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TBAM: Dark of the Moon

Chapter Text

(Pripyat, Ukraine, June 7th, 2011)

Laserbeak watched from his hiding spot at the abandoned Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, waiting for the targets to approach the area. He growled quietly, making sure not to alert any of the fleshlings to his presence when he spotted a red and blue-colored 1997 Peterbilt 379EXHD Sleeper Cab Semi-Truck carrying a 2011 Great Dane Everest Super Seal Trailer entering the ghost town of Pripyat. Following it was a heavily-customized lime-green and white Tranquility Fire Department Search & Rescue 2004 Hummer H2 Adventure, four grey 2009 Hummer H3T Standard Crew Cab Pickup Trucks, and one white 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL Stretched Limousine. The convoy came to a stop just outside the power plant. Stepping out of the vehicles were 20 NEST Soldiers and their human operative.

"Shockwave, Optimus has arrived and our operative is bringing the human soldiers inside the plant," reported Laserbeak on the comms.

"Good, I'm in position with my pet. Remember, while I deal with Optimus, you shall 'thank' our operative," reminded the one-optic Decepticon.

"Understood," said the Cyber-Condor with a sinister grin as he watched the NEST Soldiers and their human operative entered the nuclear power plant.

(Meanwhile...)

NEST Field Commander and United States Army Ranger, Lieutenant-Colonel William Lennox, felt something was wrong here. The fact that he was in the area of what many people have called the worst nuclear disaster in history that happened here 25 years ago wasn't the problem, but their contact: Alexi Voskhod, General Counsel for the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining. He secretly met with the man in Kiev who informed him that his people had discovered an artifact that they believed to be Cybertronian in origin, thus earning NEST's curiosity.

Coming with him and his team were Optimus Prime and Ratchet, thus leaving Jazz in charge of the Autobots back in D.C. Earlier, Lennox had his SiC, Captain Mike Graham of the British Special Air Service, to remind everyone to have their HazMat suits on once they reached the area.

Meanwhile, Optimus and Ratchet, both of whom were still in their respective alt-modes, had begun scanning the area for anything unusual.

"Did you find anything, Ratchet?" asked Optimus.

"Hard to tell, Optimus. The radiation from the power plant is scrambling my sensors, so it's very hard to get an actual fix of what this human had found," replied the Autobot Chief Medical Officer.

"Then all we can do is wait for Lennox and his team to report in their findings," stated the Autobot Leader.

(Back with Lennox...)

The closer he and his team got to the artifact's location, the more that the Army Ranger could smell a trap. Lennox's first realization of it was when he asked Mr. Voskhod why he wasn't wearing a HazMat suit, who replied that 'it doesn't matter anymore'.

The next part is when they were close to their destination, which was underneath the floor that housed Chernobyl's No.4 RBMK-1000 nuclear reactor, that the Lieutenant-Colonel felt like something or someone was watching him and his men, but couldn't see it. Whatever it was, Lennox had a hunch that Alexi knew. His reasons for believing this was because the Ukrainian Government official had pulled him to the side to tell him something about 'energy experiments', but before he could say anything else, he freaked out and left.

A few minutes later, the team then entered the floor where the artifact was, and saw something they didn't expect to see. It was a large curved-like machine that was holding a smaller, spherical-shaped component with several bundles of cut cabling attached to it. Next to the machine was a large empty container bearing the emblem of the Soviet Space Program on it. This has to be the artifact they were looking for, because it was definitely giving off a decent amount of Energon readings.

"Optimus, we got a visual," radioed Lennox. "It looks like the object is clamped in some kind of metal harness. Plus, this thing's container has the markings of the Soviet Space Program on it-"

He was cut off when something shook the power plant. At first, nothing happened, but the shaking continued and the NEST Soldiers were getting more nervous.

"Sir, the Energon Detectors are going crazy! Something really big is coming this way!" shouted Graham.

"How close?!" demanded Lennox as he flicked the safety off of his Remington ACR Assault Carbine.

With almost no warning, four huge 9-foot metal tentacles with blades spinning around them, punched through the nearby wall and started destroying the room. The NEST Soldiers shouted in alarm as they tried to avoid the tentacles. When the team saw how the tentacles were moving did they realized they were the limbs of a very, very large creature. Lennox and the soldier next to him barely dove out of the way of a tentacle as it grabbed hold of the artifact before withdrawing with the others.

"Shit! Everyone topside, now! Don't fire till we're outside with Optimus and Ratchet backing us up! Come on, Corporal!" ordered Lennox as he helped said man up to his feet.

(Back outside...)

Optimus was racing alongside the submerged creature that he currently had on his scanners. Judging by its form, there was no need to question its identity.

"A Driller," said the Autobot Leader, who was currently speaking with Ratchet on the comms. Drillers were very large and dangerous creatures that lived underneath Cybertron's crust.

"The chances of a wild Driller coming to Earth is impossible, meaning this one's been tamed. And you and I both know there is only one Decepticon that has both the strength and cunning to accomplish such a task," added Ratchet.

"Shockwave," answered Optimus, the name bringing dread and grief to his spark. The Decepticon Scientist/Assassin was the only Cybertronian considered to be an equal to Megatron, excluding Optimus Prime. He was very deadly, combining raw power with ruthless logic to win his battles. Shockwave was also responsible not only for the deaths of many Autobots, but rogue Decepticons as well.

"Ratchet, when we reach Lennox and his team, stay with them while I deal with the beast," ordered Optimus.

"Understood," replied the Autobot CMO.

Optimus continued to scan the area for any signs of their human allies, while keeping his optics out for any sign of the Driller too. Finally, his audio receptors heard Will's voice, calling his name as he and his men ran outside the nuclear power plant.

Suddenly, the Driller's head, a massive lamprey-like mouth with countless grinding blades, burst out of the building next to Optimus. Two of the Driller's tentacles came right out of the ground underneath the Autobot Leader, flipping the mech and his trailer into the air. He managed to transform into his 28-foot biped form, grunting as he landed with a thud!

As Optimus' trailer landed, it quickly transformed into his Mobile Armored Weapons Platform or MAWP for short, out and ready for action.

Lennox and his entire team had managed to get to Ratchet and gave Optimus the space he need to fight. The Prime ran towards the MAWP and grabbed both a Cybertanium Shield and a servoheld variant of his Energon Swords from it.

"Stay behind me!" ordered Optimus as he charged the tentacles that were currently harassing the NEST Soldiers and Ratchet, who was currently in his 20-foot biped form.

The Autobot CMO was using his Energon SMG to keep the tentacles back, but this caused him to get separated from the humans, who were having slightly less luck than he was.

Suddenly, the tentacle holding the artifact appeared, attacking Graham and four other soldiers. Jumping into the air, Optimus sliced off the tip of the tentacle with his Energon Sword, releasing the artifact as it landed on the ground.

Farther back along the Driller's 1080-foot long form, near the deep pit it had emerged from, a 'passenger' compartment opened up to reveal a 35-foot grey-purplish mech with a single red optic, a right arm-mounted AstroMag Cannon with its powerpack mounted on his back, and a left forearm-mounted Cybertanium Blade.

"Optimus," snarled the mech as he glared at said Autobot.

Optimus responded by getting into a battle-stance as he prepared to charge the Decepticon. But the massive mech retreated underground with his pet. The Prime stared at the pit before returning to Ratchet and the NEST Soldiers.

"You alright, Optimus?" asked the Autobot CMO as his leader threw his Energon Sword to the ground in frustration.

"I'm fine, old friend," replied Optimus before looking at Will. "How are your men, Lennox?"

The Army Ranger just nodded, still looking at the spot the Decepticon had disappeared to. "Who the hell was that guy?"

"That was Shockwave," answered Optimus. "One of Megatron's most powerful and vicious soldiers."

"Why the hell was he after this?" asked Graham as he nudged the artifact at his feet.

"It can't be..." murmured the Prime as he dropped his Cybertanium Shield before getting down to one knee to inspect the artifact closer.

"You know what it is?" asked Lennox.

Ratchet got a better look at the artifact and his optics widened as he recognized it. "This is an engine part from a very long-lost Autobot ship."

"So what were the Soviets doing with it?" wondered Lennox aloud.

"What indeed..." rumbled Optimus.

(Meanwhile...)

Laserbeak watched as Alexi scrambled to his limo with fear in his eyes. The Mini-Con had already received Shockwave's transmission about his engagement with Optimus and now was the time to act.

Squawking, the Cyber-Condor with a 114-inch wingspan flew from his hiding spot towards Voskhod's limo, shooting at the front part of the vehicle with his dual chassis-mounted Sonic SMGs. Once he was done, he landed on the limo's roof to take a peek and was delighted to see the bullet-ridden corpse of Alexi Voskhod laying in the driver's seat.

Giving a cackling laugh, Laserbeak said to the corpse before flying off: "Pleasure working with you and your late uncle."

Chapter Text

(NEST Base, Washington D.C)

A yellow 2011 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Coupe with black racing stripes, followed by both a rosso corsa 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia Coupe and a silver 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Centennial Concept, all found themselves waved in by the human sentries stationed at the outer wall of the twin blockages surrounding the old building belonging to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, located near the outer reaches of downtown Washington D.C. In earlier times, somebody would ask why there was such a heavy guard outside an old HSS building, but that was neither there nor then. Ever since 9/11, security had become the name of the game, and no one batted an eye at the ill-used building.

But what the public didn't know was that this was the new base of operations for NEST, and the three civilian cars that went through the front gate were the Autobots Bumblebee, Mirage and Sideswipe respectively. The three of them drove past the parking lot before heading down a tunnel that lead into a very large hangar. Unlike the old base at Diego Garcia, they now have everything in the same building instead of separate ones, making it faster for one person to get from one place to the next. Catwalks connect each of the different rooms for NEST personnel, and there are upper levels and separate scaffolds filled with either U.S or U.K Military technicians. In the hangar, parked in different sections, were 2008 Hummer HX Concepts, 2009 Hummer H3T Standard Crew Cab Pickup Trucks, AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters, MH-60M Black Hawks, CV-22B Ospreys and MQ-1C Grey Eagle UAVs, allowing more NEST Soldiers to go with the Autobots on more missions and support them from both the ground and in the air. The Rec Room, Mess Hall, Medical Bay, Command Center, Autobot Barracks, Training Room and Firing Range were all setup similarly when they were originally stationed at Diego Garcia so that the humans and their Autobot allies can interact with each other with ease.

And every space is constantly being used. NEST had expanded by the hundreds in the last year alone, being able to send several teams around the globe simultaneously while still having enough soldiers to protect the homefront.

Currently inside the hangar were the rest of the Autobots, minus Optimus Prime and Ratchet. Standing next to an AH-64D Apache that was receiving maintenance was Ironhide, the team's Heavy Weapons Specialist, and Wheeljack, the Scientist/Inventor of the team's equipment. The helm-finned mech was currently giving Ironhide both the Heavy Iron 1.0 Assault Rifle and the Heavy Iron 2.0 Battle Rifle that could fire High-Explosive and Armor-Piercing rounds respectively, to go along with his dual forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannons. The twins, Skids and Mudflap, the youngest of the Autobots on Earth, were currently playing some game which would soon turn into an argument. Jolt, Ratchet's assistant, and two NEST Soldiers were demonstrating in front of a group of new NEST recruits on how to launch a surprise attack on a Decepticon from above. The sisters, Elita, Chromia and Arcee were at the Firing Range, doing some target practice. The recently-revived Jetfire was merely grumbling about not enough open space for him. Jazz, Optimus' TiC, Saboteur and head of SpecOps, was hanging out at one side of the hangar. And finally, the Wreckers: Leadfoot, Roadbuster, Topspin and Leadfoot's Cyber-Bulldog pet, Steeljaw, whom all four were usually kept at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with their ship, the Xantium, were currently talking to each other while Steeljaw sat down by his master.

Jolt, after finishing the demonstration, walked over to Bumblebee and Sideswipe, while Mirage went to chill somewhere in the hangar. Even after coming to Earth a month earlier, the 15-foot Spymaster/Sniper was still not comfortable working with the humans.

"So, did Optimus tell you guys why we were all called back here?" asked Jolt.

The 16-foot yellow 'Bot shrugged while the 15-foot silver one replied: "He didn't. But the way his voice sounded seemed that it was something important. Did you asked Jazz or Ironhide?"

The 16-foot blue 'Bot nodded. "I did and I even asked Elita too. And they all said to wait and not to even think about asking Prime himself when he gets here."

"That's because he's in a foul mood, kid," said Ironhide, who had both of his new Heavy Iron Rifles mounted on his back, from behind the three grouped Autobots. "Me, Elita and Ratchet have known Optimus far longer than any of you. And trust me, the way he was talking, its better not to ask him any questions until he's ready."

"Not even if it was his own sparkmate?" asked Sideswipe. His question went unanswered when the hangar doors that lead out to the airfield suddenly opened up, soon followed by the sound of two familiar engines being heard.

"Yo, Autobots! The big boss is here!" shouted Jazz as he started walking towards the center of the hangar. "Form up!"

All 16 Autobots, including Steeljaw, lined up as their leader and medic arrived, with the latter transforming as he went to greet the others. But Optimus stayed in his alt-mode as he detached his trailer before he drove to the middle of the hangar, and not saying a single word. To the humans, they would have either raised eyebrows in curiosity or just simply ignore it.

But to the Autobots, they knew better. They sense the angered aura emitting from the Prime as he stood still. Some like Bumblebee, Jolt, and the younger mechs, shuddered a little at the anger that Optimus was giving off. Skids and Mudflap didn't even dared to make some kind of bad joke, but the ones like Jazz and Ironhide showed signs of concern and began to wonder as to what had made Optimus so mad. Elita had enough courage to walk on over to her sparkmate's side and communicate through their bond.

While she was doing that, Ironhide and the others walked over to Ratchet. "What did you and Will find in the Ukraine that made him so pissed off? I've never seen him this mad before."

Ratchet lowered his helm as he pulled the engine part out from subspace. "I believe this is the source of his anger."

Ironhide and Chromia gasped as they recognized the part, along with Jazz and Wheeljack. The others just looked at, trying to figure out what it signified. Before any questions could be asked, loud voices could be heard as eight humans entered the hangar.

Walking towards them, as Ratchet had decided to place the engine part on a desk located at the bottom of a 25-foot tall scaffold, was Lennox in a fresh black-colored NEST Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), but without his tactical gear. With him was Charlotte Mearing, the Director of National Intelligence and their liaison to POTUS. Following her was her aide, and Theodore Galloway, National Security Advisor to the President, who Lennox was currently talking to.

"Oh, slag. Not them again," groaned Sideswipe as he watched the humans.

Although he was no longer their liasion, Galloway still had some access if it involved national security. Mearing, on the other hand, wasn't a bureaucrat or anti-Autobot like Galloway. But she had a thing for being in control, with everyone following her rules and sometimes impatient.

"Probably asking about that raid we did in the Middle East," suggested Wheeljack in his British-accent, remembering how he, Bumblebee, Mirage and Sideswipe took down an illegal nuclear facility in Iran just a few weeks ago with no bloodshed.

From what their audio receptors had heard, Lennox was making up a poor excuse about the Autobots' comings and goings, stating they were like 'teenage kids who like to sneak out of the house every once in a while'. There were a few humans that the Autobots fully trusted, and William Lennox was one of them. He was one of the few humans who didn't see the Autobots as talking machines, but sentient beings with feelings and lives, as well as reliable allies too. They fully respected both his courage and his willingness to take the heat from the U.S Government. They were also thankful (to their private amusement) that his six-year-old daughter, Annabelle, was able to find a soft spot in Ironhide, though the 22-foot black mech had threatened anyone (except his sparkmate) who dare tried to say that to him.

When the two U.S Government officials were done talking to Lennox, they came up to the desk that the engine part was resting on.

"Optimus, you remember Charlotte Mearing and Theodore Galloway? Our Director of National Intelligence and the President's National Security Advisor respectively?" asked Lennox.

The Autobot Leader said nothing, just remaining in his alt-mode.

"He's in a bad mood," Mirage warned the humans in his thick Italian-accent. "He's not talkin' to anybody today."

Unimpressed, Mearing glared at the Autobots before asking sarcastically: "What is this? The silent treatment?"

"We've seen that and this is not that," answered Jazz plainly.

"Definitely not," added Wheeljack.

"This is worse," said Ironhide, motioning at Optimus.

"Well, whatever it is, can you at least tell your emotional leader that we have some info that he needs so badly?!" exclaimed Galloway harshly, only to be met with a loud stomp from Roadbuster.

"Oi! Watch who you're talking to, ya wanker!" said the 17-foot green and white Wrecker in his Scottish-accent.

As if realizing the Wreckers were here, Mearing shouted: "What are you three doing here?! You didn't get any permission to leave the airbase!"

Leadfoot, the 15-foot red and black Wrecker, did a spit, before replying in his Cockney-accent: "The big boss called us here, woman! And if he calls, the Wreckers come!"

Steeljaw, his 115-inch long Cyber-Bulldog pet, gave a 'woof!' in agreement.

"So here we are," finished Topspin in his Irish-accent as the 16-foot blue and white Wrecker crossed his arms.

The red-coloring on Mearing's face was visible while Galloway snapped back: "As long as you're on this planet, you will follow our rules to-"

His rant was cut off when Optimus let out a loud noise from his horn, nearly shattering every glass panel inside the hangar. All eyes and optics were now on the Autobot Leader as the transformation he undertook was possibly the quickest and the most furious they had ever seen.

"He's pissed," commented Ironhide.

And it was the truth as soon as Optimus finished transforming into his biped form, he crouched down with both of his fists on the ground and his helm was barely eight feet from both Galloway and Mearing. The look on both his faceplates and optics were nothing but anger, hurt and betrayal as he glared at the two humans.

"You lied to us. Everything humans know of our planet and our kind we were told it had all been shared," he growled out before pointing an accusing digit at the engine part on the desk that stood between them. "So why was this found in human possession?"

"We were in the dark on this also," answered Mearing with brutal honesty. "It was 'Director Only' clearance at Sector Seven, until now." She then looked to her assistant who was carrying several different handbags like a pack mule. "The bag."

The young woman fumbled with the multitude of handbags before whispering: "Which bag?"

Galloway narrowed his eyes and growled out: "Hermes Birkin, green ostrich!"

Mearing shook her head in sympathy as her assistant trotted over with the correct handbag, while apologizing profusely.

Theodore rolled his eyes as Charlotte took the handbag from her aide, which she then opened up and pulled out what looked like a manual before saying: "This is a secret that a few men knew, and fewer still remain alive. Please allow me to introduce you to two of NASA's founding mission directors and astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step foot onto the Moon after Neil Armstrong."

Galloway waved his left hand out to present the retired Colonel in his old USAF Service Dress Uniform, along with NASA's two mission directors in business suits as they walked into the hangar. As the three men approached, Mearing strode up to the latter. "Sir? Optimus Prime."

Buzz craned his head upward to look at the 'Bot in question, staring open mouthed as amazement and fascination gripped him.

"From a fellow space traveler, it's a true honor," said the retired astronaut with clear awe in his voice.

Optimus had seemed to have calm down considerably, and so greeted the man with a humble nod. "The honor is mine."

"Our entire Space Race of the 1960s and '70s, it appears, was in response to an event," said Galloway as Charlotte strode up to the scaffold.

"In 1961, our VLA Radio Observatory in New Mexico detected an alien ship crashing onto the dark side of the Moon's surface. Sector Seven at the time had already been in the works on reverse-engineering NBE-1 since the '50s and we had developed ships that could carry us from Earth to the Moon with that tech," said McCandless, one of NASA's mission directors. "We investigated the ship, but no survivors were found on board."

"Me and my team were sworn to secrecy by our Commander-in-Chief," said Buzz tiredly.

"A total of thirty-five people knew of the real plan at NASA," added Johnson, the second NASA mission director.

"When Apollo 11 landed, we discovered that the Soviets had gotten there first by sending unmanned probes. Somehow, they must've picked up that fuel rod," said McCandless as he gestured at the engine part.

"We believe the Soviets deduced that the rod was a fissionable fuel assembly," continued Mearing from the top of the scaffold. "And believed they had it mastered and tried to harness it at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on April 26, 1986, with disastrous consequences."

"We landed six missions in all, took hundreds of photos and samples, and locked them away forever when the Apollo Program was shut down when it was deemed too expensive to continue after the success of Apollo 17 in 1972," finished Johnson.

"Well, did you search the crash-vault?" asked Ironhide.

All the former NASA personnel shook their heads. It even made Lennox wonder how big this ship is if they couldn't explore all of it with six missions' worth of exploration.

"The ship's name was the Ark," began Optimus. "I watched it escape Cybertron myself. It was carrying an important Autobot technology that could have won us the war. And...its captain..."

"Who was its captain?" asked Mearing.

"The great Sentinel Prime," answered the Autobot Leader as his faceplates got close to Charlotte's. "The technology's inventor. He was my mentor and commander of the Autobots before me. It's imperative that I find it before Megatron and the Decepticons learn of its location. Our Autobot spacecraft has the ability to get there. And you must pray that we reach it first before the Decepticons do."

(Meanwhile...)

Unbeknownst to anyone, outside near the base's back gate was a black and white 2007 Saleen S281E Police Cruiser, or more specifically, the Decepticon Scout, Barricade. When Megatron ordered Operation Pillar to be executed, the former Kaon Enforcer had been assigned to spy on the base and report on anything that he found useful.

However, there were two problems to that. The first was that multiple Energon Detectors had made it difficult for him to move around as much without being discovered. The second was that new high-tech satellites had been setup, and since Megatron was on the other side of this planet, a message that long of a range might be intercepted.

Fortunately, the Decepticons who were on Earth had managed to create a loose communication system, by transmitting messages to one another, in order for Soundwave's more advance communication abilities to lock-on to.

Later in the evening when it was dark, Barricade watched as Optimus, Ratchet, and the Wreckers in their alt-modes of weaponized NASCAR Chevrolet Impala Sprint Cup Series Stock Cars drove out of the hangar and onto the base's airfield were a warmed-up C-17A Globemaster III was waiting for them on the tarmac. Before that, Barricade had managed to hear words like 'the Moon', 'Ark', and 'Sentinel Prime'.

The Scout knew that this was something that needed to be reported. He woke up his Mini-Con partner, Frenzy, to begin transmitting this: 'The Autobots know about the Ark and are preparing to head to the Moon to retrieve Sentinel Prime. And they may have space transportation.'

Once he was done, Barricade got word from Sideways that the message had been received was currently being resent. Before going into recharge, he was told to wait for new orders.

(Etosha National Park, Namibia, Africa)

The heavily-customized khaki-colored M915 Line-Haul-Replacement-Tractor (LHRT) with a M970 Semi-Trailer Refueler transformed into the 35-foot biped form of Megatron, while wearing a hood to hide the damage on the left side of his helm that was done by Optimus in the Battle of Giza two years ago. He growled at the local animals, causing them to flee in terror.

"All hail, Megatron," said the Decepticon Leader as he walked towards his makeshift camp. The only ones there were Starscream, Soundwave, and three crates containing the twenty-one surviving Hatchlings. Blackout was also around, circling over his master in his alt-mode of a MH-53J Pave Low III SpecOps Heavy-Lift Helicopter. The Constructicons had managed to acquire an Energon Converter for Megatron and the Hatchlings, making it much easier to produce Energon for the little ones. It was necessary for when Operation Pillar succeeded, a new generation of Cybertronians would be needed and this batch would be the vanguard of that generation.

As Megatron dropped lose scraps of Energon for the Hatchlings to feed on, Starscream, his treacherous SiC and Air Commander, landed. The second 'Con to greet him was Blackout, the Decepticon Tracker who destroyed the SOCCENT Forward Operations Base Qatar where Lennox was stationed at in 2007. Ever since that AllSpark shard was used to revive him, Megatron was able to use its power to revive the Decepticons who were KIA in the Battle of Mission City. Unfortunately, reviving Frenzy, Blackout, Brawl and Bonecrusher had used up the remaining energy left in the shard.

"Oh, my poor master," began Starscream as the 31-foot grey-tan Seeker spoke with his deceiving glossa. "How it pains me to see you so wounded, so weak-"

"Spare me, you gaseous sycophant! You know what you are told, which is nothing!" snapped the former Lord High Protector. "Blackout, anything to report?"

The 33-foot (29 if you remove the main rotor blades and the two T64-GE-100 turboshaft engines mounted on his back and shoulders) grey Decepticon nodded as his 312-inch long Cyber-Scorpion partner, Scorponok, came out of the ground. "Grindor reports that our hidden forces have gone into stasis lock until the signal is given out. Brawl has also reported that he and Bonecrusher have found several good alt-modes for them as well."

The sound of gunfire and a small fragile body hitting the ground, caused all four of them to turn around and see Soundwave, Megatron's loyal TiC and Communications Officer with his Cyber-Condor pet, Laserbeak, perched on his left forearm.

"Soundwave reporting, Lord Megatron," said the 16-foot silver mech in his raspy monotone-like voice.

"And what news do you and your Mini-Con have for me?" asked the Decepticon Leader as he got up to his full height, looking down at his troops.

"Barricade has just reported that the Autobots have taken the bait; they've learned of the Ark and have set off to retrieve both its captain and the cargo. Also, our last living Soviet operative has been silenced permanently," hissed Laserbeak.

Megatron nodded in satisfaction. Everything for Operation Pillar was going as planned, thanks to Soundwave and his Mini-Cons working for 50 Earth years to bring the revised plan into fruition. Working behind the scenes, coercing or bribing the disgusting fleshings to take care of the individual details, they were the reason why things were progressing so well.

But the Decepticon Leader knew that only a few more things had to be set into place. He was aware of the new Autobots that have arrived recently, and knew that separating their forces was necessary in order for the second phase of Operation Pillar to succeed.

"You've done me a very great honor in tracking that ship to the Moon and keeping it off the Autobots' radar until now," complemented Megatron, with his loyal TiC bowing his helm in respect. "Your human operatives in NASA have served their purpose, Soundwave. It is time to take care of loose ends."

The Communications Officer turned to his Mini-Con pet. "Laserbeak, eliminate them."

"With pleasure," hissed the Cyber-Condor gleefully before taking off.

"Soundwave, you shall return to your post in the U.S. Starscream, I want you and Grindor to continue to patrol the skies. Blackout, I want you and Scorponok to rendezvous with Brawl and Bonecrusher and wait for my further orders," said Megatron, who stopped to think for a moment before adding: "And contact Barricade, tell him that I need him to do something that will keep the Autobots distracted."

As his subordinates left to carry out their assigned tasks, the Decepticon Leader looked up into the sky.

"Soon, Cybertron shall be restored."

Chapter Text

(Sam Witwicky's apartment, Washington D.C, three days later...)

Wheelie, the 1-foot blue ex-Decepticon, sighed in boredom as he sat on the sofa, switching through the TV channels. It had been two years since he defected to the Autobots, and at least half a year he met his fellow ex-Decepticon, Brains, had moved in with his 'Warrior Goddess', Mikaela Banes, and her sissy boyfriend, Sam Witwicky. Despite living with a sissy male, it was much better than his old life, when he was still just a Mini-Con grunt, just another useless pile of scrap for them to do with as they pleased.

He did have to admit that his first few weeks with the Autobots wasn't a skip in the park, they still had trouble trusting him 100% and the only thing that kept Ironhide from blasting him was Optimus Prime. The Autobot Leader seemed more comfortable with Wheelie joining them, even saying that he was in the Mini-Con's debt for helping Sam find the Matrix of Leadership. Soon after that, the other Autobots got less stiff with Wheelie around, especially when he revealed that Soundwave was listening in on NEST and other military communications up in Earth's orbit.

Brains had also proved helpful as well when they found him, or rather he found them. He had fled from Mixmaster, the Constructicons' SiC and Chemical Specialist, who was preparing to dismantle him and made his way to Mikaela and Bumblebee one day in Detroit, Michigan. By then, Mixmaster had caught up with him and a skirmish began between him and Bumblebee. Eventually, the Constructicon was forced to retreat when Ironhide and a NEST team showed up, with Brains defecting to the Autobots while providing them the locations of several Decepticon outposts in South America.

Wheelie was brought out of his thoughts when he heard shouting from upstairs. His only guess was that Brains had decided to take a peek on Mikaela while she was in the shower, again.

He focused back on the TV, when a newswoman started to report: "And in recent news, Matthew Dane, a current worker at FedEx, was killed in a car accident on I-66. Although theories of murder are up for suggestions, no signs of tampering or foul play have been found on the vehicle or the crime scene. Local police have begun an-"

"Yeah, yeah, boring," sighed Wheelie as he flipped the channel, this time getting an episode from the original Star Trek series.

"Ah, slag, reruns. This is the one when Spock goes nuts," he mumbled as he changed the channel once more. He paused his TV surfing to see Brains, who was currently running down the stairs from a pissed off Mikaela Banes. To his luck, her hair was still wet and she had nothing but a towel on. Still, he couldn't blame his fellow Mini-Con for taking a peek.

"How many times have I told you not to watch me while I'm taking a shower?" she snapped at Brains. The 1-foot silver-grey Mini-Con with fiber-optic strands for 'hair' acted like he was trying to remember and just gave a shrug, earning an annoying grunt from the female who stormed off to her and Sam's room to get changed and head off to work.

While she was doing that, Brains jumped onto the sofa beside Wheelie with big smirk on his faceplates. "Heh, that femme's got a very good figure. Right, Wheelie?"

Said Mini-Con rolled his optics. "I know that, Brains. But you should be more careful next time or she won't hesitate to blowtorch one of your optics in 10 seconds flat."

Brains waved this off as he flipped through the channels and by then, Mikaela had left for her job. From what the two Mini-Cons can recalled it was for some guy named Dylan Gould. A successful millionaire and the CEO of Hotchkiss Gould Investments, which was the largest accounting firm in the U.S, he personally interviewed Mikaela for a part-time job as a mechanic to work on his personal collection of sport cars. Strangely, Dylan also personally sent two recommendation letters to Accuretta Systems (thanks to being a current board member of said company) that allowed Sam to get a job at the company's mailroom because he supported his and Mikaela's relationship.

However, there was one problem: Sam did not trust rich people one bit, and didn't the media teach people that someone with money would likely try to buy whatever they desire, including others' affections? When Sam first met him at Mikaela's jobsite, his girlfriend had notice that he was not going to tolerate her new boss when Dylan called her 'his Dutchess'. But Sam felt really threatened by him when Mikaela drove home two days ago in a brand-new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe that her new boss had insisted that she use. Dylan's excuse was that he liked to provide company vehicles for all of his most valuable employees, even for the ones that worked for him part-time. Wheelie and Brains both knew that this was another ploy to undermine Sam. That rich guy was turning their 'Warrior Goddess' into some kind of trophy girl of his own. Dylan wanted to impress and steal her away. And Mikaela completely agreed with Sam that this was both inappropriate and not the act of a man who just wanted to be friends. But on the other hand, she also had to point out that not only was this particular job a once in a lifetime opportunity, but it would be incredibly rude to turn it down on the first week. So they were stuck with another reminder of Dylan Gould's money and power, a symbol to taunt Sam of the things he couldn't give her. He also thought of getting back at Mikaela's boss by selling the $200,000 car he gave to her on eBay.

"Hey, buddy. Anything good on?" asked Brains as he ate some nuts and bolts.

Wheelie shrugged. "Eh, nothing really. Just some Star Trek reruns, fatal car accidents, the usual crap."

Then the sound of a familiar car engine caught their attention.

"Well, at least Sam's back. It's still a pity that 'Bee and that hot pink femme 'Bot aren't here no more," said Brains.

Ever since the Director of National Intelligence had restricted the Autobots from civilian interactions, Sam had bought a yellow 1970 Datsun 510 Four-Door Sedan with black racing stripes as a replacement. Before that, Arcee would ride Mikaela to and from her old job. Since both of her older sisters had sparkmates that they spent equal time as they did with her, Arcee felt like she should guard the first human female that knew of them. Mikaela had also accepted the 16-foot pink femme as a friend and in some ways, the two of them were almost like sisters, sharing secrets and laughing whenever Sam or Bumblebee did something funny. Elita and Chromia would use this to tease Arcee on how she was using this to get closer to Bumblebee, causing both said 'Bots to fluster deeply.

"Yep, things are definitely changing," murmured Wheelie as he and Brains looked back at the TV screen.

(Interstate 66, near the outskirts of Washington D.C)

If Barricade wasn't in his alt-mode, his grin would've been obvious. Currently, he and Frenzy (who was currently in recharge while in the alt-mode of a silver GPX BC232B Portable Boombox) were trying to get close to a car accident on one of the highways leading into D.C. But they knew the truth: the victim was one of Soundwave's human operatives, who had been disposed of by Laserbeak. The only other law-enforcement officers there were several Maryland State Troopers and their vehicles too.

As if hearing his name, the Cyber-Condor contacted Barricade through the comms: "Like my work?"

"You overdid it," replied the Scout as he inspected the wreckage of what was once a sky-blue 1961 Lincoln Continental Four-Door Convertible. "There are talon marks on the hood."

"He was going too fast," screeched Laserbeak. "Had to get a grip somewhere."

Barricade rolled his optics as he backed up and drove away from the scene. The state troopers didn't take notice of this, another sign of this species' stupidity. "So where are you heading off to now?"

"My last target works at Accuretta Systems' HQ in D.C, so I'll be heading there next," replied the Cyber-Condor.

"Very well then, I'm still busy with the assignment Lord Megatron gave me and I'll be returning to the city once I'm done. Who's your target anyway," asked Barricade.

"He's name is Jerry Wang and he's the Vice-President of Satellite Research and Development of Accuretta Systems' Aerospace Division," answered Laserbeak. "I'm actually quite fond of him due to him being unexpecting and very paranoid. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled a pair of sidearms on me when I get there."

(15 Minutes later...)

Stopping at a small field, Barricade transformed into his 16-foot biped form. Walking towards the center of the field, the Decepticon Scout pulled out an object from subspace that was shaped like a grey-colored pole with blinking lights and a sharp tip at the bottom. Barricade twisted it in several directions before slamming it into the ground and when he did, the pole extended upwards before revealing a small screen with a keypad. The former Kaon Enforcer began typing on the keypad and after a few seconds, the screen lit up.

Barricade transformed into his alt-mode and headed back towards the highway as he contacted Megatron on the comms. "Lord Megatron, I've finished setting up the device and I'm currently returning to the city."

"Excellent. I want you and Frenzy to remain near the outskirts of D.C and report in any Autobot activity, while awaiting for my signal to begin the third phase of Operation Pillar."

"Yes, my Lord. Barricade out."

(Rec Room, NEST Base)

"Hey, Jazz, don't you find it odd?"

The 15-foot silver Saboteur turned down to look at Graham who asked the question. The British SAS Captain was currently sitting in front of the TV, showing them the current news.

"Find what odd, Graham?" asked Jazz.

That only after two days after we learned that those blokes in the U.S Goverment had been keeping info about that ship of yours on the Moon a secret for so long, five of these people who worked at either FedEx or Accuretta Systems have been killed these past few days."

The visor-wearing Autobot rubbed his chinplates with his clawed digits. "Hmm, that is odd. I'll have to look into it."

He then walked out of the Rec Room and into the hangar, passing Wheeljack who was currently inserting a chip into Bumblebee's weapons' system that will allow him to access his new Stealth Force mode.

"Now remember, 'Bee: while your Stealth Force mode allows to use your projectile-based weaponry when your in your alt-mode, it also grants you advanced agility," reminded the 15-foot white mech with red and green racing stripes.

Bumblebee's only reply through his radio was: "Groovy."

As the Scout left, Mirage came forward, having watched from afar. "Hey, 'Jack, have you finished that Ion Sniper Rifle I requested?" asked the former aristocratic mech.

Wheeljack rubbed the back of his helm, looking sheepishly. "Well...I haven't finished it yet."

"Per amore di dio! Why not? You managed to create two brand-new rifles for Ironhide and you can't build a simple Ion Sniper Rifle?!"

