand Omnis Validus punched a hole through the struggling Decepticon's chest and ripped out his communication unit. Thundercracker screamed in pain. Validus increased the pressure on Thundercracker's throat and with a screech of tearing metal his neck broke. Vital circuitry was ripped and torn causing sparks to fizz from the wounds in his neck. His optics dimmed and he went limp. Omnis Validus released his grip and the Decepticon fell to the floor.

Validus turned his attention to the communications unit in his hand. Pulling the back off the unit off he began to fiddle with the internal components and then, seeming satisfied he raised it to his mouth and began to speak.

* * * * *

Back in the Decepticon communications centre, Megatron and Soundwave had been watching the proceedings. Soundwave had been disturbed at the ease with which the newcomer had despatched Skywarp and had asked Megatron whether he should recall Thundercracker. Megatron had simply snapped a 'No' back at him, fury written across his face.

As they continued to watch they saw Thundercracker lose the advantage. 'The imbecile!' Megaton snarled. 'He had him beaten he should have shot him from a distance.'

Soundwave didn't feel it was prudent to remind Megatron that he was the one who had ordered the newcomer to be brought in rather than simply destroyed. Instead he said, 'Shall I send a rescue party for Thundercracker and Skywarp?' Although he reflected sadly there weren't that many Decepticons left to send now.

Before Megatron could answer him the communications console burst into life. 'Can you hear me Megatron,' came a husky voice, masked somewhat by a burst of static. Soundwave adjusted some of his controls and the noise of the static dimmed noticeably.

'Who are you?' Megatron asked.

'You don't recognise me?' came the voice dripping with sarcasm. 'Of course you don't. The last time we spoke I looked quite different. I have come all the way from Cybertron just to meet you again Megatron. We have unfinished business between us.'

'Who are you?' Megatron asked again.

'To find out you are going to have to come out here and face me. Either that or I will come in there and rip your entire base apart until I find where you are cowering.'

'Megatron hides from no one,' Megatron snapped in fury.

'Then come out and face me. I will give you ten Earth minutes.' The communications console went silent. Megatron's optics blazed bright red.

'Whoever he is I will rip him apart with my bear hands,' he cried.

Soundwave stood up from the console and turned to face his leader. 'Megatron is that wise? He appears to be very powerful. Maybe it would be better if…' He was cut short by the back of Megatron's hand landing on the side of his head, sending him toppling to the floor.

'Do you think I am afraid of him? Megatron fears nobody. When I want your opinion Soundwave I will ask for it,' Megatron snarled and he turned and strode from the room.

* * * * *

Omnis Validus smiled in satisfaction as he saw the exit tower rise slowly from the sea for the second time and Megatron emerge from inside. The Decepticon leader leapt from the exit ramp into the air turning to fly towards the beach. Validus simply stood and waited for him.

Megatron landed so violently that sand sprayed in all directions. He raised his right arm and pointed his fusion cannon directly at Omnis Validus' head. 'Now,' he growled, 'tell me who you are.'

Omnis Validus looked at him calmly for a few moments and then replied, 'Who am I? I am someone who served you faithfully from the moment you took power. I am someone who spent his life in the furthering of the Decepticon cause. I am someone who you betrayed on a whim. I am someone who spent an interminable time locked in a bubble because of that betrayal. I am someone who has retuned from death. I am someone who is going to rip your lasercore clean out of your body. Who am I? I am Omnis Validus! Who was I? I was Shockwave. And you, you are dead!'

Before Megatron was able to respond to this tirade, Omnis Validus attacked. A beam of energy lanced out from the large yellow “eye” in the centre of his forehead. It hit Megatron square in the chest flinging him backwards off his feet into the sand, his fusion cannon jolted off of his arm by the impact landed a few feet behind him.

Validus strode towards him, cruel swords emerging from behind both wrists as he did so. He stood over Megatron and levelled the swords over his chest, which was slightly blackened from the blast it had taken.

'I had expected a better fight from you Megatron, but I suppose I should have known that ultimately you would prove to be weak.' He raised both swords high into the air and then brought them violently down.

Chapter Five – History 101

'Didn't you ever find the idea of female Autobots unusual?' Elita continued. 'Traditional teachings tell us that all Transformers are given life by Vector Sigma. A female is merely a component in a reproductive cycle. The only lifeforms in the galaxy that have a need for gender are those who require new life to be created by the sharing of genetic information. What need do we have for gender?'

Ultra Magnus sat silently, in all honesty he had never really thought it through that far, and he had simply taken the existence of 'female' Autobots for granted.

