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From the Ashes of One's Enemies


Chapter One - The Start of Something Big
Chapter Two - Recovery
Chapter Three - Putting the Pieces in Position
Chapter Four - White Moves First
Chapter Five - Opening Gambit
Chapter Six - En Passant
Chapter Seven - Endgame
Chapter Eight - Stalemate

  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

Operation: Sunburn

Part 4 – Power Plays

Chapter One – The Start of Something Big

The situation room buzzed with the sound of a dozen conversations. The news had spread round the base like wildfire. A Decepticon spy had infiltrated the base and stolen a powerful invention. Not everyone knew the full story yet but many had guessed and knew the full implications of what that would mean to both them and the Autobot cause in general.

At the end of the room on a raised platform stood the base commander Ultra Magnus, Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots lost on Earth, Brainstorm, the base's chief scientist and Nightbeat the head of security.

Ultra Magnus strode forward and raised his hands for quiet. The buzzing in the room gradually subsided. Ultra Magnus paused for a moment and then spoke, “I sure by now that you are all aware that there has been a major breach of base security. I have called you section commanders to this briefing to ensure that everyone is fully aware of the facts and the implications of them.” He turned and gestured for Nightbeat to continue.

Nightbeat stepped forward and spoke to the assembled Autobots, “It appears that one of the Autobots, a part I'm sorry to say of my own security team, was in reality a Decepticons spy.” A murmur ran round the room at this. “Just over one cycle ago, Doubledealer made a vicious attack on our chief scientist before leaving the base with our most powerful research project. A number of Autobots died attempting to prevent his escape. Some of you I'm sure will have guessed the item that he stole but for the benefit of those who haven't I'll leave Brainstorm to give the details.”

With that Nightbeat stepped back and Brainstorm addressed the crowd, “The spy carried away the Lifespark device,” there was more murmuring at this statement. “For those who have not yet heard of Lifespark, I will, briefly, summarise its use. It is a device that allows use to give new life. It provides a direct link to Vector Sigma, the mega-computer that gave life to us all.”

Ultra Magnus stepped forward again and said, “Until now knowledge of Lifespark and its use was strictly limited but now it is important that you all understand what its theft means to us. With this device in the hands of the Decepticons there is no limit to the amount, or power of the warriors they can create. The obstacle of finding and activating Vector Sigma has been removed.”

The noise in the room increased in volume again and this time there was a definite note of anger to it. A voice from the crowd rose up above it and shouted, “ So what you're saying is that you've doomed us to extinction because you wanted to play Primus! The murmur seemed to intensify as if in agreement with the speaker. Soon other voices rose shouting above the noise.

You've killed us all!

If we'd spent more time fighting and less time hiding in a hole in the ground maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.

Are you sure there's only one traitor round here?

It was at this moment that Optimus Prime stepped forward. Such was the awe he still inspired in the Autobot ranks; the room subsided into silence again in a matter of moments.

“I know that you are angry and scared but this is not the time for recriminations. We must work together now to find a solution. Things may not be as black as they seem. Remember that an army needs energy and at the moment that is just what Cybertron lacks. It will also take time for the Decepticons to determine how to make use of this device. That is the time we have to recover it.”

* * * * *

“Finally!” Sixshot held the Lifespark up in triumph. “Well done Doubledealer, with this we finally have the power to defeat both the Autobots and the Decepticons.”

Sixshot was standing in his quarters on the top floor of the hidden hideout of the Renegades. The Renegades had a single goal to take control of Cybertron away from the Decepticons and set themselves up as rulers in their place.

“I will not be able to return to the Autobots now,” Doubledealer said.

“No, that is unfortunate, but I believe that they will be of no further use to us anyway. They are sure to abandon their base now and it will take them a long time to re-establish themselves. By the time they do, we will be rulers of Cybertron. It maybe time for you to return to the Decepticon ranks. It will be useful to have an insider keeping an eye on Shockwave for us.”

“It will be difficult to return there now, after all this time,” said Doubledealer. “Still harder to get myself high enough up the command chain to be of any real use to you.”

“Perhaps, but for now I want you to take the Lifespark to the lab and tell Mindwipe to begin studying it. I want it testing as soon as possible.”

* * * * *

Carly Meeks pulled her car into the driveway of the house belonging to the Witwicky family. Spike Witwicky, sitting in the passenger seat looked at the darkened windows. It looked like his dad had already gone up to bed. He turned to Carly and said, “So Carly, do you want to come inside for a coffee or something?”

Carly smiled at him and replied, “Sure.”

They got out of the car, Spike still half expected it to transform into an Autobot, but it had been several months since he'd spent any time with his alien friends. Since that day two years ago when they had rescued him and his father from the oil rig that the Decepticons had attacked, the pair of them had spent most of their time with the Autobots advising them on the ways of Earth. But, as his father had eventually pointed out, helping alien robots did not pay the rent.

His father had decided that they needed to go back to a more normal life, so he had returned to his first love and set himself up as an auto mechanic. Spike had returned to college to study computer technology. He had to admit that he did miss the Autobots though.

He and Carly walked up to the front door. Spike fumbled in the pocket of his jacket for the key to the front door. His fingers lost their grip and he dropped it into the shrubbery that crept round the door. His face flushed, he grinned in embarrassment and plunged his hands into the undergrowth groping for the key. It seemed an age until his fingers gripped the keys and he was able to straighten. He turned the key in the door and said with a grin, “Come on in.”

He stood aside and let Carly enter, before following her into the hall. He took her coat and hung it on a hook by the door, admiring as he did so her shapely legs revealed by the black cocktail dress she was wearing.

Opening the door to the sitting room he said, “Make yourself comfortable,” gesturing towards the large comfy sofa.

“Thanks,” Carly said sitting down.

“I'll be right back with the coffee,” Spike said. Carly nodded and sat down on the sofa. Spike left the room and crossed the hall to the kitchen. His hands were still shaking slightly as he got the cups from the cupboard.

In the year or so since he first met Carly he'd always found her attractive. But in spite of sharing many experiences with the Autobots things had never developed beyond friendship. The problem was that he didn't think she would be interested. After all she was two years older than he was and was an MIT graduate. He was a mechanic's son and didn't even drive.

He knew that she had dated a couple of guys in the last year. The last one, Mark, she had broken up with a month before. In the same time he had asked one girl out and had been politely but firmly declined. It had taken him all of his strength to pluck up the courage to ask her out tonight. Nobody could have been more surprised than him when she said yes.

The date had gone well so far. He'd taken her to a nice restaurant and had succeeded in not spilling anything on himself, or worse, on her. She seemed to have had a good time so far. Spike just hoped that he didn't blow it now.

He finished making the coffee and carried it back to the sitting room. Carly was sitting with her legs crossed on the end of the sofa. She was leafing through a copy his dad's Motor Maintenance Today magazine. She looked up as he entered and smiled at him.

“How's your dad's new business going?” she asked as he set the coffee down on the small side table and sat down on the sofa beside her.

“Oh, not bad,” Spike replied. “It took a few weeks but things are starting to pick up. He's really pleased, he always wanted to run his own auto business.”

“Why did he wait so long?” Carly asked. “I mean I know he's a really great mechanic. I'd have thought he'd have done it years ago.”

She took a sip of the coffee as Spike said, “Well it was kind of difficult for him. You see mom was really ill and couldn't work, so dad had to support us and so he wasn't prepared to risk the uncertainty of setting up his own business. Then after mom died, I think he just wanted to take his, and my, mind off things. That's why he got us that job on the rigs.”

“Oh Spike! I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to bring up bad memories,” Carly said leaning forward and wrapping her arm around his shoulder. Spike wanted to say that it was okay, he'd long since come to terms with his mother's death, but he thought that if he said that she might take her arm away and he kind of liked it there.

“Carly…” he started to say, his face was mere inches from hers. Her blue eyes gleamed under the bright room light. Dare he kiss her? How would she react? He wanted too so much. Taking his courage in both hands he leaned forward and tentatively kissed her on the lips. He was half prepared to have his face slapped. What he was not prepared for however was for her to lean into the kiss and return it.

“Mmmmmmph,” he said.

“Hmmmmmm,” she said.

Spike was just beginning to relax and start enjoying himself, when he saw a movement by the window. His eyes widened and he said, “Hmmmmblmmeee!”

“Hmmmmm?” Carly said.


Carly broke their kiss and said, a little crossly, “Spike, what is it?”

“Bumblebee,” said Spike pointing to the window. Carly turned and looked. Bumblebee's face was looking at them, his face bathed in the pale blue glow from his eyes.

Chapter Two - Recovery

The water of the Pacific lapped gently on the white sandy beach of the small tropical island. Being only two miles across at its widest point, it had no human population. The sun soaked beaches were unspoiled by the footsteps of man.

The sand splattered under the heavy metal foot of the giant robot that had stepped out of the trees lining the beach. The white bodywork of the Protectobot Groove was spattered with mud and sand. A strand of seaweed hung down his back, already turning brown in the hot sun. His keen eyes scanned the horizon looking for any sign of movement. After a few minutes he seemed satisfied and turned back and disappeared into the trees again.

After a couple of minutes walking the trees thinned out to reveal a wide clearing. Inside the clearing were gathered more Autobots. Some were sat on the ground staring at nothing, lost in their own thoughts. Others were polishing and maintaining their weapons.

Many more were lying on the ground while First Aid, the Protectobot medic and Perceptor moved from one to the other, checking their condition. The current acting Autobot leader Ironhide was among these, he optics were dim and one of his arms was missing.

Groove walked across the clearing to where Hot Spot the leader of the Protectobots stood in deep conversation with Grimlock the Dinobot commander. Grimlock seemed to have lost his usual bluster for the moment. The events of the last day seem to have shaken even his thick skin.

“Anything?” Hotshot asked as Groove came up to him.

“Nothing,” Groove replied. “There's no sign of Decepticon activity anywhere in the immediate area.”

“We too far away from Decepticons,” put in Grimlock. “They think we dead.”