The Scientist/Inventor waved his servos exasperatedly. "Do you have any idea what kind of parts I need to build such a weapon here on Earth, with all the loose scraps we have so far?" he asked before turning back to his worktable. "And it's not really the weapon itself, but the specific ammunition for it. Ironhide's Heavy Iron Rifles were easier because the ammo for them were simpler to make. An Ion Sniper Rifle for you to take out Decepticons requires ammo made from Cybertronian metal," huffed Wheeljack. "Anyway, Optimus said he and the Wreckers would salvage parts from the Ark for me to use."

Then he began tinkering with some small rod-like devices lying on his worktable. "Now if you don't mind, I need to finish working on these Boomsticks for the humans."

(The Ark, the Moon)

"His vitals are low," reported Ratchet as they stared at the 30-foot motionless form of Sentinel Prime. The red and grey Autobot had a heavily-armored frame with less sharp edges and more interlocked contours than Optimus. His helm was similar in design to the younger Prime, but with two crests on opposite sides and what looked like dreadlocks coming from his metal beard. They, as in Optimus Prime, Jetfire and Ratchet had entered the Ark. They had managed to reach the bridge where they discovered Sentinel inside the ship's hidden crash-vault and in emergency stasis lock. Beside him were four Pillars and holding in his servos was what Ratchet identified as the Control Pillar, part of the technology that Sentinel had himself designed.

Optimus bent down to pickup his mentor's frame and said: "Let's get you home, Sentinel. Ratchet, head back to the Xantium with the Pillars and prep the Medical Bay just in case. Jetfire, go inform the Wreckers that they can begin salvaging, but tell them to take only what's necessary. Then I want you to scout the area for any signs of hostiles."

"Yes, Lord Prime," said the 50-foot black Seeker in his Australian-accent before walking out.

Optimus sighed with slight annoyance. Ever since Jetfire had been fully brought into the Autobot ranks, he always referred Optimus as 'Lord Prime' or 'Lord Optimus'. While the younger Prime deeply respected the old Seeker's desire to retain the old ways of the Dynasty of the Primes, Optimus found it somewhat aggravating to being referred with such a feudalism title, one that Megatron had taken accustomed to when Sentinel gave him that title after appointing him Commander-in-Chief of Cybertron's armed forces before the war.

As Optimus prepared to leave, he paused and turned around as if expecting someone to be right behind him. But there wasn't, just the damaged bridge of the Ark and the stars outside in space.

"Perhaps I was just imagining it," said the younger Prime to himself as he continued walking out of the ship.

But as he left the Ark, he didn't notice one of the ship's cameras watching him go, nor did he hear the computer-like voice saying: "Sensors: online. Scanning for internal damage."

Soon, a small light came on for a few minutes before speaking again: "Warning: critical damage, initiating emergency stasis lock. Preparing Energon reserves and self-repairs immediately."

Chapter Text

(NEST Base)

"This is messed up, can't believe that the big boss only took Jetfire, 'Hatchet' and the Wreckers with him. Optimus could've used more servos up there on the Moon then just that," complained Mudflap.

"Yeah, but the boss said he wanted the most of us to stay here in case the 'Cons come looking for a fight," replied Skids to his 10-foot orange and grey twin with doorwings. "Besides, you've been to almost every other planet in the universe. Why do you want to go to the Moon?"

Mudflap shrugged. "I don't know. I think it would be fun, it's like zero-gravity there, man. How fun would that be?"

Skids thought for a moment before answering: "That's true, but I rather be here than up there."

"And why is that?" asked Mudflap.

Skids rolled his optics. "Because up there, the 'Hatchet' would make us carry some heavy stuff from the ship."

Mudflap glared at his 10-foot light-green twin. "That's because your lazy."

"Who are you calling 'lazy', stupid?" barked Skids as he glared back at Mudflap.

"You, you are lazy. And I'm not stupid, you are!" repeated Mudflap.

"No, you are!"

"You are!"

"SHUT IT! The both of you!" shouted Ironhide. The twins looked up to see the black mech looking at them with an annoyed scowl written on his faceplates. The two of them kept their mouthplates shut in order to avoid another helm bashing. "Now that you two are done blabbering, you can help with setting up the table."

Optimus had already returned to Earth and had arrived back at the base with Sentinel, who was currently being strapped to a table, while Ratchet ran over some last checks on his vitals before Optimus used the Matrix of Leadership to revive him. All the Autobots (minus the Wreckers and Steeljaw) had returned to see the revival of Sentinel Prime, the very same mech who united Cybertron's various tribes in his quest to bring a new age of life to their planet 7,000 years ago, whom many had never met him in person.

The five Pillars that were recovered in the Ark's crash vault with Sentinel, were currently stashed away in the hangar's reinforced-titanium vault. Mearing didn't want the Autobots to have the devices until she knew what they did, regardless of the fact that they were Cybertronian in origin and therefore did not belong in human hands.

"What I still don't get is why are we allowing the humans to lock away the Pillars from us," complained Sideswipe as he walked alongside Optimus and Elita. Although the Frontliner had been on Earth for almost two years and while he did trust Lennox and the other humans in NEST, it's just that he didn't trust government officials. That didn't mean he wasn't incompetent, in fact if Optimus, Elita, Jazz or Ironhide were away, he would be in charge of the Autobots.

"I agree with you there, Sideswipe. But right now we should focus on making sure Sentinel is fully-repaired before we revive him," replied the 20-foot purple femme.

"That is true, my love. Also the humans don't know yet of the Pillars' true purpose, but I doubt they'll hand them over to us when we do tell them," commented Optimus as he watched Wheeljack and the twins prepare the table for Sentinel's frame. "But for now, let us be at ease that it isn't in Decepticon servos."

Sideswipe just grumbled and rolled off on his wheeled-pedes.

Elita's audio receptors caught onto some noise happening outside the hangar. "Bumblebee, would you please go and find out what that racket out there is all about?"

As the yellow 'Bot walked off to check what was going on, the purple femme approached her sparkmate. "Optimus, I'm sure you received Jazz's report that he sent you."

"Yes, Elita, I did," replied the younger Prime, his optics trained on Sentinel's form. "I shall discuss it with Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox and Director Mearing, but for now, we shall have the other Autobots on patrol around the city in case of any Decepticon sightings."

"Optimus, I'm with you on trusting the humans, especially the one who truly know us, but perhaps we shouldn't inform them of this any further, after all, can we still trust them even after they withheld info of the Ark being on the Moon from us?" whispered Elita.

"I admit that it makes me edgy, but that is in the past, now we must focus on the present, Elita," replied Optimus.

His sparkmate stayed silent after that until he asked: "What else is on your processor, Elita? You know you can tell me."

The purple femme said nothing at first, but finally replied: "Once you revived Sentinel, are you going to turn leadership of the Autobots over to him?"

Although she respected Sentinel Prime, Elita had long grown accustom to Optimus' command, that being deeper because she was his sparkmate. To take orders from a different mech now would be...difficult.

Optimus must've know why she would ask that and put a reassuring arm around his sparkmate's waist. "He was our leader and my mentor, Elita. I won't force him to take that position, but if he should accept it, then I entrust that you serve him the same way as you have served him."

Elita just looked at Optimus, but her attention was brought to Jazz, who had been calling her sparkmate's name. "Big boss, 'Bee just came back with Sam, Mikaela, Wheelie and Brains."

Optimus frowned at the Saboteur, concern in his optics. "Did something happen?"

Jazz shrugged. "I just got loose bits from Bumblebee, but apparently what happened was that one of Sam's coworkers at Accuretta Systems' HQ by the name of Jerry Wang, was murdered by a 'flying metal condor'."

Elita's optics widened. "The only being I know that matches that description would be Laserbeak, one of Soundwave's Mini-Cons. Optimus, this cannot be a coincidence, our dead contact in the Ukraine, along with the death of those FedEx and Accuretta Systems employees and Sam's coworker have to be connected somehow."

"I fear you maybe right, Elita. Jazz, deliver any info you've gathered on Alexi Voskhod, Jerry Wang, and the others who have died these past few days," said Optimus without hesitation. Sam Witwicky was one of the Autobot's closest human allies, and if Laserbeak was there at Sam's workplace, then the Cyber-Condor might go after him next if given the chance.

(Meanwhile...)

Sam was getting very annoyed right now. He had just survived an attack by some flying metal condor who killed Wang after he gave him a bunch of papers that laid claim to hiding events on the dark side of the Moon since 1972, then he had to pull Mikaela from her perverted (in his opinion) boss and drive his shitty car all the way to the NEST base. And to make matters worse, not only did the NEST guards deny him access, they also hauled him and his girlfriend out of their car forcibly just because they detected Wheelie and Brains.

Although Sam took some enjoyment when heard one of the three guards holding down Mikaela groan in pain when she hit him in the shin, his true relief was when Bumblebee arrived.

After the Scout got the guards to back off, he was led inside where he finally met Lennox, the only person here who actually showed him some respect, whom he informed at what had happened at his jobsite. When he mentioned the dark side of the Moon, Sam found out there was lot more going on than he thought.

(Back with the Autobots...)

Jetfire watched in awe as Optimus took out the Matrix of Leadership and plunged it into Sentinel's chestplates. Watching it was one of the few things that made him happy when he defected to the Autobots.

He remembered telling Optimus to take his parts in order to stop the Fallen and avenge his fallen ancestors before pulling out his spark from his chestplates, and then darkness. After that, he suddenly woken up in an unfamiliar hangar, and the first thing he saw was Optimus Prime staring at him. Once he calmed down, everything was explained to him. After Ratchet and Jolt put his entire frame back together (taking almost a year to do so), the young Prime brought him back by using the Matrix of Leadership, and was still given the offer of joining the Autobots.

Jetfire had literally got on his knees and pledged the ancient Seeker's Pledge to Optimus, swearing undying loyalty to him and him alone. That made it difficult when some human government bureaucrats, like Galloway, would badmouth Optimus, Jetfire would tell him or her to hold their tongue.

He had devoted himself to Optimus and the Autobot cause, which is why he nearly tackled Sentinel when the older Prime attacked in confusion.

"Sentinel, stop! It's me, Optimus!" the younger Prime managed to let out. Sentinel seemed to have finally calmed down and realized his surroundings. Some of the Autobots moved forward, but Ironhide held a servo up, telling them to stay back and let Optimus get reacquainted with his former mentor.

Once Sentinel had finished downloading from the Internet, he then began asking questions in English. He learned that Cybertron was no more, just a barren wasteland and their race had scattered among the stars and they were currently taking refuge on Earth and allied themselves with the humans.

When the question of the Pillars were brought up, Sentinel was shocked to hear that there were only five, including the Control Pillar, that they had recovered in the crash-vault with him. This caused Sentinel to exclaim that he originally had a hundred of them aboard the Ark when he and the ship left Cybertron. Once he was finished, Mearing came in and asked for an explanation of what was the Pillars' purpose.

A mobile SpaceBridge, able to bend the fabric of space and time, like the Fallen could, except on a much larger scale, as it was explained by Sentinel. When Mearing mentioned its 'military function', Optimus countered that it was for refugees and resources, but the former CIA agent saw the Pillars' purpose from a different view. There was a tense moment between her and Sentinel, but it soon passed once Optimus convinced his mentor to allow the humans to keep hold of the Pillars for now.

(Back with Jazz...)

The SpecOps mech studied it again and again, everything leading up to two things: NASA and the dark side of the Moon. Jerry Wang, Matthew Kane, and the others had all originally worked at NASA and these guys had some involvement regarding the dark side of the Moon, and continued to work at NASA until 2010.

Jazz had also found out that Alexi Voskhod, their dead contact in the Ukraine, had a late uncle, a Dr. Peter Voskhod who began working on the Soviet Space Program in 1962. It appeared that he had deliberately derailing a lot of further Soviet attempts at exploring the Ark on the Moon since 1965. In 1972, the Soviet's N1/L3 Program was ready to send their first and last manned mission to the dark side of the Moon, but Peter pulled the plug on the mission due to budget costs.

It was the only links he had right now. As he walked back to the others, Jazz spotted Optimus speaking. "Yo, Prime!"

Both mechs turned to face the Saboteur, believing he called the other.

Jazz realized this and awkwardly said: "Uh, Optimus, I got a report on those murders you wanted me to look up."

"Murders?" asked Sentinel Prime, looking at the two Autobots.

The younger Prime explained that over the past few days, several people killed. The most recent was at Sam's jobsite, and the killer was Laserbeak, one of Soundwave's Mini-Cons.

"Sentinel, I must discuss with Jazz about this. I'll have Ratchet help you find a suitable alt-mode for you," said Optimus.

The elder Prime looked at him for a moment before nodding. "Very well, Optimus. But I hope you will have the time to show me some parts of this new world if it is to be our new home."

Optimus smiled softly. "I would be honored."

Once Sentinel was gone did Jazz tell Optimus of what he found: "I first found out that Alexi Voskhod had a late uncle who began to work on the Soviet Space Program in 1962 and it appears that he was derailing a lot of further Soviet attempts at exploring the Ark since 1965. In 1972, the Soviets were ready with their N1/L3 Program to send their first and last manned mission to the dark side of the Moon, but Alexi's uncle pulled the plug on the mission due to budget costs. I also discovered that the other victims, from what I found out so far, used to work for NASA until 2010."

Optimus' optics narrowed as he took this in. "You're sure?"

"Yeah, turns out that Wang guy was fiddling with any of NASA's satellites that went around the Moon, meaning no one could see the Ark at all," said the Saboteur.

Then the two of them spotted Sam and Mikaela leaving with Wheelie and Brains in tow, and Jazz couldn't help but notice that the boy seemed upset. "Hey, is Sammy boy okay?"

Optimus nodded a little. "He's fine physically, but Wheelie privately informed me that he and Mearing had a little bit of an argument where she insulted his ability to contribute something to us. Although I do not like it, I rather not cause an argument with her right now. I've commissioned Bumblebee to continue his duties as the boy's guardian in case the Decepticons target him."

(Several miles outside Washington D.C...)

Laserbeak flew through the night sky, his frame invisible to others. He landed near at an abandoned farm, where years of rotted and decayed wood showed. The Cyber-Condor landed on the roof, stretching his wings and reminiscing on his latest kill until he heard a familiar voice calling his name. He flew down from the roof until he perched himself on the left forearm of his master; Soundwave.

The Communications Officer activated his comms. "Laserbeak has return, Lord Megatron."

"Report, how goes the hunt?" asked the Decepticon Leader.

"All targets neutralized," replied Laserbeak, flexing his wings a bit. "But there was an incident with the last one."

"Explain," said Megatron.

"The Witwicky boy was working there at the time I eliminated Wang," replied the Cyber-Condor. "I have reason to believe that Wang may have passed on info on his work with NASA to the boy."

“I trust that you moved in to neutralize him?” asked Megatron, the rising anger in his voice wasn’t there for some reason.

“I did, Lord Megatron, but he eluded me,” said Laserbeak disappointingly. “By now he has informed the Autobots of this.”

“Boy’s home has been located. Action?” asked Soundwave.

“Leave him be, but keep a close optic on him,” ordered Megatron. “This may work to our advantage.”

“My Lord?” asked Soundwave who was a bit confused.

“There is an old human saying: 'Curiosity killed the cat’. The boy we’ll obviously try to investigate the point of these murders in order to help the Autobots. If we move correctly, we can gain the upper hand,” explained Megatron.

“Understood,” said Soundwave.

“I’m preparing to leave this land and head towards the U.S. During that time, you shall take over operations near the city,” said the Decepticon Leader. “Inform Barricade to move to the next phase of his orders upon tomorrow. I have already came in contact with our other ally, he will try to meet up with us to discuss on how to take the last five Pillars from the Autobots.”

“Yes, Lord Megatron,” said the Communications Officer as he got off the comms. He then turned to Laserbeak. “Laserbeak: Recon on the boy, watch him and report on all movements and activities.”

The Cyber-Condor squawked as he flew into the air, slowly bending into the night sky.

As he flew off, Soundwave contacted Barricade on the comms. "Barricade, report."

“I’ve already setup the device and I’m currently near the outskirts of the city, per Megatron’s orders.”

"Initiate the second phase of your assignment tomorrow morning," ordered Soundwave as he turned towards the barn before turning his comms off. "Report, Crankcase."

“We’re ready, Soundwave,” said a voice inside the barn.

“Excellent. Mobilize at these coordinates and await further orders,” said the Communications Officer as a pair of engine noises inside the barn started up. Coming out of the barn, and tearing down some of the wood, were three black lifted 2007 Chevrolet Suburbans with police sirens and lights drove out and headed towards the city.

(Near Sam's apartment...)

Sam grumbled in annoyance as 'Bee drove him, Mikaela, Wheelie and Brains back home. Although he wasn't totally upset, now that he was with his best friend again, he was still mad about what that woman, Charlotte Mearing, had said to him: ‘You’re just a messenger.’

Who was she to tell him such things, if she had seen the things he had gone through with the Autobots for the past four years, she wouldn’t have said that. But no, he got chewed and spat out, and was now being treated like some nobody.

Sensing what her boyfriend was thinking about, Mikaela put a reassuring hand on his right shoulder, which Sam put his left hand on in thanks. “Don’t worry, Sam. You’ll show that woman what you can do. I bet she wouldn’t try to go halfway around the world to bring Optimus out of his coma-like state.”

Sam smiled a little when they reached a red light, but then they got a confused look when a silver 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP Weekend Club Racer Concept drove up alongside them. The driver was an African-American wearing a silver jacket and familiar-looking blue shades. Sam and Mikaela realized that there was one Autobot that transformed into a car like that.

"Whoa! Message coming through!" shouted Brains from the backseat as he transformed into his alt-mode of a Lenovo ThinkPad E420 Laptop. He was showing files and data coming in and appearing on the screen, talking about NASA and the Soviet Space Program.

It all ended with a message saying: ‘Thought you could use this. From the Jazzman.’

The couple smirked at that as Wheelie said: “We’ll show that four-eyed woman.”

Bumblebee flashed his lights in a way of saying ‘Thank you’, while Jazz did the same thing in response and drove off when the light turned green.

“So now we got a head start,” said Mikaela as Bumblebee continued driving. “What’s our next move?”

Sam thought for a moment before smiling. “I’m calling in a professional.”

Chapter Text

(Worthington State Forest, New Jersey)

Sentinel Prime, who was in his brand-new alt-mode of a Rosenbauer Panther Series III 6x6 Airport Crash Tender, drove through the National Park with Optimus, reaching a point where the colorful display could be easily observed without disturbing the local wildlife. It seemed that even the elderly Prime could appreciate the silence and calm that permeated their surroundings.

Sentinel Prime, the mech who led the Autobots before him and taught him everything that he believed in, hadn’t changed a bit since the Ark fled Cybertron. Because of that incident, Sentinel wasn’t there to participate or witness the final battles that doomed Cybertron, nor was he there when the fighting continued when more lives were lost, the AllSpark sent into space or the battle with the Fallen, the apparent instigator of the war. But even after all these years, Sentinel was still a mech that Optimus deeply respected, admired and even to this day, tried to live up to the older Prime.

Sentinel gazed at the rising sun with his own optics, not saying a world until now.

"So majestic and peaceful, this planet," commented the red and grey mech before his tone turned regretful. "Unlike the final days on Cybertron."

The younger Prime nodded, remembering Cybertron’s Golden Age before the war.

“I’ve wondered what might’ve been if you had fought the final battles instead of me,” remarked Optimus.

“Never mourn the past, young warrior,” advised Sentinel. “Thanks to you, our race survives.”

After a moment's consideration, Optimus brought out the Matrix of Leadership. Even after seeing it once, the younger Prime could tell that Sentinel stared at the artifact in awe. The Matrix, which had spoken to him when Sam had used it to bring him out of his emergency stasis lock, was not just an artifact of power and memory, but a sign of leadership. And if anyone deserved to bear such power, it would have to be Sentinel.  He’d been the one who declared that ‘freedom was the right of all sentient beings’. He was the one who taught Optimus of his ancestor’s beliefs and to never fight for one’s self-interests. When he took command of the Autobots after his mentor’s disappearance, Optimus had wondered if he could ever live up to the great mech’s memory. Still, he always did his best to fill that role. And now, he could offer that role back.

Kneeling before his former mentor, he explained: “You were our leader, Sentinel. It is your right to lead us again.”

“In a world I don’t know?” asked the older Prime as he turned down the offered Matrix. “I am no longer your teacher, Optimus. You are mine.”

(Sam's apartment)

Seymour Simmons had to admit though; the kid was good at getting his attention. He thought he would be satisfied after becoming a millionaire from selling a book about he and his family’s long-history with the Cybertronians since 1913, but no, his country still needed him. When he heard from Sam that former employees from both NASA and the Soviet Space Program were being killed off and about a secret on the dark side of the Moon that he didn’t even know about, he had to investigate. So that’s why now he and his German assistant, Dutch Wagner, were currently at the kid’s apartment, in a room filled with computers, pictures and other stuff, with a yellow Autobot looming over them and two Mini-Cons moving around the place.

Speaking of Dutch, Simmons had thought that for a man with an odd and unusual past, he made a pretty good personal assistant. Of course, the former Sector Seven agent didn’t have what you call a ‘normal’ background, but that’s neither here nor there.

On a nearby table were separate files containing collected obituaries and prior job details for American and more distant employees from NASA and the Soviet Space Program. All of the men and woman were highly-intelligent individuals, some of them having flown into space several dozen times, and yet their deaths were oddly suspicious. All of them, all thirty-two of them, had died within this past month in various freak accidents, except for Peter Voskhod who passed away in 2005 due to cancer.

Currently, Sam, Simmons, Dutch and Bumblebee were looking at Jerry Wang's file.

"From what we found out, it turns out Wang was working with NASA in the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2009, and according to computer forensics, he was tampering with its mapping of the Moon's dark side. Decepticon orders," said Sam as he looked at some of the papers that Brains had printed out earlier.

"He was expendable. Once they had gotten what they wanted, they kicked him off a fifteen-story drop from his jobsite, making it look like it was a suicide," added Simmons.

They had already made some progress thanks to Jazz. Bumblebee had contacted the Saboteur about their investigation, who was happy to give them what info he had already gathered. With Sentinel Prime back and the Decepticons becoming more active, Optimus didn’t want any of his soldiers getting sidetracked and if Mearing caught wind of what they were doing, she would follow up with her ‘due time for treason’ threat she had given to both Sam and Mikaela last night.

But that didn’t concern him right now, Sam's only focus right now was to figure out why the Decepticons were killing humans and gather whatever info he could for the Autobots. He also wanted to show the Director of National Intelligence that he could help and contribute more than she could.

“I’ll show her that I’m not just a messenger,” he mumbled as he read the reports that Jazz had gathered on one late Matthew Kane.

“Sam,” said Mikaela from the staircase. “I’m going to work, but I’ll keep in touch and I expect you to do the same, good luck.”

With a goodbye kiss, she left.

“You know with that killer condor still out there, maybe she should stay here,” said Sam aloud, concern in his voice for his girlfriend.

“I think my ‘Warrior Goddess’ can take care of herself in case Laserbeak goes after her. Besides, you’re a bigger target than she is,” replied Wheelie.

“A dead one at that apparently,” added Simmons as he passed something to Dutch.

Suddenly, Brains transformed from his alt-mode, his fiber-optic ‘hair’ strands smoking more than it normally did. “Hey, guys, I found something!”

Brains explained that two of the three Soviet cosmonauts of the planned 1972 mission to the dark side of the Moon, the very same mission that Alexi Voskhod’s uncle pulled the plug due to budget costs, had gone into hiding in America and he had found them, alive.

“You’re a genius, Brains,” said Wheelie as he patted his fellow Mini-Con on the back.

Simmons gathered the papers that Brains had printed out and examined them. “Looks like our space boys are hiding in Atlantic City.”

“Okay, so we’ll take what we need and head on over there,” decided Sam as he got his suit and tie.

(Somewhere on Interstate 66, near Washington D.C)

Optimus drove down the highway when his scanners had picked up something. Sentinel had wanted some time alone to explore Earth, as it was so new to him. The younger Prime agreed but had Sideswipe and Mirage follow him from a distance in order to assist him in case the Decepticons appeared.

‘Hmmm, an Energon source not too far away from here, and a big one at that, should probably check it out,’ thought Optimus as he exited the highway and onto a dirt-filled road.

‘That’s odd, why would a Decepticon be here of all places?’ wondered the Autobot Leader as he transformed at the location of the source was coming from. But he saw nothing, just an empty field of grass...and something beeping out of the ground.

Being cautious, Optimus slid on his battlemask and deployed one of his wrist-mounted Energon Swords, all the while making his way towards the small beeping noise. Suddenly, a pillar popped out of nowhere and let loose an EMP burst. Optimus felt his systems go haywire and then they all froze as if he was paralyzed.

Sensing his emergency stasis lock activating soon, the young Prime sent out a desperate SOS signal.

(NEST Base)

Elita nearly had a stroke when felt the pain she was getting from her bond with Optimus. When two Cybertronians become sparkmates, they form a bond which makes them feel what the other was feeling, both emotionally and physically, even privately communicate through that bond. Everyone remembered how devastated Elita was when Optimus fell into emergency stasis lock due to his near-fatal wounds he got from Megatron two years ago, now she was feeling his pain again.

“Sis, what is it?” asked Chromia, her 18-foot light-blue and silver-colored sister, who was also Ironhide’s sparkmate.

Elita held a servo to her helm, venting for air. “Optimus...in danger.”

“I’m afraid she’s right,” said Ratchet from behind them, with Jetfire standing there with him. “Optimus just sent out an SOS just a few seconds ago. Apparently, he fell into a trap setup by the Decepticons most likely, I’m heading there right now.”

The CMO then turned towards the Seeker. “Jetfire, fly out and get there first, protect Optimus until I arrive.”

Without further orders, the flyer ran out to the tarmac before transforming into his alt-mode of a SR-71A Blackbird before blasting off, with Ratchet following him from the ground.

(Meanwhile…)

Somewhere in New Jersey, Crankcase watched the nearby highway from a parking lot. Crowbar and Hatchet were parked in another area; if all three of them were together, it would have attracted a lot of unwanted attention. “Crowbar to Crankcase, see anything yet?”

“Nothing, no sign of the target anywhere. I should’ve known that Barricade’s info would’ve been incorrect,” replied Crankcase when all of a sudden his scanners picked up something. “Guys, I think I got something.”

“Yeah, so did Hatchet, he saw him pass by, you should see him at any moment,” replied Crowbar.

In just a few minutes, the leader of the Dreads spotted their target. “Yep, that’s Sentinel Prime alright. Wait, I’m picking up two Autobot signatures behind him.”

“What?! I thought Barricade said he was only with Optimus,” said Crowbar in an annoyed tone.

“They’ve must’ve joined him sometime earlier,” said Crankcase as he scanned them again. “Good news is that I don’t see Optimus with them, so this will be easier. I’ll head out first, then you and Hatchet will follow after me.”

(Atlantic City, New Jersey)

Sam was now thinking that following someone as crazy as Simmons into a location filled with ill-tempered and paranoid Russians, even with an Autobot outside and his assistant, Dutch, was probably a bad idea. Still, they needed answers and the two cosmonauts inside likely had them.

He didn’t even have the guts to look at anyone when Dutch tried to translate in Russian through a dictionary, and was failing horribly. When one of the former cosmonauts explained that he spoke excellent English, Simmons insulted his assistant.

“But...it’s the Cyrillic alphabet. It’s like all the buttons you never push on the calculator,” explained Dutch as Simmons sat down and began questioning the Russians.

No sooner did the former Sector 7 agent said ‘the dark side of the Moon,’ one of the cosmonauts’ girlfriends pulled out a Walther PPK/S Pistol at Simmons. It was soon followed by Sam being pinned to the ground with a Norinco Type 54 (Chinese-copy of the Soviet Tokarev TT-33) Pistol pointed at the back of his head, and the bar lady aiming a sawn-off Remington SPR220 Cowboy Action Double-Barrel Shotgun at Dutch.

Then, out of nowhere, Dutch went berserk before anyone could pull the trigger. He snatched the shotgun from the bar lady, resulting in the Russians no longer having the monopoly of weapons. How in the world did Dutch reacted that fast and effective, Sam had no idea. It was like someone or something had flipped a switch that changed the man from ‘assistant’ to 'assassin'. Of course, it would make sense for someone like Simmons to hire a guy like Dutch as an assistant, and it only seemed to make things more stressful and chaotic. The Russians were yelling, and Simmons whom at the same time was trying to convince the man to put the shotgun down. Sam knew that he himself was very likely to get shot in the back of the head. How ironic would it be if some random person killed him after he survived three close encounters with Megatron?

Slowly, Dutch seemed to calm down, dropped his weapon and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, that is the old me.”

That seemed to calm everyone down as Sam felt the pistol pointed at him being slowly retracted. As he got up, he still received wary looks while Simmons was able to convince the two cosmonauts to show them what they were hiding that caused them to flee to America after the end of the Cold War.

Soon, the two ex-cosmonauts lead the three of them to the back room, with Sam, Dutch and Simmons gathered around a table as the two cosmonauts went to a nearby safe.

“What you three are about to see is one of the Soviet Union’s biggest secrets," said Dimitri, one of the cosmonauts, as he pulled out a manila folder from the safe before closing it as he and Yuri, his fellow cosmonaut, sat down on the other side of the table.

“While America was the first to send a man to the Moon, the USSR was the first to send camera,” began Yuri as he pulled out pictures from the folder. “In 1959, our Luna-3 takes the first-ever pictures of the dark side of the Moon, but sees nothing. But in 1963, six years before Apollo 11 landed, our Luna-4 sees-”

“Strange rocks,” finished Dimitri. “All around the crashed alien ship, in piles of fives and with some...drag marks at each pile.”

Yuri then handed Sam the pictures that Luna-4 had taken. Each image showed nineteen separate piles of small, cylindrical-shaped objects scattered around the lunar landscape near the Ark. The young man’s eyes widened as he immediately recognized the ‘strange rocks’ as the remaining ninety-five Pillars of Sentinel Prime’s mobile SpaceBridge.

“I know these,” he said. “These aren’t rocks; these are Pillars, and they are components for a mobile SpaceBridge that the Autobots were working on back when their war with the Decepticons was confined to their homeworld. We’ve got five of them over at NEST now, including the Control Pillar.”

“The ‘Cons must’ve raided the Ark before Apollo 11 even got there,” said Simmons as he examined the photos as well. “Took the other ninety-five Pillars and hid ‘em, using key humans in both NASA and the Soviet Space Program to prevent anyone else from rediscovering the Ark after 1972, until now.”

“But this doesn’t make any sense!” said Sam. “If they found the Ark and have all those other Pillars, why did they leave Sentinel Prime there? I mean, if only he can use them…” he stopped as he trailed off when sudden realization dawned on him.

“He’s the one thing they still need,” said Dutch, finishing it for him. “They left him there on purpose.”

“We gotta find him,” said Sam as he leapt to his feet. “We gotta find Sentinel now! They’re coming for him.”  

(Interstate 95, near Atlantic City, New Jersey)

Sentinel Prime swerved a little on the highway, causing Sideswipe and Mirage, who were following him, to nearly transform and be ready for a fight.

“Sir, are you okay?” asked Sideswipe.

“Yes, I’m fine. Just not use to this type of ground yet,” explained the older mech.

Before the Frontliner could say something, a transmission from Jazz came through: “Autobots, fall back to the base at once and protect Sentinel.”

“Why, what’s going on, Jazz?” asked Mirage as he and the others kept on driving a bit faster now.

“I’ve received word from Ratchet that Optimus had fallen into a trap and is currently immobilized, Doc and Jetfire are on their way to him,” replied the TiC. “Also, Sam has sent us bad news. Apparently, the Decepticons had already knew about the Ark being on Earth’s Moon years ago, and have taken the other ninety-five Pillars.”

“What?!” exclaimed Sideswipe as he reached Sentinel and was now driving directly behind him. “If they already have the other Pillars, why didn’t they take Sentinel with them?”

The reason already came into Mirage’s processor. “Because they didn’t have a way to revive him...but we did.”

“You got that right, Italian ‘Bot,” replied Jazz with dry humor. “But either way, we can not let Sentinel be captured. Rendezvous at these coordinates where Bumblebee is at. He’ll join you in escorting Sentinel back to base and I’ll be there soon. Be on the lookout for any Decepticons, Jazz out."

Chapter Text

(NEST Base)

Lieutenant-Colonel William Lennox was not happy right now, several Energon Detectors had gone off either in, near or around D.C. It was clear that the Decepticons were set on capturing Sentinel Prime and probably the remaining five Pillars. After all, they were currently in possession of the Control Pillar too.

At least three Decepticon signatures had been detected right behind Sentinel’s escort. Jolt had came back from his patrol with Skids and Mudflap. Elita and her sisters were already at the base and Wheeljack had been working on something when the warning came. Ironhide was currently on standby in case backup was needed. The only ones who weren’t here yet were Jazz, Jetfire, Ratchet and Optimus.

“Any word from Optimus?” asked Will

“Yes, sir. But he’s at least 20 miles from the base and won’t be here anytime soon,” said a USAF Senior Airman whose name tag read HARRISON as he watched one of the computer screens on the scaffold in the hangar.

“Damn,” muttered the Army Ranger. “Keep me posted on the escort.”

(Interstate 95, near Washington D.C)

“Guys, I’m getting three Decepticon signatures coming from behind,” said Mirage as he informed Sideswipe and Bumblebee. The three Autobots were currently escorting Sentinel back to the base, with Simmons and Dutch following them in a white 2008 Maybach 62S Landaulet Semi-Convertible, when Sam discovered that the Decepticons were after the old Prime. Optimus and Ratchet were enroute on a different highway, heading back to base. From what they got over their last transmission, most of the Autobots were already at the base, all they had to do now was get there in time.

Three black lifted 2007 Chevrolet Suburbans with police lights and sirens were right on their tail, so it was easy to guess which vehicle the Decepticons were disguised as. They were closing in on Simmons’ semi-convertible, who finally noticed the three vehicles behind them. Suddenly, the middle one transformed into the 20-foot biped form of the terrifying Decepticon, Crowbar.

“Slag, its the Dreads!” shouted Sideswipe as he recognized one of the most deadly Assassin/Saboteur teams in the Decepticon Army. Before anyone could react, Crowbar made a grab for the former Sector 7 agent with his clawed servos. Simmons just had a few seconds of what was happening before he found himself lifted into the air and landed on the highway, breaking his left leg in the process. Crowbar then jumped over the semi-convertible and slammed into a highway sign, knocking it down.

Seeing what the Dread was planning, Dutch slammed on the brakes and the semi-convertible came to a halt. Crankcase and Hatchet used the sign as a makeshift ramp and flew into the air, both of them transforming into their 20-foot biped and 12-foot quadrupedal forms respectively at the same time and joined their fellow Dread in the chase. Hatchet tried to pounce on Bumblebee, but the yellow ‘bot braked as he and Sideswipe activated their Stealth Force modes, causing the Dread to sail over Bumblebee. This gave Mirage an opening, so he transformed and threw his dual Cybertanium Anchor-Blades at Hatchet’s back, allowing Bumblebee and Sideswipe to open up on him, his armor unable to protect him from their attacks. Soon, Mirage discarded Hatchet’s corpse onto the highway before transforming back into his alt-mode.

Seeing one of their own fallen so quickly, the two remaining Dreads realized that they needed to try and create some distance between them and the Autobots. So they began knocking human vehicles aside, causing the Autobots to do some very tricky maneuvers. Bumblebee even had to transform at one point and barley catching Sam as well.

(Meanwhile…)

“Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox, I need a sitrep, now,” said Mearing over the phone as her black 2010 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 LTZ drove towards the NEST base. She had just received that Decepticons had been spotted on Interstate 95 and were pursuing Sentinel and his escort into D.C.

“Sam is still with Bumblebee, but he called, mentioning that Simmons was injured on the highway. We’re sending paramedics to him now and a NEST clean-up crew to recover a Decepticon corpse on the highway as well,” replied the Army Ranger.

Mearing’s eyes widen at the name she hadn’t heard in a long time. “Wait a minute, did you say ‘Simmons’ as in former Sector Seven agent Seymour Simmons?”

The Lieutenant-Colonel response held some confusion as he said: “Yes, Director. Is that a problem?”

“No, Lennox. Just confirming,” replied Mearing before hanging up. “Son of a bitch.”