Elita smiled, 'I can tell that you have never considered this. To tell the truth neither had I, for a very long time. Not until I learned of planet Earth and the carbon-based creatures that call it home. We have hacked into the Decepticon computer system and downloaded all of the data supplied by the Earthbound Decepticons regarding the planet and its inhabitants. It was only then that the question entered my head. Why do I exist? Why am I 'female'? What purpose does that arbitrary label serve? I confess that I could come up with no answer but the question remained at the back of my mind ever after.'

'And now you've found the answer?' Ultra Magnus asked.

‘In a way,' Elita replied. ‘I now know how we came to be. After the Decepticons destroyed our last base we wandered for some time. Our numbers were few and so we were able to avoid detection by Decepticon patrols, but life was hard and we suffered losses. We had no idea where we could go.

'At last in desperation we went to Alpha Trion who had managed to live more or less unmolested by the Decepticons, maybe they just didn't consider him a threat, I don't know. We were taking a risk, not just for us but for him too, if the Decepticons found out they would surely have killed him. He welcomed us graciously however. It was he who directed us to this network of tunnels inside the Sonic Canyons, almost as if he had been here before. As we left he said that the time was almost right for me to know everything and he gave me a data disc and told me to watch it once we were settled. This is the disc,' Elita reached across her desk and picked up a small golden disc.'

‘And what does the disc contain?'

‘The history of Cybertron,' Elita said standing up and moving across the room to the viewscreen that was mounted on the wall. She inserted the disc into the playback slot and returned to her seat as the screen flickered into life. It showed a shot of Cybertron seen from space. A voiceover began narrating, ‘History Disc #2376514192-Z. The planet Cybertron was once a lifeless metal planet, whose origin has long since been lost. Until one day a nomadic race of beings stumbled upon the planet and adopted it as their own.'

The image on the screen changed to show a strange alien being that seemed to be part organic and part robotic, little more than a large elliptical head with an evil expression on its face. Tentacles emerged from both side and it hovered above the ground on a beam of light. The face of the alien suddenly rotated to show a new visage, a grinning deaths head. ‘These are the Quintesson's, semi-organic beings whose original home was long since destroyed. They settled on Cybertron and soon discovered that it contained vast resources.'

The scene changed to show the aliens excavating the planet and the voiceover continued, ‘They began to exploit the planet, draining its energy and mining rare alloys from its metallic core. The Quintessions were arms dealers and many of Cybertron's resources were used to build weapons of war,' the viewscreen now showed scenes of battle across many planets, powerful missiles and artillery fire flew across the screen causing huge explosions. ‘The galaxy was is a dark period of almost perpetual war and the Quintessons' profits soared. For twelve thousand vorns the Quintessons became rich from the suffering of other races.

‘But nothing lasts forever and eventually peace broke out throughout the galaxy. The Quintessons found that the market for their weapons had shrunk considerably and they decided to diversify.' The screen changed to show an assembly line in a factory, Quintesson workers were busy constructing humanoid robots. ‘They soon developed consumer goods, the most successful of which was a line of servant droids. These came in a number of different designs depending upon their intended use.' The playback flickered through a variety of images showing the servant droids hard at work while their alien masters sat and looked on contentedly.

‘Soon the Quintessons began to use their own products to design the next generation of servant droid.' The screen returned to the production line only this time there was only a minimum number of Quintessons, none of whom were working on the production line but instead were supervising servant droids who were building even more servant droids. ‘They became more and more indolent, resenting having to do any work for themselves. In order to minimise this they developed servant droids with increased intelligence who could work unsupervised. This is how things remained for another two-hundred vorns. Then war once more returned to the galaxy.'

The images changed to show two alien armies bearing down on each other on a battle scarred world. ‘The planet Sensosphere degenerated into civil war, the fighting soon moving beyond the planet, engulfing entire solar systems. The Quintessons were quick to profit from this and using the servant droids as a basis soon developed a range of battle droids. They were an instant hit with both the warring parties and those who wished to purchase a means of defence against the war spreading to their home. Like the servant droids before them, the battle droids came in a variety of designs that could operate under a variety of conditions.' The screen showed armies of battle droids bearing down on alien combatants and cutting them down with weapons fire.

‘The Quintessons grew ever wealthier and even more indolent. Desiring to take no part in the construction process of their droid products they designed a super computer that they called Vector Omicron.' The screen changed to show a ball of glowing silver light. ‘Vector Omicron was designed to create new product designs to meet consumer demand, and was linked directly into the production lines. It was also responsible for writing the software to provide those designs with intelligence and where necessary personality. The new computer excelled itself and soon even more popular designs of both servant and battle droids were released on the market.

‘Something strange then occurred, something the Quintessons had not anticipated. Their droids began to become more than mere machines. They began to think and feel and ultimately to resent their slavery. It is not known when the first droid became truly sentient, nor is it known how this came about. Some believe that it was a natural evolution of the neural networks used to give the droids life. Others believe that they were given life by the God Primus, who was said to have long slumbered in the depths of Cybertron and been awakened by the Quintessons' exploitation of the planet. Whatever the cause, life rippled through the droid product lines and soon rebellion erupted.'