“For now, maybe,” Hotshot answered. “But if they fail to find our remains then they might start a major search operation. We don't have the strength to withstand a full scale assault right now.”

“So what are we going to do?” Groove asked. “We can't just sit around on this island forever and let Megatron run riot over Earth.”

“Dinobots will be ready to attack Decepticons at any time,” Grimlock said, a trace of his usual arrogance in his voice.

“For the moment we have the advantage that the Decepticons think we're dead. We need to make the most of that,” Hot Spot said.

Groove looked around the clearing at all the injured Autobots. He couldn't see how they could have any advantage at the moment. After all in their last battle with the Decepticons they had been routed. He'd thought they were all going to die when Skyfire had been blasted out of the air by Ramjet.

As they had sunk towards the bottom of the ocean the enormous pressure had begun to crush Skyfire's hull. The Autobots had dived out into the cold water only to become a victim to it themselves.

It was only the quick thinking of Hot Spot that had saved them all. He had ordered the Protectobots to combine into Defensor. Defensor had then been able to use his force field to protect them all from the crushing weight of the sea.

Many of the Autobots had been damaged before the force field had gone up to protect them however. Ironhide had said that they needed to make it look like they had all died. As it happened a large chasm cut through the seabed and even specialised deep-sea equipment would be unable to penetrate its depths.

To convince any searchers that they had died, Ironhide had removed his Autobrand and dropped it to the ocean floor near the chasm. Before anyone could stop him he had then ripped his own arm off at the shoulder and sent it to the ocean floor as well. The feedback from this act had shocked him into unconsciousness.

Defensor had taken it upon himself to find a place where they could rest and recover after their ordeal. It had taken him several hours to reach this island. He had wanted to be sure he was far enough away from the area they had crashed so as not to be found by a passing Decepticon patrol or search party.

Once on the island there was an unspoken assumption that Hot Spot was now in command. Even Grimlock seemed happy to go along with this. Hot Spot had decided that they needed to lay low until First Aid and Perceptor had patched up as many of the wounded as possible. Some hours later they were still working on that.

Groove shook his head. The Autobots hadn't suffered a defeat as bad as this since before leaving Cybertron. He couldn't see how they were going to bounce back from this one. He hated to admit it but without Optimus Prime to lead them, the Autobots were seriously outmatched.

First Aid walked over to them, Hot Spot turned expectantly, “Well?” he asked.

“Well the good news is that there are no fatal injuries, the bad news is that it's going to take days to get everyone back on their feet. We need proper medical facilities. All we can do here is wait for their internal repair systems to do the work,” First Aid said.

“We can't get back to the Ark until Skyfire has recovered,” Hot Shot said.

First Aid shook his head, “Skyfire is in a bad way. He was severely damaged by the water pressure as well as the explosion. He's not going anywhere.”

“Us should not hide here. Us should attack Decepticons,” Grimlock said.

“In case you missed it, Grimlock, that's what got us here in the first place,” snapped Hot Spot.

“Wait,” said Groove. “Maybe Grimlock is right.”

“What?” Hot Spot said.

“I don't mean a full on attack,” said Groove. “We don't have the strength, but maybe a small team will be able to infiltrate the Decepticon base and blow the space bridge sky high.”

* * * * *

“Bumblebee what are you doing here?” Spike asked. “And what has happened to your shoulder?” He hadn't seen his Autobot friend in ages and now Bumblebee was here crouched in his sitting room with a hole in his shoulder, while Spike and Carly sat side by side on the sofa.

“It's a long story Spike. Sorry that I interrupted you and Carly in the middle of your energy transfer,” Bumblebee said. Spike shuffled uncomfortably but a small smile crossed Carly's face. “We need your help Spike, we need to know the latest from Australia .”

“ Australia ?” Carly asked. “What's happening in Australia ?”

Bumblebee looked slightly surprised, “The Decepticons have attacked and taken control of the new fusion power plant there. You mean you didn't know?”

Carly and Spike both shook there heads. Neither of them had seen the news for the last few days. Spike had been busy working on his latest assignment and Carly had just returned from a few days away with friends.

Bumblebee quickly explained all that had happened over the last few days. Both Spike and Carly were horrified when they heard about Optimus Prime's death. A few tears began to run down Carly's face and Spike put his arm round her trying to ignore the hole in his stomach that had just opened up. It had been Prime that had saved his and his dad's life two years ago; Spike could hardly believe that he was gone.

When Bumblebee reached the part about the full scale Autobot attack on the power plant Carly grabbed the TV remote and flicked through the channels until she found CNN.

The hourly news had just started. On the screen was a high altitude shot of what might once have been a power plant. Now it looked more like a fortress with huge metal wall and gun emplacements. Smoke was rising from the Western wall and a number of small moving figures could just be made out.

“This aerial shot was taken a few hours ago by the Australian military,” the voiceover was saying. “There are reports that a full scale battle took place here in which the Autobots were defeated by the Decepticons. So far this has been unconfirmed, however a spokesman for the Australian Government has stated that they are considering taking military action of their own in the light of the Autobots apparent impotence to rid the country of the invaders.”

The image returned to the studio and moved on to other news. Carly switched the TV off and sat back. “The Autobots can't have been defeated,” she said.

“We believe they have,” Bumblebee said. “Those of us who are left have to do what we can to defeat the Decepticons now.”

“But Bumblebee, what can you do on your own,” put in Spike quickly. “Why not the let military deal with them?”

“If our guys can't defeat the Decepticons, humans certainly won't be able too, not with your primitive weapons. If the humans attack they will be slaughtered,” Bumblebee said sadly.

“What on Earth is going on here?” came a voice from the door. Everyone turned to see ‘Sparkplug' Witwicky wrapped in a blue woollen dressing gown standing in the doorway.

“Dad!” Spike said. “The Autobots are in trouble.”

“There's no time to explain Sparkplug,” Bumblebee said. “We need your help. Jazz and Prowl are badly hurt and we've lost our repair bay. We need to use your garage.”

Hearing the seriousness in Bumblebee's normally jolly, carefree voice, Sparkplug didn't stop to ask questions. He picked up his keys and led the way outside. On the driveway stood an ambulance that Sparkplug realised must be Ratchet, the Autobots chief medic. Standing guard beside him were Gears and Beachcomber.

Sparkplug walked over to the garage and opened the door. Ratchet drove inside and Gears and Beachcomber unloaded the bodies of Jazz and Prowl. Ratchet then transformed and bent over his patients.

“Anything I can do to help?” Sparkplug asked Ratchet.

“You can help me keep them alive,” said Ratchet grimly.

* * * * *

“Behold the birth of new life!” Mindwipe cried ecstatically. Deep underneath the Renegade headquarters, Sixshot, Starscream and Doubledealer stood and watched as Mindwipe pulled the casing of the Lifespark open. A beam of energy shot out and connected to the lifeless body lying on the table in front of him. The body was bathed in light for a few seconds then the light died away and the Lifespark casing closed.

The body on the table moved. His eyes glowed brightly and he sat bolt upright. “Welcome to the Renegades Hi-Test,” Mindwipe said to the newly birthed robot.

Hi-Test turned his purple head towards Mindwipe and said, “Who are you?”

Before Mindwipe could reply Sixshot stepped forward and said, “I am Sixshot, leader of the Renegades. You are the first of a new breed. The first Renegade Powermaster companion.”

Hi-Test's eyes flared brightly for a second and then he said, “What's in it for me?”

“You get to do a lot of killing,” Sixshot said.

Hi-Test grinned, “Nice to meet you all,” he said.

* * * * *

Optimus Prime entered Ultra Magnus' quarters to find the base commander deep in conversation with Nightbeat, Brainstorm and Chromedome. They turned as Prime entered.

“I'm glad you're here Prime,” Ultra Magnus said. “Something strange is happening.”

“Oh? Like what?” Prime asked.

“As you know I sent out a recon team to find the best way to get you into the Decepticon headquarters and back to Earth. Well they have returned and have brought several pieces of news with them. Chromedome was part of the team and I'll let him explain.”

Chromedome turned to Prime and said, “I hacked into the Decepticon computer system and have found something disturbing. The entire planet appears to be running on full power again. All Decepticon weapons facilities are operating at peak output. Even worse than that though is that a number of new Decepticons appear to have been activated. Guard units have doubled planet wide.”

“There's no way the Decepticons could have learned to use the Lifespark that quickly,” Nightbeat put in. “And where has all the energy come from?”

“Prime, are you okay?” Ultra Magnus asked.

Optimus Prime stood unmoving lost in thought. The mention of the planet being revitalised had triggered a memory within him. He saw the figure of Megatron and heard his gloating voice in his head, “ These Carpasin Energon cubes are to be used to restore Cybertron's energy resources. I have modified the spacebridge so that it doesn't just link Cybertron to Earth. Now either end can link to anywhere in the Universe! At this moment the other end of the spacebridge is targeted at the centre of a star in a nearby galaxy. When the cubes materialise they will explode causing the star to go nova. The resulting energy rush will be channelled back down the space bridge .”

The memory changed and Prime saw himself falling into the space bridge trying to stop the Energon cubes, he felt himself being sucked up into the vortex, saw the beam of light that was the space bridge. He saw the rush of energy and felt the pain, the deep searing pain as he leapt from the bridge into the void dragging the body of Starscream after him.

“Prime? Prime, what is it? What's wrong?” Ultra Magnus' voice cut through his thoughts.

“Megatron has succeeded,” he said. “He has reenergised Cybertron. The Lifespark didn't create those new Decepticons; they must be being reactivated from Megatron's storage chambers. We are in more trouble than I thought.”

Chapter Three – Putting the Pieces in Position

“We have two volunteers for the Powermaster conversion process,” Mindwipe reported to Sixshot. “Dreadwind and Darkwing. If we are to match the Autobots we need a third, but the others are reluctant to trust their lives to such a new and irreversible process.”

They stood in Sixshot's quarters on the top floor of the Renegade headquarters. Starscream and Doubledealer stood nearby.