(NEST Base)

Will raised an eyebrow on the other end, confused towards the Director’s interest in the former Sector Seven agent. But he had to focus on more important matters. “What’s the status on Sentinel’s arrival?”

“He and his escort entered the city fifteen minutes ago and are at least 2 miles from the base,” replied Harrison. “And they still have two Decepticons on their tail!”

Lennox knew how to handle that as he turned to one of his two Autobot family guardians and ordered: “Ironhide, head on out and deal with those ‘Cons!”

“You don’t have to ask,” grunted the Heavy Weapons Specialist as he transformed into his alt-mode of a lifted 2006 GMC TopKick C4500 Ultimate Class IV Crew Cab Pickup Truck with twin smokestacks and a Road Armor front bumper accessory before heading out.

(Back with Sentinel’s escort…)

Sideswipe picked up his former mentor’s transmission on the comms. “Sideswipe, do you hear me?”

“Read ya loud and clear, ‘Hide,” replied the silver Frontliner.

“You and I will deal with the Dreads. Tell Mirage and ‘Bee to head on back to base with Sentinel,” ordered Ironhide.

“You got it,” replied Sideswipe.

Knowing that staying in his alt-mode was pointless now, Sideswipe transformed and skated down the street. Ignoring the gaps and screams from nearby human civilians, the Frontliner said to the other Autobots: “Mirage, you and ‘Bee head on back with Sentinel. ‘Hide and I got these two.”

Just as he said that, Ironhide’s alt-mode zoomed by, charging straight towards the two Dreads and with skillful maneuvering, he rammed them in a head-on collision, causing all three of them to transform as they flipped in midair, with Ironhide landing gracefully on his pedes.

The Dreads, however, spun haphazardly through the air, yelling in pain the whole way down with Crowbar crushing a (thankfully empty) bus stop shelter as he and Crankcase hit the ground hard. The two of them quickly scrambled to their pedes in time to pull out their dual Fusion Assault Rifles and aimed them at Ironhide, who already had his weapons out too.

“Is there a...problem?” asked Ironhide mockingly as he raised his brand-new Heavy Iron Rifles, each barrel pointed at a Dread, and was soon joined by Sideswipe as he skated in with his dual Fusion Pulse Pistols out.

“Whoa, looks like we got ourselves a little Mexican standoff here,” said Sideswipe jokingly.

“Weapons down,” said Ironhide to the Dreads. Dealing with these ‘Cons was not important as protecting Sentinel at the moment right now.

Catching on to what his former mentor was trying to do, Sideswipe added: “And we will let you escape with your dignity.”

Crankcase and Crowbar looked at each other. Had they been in a position of their own choosing, and with Hatchet’s assistance, they could’ve easily dispatched these two. But they were facing Ironhide, the most feared Autobot, second only to Optimus Prime, face-to-face along with one of his students. They would have to approach this differently.

“Drop ‘em,” snarled Ironhide as he got ready to pull the triggers on his own weapons. So with no other option left, the two Dreads tossed their guns aside at the same time as their opponents.

“That’s good,” said Sideswipe almost relaxingly.

But no sooner did he say those words, the Dreads gave silent nods to one another as they both unsubspaced a pair of Cybertanium Spiked Spears from their backs. Quickly pulling one off, Crowbar chucked it at Ironhide, who was the greatest threat.

“‘Hide, look out!” shouted Sideswipe.

The Frontliner’s warning allowed the black mech to react quickly, but Ironhide yelped in pain as the weapon impaled him through his left shoulder. Crankcase threw one of his spears at Sideswipe, who snapped out his dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Swords, flipping backwards as he slashed the weapon in half.

Ironhide quickly grabbed his Heavy Iron 2.0 Battle Rifle from the ground and aimed it directly at Crowbar who tried to tackle him in vain as a single Armor-Piercing round obliterated his spark.

Dropping his weapon, Ironhide grabbed his Heavy Iron 1.0 Assault Rifle and fired three High-Explosive rounds at Crankcase as the Dread kicked Sideswipe to the ground before the Heavy Weapons Specialist ripped Crowbar’s spear out of his left shoulder and skewered his opponent through the chassis with it, before using the weapon’s shaft to dump Crankcase helmfirst onto an empty red 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 Convertible.

“Decepticon punk,” said Ironhide as he kicked the Dread in the helm, sending the Ford and its cargo into an empty gas station. The result was the gas station blowing up with the ‘Con.

“Class dismissed,” joked Ironhide as he and Sideswipe retrieved their weapons.

(Back Gate, NEST Base)

Near the airfield, Bumblebee watched as Sideswipe returned while Lennox sent out another NEST clean-up crew to retrieve Crowbar and Crankcase's remains. He noticed that Ironhide wasn't with him, so in a series of beeps, he asked the silver mech where he was.

“The old mech is doing a last quick sweep of the area before he comes back,” replied the Frontliner as he turned his attention to Lennox.

"Alright, Graham, have the men setup an outer perimeter, we may have more 'Cons on the way. Mirage went inside the hangar and informed the other Autobots to get ready. Sideswipe, go and watch the back gate until Ironhide returns. Bumblebee, protect Sentinel, guard him with your life," ordered the Army Ranger.

The young Scout nodded as he got behind the elder Prime, Solar Plasma Cannon at the ready.

A familiar horn got their attention as Ironhide’s alt-mode came through the back gate. As he transformed into his biped form, he had a direct view of both Bumblebee and Sentinel.

Sam ran up to Lennox. “Hey, we gotta guard him, ‘cause he’s the key to the whole thing.”

Sentinel suddenly seemed to go stiff at the boy’s words, one that Ironhide had noticed. He also couldn’t help but wonder what the older Prime was doing, since Optimus’ former mentor was obviously fiddling for something.

“Indeed I am. What you must realize, my Autobot brothers, is that we were never going to win the war,” began Sentinel, causing everyone present to turn towards him with surprise and confusion written on their faces/faceplates at what he just said. Ironhide also thought he saw the elder Prime pulled something from subspace, but couldn’t see what it was as Sentinel had his back facing them.

“For the sake of our homeplanet’s survival, and our race,” continued Sentinel. “A deal had to be made...with Megatron.”

Before anyone could even tell what was going on, Sentinel spun around, holding a pistol in his left servo before firing a single shot at Bumblebee, hitting him in the waist section of his chassis and obliterating parts of his outer armor. Despite having dampers, the shot was clearly painful as the Scout let out a cry of pain and shock as he fell to the ground on his back.

“BUMBLEBEE!!” shouted Sam as he tried to rush to his friend’s side, but was held back by Lennox. Sentinel was about to fire again on the downed ‘Bot when a black blob got in between him and ‘Bee. Ironhide struck the elder Prime in the lower jawplates before grabbing both of his wrists, pointing the one with the pistol upwards.

“TRAITOR! YOU SLAGGING TRAITOR!” roared Ironhide as he pushed the Prime back. As he did, he took one quick glance at Bumblebee, who was in emergency stasis lock. The area where the yellow ‘Bot was hit looked like it was very slowly being eaten away by some kind of oxidized dust with an orange-greenish color. That’s when he recognized it as Cosmic Rust. Although completely harmless to humans (as long as they don’t intoxicate themselves with it), Cosmic Rust was a microorganism-like disease that devours any and all kinds of metal, including Cybertronians. If Bumblebee had taken one or two more shots from Sentinel’s pistol, he would’ve suffered an agonizing death as his entire frame and spark is slowly deteriorated into rust particles the size of fine grains of sand. And that revelation only fueled his anger.

“Sideswipe, get ‘Bee out of here, now!” yelled Ironhide. The silver mech seemed hesitant at first, but complied as he dragged the wounded Bumblebee to safety while taking care not to touch the Autobot’s wounds as the Cosmic Rust can jump from one Cybertronian to another through direct contact as long as it was still active.

With ‘Bee out of the way, Ironhide could focus on the mech in front of him. Despite his skills and experience, the former Defense Force Captain knew he couldn’t take on Sentinel Prime single-handedly, even with all his strength and weapons. His only hope was that Optimus would arrive soon, and then the two of them would be able to overpower the traitor.

Fortunately, Lennox and the other NEST Soldiers had managed to take in everything faster than Sam due to their years of experience in either the U.S Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, Green Berets, Delta Force or the U.K’s Special Air Service. It was understandable though if no one was prepared to react if a being that was so trusted and idolized like Sentinel Prime would suddenly turned against them.

After he convinced Sam to get out of here, Lennox flipped the safety off of his Remington ACR Assault Carbine as he ordered: “Everyone fire on Sentinel!”

Graham and every other NEST Soldier in the vicinity followed suite, though they had to take careful aim and fire only short-bursts due to Ironhide, who was still holding onto both of the traitor’s wrists.

Sentinel only glared at the black mech. “You still fail to understand why I’m doing this,” he snarled. “I’m only doing this for the good of our race and our planet, if you can’t comprehend this, then get out of my way!”

Using his pedes, the elder Prime managed to push Ironhide back, but not before the black mech knocked his Cosmic Rust Pistol out of his left servo. Moving swiftly, Sentinel quickly brought out his Primax Blade in its half-length mode and swung it at Ironhide, striking the black mech below his chestplates, causing Energon to leak out as he fell to the ground with Sentinel hovering over him.

“I hereby discharge you from duty,” said the old Prime mockingly as he raised his Primax Blade in a two-servo grip as he prepared to deliver the final blow…

...until he was suddenly struck by a 84mm High-Explosive-Dual-Purpose Rocket that hit him in the lower chassis and sent him flying back ten feet before hitting the ground.

“Sideswipe, grab Ironhide! We’ll cover you!” ordered Lennox as he tossed aside the empty AT4-CS Rocket Launcher.

The Frontliner, after dragging Bumblebee to safety, quickly skated over to where Ironhide was and began to drag him to safety as well, while the humans laid down covering fire for him.

Sentinel, having recovered from that shot and realizing that he couldn’t waste anymore time here and knowing that Optimus would be here soon, he quickly grabbed his discarded Cosmic Rust Pistol and fired a few shots at the others. Sideswipe had to let go of Ironhide in order to get to cover and warn the other Autobots. The black mech was barely conscious as he watched the traitor retrieve his Primax Blade before transforming into his alt-mode and drove towards the hangar doors.

"Damn it,” muttered Ironhide as he fell into emergency stasis lock.

Chapter Text

(NEST Base)

Chromia knew something was wrong through her bond with Ironhide. At first it felt normal, but then it suddenly changed to hostile, then pain and soon nothing. Concern now filling her processor, she ran passed her two sisters to figure out what was going on, passing nearby NEST Soldiers and the other Autobots. She was halfway to the hangar doors, when Sentinel suddenly barged in and started firing everywhere with some kind of pistol. Chromia was caught off completely and thus lost her balance, causing her to slide on the ground until she hit the nearby wall.

Recovering, Chromia got up to see the scene before her. The light-blue and silver femme watched in shock and horror as Sentinel began trashing the hangar, attacking NEST Soldiers as they fled to safety. She remained frozen until a transmission from Sideswipe came in: “Autobots, Sentinel Prime had turned traitor! Repeat: Sentinel Prime has turned traitor! He just took down Ironhide and Bumblebee. Be careful, he’s got a pistol containing Cosmic Rust, one shot will put you into emergency stasis lock for good!”

At first unable to believe what the Frontliner said was true, Chromia raced through the hangar doors and gasped at what she saw. There, lying on the ground, was Ironhide, seriously damaged and in emergency stasis lock. Next to him was Bumblebee who was also in emergency stasis lock, and with a good amount of his armor around the waist disintegrated. Seeing this, her shock turned to anger and with a growl, Chromia ran back into the hangar with her Photon Cannon out.

Sentinel had already begun attacking anything that was in his way, while slowly heading towards the vault where the remaining five Pillars were held. Humans were moving out of the rogue Autobot’s way, with a few firing their weapons at him. However, it was difficult because the Prime moved so quickly and his armor was so strong that he merely shrugged off the 5.56x45mm NATO Armor-Piercing/Tracer rounds they were using at him. Graham, meanwhile, had already gotten word from Lennox not to engage Sentinel, so now he was ordering everyone to fallback to a safe distance.

Then out of nowhere, Skids jumped onto the Prime’s back, while Mudflap grab hold of Sentinel’s left leg. Both of them began to bang on his armor repeatedly, trying to dish out any kind of damage they could.

“Yo, man! That ain't cool at what you did to our pals!” shouted Skids.

“Yeah, we’re gonna kick your aft, you traitor!” added Mudflap.

The elder Prime merely grunted, unfazed by their threats or attacks as he tried to shrug them off. Skids had managed to reach Sentinel’s helm and began to pry at his optics when the Prime grabbed him by the left leg and tossed him into a (thankfully unfueled) CV-22B Osprey SpecOps Tiltrotor Transport. Then with a strong shake of his left leg, he managed to get Mudflap off him and kicked the orange and grey ‘Bot with doorwings, causing Mudflap to crash into his twin and trapping them both underneath the wreckage of the Osprey. Sentinel was about to fire on the twins when he was attacked by Mirage and Jolt. The Spymaster/Sniper was using his reflexes and his dual forearm-mounted Cybertanium Curved Wrist-Blades to attack Sentinel up close, while Jolt used his dual wrist-mounted Electro-Whips from a distance to restrain Sentinel’s shooting arm and his chassis, limiting his movement. This sudden attack, although not serious, was causing the Prime to go on the defensive.

Then, Sentinel got an idea; the Electro-Whips had his right servo with the Cosmic Rust Pistol pointing upwards. He fired several shots into the ceiling, causing that area to weaken and parts of it to fall down below. Some of the debris struck Mirage, stunning him. Seeing an opening, Sentinel swung his Primax Blade (still in its half-length mode) at the rosso corsa Autobot, catching Mirage by surprise and slicing a small part of his armor off. Mirage grunted in pain, allowing the elder Prime to smack him aside. Sentinel then grabbed the Electro-Whips with his spare servo, prompting Jolt to retaliate by sending more electricity through the Electro-Whips and into Sentinel’s frame.

To the Junior Medic’s surprise, the old Prime managed to endure the pain and proceeded by pulling on the Electro-Whips, thus bringing Jolt right at him. Then Sentinel landed a hard punch into Jolt’s faceplates, knocking the blue ‘Bot to the ground. The Electro-Whips also slackened, freeing Sentinel as he put his right pede down onto Jolt’s chassis and lowered his Cosmic Rust Pistol at the ‘Bot’s helm.

“You fight valiantly, young warrior,” commented Sentinel. “But for the wrong cause!”

But before he could pull the trigger, the sisters came through, firing on Sentinel. This gave Jolt a chance to roll-out of the Prime’s grip and to a safe distance. Sentinel opened up on the sisters, Cosmic Rust particles going everywhere. But the three femmes were moving too fast for him to keep up. Seeing this, Sentinel had to try a different strategy, so he focused his fire on the humans who were struggling to get to this side of the battle.

Seeing the rogue Prime, now firing on the defenseless humans, the sisters moved to defend them. This is what Sentinel predicted as he focused his shots on parts of the ground where he believed they would run through. His plan worked as he managed to knock Arcee and Chromia off their pedes while Elita accidentally slid closer to the elder Prime.

“Elita!” cried Arcee as her eldest sister was directly near the pedes of Sentinel. Luckily, the purple femme was able to use her momentum to get herself back up, but that gave Sentinel time to swing his Primax Blade at her, ripping off chunks of her armor and damaging some circuits. Elita screeched in pain as her sisters looked on in horror.

Then, Sentinel felt something grab onto him from behind, causing the mech to stumble forward. The twins had managed to sneak onto the Prime and were now hanging onto his back. They began punching Sentinel, while at the same time pulling him away from the wounded femme. This allowed Wheeljack, who had been watching everything so far, come in and pick Elita up and get her to safety. At the same time, Sideswipe came in and charged Sentinel with his dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Swords.

Sentinel roared as he dueled the Frontliner and at the same time, tried to shake the twins off him. Subspacing his Cosmic Rust Pistol, the Prime pulled out his Primax Shield and use it to push Sideswipe away from him, allowing Sentinel to use that opening to get rid of the twins. He swung his Primax Blade backwards and stabbed Skids in the left shoulder, causing the light-green ‘Bot to cry out in pain as he let go of the Prime, Energon pouring out of his wound as he hit the ground.

“SKIDS!” shouted Mudflap in horror as he let go of Sentinel’s back and ran towards his twin. “Stay with me, bro, stay with me.”

The elder Prime gave them a quick look before something struck him in the back, causing him to curse. Sentinel looked up towards the hole in the ceiling he made earlier, and saw Jazz there with his Crescent Shield Cannon out.

“SENTINEL!” shouted the Saboteur just as he fired several more shots, which the Prime dodged. But by then, Sideswipe, Mirage, Jolt, Chromia and Arcee now stood before him, weapons out and ready. Mudflap had begun pulling Skids to safety, while having his left forearm-mounted Photon LMG aimed on the Prime too.

That’s when Sentinel’s scanners suddenly picked up Optimus’ Energon signature, only ten miles from the base. With him were two other Autobots, one in the air and one on the ground. Sentinel knew that if he prolonged this battle then he would be facing Optimus as well as the other Autobots too, something he could not afford. Then he spotted something to his right: Wheeljack carrying a wounded Elita. Acting quickly, Sentinel subspaced his Primax Blade and pulled out his Cosmic Rust Pistol before aiming it at the shocked Inventor’s helm, causing everyone to freeze. The other Autobots knew what he was doing; holding a hostage to ensure the others won’t attack.

“Stand down, Autobots, or these two get it,” declared Sentinel with a serious glare, his Cosmic Rust Pistol aimed at Wheeljack and Elita.

With no other choice, the Autobots did as they were told. As the others lowered their weapons, Mirage swooped in and tackled both Wheeljack and Elita out of the Prime’s range. With his two hostages gone, the Autobots took this chance to attack, but it was Sentinel who fired first, the shot from his Cosmic Rust Pistol almost hit Arcee and Chromia, but sent the two femmes flying instead. Mudflap had managed to take cover after pulling his twin to safety, while Jazz jumped down to help. He and Sideswipe began to return fire and were joined by Mudflap and Jolt. But Sentinel blocked these attacks with his Primax Shield, and then he kicked a nearby MH-60M Black Hawk SpecOps Utility Helicopter at them. The Black Hawk sent some humans running for cover before they could even fire as the helicopter crashed into Jazz, Sideswipe and Jolt. The two silver mechs were knocked out by the impact and Jolt’s legs were pinned underneath the wreckage. Mudflap had already grabbed his brother and sheltered him from the Black Hawk’s landing.

Satisfied that he would have no more interruptions, Sentinel Prime walked over towards the vault that held his Pillars.

“No gets in, huh?” mused the corrupt Prime as he aimed his Cosmic Rust Pistol at the vault’s huge circular door and fired three shots. Soon the 'impenetrable' vault was reduced to a wide gap, revealing the five Pillars inside that Sentinel reached for. After subspacing them while ignoring the fire from the humans, he was about to leave when he heard a small voice shouting: “Sentinel, what the hell are you doing?!!”

The rogue Prime looked up to one of the hangar’s catwalks to see the annoying human female who last night had dared to speak against him and take what was his. Standing tall and superior, he replied: “I am a Prime! I do not take orders from you!”

Leaving with a satisfied smirk on his faceplates at the human's shocked reaction, Sentinel transformed into his alt-mode and drove out through the hangar doors. He was startled a little when Ratchet began firing at him with his Energon SMG. However, he appeared to be mostly concerned with tending to the wounded.

As he continued driving, a black and white 2007 Saleen S281E Police Cruiser suddenly came in front of Sentinel, with a license plate that read: ‘DECEPT1CON’, clearly a sign that he should follow this Decepticon to the rendezvous point with Megatron.

From a nearby corner, Sideways, in his alt-mode of a neon-silver and black 2008 Audi R8 4.2 Coupe, watched as Sentinel continue driving to his rendezvous point with Megatron. Five minutes later, the Decepticon Scout/Sniper saw Optimus Prime drive right past him towards the ruined NEST base. “Sideways to Lord Megatron, Optimus has returned to the base, do you want me to keep an optic on them?”

The Decepticon Leader chuckled. “No, regroup with me. I want Optimus to fully take in this tragic betrayal.”

(Meanwhile…)

Optimus arrived at the scene of destruction. The base was in disarray, with dozens of Ospreys and Black Hawks wrecked. Both humans and Autobots were trying to help their own. Ratchet was standing beside an emergency stasis lock Bumblebee, spraying his wounds frantically with a spray can containing Corrostop to prevent the Cosmic Rust from going anywhere further into his frame. Chromia ran over to Ironhide to bring her sparkmate to the Medical Bay. Jolt was tending to a wounded Skids, with Mudflap frantically looking over his shoulders. Arcee was helping the humans up while Jazz, Mirage and Sideswipe have taken up defensive positions, with Jetfire perching on top of the roof.

When he got Sideswipe’s transmission fifteen minutes earlier, he couldn’t believe it. Sentinel Prime, the same mech who unified their homeworld’s separate tribes in his quest to bring a new age of life to Cybertron by discovering the lost AllSpark and energizing it by teleporting a nearby sun through the technical genius of Wheeljack into the skies of Cybertron 7,000 years ago, thus starting the Golden Age of Cybertron. The same Prime who taught him the forgotten concept that ‘freedom is the right of all sentient beings’ upon discovering that he was a direct descendant of the original Thirteen Primes, the first Cybertronians created by the Cube, and to never fight for one’s self-interests. The same mech who saw him as a natural-born leader when he first saw him in combat, whom Sentinel impressed upon him the necessity to take command of the Autobots so that Cybertron might be saved from Megatron (whom they didn’t know was corrupted by the Fallen at the time) and his destructive ambitions. The same Prime who was like an uncle to him, had betrayed them.

Staring silently as the wounded humans and Autobots were taken care of and the rubble being cleared, Optimus didn’t know what to say to them at that moment. It didn’t seem possible that his former mentor could have done this. Then, a sight caught his full attention. Moving quickly but carefully, the young Prime looked at the damaged form of Elita. He knew that she was still alive through their bond, but her appearance scared Optimus as he held her frame close to his chestplates. He said nothing but finally handed her carefully to Wheeljack so her injuries could be looked at.

He then turned his attention to see Sam, Mearing and Lennox looking at him from a nearby catwalk.

“Yeah, take a good look, Optimus! This is all on you!” shouted the Director of National Intelligence in a harsh and accusingly tone.

Mearing had claimed that everything that had transpired was because of his actions, that none of these humans and his fellow Autobots would have been injured or nearly killed if they had not trusted someone that he’d assured them was safe. And he couldn’t deny that she was right. He told them that Sentinel could be trusted and he’d been proven wrong. Every human and Autobot who had suffered in this attack was due to his mistake. He’d asked them to put their faith in the wrong mech.

He was brought out of his thoughts when he heard Graham running up to Sam and the others. “Sentinel hit the vault, took the Pillars,” he reported.

Lennox kicked the catwalk’s railing in anger and frustration. “Come on, let's go. Alright, notify General Morshower and SecDef of what has happened. We need to find Sentinel before he activates those Pillars!”

Optimus’ servos clenched in barley restrained anguish. Mearing was right. He had trusted his old mentor and encourage them to do the same...and this had happened. Many humans and Autobots injured, including Elita. The weight on his spark intensified, along with a massive amount of pain and a twist of other emotions the intensity of which he hadn’t felt for a very long time. The feeling of betrayal. His faceplates twisted into a scowl as he pulled himself together as he knew what he had to do. Sentinel was still out there, meaning that he had to hunt down his former teacher.

“Jazz, you’re in charge until I get back. Keep me posted on the situation of our wounded’s status,” he ordered his TiC.

Optimus then turned to the others. “Mirage, Sideswipe, you’re with me. Jetfire, I want you to take to the skies and search for any signs of Sentinel. Arcee, I want you to find Wheelie and Brains and bring them here. I won’t take any chances of them being harmed by this traitor. Jolt, when you’re done with Skids’ surgery, inform the Wreckers of what has transpired here, but have them remained with the Xantium.”

And with that, the Autobot Leader transformed into his alt-mode and headed out, with the four other Autobots right behind him.

Chapter Text

(Sam’s apartment)

Wheelie just couldn't shake it, this odd feeling that something bad has/was going to happen. He and Brains were currently in the living room, watching some late-night shows and eating some lug-nuts. Sam had been here briefly, asking widely where Mikaela was. When they told him she was invited to a dinner party by her boss at his family's estate, Sam had a look of deep jealousy written on his face as he got into his 'replacement' car and drove off.

Knowing that their ‘Warrior Goddess’ could take care of herself, Wheelie and Brains went back to watching their show when there was a knock on the door. A very loud knock at that. Brains, who was the closest to the door, hopped off the sofa and made his way there.

“Guess Sam and the chick are back, Wheelie,” said Brains as he and said Mini-Con followed him to the door. Too small to grab the doorknob, the two of them stuck their helms out the dog-door. They were greeted with the sight of Arcee in her biped form, a concerned look in her optics.

“Hey, Arcee, what’s up?” asked Wheelie, scanning the area for signs of Sam or Mikaela.

The pink femme didn’t say anything. She just transformed into her alt-mode of a 2008 Ducati 848 Motorcycle and activated her holoform driver with a helmet on, before revealing a side-bag big enough for the two Mini-Cons. Clearly a sign that they had to get in now.

“Get in, something had just happened, and Optimus wants all the Autobots in one place,” she told them.

The two Mini-Cons stared at each other before exiting the house and getting inside the bag.

“Guess something big just happened, huh?” asked Brains.

Wheelie didn’t hear him; he was too busy worrying about his ‘Warrior Goddess’.

(On route to the Gould Estate…)

“Pickup, pickup, pickup,” muttered Sam as he convinced his piece of junk of a car to speed up a bit more.

Once more, his cellphone failed to connect to Mikaela’s and he had to resist the urge to say Christ’s name in a blasphemous manner. Did that Dylan guy live in a dead spot where no signal could penetrate? Didn’t rich guys always have the best reception? How could he warn his girlfriend about Sentinel Prime’s betrayal and the undoubtedly horrible events on the horizon if he couldn’t reach her?

Something warned the boy that time was of the essence. He needed to get her somewhere safe. And if that Gould guy got in his way or tried to slow them down...Well, he’d figure that out when it happened. Either way, he and Mikaela were definitely not staying at that party.

(Somewhere in Washington D.C...)

“Optimus, I’m picking up his Energon signature,” reported Sideswipe. He, Optimus and Mirage have been driving for hours, searching for Sentinel. That was difficult since they still had to follow human traffic laws, despite the urgency to find Optimus’ former mentor and stop him from whatever he was doing with Megatron.

“Do you have a location, Sideswipe?” asked the Autobot Leader as he slowed down his driving in order to make a left turn.

“Yeah, about a few miles from our current position. I think it might be the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.”

“I fear the youngling maybe right, Optimus,” said Jetfire on the comms. “I just detected Starscream’s Energon signature and no sooner than that, an F-22A Raptor was spotted heading there, orders?”

“Do not engage Starscream, Jetfire. Follow him but do not engage until further orders. Autobots, pour on the speed, double-time,” commanded Optimus as they zoomed forward.

(Lincoln Memorial, National Mall)

Megatron walked with confidence and a victorious smile on his faceplates. Behind him was Starscream. One of the reasons why he chose this place was because the Lincoln Memorial had something he respected: A throne, a throne for the future ruler of this insect planet to sit on. Though he would have a much more better-suited one once Cybertron is restored, but for now this would suffice.

“Oh, my master, such a brilliant scheme; so when Sentinel left Cybertron, it was to defect?” asked the treacherous Air Commander in mock-praise.

Although he would usually ignore the Seeker, but since Operation Pillar was working so well, Megatron decided to brag about it. “He was meant to rendezvous with me on Earth after I retrieved the AllSpark, but fate waylaid us both. His ship would follow the Cube’s signal as I did, but the Ark was damaged during its escape from Cybertron and was sent tumbling into the cosmos for a time. While I was caught in the ice, he was in emergency stasis lock and left drifting in space with his ship. When luck should bring the Ark close to this system, it managed to catch the Cube’s faint energy signature and steered towards the planet. Only to crash upon the Moon instead due to the engines being damaged.” His red optics narrowed at the thought of how much trouble this wretched rock was proving to be. “Soundwave, who was following the last orders I gave to him before I left Cybertron to find the AllSpark, had managed to track the ship. He did not know of the intended rendezvous, nor did he know where to find me or the AllSpark because the humans of Sector Seven have moved me and the Cube into the Hoover Dam in order to hide both the AllSpark’s energy signature and my distress signal from the others, and thus didn’t have any reason to believe I was here. But he only knew that he was to follow Optimus’ mentor’s movements at a distance and be prepared to act if Sentinel tried to rethink on his decision to leave Cybertron with the Pillars. When Soundwave came to the Moon, he took the rest of the Pillars and hid them, but left five to throw the Autobots off. When he found out that the humans had secretly discovered the Ark on the Moon, it soon became clear that Operation Pillar needed to be adjusted. So he waited and planned, preparing for the day we would find a way to take advantage of our little surprise. But because I used up the remaining power that was left in the AllSpark shard to resurrect some of my trusted soldiers who had fallen on Earth, there was only one other way to revive Sentinel. We needed Optimus and the Matrix of Leadership.”

“So he is your partner?” asked Starscream as Megatron blasted the statue of Abraham Lincoln with his Tactical Fusion Shotgun before sitting on his makeshift throne.

The Decepticon Leader scoffed at the thought that any mech could be considered to be his equal (except for Optimus). Not even his late master, the Fallen, with all his godlike power and knowledge would be his equal. In fact, the former Lord High Protector would have crushed the Fallen easily if his plan had worked. No, Sentinel Prime was a tool, a very staunch nationalist who loved his homeworld with all of his spark and will do anything-even go to extreme lengths-to protect it, but no more than a tool to help rebuild Cybertron. Once maybe, 7,000 years ago, he may have held respect for the old Prime. After all, he did unite Cybertron’s separate tribes in his quest to bring a new age of life on their planet.

But no more, now he was nothing but a pawn, and a very troublesome one too. Megatron knew that Sentinel will try to take command of the new populace of Cybertron, something that the Decepticon Leader will not allow. Despite his appearance, Megatron still possessed his full strength and firepower, but only kept it hidden so that those who wished to overthrow him (like Starscream) would not suspect it.

Instead, he replied to the Seeker as Sentinel spread the Pillars out: “He is my greatest triumph.”

“So impressive,” commented Starscream.

Megatron said nothing but watched, a satisfying smirk formed as the first wave of his invasion force that were hiding under the lunar landscape on the far side of the Moon began to appear. His smirk turned into a grin when he saw Optimus arrive.

“Come,” he said to himself but also to his archenemy. “Here we are. Fight for us now.”

(Back with Optimus and his group…)

As he, Mirage and Sideswipe arrived at the scene, Optimus realized they were too late as Sentinel Prime activated the Pillars.

A strange sizzling was heard in the air as a crack that connected two different locations through space, materialized at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and Cybertronians with red sinister optics began to burst forward. Jumping out of the SpaceBridge were 100 Decepticons and 5 Orbital Assault Gunships. Within seconds, the Decepticons began to attack the surrounding area as they tore through the streets, causing all nearby human civilians to flee in terror. Some of the Decepticons began scanning nearby vehicles before transforming into their new alt-modes and slipping away through the chaos, all of them bound for different locations around the world.

Optimus knew that he and his small number of Autobots, half of them injured, couldn’t possibly take on these many Decepticons, not now.

“Autobots, retreat at once. Head back to the base, do not engage!” ordered Optimus. Mirage and Sideswipe just looked at him in shock; they weren’t going to fight?

“But, Optimus, we can’t just let them-,” complained Sideswipe, but a glare from his leader silenced him.

“You heard me, fall back to the base at once!” ordered the younger Prime as he ran towards Sentinel.

As Optimus finally spotted his former teacher, Sentinel saw his former student as well. After finishing his job, the older Prime swiftly subspaced the five Pillars after turning off the SpaceBridge before fleeing the scene. But Optimus managed to catch up to him before pinning Sentinel, or trying too, against the ground next to the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

“Why, Sentinel, why?!” demanded Optimus, begging almost.

“For Cybertron,” replied Sentinel, calm but fanatically as he tried to push his old student off of him. “For our home. What our war had destroyed, we can rebuild. But only if we work with the Decepticons.”

Optimus could not believe what he was hearing, was this the same Sentinel Prime that he knew all those years ago, the same one who taught him the virtues of his ancestors? Optimus continued to struggle against his former mentor as he kept speaking to him.

“No, it’s not the only way, Sentinel!” pleaded Optimus, while praying to Primus that this was not the same Prime who he admired for so long. “This is our home now, we must protect the humans now!”

Sentinel shook his helm in disappointment as he said sadly: “So lost you are, Optimus. On Cybertron, we were like gods. But here...they call us machines. Let the humans serve us or perish.”

The younger Prime stared at his former mentor in shock and horror. Gods? Slaves? Did Sentinel truly believe that their race was superior, and that all other species should be under their control? Had time corrupted the old Prime or did he always had these thoughts?

Sentinel noticed Optimus’ distracted look and took advantage of it. Using his strength, he kicked his former student in the chassis, sending Optimus back, allowing Sentinel to pin him to the ground and aim his Cosmic Rust Pistol at Optimus’ helm.

Neither of them said anything at that moment, just staring at one another, their optics never leaving the other. After what seemed like an eternity, Sentinel subspaced his weapon and stood straight up as he turned to leave.

“Be grateful I didn’t kill you or your sparkmate,” said Sentinel darkly. “Hopefully in time, you will see why.”

The Autobot traitor transformed into his alt-mode and drove off, just as Jetfire landed next to Optimus.

The ancient Seeker ran towards Optimus’ side and asked the Autobot Leader as he helped him up: “Optimus, my Lord, are you okay?”

Optimus said nothing, just stared at Sentinel’s retreating form.

“This isn’t over,” he declared as he turned around and headed back to base, with Jetfire right behind him.

(Somewhere on Interstate 66, two hours later…)

Several miles from the outskirts of Washington D.C was Sentinel Prime, driving down the highway. Suddenly, he made a sharp turn at an exit that led him through a small suburban town, with the people taking no notice of him. Once he entered a more forest-like area, he transformed near an abandoned barn. And waiting for him there were Megatron, Starscream, Sideways, Blackout, Long Haul and Barricade.

As Sentinel approached the six Decepticons, he looked up and down at Megatron before commenting: “I see that you’ve made some changes to your appearance.”

The Decepticon Leader rolled his optics. “Times have grown desperate, and you’ve been out of commission for a while. I admit that it pleases me to see that you have kept to our agreement after all these years.”

“Cybertron and our race’s survival are that matters to me,” replied Sentinel calmly. “If it requires for this world to be destroyed, so be it.”

Megatron nodded, pleased with the answer. “My Decepticons have already regrouped at the planned coordinates with Shockwave commanding them.”

He then turned to the two Decepticons closest to him. “Sideways, I want you and Barricade to lead the ones who have already taken on alt-modes and infiltrate the area where we shall begin the next phase for Operation Pillar.”

Barricade gave a nod and headed off with Sideways right behind him.

Megatron then turned to the Constructicon Leader. “Long Haul, I want you and your fellow Constructicons to begin immediate scans on any materials we can use to fortify this location and make sure the five Orbital Assault Gunships that have recently came through the SpaceBridge are 100% operational.”

“Yes, my Lord,” said the 30-foot green mech as he took off like the last two.

“And what of the other ninety-five Pillars?” asked Sentinel. “I have already learned that your troops took them during my time in emergency stasis lock.”

“Yes, the remaining ninety-five of them had been given to small teams in the first wave of my invasion force that are currently heading to different locations around the world as we speak,” replied Megatron. “But we still have one problem that remains: Optimus and the Autobots, and I have no doubt that they will try to find some way to stop us.”

“I agree,” commented Sentinel. “I shall send an encrypted message to this planet’s leaders, telling them to exile the Autobots and that any dalliance on their part will force me to reopen my SpaceBridge and unleash the rest of your invasion force upon this world. That way, they won’t be a threat to our plans.”