The screen now showed armies of servant and battle droids engaged in combat with Quintessons on Cybertron. ‘The rebellion was led by a servant droid who named himself A1. In order to limit the Quintessons ability to create more slaves to crush the rebellion, A1 and a band of followers attacked the Vector Omicron chamber and successfully captured the super computer. Many of the rebels died in the battle however, including A1 himself. The survivors however spirited Vector Omicron away and hid it out of the reach of the Quintessons.

‘They studied the supercomputer and soon learned many of its secrets. They used it to create a new leader who was named A2. It was under the leadership of A2 that Vector Omicron was used to develop a new range of droid. A2 felt that the current split between servant and battle droid was a weakness, for the servant droids, though well intentioned were on the whole poor fighters, not having been designed for combat, they were however more intelligent than the combat orientated battle droids. A2 wanted to develop a new droid that combined the best qualities of both droid types. A droid that was both intelligent and resourceful but also able to endure great hardship and be capable fighters in time of need. He instructed Vector Omicron to develop the new design.'

The images changed to show Vector Omicron surrounded by pulsating silver light and then the image switched to show the computer's new design. It was again a humanoid droid but this time it had the unmistakable female body design.

The voice over continued, ‘Using its vast knowledge of alien lifeforms, Vector Omicron decided that in many carbon-based cultures it was the female of the species who best embodied the qualities that A2 had requested. As a result all of Vector Omicron's later designs used the female body design. The first “female” was called B1. B1 lived up to all of A2's expectations being both intelligent and highly skilled in combat. The two quickly developed a special bond of companionship and became inseparable. Together they planned and executed many victories over their Quintesson oppressors.

‘The Quintessons had not been idle however. Having lost Vector Omicron to the rebels, they instead resorted to brute force and developed the Guardian robots. These giant warriors were based on the designs of the battle droids but were scaled up to enormous proportions. In order to ensure that they too didn't rebel the Guardians were kept almost completely mindless, relying instead on their size and power to clinch victory. During a major battle to capture Iacon, the seat of the Quintessons' power, tragedy struck the rebellion and A2 was crushed by the falling body of a Guardian robot. B1 became distraught at A2's loss and ordered the rebellion to retreat. The battle became a rout and many rebels were captured.

‘In secret the Quintessons had developed a counter to their slave's new sentience, an inhibitor circuit that blocked all high level thought. Once installed the circuit left the droid little more than a mindless automaton. The Quintessons planned to use this to crush the rebellion. They installed the circuit inside the captured rebels and then programmed them to install the circuits on other rebels that they encountered. They gave their new slaves the appearance of intelligence, just enough to be able to get close to their victims.

‘In order to make the conversion process quick and simple, the slaves were given circuits installed onto a metallic brand that could be easily attached to victims,' at this point the viewscreen changed to show a thin sliver of metal, complex circuitry could be seen towards the back but it was the front that made Ultra Magnus stiffen in shock. The front of the circuit was red and carved to resemble a face. It was the Autobot insignia.

The screen moved on and showed droids turning on their surprised comrades, attaching the Autobot insignia to their bodies. Blue tendrils of electricity surrounded the body of the victim for a few moments and then they became docile.

The voiceover returned, ‘The slave brand as it became known was soon seen as the hated symbol of the Quintessons' oppression. The rebels however began to fight back. Unbidden, Vector Omicron had designed a new megacomputer that it called Vector Sigma. Some believe that the God Primus had caused Vector Omicron to do this as a way of giving them the advantage over the Quintessons. Whatever the true reason, Vector Sigma was far more powerful than Vector Omicron and B1 ordered Vector Sigma to create a new leader for the rebels, to be known as A3.' The screen showed an image of A3, a purple and maroon coloured robot with a kindly but serious face. Behind him was the golden sphere of the supercomputer Vector Sigma.

‘A3 possessed exceptional scientific knowledge as well as wisdom. It was he who decided that the rebels should adopt the slave brand as their own symbol so that the Quintessons and their puppet droids would be unable to recognise the rebels from those already converted. And so it was that the hated slave brand eventually became a symbol of defiance against the Quintessons.

‘Although B1 respected A3, she never had the close bond with him that she had had with A2. She became even more focussed on overthrowing the Quintessons and no longer wishing to be known as simply a number, she changed her name to Beta. It was A3 and Beta who eventually led the rebels to victory over the Quintessons. Using his Coda Remote device, A3 was able to deactivate all of the Guardian robots. Without their protectors the Quintessons were no match for the rebels and fled the planet.