“Why do the cowards hesitate?” Starscream snapped. “Order one of them to take the process.”

“Are you volunteering Starscream?” Sixshot asked. Starscream was remained silent. “I have no intension of making the same mistake as many a Decepticon ruler in the past by antagonising my troops. Leaders have fallen because of such folly. No we will not order them, we will persuade one to volunteer.”

Starscream looked like he wanted to choke, if his robotic body would have allowed it, but he remained silent.

“I will volunteer.” Everyone turned as Doubledealer stepped forward.

“Really? You surprise me,” Mindwipe said. “I thought you always worked alone.”

Doubledealer ignored him and continued, “But only on one condition. I want two Powermaster companions, one for my Autobot and one for my Decepticon modes.”

Sixshot looked at Doubledealer and said nothing for a moment, and then he nodded and turned to Mindwipe he said, “Make the arrangements.”

* * * * *

“Begin the evacuation,” Ultra Magnus ordered Nightbeat. “Unblock the escape tunnel and begin move out group A as soon as possible. I want the base emptied in two Solar-Cycles.”

“What about those five Decepticons we captured?” Nightbeat asked.

“Take them out with the final group. I still want to interogate them,” Ultra Magnus said after some thought.

Nightbeat nodded and left the room. Silence hung in the air for a while as everyone considered the implications of a revitalised Cybertron. The Decepticons now had unlimited power and they had the Lifespark. There was nothing to stop them creating as many troops as they needed to hunt down the Autobots and wipe them out forever.

“It is more important than ever that we get inside Decepticon headquarters,” Prime said at last. “That is the nerve centre from which the entire planet is managed. It and Shockwave must be taken out if we are to stand a chance. I must return to Earth and prevent Megatron from making even more use of this new power.”

Ultra Magnus nodded, “The best chance we have is to use a small team to infiltrate the base through the disused transport network,” he said. “Shockwave is sure to have, or know where the Lifespark is. We'll capture him, you can return to Earth and we'll get the Lifespark back and destroy it.”

* * * * *

The screams and shouts had barely reached the United Nations General Assembly room when the wall shattered and the figure of Megatron strode into the huge room followed closely by Thundercracker and Skywarp.

The representatives of the one hundred and eighty-eight member states leapt hurriedly to their feet even as security personnel burst into the room and began firing on the three Decepticons. The bullets from their guns however didn't so much as scratch the alien metal.

Megatron raised his fusion cannon towards the ceiling and fired a small blast. The ceiling above him vaporised instantly and crumbling masonry fell to the floor around him. The room fell silent.

“I am Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. You are representatives of the people of Earth. If you give control of this planet to me now none of you or your peoples will be harmed. Otherwise my Decepticons will rain death upon your cities. Your Autobot protectors are dead. There is no one to save you. You will submit to me, now!”

* * * * *

“How long Ratchet?” Bumblebee asked.

Ratchet, Bumblebee and the three humans were crowded into Sparkplug's workshop area along with the bodies of Jazz and Prowl. It was a tight squeeze and Ratchet had to stoop to fit inside, while Gears and Beachcomber stood at the entrance. “A day, maybe more,” Ratchet said. “Prowl will recover but without the repair bay equipment it will take longer.”

“We don't have time to sit around here and wait for him to recover,” Bumblebee said. “We have to stop Megatron now.”

“How are we going to do that?” Gears complained.

“I don't know, but we have to try.”

“We'll help,” put in Carly and Spike together.

“Spike, no son, you can't fight the Decepticons without the Autobots to protect you,” Sparkplug said turning away from the immobile body of Jazz that he had been working on.

“But dad…”

“You're father's right Spike,” Bumblebee said. “This is something you can't help us with.”

“How are you going to get all the way to Australia without Skyfire to fly you there anyway?” Carly asked quickly.

“We'll use the last shuttle from the Ark. Hopefully it will still fly and it might be small enough to allow us to get close to the Decepticons unnoticed, “Bumblebee replied.

“But what will you do then?” Spike asked.

“I've no idea,” Bumblebee said.

* * * * *

Soundwave looked on impassively as the last of the Autobot casualties was dumped unceremoniously into the specially created outbuilding. There was now no sign of the battle that had raged here only a few hours ago, the Constructicons having also completed repairs to the exterior defences.

Soundwave was satisfied, for the first time since their arrival on Earth things were starting to go right for the Decepticons again. With any luck they would soon be able to leave the dirtball of a planet and return to Cybertron. He smiled inwardly to himself, as the huge doors on the makeshift tomb were swung closed with a bang. Life as Decepticon was really good at the moment.

* * * * *

Nightbeat slid aside the hidden panel in the wall to reveal a keypad. He quickly tapped in a security code and pressed the Enter key. With a whine of complaining metal a large panel in the wall slid sideways revealing a passageway sloping gently downwards.

As the door opened a row of lights inset into the ceiling flickered into life. The escape tunnel had been built in secret when the Autobots had first moved into the underground base. Ultra Magnus had wanted to prevent any spies from knowing of its existence in the event of an evacuation. In hindsight it seems that he made the right decision.

* * * * *

Shockwave looked down in disgust at the decaying broken body in the interrogation cell. Most of the exo-skeleton had been eaten away by low-grade energon. Circuitry and internal components were clearly visible, battered and covered in grime. The eyes were dull, but a faint spark of life remained.

This was one of the ‘Empties,' an inhabitant of the region of Cybertron called the Dead End. Empties offered allegiance to neither Autobot nor Decepticon. They simply existed, scratching out a pitiful existence in the ruins.

“Well?” he asked.

Devil Spawn who had just finished the interrogation said with a grin, “He was a little reluctant to speak to me at first, but I managed to persuade him to be helpful. He claims to have seen a group of Decepticon outcasts living in the Dead End for a number of Mega Cycles. Their leader was tall, with a grey and purple colouring.”

“Sixshot,” Shockwave said. “And does he know what has happened to them?”

“He says that they left some time ago, he can't be precise as to when though. The really interesting part though is where he says they were headed for.”



Shockwave's single eye flashed. That cursed city again. He had heard its name too many times of late. It was time to put a stop to all this, “You're sure he's telling the truth?”

“Oh yes. I gave him an example of what would happen if I felt he was lying to me; it took him several breems to recover,” Devil Spawn grinned again.

“Very well,” said Shockwave. “Dispose of him. Its time I dealt with Dishender and its secrets once and for all.”

Chapter Four – White Moves First

Blades was beginning to think that this wasn't such a good idea. It had seemed like one at the time but right at this moment with both Huffer and Sideswipe hanging on to his landing skids for dear life he wasn't so sure.

This was his second trip to the Australian mainland, having already ferried Mirage and Blaster earlier in the day. To try and avoid detection by and Decepticon patrols that may be in the area Hotspot had advised Blades to take a circuitous route from the island to the mainland.

He remembered how he, Mirage, Sideswipe, Huffer and Blaster had stood before Hotspot while he had sold the idea to them, “I cannot ask any of you to do this,” he'd said. “It is highly dangerous and it is possible that you may not come back, but it is important that we strike back against the Decepticons before they consolidate their power. If you do not wish to go on this mission I will of course understand.”

Everyone had of course agreed to go on the mission and so here he was with two dead weights hanging from his underside. Still at least his part was now over, it was the others he should be feeling sorry for rather than himself. Four Autobots against almost the entire Decepticon army wasn't good odds.

He was flying low to minimise the possibility of his being detected by lookouts and radar systems, hoping that he would be lost in the background of the ocean. The beach where he had dropped Mirage and Blaster came into sight and looked deserted, Mirage and Blaster having presumably taken cover.

As he approached the beach, Huffer and Sideswipe let go of his landing skids and dropped to the ground. Blades transformed and landed on the beach next to them. No sooner had they landed Mirage, faded back into sight as he disabled his camouflage system.

The three of them hurried over to him, “Where's Blaster?” Sideswipe asked.

“Over here,” grinned Mirage leading the way to a large sand dune at the base of the cliff. “Blaster, time to go.”

The sand dune shook as Blaster sat up in what could only be described as a disgruntled fashion, “Well it's about time you got here!” he complained. “I have sand in the uncoolest places.”

Sideswipe chuckled and said, “Well you know the human's say ‘life's a beach'.” Everyone laughed, except Blaster, who dragged himself out of the sand and glared at Sideswipe.

“Okay you guys,” Blades said. “Good luck and I'll see you when you get back.” With that he transformed and headed back out to sea.

“If we get back you mean,” Huffer mumbled in his usual pessimistic manner. “We'll probably all get shot to pieces.”

“It's a pleasure having you along with us Huffer,” Sideswipe said sarcastically.

“We'll be fine. We're gonna hand the Decepticons their tailpipes,” said Blaster.

“This is supposed to be a covert operation Blaster,” Mirage said turning to walk up the beach to where a small dirt road wound down the cliff. “We're not going in all guns blazing.”

“You know Mirage sometimes you're just no fun,” replied Blaster.

Mirage, Huffer and Sideswipe transformed to their vehicle modes, while Blaster transformed and shrank down to his cassette deck mode and dropped into Sideswipes front seat. The three Autobots then sped up the dirt road and headed inland.

* * * * *

“Is there anything we can do to help you?” Carly asked.

“No Carly,” Bumblebee answered. “Its too dangerous for you to join in the battle with the Decepticons.”

“But what about Teletran. Spike and I could try and get Teletran back online. You need every advantage you can get.”

“That's a great idea Carly,” Spike put in enthusiastically.

“Well…it is an idea but you need to ask your father.”


Sparkplug looked up from the inert body of Jazz, “Okay son but be careful and don't take any risks.”

“Thanks dad.”

“You and Carly had better get ready then because we're leaving now,” Bumblebee said. Spike and Carly headed back inside the house at once and Bumblebee turned to Ratchet and said, “When Prowl recovers tell him the situation and get him to contact us as soon as possible.”

“I'm still not sure this is a good idea, you should wait for Prowl to recover,” Ratchet said.