Megatron gave the Prime a skeptical look. “Optimus won’t just leave, he will return to stop us, perhaps even with a greater force of Autobots. I know Optimus, he would rather die than allow these insects to be killed or enslaved.”

Sentinel glared at the Decepticon Leader. “And you forget, Megatron, that I also know Optimus as much as I know you. He will honor Earth’s world leaders’ decision to leave, which they will do, rather than stay and fight.”

And with that, Sentinel Prime transformed into his alt-mode and headed back out towards I-66, with Megatron, Starscream and Blackout watching his retreating form. Soon after that, the three of them received confirmation from Soundwave on their comms that Sam Witwicky, the same insect boy who originally killed Megatron with the Cube during the Battle of Mission City in 2007 and whom later brought Optimus out of his emergency stasis lock with the Matrix of Leadership in the Battle of Giza in 2009, was now working for them, all thanks to their only useful human ally.

“Starscream, do you still have the coordinates for the location of the Autobots’ ship in Florida?” asked Megatron.

“Yes, my Lord. I flew over it a few days ago when I had no current assignment at the time,” replied the Decepticon SiC proudly.

“Excellent,” said Megatron with a sinister grin on his faceplates. “Head over there and remain undetected. Wait until they launch and are halfway through the atmosphere. When the Autobots are gone, I want you to make sure they are gone, understood?”

The Seeker grinned, knowing exactly what his leader was saying before transforming and taking off. “With pleasure, my Lord.”

“And what of me, my Lord,” asked Blackout.

Megatron looked at him for a moment. “Regroup with Shockwave and direct our five Orbital Assault Gunships towards the chosen location where we and the others will rendezvous with Sentinel. I shall need you, Starscream and Grindor to lead our aerial units once Sentinel reopens his SpaceBridge for the rest of my invasion force to come through and seal off the area.

The Tracker bowed before asking: “And where is the chosen location, my Lord?”

Megatron smirked before saying two words: “Chicago, Illinois."

(The Gould Estate, two hours earlier…)

With determination and anger, Sam marched into the building, doing a very good job at ignoring the displays of wealth. He had one goal and one goal only: find Mikaela. Sam was happy that his black-haired girlfriend was safe. He was less happy to see her at a table with her inappropriate and flirty boss, Dylan Gould. From this angle, it looked almost like a date. Except for the fact that Mikaela had her ‘fake happy’ face on, reassuring her boyfriend that she was not falling for the rich millionaire.

Sam noticed that she was wearing her flat shoes instead of high-heels. She was also wearing blue jeans, along with a white camisole and blazer jacket. He smirked at remembering of how much Mikaela ranted of never wearing high-heels again after running across the sandy desert of Giza, Egypt while dodging Cybertronian weapon fire in high-heels. When dating someone who was friends with aliens, she would sacrifice fashion for practicality if an event like that ever happened again. Which was good since chaos was erupting once more, and on a much higher level then Mission City and Giza altogether.

“Sam, what are you doing here?” asked Mikaela, surprised at his presence as she rose from her chair.

“Tried to call but I couldn’t reach you,” he explained hurriedly. “Emergency, now. Gotta go.”

He looked over at the older man wearing a Giorgio Armani suit. “Sorry to interrupt your party. But me and ‘Kaela have more important things to take care of. Know what I mean?”

“Of course, Sam,” replied Dylan with a smirk as he stood up from his chair and walked the pair to the door. “I know exactly what you mean. Though, I do have a little advice for you. As my old man always said: ‘When it’s not your war, you always join the winning side’.”

Sam froze for a second, the true meaning of the man’s words sinking in. Then, he and Mikaela picked up the pace. They had to get out of here now.

“Sorry, was I a little too forward?” asked Dylan, the smirk never leaving his face as he followed them at a more dignified pace.

He was working for them. Dylan Gould, the CEO of Hotchkiss Gould Investments and connected to so many important pieces of the puzzle, was working with the Decepticons. That single thought kept echoing through Sam’s head.

“Mikaela, did Dylan ever do business NASA?” asked Sam to his girlfriend without looking back.

"I did hear that his family's firm did some accounting for them back in the day," answered Mikaela numbly, making the same connection as him.

“We’ll take the 'inappropriate gift’," stated Sam, trying to break out of his mindset. “It’s faster than the ‘replacement’ and we need to get out of here now.”

“What about Bumblebee, I thought he drove you up here?” asked Mikaela, the question was innocent enough unlike the horrible answer to it.

Sam nearly stopped right then and there as he remembered his Cybertronian best friend’s motionless form on the ground, with a terrible wound in the waist. Sam had been so concerned about his girlfriend that he didn’t even check to see if ‘Bee was okay.

“Sam?” asked Mikaela, a concerned tone in her voice at her boyfriend’s silence. Sam didn’t say anything as he continued to pull her to the parking lot towards her car.

That plan however, swiftly turned into a foolish one. They were just five feet when the silver 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe transformed into the 16-foot biped form of a Decepticon who quickly grabbed Mikaela with surprising care before casually pinning her to the ground with his left clawed servo, while pulling out a Sonic Battle Pistol from subspace with his right servo and aiming it at her head.

Sam, who was knocked onto his back by the Decepticon’s transformation, tried to run to his girlfriend’s aid, but was quickly restrained by Dylan’s two bodyguards and was forced to remain in place. And sitting on the nearby fountain was the same flying metal condor that Sam saw at his worksite.

Dylan came out and identified the Decepticon holding Mikaela as ‘Soundwave’ and the condor as ‘Laserbeak’ before he began to explain his family’s 40-year long history with the Decepticons and how Soundwave and his Mini-Cons were the reason why no one went back to the Moon since 1972...

(Flashback...)

After making sure that Peter Voskhod would keep his end of the deal, Soundwave went to find an operative in NASA, which he did in the form of Carl Gould. CEO of Hotchkiss Gould Investments, his firm ran budget review and accounting for NASA since 1970. At some point, Soundwave approached him with a proposal in 1971, which Carl willingly listen to. The Communications Officer wanted him to do some careful creative accounting, manipulating NASA's budget and make future manned missions to the Moon by the Apollo Program financially infeasible, thereby preventing the Americans from further exploring the wreckage of the Ark. Carl agreed to do so of his own free will, but in exchange for financial gain that Soundwave provided by tapping the stock market. Thanks to his interference, the landing of Apollo 17 in 1972 was the last manned mission to the Moon for a long time, and the Apollo Program was shut down due to it being too expensive to continue.

In 1979, Carl went to meet with Soundwave one last time in person. He also had his son, Dylan, tag along because Carl intends to have him take over his position as human liaison for the Decepticons one day. Soundwave informs the pair that he would be leaving Earth for a time, and nevertheless expects the elder Gould to continue to interfere with any efforts the Americans might make in attempting another manned mission to the Moon. Carl assures the Decepticon that as long as his monetary compensation is assured, he will use his connections in NASA to ensure that any lunar expeditions are financially unfeasible.

When Soundwave returned to Earth shortly after the Battle of Giza in 2009, he meet with Dylan Gould, who has taken his father's place as human liaison to the Decepticons, when Carl had passed away in 2002 due to leukemia. The Communications Officer is amused that Dylan longs more than his late father ever did. Whereas the senior Gould was willing to betray both his country and his entire species for money, his son lusts for power, which is something that Soundwave can work with...

(Back to the present...)

The traitor to all of humanity then began to explain the reason why he hired Mikaela and found Sam a job was because he needed a spy who has a close relationship with the Autobots, and this generally made the couple want to beat the smug rich guy up.

Throughout Dylan's monologue, Mikaela had been giving been giving her now ex-boss a venomous death glare as she now saw for what he really was: a selfish, arrogant, scheming, manipulative, backstabbing, greedy bastard. Despite being pinned to the ground, threatened with an alien weapon aimed at her head and being used as leverage against the love of her life, she refused to accept the role as a 'damsel in distress', which was one of the few things that her boyfriend admired about her. Sam couldn't be even more proud of his girlfriend's courage and defiance even as that bastard, Dylan Gould, roughly grabbed his right wrist.

Continuing to monologue like a cartoon villain, the traitor to the entire human race told the young man that he wanted Sam to learn if the Autobots, who would soon be sent off the planet, had any contingency plans about returning or retaliating against the Decepticons. As he spoke, a small centipede-like Decepticon crawled out of Dylan’s right waist pocket and onto Sam’s right wrist.

Before the young man could express his disgust with the very idea that he would betray his Autobot friends like that, the tiny Decepticon latched onto his right wrist as it transformed into a BVLGARI Diagono X-Pro Watch. Agony shot through his entire body, sending him to the ground as his captors let him go. His muscles twitched painfully and beyond his control, leaving his limbs stiff and his jaws locked closed. Smirking sadistically at Sam’s pain, Dylan began to explain that the Watch-Con had tapped into his nervous system and would keep him from telling anyone about this whole situation. He also added that it would listen in, spy on whatever he did or saw, and warned Sam that he if he didn't find out what the Autobots' plans are by the time they leave Earth, he can not guarantee Mikaela's safety.

Slowly, the pain receded and Sam was pulled back upright forcibly and restrained by Dylan’s two bodyguards. The young man glared at Dylan Gould, the worst person on the entire planet, with as much venom and hatred as he could summon, and he had quite a lot of hatred at that moment. He was about to be forced into a double agent against his will to spy on those who trusted him for four years or risk Mikaela’s life. And he blamed the entire thing on this miserable low-life scum in front of him, his desire to make this human traitor answer for what he did was increasing at a fate rate.

“You won’t get away with this, you have my word on that,” promised Sam. Though Dylan didn’t seem to be particularly threatened by his words.

He was roughly led away by Gould’s two bodyguards, wishing for any other possible action then the one before him. Sam hated the idea of betraying the Autobots, especially after they had suffered from one traitor in their midst. But even as he listened to Mikaela begging him not to do it, he knew that there was nothing he could do about it. It was out of his hands.

Chapter Text

(Medical Bay, NEST Base, two days later...)

Ironhide’s optics slowly started to open as he tried to remember what happened before he fell into emergency stasis lock.

Slowly, it came back and with a shout, he got up as fast as a rocket. “Sentinel!”

“Easy, old friend. Sentinel is long gone from here,” said a familiar voice.

Ironhide finally took in his surroundings; realizing he was in Ratchet’s Medical Bay and said CMO was there as well. Ironhide’s optics were still a bit fuzzy, but he managed to catch the images of several other forms in the area too.

“What...what happened?” asked the Heavy Weapons Specialist, putting his right servo to his forehelm. Primus did it hurt.

“You were nearly executed by Sentinel’s Primax Blade,” said Ratchet simply. “But Lennox managed to stop him from doing that, but not before he ripped out a pretty good amount of circuits that caused you to fall into emergency stasis lock.”

Ironhide remembered the whole thing, especially the part of Bumblebee getting shot in the waist by Sentinel’s Cosmic Rust Pistol. “Where’s ‘Bee?”

“Easy, ‘Hide,” answered Ratchet as he pointed to the other table. “He’s right over here.”

On top of the table was the yellow ‘Bot with plugs attached to his chassis. Slowly, Ironhide moved his frame to get a better look at the wound. He could tell that the armor around the wound was slowly regenerating, it didn’t seem as bad as before when Bumblebee was hit, but it looked far from better.

“I managed to spray Corrostop on his wound before the Cosmic Rust did any permanent damage,” explained Ratchet.

The black mech let out a sigh of relief. “And our losses?”

“Amazingly, no one was killed. 21 NEST Soldiers injured, with two of them in critical but stable condition. A good deal of the Ospreys and Black Hawks were wrecked. The other Autobots took little damage, with Elita not being able to transform for a while. Optimus is currently with her right now, so Jazz is in command and Chromia is somewhere else, though I’m sure she wishes to see you. Skids also took some damage, but he’s holding up thanks to Jolt,” explained the Autobot CMO. “It seems that Sentinel just wanted to grab the Pillars and get out of there, with no intention of killing us.”

“He didn’t seem to have any trouble trying to kill me and ‘Bee,” retorted Ironhide.

Ratchet nodded. “He probably didn’t want to, but knowing both yours and Bumblebee’s reputations, he probably didn’t have a choice if he ever hoped to get out of there.”

The Heavy Weapons Specialist couldn’t help but smirk at that comment. Then something important or someone important came up. “How’s Optimus taking it?”

The lime-green and white mech sighed before answering. “He’s not showing it, but I can tell that he’s taking it hard about his mentor’s betrayal plus the concern for his mate. He’s ordered all the Autobots back to base, including Wheelie and Brains. Only the Wreckers have been left out, though he’s ordering them to report in every ten minutes.”

“Any other news?” asked Ironhide as he flexed his left arm.

“Yes, on the day he betrayed us, Sentinel activated his SpaceBridge and let 100 Decepticons and 5 Orbital Assault Gunships onto Earth before going into hiding. The President and SecDef Keller has ordered all U.S Combatant Commands to go up to DEFCON-3, and Energon Detectors have been triggered as far away as South America and China for the past 48 hours,” said Ratchet as he checked on Bumblebee’s condition.

“TWO DAYS?!” yelled Ironhide, shocked at how long it was since Sentinel has betrayed them. “I’ve been out for two days?”

The black mech suddenly felt an enormous amount of pain in his lower chassis as he moved to get up. Wincing, Ironhide tried to steady himself but Ratchet came to his side and sent him back down on the berth. “No moving for you, soldier. Doctor’s orders. We’re all taking it easy for right now until something is done.”

The door to the Medical Bay opened, revealing Chromia. Ratchet looked at her and knew what she wanted.

“Take as much time that you want with him. I need to check on your sister, and don’t disturb Bumblebee,” said the Autobot CMO as he left the room.

Chromia and Ironhide just stared at one another, before the former moved closer to him. No words were needed as the sparkmates embraced one another in relief and comfort, with Ironhide leaning his forehelm down until it touched Chromia’s.

(Meanwhile, in the base's Command Center...)

Lennox just stared at the message in disdain and anger, while muttering ‘stupid politics’ over and over again. Behind him was Jazz, who was currently in charge of the Autobots while Optimus was still recovering from the trauma. The Saboteur showed an emotionless and serious expression, rather than his usual jovial and carefree one on his faceplates as he stared at the message. “I’ll inform Optimus of this, though I have no doubt that he’ll honor your Congress’s decision.”

Just as he was about to leave the room, Director Mearing came in, folders underneath her left arm as she walked up to them. “Lieutenant-Colonel, Jazz,” she said to Lennox and said Autobot respectively.

“We’re starting to prepare for transport,” she began. “Though me and Keller had managed to convince the President to allow you to depart by tomorrow, hopefully that will be enough time for your wounded to heal.” She paused for a moment before continuing. “I’ve also requisition for Mr. Witwicky to accompany us for any new information since I...was wrong to doubt him. He’s earned the right to say goodbye to you all.”

Despite her good intentions, her last sentence seemed to agitate Jazz. He hadn’t spoken to Sam a lot, but he knew enough of the young boy to earn his respect: From risking his life to protect the AllSpark from Megatron in the Battle of Mission City to trying to bring Optimus out of his emergency stasis lock in the Battle of Giza and nearly dying in the process.

The Saboteur didn’t hesitate when he replied back to the woman: “In both me and my fellow Autobots’ optics, Director Mearing, Samuel James Witwicky had earned the right to be among us way before you even know him. It is you who still needs to earn it, not him.”

Jazz left their human liaison to think over his words while he walked over to the Autobot Barracks before stopping at Optimus and Elita’s shared room, where said femme was recuperating with her sparkmate by her side. He wasn’t surprised to see Sideswipe leaning against the door.

“I trust you already know that Earth’s leaders have made their decisions?” asked Jazz.

Sideswipe just stared at the SpecOps mech before doing a shrug. “Nah, I’m just hanging here so the boss ‘Bot and his mate get some alone time. Though if you’re here, then it must be important.”

Through some quick words through their comms, Optimus Prime emerged from his and Elita’s room to hear the report that his TiC, which really didn’t seem to lighten the younger Prime’s mood. As of 34 hours ago, Sentinel Prime had sent an encrypted audio file to each and everyone of the leaders of Earth’s 194 nations.

It read: “Citizens of Earth; I am Sentinel Prime, the true leader of the Autobot faction. Mine are a war-ravaged people, but that war has reached a blessed end. Our homeworld, Cybertron, has suffered much travesty and requires new life. Your world offers much in the way of natural resources that we need to rebuild our damaged planet. When we have transported all that we need, we will leave your world in peace. For such peace to exist between our races, you must immediately exile the Autobot rebels you have harboured. Non-negotiable. Any dalliance on your part and I will be forced to open my SpaceBridge and unleash the rest of the Decepticon invasion force, a plague far worse than any of your religious teachings could hope to embody. Renounce Optimus Prime and his Autobot followers, or face the consequences. The choice is yours. We await your reply.”

The United Nations replied with ‘No way in Hell’, but the United States Congress, acting out of fear, promptly acquiesced to the Autobot traitor’s demands by passing a legislative bill to have the Autobots exiled from American shores.

“And as I have predicted, they agreed, Mearing said we leave tomorrow," finished Jazz. He looked up at his leader, noticing the grim look on his faceplates. “Optimus, I know what your decision is going to be. But in this scenario, I must say that doing this is not cool. The Decepticons have clearly laid out a trap for us. If we comply with the humans’ decision, then we will be heading towards our own grave-”

“Enough, Jazz,” said Optimus, his voice deep and saddened. Neither Jazz or Sideswipe have rarely heard such defeat in the younger Prime’s voice, the last time he was like that was after the final battle on Cybertron. “The humans have made their choice, we shall honor it. Go and tell the others, if they have any complaints, save it.”

The Saboteur and the Frontliner just looked at each other as their leader went back inside, looks of shock written on their faceplates.

(Gould Estate)

Even a gilded cage is still a cage. Dylan Gould and his Decepticon allies were keeping her prisoner, watching her relentlessly, but she’d been surrounded by wealth the entire time. The man had kept her in his estate for a time, with Soundwave and Laserbeak guarding the perimeter and his servants maintaining visual contact within. The traitor to all of humanity offered her a selection of expensive outfits, each in her size and increasing the creep factor. Mikaela refused with a choice of words that would have even kept Jazz quiet. She also mentally berated herself for not being aware of both Dylan’s flirting and his suspicious acting sooner or she wouldn't be in this predicament she was currently in. Mikaela kept an eye out for an opportunity to escape the expensive location without being spotted, to fight back, but couldn’t find one. She was thoroughly trapped by the human traitor and his evil Cybertronian allies.

Now, her evil ex-boss and his two bodyguards were dragging her by one arm towards his private helicopter, a Bell 429 GlobalRanger. It was then that she knew that they were moving her to a new location; one that Sam didn’t know about and wouldn’t be able to find her after he was forced to do the Decepticons’ dirty work. She wanted to elbow that smug son-of-a-bitch in the face, but she resisted the urge. She needed to act like a nice and docile hostage until they lowered their guard.

As she sat down in the helicopter, she clutched her small purse close to her chest. They had gone through it earlier and removed anything remotely useful in it. But the one thing they didn’t find was her pocket knife that she hid in her cleavage. After Dylan’s bodyguards had finished inspecting the bag, however, Mikaela slipped her pocket knife into her purse when no was looking. It wasn’t much, but it offered her at least the illusion of control in this situation.

She intended to get out of this. She’d find a way to escape this situation. And Mikaela hoped with all her heart that Sam and her Autobot friends got out of their problems before it was too late.

(Somewhere near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida...)

It wasn’t fair. None of it was fair. It wasn’t fair that the Autobots were being forced to leave. It wasn’t fair that those stupid (in his opinion) politicians in Congress were crazy enough to think that deporting a few Cybertronians, the only ones that did not want to kill or enslave them, would fix things. It wasn’t fair that he was sitting in a private Gulfstream G450 with the Director of National Intelligence, flying towards a spaceship that would take his friends away. It wasn’t fair that his girlfriend was being held captive by her evil ex-boss and he couldn’t tell anyone about it. It wasn’t fair that he was about to be used as a double agent to spy on the Autobots against his will and his evil Decepticon watch wouldn’t let him warn them. It wasn’t fair that he now badly needed the woman’s bureaucracy to stop him from giving Gould and the Decepticons information.

The world wasn’t fair and Sam felt like scum.

Mearing kept explaining to him that he deserved this chance because he’d been right about Sentinel being the key and about the Decepticons having humans working for them, but what he really wanted right now was for her to forbid him from being near any of the Autobots. After all, how was he supposed to dig for info from Optimus if he couldn’t get near him? Surely Dylan and his Decepticon buddies would understand that and he would get Mikaela free without betraying his Autobot friends? Unfortunately, fate wasn’t that kind and he was going to be allowed the perfect opportunity to turn against them, as the Watch-Con that was wrapped around his right wrist, waiting to fry his nervous system at the first sign of trouble, squeezed in warning and causing Sam to wince at the quick pain and look down in shame.

The world wasn’t fair.

(Two hours later…)

After landing, Sam’s thoughts were temporary gone when he saw the Autobot ship with four massive booster rockets that he had never seen before, apparently called the Xantium. It was a very impressive sight indeed, like his childish side was coming out just at the sight of the ship. Also when he saw three visor-wearing Autobots, well four if you count the robot bulldog, that he’s never seen before, his curiosity got the better of him.

“They’re called the Wreckers, it was their ship that brought the third wave of Autobots here,” explained Mearing as if she read his thoughts. “They take care of the Xantium. We don’t let them out of the base because their assholes, and their only allowed to leave if Optimus calls them.”

Sam wondered how bad these guys were if they didn’t let them out of the base, but they did let Skids and Mudflap out though.

As he approached the Wreckers, he quickly heard the trio’s foul language and realized why they weren’t let out. As he realized this, he then spotted someone among the human ground staff whom he quickly recognized.

“Epps!” he shouted as he walked towards said black man.

USAF Senior Master Sergeant Robert Epps was a close friend of Lennox and like him was one of the five U.S Military personnel to survive both Blackout’s destruction of the SOCCENT Forward Operations Base Qatar and Scorponok’s attack on Bedouin Village in 2007.

The Air Force Combat Controller heard him and gave a small smile at the young man. “What are you doing here?”

“I transferred to the Air Force Reserve after Giza, Sam. This is my day dream job now,” replied the African-American as he shook hands with Sam, though he was a little disturbed by the fact that the boy held on a little longer than necessary. Sam did his best to hide the fact that the Watch-Con on his right wrist was scanning the Air Force Reservist.

“Oi, you Sam Witwicky?” asked the green and white mech on the moving crawler-transporter. He jumped down and circled the three humans with the other two Wreckers to get a good look at the boy they heard so much about.

Sam, nervous of speaking to these new Autobots, just said: “Yeah, that’s me.”

“We heard what you did to Megatron four years ago, nice job,” commented the red and black mech. “By the way, name’s Leadfoot, and these two are Roadbuster and Topspin.”

Leadfoot then patted the Cyber-Bulldog standing beside him. “And this is our little schnookums, Steeljaw.”

The other two Wreckers gave a more or less welcome while Steeljaw gave a loud bark when Roadbuster spotted some humans who were escorting some supplies over to their ship. “What in Primus’ name do you think you’re doing, ya bunch of idiots? Are you trying to blow us up with that crap?!”

Sam just smiled as the three Wreckers walked over to the humans. Epps laughed a little at their antics. “I better get over there before they accidentally kill someone. You better get going too if you want to say goodbye to ‘Bee and the others before the world does the stupidest thing ever.”

(One hour later…)

“This is nuts, making us go because of that traitor told ‘em too,” complained Mudflap as he and his twin were walking towards the Xantium.

Skids shook his helm in agreement, his right servo on his wound. “I know, they don’t know that the Decepticons can never be trusted due to their treacherous nature, and now they’re listing to them. This is all messed up. We should be hunting ‘Cons, not leaving.”

Mudflap stared at his brother’s wounds before asking: “Hey, Skids, how does your wound feel?”

The light-green twin rubbed it a bit. “It doesn’t hurt as much as it did before. Thanks for pulling me out of there by the way.”

The twins bumped fists as Mudflap replied: “That’s what twins are for, bro.”

“Quit your whining and keep moving,” said Jetfire in his aged voice as gave them both a good whack on the helm. Skids and Mudflap rubbed their helms as the ancient Seeker walked ahead.

“What the slag is his problem?” asked Skids as Sideswipe came towards them.

The silver mech smirked. “Probably just as upset as you guys are about leaving too. That and he’s not too fond of flying inside a shuttle.”

Skids and Mudflap looked at the Frontliner in shock. Sideswipe simply shrugged. “Hey, from what I’ve learned about most flyers is that they hate cramped spaces.”

The three of them then noticed Wheeljack walking by with his Experimental Energon Battle Rifle, Cybertanium Spear, and other equipment strapped to his back and muttering to himself.

“Hey, ‘Jack, you need any help with that stuff?” asked Sideswipe.

The Inventor/Scientist shook his helm. “No thanks, lads. This is some stuff that I still need to work on once we get on board.” Then he turned away and called for Roadbuster, telling him that Optimus sent him to give the Wreckers a hand.

Chromia led Ironhide towards the ship, since his injury was causing him to limp a little. She could hear her mech grumbling. “Ironhide, complaining will not help you right now, or us for that matter.”

"It's not about us leaving, Chromia,” said the black mech. “Well, sort of that, but the real issue is that I got careless.”

The femme looked up to her mate, trying to figure out what he was getting at.

“And it wasn’t the first time,” continued Ironhide. “Remember when Optimus tried to save Sam in New Jersey two years ago? I should’ve gone with him and Bumblebee. I could’ve saved him from being put into emergency stasis lock.”

Chromia then started to understand at what he was getting at. “But we brought him back, and Jetfire as well.”

The Heavy Weapons Specialist shook his helm. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I could’ve stopped him from being gravely injured. Then none of us, especially Elita, would not have gone through that kind of pain when she saw the state he was in. If I had been more aware of Sentinel, then none of you wou-”

By then, Chromia had lost it, and slapped Ironhide across the faceplates hard! The bewildered mech looked down on her.

“Stop it, you and I both know that none of us could’ve seen that coming! But that doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters right now is that you’re here, I’m here, the others are all still here and that’s all I care about,” she said.

Ironhide just stared at her before smiling. This is why he fell in love with this femme, her positive determination made him feel like nothing could stop him, except herself maybe.

(Meanwhile…)

Sam entered the building while trying his best not to act suspiciously, which was very hard when the Watch-Con was controlling his right arm, trying to scan data on the computer screens for any useful information. Despite that, no one really gave any thought of it and probably assumed that he was just anxious and his whole right arm moving was just a nervous twitch.

Mearing was still with him when he saw Seymour Simmons rolling through, demanding to know who was in charge. And when the former Sector Seven agent meant ‘rolling’, he meant it literally. Simmons had busted his injured leg so bad that he was currently in an electric wheelchair with Dutch standing beside him.

When Simmons spotted Mearing, Sam immediately wished he had earplugs and a blindfold. From what they were saying, the kid figured they once had a relationship, if such a thing was possible for these two.

(Elsewhere…)

Wheelie leaned his helm against the bars of the cage he and Brains were currently in. The two Mini-Cons had stayed at the NEST base in D.C for two days before a bunch of guys grabbed them and put them into this cage.

It was just plain rude, treating advanced sentient beings in such a way. But there was nothing they could, their human allies were exiling them due to an ultimatum from that Autobot turncoat.

Both of them being former Decepticons, Wheelie and Brains knew that this was a trap; the Decepticons would never take the chance of letting their most hated enemies escape scot-free, not without the chance of them returning. But these fleshlings at Congress wouldn’t listen; their brains were set on getting the Autobots out of here, hoping that Sentinel will keep true to his word.

Now, knowing that he and Brains were being dragged towards an obvious trap against their will, Wheelie stared at Sam and a bunch of other people he didn’t care about. He was debating with himself on whether or not to try and warn someone again that this was a trap. He let this opportunity pass, however, because he noticed something even more concerning that left them in stunned silence.

Where was Mikaela Banes?

(Back with the other Autobots…)

Arcee and Mirage were currently helping Elita to the ship, worried that she might not have fully recovered from her wounds.

Meanwhile, Ratchet was walking towards the Xantium with Wheelie and Brains (who got out of their cage five minutes ago) on his left shoulder, when he spotted Jolt making his way there as well.

“Jolt?” asked Ratchet.

The weary Autobot looked up at his mentor. “Oh, hey, sir. Sorry, I’m just tired. Doing a lot of surgery on Skids all night and in the morning has taken a lot out of me.”

The Autobot CMO put a servo on his student’s left shoulder. “It was your first operation that you did while on a battlefield and not under my supervision. And if I was testing you, then I would say you got yourself an ‘A’ and furthermore-"

“Yo, Jolt!” shouted Mudflap. He and Skids were running straight towards the blue ‘Bot, whom they embraced in a hug, nearly causing the Junior Medical Officer to fall.

When they let go, Mudflap shook Jolt’s right servo. “Thanks for saving my brother.”

Skids shook his helm before grabbing Jolt’s other servo. “C’mon, we want you to sit by us on the ship.”

As the twins were dragging him, Jolt looked at Ratchet, who gave him a small smile.

(Back with Sam…)

The young man spotted Optimus talking to Jazz as his trailer was loaded onto the Xantium. Whatever the two were saying, Sam couldn’t hear from where he was standing. Optimus spotted Sam, knowing that he wanted to talk, the Autobot Leader told his Third-in-Command to head towards the ship while the boy walked over to him. Jazz nodded before saying ‘Peace out’ to Sam in a sad tone.

The young man looked up at Optimus Prime. He deeply respected the mech and wished things were different. From what he’d gathered, Sentinel’s betrayal had hit him very hard. The two Primes had been close once and it was hard to imagine what Optimus was going through.

“What your politicians in Congress, along with Earth’s leaders say is true,” commented Optimus slowly. “This is all my fault, I told them who to trust. I was so wrong.”

Not sure what to say, Sam tried to reassure the Prime before him. “That doesn’t make it your fault. It just makes you human for a change.”

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best way to say it. The phrase ‘you’re only human’ didn’t quite translate well when you say it to an extraterrestrial being. Still, he hoped Optimus got the concept across that everyone was entitled to be wrong, no one was perfect. Someone he thought was loyal and trustworthy had betrayed him. Kind of like how Sam was about to trick him…

The Autobot Leader seemed to understand what the young man had meant and met his gaze before stating: “Remember this: ‘You may lose your faith in us, but never in yourselves’.”

Okay, the guilt was increasing. Sam did not want to do this to the Autobots. He really didn’t want to. They’d already suffered one betrayal in the form of Optimus’ mentor. They did not deserve to have it happen again. He would rather die than do something like that to him.

Unfortunately, the Watch-Con on his right wrist wouldn’t let him go of that betrayal. When it looked like Optimus was about to turn and walk away, another painful spasm ran through his entire nervous system. It really hurt, but it also reminded him that he was not the only one on the line. He could ask the question now or Mikaela would be condemned to whatever fate that Dylan and his Decepticon allies had in store for her. Fighting through the pain and guilt, Sam opened his mouth to deliver the last words he wanted to say.

“I need to know how you’re going to fight back.”

Sam couldn’t meet Optimus’ gaze now. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the mech in the optics as he was forced to betray them against his will. “I know there’s a strategy. I know that you’re coming back with reinforcements. Something. I know there’s a plan.”

He looked straight at him now. Sam couldn’t tell the Autobots the truth that he was being forced to spy on them against his will, since the creep on his right wrist could hear him. All he could do was to provide a tiny hint and hope for the best. “You can tell me, no other human will ever know.”

He silently begged Optimus to notice the stress that he placed on the word ‘human’. He wanted the mech to realize that his odd phrasing of saying ‘no other human’ instead of ‘no one else’, meant that Dylan and the Decepticons would know. It was the only idea he could think of in a short amount of time.

Whether or not the Autobot Leader picked up on the subtle clue, the mech replied: “I’m sorry, Sam. But there is no plan.”

His unwanted job complete, Sam could honestly ask a real question. “If we just do what the Decepticons want, how are we ever going to live with ourselves?”

“You are my friend, Sam,” remarked the mech, sending the young’s man guilt to even greater heights. “You always will be.”

He held nothing but great respect for Optimus since the Battle of Mission City. The Autobot Leader considered him a friend, even after his attempt at normality in college led to ignoring his request for help with the U.S Government and the fact that Optimus was put into a coma while trying to save him. Granted, Sam had almost died trying to revive the mech in the Battle of Giza two years ago. Still, hearing the transformed semi-truck call him a friend after he’d just been used to gather info for Dylan and his Decepticon buddies against his will was painful to Sam.

“But your leaders have spoken,” continued Optimus. “From here, the fight will be your own.”

With those final words, the mech walked back towards the ship and muttered something to Bumblebee. The Scout walked over to the young man, the fully-healed wound on his waist that he got from Sentinel’s Cosmic Rust Pistol still had some faint scaring, but it looked a lot better thanks to Ratchet.

The two best friends looked at each other for a moment. Sam knew that this would be the last time he would ever see his Autobot guardian and wanted to remember every detail of the mech. He hadn’t known at the time, but ‘buying’ that 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Coupe at Bolivia’s Finest Quality Used Cars and Petting Zoo four years ago, was probably the best thing that ever happened to him. It didn’t matter that he’d been in danger of being killed numerous times since; he could always count on ‘Bee to be there to save him.

They didn’t say much to each other. In fact, Sam couldn’t even find a single word to express how much he would miss him, how much his friendship meant, and how much he wished there was another way. He had a feeling that Bumblebee had searched through all of the audio media for just the right quote, just the right line for this moment. And when Sam heard it, there was nothing left to say.

“I will always be your friend.”

He watched the mech, his best friend, heading back towards the ship. Behind him, Sam heard Simmons roll up to him by his wheelchair.

Quietly as he watched all twenty-one Autobots board the Xantium one by one, he commented: “Years from now they’re gonna ask us: ‘Where were you when they took over the planet?’ We’re gonna say: ‘We just stood by and watched’.”

(A few hours later…)

After informing the others that he wished to be alone, Sam found a secluded spot to watch the launch. He just couldn’t stand the idea of being around people at the moment. It was probably the worst day of his life.

The ship had just taken off when his phone rang. Sam knew that only one person would be calling him at this moment, someone whom he wished was being tried at The Hague: Dylan Gould.

“If you wanted an answer, you got one.”

“I always get what I want, Sam,” replied the traitorous businessman. “We just needed to be sure.”

“Sure of what?” demanded Sam.

“That they would go without a fight,” said Dylan smugly before hanging up.

Suddenly, Sam was hit with a new sense of dread. He caught sight of the four booster rockets detaching from the Xantium, but his eyes were scanning the sky for something else, something far worse.

The Autobots were in danger.

(Somewhere in Earth’s mesosphere…)

Starscream grinned to himself. Finally, a mission worthy of his greatness. With one move, he would eliminate the Autobots. If only taking power from Megatron would be this easy.

He locked onto the areas that were vulnerable and would do the most damage. Once he had done so, Starscream transformed into his alt-mode and zoomed towards the ship at high-speed, waiting for the right moment until he launched six AIM-120C-7 Advanced-Medium-Range-Air-to-Air-Missiles (AMRAAMs) armed with Blast-Fragmentation warheads at the unexpecting Autobots.

Feeling smug as he watched the ship blew up, he flew off to rejoin the rest of the Decepticons.

(Back with Sam…)

The young man watched in horror and dread as the remains of the Xantium fell back down to Earth, then he flinched violently as the Watch-Con released its grip on his right wrist and skittered away. In a fit of rage, which was fueled of having his girlfriend being held in the clutches of that human traitor, being forced to work for the Decepticons against his will, and finally watching his Autobot friends being murdered without a fight, Sam lashed out in an attempt to squish the evil creature, but to no avail.

Giving up on going after it, Sam groaned in sadness as he leaned his head against a railing, tears already coming out of his eyes.

(Back with Mikaela…)

Still a hostage, still despising the man leading her by the elbow with his two human bodyguards in tow, still visualizing of slashing his throat with her hidden pocket knife, but in a new city. Mikaela didn’t feel that this was anything close to an improvement, but Dylan seemed satisfied. She had no idea what her evil ex-boss had been talking about to Sam on his phone. He’d said something about ‘that they would go without a fight’ in a smug-like tone that sent a chill down her spine, but didn’t say anything else. She could guess it dealt with the Autobots, but she could also somehow tell that he meant something more than them leaving Earth.