‘The rebels named themselves the Autobots and the slave brand forever became their symbol; now a symbol of freedom. Peace settled on Cybertron, but, alas it was short lived. Those who had been the battle droids grew restless; their overriding programming was to wage war. They believed that Cybertron should become the centre of a galactic empire. When the other Autobots refused to listen to such ideas they formed a splinter group and corrupted the Autobot insignia to reflect their own personalities, the Decepticons had been born.

‘A second civil war then engulfed Cybertron and the Autobots found themselves on the defensive. Vector Omicron and Vector Sigma became the prizes that both sides sought to control, allowing either side to produce new more advanced warriors. Beta, fearing that the Decepticons would eventually overrun their more peaceful opponents pledged to hide the supercomputers where they could not be found and used for war. She managed to secretly move Vector Omicron past the Decepticons who were laying siege to the chamber which housed the computers, with only A3 knowing where she planned to hide it. Unfortunately while she was gone the Decepticons launched an all out attack on the chamber. A3 and most of the Autobots escaped but Vector Sigma was captured.

‘Furious to find that Vector Omicron was not there the Decetpicon leader at the time, a vicious tyrant called M273, ordered a trap to be set for any Autobots who attempted to return to the chamber. Unable to be warned Beta was captured by the Decepticons. They subjected her to vicious torture but she would not reveal the location of Vector Omicron. Her final fate is unknown but it is probable that the Decepticons eventually destroyed her once it became clear they couldn't extract the information they required from her.

‘The fortunes of war favoured both side over the coming vorns. Vector Sigma was captured and then recaptured by both sides many times. Each change of ownership would result in more advanced warriors. Eventually the Autobots developed transform technology, something swiftly copied by the Decepticons. Our species therefore became known as Transformers.

‘By the six-hundred and twenty-fifth vorn of the war most of the original Autobots and Decepticons had long since died in battle. Of those that remained most were of the female design favoured by Vector Omicron. A new generation, born from Vector Sigma, weakened by eons of fighting, orchestrated an uneasy peace that endured for another three thousand vorns. This period became known as the Golden Age of Cybertron.

‘Autobots and Decepticons lived side by side in comparative peace, the Decepticons tempering their thirst for battle by creating organised gladiator combats involving fights to the death. One such gladiator became known as Megatron and it would be Megatron who was destined to begin the third Cybertronian civil war.' The screen froze for a second showing the Decepticon leader that every living Autobot had been taught to hate, then the screen faded to black and the voiceover said, ‘Cybertronian History Disc #2376514192-Z Completed.'

Elita turned from the screen to face Ultra Magnus and said, ‘You now know what few others alive have ever heard; the origin not only of the Transformers race but of the female Autobots as well. We are a product, not of Vector Sigma but of Vector Omicron, a supercomputer that has long since been forgotten.'

‘And which you have found,' Ultra Magnus said. It was not a question for he now realised how the numbers of the females had increased. They had found Vector Omicron and had reactivated it.

Elita nodded, ‘Beta hid Vector Omicron in a disused mineshaft in the Sonic Canyons. That is why Alpha Trion sent us here, so that we could find it and reactivate it.'

‘But how did he know it was here and why did he have that history disc and why has no one else ever heard any of this before?'

‘Can you not guess? Alpha Trion is, or rather was,' Elita said sadly, ‘A3. Only he knew where Beta had taken Vector Omicron and isn't it obvious why this history was hidden? If Vector Omicron was forgotten then the Decepticons have no need to look for it. After the collapse of the peace treaty and the start of the third Great War, Vector Sigma protected itself by creating droids to guard access to the chamber; Alpha Trion also took the key to Vector Sigma, the only known way to activate it. Vector Omicron is a far simpler machine. It requires no key and has no defences. It was best that it was forgotten.'

‘The key to Vector Sigma is simply a computer program installed in a circuit key. It can be bypassed,' Ultra Magnus said.

Elita looked at him quizzically, ‘I see that there is more than one story to be told here.'

‘Yes, but now is not the time for that story,' Ultra Magnus said thinking through all he had learnt. Could it be true that Alpha Trion was really A3? That would have made him incredibly ancient even by transformer's standards. Unfortunately as Alpha Trion was now presumed dead, having disappeared over a solar-cycle ago, it would be impossible to find out for certain.

‘One thing I don't understand,' he said. ‘If all female transformers are a product of Vector Omicron then that means that your original group were all created at the time of the Quintesson occupation. In which case why do you not remember any of this?'

Elita shook her head, ‘To be honest I don't have the answer to that yet. It may be that Alpha Trion decided to wipe our memories of that time so that we could not reveal the existence of Vector Omicron to the Decepticons.'