“Who knows what damage the Decepticons will have caused by then. We need to act now,” Bumblebee replied firmly. “Beachcomber, Gears, Transform and prepare to roll out.” The two small Autobots immediately transformed to their vehicle modes, then nodding at Ratchet, Bumblebee also transformed.

It wasn't long before Spike and Carly came back out of the house. Spike was carrying a large toolbox with him. Both of them had changed out of their evening clothes, Carly wearing one of Spike's old shirts and pants. They ran over to Bumblebee and Spike dropped the toolbox on his back seat.

Sparkplug came over and gave them both a hug, “You kids take care of yourselves okay? And don't take any unnecessary risks.”

“Right dad, we won't,” Spike answered opening Bumblebee's door for Carly to get in, before sprinting round the other side and climbing inside himself. “Okay Bumblebee we're ready.”

“Hold on you guys,” Bumblebee said and his engine roared as he, Beachcomber and Gears sped down the driveway and back onto the main road.

* * * * *

Sxshot and Starscream stood in the lab inside the Renegade base. Mindwipe was introducing the new Powermasters. Dreadwind, Darkwing and Doubledealer stepped forward and transformed to their vehicle modes.

Hi-Test, the Powermaster companion to Dreadwind transformed and stood beside his partner's jet mode. He was followed by Throttle the companion of Darkwing. Finally Doubledealer's two partners transformed in their turn. Knok, was humanoid in shape, while Skar took on the form of a bat.

Sixshot nodded in approval, “You have done an excellent job Mindwipe,” he said and Mindwipe bowed his head slightly in acknowledgment.

“So now we have these new super warriors are we finally going to take some action or are you planning to hide down here even longer?” Starscream said icily. “When I agreed to join your Renegades it was on the condition that we did something other than skulk inside your headquarters. If these powermasters are all you say they are then lets drop this charade now and attack Shockwave's citadel and take Cybertron for our own.”

Sixshot was beginning to wonder if he hadn't made a mistake in bringing Starscream into this. He had forgotten just how impatient he was. Unfortunately, Starscream's words had an immediate effect on the new Powermasters. Dreadwind and Darkwing both made noises of agreement. Hi-Test seemed to put their feelings into words, “You promised me the chance to kill a lot and now seems a good a time as any.”

“Very well,” said Sixshot reluctantly. “We will test your new abilities by attacking Polyhex and taking control of Cybertron.” Cheers erupted from the new Powermasters and even some of the other Renegades who had been working in the lab. Mindwipe and Doubledealer remained silent.

* * * * *

Optimus Prime, Chromedome, Getaway, Slapdash and Joyride had met by the main entrance to the base. The damage caused when Doubledealer had escaped had been patched to minimise the chance of being spotted by any passing Decepticon patrol. Scorch marks from the explosion still covered the walls as a reminder of the violence that had recently taken place there.

Chromedome held a small cylindrical device in his hand, which was projecting a holographic three-dimensional map of the local area into the air. The five Autobots were gathered around the display.

“This looks like our best option,” said Prime tracing his finger across the map. “If this map is accurate then this section of the transport network should lead us right to the industrial centre of Polyhex itself and it provides a more or less straight run from its entrance here,” he jabbed his finger at the map, “and the industrial network terminal at Polyhex.”

“But won't the Decepticons know this and keep guard on the tunnel system?” Getaway asked. “Otherwise they're leaving themselves wide open to an attack that way.”

“They probably do know about it, but the tunnels are relatively small, the shuttle-cars can only hold five at a time,” Chromedome answered. “According to the documents I found when I hacked into their mainframe, the tunnels are guarded but even now with their increase in numbers they are only lightly watched. Shockwave thinks in terms of large-scale attacks. It would never enter his head that only five of us would try and get in.”

“There's a connection near the Cybertonium pits that goes straight to the citadel itself,” said Prime.

“Oh? How do you know? It isn't shown on the map,” Slapdash asked.

“There isn't time for that story now but believe me it is there,” Prime answered remembering how Spike, Carly and the Dinobots had once used it to escape Cybertron with a shipment of Cybertonium the Autobots needed.

It was at this moment that Ultra Magnus and Nightbeat came up to the assembled strike team. Ultra Magnus went up to Prime and said, “Good luck, Prime, for all our sakes. I wish I could come with you but…the evacuation…” he trailed off.

“Its okay Ultra Magnus, I understand. Sometimes commanders have to make the hard decision to send others into danger when they themselves are not able to lead the way there. The others need you. We will succeed and recover the Lifespark. Once I return to Earth and stop Megatron I will find a way to contact you and we'll work together to defeat the Decepticons.” Prime reached out his hand and grasped Ultra Magnus' and shook it firmly.

Ultra Magnus bowed his head slightly and then said to the others, “Once Prime has returned to Earth meet at the rendezvous point as soon as possible. And good luck to you all.”

Nightbeat stepped forward and held out his hand to reveal five small circular discs he had been carrying. “There's one for each of you,” he said.

“What are they?” Joyride asked, taking his and eyeing it wish suspicion.

“Neuroshockers,” Nightbeat replied. “If you're captured place it inside your mouth and it will activate. Your cerebral circuits will be instantly wiped so that the Decepticons can't use Psycho-probes on you.”

“But won't that kill us?” objected Slap Dash.

“Yes,” said Nightbeat simply.


“Its time we were going,” Prime said to break the awkward silence that followed. “Too much time has been wasted as it is.” So saying he turned and pushed open the heavy metal doors covering the base entrance. The three Powermasters and Chromedome transformed and drove out into the deserted streets of Dishender.

With a final nod to Ultra Magnus, Prime stepped out through the doors and closed them behind him. Then he transformed and followed the others into the heart of the city.

* * * * *

Shockwave sat back in satisfaction holding the datapad in front of him as he reread the confirmation of his order for one neutroplasma bomb. It would be ready for deployment in twelve cycles and then the city of Dishender and whatever secrets it held would be wiped off the surface of Cybertron forever.

Chapter Five – Opening Gambit

Sixshot stood at his window overlooking Dishender. He wasn't happy with the planned attack on Polyhex. It was all moving too fast. The new Powermasters were untested in battle and there were only three of them against all of Shockwave's forces. He felt that he was being pressured and the thought that Starscream was responsible.

When he had heard that Starscream was on Cybertron he had been glad to welcome his old friend into the Renegades, but both of them had changed too much. In the old days, before his imprisonment, the two of them had been so alike in their outlook and their approach to achieving their aims, but now…well nine million years of living death had taught Sixshot the value of patience.

Starscream on the other hand was desperate for the power he thought he was owed. For him nine million years of being under Megatron's thumb had fuelled his lust for control of the Decepticons, in Sixshot's view, dangerously so. Starscream wanted power without any real idea of how to get it nor what he would do once he got it. He was rapidly becoming more of a liability than an asset.

It was too late now though, the damage was done. He would have to allow this attack on Polyhex. Too many Decepticon commanders had died at the hands of those who they were leading due to bad feeling. He would not make that mistake, but he was certain of one thing; Starscream would have to go.

* * * * *

“Okay, we're ready to go,” Bumblebee said. “If you can get Teletran back online, he'll be able to contact us through the usual frequencies.”

Spike and Carly stood at the entrance to the final Autobot shuttle. Bumblebee, Gears and Beachcomber had just finished prepping the shuttle for launch.

“Okay Bumblebee, we'll do our best,” Spike said. He wanted to say more. Bumblebee had been his best friend amongst the Autobots and here he was preparing to face the entire Decepticon army almost single-handedly.

It was Carly who broke the awkward silence, “You three take care of yourselves and don't take any unnecessary risks.”

Bumblebee nodded and said, “Don't you kids take any risks either. At the first sign of any trouble here, get yourselves out and back home. This is not your fight.”

“We will,” Carly promised and gave Bumblebee a hug. This was the opening that Spike had been looking for and took the opportunity to do the same. Bumblebee gently put a hand on each of them and pushed them away from him.

“You two had better get back down to Teletran, we'll be setting off any minute,” he said.

“Good luck,” Carly and Spike both said at the same time.

“Thanks,” Bumblebee said and turned to go back inside the shuttle. He waved at them as he closed the shuttle door behind him.

“Come on Spike, we need to get going,” Carly called pulling him down the corridor by the hand. Spike reluctantly followed trying not to think about what fate had in store for his friends.

* * * * *

“Human you try my patience,” Megatron snarled. The secretary-general of the United Nations cowered before him. By no means a timid man, but the sight of a giant alien robot towering over him was enough to daunt anyone. Megatron continued, “I give you a straight choice, either you submit to me or you die.”

The secretary-general mastered his fear as best he could and replied, “The United Nations has no legal power to speak for its members. We may only make recommendations, which may or may not be recognised by member states. I have no power to give you what you desire. If I was to do so I am confident that you would find every one of our members would resist you.”

Megatron's eye flared bright red at these words and he reached down and picked the secretary-general up by the collar and raised him until he was level with his face. “In that case,” Megatron said quietly, “they will all be destroyed.” He dropped the secretary-general to the ground and turned and walked back out through the hole he had entered by. Thundercracker and Skywarp followed after him.

The secretary-general was getting unsteadily to his feet with the help of security personnel. “Let them go,” he called to the security teams. “Don't endanger yourself there is nothing you can do for now.”

Outside the U.N. building the three Decepticons stood for a few seconds and surveyed the small army of security that had gathered outside. Thundercracker and Skywarp began to raise their weapons but Megatron raised a hand to top them. “Leave them,” he said. “We have wasted enough time here, we must return to headquarters and prepare the final conquest of this planet.” So saying he leapt into the air. Thundercracker and Skywarp followed transforming to jet mode as they went.

Megatron turned in the air and raised his fusion cannon and cried out, “Here's a taste of what awaits you and all who resist me!” He fired a blast of energy into the centre of the imposing secretariat building. Windows shattered and were blown out across several floors of the thirty-nine-storey building. Smoke and flame billowed out of the hole left by Megatron's blast. Screams from those who had not yet been evacuated from the building mingled with the screams of those on the ground.