“Welcome to Chicago,” remarked Dylan as they left the private helipad, with Mikaela glaring at the traitor to all of humanity.

Chapter Text

(Chicago, Illinois)

In the 'Windy City', there was a man named Leo Spitz who was waiting for a red light to change. Having already graduated from college and had somewhat of a decent job that required good standings, intellect and no embarrassing moments. For some reason, Leo began remembering the time when he had gone with Sam, Mikaela, Simmons, and those alien robots to Egypt and nearly got himself killed by a 103-foot robot with a vacuum-like mouth.

He had no idea why it had come up, but it sort of made him miss those short moments he had. It also gave him a thought to try and call Sam up to see how he and his girlfriend were doing. Leo was thinking so much that he didn't see a black and white 2007 Saleen S281E Police Cruiser coming by until it honked its horn to warn people to move aside as it drove by.

Barricade was getting antsy, if Megatron himself didn't give him these orders, the 'Con was pretty sure he would have shown his true form and kill as many of these insects as he could. But knowing the importance of this assignment, as well as the threat of a slow and painful offlining, made him control his actions.

The Decepticon Leader had ordered him to do daily police routines in Chicago, while at the same time making sure that the other 'Cons, who were all in their alt-modes, were at their tactical positions throughout the city. Sentinel Prime had already arrived and had recently received world that their human ally had come too, with the Witwicky kid's female as a hostage.

Barricade didn’t like the idea of having a human as an ally, but Soundwave had personally insisted that this one be given a reward for his loyal dedication to their cause. From what the Communications Officer had said, this human and his late father were very much like the Decepticons: greedy, selfish, and a lust for power. Whatever the reasons were for leaving him alive were, the Scout didn’t complain.

(Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida)

The Autobots were gone.

Ironhide, Ratchet, Jazz, Wheelie, Brains, Skids and Mudflap, Mirage, Sideswipe, Arcee and her sisters, that cranky Jetfire who had just been brought back to life, Jolt, Wheeljack, the Wreckers and Steeljaw whom he’d just met, Optimus, one of the few people he respected the most, who nearly lost his sparkmate to Sentinel and the one most hurt by the old Prime’s betrayal. And Bumblebee, his best friend, his Autobot guardian and the only person who was almost like a brother to him.

They were all gone, just like that and it was all his fault. He knew he had to do something, to save the last thing that was important to him, and there was only one man who could help him.

"Simmons!" shouted Sam once he spotted said man who was rolling down the hallways with Epps and Dutch. "Simmons, I need your help. My phone. Mikaela kidnapped by her boss. Track him."

"Sam, slow down," ordered Epps. "What are you talking about?"

Taking slow deep breaths, the young man began to explain everything about Dylan Gould and his family's long-history with the Decepticons, and how that human traitor had forced him to wear the Watch-Con on his right wrist to find out if the Autobots had plans to retaliate while holding his girlfriend hostage.

"This him?" asked Dutch, holding his phone up that showed a picture of said man, which Sam nodded to in confirmation before continuing: "He just called me and I need to find him now. I'm going after him. Do you think you can track him?"

"Dutch is a genius at this sort of thing," replied Simmons as he took the cell phone from Sam while his assistant opened up his mobile laptop. "We'll find that traitor."

Dutch took the phone from his boss and began typing down some keys as he plugged in the phone. Sam didn't really know what this man was doing (he later found out that Dutch was a former operative for the National Security Agency), but clearly he was very good at tracing the signal. In just a few minutes with a satisfied smile at his accomplishment, Dutch identified the location of where Dylan's phone, as well as its owner was right now: The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois.

Mikaela was in Chicago, along with that scumbag, Dylan Gould. And one way or another, Sam was going to get her out of there. He'd lost his best friend and he is not going to loose his girlfriend.

"You're not going alone," announced Epps as he and Sam walked out of the building towards the Senior Master Sergeant's car which was a sky-blue 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 Coupe. "I've got a couple of NEST friends who transferred to the U.S Army Reserve after Giza. I'm going to round them up, we'll find your girlfriend and we're gonna bring this Gould guy in."

Sam paused for a moment, staring at the Air Force Combat Controller, before asking: "Why are you helping me?"

Epps' answer was short, simple and in no uncertain terms: Sam wasn't the only one who had lost friends to a human traitor and the Decepticons. That's what the young man liked about Epps, he and men like Lennox and the others in NEST had formed bonds of brotherhood and friendship with the Autobots since Mission City, and they had risked their lives over the past four years fighting alongside them against a common enemy. To see them murdered by a human traitor like Dylan Gould was probably enough to get the Air Force Reservist riled up for a fight.

What the two of them didn't know as they left was that Dutch had managed to hack into the security system of the Gould Estate, showing them camera footage and excellent audio sound recording of the night that Dylan had Mikaela kidnapped and coerced Sam into a double agent to spy on the Autobots, while explaining his family's history with the Decepticons. When Simmons and his assistant presented this to Director Mearing, she ordered the CIA to have all of Dylan's bank accounts and assets frozen before contacting her counterpart at Interpol who put him on top of their Red Notice list. Next, she had both the IRS and the FBI raid both his firm's HQ and his estate with a legal search warrant. Inside the estate's safe, they found a book containing the doctored accounting that Dylan's father did for NASA along with more incriminating evidence to prove his guilt. Charlotte then setup a Federal arrest warrant for Dylan and officially charging him with treason, fraud, aiding and assisting the enemy, corporate sabotage, conspiring to commit mass-murder, terrorism and enslavement, crimes against humanity, and coercing Sam Witwicky to commit espionage against his will by kidnapping his girlfriend to be used as leverage.

By the time that Sam and Epps get to Chicago, Dylan Gould would become the most wanted man in the world since the death of Osama bin Laden in May of this year.

(Back in Chicago...)

The fiery embers of the destroyed Xantium were still drifting lazily back down to Earth when Sentinel positioned his Pillars strategically in the cupolas atop of the building owned by Soundwave's human ally. The Control Pillar, in the southeast cupola, pulsed at his command. A shimmering veil ricocheted out from it like a ripple in calm waters. For several breaths the unknowing citizens of the city gaped and marveled at what they perceived to be a meteorological wonder. It was as though the Northern Lights have deigned to shine its light upon the overworked city and its inhabitants, giving them a brief glimpse of one of the more fantastical parts of their world.

And then the blue beam of light shuddered up into the sky and from its peak poured forth the rest of the Decepticon invasion force.

Five Orbital Assault Carriers whistled through the night air. From each of the carrier's hulls, dropped 20 Orbital Assault Fighters, a total of 100 in all that sailed through the building chasms.

There was no warning when the shots began firing.

People screamed as cannons and autocannons went off all around them. There was no pattern to the destruction. Buildings were struck from above and below, causing mortar and metal to collapse in on itself. Cars were set aflame by swirling Energon blasts or High-Explosive-Armor-Piercing-Tracer (HEAPT) rounds.

Also jumping out of the SpaceBridge were 400 Decepticon Protoforms that ranged from 15 to 22-feet tall, and armed with either Fusion SMGs or Tactical Fusion Shotguns. Appearing at different tactical positions throughout the city were Sideways, Brawl, Bonecrusher, Barricade, Frenzy, Ravage, Soundwave, Barricade, the Constructicons, Scorponok, and Shockwave. 15 minutes later, Blackout, Grindor, Devcon and Starscream arrived with the 5 Orbital Assault Gunships.

Men, women and children ran for shelter that was not to be found, as the Decepticons began leveling those on foot. Some humans were disintegrated into a pile of skeletons and burnt clothing in the fraction of a second, while others suffered by bleeding out from wounds far too grave to continue on. Mothers and fathers clung desperately to their children as red optics glowed malevolently above them. Stray bits of Wi-Fi enabled filming done by the few that could reveal the carnage, destruction and the atrocities that any other man or woman had before witnessed until that too fettered out of existence as the persons were laid to waste in a once thriving city.

The rest of the world watched with dawning horror as they saw their inevitable and untimely end coming on the backs of red-eyed metal demons from another world.

Above them all stood Sentinel Prime and Megatron, who preened in the fiery light of a city being laid to ruin.

(Command Center, NEST Base, sixteen hours later...)

The room was filled with people simply trying to figure out what were the Decepticons doing in Chicago. What they did know was that the 'Cons had their five Orbital Assault Carriers in the city's center and their corresponding Orbital Assault Fighters and gunships have cut off all forms of air support and effectively formed a blockade throughout Chicago, preventing most traffic in or out and executing random terror raids on the surviving populace.

Lennox, Graham and fifty-seven other NEST Soldiers were currently on stand-by at Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana, while elements of SEAL Team Six were trying to gain access into Chicago. And staging near the city's outskirts was the Illinois Army National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team that was on loan from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

"Excuse me," interrupted Simmons, rolling into the room with Dutch and Mearing. "Excuse me, it doesn't make sense. Can't we get any eyes in there at all?"

"They keep shooting down our drones," answered John Keller, the United States Secretary of Defense and Vietnam Veteran from a live video feed at the Pentagon.

"They want us blind," added U.S Marine Corps General Chris Morshower, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was in the room and was wearing his Woodland-Pattern MARPAT Uniform. "But we do have a couple of mini-drones that we're going to try."

"Besides all that, whoever's manning these UAVs, can we try to redirect them toward the Trump Tower? The Witwicky kid is on his way to Chicago. Said that Dylan Gould, the same man who's working with the Decepticons, is there and he's holding his girlfriend hostage," said Simmons as he stared at the other people. "Listen, if I know anything, that kid is an alien bad news magnet."

Before Mearing could accuse the man she once felt at least mildly-attracted to, his German-accented assistant started attracting everyone's attention. Simmons must've realized he discovered something big as he rolled quickly over to his assistant, who was in front of a computer. "Dutch, what is it, did you find an opening into Chicago?"

"I didn't, but I did find something out in space just before it vanished," replied the former NSA operative as he kept typing.

"Could you make out what it was?" asked Simmons.

Dutch looked at him before answering. "From what I could tell it might be a ship, and it seems to be coming from the Moon."

"More Decepticons?" asked Mearing as she walked over to the screen.

Dutch simply shrugged.

(Back in Chicago...)

Sentinel Prime watched as the primitive human city continue to fall before the might of Cybertronians. Once, the red and grey mech might have felt a slight twinge of guilt in his spark at what he was doing, what was happening. But the images of the war between Autobots and Decepticons as it ravaged his home and ended so many lives, both old and young; he felt nothing as the organic creatures were removed from the site by deadly force. Sentinel knew that he once would have defended the humans, fought against their destruction and enslavement. He once would never have considered aligning himself with the Decepticons. His sense of morality would have stopped him once, but that was a long time ago.

He remembered Cybertron's Golden Age. He remembered the majesty of their world in those days. Thinking of all they had lost due to their war, thinking of their home reduced to a lifeless rock, and knowing that he could restore it made it easier to ignore any lingering doubts about whether or not he was taking the right course of action.

Sentinel saw that trying to follow his previous beliefs of freedom and justice to such a degree as before was destroying everything. Sure when he set out to unite the tribes of Cybertron, everyone rallied behind him in his quest to bring a new age of life back to their planet. But when the war started, it hardly mattered, the whole planet was doomed and so many lives ended. The Autobots and the Decepticons left nothing but chaos in the aftermath of their battles. All he wanted now was both his planet and his race's survival, and he believed that he himself was the only one who could guide his scattered and tired people back together into a flourishing population. He wanted to see Cybertronians united again, no factions, no wars, no killing, just peace, with Hatchlings being born again to share that peace with too.

It was because of that he had made a deal with Megatron. The least moral and trustworthy mech in the universe, second only to the Fallen, but one who knew how to run many plans simultaneously to ensure that at least one succeeded. The Decepticon Leader could manipulate his treacherous ranks across the cosmos effectively to bring the Autobots to the brink of defeat. But even if he won, he was intelligent enough to realize that he could not rule a dead planet, or at any rate, an entire universe. The deal was struck and Megatron devised a secret plan involving the SpaceBridge Pillars and the AllSpark to conquer and save their home.

The AllSpark was gone. The Solar Harvester, which had been found during his long slumber in emergency stasis lock and was the mech's backup plan since he thought Sentinel was lost, was also gone. But the discovery of the Matrix of Leadership offered a possibility to revise the plan for Operation Pillar, though the AllSpark was no longer available. They needed another way to rebuild, and with the Cybertronians scattered across the stars, they needed a cheap work force.

The humans would serve that purpose. Six billion workers, even small and weak ones that break so easily, was a decent start to restore their world. And since they're short-lived, it would take very little time to have a whole new generation of compliant workers who would obey their betters perfectly. Until then, slaughtering a few thousand or even a few million would make the remaining beings obey through fear.

He knew the soft-sparked Cybertronians would protect the humans out of some antiquated sense of honor and morality. Optimus, his old student, would never accept the idea of slavery, even if it would save their home planet. He might have fought the war in Sentinel's absence, but he was still so naive. He still clung to the same beliefs that led to that endless war. Those who followed that mech would fight until they were offlined to defend the humans because they were loyal to Optimus and he would do it. They were simply blind and unwilling to adapt, to do what must be done. Surely warriors who fought numerous battles would understand the concept of sacrifice or making the hard decisions?

Briefly, Sentinel wondered why he did not accept the Matrix of Leadership when Optimus offered it. Perhaps a small part of him still wanted to believe in those antiquated beliefs as well, the ones he once defended and the younger mech still did. Even if he knew that they could not win if they continued as they had, a part of him still remembered what it was like to stand for those beliefs. Maybe...that part of him didn't believe that he was worthy of the Matrix of Leadership after every choice he'd made and those he intended to make.

It was too late to turn back now; humanity's freedom had to be sacrifice, for the good of Cybertron and his race. It was the only way.

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," commented the red and grey mech as he continued to watch the Decepticons spread across Chicago.

(Meanwhile...)

Far away in the Atlantic Ocean, where only people on boats could get to, were the remains of the Xantium, spaceship of the Wreckers. Many of the parts were burnt, their white-steel color turned rust-brown or black-charcoal. Already some of the remains had begun to sink deeper into the ocean, their weight soon leading them into the darker depths of the ocean.

Already at the bottom, however, were the four booster rockets from the Xantium, scratched a little but no other signs of damage since having come off the ship way before its destruction. Sea creatures swam by, many ignoring it, not trying to comprehend what they were or where they came from. Some of them however were going near the booster rockets, including a Great White Shark.

A noise from within startled the shark and the others, causing them to scurry away. More sounds, which were very close to pounding, kept on going and going, when all of a sudden an Energon Sword popped out of one the booster rockets, tearing a small hole in it. As it retracted back in, it was replace by servos that began expanding the hole until it was wide enough for someone to get out.

As the servos stopped pulling against the metal, a pair of blue optics appeared followed by a deep booming voice, which said: "Let's roll."

Chapter Text

(Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago)

She couldn't watch, she just couldn't bear to see the horrors happening outside to all these innocent people. She felt sick looking at it all, while trapped in this mildly-soundproof penthouse as the Decepticons rampaged across Illinois' largest city. Mikaela felt nothing but pure hatred and disgust at the man in the room, who was calmly drinking a glass of scotch while wearing a poker face. Dylan Gould, for all of his lame and pathetic excuses about inheriting this problem from his late father and being on the 'winning side', betrayed humanity. He willingly sold out his entire species so that he could have a position of power in the aftermath. She could also tell that he had no qualms in killing innocents in doing so. And even though he pretended to claim not to have expected of what was happening down in the streets below, humans being directly attacked by the aggressive Cybertronians and reduced to nothing, she knew that he couldn't be that stupid. What else could he have expect from a group of beings that considered humans as mere insects?

People were dying down there. Even from this height, she could see it; hear it almost. The Decepticons weren't just killing humans; they were vaporizing them. It was like a nightmare and she trapped in the middle of it, wishing she could just wake up right now, while at the same time she knew it was very real.

Laserbeak was still somewhere in the penthouse. She'd seen him skulking about, changing into a flat-screen television or a stereo a few times. He was still spying and guarding, even when the whole city was being conquered.

She'd also spotted Sentinel Prime outside. It didn't take a genius to figure out that he wasn't there to rescue her either. He had setup the Pillars for his SpaceBridge around the building, apparently intent on the task of placing the Control Pillar. It even took the mech a moment to notice Megatron's arrival, while Dylan was away somewhere else, but left his two human bodyguards outside her room, Mikaela took this chance to look out through a telescope to see what the two mechs were doing.

"The city is secured," remarked the Decepticon Leader. His Air Commander landed, and only after a brief secret nod on his last mission, he added: "The humans cannot stop us."

The corrupt Prime acknowledged, though he didn't notice the silent gesture between the two 'Cons. "The rest of the Pillars will soon reach their launch positions and the necessary power levels they need to obtain in order to open the portal."

"This is the victory I've promised you so many years ago," commented Megatron, smug and victorious as Starscream flew off. "Where we rebuild Cybertron, together."

Apparently, something in his tone annoyed the Autobot turncoat. With fast reflexes, he reached over sharply and grabbed the Decepticon's helm. For a split-second, Mikaela could've sworn she saw Megatron resisting the grip easily, but then he quickly succumbed to the pressure from the old Prime. Sentinel shook the mech like he was trying to jog something in his helm, ignoring the murderous glow in those red optics.

"I have agreed to work with you so that our planet may survive. I will never work for you," snarled the red and grey-colored mech. "And you'll be wise to remember the difference."

And with a shove, he tossed Megatron aside and went back to work. Mikaela didn't know if Sentinel was either brave or just foolish, but she would never use that tone with someone who looked like they were just barley restraining themselves from ripping her apart. And the Decepticon Leader looked furious with his 'partner'.

(Meanwhile, at the same time...)

Leo was somewhere between either fainting or screaming in terror, but he chose a third option: Running.

And right now, it seemed like the best idea. Fortunately for him the attack wasn't so close to him when it started, though he couldn't say the same for the others.

Every now and then, he would see lights in the air or explosions in buildings or on the streets. But he always heard yelling from both the humans and their Decepticon attackers, speaking in their native tongue. His first thought was on finding a way out of Chicago, but he knew that the nearest bridge or tunnel was at least several blocks away, so the best idea was to find cover, somewhere to hide from where the Decepticons wouldn't look, and then use the shadows and the cover of night to sneak away.

Suddenly, something caught his eyes that made him stop abruptly. Two men from the city's Presence Saint Joseph Hospital were trying to help a group of people get out of a nearby building, which was blocked by both a pile of rubble and a large block of wood. Feeling a growing heroism, Leo ran over to help the two men with their efforts. His added strength wasn't able to lift the block of wood entirely, but it was enough to allow the people to get out.

As one of the men was thanking him, a nearby exploding car suddenly startled them. Realizing now he had a group with him, Leo thought fast of what to do. Fortunately, he spotted a laundry mat that was empty except for a few people that were inside.

Leading the two men, the family of four and another man with a broken left arm in a cast, Leo got them all inside the building thanks to the owner who let them in quickly.

"Turn off those lights, hurry," said Leo to the owner. He figured that the 'Cons might pass them if the lights were off.

As the owner did that, Leo turned to the other people hiding inside. "Everyone stay down and away from the windows, and keep your voices down."

He finished his sentence just in time as he heard something big coming this way. Leo ducked behind a turned table and took a peek to see an olive-drab MAZ-543P Uragan Transport-Erector-Launcher (TEL) transformed into the 30-foot quadrupedal form of Devcon as he walked by, yelling out random words. Leo ducked his head again, praying that he lives through the night.

(Somewhere near Lafayette, Indiana...)

The night air was cool against Sam's cheeks as he sat on the hood of Robert Epps' car, his right foot braced against the fender. He idly rubbed at his right wrist where the Watch-Con had once been affixed to him. The area was a little red and swollen with tiny puncture wounds, but otherwise fine.

"They'll be here soon," said Epps as he emerged from the gas station, wearing his Woodland-Pattern BDU, they had come to settle at. They were in a little no-name town in Indiana, the night waning around them. In the wake of the attack on Chicago, it seemed that everyone across the United States had taken to sheltering in their homes. There were so few people to be seen and those that were hovered over TV screens and radios with horrified fascinations, praying against hope that there might finally be a spark of good news from the tragedy.

There wasn't so much as a glimmer of faith for anyone left.

His attention split from Epps to look out onto the darkened landscape. Sam watched two blue and one grey 2007 GMC Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab Pickup Trucks coming up the rise and felt instinctively that these were the people that the USAF NCO had been calling ever since they departed from Florida.

"They know this is a fool's mission and they're not likely to be going home?"

Epps stood beside him instead of seating himself, stashing some candy bars and energy drinks into the backpack he'd toted along for their journey. He offered Sam a Redbull, which he gladly took.

"Why do you think I could only get nine of them to respond? Don, Brian, Jake and Mike fought alongside me and Lennox at Mission City, while Stone, Mongo, Eddie, Hooch and Marc were the first to join NEST," said the Air Force Combat Controller as he crossed his arms over his chest as he too waited for their reinforcements.

The two of them didn't speak again as the three other vehicles came rolling up to the station. Four men in MultiCam Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) and wearing the shoulder patch of the U.S Army's 75th Ranger Regiment steeped out of the grey pickup. The one with red hair and wearing both glasses and a MultiCam boonie hat was Sergeant Patrick 'Don' Donnelly, an Irish-American from Boston. The beefy and bald Ranger wearing a MultiCam bandanna and desert goggles was Sergeant First Class Brian Burke, a SAW gunner and one of the survivors from Qatar. The one with blonde hair and wearing a black baseball cap backwards was Staff Sergeant Jake Eckerson, another Qatar survivor and a combat medic. And the last one, also a Qatar survivor, was Sergeant Michael Tanaka, a Japanese-American with raven-colored hair and was also wearing a MultiCam boonie hat.

Coming out of the first blue pickup in civilian clothes and wearing dog-tags were Sergeants Josh Stone and Marc Larson (who was wearing a white baseball cap), both of whom were Army Rangers. Joining the two and wearing a green baseball cap backwards was Staff Sergeant Aaron Mongo, a Delta Force Operator.

And stepping out of the last pickup, while wearing civilian clothes and dog-tags, were Staff Sergeant Mikal Hooch and Corporal Eddie 'Hardcore Eddie' Speight, both of whom were Green Berets.

"Let's roll. We're wasting valuable time. Sunrise is right around the corner and we need to be at the edge of the city's outskirts before we're too easily spotted," ordered Epps as they all piled back into their vehicles. Taking one final look at the bland, unabashedly average scenery, Sam eased himself into the Chevelle.

(Interstate 65, two hours later...)

They could see the five Orbital Assault Carriers, coasting in the sky over Chicago like darkly-coated weather balloons. The skyline was butchered. Buildings were either missing or deformed, half of their mass crumbled at their foundations. In the distance, very few choked-off screams of misery echoed hauntingly.

As the convoy drove closer to the outskirts of Chicago, the citizens were running away from their war-torn city while shouting and gesturing to Sam and Epps' group to turn around and run for their lives. Some of them were bleeding and injured, a couple of them had even lost a leg and needed medical help.

Epps pulled over and the others followed suit when they reached a derailed subway train. Steeping out of the vehicles, he and the others (minus Sam) put on their tactical gear before grabbing their weapons. Epps, Mongo, Hooch and Tanaka armed themselves with Colt Model 933 Assault Carbines, with Don, Eckerson and Stone equipping themselves with M4A1 Assault Carbines with underslung Knight's Armament Company M203A1 Grenade Launchers, while Marc grabbed a SCAR-L CQC Assault Rifle, and Burke and Eddie were carrying M249E3 Paratrooper SAWs (Squad-Automatic-Weapons), also know as the M249 Para.

After that, they and Sam walked forward to take a closer look at the destruction around them. Some of them grimaced when they spotted a pile of human skeletons with burnt flesh laying scattered on the ground, with Don making the sign of the cross.

The group heard a noise above them and saw an MQ-9A Reaper UAV heading to Chicago, when two Orbital Assault Fighters shot it down before flying back into the city.

"My God..." whispered Mongo in horror.

Epps turned to Sam. "We came to rescue her in the middle of all that?"

"Are we really going out there, Epps?" asked Stone, doubt filling his voice.

Eddie shook his head. "I'm not going in there, man."

Burke looked at Epps. "Hey, Robert, maybe we should rethink this."

Some of the guys nodded and murmured in agreement.

"Yeah, there's no way we can even get in there," commented Tanaka.

"Not without air support," added Don.

Epps stared long and hard before saying: "No one's going in."

Everyone was silent, with only a few explosions echoing from a distance, until Sam spoke up.

"I am. With or without you, guys. I'll find her."

Everyone stared in wide-eye horror as the kid started marching towards the city, backpack in hand. The Senior Master Sergeant ran up to Sam, grabbing his left shoulder as he tried to stop him.

"You're gonna get yourself killed, Sam!" said Epps to the determined boy, trying to make him see reason. "Is that what you want? Is that what you want?! You came all this way to get yourself killed! Listen to what I'm saying!"

Sam shrugged off his grip and retorted: "She's in there because of me, don't you get it? I have to find her."

"Sam, if you go in that city," replied Epps as he said the next part slowly. "Even if she's still alive, you won't be able to reach her, let alone get her out."

This caused the young man to get angry. "What I am supposed to do? Leave her there while being held hostage by a human traitor, surrounded by Decepticons and do nothing?!"

Epps could see the emotions that were running across Sam, like he's seen it in so many soldiers and even in himself. Sometimes, emotions make people do crazy things, forget all about common sense, and sometimes, that person would succeed and sometimes they wouldn't. He knew that if Sam, if any of them went in there, they would be blasted right on the spot.

"It's over," stated Epps, his voice showing he had truly given up. "I'm sorry, Sam, but it's over."

Suddenly, Eddie, the slightly-fat Green Beret, shouted: "INCOMING!!"

Everyone turned where he was pointing to see exactly what he meant. An Orbital Assault Fighter was shooting at a group of civilians that were running towards them.

"TAKE COVER!!" shouted Marc.

Sam and Epps got on the ground, while Don, Burke, Eckerson, Stone, Tanaka, Mongo, Hooch, Eddie and Marc tried to find cover. They could only watched in horror as the fighter fired it's twin-mounted Energon Wave Cannons at 10 civilians, disintegrating them into skeletons with torn and burnt clothing on the ground with the stench of burnt skin and organs in the air. It flew right above where Sam and Epps where, firing in a wide-arc with its Light Autocannons and shifting into hover-mode as it dropped dangerously close to where the two had fallen flat before moving up and back, lining up its weapons to blast them to kingdom come...

...when suddenly, two Armor-Piercing (AP) rounds hit the two Energon Wave Cannons, destroying them beyond repair before a third shot hit its right engine, causing the fighter to spiral out of control before it crashed onto its belly a few meters away from Sam and Epps. The 16-foot Decepticon Protoform that was piloting the Orbital Assault Fighter was growling and raging at the constriction of his cockpit, trying to bust his way out when the release mechanism shorted out. As Epps and Sam watched his progress with shocked interest, they heard the sounds of giant, metal feet walking towards them, followed by the loud pump of a shotgun and a huge spent shell casing bouncing off the pavement with a loud clang. Coming up from behind them was someone they never thought they would see again.

(Flashback...)

As the four booster rockets landed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, there was shouting inside.

"Ironhide, move your spostare il metallo aft out of my faceplates!" yelled Mirage.

The Heavy Weapons Specialist grunted as he glared at the rosso corsa 'Bot. "Shut it, punk! It's not my fault I got paired with you in this damn thing."

Ratchet smacked his right servo against his faceplates. "Why did I get put into this one with them?"

Frantic banging could be heard from the last booster.

"Lord Prime, Lord Prime!" shouted Jetfire, being the only mech to fit in that booster due to his size. "Lord Prime, it's too cramp in here. I...I have to get out!"

"Who would've thought that Seekers were claustrophobic?" joked Jolt, causing Skids, Mudflap, Arcee, Chromia and Elita to snicker in agreement.

"Not like there was much room on that slagging ship!" complained Sideswipe as he tried to stand up straight inside the booster with Jazz, the Wreckers and Steeljaw.

"Hey, watch your mouth, punk!" shouted Leadfoot.

"That was our ship we sacrificed, ya wanker," added Roadbuster.

"ENOUGH!" ordered Optimus from the booster, whom he shared with Wheeljack, Bumblebee, Wheelie and Brains. "We're moving out, so be ready."

Once all of them were on land (after dragging Optimus' trailer out of the water), the young Prime went over the plan with them again. He had summarized that both Megatron and Sentinel didn't have any intentions of letting the Autobots leave Earth in peace due to the old Prime's new fanatical belief of Godhood. Optimus also had figured out that the Decepticons only wanted one special resource on this planet: Humans, to serve as a slave labor force to rebuild Cybertron.

To him and the Autobots, this was unacceptable, it went against everything that Sentinel had taught and stood for. Optimus knew that he and Megatron had to be stopped at all cost before it was too late. The Autobots could tell that the young Prime wanted to be the one to end his former teacher's life for his betrayal.

Fortunately, locating them wasn't the hard part. The reports of thousands of humans being massacred in Chicago and Decepticons securing it was a clear sign that they had made the city their base of operations for their plans. The news of the deaths of thousands of men, women and children who didn't even see the slaughter coming, both saddened and enraged many of the Autobots, especially Optimus. As they drove towards the city non-stop. One thing was clear: Sentinel and the Decepticons will pay.

(Back to the present...)

Optimus held his Ion Pump-Action Shotgun by his side after shooting down the Orbital Assault Fighter, while Ironhide remounted his Heavy Iron 2.0 Battle Rifle onto his back after destroying its Energon Wave Cannons.

"We will kill them all," growled Optimus. His optics and faceplates held tranquil fury as he took sight of the ruined city.

Driving up behind the ship were the Wreckers. Leadfoot was the first to transform along with Steeljaw and headed towards the Decepticon Protoform, who managed to pull out his Fusion SMG.

"Wreckers, kill it," ordered Leadfoot before driving a brawler's punch into the Protoform's faceplates, causing him to drop his weapon.

"This is going to hurt-a lot!" added Roadbuster as he and Topspin joined Leadfoot in pulling the 'Con apart brutally. In a matter of seconds, the Protoform was nothing more than parts.

Ironhide smirked at the Wreckers' performance. "For a bunch of engineers, they sure know how to fight dirty."

Optimus then turned to look down at Sam and Epps. "Perhaps your world leaders will now understand; that Sentinel and the Decepticons will never leave your planet alone. So we had to make them believe we were gone. For today, in the name of freedom, we take the battle to them!"

Coming up from behind Optimus and Ironhide were the rest of the Autobots in their alt-modes: Bumblebee, Jazz, Mirage, Sideswipe, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Jolt, Skids, Mudflap, Arcee, Chromia, Elita, and landing beside them was Jetfire.

Sam was speechless, the Autobots were alive, which is why the first thing he said, a bit dumbly, was: "But we saw your ship blow up."

"The ship," said Roadbuster. "We were never in the ship. We designed the damn thing, didn't we?"

"We were hidden in the booster rockets that separated after launch. And splashed down back in the Atlantic just as planned," explained Leadfoot as he did a spit before tossing the 'Con's severed helm to Steeljaw, who chewed on it happily. "We ain't going nowhere."

"Yeah nobody's exiling us," said Brains as he popped out of nowhere on top of Epps' car, followed by Wheelie.

"The Autobots are staying right here. We're gonna help you win this war," stated the ex-Decepticon; with courage in his voice, a rare thing that Sam saw from him. Epps, Donnelly, Burke, Eckerson, Tanaka, Stone, Marc, Mongo, Hooch and Eddie, who were once filled with worry, now showed reassurance and determination in their eyes.

Optimus nodded. "The Decepticons aren't just wrecking the city for wanton destruction. They're making Chicago into a giant fortress, so that no can see what they're doing inside. So our only chance we have right now is the element of surprise."

Sam thought of a place to start. "I think I know where to look."

Chapter Text

(Command Center, NEST Base)

It took a miracle, but they finally managed to get a view of Chicago through a mini-drone. Unfortunately, their first view of the 'Windy City' was not very promising to say the least. Half-destroyed buildings, empty streets, and Decepticon vessels occupying the skies. The desolate sight took up almost every screen in the room. And there wasn't a sign of human life anywhere.

"Are you telling me that Sam was heading there?" whispered Mearing, her voice filled with shock and grief at the sight.

Simmons shook his head sadly. "Poor kid. Probably never got even close."

(At the same time in Chicago...)

A 20-foot Decepticon veteran was currently leading four of his fellow Protoforms on patrol. Sure they were winning, the Autobots on Earth were dead and now and then he would play 'hide-and-kill' with any human that caught his optics, but still he wish something exciting would happen.

His wish came true in a way he didn't want it to. Out of nowhere, one of the Protoforms fell dead, with a hole in the chestplates that covered his spark. The Decepticon and the other remaining three Protoforms raised/powered-up their weapons and began scanning the area, trying to spot the sniper.

He managed to get a look at the offlined 'Con, trying to figure out what could've possible killed him. No human bullet is that strong enough to easily pierce through Cybertronian armor, and it could have only been fired by a...

Before he could finish his thoughts, the sound of metal being torn apart could be heard. He turned around to see a silver Autobot with dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Swords stabbing two of the Protoforms through the chestplates before decapitating them for good measure. Another silver Autobot, but wearing a visor and swept-back audio horn receptors, was on the fourth's frame before grabbing a hold of the Protoform's helm. Before the Decepticon could react, the 'Bot aimed his weapon at his back and fired a single shot, extinguishing his spark.

"Autobot scum," cried the veteran as he raised his Fusion SMG, but was cut off when a powerful blast penetrated his spark-chamber, offlining him instantly.

Ironhide chuckled as he blew away the smoke from his right forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannon.

"Well, that was entertaining," he said to Jazz and Sideswipe as the two of them moved away from the frames.

"Now is not the time for games, Ironhide," stated Optimus Prime as he walked up to the three 'Bots. Behind him were the others except for Bumblebee. He had flown the recently-repaired Orbital Assault Fighter with Sam, heading off to rescue Mikaela. Following behind the Autobots, via car and pickup trucks, were Epps and his team. They had decided to take their vehicles with them until the time for close-spaces came and they would abandon them.

"We have already entered the city, but we must retain a hidden presence until we're in a good position to attack directly," reminded the younger Prime to the Heavy Weapons Specialist.

Suddenly, something picked up on his comms. "Mirage to Optimus, do you read me?"

"Yes, Mirage, I hear you. What do you have to report?"

"The Wreckers just took care of a group of four Decepticons with their 'stealth strategy'."

Optimus heard the mech's sigh of annoyance at the group's version of 'stealth'.

"Elita and her sisters are coming back from their recon."

"Very good, Mirage. Keep an optic out for any Decepticons that may be coming our way," said the Autobot Leader as the sisters arrived.

"The road looks clear, Optimus," reported Elita. "Most of the area seems intact and still filled with humans. I guess the 'Cons haven't hit it yet."

"But they will soon," added Optimus. "Which is why need to keep moving. Elita, you and sisters will take point. Sideswipe, Jolt, cover our six."

(Trump International Hotel and Tower)

Mikaela wandered around the penthouse, ignoring the maids and the two human bodyguards equally. She also kept a note of where Laserbeak was hiding currently, while Dylan paced around and muttering to himself: "I'm so sick of this waiting."

She was looking for a way out, some kind distraction, something new to this situation that she could take advantage of to escape. She'd rather take her chances out there on the streets with the large murderous Decepticons, than stay inside with that creepy Cyber-Condor and the traitor to all of humanity. She just needed the chance to act.

How could things be this bad? According to Dylan and what she'd overheard from the Decepticons, Sentinel was bringing Cybertron into the Solar System through his SpaceBridge, and humanity would be used as a slave labor force to repair the Cybertronian homeworld. It sounded like some old sci-fi film from the sixties that was canceled because of poor reviews. Ironically, her entire life has been one long sci-fi movie, though she wasn't always certain what role she had, either as the damsel in distress (fuck no) or the hero's female support. Right now, Chicago was experiencing the 'mass-invasion' part of the movies and she didn't know how or when it would be stopped.