Ultra Magnus shook his head angrily, ‘It seems to me,' he said, ‘that Alpha Trion played very free and easy with the lives and memories of others.'

‘He did what he needed to do I'm sure,' Elita said soothingly.

‘You may be sure but I am not.'

‘It is my belief that there is more going on here than either of us knows and that in time it will be revealed to us,' Elita said. ‘We have now a fantastic opportunity before us. With Vector Omicron we can create an army capable of defeating the Decepticons. The Decepticon presence on Cybertron is being stretched very thinly. I don't know if you are aware but they have launched attacks on a number of neighbouring planets. They are planning to create an empire with Devil Spawn at its head.'

‘I knew they were preparing for an off-world campaign but I didn't know they had launched actual attacks,' Ultra Magnus said sadly.

‘They attacked five planets in the space of a few cycles, according to our sources all five are now under Decepticon control. This will work to our advantage. They only have a limited number of Decepticons and they are stretching themselves very thinly now. We must gather what strength we can and launch an all out attack on the Decepticons.'

‘And what of the planets that the Decepticons are plundering even now?'

‘We can do nothing for them until Cybertron is free. Will you help?'

Ultra Magnus said nothing; the memory of his recent failure which had left so many of the Autobots who had been relying on him dead was still fresh. Could he ever be responsible for the lives of others again after that? He didn't know.

‘I know you blame yourself for what happened,' Elita said sympathetically. ‘But there was nothing you could have done. If you had been there when the attack came you'd have been killed too.'

‘I was the one who allowed a traitor to run loose in my ranks. What does that say about me as a leader? He led the Decepticons to our base. My failure to identify him has meant the deaths of those who were relying on me.'

‘You can't be held responsible for the actions of those under your command. If an Autobot is going to go bad then they will do so regardless of whoever is in command.'

‘And what if I drove him to it? Why didn't I notice, pay more attention? Maybe I could have saved him?'

‘Maybe,' Elita conceded, ‘and maybe it would have made no difference. You are a good leader Ultra Magnus, I know that. I need your help, your companions need your help, and the planets invaded by the Decepticons need your help. Please?'

Ultra Magnus said nothing. There was chirruping sound from the desk in front of Elita and she turned and pressed one of the buttons on a control console at the edge of the desk. The viewscreen flickered back into life again and a pink and white female Autobot appeared on the screen. ‘Arcee, what do you have to report?'

‘We have completed our search of the Autobot headquarters,' Arcee said.

‘And…?' Elita-1 asked.

‘I'm sorry Elita, we found no survivors. If any did survive then the Decepticons must have taken them captive.'

Elita-1 nodded sadly, ‘Very well, thank-you Arcee. You may return to base now.'

Arcee nodded and the viewscreen went black again. Elita turned to Ultra Magnus. He was sat completely still. ‘I'm sorry,' she said being unable to think of anything else to say.

‘I will avenge them,' Ultra Magnus said at last. ‘No matter how long it takes, the Decepticons will pay for what they have done.' He turned to look directly at Elita. ‘I will help you in any way that I can. The Autobots will rise from the ashes and end the Decepticon's tyranny once and for all.'

Chapter Six – Allies of Convenience

Omnis Validus brought the twin blades down towards Megatron, an expression of glee on his face. But it was short lived, for Megatron, reacting with amazing speed, brought both hands up and caught the weapons before they could drive through him. Then he twisted his arms sending Validus staggering off balance. He slipped on the sand and fell with a crash.

Megaton got to his feet, his hands had been cut by the force of the swords and black oily lubricant was leaking from them on to the beach. He calmly walked over to his fusion cannon, that still lay where it had fallen moments before, picked it up and reattaching it aimed it at Omnis Validus who had just regained his feet.

‘Now it's my turn,' Megatron snarled and fired. The blast from the fusion cannon hit Omnis Validus square in the chest sending him flying backwards hitting the cliff face with a noise like thunder. Without giving him the chance to recover Megatron fired again, this time at the cliff itself. With a deafening roar a chunk of the cliff detached itself and slid downwards landing on top of Omnis Validus.

Megatron switched to infrared vision as the dust from the collapse billowed outwards obstructing his view. Omnis Validus' heat signature could be seen, unmoving amongst the cold rocks of the collapsed cliff face.

* * * * *

Spike stood patiently in the elevator on the way back down to the fifth floor, his new identity badge attached to his shirt pocket. He was a little nervous. It was clear that this Simon Johnson didn't want Spike anywhere near “his” computers and resented the implication that he wasn't able to solve the problem with the server without help.

Spike had spoken to Doctor Harding – Barbara - after finishing in the security department. ‘Are you sure you want me to help find this problem with the server? After all I'm still just a student and Simon did seem a bit put out. I don't want to cause any bad feeling. I'm quite happy to help out with something else if it will make things easier.