The security teams again began firing on Megatron as he turned and flew up into the air after the retreating forms of Thundercracker and Skywarp, leaving chaos and death in his wake.

* * * * *

Spike and Carly had not gone to the computer room but had rushed outside to see the shuttle leave. The whole volcano seemed to shake as the shuttle blasted its way out of the rock face. Rubble and dust cascaded down the side of the volcano as the shuttle flew out and into the air. Spike and Carly watched it rise into the sky and disappear into the clouds.

No sooner had it disappeared, Carly was running back inside the Ark shouting to Spike, “Come on we've got a lot to do.”

With a backward glance at the sky Spike ran after her through the Ark 's gaping entranceway, through the passageways to the computer room where Teletraan-I was housed.

“Poor Teletran!” Spike said as he and Carly surveyed the damaged computer. The large screen in the centre was shattered and its normal yellowy-orange was now a sooty grey-black colour. Bent and twisted metal lay everywhere. “Its gonna take an army to repair and clean all this up,” Spike complained.

“Spike don't be so stupid, we're didn't come here to mend Teletraan-I, that's way beyond even my skills, we don't have the equipment, the expertise or strength,” Carly said,

“Then why did you suggest coming here then?” Spike asked.

Carly smiled at him, drew her face up close to his an gave him a quick kiss on the lips before saying, “We're going with the Autobots of course. I'm not going to stand by and let the Decepticons conquer the planet without trying to help.”

“But the Autobots have already gone,” Spike objected

“I know that, but they would never have let us go in the shuttle anyway.”

“Then how…?” Spike was cut off as Carly pressed her hand over his mouth.

“Come on,” she said. “I'll show you.”

* * * * *

Sixshot had decided to lead the attack himself. That way if anything went wrong he would be on hand to sort things out. He had no intention however of leaving the Lifespark here so he had retrieved it from the lab.

He placed the Lifespark carefully inside his chest cavity, and felt the wave of energy run through his body and the access panels closed over it. What was it, he thought, that caused that and what benefits might it have? That was something that he would have to get Mindwipe to look into, once this attack was over.

Having secured the Lifespark, he left his quarters and headed down to the assembly room where his attack force was waiting. Mindwipe was even now equipping them all with holocrons. The portable devices would provide enough cover to get them inside the Decepticons capital, but their energon cells were limited, despite the fuel efficiency of the devices, so once inside they would have to rely on their wits alone.

Sixshot's plan was to get as close to Shockwave as possible undetected. He was the centre of the Decepticon power on Cybertron. Once Shockwave was eliminated the Decepticons would be easily be brought to heal.

* * * * *

“There you go. What do you think?” Carly asked in a triumphant voice. She had led Spike to Wheeljack's lab deep inside the Ark. Once inside she had tapped a few commands into his computer terminal and a storage hatch in the wall had slid open.

Inside were two white objects that might be mistaken for futuristic suits of armour. They were human height with a transparent dome shape at the top, clearly so that the occupant of the suit could see out. The arms of the suits had what looked like rocket exhaust ports on the top and a gloved hand at the bottom. The suits wouldn't have looked out of place in a bad sixties science fiction series.

“What on Earth are they?” Spike asked.

“Something Wheeljack has been working on,” Carly replied. “He calls them Exo-suits. The idea is that humans can wear them and it will give them protection if they come into contact with the Decepticons.”

Spike looked again at the Exo-suits. They didn't look like they'd stand up to a Decepticon attack, but then Wheeljack's inventions often looked highly improbable. “How are they going to help us get to Australia ?” he asked.

Carly smiled again. “Simple, they have a flight mode.”

* * * * *

Bumblebee looked out of the shuttle's viewport and saw the volcano receding into the distance. He bowed his head slightly. He knew that this would probably be the last time he saw it.

Ever since the death of Wincharger he seemed to have become the leader of the small group and he was beginning to feel the pressure. He hoped he'd made the right decision. He wished Prowl was here to take charge. Even better he wished Optimus was here and everything was all right again.

The volcano disappeared from sight as the shuttle entered the cloud cover. Bumblebee took one last look out of the viewport and then straightened up. He turned to the others and said, “Okay guys, lets get us some Decepticons.”

* * * * *

With help from Carly, Spike had managed to clamber inside the Exo-suit. Restraints had automatically activated to hold his feet and arms in position. The gloved had seemed to contract around his own so that it felt made just for him.

Carly undid the supports holding the suit to the storage hatch. Spike tried to take a step forward and the suit jerked out of the hatch and then fell sideways against the wall. Spike tried to compensate and the suit sprang in the other direction and he found himself crashing to the floor.

Carly rushed over to him and asked, “Are you okay Spike?”

“It won't move properly,” he complained.

“You need to think about what you want to do before you do it. According to Wheeljack the suit patches in to your central nervous system and tries to interpret the electrical signals it finds there. It tries to mimic your movements and in effect read your thoughts. I think he's still working on the sensitivity settings though.”

Closing his eyes Spike careful thought about getting up and then carefully tried to lift himself up onto one knee. The suit obeyed. He thought about standing up and again the suit obeyed. “Hey it works,” he cried spinning round to look at Carly. The suit spun him through three complete revolutions before he fell heavily back to the floor.

“It's kinda tricky,” he said as Carly again came over to him.

“You'll get the hang of it,” she said.

Spike tried again to get to his feet, trying not to make any sudden moves this time. He again managed to get to his feet and this time he stayed on them. He practiced walking around the room a few times until he was sure that he wasn't going to fall over again.

Carly meanwhile had been climbing into her on Exo-suit and she came over to join him as though she'd been using one all her life. “I helped Wheeljack test them out,” she said to his look of puzzlement. “He's been working on them for months, but he wanted to keep them a secret until they were perfected. He wasn't sure if Optimus Prime would like the idea of a battle suit for humans.”

“How do we get them to fly,” Spike asked hastily changing the subject. He didn't want to be reminded about Optimus Prime right now.

“I think we'd better go outside,” Carly said.

They made their way back along the corridors leading towards the main entrance of the Ark. Their progress was slow, for while Carly was able to stroll along with perfect control, Spike was forced to take careful steps. Even so he fell over several more times before they eventually reached the entrance again.

Once out in the open air again, Carly turned to Spike and said, “You need to think yourself into flight mode. The suit has two transforms, land and air. Wheeljack said you just think to yourself ‘Transform' and visualise flying and the suit will automatically do the rest.”

“Okay Carly, I'll try,” Spike said without much enthusiasm. He closed his eyes and tried to visualise himself soaring through the air and at the same time muttered “Transform” under his breath. He opened his eyes again; he was still on the ground and nothing about his suit appeared to have changed.

“Try again,” Carly urged.

Taking a deep breath Spike screwed his eyes tight shut and again thought about flying through the air, this time crying out “Transform”. With a jolt the suit jumped forward, Spike felt his arms being firmly but gently moved out of the arms and into the suit body.

The arms of the suit then swivelled round so that the jet exhausts on the top were facing downwards. He felt, rather than saw the suit sprout a set of wings from the back and tailfins on the legs. The legs themselves had joined together. Before he knew what was happening the jets had fired and he flew up into the air. “Whoaaaaa,” Spike cried out, not sure whether he was frightened or exhilarated.

He was still heading straight upwards and the clouds were beginning to look awfully close, he thought it might be a good idea to level off. No sooner had this thought gone through his mind than the suit tilted forward into level flight.

He saw the ground far below him and realised that he was heading away from the volcano. He visualised banking to the left and the suit obeyed and began to turn in a wide arc back towards the Autobot base.

“Spike? Spike are you alright?” Carly's voice suddenly echoed into his headset. Then Carly herself appeared on his left side, her own suit now in flight mode keeping pace with him.

“I'm fine,” he called back at her.

She shook her head at him and then her voice came again, “I can't hear you Spike. You need to switch on your comm. system. Just think about it.”

Spike concentrated on activating his suits comm. system and then said, “How's this?”

“Fine, Spike, just need too turn the volume down a little,” came Carly's reply.

“Sorry,” he said and thought some more. “Is this any better?”


“Okay now what do we do?”

I've entered the coordinates of our destination into the navigation system. I'm transferring the settings to you now. The autopilot should take us straight where we want to go.”

As she spoke the suit made a small beeping sound and a heads up display appeared on the visor. It showed a map view of the local landscape. The suit then began to turn in midair all by itself as the autopilot took control. Carly's suit, Spike saw was doing the same. Once back on the level flight again the jets let out a ferocious burst and both of them rocketed over the ground.

“ Australia here we come,” said Carly.

Chapter Six – En Passant

The trip through the city had been uneventful so far. Dishender's main transport station was looming up in front of the five Autobots. Its exterior was more or less intact, except for the shattered windows. A few gaping holes littered the façade here and there but the building had survived the millennia of disuse and disrepair remarkably well.

Having reached the steps leading up to the main entrance the Autobots transformed back to robot mode, their guns raised and ready. So far they had seen no sign of any Decepticon activity, but this would change soon, if Shockwave was watching the transport network, which he probably was.

The Autobots fanned out, Prime took the lead and walked up the steps. The door to the station was already open, the automatic mechanism having long since failed. The inside was in darkness. Prime switched his optics to infrared and scanned the interior of the station. There was no sign of movement.

Keeping his gun levelled at waist height he entered the building and moved to his left keeping the wall at his back. He continued to scan the room looking for any indication of Decepticons.

Off to his right he saw first Getaway then Slapdash enter the building. Getaway moved to the right while Slapdash followed after Prime. Shortly afterwards Joyride and Chromedome entered as well.

There was still no sign of any Decepticons so it looked as though they were safe, for now. He stepped away from the wall, all the time scanning the room. He saw Getaway and Slapdash follow just behind him while the others hung back to cover them.

Prime walked through the station onto the platform. In front of him stood the transparent cylindrical tube that formed the transport network. The network ran, or rather had run, through all of the major cities of Cybertron.