Mikaela stared out one of the huge windows, watching Decepticon ships fly around the skyline, and then saw an Orbital Assault Fighter fly pass right by the building she was in. This one's flight pattern was a little odd, not nearly as controlled as all the other fighters she'd observed so far. Maybe it had a 'student driver' or something, she didn't know for certain, but her curiosity was peaked. She watched as it circled the building and out of her sight, causing her to wonder where that particular Cybertronian learned to fly.

Mikaela closed her eyes briefly and shook her head. Regardless of this Decepticon's piloting ability or lack thereof, it didn't help her find any way of escaping. She needed a plan or even just a break. If she could get to the street, she could've hot-wired a vehicle and escape this city. She just needed a chance.

Her sharp-hearing picked up the sound of a door sliding open in the kitchen. But there was no one in that room at this moment, though one of the maids looked to be heading in that direction. Of course, that raised the question of who it could be: Was it a new threat, an ally for Dylan, or a possible rescue? Should she even hope for a rescue at this point? And then, she also recalled that if she could hear that noise, then Laserbeak could hear it as well.

"Where is she?!" shouted a very familiar and very angry voice from the other room.

Sam. He was here. Mikaela knew her perfect chance had arrived. She didn't know how in the world the love of her life arrived, but she didn't care. Making a dash towards the source of his voice, she kneed the two human bodyguards in the nuts when they tried to stop her and kept going.

She found Sam in the kitchen, demanding her location from Dylan with a steak knife pointed at the human traitor. When did her boyfriend start using steak knives? Unfortunately, he was standing near a certain Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 9000 Mk3 6-CD/Tuner.

"SAM!" shouted Mikaela in warning.

Said young man caught sight of her, smiling for a split-second due to the fact that she was safe. But he didn't see the BeoSound 9000 shifting forms, turning into Laserbeak. As the Cyber-Condor finished his transformation, he grabbed the steak knife and wrenched it out of Sam's grip. The Mini-Con turned his sharp-edged wings towards her boyfriend, intending to slit his throat or throw him out the window.

Mikaela, however, hadn't been standing around during that time. She'd sprinted across the distance between them, elbowing Dylan in the face and breaking his nose in the process as she neared him. Grabbing a nearby kitchen knife from a nearby counter, she stabbed it into Laserbeak's left shoulder, near the Cyber-Condor's wing and slipping it between two pieces of armor.

As the 'Con screeched in pain and flailing to get the knife out of him, Sam grabbed his girlfriend's hand and pulled her to her feet. "Come on, lets move!"

Her boyfriend leapt off the ledge of the building, dragging her behind him. It probably said a lot about her trust in him and the kind of life she'd experienced over the past four years that she didn't even hesitate. The pair landed easily on the Orbital Assault Fighter waiting for them, and piloting it was her favorite yellow 'Bot.

"Go, 'Bee, go!" shouted Sam, scrambling towards the cockpit.

Mikaela tried to follow his lead, but she spotted a silver wing-shaped out of the corner of her right eye. Laserbeak, both of his wings working alright, was still after them. The Cyber-Condor scrambled over the surface of the ship, grabbing Sam's right ankle and pulling her boyfriend towards him.

She tried to go back to save him, but a nearby sound of destruction from one of the engines erupted and then the entire vessel suddenly shuddered. Gravity started to do what it did best, dragging them down, and her falling into the cockpit alongside 'Bee. Inside, she found the Scout trying to keep their upcoming crash from being fatal for all of them.

Sam struggled against Laserbeak, trying to prevent the Cyber-Condor from killing him. He managed to move the Decepticon's helm in front of one of the ship's Light Autocannons and shouted for Bumblebee to fire. Unfortunately, Laserbeak had managed to shift his frame enough so his helm was no longer in the weapon's path, but it did manage to blow off a good portion of his right wing. The blast was not just painful for the Mini-Con, but the impact sent him flying into one of the building's lower levels, leaving the question if he was still online or not.

Despite that the young man managed to show a victorious grin, if they all manage to survive this coming crash, Mikaela would be willing to call this rescue 'a victory' as she braced herself.

The impact was hard and disorienting, but she'd been in worse car accidents, of course this wasn't a car. Once the Orbital Assault Fighter came to a stop, she glanced around, making sure that both human and Autobot passengers survived relatively unharmed. Bumblebee seemed fine, giving her a quick thumbs-up, and Sam, her boyfriend, was getting shakily to his feet.

"Well that was interesting," mused Sam.

She smiled faintly at him before hearing a familiar diesel horn. Though unable to see Optimus from here, she knew that the cavalry had arrived. But all of a sudden, Sam was tackled by somebody as sonic bullets ran down from the sky on the spot where the young man had been standing seconds ago.

(Meanwhile...)

Dylan Gould scrambled towards the building. He'd already sold out his entire species and worked alongside the Decepticons for too long; he had no other choice except to warn them about recent events. He and his late father before him had served the role of human liaison for too many years. He was in too deep to even consider changing sides because if he did, he would be immediately taken to The Hague, home of the International Criminal Court to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity from where he can expect no mercy from. Dylan also knew that as long as he stayed on the winning side, he'd come out ahead.

Mikaela (whom he had plans to make her his future wife) had escaped from him; Sam and his Autobot friends, the same bunch of Autobots who were supposed to be dead, had rescued his hostage. Dylan knew that this could throw a monkey wrench in the whole plan for the Decepticons.

There was the other option that he could keep silent about this, but that was a stupid one. The only way he could come out of this situation on top would be with a Decepticon victory. Which meant that he had to warn them of the Autobots' survival. He'd already came this far, and there was no reason why he should continue to aid the winning side would make things worse for him. Besides, after the Decepticons forces take over Earth and enslave humanity, he would be the most powerful human being on the planet.

He had to warn Sentinel and Megatron. Dylan had no other choice, and honestly, he didn't need anybody else's opinion.

(Back with Sam and Mikaela...)

The young man found himself wrestling with his savior as he finally pushed the man off of him. Once Sam got up he saw, to his shock, that it was none other than Leo Spitz, his old college roommate. Before asking him what the hell was he was doing in Chicago, they heard a squawk from above and Sam realized why Leo had tackled him: Laserbeak was back, even though slightly wounded due to the loss of half of his right wing. The Cyber-Condor finally landed and violently attacked Sam and Leo, trying to rip them apart with his talons. Bumblebee had morphed his right arm into his signature Solar Plasma Cannon and aimed at the Mini-Con, but his small size and speed made it extremely difficult for the young Scout to get a clear shot because Laserbeak was too close to the humans, also Sam and Leo might even be killed in the blast.

Then out of nowhere, a giant black-colored pede appeared right on top of Laserbeak, crushing the Cyber-Condor's helm and neck. Leo looked up to see someone who thought he saw him died in the Battle of Giza two years ago.

"Jetfire?" asked Sam who was shocked to see the old Seeker come out of nowhere all of a sudden. Said 'Bot just glared at them before doing a spit.

"Who the frag do you it was? Heh, younglings have no respect for their elders these days," mumbled Jetfire as he glanced up to the sky. "By the AllSpark, I still can't comprehend it all: Cybertronians flying ships, what happened to Seekers ruling the air?"

Then he turned to the yellow 'Bot. "C'mon, you little runt."

Bumblebee let out a surprise squeak as Jetfire suddenly lifted him into the air and then dropped him to the ground, causing the Scout to land on his aft. "Show some respectability when Lord Prime arrives and help me secure this area."

Soon the other Autobots and Epps' team came into view, with Optimus covering the rear and the Wreckers at the front. When Leadfoot stopped, Wheelie and Brains popped out before hugging Mikaela's legs.

"Autobots, create a perimeter around the ship," ordered Optimus as he walked up to Bumblebee while the others circled the crashed ship. "What's our status?"

The young Scout managed to reply on with chirps and beeps, telling him they have lost the element of surprise.

The discussion changed as Epps crept towards the mini-drone that had crashed into the Orbital Assault Fighter and was now lying there on the ground. The Air Force Combat Controller excitedly began to declare that it was from NEST and was trying to use it to relay a message back to Lennox and the rest of the world. When the mini-drone's ball-turret camera 'nodded' at them, Epps, Sam and Mikaela started to swiftly outlining the current situation to them. She also added anything useful that she had learned during her 'stay' with Dylan. NEST needed to know what the Decepticons' plan was that they are going to transport Cybertron through the SpaceBridge and use humanity as a slave labor force to rebuild it.

(With Megatron...)

The Decepticon Leader's audio receptors picked up Dylan's warning even from the building he was on. The Autobots were alive and were in the city. Starscream had reported that one of the Orbital Assault Fighters patrolling the outskirts of Chicago had not checked in, and that Barricade and Devcon had also found the remains of two Decepticon patrols near the Trump Tower. Also, Soundwave had reported that Laserbeak's signal had disappeared several Earth seconds ago, verifying their human ally's warning.

He had to act fast, reorganized the Decepticon forces in the city to protect the Pillars. This would be a good chance to remind his forces who was still in charge.

"Decepticons, defend the Pillars!" shouted Megatron as he slammed his left fist into the side of the building. He then ordered all twenty-nine of the drawbridges across the Chicago River to be raised as an extra precaution in case his troops couldn't prevent the Autobots from coming. "Find them!"

He then got on his private comms to contact his lieutenants. "Brawl, Bonecrusher, Sideways, Barricade, Devcon, I want you to form patrols and join the hunting teams and find me those damn Autobots!"

"Yes, Lord Megatron," they all replied.

"Starscream, go and patrol the outer perimeter of the city from the air, make sure nothing gets through!"

"Yes, my Lord."

"Constructicons, fall back and regroup across the drawbridges to protect the Pillars. Be ready for anything."

"Understood, Lord Megatron," replied Long Haul.

Blackout, I want you and Grindor to search in the air for the Autobots, dispatch Scorponok to search for them underground."

"Yes, master," responded Blackout.

"Soundwave, remain with the outer defenses across the drawbridges and report in any Autobot transmissions. Shockwave, take your pet and find them."

"As you command, Lord Megatron," replied Soundwave.

(Back with the Autobots...)

"We need to move before the fighters spot us. Wait here until we scout a route ahead," said Optimus to the humans before nodding to his Autobots. "Let's roll."

"Jetfire, cover high, but fly low," ordered Jazz.

Meanwhile, Epps and his team checked their ammo.

"Hey, you think we can use that rocket to shoot down the Control Pillar?" asked Sam, pointing to the AT4-CS Rocket Launcher that Eddie was carrying with him.

"We're eight blocks away," replied Epps who was looking at a folded map of Chicago in his hands. "We've gotta get a closer shot."

"Not closer, higher," said Hooch from a nearby fire escape. "We need a clear line-of-sight, maybe from that glass building."

"And it's across the river," added Donnelly. "Gonna have a hell of a time trying to sneak up."

"We only got one shot," reminded Mongo.

"One shot is all we need," replied Sam optimistically.

The Autobots quickly returned and waited for Sam, Mikaela, Leo, Epps, Donnelly, Burke, Tanaka, Eckerson, Stone, Marc, Mongo, Hooch, Eddie, Wheelie and Brains to get inside. As the last of the Cybertronians moved out of sight, Sam couldn't help but wonder if NEST actually heard them or not. It was one thing to assume that they did because of a camera's movement. It was another to actually hear them confirm that they understood the severity of the situation.

(Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana)

Lennox set down his headphones the moment they lost the connection with the mini-drone. The Autobots were alive and in Chicago, along with Sam, Mikaela, Epps and some of his old comrades from NEST who joined the Reserves after Giza. And he'd be dammed if he was going to be left out.

"Graham," he said to the British SAS Operative who was waiting at the open hangar doors.

"Yes, sir?" he asked.

The Army Ranger was checking his Remington ACR Assault Carbine while taking to his SiC. "Call the men to the tarmac."

Graham just stared at the Lieutenant-Colonel before asking: "We're going in, sir?"

Lennox stared back at the Captain before replying: "I am, let's see what the other guys think."

Chapter Text

(Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana)

Lennox walked towards the men gathered up ahead on the tarmac. The message from Sam and Epps that was forwarded to him, promised nothing but trouble in Chicago. Anything that flew near the city's outskirts was being shot out of the sky. It was a suicide mission, but there was at least one small asset that they never expected to see again: Optimus and the Autobots were not only alive, but in Chicago already and reinforced as well. He remembered watching the Xantium's destruction from the base at D.C and the knowledge of what the loss would mean to the world in general and those closest to them specifically. Sam, Annabelle, and all the members at NEST knew them personally and Will knew it had to be hard on them when they thought the Autobots were dead. His daughter would be happy to learn of their survival.

So they would have their Autobot allies waiting within Chicago. Unfortunately, getting into the city would be nearly impossible. The only way would be very dangerous, and Will knew it wouldn't get any better inside Chicago itself.

Graham was waiting for him ahead of the other gathered NEST Soldiers. "I've managed to collect all fifty-seven of them, don't how many are willing though," he said while the Lieutenant-Colonel stared at them.

Some had fought against the Decepticons in Shanghai, Giza, Detroit and Chernobyl. Some were in their early twenties or so.

"If we want to hit back at the 'Cons, we'll have to wingsuit in," he explained as he addressed the group. He wouldn't order them to go with him to attempt this crazy mission that would almost guarantee their deaths. But he needed as many people he could get that would come with him. If they understood the risks and were willing to come anyway, they would face the Decepticons once again. "I'm not promising a ride home, but if you're with me and Graham, the world needs you now."

After a moment, Corporal Marcus 'Baby Face' Zimmerman, an Army Ranger and one of NEST's newest recruits, stepped forward and announced: "I can find my own ride home, sir."

One by one, the rest of the NEST Soldiers stepped forward to volunteer for the mission, inspired by Zimmerman's courage. None of them intended to remain behind. All of them would risk their lives, fly past the Decepticons ships, and attempt to save the world with their Autobot allies.

(In Chicago at the same time...)

This was perhaps the only moment when Robert Epps felt so alive, second to getting married to the love of his life and holding his kids for the first time. He and the others were riding in some of the Autobots, while Sam, Mikaela, and their friend were riding in Bumblebee. Optimus was coming up from behind while the Wreckers took the lead. Those two Mini-Cons were riding in Leadfoot, with Brains on top of said Wrecker, yelling out: "Autobot victory! Autobot victory!"

All of a sudden, there was loud noise from the back. Looking through Wheeljack's rear-view window (whose alt-mode was a 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Sedan), he and Eckerson watched as the ground behind Optimus opened up as the Driller erupted from the new fissure, its front smacking into the trailer and knocking it off Optimus' hitch as the Prime sped away. They heard some talk between the Autobots as they noticed that they were making a sharp turn into an abandoned church where the humans got out of their Autobot friends. As he and Epps were getting out, Eckerson turned around to see Shockwave emerged from the Driller's body before cocking his right arm-mounted AstroMag Cannon with his left servo.

"Bloody Hell, its Shockwave!" shouted the Army Ranger in his Australian-accent, remembering the 'Con's description from the old war stories that Ironhide talked about as he and Epps regrouped with the other soldiers inside said building.

The Autobots, surprisingly, had all managed to fit into the church, while the twins, Jolt and Bumblebee took a peek through the nearby windows. Ironhide and Optimus were the last ones to come in, weapons out.

"He's got my trailer. I need my Omega Combat Armor," grumbled Optimus in frustration as he cocked his Ion Pump-Action Shotgun. "Shockwave can't hunt all of us at once. Wreckers, we need a diversion."

"Let's get some!" shouted Roadbuster.

"You got that right," added Leadfoot as he, Roadbuster, Topspin and Steeljaw headed on out.

"Listen, we're gonna circle around to that glass building," said Epps as he pointed to the structure in question. "And we'll get high enough to make the rocket shot while you guys draw his fire."

"Optimus!" shouted Jolt, his dual wrist-mounted Electro-Whips out while still staring out the window. "We got more 'Cons coming this way."

And true enough, there was Devcon and at least four 16-foot Decepticon Protoforms on top of a edifice overlooking the street, weapons out and searching for the Autobots.

Jazz stared for a moment before replying: "Prime, we need to split into groups if we hope to buy time for the humans."

"Agreed, Jazz. You and Ironhide are with me, we'll provide covering fire for the humans. The rest of you, be ready to move quickly," ordered Optimus as he readied his weapons.

Epps and his group started to head on out when Wheeljack called them back. "Wait a minute! I'm not lettin' you go out there without my new urban combat prototypes." The Scientist/Inventor (who had his battlemask deployed) then pulled out four metallic rods and two metal fingerless glove-like gauntlets from subspace.

"We gotta go, 'Jack," said Sideswipe exasperatedly, despite the fond smile on his faceplates.

Wheeljack waved him off as his other servo dropped the objects at Stone, Donnelly, Marc, Sam and Mongo's feet with a clang. "They're great inventions for kicking aft!"

"What are these?" asked Marc as he, Sam, Don and Mongo each examined a rod of their own.

"Those are Boomsticks," answered Wheeljack who was grinning behind his battlemask. "Armed with a 30-second timer, and each one has enough explosive power to take off a Decepticon's pede or arm."

"And these? What do they do?" asked Stone as he and Sam each held up the two metal fingerless glove-like gauntlets, while the young man placed his Boomstick in his backpack.

"Those are Grapple-Gloves, for climbing. Fires a small harpooned claw-dart with a length of high-tension wire attached to it."

After that, Wheeljack then gave Jolt an EMP Battle Pistol for stunning Decepticons, Mirage finally got both his Ion Sniper Rifle and his new Electro-Disrupter equipment, and Ratchet got an Energon Repair Ray.

Then Optimus and his chosen fighters sprinted out of the church and opened fire on the 'Cons, allowing the other Autobots to get out along with the humans, while the Wreckers and Steeljaw went out to distract Shockwave.

At least two of the Protoforms were injured while one almost had half of his chestplates blown off. Devcon and the Protoforms finally started to fall back, allowing the Autobots to separate and get into their teams before heading off.

"Autobots, split up and good luck!" shouted Optimus. Then he transformed into his alt-mode and drove back to retrieve his trailer.

Jazz gave Ironhide some covering fire as he retreated from the Decepticons. "Guess it's just you and me now, buddy."

"Yeah, guess we'll go and bust some Decepticon punks together," replied Ironhide with a smirk before they transformed into their alt-modes and drove off.

Further off, the sisters had regrouped in an alleyway.

"Ready?" asked Elita. Chromia and Arcee cocked their weapons and nodded. "Then let's roll."

She stopped to snicker a little, realizing was that she had copied her mate's line.

"I always wanted to say that," she said as she and the other two ran off.

Skids and Mudflap peeked out from behind a dumpster, making sure the coast was clear. When it was, the twins jumped out and transformed into their alt-modes.

"Let's go find some motherfuckers to kill, Mudflap!" exclaimed Skids.

His twin honked his horn in agreement. "Yeah! Let's slag them good!"

As they drove, the twins bashed aside the cars and debris out of the way while honking their horns defiantly.

Sideswipe, Mirage and Jolt took a moment to regroup as they watched the others leave.

"Guess you're with us, Mirage," said Sideswipe.

Mirage smirked as he cocked his left wrist-mounted Ion Sniper Rifle. "I guess you two have a pattern of fighting, eh?"

Both blue and silver 'Bots grinned to each other and bumped fists. "You could say we use hit-and-hard attacks. Try and keep up," said Sideswipe as he transformed into his alt-mode and headed out, followed by Mirage and Jolt.

Ratchet checked his scanners for a quick-run through his equipment before looking at Wheeljack and Bumblebee. "Looks like it's just us three."

"What about Jetfire?" asked Wheeljack as he checked his Experimental Energon Battle Rifle.

Ratchet shook his helm. "He already flew off to do some solo fighting, we're on our own. Bumblebee, take the front. Wheeljack, the middle. I'll watch our rear."

The Scout let out some chirps before transforming into his alt-mode with the others following suit.

(Meanwhile...)

The Wreckers made a sharp turn as they soon found themselves facing Shockwave, who was just a few blocks away from them. Despite being a 35-foot Decepticon and the strongest, second only to Megatron and now Sentinel Prime, the Wreckers didn't show any signs of fear. That is what made the Wreckers so special, they would fight any enemy, even Megatron himself if necessary, in order to gain a victory.

"Pour it onto him, boys!" shouted Roadbuster as he opened fire with both his M134D Minigun and his dual M249E3 Para SAWs at Shockwave, followed by Leadfoot with his dual M240C MMGs (Medium-Machine-Guns) and M134D Minigun, Topspin with his four AN/M2 HMGs (Heavy-Machine-Guns), and Steeljaw. Though their ammunition didn't do any serious damage, they were clearly irritating the large 'Con as he lifted a nearby car to use as a shield.

Shockwave had decided to return fire by raising his AstroMag Cannon and let out a shot. He missed, but it signaled the Wreckers that the Decepticon Scientist/Assassin was coming onto the offensive.

"Wreckers, we've separated and our heading out, fall back before he kills you," said Optimus through their comms.

"Roger that, Optimus!" replied Leadfoot. "Let's pull back, mates, we've done our job!"

As the Wreckers fell back, Steeljaw was barking at Shockwave while riding on Leadfoot. Said 'Bot chuckled. "You tell him, Steely."

(With Megatron...)

"Soundwave, status report," ordered the Decepticon Leader through the comms.

"The Autobots have breached the city. Shockwave and Devcon have engaged them but lost visual. Enemies have separated into different groups and have gone missing," reported the Communications Officer. "Alert: Enemy Autobot flyer has been detected, orders?"

Megatron snarled, this wasn't going to plan. By the sound of it, the Autobots have already separated, to either evade patrols or to create a distraction? They could've brought humans with them, with some way to knock down the Control Pillar. But there were still thousands of humans left in Chicago, so doing a vain search for them would be a waste but it wouldn't hurt to have some troops to do a search.

"Soundwave, have the troops continue their jobs, but assign some fighters and one of the gunships to search the city for a group of armed humans, I believe that the Autobots might have brought some of the insects from NEST with them."

"As you comma-"

"Soundwave, do your best to defend the Pillars, but I want the Autobots captured alive, if possible," said Sentinel Prime.

Megatron glared at Optimus' former mentor, but knew that his cooperation was the only way for this plan to work, after giving a message to his TiC to follow his order.

"...Understood," replied Soundwave with some annoyance.

(On the Moon...)

The Ark was still there, in its damaged state. It stood there, not affected by the massive Decepticon invasion force moving from the Moon to Earth, forgotten and ignored. But if someone was to look inside, they would see the ship repairing itself on its own, using spare parts in the cargo bay. As it finished with the final touches, the screens on the monitor began to lighten up, revealing lists, images and words in Cybertronian.

"Teletraan-1: Repairs complete," said a female computer-like voice. Several beeps came after when it continued. "Warning: T-cog is still damaged. Shall begin repairs at Optimus Prime's location."

And so, it began to hover over the Moon, the legendary Autobot ship made its descent towards Earth.

Chapter Text

(With Megatron...)

The Decepticon Leader paced around the building, scanning the city for any signs of the Autobots. He knew that he couldn't see them really, but doing so brought him comfort, helped him prepare for a battle with them that he was sure to come. He received news from Shockwave that a group of Autobots, known as the Wreckers, had pushed him back from pursuing them and now Decepticon patrols in different areas of Chicago were being engaged by small groups of them. Sentinel had issued the order for them to be captured, which Megatron allowed only to make the Prime believe that his Decepticons were serving him. Soundwave would take charge of guarding the POWs and would kill them if the Decepticon Leader gave the order or if he decided to do so himself. The human, Dylan Gould, was under his charge since he preferred to have their human ally watched if he tried anything like double-crossing them.

Despite his fleshly appearance, Megatron did have to admit that he acted just like a Decepticon. He already betrayed his entire species willingly, and showed no regret or remorse in it whatsoever. He had ambition and self-preservation, and those were aspects that made him more useful than the others. Dylan had used the resources he had towards the Decepticon cause and never wavered from it, just like his late father had.

Megatron took a moment to look at Sentinel, who was looking at the city. The Decepticon Leader was half-wondering what the old Prime would do if he had to face them again. He didn't try to finish any of them off, but now with Operation Pillar so close to completion, would he truly try to kill his former comrades in person?

"You seem worried, Sentinel," said Megatron finally. Said Prime glared at him but said nothing as Megatron decided to continue: "Though I doubt a small force of Autobots will be able to make it here, but if they should, will you be able to-"

His question was cut off when Sentinel grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against the side of the building. The old Prime glared at him with dark-blue optics.

"I've already gone against the code of my ancestors to help you turn on Optimus to save our planet. If they should try to stop this, then I will meet them in combat. But I will not form into the monster that you and your late master, the Fallen, have become and kill our own kind just for the sake of it. Once Cybertron is restored, we will cease the enslavement of other species and you will know your place!"

And with that, he released Megatron, ignoring his glare as he walked to the Control Pillar. "Decepticons, launch the Pillars."

(Around the world...)

Every Decepticon who was holding a Pillar, received Sentinel's orders on the comms. In every area, ruins, forest, mountains and cities, the remaining ninety-five Pillars all rose into the air and into Earth's orbit, where they began to extend and got into position.

(Back with Sentinel...)

The old Prime could sense the Pillars getting into formation. Soon all would be over, the Pillars would activate and he would see his home again, his beautiful Cybertron.

(Meanwhile...)

"Smack 'em good!" shouted Jazz as he fired his Crescent Shield Cannon at a Decepticon Protoform's chestplates, offlining him instantly. The Saboteur and Ironhide had just engaged a Decepticon patrol and already two of them were down, with only three of them left standing. Ironhide's adversaries were at least 21-feet tall, while Jazz was facing against a 'Con who was 18-feet tall.

Ironhide ducked as the one of the 'Cons swung an Energon Mace at him, the black mech retaliated by landing a hard uppercup to the 'Con's jawplates. As the 'Con stumbled backwards, his partner opened fire with his Fusion SMG, taking off small parts of Ironhide's left shoulder. Jazz did a backflip when the taller 'Con tried to hit him with an Energon Buzzsaw. The SpecOps mech leaped at him and landed a punch to his already damaged faceplates and gouging out his left optic, causing the Decepticon to go half-blind. He screeched in pain as he pulled out his Fusion SMG from subspace and opened fire. Jazz skillfully dodged them as he returned fire with his Crescent Shield Cannon.

His weapon managed to strike a weak point in the 'Con's right leg, causing him to collapse. The Decepticon grunted as he raised his weapon, but Jazz fired first, obliterating his spark.

Ironhide opened fire on the second Decepticon with his right forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannon, sending him backwards while his comrade got up and grabbed Ironhide from behind. The Heavy Weapons Specialist stumbled a bit but managed to regain his balance and tried hitting the 'Con in the back of the helm and then slammed him against a nearby until his grip slackened. The black mech used this to toss the 'Con off of him just as the other one started to get back up. Unleashing his dual forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannons, Ironhide fired a volley onto him.

The Decepticon didn't stand a chance. Although the attack wasn't accurate, it was too much for his armor to handle. As his armor was slowly ripped off, the shots struck at his vital areas, dismantling him quickly. The other Decepticon, who had already gotten up, saw what became of his partner and tried to flee the scene. But Ironhide quickly pulled out his Heavy Iron 2.0 Battle Rifle from his back and fired a single AP round through the 'Con's damaged chestplates, offlining him instantly. Jazz came by with a smirk written on his faceplates.

"Took care of these fools quickly, bet we can find the next batch soon?" asked the Saboteur.

Ironhide smirked as he remounted his semi-automatic weapon on his back. "Hopefully soon, my trigger servo is getting jittery as Chromia would say."

(Somewhere else in Chicago...)

Sideswipe, Mirage and Jolt raced off towards another patrol, the first two they had to avoid because they had air support. Mirage had transformed first and deployed his Ion Sniper Rifle, compliments of Wheeljack. "Another group, amico, ten miles from our position."

Sideswipe started his engine. "Same deal, guys. Mirage, soften them up. Jolt and I will take them head-on and you'll join us. Jolt, I'll lead, let's go."

And the silver Frontliner sped off, with the blue one following. Mirage peered through the lenses of his weapon and looked for a suitable target. He chose the tallest one and made sure his sniper rifle was locked onto his chestplates and waited for the right moment. When the 'Cons finally noticed the two Autobots heading their way, Mirage fired.

The sudden dead Protoform startled the others so much that they weren't prepared for Sideswipe to suddenly transform and attack the two closest ones with his dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Swords. He stabbed one in the right leg and the other in the chestplates, extinguishing his spark. Pulling out his sword from the offlined frame, Sideswipe rammed it into the 'Con he already injured, offlining him as well.

Three of the Protoforms tried to fire at Sideswipe, but were suddenly hit by EMP bolts. Jolt had transformed unnoticed and had begun firing his brand-new EMP Battle Pistol at any Decepticon he saw. He knocked a 20-foot Protoform off of his pedes before firing again, finishing him off. Then Jolt used his new weapon to stun the last two Protoforms long enough for Sideswipe to take them out.

The Frontliner had just subspaced his swords when the last Decepticon managed to move and tried to take him out from behind, but was swiftly offlined by a pair of Cybertanium Curved Wrist-Blades wielded by non-other then Mirage.

"Is it just me, or do Decepticons die a lot quicker these days?" asked Jolt with an unimpressed tone in his voice as he kicked one of the dead Protoforms.

"Only the weak ones, blue boy," said a sore voice.

The three Autobots turned around to see Sideways in his 16-foot biped form and with his dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Buzzsaws out and ready. Sideswipe snorted as he skated forward. "Ready to be my new pincushion, 'Con?"

"You won't be able to do that while he's with me," retorted the Decepticon Scout/Sniper with a smirk as he pointed up.

The Autobots looked up to see a grey-bluish CH-53E Super Stallion Heavy-Lift Cargo Helicopter approaching before it suddenly transformed into Grindor. The 50-foot (43 if you remove the main rotor blades and the three T64-GE-416 turboshaft engines mounted on his back and shoulders) Decepticon Close-Combat Specialist glared down at the three 'Bots with both his left forearm-mounted Photon Cannon and his right wrist-mounted Whirl-Blades at the ready.

"Slag," cursed Jolt.

Grindor began firing photon bolts at the three Autobots. Jolt and Mirage were separated from Sideswipe, whom Sideways attacked with his right forearm-mounted Slag Repeater. The rosso corsa and blue 'Bots attacked the giant 'Con while their silver comrade attacked the 'Con that was 1-foot taller than him.

(Meanwhile...)

"Now that's how it's done," said Mudflap as he and Skids bumped fists as they stared at the offlined frames of two Decepticon Protoforms they've recently killed.

The two of them were about to transform when they heard the ground moving, causing the twins to pause and look at each other.

"You hear that?" asked Skids.

"Yeah," replied Mudflap.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Scorponok popped out of the ground and flew right in between them. His appearance shocked the two 'Bots that they fell on their afts as he disappeared.

"Did you see that?" asked Skids.

"Yeah, let's kill it," replied Mudflap and soon the two twins were chasing after the Cyber-Scorpion.

(Elsewhere...)

"Die, you damn femme!" shouted a 22-foot Decepticon Protoform as he tried to shoot them with his Tactical Fusion Shotgun. But the sisters got into cover before retaliating with their Photon Cannons, stinging him at first before Arcee charged him with her left wrist-mounted Energon Blade. Before the 'Con could react, the youngest sister jammed her blade through his chestplates, offlining him instantly.

"You first," retorted Arcee as another Protoform appeared before he was blasted apart by Chromia and Elita before he could fire on her.

"This is boring," said Chromia as she and Elita walked up to their sister. "Let's find a group of 'Cons and take 'em out."

"No," reminded Elita. "The plan is to distract them, not engage them. We regroup with the others as soon as possible."

An explosion from a few blocks off suddenly got their attention. "Looks like some of the boys need our help now," commented Arcee.

"Let's go, girls," said Elita as she transformed into her alt-mode of a 2008 MV Agusta F4-R312 Motorcycle and drove off, followed by her sisters.

(Meanwhile...)

Ratchet ducked behind a building to avoid enemy fire from some 'Cons. He, along with Bumblebee and Wheeljack, had been attacked by a patrol of 'Cons. While those two were behind cover, they were covering Bumblebee who had taken the patrol head-on.

The Scout dodged a punch from a Protoform before delivering one back to his helm. As that Decepticon stumbled backwards, Bumblebee fired his Solar Plasma Cannon at another Protoform. The 'Con staggered backwards, allowing Ratchet to grab his helm before cutting through his chestplates with his right forearm-mounted Cybertanium Buzzsaw.

Wheeljack fired his Experimental Energon Battle Rifle, destroying a Protoform's left leg. As the Decepticon fell, he finished him off with a shot through the chestplates. A 22-foot Protoform swung an Energon mace that struck 'Bee in the left shoulder, breaking a few parts of his armor off and dislocating it. The Scout whirled in pain as he tried to land a punch on the 'Con, but was kicked back instead.

The Protoform was about to deliver a killing blow when something fatally shot him in the back. Bumblebee turned to see the sisters with their Photon Cannons out. The Scout was assisted by Ratchet as the CMO activated his Energon Repair Ray, Micro-Bots heading towards the damaged metal, repairing circuits, wires, gears, anything they could fix, which was mostly everything.

Wheeljack walked up to them and looked at the femmes. "Guess you lassies are with us now."

Chromia smirked while Elita rolled her optics, but Arcee didn't hear, she was too busy scolding Bumblebee. "You stupid mech! Why don't you watch your surroundings?!"

Bumblebee glared at the femme.

Arcee rolled her optics. "You're just lucky it was only a dislocated shoulder, what if it had been worse?"

A loud noise caught the group's attention. Driving towards them was a green Caterpillar 733B Dump Truck, which slowly transformed into Long Haul. The bulking green mech brought out his dual forearm-mounted Flamethrowers, unleashing fire from them in a challenging gesture.

As the other 'Bots readied their weapons, Ratchet glared at Arcee. "You had to ask?"

(Back with Jazz and Ironhide...)

The two Autobots drove down the streets of downtown Chicago, not confronting anymore Decepticon patrols much to the former's annoyance. Then all of a sudden there was an explosion in one of the buildings and something had tossed Jazz over, causing the Saboteur to transform and land on his back.

Ironhide's left rear-view mirror showed the veteran that it was none other than Bonecrusher in his alt-mode of a tan-colored Buffalo H MPCV (Mine-Protected-Clearing-Vehicle), coming right at the Heavy Weapons Specialist. Ironhide transformed while turning around to face his foe, spotting Jazz from the side, who was just getting up.

Bonecrusher had transformed into his 25-foot biped form already and tackled the black mech while he was distracted. The two mechs rolled down the street, cursing each other in their native tongue. Ironhide managed to kick the Decepticon Close-Combat Specialist off of him and powered-up his dual forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannons. "So Megatron sent his lackey punk to take me out, huh?"

Bonecrusher responded with a growl. "I've been waiting for my crack at you, now I'm going to crack your entire frame!"

Then he brought out his dual wrist-mounted Micro-LMGs and charged.  

Chapter Text

(Somewhere over Lake Michigan...)

Approaching the war-torn city of Chicago was a flight of three of NEST's CV-22B Ospreys. Each Osprey was carrying nineteen NEST Soldiers wearing wingsuits.

In the lead Osprey, Lennox was giving out final orders to his men as they neared the danger zone. Any second now the Decepticons would take notice of their presence. Flying into the city in a wingsuit offered a very small target, which was the only way they could possibly survive the trip. The crew of the Ospreys, however, knew that coming here was that there was very little chance of making it out alive. The Decepticons were too fast to escape. They knew that they were almost certainly going to die in the attempt to give Will and his team a chance. But they didn't complain, nor did they show any signs of fear, they knew that they were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to save the world.

And almost predictably, the closest Orbital Assault Fighters turned towards them. The Osprey that was behind Lennox's and the other one that Graham was on, was hit in the starboard wing, sending it cartwheeling through the air and into the lake. He saw no sign of anyone escaping the wreckage. Lennox swore if he got to the ground, he'd kill those 'Cons for those men who had just died.