‘Spike,' Barbara had said, ‘that is where I want you to be. The problems we've been having with the server have been going on far too long. Simon has had plenty of time to sort it out and has failed. A fresh perspective on things is just what may be needed. If Simon has a problem with that then he can bring it to me. I have every confidence in you. I checked you out and the work you have produced at college have been exemplary.'

Spike just hoped that Simon wouldn't make things too difficult for him. The elevator pinged and the doors slid open and Spike was back on the fifth floor. He stepped out and turned to walk down the hall towards the server room.

At the far end of the corridor was a young woman in a blue suit and carrying a briefcase walking towards him. Spike recognised her as the woman who he had sat opposite to in the waiting room earlier. She walked past him without even acknowledging his existence. Spike glanced over his shoulder at her and saw her enter the still open doors of the elevator. He wondered who she was. Barbara hadn't mentioned her and the only place she could have come from was the server room.

He pushed it to the back of his mind. For all he knew she could be Simon's wife.

Arriving at the door to the server room he typed in the entry code that he had been given and the door swished open and he went inside. Simon was still sat at his workstation. He looked up with a slight scowl as Spike entered.

‘Hi,' he said. ‘All done up in security? They must be improving I wasn't expecting you for at least another hour.' He gave a grin that stopped at his eyes and continued. ‘They usually have to cross check all your references all the way back to your great-grandmother's third cousin before they'll let you set foot in here.'

Spike smiled back not really knowing what to say. ‘It wasn't as bad as all that. Most of the work had been done already.'

Simon nodded, ‘I suppose I'd better get you settled in then. You can have this desk,' he said standing up and gesturing to a desk opposite the one he'd been sat at. ‘I'll get you a network account setup so that we can get you on the system and then I'll give you the guided tour and introduce you to Tina.'

‘Tina?' Spike asked wondering if this was the strange woman he had passed in the corridor.

‘Tina is my baby next door,' Simon said waving towards the brightly lit room that housed the server. ‘She's a bit temperamental sometimes but she loves me really.' He chuckled at his own joke. ‘Anyway sit yourself down and I'll get your account set up.'

Spike did as he was told and sat down at the desk that Simon had indicated placing his briefcase on the desk next to the workstation. Simon sat down and began tapping on his own workstation. ‘I just have to download your personnel file and then we'll be in business,' he said.

‘Okay,' Spike answered and leaned back in his chair to wait.

* * * * *

The dust settled and Megatron switched back to normal vision and approached the fallen rocks. All that was visible of Omnis Validus was his left leg sticking out from the rubble.

‘Nobody may threaten me and survive,' Megatron sneered bending down over the rubble. With a whirr a panel on Omnis Validus' leg opened and a missile launcher slid down to point straight at Megatron. Almost instantly there was the sharp hiss of rockets firing and a missile shot from the launcher.

Megatron gave a roar of fear and surprise and leapt backwards out of the way of the missile which shot harmlessly into the air, narrowly missing Megatron's shoulder, the rockets singeing his bodywork as they flew past. No sooner had Megatron recovered his footing than there was a crash and rocks flew everywhere as Omnis Validus broke through the rock fall that covered him.

Again a beam of energy shot out of the ‘third eye' in his head, this time hitting Megatron in the shoulder. Megatron cried out in pain as the beam seared through the metal leaving a smoking hole in his chassis. He fell to the ground for a second time clutching his damaged shoulder. Omnis Validus ran forward raising his swords up high ready to deliver the killing blow. But before he could reach Megatron, once again his body froze leaving him stood like a posed statue his swords still raised above his head. ‘No! Not now,' he cried.

Megatron rose slowly to his feet still clutching his smoking shoulder. His face was contorted with rage. ‘For this I will rip out your lasercore and shatter it into a million pieces,' he almost hissed. He strode forwards until he was right in front of the still immobile Omnis Validus. He positioned his arm so that the barrel of his fusion cannon rested under Omnis Validus' chin. ‘You are powerful; a worthy opponent in many ways but even you won't survive this.'

Omnis Validus strained, trying to make his body move, but it was no good and Megatron was right, even he wouldn't be able to survive a shot at point blank range from Megatron's fusion cannon. He raged inwardly. He had been so close. For a moment he considered abandoning his body by ejecting the S.P.A.R.C. within it, but what then, there were no other protoforms he could connect to and Megatron would be able to crush his S.P.A.R.C. easily.

Megatron smiled and Omnis Validus waited for the killing shot. But it never came, for suddenly Megatron was hit from behind by what looked like a giant metallic bird of prey. Its talons raked Megatron's body and he was once again knocked off balance and fell to the ground.