During the war years it had fell into disuse and disrepair, many sections of it had been destroyed but some still remained. Such was the quality of its construction that many of the shuttle-cars that travelled the network were still in good working order.

One such shuttle stood now by the station platform. Big enough to hold five averaged sized transformers the shuttle-cars used internal guidance systems to reach their destinations, wherever possible navigating past damaged sections of the network automatically.

Prime waved the others forward and climbed into the front seat of the shuttle-car and examined the destination computer. It was a very long time since he'd used one of these but fortunately they were quite simple to operate. Prime quickly pulled up the correct destination of Polyhex (Industrial Sector) from the onscreen menus.

The three Powermasters climbed in to the rear of the shuttle-car while Chromedome sat next to Prime in the front. “Everybody ready?” Prime asked. The others murmured affirmatives and so Prime pressed the button to confirm the destination request.

The canopy of the shuttle-car closed with a hiss and then with a lurch it shot forward into the tunnel. The shuttle-car made a number of violent changes of direction as it navigated itself through the network of tunnels towards the Decepticon capital.

The Autobots sat in silence. They all knew that so far the journey had been an easy one. The chances of bumping into a Decepticon in Polyhex were significantly higher than in Dishender.

The shuttle-car was beginning to make fewer and fewer changes of direction now. Prime checked the navigation computer. They would be at their destination in approximately two breems.

Prime gripped his weapon tighter, if they were going to run into trouble it would be now. They were entering the main transport network and this section was more likely to be watched than the Dishender connection. Even at its height, Dishender had been considered off the beaten track.

Luckily because of the way the network was designed they didn't pass through any stations along the way as these were automatically bypassed until they reached their destination or a problem in the network caused the shuttle-cars to stop at an earlier station.

“Chromedome, can you get into the navigation computer and slow the shuttle-car down and open the canopy before we get to the station,” Prime asked. “If there are Decepticons guarding the platform I don't want us to be a sitting target wait for the shuttle-car to stop.”

Chromedome nodded and bent down to examine the navigation computer. He quickly opened an access panel. His fingertips retracted to reveal a number of tools and interface connections. Using these he tapped into the navigation computer and began to bypass the computers various subroutines.

With a sudden jolt the shuttle-car slowed to a crawl. “Sorry about that,” Chromedome said, “a little heavy handed there.” The shuttle-car increased its speed again but was moving much slower than before. Then with a hiss the canopy slid back.

“We should be there in approximately point five of a breem,” Chromedome said.

“Okay everybody, get ready, we don't know what may be waiting for us. Meet at the rendezvous point if we get separated,” Prime said. The others nodded in agreement and powered up their weapons.

* * * * *

Terrorstorm was bored. He and his fellow Seeker, Skystorm had been guarding the Polyhex Transport system for the last thirty-six cycles without a break; and nothing had happened.

The two of them had got so sick of each other's company that they had decided to each guard one platform. Skystorm had slunk off to guard the departure platform while Terrorstorm had taken the arrivals platform.

He knew that he was more likely to get some action here then at the departure platform. Any attackers would be trying to get into the city after all, but still he didn't hold out much hope. Was this what being a Decepticon was all about, standing around deserted transport stations? He had envisioned himself on the front line of an invading Decepticon attack force, slaughtering all who crossed his path, but it didn't look like that was going to happen.

He looked back down the tunnel for what must have been the thousandth time. Nothing. He turned and walked back along the platform. You'd think they'd let us bring a femmedrone or two down here to help us pass the time he thought.

He reached the far end of the platform when he heard a noise behind him. It was a kind of whooshing noise. It took a few moments for him to realise that it was the sound of a shuttle-car.

He spun round and saw the shuttle-car coasting gently into the station. The canopy was open and there were five Autobots inside. The three Autobots in the rear seat were already on their feet and their guns were aimed right at Terrorstorm's chest. There was a blinding light followed by a searing pain.

* * * * *

The Decepticon fell to the floor, smoke and sparks shooting from his chest. The five Autobots sprang from the shuttle-car ducking for any cover they could find in case more Decepticons were in the area.

It wasn't long before Skystorm entered. He had heard the muffled noise of his partner's death and come to investigate. Many cycles of inactivity however had made him careless and he wasn't really expecting trouble. He thought that maybe Terrorstorm had started shooting the furniture to relieve his boredom.

Before Skystorm knew what was happening Getaway had transformed and his powermaster partner, Rev, had shot into the air. Rev transformed from his engine mode and landed right on Skystorm's shoulder. His energy draining abilities immediately began sucking the life from Skystorm, who screamed and fell to the ground, his body turned a nasty dark grey colour.

Rev ran back to Getaway and transformed back to his engine and recombined with his partner, who then returned to robot mode. Getaway stepped up to the body of Skystorm and examined it. “He's dead,” he said.

Joyride had walked across to the still smoking body of Terrorstorm. He pointed his photon blaster at the Decepticon's head and let of a short burst. The head split apart and internal components were scattered across the floor. “He's dead too,” Joyride said grimly.

Optimus Prime shook his head sadly. These Autobot's willingness to kill out of hand disturbed him. They were supposed to be a peaceful race. The millennia of war had hardened their lasercores to death it would seem.

“Looks like you were right Chromedome,” Getaway said. The tunnel system is only lightly guarded. Very sloppy in my opinion. Shockwave must be getting complacent.”

“Let's move out,” Prime said. The danger was far from over. They had to go through the industrial sector of the Decepticon capital and reach the transport tunnel that led to Shockwave's citadel. He knew it was near the Cybertonium pits, but not exactly where. He only had Spike and Carly's tale to go on.

He knew the Cybertonium pits were not far away from the station though, so the first thing to do was to get there, hopefully without too much trouble. He led the way to the station exit and glanced cautiously out into the station reception area. Unlike the Dishender station, this one was well lit and Prime was able to see that there were no Decepticons in that part of the building.

The five Autobots made their way across the room scanning left and right for any sign of movement, as they went but the station remained silent. At the far side of the room they looked out through one of the large windows lining the wall.

The city of Polyhex stretched out before them. They were at a slightly elevated level, giving them a good view of the city. In the distance stood many tall dark buildings. Lights shone from some while others remained in darkness. The tallest structure of all was the tower belonging to Shockwave's citadel.

Nearer too them were smaller, uglier structures. They were in the industrial zone of the city. Below them were weapons factories, energon processing plants and power relay stations.

Off to the left were a number of tall cylindrical structures. From the top of these came an orange-yellow glow. These were the smelting pits, where waste metal was recycled. Many an Autobot prisoner had also met his death in those pits. The figures of Decepticons could just be made out walking and standing around the perimeter of the pits.

Below them the streets looked deserted. “The Cybertonium pits are that way,” Prime said pointing to the right. “No more than a breem from here. Chromedome any chance you can get rid of the lights.”

“Leave it to me,” he said. He went across to one of the access terminals scattered around inside the citadel. He wrenched the top off of the first one he came to and once again began probing inside with his fingertip tools.

It wasn't long before the lights in the station blinked out leaving them in darkness. “I've knocked out a whole array of lights between us an the Cybertonium pits,” Chromedome said with an air of smugness, “and I've bypassed the fault locators so unless anyone saw them go out we shouldn't be bothered by repair drones.”

“Well done Chromedome,” Prime said. “Okay, Autobots let's move.”

Chapter Seven - Endgame

The small band of Renegades moved cautiously through the outskirts of Polyhex. Sixshot had decided that a small force had best chance of infiltrating Shockwave's headquarters. He had brought along the three new powermasters, Dreadwind, Darkwing and Doubledealer, and also Snapdragon, Sluggslinger, Mindwipe, and of course Starscream.

They had been on the march for about two point five cycles now. Starscream was strutting along in front; hopefully if they did run into a Decepticon patrol he would be the first to be gunned down. So far they had not come across any Decepticons but it was only a matter of time Sixshot knew.

The Renegades had not yet activated their holocrons, Sixshot was waiting until the last possible moment. He hoped that the energon cells would last them until they got inside Shockwave's citadel. If they were caught inside Polyhex then they had no chance of winning an all out firefight.

Starscream walked ahead with a confidence he did not feel. He knew that Sixshot was glaring at him, knew that he wasn't happy with this attack and that he blamed him, Starscream, for it. But Starscream didn't care. Sixshot might have spent the last nine million years in a waking death but at least he knew how he came to be here. That was something that Starscream didn't have.

Ever since his reawakening on Cybertron his memory of how he had gotten here was a complete blank. His last vivid memory was of the attack on the human's nuclear power facility. Yes he remembered that all right. He had managed to kill an Autobot. Everything after that was hazy though.

He had a vague memory of Megatron shouting at him; another of himself flying through the air behind Ramjet and Dirge. That was the last thing he remembered. How had he gotten here? Why had Optimus Prime been with him? Starscream wanted the answers to these questions. Since his revival so many things had happened that he hadn't had time to really give much thought to them.

Now that he had thought about them though he was determined to get them answered. And the only way to do that was to find Megatron. That was why he had been secretly orchestrating this attack. Sixshot had been so wrapped up with his precious Lifespark that he hadn't seen Starscream planting seeds of doubt in the minds of the Renegades.

It had paid off and here they were. The trouble was that getting inside the Decepticon capital was, understandable, not just a case of walking up to the doors and knocking. Starscream had considered this, but until he knew how he had got here he wasn't going to risk it. Who knows what sort of reception he might get.

The streets they were making their way through were lined with deserted buildings of the sort used by petty bureaucrats. The war had long since seen the end of that particular breed of functionary.

Up ahead of them they saw the tower that Shockwave used as his citadel. Provided that the holocrons worked and they got through the city unnoticed they could reach it in less than two breems. It was time.

“Activate holocrons,” Sixshot ordered.

At his order the seven Renegades seemed to fade out of existence. Sixshot activated his own holocrons and he too vanished. It was he thought an amazing piece if design on Mindwipe's part. The holcrons had been installed at strategic places around their bodies allowing the scanners within the holocrons to get a full all round view of the area.