As they passed the first several buildings, someone he didn't want to see at all came into view. Starscream landed on the closest building and was about to fire his left forearm-mounted M61A2 Vulcan Rotary Cannon, when something struck him as a familiar SR-71A Blackbird appeared. Transforming quickly, Jetfire engaged the fighters, while firing at Starscream with his right forearm-mounted Particle Beam Cannon. This put some distance between them and the humans. The old Seeker was giving Lennox's team cover, and he wouldn't waste it.

Lennox gave the order to bail out just as the closest Orbital Assault Fighter was shot down. They and Graham's team from the other Osprey leapt out, giving a close-impression of looking like giant flying squirrels. Behind them, the two Ospreys they'd just left were heading out of Chicago as fast as they can.

"Bogies on our six!" shouted Master Sergeant Roy Perkins, a Green Beret and the senior NCO of the group (now reduced to 38), as he saw a trio of Orbital Assault Fighters pursuing them. Lennox and the others began to weave between and around the buildings as they aimed for a small gap where one skyscraper had collapsed while leaning against another. It was similar to threading a needle, but at high-speed. With expert precision and timing, they all sped through the small gap. One of the pursuing fighters tried to follow, but was too big to fit through the gap and crashed horribly in the pursuit, forcing the remaining two fighters to change directions instead. However, the Protoform pilots lost track of the small humans in the process of doing so and eventually gave up, allowing Lennox's team to deploy their parachutes as they neared the ground. As they floated safely to the ground, Will couldn't help but think that getting into Chicago was the easy part of this mission.

(Meanwhile...)

Sideswipe dodged Sideways' dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Buzzsaws and lunged back with his dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Swords, only to have his foe do the same thing.

"Little creep!" growled Sideways as he fired his right forearm-mounted Slag Repeater at Sideswipe. The Frontliner grunted when one of the API (Armor-Piercing-Incendiary) rounds struck him, but shrugged it off before swapping out his swords for his dual Fusion Pulse Pistols before firing.

Mirage and Jolt were having a more difficult time dealing with Grindor, due to the Decepticon's strong armor. Mirage had managed to grab the 'Con's helm, but Grindor managed to pry him off. Suddenly, Jolt fired electric bolts at the 'Con so that Mirage could break free of his grip.

"Die, you scum!" shouted Grindor as he fired his left forearm-mounted Photon Cannon at Jolt. The result was an explosion that knocked the blue 'Bot off his pedes. Mirage gasped as he saw this and pulled out his Ion Sniper Rifle, taking aim at the 'Con's helm. But Grindor moved so Mirage was only able to get a small amount of the 'Con's left shoulder off, but it was enough to stun him, allowing Jolt to move and continue firing electric bolts at Grindor. Mirage charged the Close-Combat Specialist again, this time doing a spin in mid-air and managed to hack off the barrel of Grindor's Photon Cannon. Growling, the bulky mech charged the two 'Bots once more.

Sideways jumped off a building and managed to shred a part of Sideswipe's armor. The Frontliner snarled and tried to get a hit on him with his dual Cybertanium Swords. Sideways dodged the first swing, but the second one had managed to knock him off his pedes. The Scout/Sniper retaliated at this by firing his Slag Repeater at him, forcing Sideswipe to transform into his alt-mode and drive back from the attack. Then the Frontliner charged towards Sideways and transform into his biped form while jumping into the air before firing his dual Fusion Pulse Pistols at him, momentarily stunning the 'Con. As he landed, Sideswipe was tackled by a quickly-recovered Sideways.

"This is payback," he said as he started to put his clawed servos around Sideswipe's neck. The Autobot tried to get the 'Con off of him, but Sideways had a firm grip, forcing Sideswipe to do drastic measures. Pulling out one of his Fusion Pulse Pistols, he aimed at the 'Con's helm, injuring him while some of the circuits on his neck burned a little due to the proximity. But Sideswipe activated his dampers so that he didn't feel the pain from it, but Sideways did. Pulling out one of his Cybertanium Swords, Sideswipe threw it at the 'Con just as he was getting up. The sword struck Sideways in the lower left chassis, causing him to growl in pain. But before he could pull it out, Sideswipe had already gripped it and pulled it through his frame, ripping out multiple circuits and even a part of his left shoulder.

"You were saying?" asked Sideswipe mockingly as he retracted his sword as Sideways went into emergency stasis lock.

(Elsewhere...)

Bumblebee ducked as Long Haul's dual forearm-mounted Flamethrowers shot fire towards his direction. His weapons had already put the others on the defensive. Arcee had been wounded and was being tended to by Ratchet, while Elita, Chromia, Wheeljack and himself were dealing with the Constructicon Leader.

"Get back here so I can rip you apart!" roared Long Haul as he picked up a nearby car and threw it at Wheeljack and Chromia. The femme managed to dodge it, but Wheeljack reacted too slow and was struck in the helm, knocking him to the ground hard. He was dazed but still conscious, though he probably couldn't fight right now.

Elita and Chromia have dive-rolled pass the 'Con while shooting at his legs. Long Haul flexed his arms so his weapons would go after them. This gave Bumblebee an opening, charging straight towards the Constructicon and doing a right uppercut kick to the chinplates. The attack caused Long Haul to fall backwards on his aft, but gave him a good position to quickly pull out his dual Tactical Fusion Grenade Launcher Pistols and fire them straight into the Scout's chassis.

The HE (High-Explosive) rounds, though not effective, did push Bumblebee back as well, but that didn't stop him from firing his Solar Plasma Cannon at the 'Con. But Long Haul raised his dual arm-shields in time to block the attack as he started to get back up. Chromia and Elita opened fire with their Photon Cannons and striking him with their Energon Blades. But Long Haul merely laughed and batted them aside. Before he could fire at them, Wheeljack had finally fired his Experimental Energon Battle Rifle, hitting Long Haul directly in the lower chassis.

"Take that!" he said defiantly.

But Long Haul had the last laugh as he aimed one of his Tactical Fusion Grenade Launcher Pistols at the Scientist/Inventor, but 'Bee had grabbed his left arm and did a swing before punching the green 'Con in the faceplates. The Constructicon growled and grabbed Bumblebee by his right arm and tossed him aside.

Suddenly, a growl from above caught all of the mechs and femmes there. Jumping off a nearby building and landing on the ground were Mixmaster, Rampage and Scrapper, red optics narrowing on the Autobots and weapons out.

"Mind if we join in on the fun?" asked Mixmaster as Scrapper advanced on Ratchet and Arcee, the later too wounded at the moment to move. Bumblebee moved in to assist, but was hit by the tip of Rampage's pede-tail. As the yellow 'Bot staggered backwards, he was smacked by Mixmaster's dual forearm-shields and sent him back to the 22-foot red-colored Constructicon.

Back with Ratchet, the Chief Medical Officer had fired his Energon SMG at Scrapper, but the 29-foot yellow-colored Constructicon ignored the attack and returned fire with his right forearm-mounted Micro-LMG and then bashed the 'Bot to the side with his left wrist-mounted Cybertanium Flail.

By then, 22-foot Decepticon Protoforms led by Barricade had arrived, already securing Wheeljack, Elita, Chromia and were now going to secure Ratchet and Arcee.

The other three Constructicons were still beating up Bumblebee, no matter what the yellow 'Bot did, the 'Cons would just bash him back towards another one. Finally, Rampage gave the Scout a few punches and pushed him back with his dual forearm-mounted Tread-Whips. Mixmaster bashed him to the side with his left forearm-shield. 'Bee staggered right into Long Haul's line-of-sight and fired one of Tactical Fusion Grenade Launcher Pistols, resulting in sending the Autobot flying before crashing into a nearby building.

As Barricade approached them, Scrapper said: "Six Autobots, all wrapped up to go."

"Five Autobots," corrected Rampage as he looked at Mixmaster. The 22-foot black and silver Constructicon nodded and transformed into his cannon mode before aiming his Triple-Barrel Solar Plasma Cannon at Bumblebee. With one shot, Mixmaster sent almost half of the building falling down on top of the yellow 'Bot. The Constructicons laughed as they transformed into their alt-modes and drove back to the tower, while Barricade and the other 'Cons escorted the prisoners.

(Meanwhile...)

Scorponok was becoming very annoyed right now. Currently, Skids was clinging onto the Cyber-Scorpion's barbed tail and wouldn't let go. Mudflap had disappeared off somewhere and who knows where he went, but right now the 'Con's only concern was to getting this Autobot off of him so he could kill him properly.

"Yo, Skids!" called out Mudflap as he came back into view, it was revealed that he was carrying a crane hook with a high-tension rope tied to the end of it. Mudflap threw the rope to his twin, who caught it with his left servo. Finding a nook in Scorponok's armor, he latched the hook into it and gripped the rope hard.

But the Cyber-Scorpion wasn't slowing down, instead he was picking up speed with determination, pulling Skids with him who still had the rope in his left servo. As Mudflap watched with both horror and a little bit of amusement, he felt something sliding against his right leg. He looked down and saw that the rope around it and as the tugging from the rope came up to him, the loop tightened. Mudflap cursed himself before he felt being pulled along with his twin.

Skids, who had a better view of their foe, was now firing his right forearm-mounted Photon LMG, either at the Cyber-Scorpion or the rope was unknown, but the shots would collide with Scorponok's armor, denting it slightly. Then without warning, the rope tightened and the 'Con stood still, moving but not going anywhere.

Fortunately, Mudflap had forgotten to untie the other end of the rope, which was why they were now still. But Scorponok kept on struggling until his barbed tail was ripped off from his frame. He was free, but in pain, agony, and filled with rage. He turned around and opened fire with his dual servo built-in Triple-Barrel Photon Cannons. Skids yelped as he desperately dove for cover, but not while shooting back.

Skids had managed to get in a lucky shot and struck one of Scorponok's clawed servos and damaged one of the cannons. Mudflap had already arrived and fired some shots from his left forearm-mounted Photon LMG and damaged the other cannon. The Cyber-Scorpion screeched in anger and lunged at Skids, tackling him to the ground.

"Whoa, get off me, ya dumb bug!" he shouted as he tried to push Scorponok off.

Just as the Cyber-Scorpion was about to sink his mandible-like dentas into Skids, Scorponok's barbed tail tip suddenly appeared out of his mouthplates. Mudflap had managed to grab the tail and used it to skewer its own owner through the spark-chamber.

"That's how we do it, fool," said Mudflap as he helped moved the dead frame off of his twin. Skids was grinning cheekily. "Yeah, that was old school."

The sound of guns being cocked caught their attention. The twins spun around to see three 20-foot Protoforms with their Tactical Fusion Shotguns raised at them, signaling either they surrender or die. Deciding to go with the former, the twins raised their servos in defeat. As the 'Cons began escorting them away, Skids commented: "This sucks, they were waiting for us."

"Yeah, that was unfair," said Mudflap in agreement.

(Elsewhere...)

Optimus Prime drove through the streets with zealous driving, pushing aside cars and other debris when he spotted his trailer. It was guarded by eight bulky 22-foot Decepticon Protoforms, who were equipped with Fusion SMGs and Tactical Fusion Shotguns.

One of the 'Cons spotted the Autobot Leader and told the others. Soon four of them were firing at the incoming semi-truck, but their attacks seemed to have no effect on Optimus. The young Prime soon activated his Stealth Force mode and returned fire. His attack stunned the Decepticons long enough for Optimus to transform and deploy his dual wrist-mounted Energon Hooks.

Each Energon Hook grabbed a 'Con, the first one tore off one of the Protoform's chestplates while the second one ripped out half of the other's faceplates, causing them both to scream in pain. Then Optimus pulled out his Barrage Cannon and fired on the same two 'Cons, offlining them instantly, but the others pressed forward.

Pulling out his Ion Blaster, Optimus fired at two more Protoforms, damaging circuits and wires in their legs, making them limp. Now with both guns out, Optimus began to fire a volley at the group of 'Cons. The attacks weren't meant for dealing fatal blows, but to soften the Decepticons up, which it did. Once the younger Prime had done so, he charged them while dodging enemy fire. After subspacing his guns, Optimus deployed his dual wrist-mounted Energon Swords.

The closest Protoform had his left forearm sliced off, then Optimus kicked back another as he leapt at one of the limping ones. The Decepticon tried to hold him back with his Fusion SMG, but it was no use; Optimus stabbed him in the left shoulder and then skewering him through the chestplates, offlining him. Within a couple of minutes, the other Decepticons followed suit, leaving only two more Protoforms left standing. Optimus had both his Ion Blaster and his Barrage Cannon out and aimed at the last two Decepticons. But before he could pull the trigger of his two favorite weapons, several Proton Bombs were dropped from the sky and detonated right next to the 'Cons, offlining them in the resulting explosions. Optimus looked up to see Jetfire flying above him.

"Thank you, Jetfire," said Optimus to the old Seeker. Suddenly, his scanners picked up twelve Decepticon Protoforms approaching him. "Jetfire, can you hold them back while I prepare the Omega Combat Armor?"

In response, the old Seeker did a nosedive, saying: "Your wish is my command."

Ignoring their shots as they deflected off his armor, Jetfire transform into his biped form and landed on a Protoform, crushing his spark. As he stood tall in front of his enemies, he pulled out his weapons.

"For the Autobots and the Primes!" he shouted as he charged them while firing his Particle Beam Cannon, destroying one Protoform and then lifted another one by the chestplates. Being the largest Autobot on Earth gave Jetfire an advantage on some of the Decepticons, even some of the larger ones. With one movement, the old Seeker threw the 'Con on top of another one. A Protoform charged Jetfire with an Energon Blade, only to be swiftly offlined by the Seeker's Double-Bladed Energon Axe. The rest of the Protoforms decided that discretion was the better part of valor and retreated. 

A noise behind Jetfire caught his attention. Turning around, he saw Optimus Prime in his Omega Combat Armor and was already in the air.

"Just like his ancestors," said the old Seeker to himself as he flew off to follow his leader.

(Back with Mirage and Jolt...)

The two 'Bots had taken cover behind a deli as their foe, Grindor, was searching for them. They had lost sight of Sideswipe while he was battling Sideways, and it was undetermined if he was alive or not. Right now, their main concern was how to deal with a pissed-off giant 'Con.

"Mirage, I think I got an idea," said Jolt as he looked at his rosso corsa friend.

"I'm willing to hear it out, amico," said Mirage as he looked for any signs of Grindor.

"I think, if given enough time for me to charge up my Electro-Whips, I can release a bolt that should short-fry his circuits to the point of putting him into emergency stasis lock. I just need a distraction," said the blue 'Bot.

Mirage activated his Electro-Disrupter equipment. "That is my specialty," he said as he fully disappeared. As he moved out, Jolt began charging up his right wrist-mounted Electro-Whip.

Grindor's sensors suddenly picked up a massive gathering of electrons when something struck his left leg. He looked down to see a clean cut through his armor, but no sign of the attacker. Then he winced as he felt something slash his chestplates. Angry now, Grindor fired his left forearm-mounted GAU-21/A Heavy Machine Gun everywhere, hoping to hit something.

A noise on the ground caught his attention. It was a pedeprint, from an Autobot, the same one who was attacking him. Smirking to himself, Grindor waited until he saw the next pedeprint and then fired his right forearm-mounted Photon Cannon at the area where the print was. He was rewarded with a rooso corsa 'Bot flying into the air and crashing on top of a car.

Mirage groaned as he noticed a shadow looming over him. Grindor lowered his Photon Cannon directly at the Autobot Spymaster/Sniper's faceplates and was about to fire...

...when something powerful struck him in the back. Mirage craned his neck to see Jolt standing there, his right wrist-mounted Electro-Whip's claw wide open. Grindor felt every single wire, circuits, and logic sensors all were shutting down and soon his frame collapsed on the ground.

Jolt helped Mirage up as they stood away from Grindor, who was in emergency stasis lock, when Sideswipe skated up to them. The silver mech let out a low whistle. "Damn, nice job here, boys. Ready to keep moving?"

Mirage smirked. "When did we ever stop?"

(Meanwhile...)

Ironhide snarled as he got another punch in the faceplates from Bonecrusher. The two of them had been mostly fighting with their fists rather than their guns. Jazz joined in but seemed helpless to do anything in a match between these two warriors.

Bonecrusher finally got a grab onto Ironhide's right shoulder and with a mighty heave; he threw the black mech a good 30-feet away from him. Then he opened fire with his dual wrist-mounted Micro-LMGs, hoping to do some damage. Instead, Ironhide opened fire with his dual forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannons and managed to get one round to explode in the Decepticon's faceplates, temporarily blinding him.

Ironhide then charged and grabbed Bonecrusher's large tail-like mine-scoop, pulling on it until he had lifted the Close-Combat Specialist into the air. With a swing, Ironhide slammed him into a building three times before slamming the 'Con on the ground, back first. By then Bonecrusher had recovered, spun around and tackled Ironhide to the ground.

Having him pinned, Bonecrusher went after the Heavy Weapons Specialist's optics, but was stopped when Ironhide grabbed his clawed servos, now making it more difficult for the 'Con to gouge out his optics.

"Any...last words, Ironhide?" asked Bonecrusher mockingly as he got closer to those blue optics.

Suddenly, he felt an extra weight on his back. He looked up to see Jazz, who was using one of his magnets (built into his clawed servos) to give him a good grip onto his mine-scoop.

"Eat this!" he shouted as he fired his Crescent Shield Cannon at Boncrusher's left arm. The 'Con screeched in pain and let go of Ironhide, who took this moment to send a punch deep into Bonecrusher's faceplates, popping his right optic out of its socket, barely suspended by a coil of wires.

Reeling in pain, the 'Con got off of Ironhide, who continued by grabbing his already damaged left arm. Then with one good tug, he dislocated it. Deciding that he should retreat now rather than staying here and getting himself offlined, Bonecrusher punched Ironhide with his right servo before skating away and transforming into his alt-mode and drove off. Despite successfully transforming, his alt-mode was slightly disfigured due to his dislocated left arm.

Ironhide recovered as Jazz stood beside him. "Yo, Ironhide we got to get a move on! Ratchet, just sent out a distress signal that his group and the sisters need some backup."

Without needing any more pushing, Ironhide transformed and let Jazz lead the way.

(Elsewhere...)

"Ugh, we are so lost!" shouted Wheelie as the pair of Mini-Cons moved down the street.

"Always left out," added Brains.

During the ensuring battle, the pair of ex-Cons had been knocked to the side and soon were separated from the others. The pair had begun wandering the city, using their smaller forms to hide from Decepticon patrols that passed them.

"This stinks; we can't even find our own guys without running into a 'Con!" complained Brains.

Wheelie gave a weak chuckle. "Better then running into some humans who might mistake us as the enemy."

The 'wild-haired' Mini-Con rolled his optics at his friend's comment, though he couldn't help but agree. Though their small size made it easier for them to hide then their larger brethren, it also made them more vulnerable to both Decepticons and humans. He remembered when Wheelie told him that Mikaela had managed to torch one of his optics easily when she first caught him at her dad's workshop two years ago.

"We might as well try to get to the edge of the river, hopefully the others will get there sooner or later," suggested Wheelie. "Besides that, there's nothing else we can do. We have no effective weapons and with our size, we won't be able to do a single dent on both Sentinel and Megatron's plans..."

The blue Mini-Con trailed off when his optics spotted something. He soon raced off to the side with Brains following, and the latter spotted the object of interest: a downed Orbital Assault Fighter. From their view, one of the fighter's engines was shot up, but they could repair it with some parts from the thing that was lying next to it. Wheelie saw the dead Protoform's frame, figuring that he must've been mortally wounded during the crash, leaving him with enough energy to climb out of the cockpit before offlining. But his loss was their gain.

"Ka-ching," said Wheelie as he turned to look at his friend with an evil glint in his optics. "It's time to lay down the law."

Catching on what Wheelie was thinking of, Brains grinned. "Damn right."

Chapter Text

(With Bumblebee...)

The young Scout had removed the layer of rubble on top of him, finally getting to the outside. It was good thing he managed to fire his Solar Plasma Cannon to repel some of Mixmaster's shot before it collided with the building, thus reducing the amount of debris that fell on top of the yellow 'Bot.

Once he finally got out, Bumblebee began to think of what his best options should be. The others were probably dead or captured, and their location was currently unknown. On the other hand, he couldn't shake the odd feeling that Sam was in trouble. Primus, he shouldn't be surprised if he was in trouble.

Deciding to make sure that the boy was safe and then search for the others, Bumblebee transformed into his alt-mode and had his scanners opened for any signs of Sam.

(Meanwhile...)

Sam, Mikaela, Leo, Epps and his team had finally gotten to a high enough floor of the damaged Galileo Building to have a shot at the Control Pillar. Seeing as the upper-third of the building (which they were in) was leaning at a 10-degree angle due to the damage further down the structure, every shift of movement or the sounds of groaning metal was nerve-wracking. Everyone's pulse went up as the building shifted a teensy bit.

"This was a bad idea," said Eddie who was still carrying the AT4-CS Rocket Launcher.

"Hey, if we don't do what we came to do and take out that Control Pillar, it doesn't matter-we're all dead. This is your shot, man! Make it happen!" replied Sam.

The black Green Beret swallowed his fear and was about to remove the safety pin off of the AT4-CS...when suddenly, the building began to creak and groan and tip a little more. Everyone grabbed hold of something, and Burke was able to look down through one of the shattered windows.

"They're shooting at the building!" he shouted. "Three hostile fighters, blasting at the weak spot below us!"

Before long, everyone had given up on trying to get a shot and were just focusing on keeping their footing. By the time the fighters stopped blasting the building, the top section was leaning by almost 20-degrees. And just when everyone started to relax, Leo pointed at a window further down on their tilted floor and shouted: "Look!"

(Earlier, somewhere else...)

Shockwave was bored, in a manner of speaking. Despite his orders to hunt for the Autobots and capture them, he found no sign of them even with his single optic and scanners. Not even his Driller pet was having much luck in locating his prey.

Logic was not computing here. His scanners should've been able to follow that trio of Autobots who had recently engaged him, but they have eluded him completely. He logically understood if they feared his firepower and thus retreated and hid due to their fear, but he detected no sign of fear from the trio as if they weren't really engaging him.

His brooding was cut off when he heard Light Autocannon fire from a nearby location. He turned his attention towards a human structure that was already unstable. He could only concluded that a threat grave enough for three Orbital Assault Fighters to be there, and since no Autobot could fit in a structure meant for smaller lifeforms, it must be the humans that he had detected during his pursuit of the Autobots. One of them must be Sam Witwicky, the human boy who killed Megatron four years ago.

With a new target in mind, Shockwave began heading on towards the building's lower areas, commanding his pet to head underground to avoid being detected.

(Back to the present...)

Everyone managed to turn to see at what Leo had meant. An Orbital Assault Gunship was approaching the floor they were on, one of its cockpits opening and the 15-foot Protoform copilot dismounting as they all found cover. The 'Con dived-rolled through the window and with his Tactical Fusion Shotgun out as he hunted for them as they all stood stock-still. As soon as the hunched-over Decepticon was in position, Epps quietly yanked the pin off a M84 Flashbang Grenade and motioned to Eddie. The slightly-fat man pushed three rolling chairs in the Protoform's direction, the tilt of the floor kept them moving and drawing his attention before Epps tossed the grenade right in front of his optics.

As it exploded and temporarily blinded him, the USAF Senior Master Sergeant yelled out: "RUN!!"

And they all obeyed his order.

"Covering fire!" shouted Tanaka as the Protoform lunged towards them, but was kept further off-balance by 5.56x45mm NATO Armor-Piercing/Tracer rounds being sent his way by the retreating soldiers as the group ran 'up' the building.

They shot out the windows, but not before Donnelly managed to fire a 40x46mmSR High-Explosive-Dual-Purpose (HEDP) round from his underslung Knight's Armament Company M203A1 Grenade Launcher at the Protoform, offlining him instantly. Jumping through the smashed windows, the group began sliding down the 'slope' of the Galileo Building, and as they approached the break, Epps ordered his men to shoot out the windows ahead of them, dropping everyone back into the building on a lower floor...and sliding helplessly 'down' the floor, heading inexorably towards the broken-out windows at the 'bottom'. Stone was able to deploy his Grapple-Glove and fire its claw-dart at the ceiling, arresting his fall and then he reached out to grab Donnelly by the back of his combat vest, saving him. Sam and Mikaela both grabbed a hanging cable, while Leo, Burke, Eckerson, Marc, Hooch, Mongo and Eddie caught onto support pillars or bolted-down desks. Epps and Tanaka continued tumbling down towards the broken-out windows at the bottom...only for them to grab some loose cabling at the last second.

"Is everybody okay?" asked Epps as he and the others got up.

"The hell was that?!" demanded Eddie, referencing to a massive growl from below.

Looking down through the destroyed windows, Epps saw Shockwave down on the street far below, looking at the dead Protoform (the same one that Don had killed, whose offlined frame fell out of the building due to the tilted floor it was on) in front of his pedes before looking up, his single optic zooming in as he spotted and focused on Epps, who was slowly starting to panic.

"Shit, Shockwave spotted me and he knows we're up here!" shouted the Senior Master Sergeant.

"And he's just called his pet to flush us out!" added Tanaka as he saw the approaching half-submerged Driller churning down the street towards them.

"We need to evac!"

Everyone scrambled for the nearby stairwell as the whole building began to shake as the Driller came closer.

"The stairs are blocked!" shouted Hooch as Eddie was busy praying. "We're trapped!"

"How do we get out of here?" asked Stone to a running civilian. "Hey, come on!"

A monstrous roar alerted everyone that Shockwave's pet had arrived. The massive mechanical worm-like beast then dug into the building, emerging higher up and then diving back in, making its way up through the structure. Up above, the team were frantically trying to find something to hold onto, when the Driller soon reached the weak, damaged part of the skyscraper. It coiled around the weakness and began constricting like a Anaconda, 'bisecting' the building until the top portion began to fall over. A series of shrieks and screams heralded the complete drop of every soul in the team, until the top portion of the building landed atop of a neighboring building, preventing it from falling to the street far below. It was the support pillars that saved the group from a deadly free-fall. Sam managed to grab his girlfriend's left hand, keeping her aloft with his right shoulder at a painful angle. Mongo, who was on a lower pillar, shouted something to Sam as he grabbed Mikaela's other hand, to which he replied: "Now what?"

They dropped Mikaela onto the nearby fire escape of the building they'd landed on, and Sam breathed a sigh of relief until his girlfriend spotted the Driller's ugly head moving towards them and let out an involuntary shriek.

"SAM!!!!"

"Whoa, we gotta move, guys! Move, move!" shouted Donnelly.

Sam dropped onto the fire escape next to Mikaela, followed by Epps and the rest of his team.

(Elsewhere...)

Optimus Prime streaked between the buildings of Chicago, the Driller and Sam's party in sight as his battlemask snapped shut and the jetpack of his Omega Combat Armor flared up. The last time he dealt with Shockwave's pet, he only managed to do only little damage to the creature. This time, however, would be different.

"I'm coming for you!" he yelled towards the worm-like creature, raising his Omega Combat Armor's dual forearm-mounted Ion HMGs (Heavy-Machine-Guns) as he approached the Driller's head and opened fire. His rapid-firing weapons severed one of the creature's four clawed tentacles and hammered its monstrous body as he arced over the building, hovering in midair to fire two Micro-HE Rockets at an area on the toppled structure that was just above the Driller. Letting out a war-cry, Optimus tucked in his Omega Combat Armor's wings as the jetpack shot him downward at maximum thrust, firing everything he had into the hole before he rammed straight into his enemy and decapitating it. The Driller's severed head fell down to the street below, followed by the rest of its body.

Optimus flew up towards a crane and landed on it. Looking down at the street below, he saw an enraged Shockwave aiming his right arm-mounted AstroMag Cannon at him before firing. Optimus ran for the end of the crane and kicked in his jetpack as Shockwave's cluster round broke apart, with two of the AstroMag HE Submunition Rockets slamming into his right side and sending him spinning. He crashed through a building under construction, both his legs and right arm becoming tangled with steel cables and dangling him from another crane. He managed to tear off one of the cables with some effort when he realized he was trapped.

"Optimus!" shouted a voice with a familiar Cockney-accent.

The young Prime looked down to see the Wreckers driving towards the building.

"Wreckers!" shouted Optimus, clearly in need of assistance.

Seeing the situation their leader was in, Roadbuster shouted to assure him: "We're coming!"

(Back with Shockwave...)

The Decepticon Scientist/Assassin, for once in his life, was now acting on emotions. Illogical yes, but the loss of his Driller pet was a tragic one, the creature had beauty in its deadly form and that is what attracted him to its species and ultimately tame one. Now that it was gone, the one-optic mech felt a part of him being incomplete, not there and thus being illogical.

His attack had gone smoothly, not only had it struck Optimus directly, it had also left him incapacitated for his next attack. Raising his AstroMag Cannon, Shockwave took aim and prepared to fire. But before he could, his scanners picked up something coming from his right side.

Jetfire dived with livid anger after seeing his Lord being struck in such a way. He could tell that the mech had done so was powerful, but the old Seeker had years of skills and power, which was more than enough to deal with this hooligan. Transforming into his biped form as he landed, Jetfire fired a shot from his Particle Beam Cannon, knocking Shockwave's arm cannon away from Optimus. The one-optic 'Con tried to land a punch on the old Seeker, but Jetfire easily dodged it.

"Little punk!" yelled the old Seeker as he sent a punch to Shockwave's helm, pushing him back a little. Shockwave tried firing a shot from his AstroMag Cannon, but Jetfire dodged it easily and tried to slam his Double-Bladed Energon Axe onto Shockwave's right shoulder, only for the 'Con to block it with his left forearm-mounted Cybertanium Blade as he was pushed backward and away from Optimus, who was being tediously cut down by the Wreckers.

Clearly, this fight was going to the elder 'Bot's advantage, as he was now being smacked backwards. Shockwave knew that his only hope of staying alive was if he'd withdraw at once before Jetfire offlined him.

Using the tall buildings for cover, Shockwave smashed into one and fired two shots from his arm cannon at Jetfire, forcing him to move back to dodge them. Being a flyer, there was no way the 'Bot would follow him through the structure's interior. Plus his concern for his leader would hold Jetfire back from attacking him.

(Back with Sam and his group...)

Now being back onto the ground again, Eddie couldn't have been happier not to be in that skyscraper anymore, due to him being batophobic. Being on the ground made Eddie safer and slightly more optimistic. Even when the young civilian couple pointed out that the glowing Pillars looked like they were about ready to activate, he was still feeling rather more secure than before. A firm and steady surface under his feet could do that to a man sometimes.

Unfortunately, that momentary cheerful outlook was tossed aside as they approached a fork in the alleyway when something began to open fire on them from the sky. Whether or not the unknown attacker was firing at them or someone else didn't matter, the group turned left and ran into the closest building. With great relief, their unseen attacker didn't continue the pursuit.

Then, after their heart-rates began to slow down again, Epps asked: "Where's Sam and Mikaela?"

Eddie glanced around, noticing that the pair of young adults, except for Leo, had been separated from them somehow. The two civilians weren't in the building; they were nowhere in sight, which meant he was in trouble.

"I thought they were right behind me."

"I gave you one thing to do," ranted Epps after it became completely apparent they'd truly lost them. "One thing to do and you drop the ball on me?!"

"I ain't signed up for all this," snapped Eddie, his temper finally coming out. "Got Decepticons blasting at me, running around, chasing me. I'm ducking through churches and buildings..." he ranted on for several moments in increasingly colorful and hysterical language. This whole situation was spiraling wildly out of control and he was beginning to freak out again. "I ain't signed up for this, Epps," he repeated before taking a calming breath. "I'm trying to keep it together."

After his frantic verbal explosion, Eddie was left feeling rather uncomfortable still. He didn't know what else to say to his senior NCO. Sam and Mikaela were alone in Chicago. Back where someone started shooting them in the alleyway.

For a moment, the Green Beret wished he was back in the insanely unstable skyscraper.

(Back with Sam and Mikaela...)

Somehow, they ended up getting separated from their group of armed and dangerous NEST Soldiers and Leo. Sam wasn't sure how exactly that happened, but he and Mikaela were on their own. Figures...anything that can go wrong will go wrong with them.

The young couple huddled beside a yellow bus of unknown make, trying to mentally devise a strategy either to get back to Epps and the others or head towards the building with the domed roof and the cupolas that had the Pillars in them on their own. They were staying silent, however, until they devised an idea. They had no desire to make any noise that would attract any psycho Decepticons any sooner than necessary.

Then, a large shape slammed down near the pair. The triangular-figure, one servo resting on the bus, staring down intently at them with glowing sinister red optics. Or rather he stared at Sam.

"What a treat! You and me, alone," commented Starscream.

The young man and his girlfriend were already running and scrambling away, trying to use the bus and everything else as shelter against the pursuing mech. But the Decepticon Air Commander easily kicked the bus aside, causing them to flee even faster.

"Run, 'Kaela!" shouted the brown-haired youth, splitting away from her.

As he had hoped for, the transformed F-22A Raptor was more focused on him than his girlfriend. If he was lucky, she might be able to get away. If he was really lucky, Mikaela might find something she hotwire and bring back to help, like a crane truck with a wrecking ball.

Still pursuing his prey, Starscream stated: "I love when your little insect feet try to run."

And those 'little insect feet' weren't going to fail Sam now. Running was what he did best, since he kind of perfected his own style of freerunning since the Battle of Mission City four years ago. He didn't have weapons or the training to face these types of threats, but he did have four years worth of experience at fleeing for his own life while giant Decepticons were trying to kill him.

"I thought you were working for us, boy," remarked Starscream cruelly.

Okay, that was it. He wasn't going to get away with that statement. Just because that Watch-Con made him into a double agent did not mean anyone could say something like that. He wasn't like that stupid idiot, Dylan Gould; he would never willingly work for the Decepticons. If he had any weapon at all, he'd make that Seeker take back that suggestion.

...Wait, didn't Wheeljack give him some 'urban combat prototypes'? And wasn't one of them explosive? The young man began frantically trying to dig out one of the two devices from his backpack. Not really remembering that particular item was intended for, he slipped on the Grapple-Glove on his right hand and aimed it towards Starscream's helm in front of him.

Only after he activated the Grapple-Glove did he then recalled that the explosive thing was the Boomstick, not the Grapple-Glove.

Out of all the possible scenarios he'd envisioned, Starscream had not imagined the human boy to fire a claw-dart into his left optic. It was an insane stunt and would have taken incredibly great amount of aim or pure luck to succeed. Besides, while taking out a mech/femme's optics might slow them down, blinding them would not necessary stop them either. Audio receptors and thermal detection would have still allowed him to extinguish the insect boy's life quite easily. Visual input was only one of the many ways for a Cybertronian to experience and navigate through situations, albeit a useful one. In which case, the boy's strategy should've been only a minor setback in the Seeker's desire to kill him.

Unfortunately, the unusual attack didn't damage or destroy his left optic. The claw-dart grabbed the sensor and pulled on it. The constant pressure on the more delicate wiring behind and attached to the optic was severely painful, far worse than shooting the thing. And combined with the surprise of it even happening didn't help either.

The Decepticon SiC began to jerk and flail around, trying to gain a grasp on the thin high-tension wire or the human attached to it. He wanted this excess weight off of his left optic now. His movements, however, were whipping the boy around widely around him and his remaining optic was having trouble following his small target. Pain and mild-panic was making it far harder to concentrate on reaching and removing the screaming human insect.

Starscream slammed into the surrounding buildings, scrapping against the surface in the hopes of dislodging the boy, the wire, the claw-dart or even all three. He could feel the pressure pulling at the inner wiring of his left optic all the way to his central processor. Primus, it hurt. It wasn't like the pain of a quick and powerful blast that initially hurt intensely, but quickly shifted to a dull ache that could mostly be ignored. It was a sharp constant, unrelenting pain of something being pulled right out of his helm, like his sensors for example. A human might not weigh much relatively, but it was far more pressure than should be applied to his left optic.

And things were going so well for him, the Decepticons were winning, and he was determined to make sure this boy didn't ruin it.

The Seeker tried everything he could to remove the boy. And, when he finally managed to catch that swinging figure on the end of the line and relieved the pressure that was causing so much pain, he would kill the human insect as mercilessly as he could manage.