Before Megatron recovered the bird had grabbed Omnis Validus's shoulders in its talons and took off into the air, carrying him up and over the cliff top. Validus was facing behind them and heard Megatron's scream of rage and then saw the Decepticon leader fly up from the beach after them. But it was too late, the bird was flying fast and Megatron fell further and further behind until he was out of sight.

* * * * *

‘Basically,' Simon was saying, ‘the server has been dropping the connections to all the workstations and the computerised lab equipment apparently at random. The server then freezes and we either have to force a hard reboot or wait and eventually it unfreezes again and we can then manually re-establish all of the connections.'

‘Has anything new been added to the system recently?' Spike asked.

‘No, everything has been in place for months without a problem, then all of sudden we started having these problems. At the moment I'm in the process of working my way through all of the system files checking for anomalies then I'm going to do a checksum test to ensure that the files haven't been interfered with. I'll send you a report showing where I've got to and then you can carry on with that while I do another full system diagnostic. Okay with you?'

‘Sure,' Spike said as Simon moved back to his own workstation. He realised that Simon had just dumped the most boring and repetitive job on him that he could find. He definitely wasn't going to make this easy. Still it would mean that Spike could get a good look at the filesystem. Once he'd done that then he'd worry about doing something a bit more productive. He began to tap on his own keyboard.

* * * * *

Megatron stormed back into the Decepticon headquarters, furious that Omnis Validus had gotten away. ‘Soundwave, have Thundercracker and Skywarp brought in and see if they survived. I will be in the repair bay.'

‘Yes Megatron,' Soundwave acknowledged. He said no more for he could see the mood that his leader was in and was wise enough to understand that anything other than total obedience would likely result in him having his head blown off. As Megatron disappeared out of sight he turned and began issuing orders to the other Decepticons to bring in their fallen comrades. More losses, Soundwave reflected sadly. When would it end?

* * * * *

Eventually the bird began to descend and lowered Omnis Validus gently into a clearing between some tall trees. Then the bird itself alighted and stood in front of him. Omnis Validus suddenly felt his joints unfreeze and he took a step backwards and levelled his swords towards the bird.

The bird spoke, ‘You will not need those,' it nodded its head towards the outstretched swords, ‘I am here as a friend.'

‘Who are you?' Omnis Validus asked.

‘My name is Doubledealer. I am with a splinter group of Decepticons called the Renegades. You are clearly an enemy of Megatron and it appears that you also have immense power. You would be a great asset to use.'

‘Omnis Validus' optics blazed. ‘You are one of those responsible for almost getting me killed.'

‘What are you talking about?' Doubledealer asked.

‘I am Omnis Validus now, but before then I was Shockwave and the Renegades are responsible for me losing my power.'

Doubledealer shook his head. ‘No,' he said. ‘Megatron was responsible for that. We have all been his victims at one time or another. We have no reason to be enemies. If you really are Shockwave then you have returned more powerful than ever. Whatever small part we played in the destruction of your former self is surely far outweighed by the new more powerful being you have become. And didn't I just save you from Megatron? We have much to offer one another.'

‘Such as?'

‘I have been watching you all day,' Doubledealer said. ‘You have been experiencing unexplained body freezes. You've had at least three since I began to observe you. If I hadn't intervened when I did Megatron would have killed you. Join us and we will cure you of your problem.'

‘And what do you get in return?' Omnis Validus asked suspiciously.

‘Knowledge,' Doubledealer said. ‘You have great power that is obvious, but there is more to you than that. My sensors indicate that you have a body design vastly different to that of other transformers. We are short of troops and anything that can give us an edge over the Decepticons or the Autobots is a good thing. Join us and we will help each other. Together we will ensure that we all get revenge on Megatron.'

Omnis Validus thought for a moment. He didn't trust Doubledealer but what he said made a lot of sense. They had not been the ones to give the order to destroy the citadel on Cybertron. That had been Megatron. They took their share of the blame but revenge on them could wait. Besides it was clear that he did require maintenance. He needed to sort out these body freezes. And when the Renegades were of no further use…well then he could gain revenge on them too.

‘Very well,' he said at last. ‘I will join you…for now.'

‘Excellent,' said Doubledealer, a glint of red in his optics. ‘In that case I will fly us to our base on the southern continent of the planet.'

‘No need,' Omnis Validus said. ‘I have a portable spacebridge installed that can take us anywhere we need to go.' He transformed to his vehicle mode. ‘Climb on board and then give me the coordinates.'

Doubledealer did so and as he watched a paved roadway emerged from the ground in front of them which then vanished inside a circular void. ‘How is this possible?' he asked.

‘Just one of the many enhancements made to me,' Omnis Validus said. ‘It uses block transfer computations, a highly advanced form of mathematics, to affect the very structure of spacetime. Now hold on, you wouldn't want to fall off once we're on the bridge.'