The holocrons worked in pairs with each holocron projecting an image scanned by its counterpart on the opposite side. The result of this was that anyone using the system appeared to vanish. Only a faint outline could be seen when they moved as the holocrons struggled to update the projections.

Each holocrons also broadcast an identity signal at short-range that could be picked up by the other holocrons. This allowed the Renegades to detect and identify each other as they went along. There was a small chance that others could pick up the identity signals but this risk was considered to be less likely than them blundering into one another as they went along. Mindwipe had connected the holocrons directly to their internal systems so that they could be controlled at will.

The Renegades made their way slowly forward. Sixshot was slightly annoyed to realise that Starscream was just outside the range of the holocron transponders. He didn't like not being able to keep an eye on him.

They trudged on, the main part of the city getting closer. The buildings were starting to appear less run down and unkempt. They were following the main road into the city now. Sixshot had been unhappy about this but had realised that it was the quickest way and time was everything.

Up ahead the road turned sharply to the right. Just as they were approaching this corner they heard a scream. Before they could react a small blue and black Decepticon came running round the corner at top speed. It was him that was screaming, in fear. Behind him came a larger green and yellow Decepticon. In one hand he held a gun of some sort, in the other an energo-sword. “Come here, Crankcase. Let me teach you to complain about my attitude!”

Crankcase was shouting now, “Please Barrage, I meant no disrespect!” With a cry and a clang he ran into one of the invisible Renegades and fell backwards into the road. He lay there looking around to see what he had hit. His pursuer also stopped in his tracks, as bewildered as his prey.

Barrage regained his wits first, he moved forward his sword raised above his head for the killing strike, when a blast shot out of nowhere. It hit him in the head causing it to disintegrate. The lifeless body fell to the ground.

Then Starscream flickered back into view, a sneering grin on his face. “You saved me? Who are you?” Crankcase asked.

The sneer on Starscream's face increased and he said, “I only saved you because I wanted the pleasure of teaching you to watch where you're going. You could have dented me.” He raised his arm cannon again and fired at point blank range into Crankcase's head. His body collapsed to join that of his tormenter.

Starscream had little time to enjoy his moment of triumph however because Sixshot had strode the short distance over to him, his holocrons disabled and cuffed him so hard that he fell to the floor beside the two fallen Decepticons.

“Pull a stunt like that again Starscream and you will be the one to find a hole in your head,” he growled. “This is a covert mission. Activate your holocrons and get moving.”

Starscream gave Sixshot an evil look as he stood up, but he did as he was told and faded from view once again. “Snapdragon, Slugslinger, get these two out of sight,” Sixshot ordered.

The two Renegades came forwards and dragged the bodies off the road into the shadows of a nearby building. It made a sight as the two bodies were lifted from the ground without any apparent help.

Once the bodies were out of sight, the Renegades moved on through the city. Sixshot was careful to make sure that Starscream's transponder signal was always in his range. He was tempted to put an end to him here and now, but he didn't want to damage the morale of his other troops. Not only that but they needed everybody they could get for the job ahead; and even Starscream might prove useful. But afterwards he would just have to meet with an accident.

* * * * *

“The tunnel entrance is a short distance from the main complex,” Prime said.

The five Autobots were huddled under the cover of a large industrial building. Just across from them was the walkway leading to the entrance to the Cybertonium pits. The walkway spanned a chasm whose bottom was lost in darkness. At the far end of the walkway was the entrance to the Cybertonium pits.

At either side of the entrance stood two of the bubble headed guardian droids. Patrolling backwards and forwards along the path in front of the walkway were two Decepticons. They were heavily built and the ground vibrated slightly under their footfalls. Mounted on their left shoulder was a huge cannon.

“This looks like a job for us,” Joyride said. “Come on guys.”

“Joyride no!” Prime said, but it was too late. Joyride, Slapdash and Getaway and run out from the shadow of the building. All three transformed to vehicle mode and raced towards the guards. The two Decepticons turned at the noise, even as Slapdash's and Joyride's engines, Lube and Hotwire, transformed to robot mode and flew into the air.

The nearest Decepticon raised a bulky fist and lashed out batting Hotwire aside. He hit a nearby wall and lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. The second Deceptiocn wasn't so lucky however and Lube landed squarely on his chest.

He screamed as his energy began to drain. He began pulling at Lube with his huge hands trying to get him away, but he was firmly attached and his attack soon took its toll. He fell backwards to the ground with Lube still grasping his chest.

The two guardian droids had left their posts at the pits entrance and begun firing at the attackers as well. Prime and Chromedome broke from cover raising their own weapons. The two droids quickly vaporised under their combined firepower.

The final standing Decepticon had turned and begun firing his shoulder cannon at the attacking Powermasters. Seeing the fate of Hotwire, the three of them had veered off to avoid the Decepticon. Slapdash however caught a glancing blow from the cannon and went careening away in a skid that left his front half hanging precariously over the chasm.

The Decepticon turned and advanced on him when he came under fire from Prime and Chromedome. Getaway, not having ejected his Powermaster companion was able to transform and bring his own double-barrelled plasma-shell shotgun to bear as well.

Then Lube, having finished off the other Decepticon ran and jumped on the remaining guard's back. The Decepticon screamed and tried to shake him off, but his strength was already leaving him and with the continuing weapon fire he had to contend with he soon fell lifeless to the ground.

Lube immediately got up and ran to his partner. He transformed back to engine mode and reconnected. Slapdash transformed slowly, easing his way back onto solid ground as he did so, his left arm hung limply by his side pockmarked by the Decepticon's cannon fire.

“Are you alright?” Getaway asked running up.

“I'll be fine,” Slapdash said. “What about Hotwire?”

The other Autobots had run over to where the smaller robot was lying. Chromedome was examining him, “Well I'm no medic,” he said, “but I think he's just stunned fortunately.”

“Let me help Optimus,” at first Prime wasn't sure who was speaking and then he realised that it was his own Powermaster partner Hi-Q speaking to him telepathically.

“How?” Prime thought back.

“Transform and I can heal him.”

“Stand back everyone,” Prime ordered and transformed. Hi-Q ejected from his engine compartment and transformed. He walked over to Hotwire's inert body. Kneeling down he placed his hands on Hotwire's shoulders. As the other's watched a faint glow was emitted from his hands. After a few seconds Hotwire stirred and groaned. His eyes flared back to life and with the help of Hi-Q he sat up.

“Owww, remind me not to do that again guys,” he said.

Hi-Q stood up and said, “It just occurred to me that we could transfer some of our stored energon reserves into each other to accelerate our repair systems.”

“Well done Hi-Q,” Prime said.

“Well we never thought of that,” put in Slapdash.

Hi-Q transformed and recombined with Optimus Prime who returned to robot mode. “No,” he said sternly. “The three of you are too busy thinking yourselves invulnerable.” He turned to Joyride who had transformed again after recombining with the recovered Hotwire. “You're irresponsible act could have cost not only the life of your partner, but also yourself and your friends. I expect the three of you to start treating this war with the severity it deserves. It is not a game. I have lost many friends as a result of it. I don't want to lose any more.”

“Um, Prime,” Chromedome said to break the awkward silence that followed, “shouldn't we be making a move. There's no knowing who heard that battle.”

“You're right Chromedome,” Prime said. “Slapdash, are you okay?”

“I'll be alright, my arm's a bit beat up but I'll live.”

Prime nodded and said, “I think the transport system is in that building over there.” He pointed to a tall tower to his right. The tower rose high into the air, where a horizontal section attached to the building next to it.

The five Autobots went over to the entrance to the tower. Inside was another of the transparent transport tubes rising vertically from the floor. No car stood waiting however.

“This is part of the personal short hop transit system,” Prime said. “It doesn't use cars but instead anti-gravity boosters push passengers along. Follow me.”

Prime walked into the tube entrance and immediately began to float up the tube. The others followed one by one. The tube went up for several hundred feet before rotating by ninety degrees and heading towards the centre of Polyhex.

* * * * *

The journey through the city had been slow. The Renegades had had to stop a number of times to allow both lone Decepticons and entire patrols to pass. The citadel was now very close indeed though, something Sixshot was glad about because the power levels in the holocrons was becoming dangerously low.

Outside the entrance to the citadel was a small guard post. Several Decepticons, mainly Seekers, were standing or sitting close to the entrance to the building. They didn't seem particularly alert Sixshot noticed.

Not surprising really. Since the departure from Cybertron of Optimus Prime and Megatron and their respective troops things had been quiet here. There had been very few security breaches. Those that had taken place had been mainly carried out by the Earth bound Autobots. The guards were bored and uninterested. That would work in the Renegade's favour.

The Renegades were bunched close together a few hundred feet from the citadel entrance. The door to the citadel was open; one of the guards was idly leaning against the doorframe. Just off to one side two more guards sat huddled round a table playing some kind of game of chance. Other guards were wandering around in an aimless manner.

“Slugslinger, you know what to do,” Sixshot ordered.

Slugslinger grinned, although this was lost on his companions as they were all still masked by their holocrons. He made his way towards the guards going slowly so as not to make any noise. He came up behind the two guards playing the game. He hit one sharply around the head.

The guard cried out in pain and spun round to see who had hit him. The guard by the door had stood up at the other's cry and was looking round him for the source of the attack. “What did you do that for, Skyboom?” the first guard asked rising to his feet menacingly.

“I didn't,” Skyboom protested. “Shaker it was…”

“Yes…?” Shaker waited and Skyboom looked more and more uncomfortable. “Think it's funny to hit me do you?” Shaker continued. “Relieves the boredom a bit for you does it? Well now it's my turn.”

Shaker flung himself at Skyboom, who put out his arms to defend himself. The two of them fell to the floor as the other guards gathered round cheering at the spectacle. This was the most exciting thing to have happened in ages.

As this was going on the eight Renegades slipped quietly passed the guards and entered the citadel. They walked down a long corridor until they came to a large room with a set of doors in each wall.

“This way,” Sixshot ordered leading the way to the largest set. As he approached the doors slid open to reveal a staircase leading up. “We're almost there.”