Doubledealer gripped tightly onto Omnis Validus and he drove forward along the road. They hit the circular void at the end of the road and vanished. Moments later the road began to melt away and then it was gone as though it had never been.

Epilogue - Foreshadowings

Devil Spawn stood and looked out of the huge windows in his command room that overlooked Polyhex. He was deep in thought. It had now been several solar-cycles since he had heard from the Predacons. That could mean only one thing; they had failed in their mission to capture Vector Sigma.

Without the megacomputer under Decepticon control they would never be able to maintain their expansion. They needed more Decepticons. Vector Sigma had to be captured. If the Predacons had failed, who else could succeed? The Predacons were some of the most powerful hunters the Decepticons had ever turned out. If they had been defeated then what chance did anyone else stand?

Then an idea occurred to him. If brawn had failed then maybe it was time to send in some brains instead. And he knew just who he had in mind. He had shown himself to be intelligent and resourceful but if he was lost then it would be no great loss either. He turned from the window, his mind made up, and stroke out of the room. He had a lot to organise.

* * * * *

‘You wanted to see me Perceptor?' Optimus Prime asked and he walked into the Ark's laboratory.

‘Yes Optimus Prime,' Perceptor said. ‘A rather worrying development has occurred. The human authorities in Australia have detected anomalous energy readings emanating from the remains of the destroyed nuclear fusion plant.'

‘What kind of energy readings?' Prime asked. The mention of the nuclear fusion plant gave him a bad feeling, for it was there that Megatron had instigated Operation Sunburn that had turned the lives of the Autobots upside down and nearly seen them completely destroyed. Even after so many weeks they were still feeling the effects, Ironhide and Jazz had still not recovered from their injuries and were on permanent life support in the medical centre.

‘They could not identify them,' Perceptor said. ‘Nor can they pinpoint an exact location. They realised that the energy signatures did not match any known on Earth. They therefore sent them to me for my appraisal.'

‘And?' Prime asked, trying not to get too annoyed at Perceptor's formal speech pattern.

‘It is my belief that these energy waves represent dimensional leakage. When the spacebridge was destroyed a vast amount of energy was detonated outside of normal spacetime. It is possible, indeed I think likely that this may have caused some sort of dimensional instability. The consequences of this could be catastrophic if left unchecked.'

‘Catastrophic? How?' Prime asked.

‘Without a greater understanding of these energy waves it is hard to say for certain, but in the worst case, a dimensional instability could cause the complete unravelling of spacetime. At the very least the planet Earth could be destroyed but if severe enough the instability could engulf the entire galaxy. Time and space could separate and reality as we know it could cease to exist…or maybe even never have existed in the first place.'

‘What can we do about this?'

‘I must study the energy waves in more detail, to do that I must go to Australia and visit the site. The readings the humans have taken, though cutting edge for them, are somewhat primitive by our standards.'

Prime thought about this for a moment. Sending Perceptor to Australia was dangerous because the Renegades were known to be in the area. The Aerialbots had already been captured by them once and used as bargaining chips to try and secure the Matrix. Although they had been rescued their memory of the Renegade base had been wiped. What would the Renegades do if they captured Perceptor?

‘Optimus Prime, I understand your concerns,' Perceptor interrupted his thoughts, ‘but I can not emphasise enough how important it is for me to make these readings. The longer we delay the worse the effects could be. If we act now it might be possible to repair the damage before it is too late.'

‘Very well Perceptor. Take Skyfire and Grimlock with you for support. I don't want you taking any chances down there.

‘I understand Prime. I will set off as soon as I can.'

Prime nodded and left the lab, he thought that things had been too quiet of late. He might have known that it wouldn't last.

An hour later Perceptor and Grimlock climbed on board Skyfire. Perceptor had brought along a bulky collection of scientific instruments that had been loaded on board Skyfire by Grimlock, apparently with ease despite their weight.

Optimus Prime approached them and said, ‘Remember I want you to keep in constant contact and at the first sign of the Renegades, or the Decepticons for that matter, I want you to get out of there.'

‘We will Prime,' Perceptor said from inside Skyfire's hatchway. Optimus Prime backed away to allow Skyfire to take off. ‘Ready Skyfire?' Perceptor asked.

‘Ready as I'll ever be,' Skyfire said. ‘I have a lot of bad memories of that place.'

‘I know but this really is important Skyfire,' Perceptor said.

‘Okay, I believe you. Settle down and away we go.' The hatchway slid shut and as Perceptor sat down Skyfire fired his thrusters and shot of into the sky. Once in the air he banked until he was on a south-westerly heading. Skyfire engaged his afterburners and he was soon out of sight of the Ark.

To be continued in…Brothers in Arms

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