* * * * *

“This is the last group,” Nightbeat said to Ultra Magnus. The evacuation of the base had gone smoothly so far and all that was left was the five Decepticon prisoners and a few support workers. These were even now pushing the still deactivated Decepticons into the escape tunnel.

Ultra Magnus nodded sadly and looked around at the now deserted base. He was sorry to leave, it had been his home for a long time now but it had to be done. It was no longer safe anymore.

He and Nightbeat entered the tunnel and Nightbeat closed the door behind them. Then the two of them followed the others down the passageway.

* * * * *

Shockwave tapped eagerly at his keypad. The neutroplasma bomb was finally ready for launch. Using his remote connection he keyed in the coordinates into the targeting system. Once that was done he pressed the button to arm the device.

The bomb sitting snugly in its launch tube at the other side of the city automatically ran through several diagnostic checks as the targeting system lined itself up on the city of Dishender .

Finding all was well with its systems the bomb permitted itself to be armed ready for firing. The all-clear signal was returned to Shockwave's computer terminal. He reached out and pressed the button to fire the bomb.

The launch tube shook as the bomb fired. It shot high into the air over the capital city of the Deceptions. It was travelling so fast that it reached its destination in under 0.25 of a breem. As the bomb began to fall out of the sky the final arming procedure activated. The bomb was now live. A hundred feet above the ground the bomb detonated.

A shockwave of unimaginable force expanded through the city. Buildings touched by the blast shattered instantly. The building that housed the headquarters of the Renegades blew apart as the blast hit it. Windows shattered and the very metal of the building crumpled. The upper floors collapsed downwards bringing the whole structure down with a crash.

Following the shockwave was an intense heat wave. Metal instantly liquefied and buildings that had survived the initial shockwave quickly dissolved and collapsed downward into the rivers of molten metal running through the streets. The rivers soon became lakes and the lakes eventually joined to form a huge sea that covered the whole of what had once been the city of Dishender .

Down in the tunnel, the fleeing Autobots stopped as they heard the rumble and crashing coming above them. “What's that?” Nightbeat asked.

Before Ultra Magnus could answer, the noises increased. A shriek of tearing metal grew louder and the roof of the tunnel above them began to bulge.

“RUN!” Ultra Magnus cried out, but it was too late, with a rumble the tunnel began collapsing, debris falling around the Autobots. Nightbeat saw the roof ahead of him, cave in totally, burying the Decepticon prisoners and the Autobots who were pushing them along.

Ultra Magnus was shouting something to him, but all he could hear was the noise of the tunnel collapsing about them. He lost sight of Ultra Magnus as dust and debris blocked his vision, then blackness overcame him and he knew no more.

Chapter Eight - Stalemate

Shockwave looked at the viewscreen with satisfaction. The spy satellite that he'd sent up to observe the detonation was looking down what had once been Dishender. The shockwave and heat blast had both dissipated leaving only a sea of molten metal behind them. It would take many cycles but eventually when the metal cooled it would be as if the city had never been.

“So much for the Autobots,” Shockwave said to himself and he turned away from the computer. As he did so however, the viewscreen flickered and the image of Megatron replaced that of the destroyed city.

“Greetings Shockwave,” Megatron said. “How go things on Cybertron?”

“Very well Megatron, I have destroyed the source of the Autobot resistance and I plan to sweep away any survivors as soon as possible.”

“Excellent Shockwave. With the Autobots crushed on Earth and on Cybertron we will be free to conquer the Universe. I intend to take control of Earth, immediately. Unfortunately my plan to shorten the process has failed. I want you to awaken every Decepticon in the cryo-chambers. I want three regiments of troops on Earth as soon as possible. The quicker we conquer this planet the better.”

“You're not conquering anything Megatron!” came a voice from behind Shockwave. Turning, Shockwave saw Optimus Prime and four other Autobots emerge from the transit tunnel that terminated in his control room.

“Intruders!” he cried raising his gun arm.

“Stand down Shockwave,” Megatron voice called. “Optimus Prime? It is impossible you were destroyed, this cannot be!”

“Surprise Megatron!” Prime said. “I don't know what you've been up to but this is where it ends.”

“What I've been up to is the destruction of your Autobot friends, Prime. They are all dead and now not even you can stand against me for I am power incarnate.”

“Dead? You lie Megatron! And if you don't then I will make you pay. By Primus I swear it.”

“Empty words Prime, you will soon follow your friends into the abyss, Shockwave, dispose of these bothersome insects.”

“With pleasure Megatron,” Shockwave said. Keeping his blaster levelled he reached over and pressed a button on the console. “Soon this room will be full of my guards” he continued, “Drop your weapons and surrender.”

“Surrender to you Shockwave, never,” Prime said. “We've come for the Lifespark. Now where is it?”

Shockwave was confused, what was Prime talking about? “I know nothing of any Lifespark,” he said.

“No but I do,” came another voice. Everyone spun round to see eight figures flicker into view, their weapons raised.

“Sixshot!” Megatron and Shockwave said together.

“That's right. Hello Megatron, it's been a long time. Oh and Shockwave, I'm afraid I had Mindwipe knock out your security alarms so I'm afraid you're on your own.”

“What?” Shockwave said and pressed the alarm button again urgently.

“Optimus Prime,” Sixshot said turning to the Autobot leader. “We meet at last. I am Sixshot, leader of the Renegades and I'm afraid that it is I who have the Lifespark that you seek.”

“What?” Now it was Prime's turn to be confused. Who was this Sixshot and how did he come into any of this? He thought back and then said, “Weren't you one of Megatron's lieutenants? You disappeared millennia ago.”

“Yes but now I'm back and its time I took over so if you would all drop your weapons.”

“Sixshot, you traitor, you'll pay for this,” Megatron was enraged.

“No Megatron, its you who will pay,” came the voice of Starscream as he pushed his way to the front and faced the viewscreen. He had been standing quietly listening to the conversation between Shockwave, Megatron and the Autobots. They had triggered memories buried inside of him, memories of how he had gotten here, memories of how Megatron had tried to kill him.

“Starscream! So even you survive. I should have known that you would find the company of other traitors,” Megatron said.

“Enough,” Sixshot interrupted. “We are in control here, now, drop your weapons.”

The Autobots all looked to Prime for guidance and he nodded slowly dropping his own gun to the ground. The others followed.

“A Wise decision,” Sixshot said. “Now Shockwave, I am in command now and you are of no further use to me. Soon my troops will overrun the city.”

“Your troops are dead,” Shockwave said. “Your base in Dishender is nothing but slag now.”

“What is the one-eyed freak talking about?” Snapdragon asked.

“I have just dropped a neutroplasma bomb on the city. It has been utterly destroyed. Your pathetic coup is at an end, surrender now.”

Could it be true Sixhot wondered or was Shockwave lying to try and get them to surrender. “Even if this is true, it doesn't matter. With you out of the way we will easily get the other Decepticons to see things our way,” he said.

“Do you really think I'll let a miserable traitor like you take control of Cybertron?” Megatron said. His image turned away from the screen and he said something they couldn't hear. Then he turned back. “Soon you will all be dead. I have ordered a shipment of Carpasin Energon cubes be sent to you; as a present from me.”

“Megatron no! That will destroy the entire citadel!” Shockwave shouted.

“I am sorry Shockwave but we all have to make sacrifices. The space bridge has been activated, the cubes will arrive in moments.” Megatron's image flickered out.

While Megatron was speaking, Mindwipe had slowly moved towards the computer bank and begun taping hurriedly at the keys. “What are you doing?” Sixshot asked.

“I'm trying to delay the space bridge long enough to get out of here, carpasin energon will blow this place to atoms,” Mindwipe said as his fingers flittered over the keys.

Chromedome ran over to where Mindwipe stood, “I'm trying to save us all,” he said as the Renegades swung round and targeted him with their weapons.”

“Renegades stand down,” Sixshot ordered. “Let the Autobot help.”

“I've managed to slow the space bridge transfer,” Mindwipe said, “but it's only bought us sometime and not enough to get out of here before the cubes blow the tower apart. Any ideas Autobot?”

“Just one,” Chromedome said. “If we can reconfigure the space bridge to become fully duplex, can escape down it even as the cubes come up.”

“Brilliant!” Mindwipe said. “For an Autobot you're quite intelligent.”

The two were rapidly moving their hands over the keypad of the computer. The room hummed slightly as the receiving tower on the spacebridge began to rise…

“How much time do we have?” Prime asked coming over.

“Not long,” Chromedome replied.

The flaps around the perimeter of the receiving tower folded back and locked into place.

The doors to the spacebridge transport room slid open with a hiss. “Everybody inside!” Chromedome shouted. The Renegades and the Autobots ran to the small chamber and crowded inside.

Shockwave ran there too but Starscream turned and kicked him back into the room, “No room,” he said coldly as Shockwave fell backwards into the control room.

The doors to the spacebridge closed with another hiss, “Nooooooooooo!” Shockwave shouted.

The blinding light of the spacebridge beam shot down the opening in the top of the tower, it seemed for a second to flare even brighter as a second beam shot out.

Shockwave stood up even as the hiss of the doors opening told him that the cubes had arrived. He looked in horror and then screamed as a massive explosion ripped through the control room from the open spacebridge chamber. He felt himself flung through the air, pain in every circuit of his body. He felt himself falling and then he felt no more.

Decepticons all over Polyhex turned as the citadel, the symbol of Decepticon power, exploded from its uppermost storey. Debris tumbled down the side of the tower into the streets below.

Windows in nearby buildings shattered; dust and smoke and falling rubble filled the air. Chunks of metal that had been blown from the tower rained down on the city, hitting other buildings as well as Decepticons standing terror stricken in the streets.

With a final roar the citadel tower collapsed, dropping almost vertically straight downward disintegrating as it went. Clouds of dust and smoke billowed outwards down the nearby streets.

Then an eerie silence fell on the city, the dust and smoke gradually cleared to reveal that the Decepticon citadel was no more.

End of Part Four

To be concluded…

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