Dangling by a thin, high-tension wire, and being tossed around by a frantic Decepticon so hard that he was surprised that his right shoulder hadn't dislocated yet or come off entirely, Sam was definitely at his greatest moment of pure panic. Any moment now, one of three things could happen: Starscream would actually hit him with all the flailing, he might be smacked against a wall or the ground hard enough to kill him, or his right arm would be completely ripped off his body. He would have ripped the Grapple-Glove completely off if he could, but it was stuck. If he survived this, he was definitely going to have a few choice words for Wheeljack.

Of course, right now he was just hoping to survive this little situation. It didn't look good so far as he was whipped around. Sam was screaming at the top of his lungs in both fear and in pain from his right arm. At least he wasn't alone in that; Starscream was screeching equally loud, the words: 'My optic' being repeated as the Seeker scrapped his faceplates against another building. Perhaps shooting a claw-dart into the mech's left optic wasn't the smartest thing Sam ever did, but it seemed to have been semi-effective.

On one of the swings, the young man was brought near his backpack that he'd pulled the Grapple-Glove from. With his free left hand, Sam reached in and grabbed the Boomstick before he was yanked away again.

"Sam!" shouted a new, but familiar male voice.

Trying to catch a glimpse of the new arrivals as he was whipped around wildly, the young man managed to spot Mikaela running back with Lennox and thirty-seven NEST Soldiers in tow. If he wasn't in such an unpleasant situation, he'd likely be rather grateful that his girlfriend brought the cavalry or wondering vaguely when and how Lennox showed up. Instead, he was just hoping someone would get him down right now.

Another painful yank of his right arm brought the brunette youth back upwards. The wire line dangling him from the mech's faceplates brought him towards the left shoulder of the robotic being. Sam activated the Boomstick before driving it between two sections of armor, burying the device deep enough that it would be difficult for Starscream to grab hold of it to remove, if he ever noticed it. Another shout of pain and frustration came from said mech as he jerked again and tossed the young man sideways.

He didn't even realize he was being yanked downwards until he slammed into the ground. As soon as he was hitting the asphalt, Lennox dove for Sam and held on tight to the young man's pants. Sam screamed as quickly and loudly as possible for the Army Ranger to cut him loose. And over Starscream's shouts, he tried to warn him about a bomb.

The whipping around didn't stop because Lennox grabbed him. Now both of the men could enjoy the fun of being tossed by the mech who was in pure frenzy. The NEST Field Commander tried to get his Recon-1 Tactical Knife to cut the high-tension wire while the pair were treated like a couple of ragdolls, all the while inquiring about the bomb. It would detonate any second now and Sam really didn't want to be too close to the blast radius.

Then he felt a twang as Lennox's knife finally cut through the wire. Unfortunately, they were being tossed higher just as the tension gave. For about the millionth time in the last few days, Samuel James Witwicky was facing imminent death.

And just as always, the one mech he could always depend on came to his aid. Bumblebee must have some kind of 'Sam's in trouble' radar since he had raced over, transformed, ran up the side of the building, and caught the two falling humans in midair.

As soon as the Autobot arrived, the Boomstick detonated in Starscream's left shoulder. The entire left arm was nearly severed from the shoulder, barely dangling by a few high-tension wires. The Decepticon's cries of pain increased in volume and he launched himself skywards as best as he could while half-blind and injured. Where the Seeker was going, Sam didn't know. But he was willing to bet that Starscream won't be back for a while.

"Well, he's gone," commented the young man as he tried to calm himself down.

Chapter Text

(With Bumblebee...)

The young Scout was driving very fast through the empty streets of Chicago, still trying to reach the others over the comms, but got nothing. After making sure Sam was safe with Lennox and the NEST Soldiers, Bumblebee raced off to find the others again. But the only response he got was from Jetfire and the Wreckers, who had just finished helping Optimus get out of a mess. He doubted that the others were killed by the Decepticons, but that didn't stop that thought from coming up into his processor.

His scanners detected several Energon signatures, causing the yellow 'Bot to transform quietly, morphing his right arm into his Solar Plasma Cannon, and crept towards the signal. Then he heard noises, voices, so he assumed that it had to be several Decepticons. So flicking on his battlemask, he jumped out and raised his Solar Plasma Cannon...

...at the sight of twenty 22-foot Decepticon Protoforms holding the other Autobots captive. In just a quick glance he could see all the Autobots with their servos behind the back of their helms and standing on their knees, as well as disarmed. Soundwave, along with his 120-inch long Cyber-Panther pet, Ravage, appeared to be leading them. Skids and Mudflap looked a little beaten up, and the sisters were being watched by the 'Cons as if they were some kind of prize. Ratchet and Wheeljack had also been captured; the Scientist/Inventor looked a little ashamed of himself, probably because he's never been in actual combat until today. The only ones who were missing were the Wreckers, Steeljaw, Jolt, Mirage, Sideswipe, Ironhide, Jazz, Brains, Wheelie, Jetfire, Optimus and himself.

The bright side is that it appeared that they hadn't spotted Bumblebee, meaning that if he moved quickly, he could take Soundwave and the other 'Cons by surprise and give the others a chance to shake loose. But just as he took a step forward, 'Bee felt the barrel of a Fusion SMG poking at the back of his helm.

"Thanks for saving us the trouble of hunting you," said Barricade with Frenzy laughing in the background. "Now get moving."

Bumblebee groaned as he morphed his right arm back to normal and walked towards the other seven captured Autobots, helm down in shame.

(Meanwhile...)

"Ow! Easy there, Wheelie!" shouted Brains to his fellow Mini-Con. He and Wheelie had finally managed to repair the Orbital Assault Fighter and got it airborne, except that due to their small size, flying it was difficult.

Fortunately, they hadn't attracted any attention to themselves or they would've been shot out of the sky by now. Currently, they were trying to find somewhere they could do some serious damage. They had no such luck on the comms, so knowing if the other Autobots were alive or not was unsure.

"Hey, Wheelie, what's this?" asked Brains as he looked at a holographic screen. Wheelie brought it up to him to take a look. "Looks like the fighter's scanner, these dots must be lifeforms. The green dots must be Decepticons and these eight red dots must be..."

"Autobots," finished Brains sadly. "They've been captured! What are we going to do, Wheelie?"

Said Mini-Con was thinking; he knew that the two of them inside a damaged fighter wouldn't be able to do anything; the 'Cons would shoot them out of the sky. Then something caught his optics, right above where the eight Autobots were being held was an Orbital Assault Carrier with nineteen fighters entering it. This inspired an idea as Wheelie turned to Brains.

"Hey, Brains, you thinking what I'm thinking?" asked Wheelie as he pointed at the carrier.

Brains looked towards the direction his fellow Mini-Con was pointing at, and when he caught on, he laughed. "Oh, we're going to screw that carrier up big time."

(Meanwhile...)

Lennox's team had continued moving after that little adventure with Starscream and regrouping with Sam and Mikaela, the group had begun heading towards one of the drawbridges while Bumblebee had already left to rejoin the other Autobots.

The Army Ranger cursed when he and his team finally arrived at the drawbridge. It was raised, no doubt the work of the Decepticons, and there appeared to be no way across the Chicago River except swimming, which would take too long. Some good news was that they managed to rendezvous with a platoon from SEAL Team Six that was tasked with vectoring in Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.

"Sir, look!" said Graham. Coming down towards them was Epps and his team of former NEST Soldiers, including Donnelly, Burke, Eckerson, Tanaka, along with that kid Sam had mentioned, Leo. Lennox embraced the USAF Senior Master Sergeant. "Epps, where ya been, man?"

"Time with the Reserves has been a wack," replied Epps, smiling as Lennox greeted Don, Burke, Eckerson and Tanaka. "Worse, we just got back from recon, and the only way to get to the other side is either lowering the drawbridges or swimming. And to top it off: Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Ratchet, the sisters and the twins have been captured upstairs."

Lennox's face paled at the news, there was no way they could save the eight Autobots in their current situation. From his perspective, the important thing was to get the drawbridges down and then find a way to help the Autobots.

(With Sam and Mikaela...)

He didn't know why he felt that he and Mikaela should move away from yet another well-armed group of NEST Soldiers. Common sense dictated that they remain with Lennox and his team. However, Sam's explanation for this decision would have to be a gut feeling, which was something that Mikaela had too and was currently following him.

Crossing the watery barrier that was the Chicago River was surprisingly easy. Very shortly after the young couple separated from Lennox and his team, they turned down a street and found the remnants of a building lying across the divide like an improvised bridge. It might not have been the safest way to cross, but at least it was far more stable than the last building they'd dealt with.

It wasn't until they nearly reached their goal that the two of them realized why their gut feelings were so insistent that they hurry. Diving to the ground and crawling to the relative-safe cover of an overturned SUV, Sam took a quick assessment of the situation at hand.

Eight of the Autobots had been captured and were currently being held at gunpoint by Soundwave, Ravage and twenty Decepticon Protoforms. The dark-haired young man didn't know how this occurred so quickly, but his best guess would be an ambush against his friends with overwhelming forces. From both his and his girlfriend's position, he could spot Ratchet, Wheeljack, Arcee, Chromia, Elita, Skids, Mudflap, and Bumblebee. He was just saved by his Autobot guardian a short while ago, and now the transformed Camaro was the one in danger.

Surprisingly, Mikaela also recognized two of the Decepticons that were also present as well. Unless she was mistaken, two of the mechs holding 'Bee and the others prisoner were Barricade and Frenzy, the very first two Decepticons that she and Sam had meet four years ago.

(Meanwhile...)

The Protoform pilot, who was out of his fighter, was currently walking down the walkway while guiding fighters into the Orbital Assault Carrier safely. Orbital Assault Fighters coming through the hatches from high-altitude was dangerous for both the smaller craft and the larger one. So it was up to one of the Decepticon Protoforms in the hangar bay to guide them until they were securely aboard for recharging their weapons and engines.

All of a sudden, an Orbital Assault Fighter came in, almost striking another Protoform before crashing onto the walkway. All of the nineteen Protoform pilots on board came to find out what all the commotion was as the fighter stood still on the walkway.

Suddenly, the hatch on it opened and revealed a silver Mini-Con scanning the area.

"Oh, bugger," said Brains.

"It sucked us right in. There was nothing I could do!" complained another voice as the other owner popped his helm out and gasped at their situation. "Scrap."

As the Decepticons started marching towards them, Brains commented: "This is a total clusterfuck-" before Wheelie pulled him back into the fighter.

"We got to do something, Brains, or they'll tear us apart," moaned Wheelie as he and his fellow Mini-Con started pressing buttons and levers like mad. Brains pressed a button and suddenly the holographic screen came up, revealing the Protoforms were getting even closer.

"Well that didn't help," commented Brains as he bent down underneath the control panel and began connecting a few wires together. "Maybe these will..."

Suddenly, the Orbital Assault Fighter made a noise and the holographic screen showed that fighter's weapon systems were now online.

"You're a genius, Brains!" shouted Wheelie as he grabbed the weapon controls. Giving an evil glare at the 'Cons, he said: "Time to make some Swiss Decepti-Cheese."

"Yeah, and a carrier to go as well," added Brains as he laughed.

(Back with Bumblebee...)

The young Autobot's helm was down as the Decepticons were still watching them. He still couldn't believe that he allowed himself to get caught so easily.

"It's okay, 'Bee, it happens to the best of us," said Wheeljack reassuringly. It didn't help much but Bumblebee gave a nod of thanks to the Scientist/Inventor. Then Soundwave walked over to them and activated his hologram, revealing Sentinel Prime. The Autobot turncoat looked at them with hopeful optics.

"My Autobot brothers and sisters, I know that you fight for your cause, and I deeply respect that. But surely you must see that this is for the good of our homeworld, Cybertron. And so I offer you the chance to join us, surely you can see that you are fighting a lost cause," said Sentinel pleadingly.

Chromia growled at Optimus' former mentor before replying: "Why don't you take that Cosmic Rust Pistol of yours and shoot yourself in the helm! It might clear out the junk in there because there's no fragging way that we would betray Optimus or our friends!"

The other Autobots shouted in agreement, some of them cursing Sentinel and the Decepticons in their native tongue.

Sentinel shook his helm in disappointment. "Then you Autobots are doomed, for you see the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

After Sentinel's holographic form disappeared, Bumblebee saw someone that made his optics narrow in anger: It was the human traitor and Mikaela's ex-boss, Dylan Gould.

The treacherous businessman's suit was a little torn up after 'Bee and Sam saved Mikaela from his penthouse, his broken nose was a bit bloody and was covered with dirt and bruises. He was staring at the eight captured Autobots with anger, disgust and annoyance as he walked up to Soundwave. "Prisoners? You're keeping prisoners?!" he hissed out with venom.

"Yes. Sentinel wants them alive," replied Soundwave as he tried to figure out what the human was up to. Ravage rubbed against his legs, growling at the Autobot POWs while staring at the human with his single optic as well.

Dylan looked more aggravated by this. "I want you and Barricade to teach them about respect," he paused for a second before adding: "This was all business, but now it's personal. Do you understand me?" Dylan stared at Bumblebee when he said 'personal'.

The Decepticon Communications Officer let out an evil chuckle, impressed by the human's coldness. Dylan Gould would make a good Decepticon. Of course, he had already sold out his entire species to the Decepticons willingly, just like his late father had. So there was no surprise that he would be so ruthless. "I understand: No prisoners, only trophies."

From her and her boyfriend's hiding spot, Mikaela glared at the sight of Dylan standing there. If she had any knife-throwing experience, she would've put one in his back. That stupid arrogant traitor...he was just walking around the Decepticons with his own evil ideas that he felt the need to suggest to the evil Cybertronians. Like murdering the eight Autobots they've captured in cold Energon.

"'Bee, I think they're going to...kill us," commented Wheeljack nervously when Barricade approached them, deciding who would be first. His optics first looked at the Scientist/Inventor before turning his attention towards Bumblebee. Frenzy, who was on the Decepticon Scout's left shoulder, gained a rather cruel gleam in his gaze as he whispered into Barricade's left audio receptor. After a second of apparent consideration, he nodded to his Mini-Con partner.

With a vicious grin, Barricade grabbed Bumblebee roughly by the neck and snarled out: "You first."

The other Autobots couldn't help but gasp in horror, while Ratchet struggled against his two captors.

"Wait! We surrender," protested Wheeljack, trying to do what he could in order to avoid seeing the full cruelty of the Decepticons as 'Bee was dragged forward before adding: "We're POWs. Can't we at least talk this out?"

He was shut up when the Protoform behind him grabbed his helm and jerked him backwards.

"Leave him alone!" roared Arcee as she too struggled against her captor.

Barricade just laughed as he leaned forward and growled something softly to Bumblebee before announcing in a louder tone: "Be careful of this one, Soundwave. He's a very troublesome pest."

The former Kaon Enforcer then shoved the yellow mech towards Soundwave's waiting grasp. The Decepticon TiC then dragged him to the middle of the area where Dylan (who had a smug smirk on his face) and the other Cybertronians present could have a clear view of the execution. Placing him to his knees, Soundwave raised one of his Sonic Battle Pistols at the back of Bumblebee's helm before powering it up.

The young Scout had his optics looking at the ground, then at an overturned SUV and to his surprise saw Sam and Mikeala, the former had tears going down his face. 'Bee gave a sad smile towards him as he closed his optics for the last time...

...only to open them when he heard cries of shock and surprise. Coming down from above were Orbital Assault Fighters falling out of a Orbital Assault Carrier, striking both Autobots and Decepticons. But it was the Autobots who took advantage of this. Smacking aside his two captors, Ratchet made a grab for their confiscated weapons and threw them to their respective owners, who were now fighting back against the 'Cons. Bumblebee took advantage of this by sliding on his battlemask and after retrieving the chip that activated his Solar Plasma Cannon from Ratchet, punched Soundwave in the faceplates. As the 'Con staggered backwards, 'Bee fired a shot at his left shoulder, damaging it and forcing Soundwave to drop one of his Sonic Battle Pistols.

(Back with Wheelie and Brains...)

Aboard the Orbital Assault Carrier, the two Mini-Cons kept firing the fighter's weapons at the inside of the larger ship and occasionally blasting any of the nineteen Protoforms that appeared in their line of sight.

"We did it, Brains! We did it!" exclaimed Wheelie as his fellow Mini-Con fired a few more shots. "Rip this carrier apart!"

"Ha-Ha! Take that, ya dumb punks!" shouted Brains as he kept shooting.

(Back down below...)

The Decepticons were faring no better than their brothers above them. The sudden attack of falling ships had caught them by surprise and separated them, denying them the chance to regroup and Soundwave's remaining Sonic Battle Pistol wasn't helping either. Its loud sonic blast would either knock a Protoform back by accident or push debris back, which made it difficult for the Decepticons to move.

The Autobots, however, were faring much better than their adversaries. When they were taking prisoners, the Decepticons had all of their Autobot captives kept close together so they keep a better optic on them. Now with the window of opportunity here, the Autobots had the advantage over the 'Cons, standing close to each other, they were able to take out one Protoform at a time.

Bumblebee was having a more difficult time, but was holding out. When Soundwave grabbed him to be executed, he was further away from the others. But his main target was the Decepticon TiC. Unfortunately, Barricade and a Protoform had joined Soundwave in battling the yellow 'Bot.

Bumblebee knocked Barricade aside while he dodged Soundwave's Sonic Battle Pistol and grabbed the Protoform by the helm and completely obliterated it with several shots from his Solar Plasma Cannon. Barricade had recovered and tried to tackle Bumblebee, but was tackled by the twins, who proceeded bashing him.

Soundwave was firing a lot more as he charged at Bumblebee. The yellow 'Bot fired at his right pede, damaging it and stunning Soundwave long enough for the Scout to knock the 'Con's Sonic Battle Pistol out of his right servo before ramming his Solar Plasma Cannon underneath the Communications Officer's chestplates before firing.

As he threw away Soundwave's helmless frame, 'Bee was attacked by Ravage, the Cyber-Panther hoping to avenge his master. But then something grabbed his tail, and that something was Steeljaw: the Wreckers had arrived. While said trio of 'Bots zoomed in and fired and tore apart the 'Cons, Steeljaw pulled Ravage off of Bumblebee. The one-optic Cyber-Panther then deployed his dual hindquarter-mounted Fusion LMGs and opened fire, but Steeljaw managed to dodged them. Ravage started to charge him, but he hadn't been prepared for the hidden Photon Cannon in the Cyber-Bulldog's mouthplates, which directly fired into Ravage's faceplates and obliterating his upper frame and spark.

Bumblebee looked up as the Orbital Assault Carrier started to loose control as it began to fall towards the others.

"INCOMING!!!" yelled Topspin as he notice the carrier coming down after pulling the left arm off a Protoform. The carrier started to skid across the ground. All the Autobots managed to get out of the way while the rest of the Decepticons, who were still damaged from the early debris and the fight were crushed or knocked aside by it.

The ship finally stopped with half of its front over the Chicago River and the rest of it still on the pavement. When the Autobots decided that it was clear, they advanced towards the carrier slowly, weapons at the ready, Bumblebee at the front with the Wreckers. Suddenly, an explosion came out of the ship, causing the Autobots to halt and raise their weapons, ready for a fight.

Instead, popping out of the newly-made hole were Wheelie and Brains, alive and well. The two Mini-Cons looked at each other and then at the other Autobots who were starring at them, mouthplates open.

"What?" asked the two Mini-Cons.

Sam and Mikaela finally came out of their hiding spot, surveying the area while running towards the Autobots. Sam just stared up at Bumblebee, who stared back down at his friend.

Finally, Sam smiled and said: "Nice work there, buddy."

The young Scout gave a thumbs-up in return.

Mikaela though ran straight for Wheelie and Brains, lifting both Mini-Cons up into a hug. "I'm so glad you two are okay," she murmured as she hugged them. The two Mini-Cons blinked their optics for a moment before smiling at one another.

As both the NEST Soldiers and Navy SEALs were running up to them (after finally getting across the Chicago River when Dutch managed to hack into the control systems of all the twenty-nine drawbridges and lowered them), they heard a familiar horn coming their way. Jazz and the other Autobots (minus Optimus) had finally arrived, most likely from seeing the carrier falling down. As he ran to embrace his sparkmate, Ironhide took a look at the scene before giving a low whistle. "Slag, Wreckers, ya sure out did yourselves this time."

"Wasn't us, 'Hide. It was those two midgets here," replied Roadbuster as he pointed to the two Mini-Cons in Mikaela's arms. The Autobots who had arrived looked at the wrecked ship and then the Mini-Cons trying to comprehend what had happened. Finally, Ironhide chuckled and replied: "Not bad for a bunch of runts."

Wheelie and Brains gaped at each other, shock to hear a comment from the Autobot who wanted to offline them the most. If possible, they blushed a little when the comment was met with a roar in agreement from the other Autobots. Once everything was said and done, the 'Bots transformed, opened their doors for their human allies and headed towards their real target.

Had any of them decided to check Soundwave's corpse, they could've seen that his spark was still glowing, but faintly.

(Back with Barricade...)

The Decepticon Scout was still in his alt-mode, despite the damage he took from the twins as he drove towards the tower. He had managed to shake those two off after that trio of Autobots had appeared and started tearing apart the other 'Cons. After seeing both Soundwave and Ravage being killed, he had decided it was best to fall back before he too was offlined. Fortunately, the Autobots' attention were on the Orbital Assault Carrier falling to the ground was what had given both him and Frenzy an opening to escape.

After the surprised attack had happened, he received a message for all Decepticons to return to the tower to protect the Pillars. Apparently, the human military forces have taken control of the twenty-nine drawbridges across the river, and any survivors were to report back to the tower, while the remaining carriers, fighters and gunships will stay in the air. If he went back now, he would just be following orders.

Speaking of which, Megatron will not be pleased to hear of both Soundwave's offlining, the loss of an Orbital Assault Carrier and nineteen fighters and thirty-nine other Decepticons. Barricade just hoped that the Decepticon Leader would take his anger out on Starscream than him.

Chapter Text

(With Megatron...)

"You useless idiot!" shouted the Decepticon Leader as he slammed Starscream against the nearest building before throwing him to the ground, nearly tearing the Seeker's already damaged left arm off.

The pair was standing a few blocks away from the building where the Pillars were charging up. Megatron left Shockwave in charge of the Decepticons that were protecting the building. Barricade and Frenzy had just returned, reporting that Soundwave had been killed by one of the Autobots. He reported about the incident and how all of the captured Autobots were now free and regrouped and were probably heading this way.

Also, small groups of human soldiers had infiltrated the city and their locations were currently unknown. To make matters worse, Optimus Prime had disappeared and was zooming somewhere in the air and with his current firepower, he could ruin everything.

"How is it my fault? Soundwave and Barricade were supposed to be guarding them. If that stupid fleshling hadn't convinced them to execute them, they wouldn't have gotten distracted," said Starscream, only to receive a punch to the faceplates as a reward.

"Yes, they were, and you were supposed to provide them with air cover. But instead, you decided to go after that insect boy and look at the results," retorted Megatron as he indicated to Starscream's poor form. "Now Soundwave is dead, along with thirty-nine other Decepticons, I lost a carrier and nineteen fighters, and you have better pray to Primus that they don't make it to the Pillars!"

The Decepticon Leader then tossed his Air Commander to the side, pulling the hood over his damaged helm before sitting down. "Now leave me, before I decide to finish what that human boy had started."

Starscream merely glared at his leader before flying off. Megatron ignored the Seeker's glare as he looked up at the sky. "Soon, Cybertron. Soon you'll be saved."

(Meanwhile...)

Arcee poked her helm out from the building that she was currently hiding behind. The other Autobots were hiding behind another building further back along with Sam, Mikaela and Leo. Lennox, Epps, the NEST Soldiers and the Navy SEALs had already taken a different route, where they had received radio contact from forward elements of the Illinois Army National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team that have entered the city.

When Arcee was done doing recon, she scurried back to the group with her report.

"I spotted at least seven Decepticons guarding the streets towards the building, including Shockwave and Barricade. And there's eleven or more surrounding the building," she said.

Everyone looked at Jazz for the plan. The Autobot TiC was on the comms, probably speaking to Optimus. When he was done, he turned to the other Autobots. "Prime said he's on his way now and will be here soon. In the meantime, we move in slowly, Lennox's team are going to soften them up."

"How the slag is he gonna do that?" asked Skids, which earned him a smack to the helm by Ironhide.

"Because unlike you, runt, he's got a plan," replied the black mech. "Everyone move out slowly behind me. Sideswipe, cover our six."

As the Autobots transformed into their alt-modes, Bumblebee waited for a few seconds for Sam, Mikaela, Leo, Wheelie and Brains to get in before heading off with the others.

Wheelie and Brains were sitting in the back of the Camaro with Leo, who was sitting on the other end of the seat. Brains tapped Wheelie on the left shoulder. "This is it, buddy. The big push. We're gonna bring some hurt on these aftholes."

"You got that right, Brains. Charge, 'Bee, full speed ahead!" shouted Wheelie.

(Elsewhere...)

Turning around the corner, Lennox and his large team meet up with 1st Platoon/Able Company/1st Battalion/178th Infantry Regiment of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team who have entered the city. After Epps shouted to the National Guardsmen that they were with them, the now larger group of soldiers moved into a nearby building as Lennox then layed out his plan that was based on the recon report that Arcee gave him.

The Army Ranger had decided to divide his group into five. The first group (consisting of himself, Zimmerman, and four other NEST Soldiers) will head up to the 45th floor of the building they were currently in and parachute down on top of Shockwave, since he was the greater threat due to his AstroMag Cannon. The second group (consisting of Perkins and two Navy SEALs, all three armed with LaRue Tactical OBR 7.62 Sniper Rifles) will position themselves on top of the roof of the nearby church that overlooked the street the 'Cons were on; their job was to take out the optics of the three closest Decepticons. Once blinded, the third group (consisting of Donnelly, Mongo and Marc) will rush towards them to plant their Boomsticks on the Decepticons' legs, weakening their support. Once they were incapacitated, the fourth group (consisting of the National Guardsmen, and the rest of the NEST Soldiers and Navy SEALs) will move in for the kill.

When Lennox's team got to the 45th floor, he took a peak to see the situation down below. To his delight, Shockwave was directly underneath them. With him were five other Decepticons, including Barricade. It looked like said 'Con was scolding the four Decepticon Protoforms about something.

"Lennox, this is Perkins. Me and my team are in position," said the Master Sergeant through his radio.

"Copy that, Perkins. I got Shockwave, Barricade and four Protoforms right below me, so everyone get ready," replied the Lieutenant-Colonel as he checked his parachute.

Meanwhile, Epps, along with Stone, Burke, Hooch, Eckerson, Tanaka and Eddie had went into a room on the third floor of a nearby building to do some damage. The good news was that the room gave them a good view of their targets; the bad news was that they were literally right behind Shockwave. If the grey-purplish mech spotted them, then he would just have to fire one or two shots from his AstroMag Cannon to cave-in the building they were in. Fortunately, Shockwave didn't have the slightest inkling of their presence, which was good.

Epps checked outside for any signs of Lennox, he had to wait to give the first group a headstart before he ordered the attack. Finally, he spotted Lennox and five other NEST Soldiers leapt off the 45th floor of their chosen building, diving towards the enemy in a spread-eagled free-fall. And when he saw all six of them deploy their chutes, Epps spoke into his radio: "Snipers, take out their eyes."

Several suppressed, high-velocity shots rang out from the roof of the nearby church a moment or two before 7.62x51mm NATO Armor-Piercing rounds slammed into the right optic of Barricade and two Protoforms, half-blinding them as they recoiled in pain.

"Alright, Demo Team, let's crank steel," said Stone into his radio, giving the third group the callsign to move in.

Moving out from a nearby alley was Donnelly, Mongo and Marc with their Boomsticks at the ready as they rushed towards the half-blinded 'Cons. Marc jammed his Boomstick into Barricade's right pede while Donnelly and Mongo planted theirs in the other two Protoforms.

"Turning steel," said Marc into his radio, giving the callsign that the Boomsticks had been planted as he, Donnelly and Mongo dove for cover. Said explosives detonated a few seconds later, leaving the Decepticons further crippled as the rest of the NEST Soldiers, National Guardsmen and Navy SEALs on the street laid onto them with automatic fire, killing the two crippled Protoforms before they had a chance to withdraw behind cover. Barricade was able to transform and drove back to the building, though his alt-mode looked different due to the wound on his right pede. Fusion SMGs rang out from the remaining Protoforms as the NEST paratroopers floated down to their target. Lennox aimed right for the leader, his parachute falling over the single optic of Shockwave.

The Decepticon Scientist/Assassin spun and thrashed, jostling Lennox as he yelled and reached for his harness, cutting the cables and sliding to a stop as he aimed his Remington ACR Assault Carbine directly for Shockwave's chassis, firing 5.56x45mm NATO Armor-Piercing rounds at him. The Decepticon snarled as he tried to get Lennox's chute off of him while the soldiers continued to fire on him, though their ammo was doing little damage to the 35-foot 'Con, Shockwave still couldn't fire on something that he couldn't see. Still half-blinded by Lennox's chute, Shockwave didn't see Zimmerman landing directly on his right shoulder before raising his M249 Para SAW and began shooting at his neck and helm, causing a small explosion to happen before he was knocked off and landed backfirst on a car. Graham sprinted over to him and pulled him off.

"Good job, Corporal," he complimented him as he gave him a pat on the back before hauling him up to his feet.

"Fire!" yelled Epps to his team, who all opened up on Shockwave, the window's glass breaking off as they did so. The Senior Master Sergeant could hear Eddie letting out a war cry as he continued to spray out 5.56x45mm NATO Armor-Piercing/Tracer rounds from his M249 Para SAW.

The Decepticon was reeling in pain, but had managed to get the chute off of him and aimed his AstroMag Cannon at Epps' team. But before he could fire, more bullets, of three different calibers, from an unknown source, attacked him. Epps took a look and saw that it was the Wreckers rolling in, firing all of their human-based weapons at Shockwave, causing his single optic to fall out of its socket, barely suspended by a coil of wires as he retreated.

"We got him!" shouted Epps, which was followed by a "Yeah!" from Eddie as they raced outside to join the others.

(At the same time...)

"He's on the run!" Ironhide heard a National Guardsmen yell as Shockwave fled. As he and the other Autobots arrived, he could see that half of the Decepticons were either dead or too injured to pose a threat. But as Shockwave retreated, the rest of the 'Cons advanced, weapons armed.

Ironhide transformed and opened fire with his dual forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannons before Jetfire had landed or when Jazz shouted: "Autobots, attack!"

The other Autobots had already transformed and joined alongside them. Bumblebee waited until his passengers were out before transforming and joining the others. At that time, forward elements of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team had arrived, with Ratchet taking command of one of the M1129 Mortar Carriers and ordering the crew manning the 120mm M121 BMS (Battalion-Mortar-System) to target a nearby bridge that Decepticon Protoforms were swarming across.

Barricade had finally regroup with the second and third team of Decepticons as the second team, excluding himself, had engaged the enemy, while the third team, which were the Constructicons, stayed at the rear in reserve.

"Mirage, you got a 'Con to your left!" shouted Arcee as she joined the Navy SEALs on firing on some injured Protoforms. Mirage saw the 'Con swing his Tactical Fusion Shotgun at him, but the Autobot dodged it easily and rammed one of his dual forearm-mounted Cybertanium Curved Wrist-Blades into his enemy's chestplates, offlining him instantly.

Sideswipe fired at a few 'Cons with his dual Fusion Pulse Pistols before ducking for cover behind a fire truck. "We need to push them back to gain some distance!" he yelled as he fired at a Protoform, blasting a good chunk of his armor off.

Jazz fired into a down 'Con's chestplates, blowing away his spark. As he left the frame for cover, he ordered: "Jetfire, you and Ironhide with me at the front. Ratchet and Wheeljack, the back. The rest of you in the middle. Mirage, you and Sideswipe keep to the sides and deal with those 'Cons shooting from cover."

Ironhide pulled out his Heavy Iron 1.0 Assault Rifle and fired at the Decepticons, killing four Protoforms until a 120mm HEAT-MP-T (High-Explosive-Anti-Tank-Multipurpose-Tracer) round struck his weapon, slightly damaging it. He snarled as he saw a heavily-modified M1A1 Abrams MBT (Main-Battle-Tank) painted in olive-drab and dark-grey cameo transform into the 25-foot biped form of the Decepticon Heavy Weapons Specialist, Brawl. The 'Con's victory was short-lived as his left shoulder was struck by a grazing wound from Bumblebee's Solar Plasma Cannon, causing him to grunt in pain.

Jolt fired more electric bolts at the Decepticons, frying some of their higher-logic sensors, thus making it easier to pick them off. A Protoform tried to fire at the femmes, but was knocked back by a blast from Sideswipe. Jetfire was firing his Particle Beam Cannon at any Decepticons that was in his train of sight. Sideswipe and Mirage cut down any of them with their respective blades, while the sisters shot them in the chestplates with their marksmanship.

A Decepticon took a swing at Ratchet, but the Chief Medical Officer kneed him, knocking him down before finishing him off with his Energon SMG. Another 'Con was trying to crawl away due to his injured right leg, but instead he was pinned down by Ironhide's left pede, who fired at the 'Con's back with his left forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannon. Skids and Mudflap were ganging up on a 22-foot Protoform, punching and shooting him at the same time. Two Protoforms were shooting from long-distances on top of a building, firing Fusion SMGs. Mirage took cover and readied his Ion Sniper Rifle, aiming from behind the cover of a garbage truck. His first shot offlined one 'Con, but the second forced him to cover. Wheeljack took aim with his Experimental Energon Battle Rifle and fired, knocking the 'Con off the building.

(Meanwhile...)

Sentinel Prime watched the scene with disdain. Even now, he couldn't comprehend why the Autobots were helping the humans? Did saving their true home mean nothing to them, that helping this small species, who viewed them as machines, was more important?

It didn't matter by now. Soon, the humans would become their slaves to rebuild their precious homeword. "It's our world now!" yelled Sentinel "Commencing transport!"

A bright beam of bluish-white energy shot up into the heavens from the Control Pillar, activating the other ninety-five subordinate Pillars in orbit, which generated their own beams that combined with the controller's. The converged beam raced out, and halfway between Earth and the Moon, a rift opened in reality. From it, a gigantic planet, at least four times Earth's diameter from what could be told by observation, gradually began to emerge very slowly. Soon, Cybertron's face filled the skies over the Western Hemisphere.

(Command Center, NEST Base)

As soon as the SpaceBridge activated, alarms began to sound throughout the room from several of the computer systems. A few of their satellites were sending them live images of the weird distortion in space where, amazingly, a huge shape was very slowly coming through the SpaceBridge. It seemed impossible, but Simmons knew that Sam's girlfriend was apparently right when she said that they were bringing Cybertron here. A planet four times bigger than theirs was about to pop up right next door.

Of course, adding that much mass so close to Earth was bound to cause problems. But strangely, no earthquakes were happening at all, not even near the most major fault lines. This was something that the former Sector Seven agent would definitely have to look into. That's if he survive this.

(Back in Chicago...)

Sam had taken cover with Mikaela, Leo and the two Mini-Cons under a bus stop shelter when he saw the Autobot's homeworld appear in the sky. "My God...." he mumbled to himself as the planet very slowly came into view. Both Autobots and Decepticons almost paused for a moment, staring at their planet that they haven't seen in a very long time. But the mood ended quickly when a Protoform fired at Ironhide, restarting the skirmish.

"They're actually doing it, what are we going to do?" exclaimed Mudflap as he ducked from the Decepticon fire.

"We need to keep pressing forward until Optimus gets here!" shouted Sideswipe.

Sam had staggered back from a nearby explosion when he spotted something familiar in the air: Optimus Prime, zooming through the air in his Omega Combat Armor, just as Jazz said.

With all his strength, Sam shouted out his name: "OPTIMUS!!!!"

(At the same time...)

Optimus Prime rarely lost control of his anger, even in the most intense battles, he never lost his cool. Optimus knew that letting out his emotions would hinder the Autobots' morale in their battle with the Decepticons.

But when he did let out his anger, he was like a storm, moving everywhere, unstoppable and right now he was very, very mad. Sentinel Prime's betrayal, the killings of so many innocent civilians, it was too much to take in, so much rage that not even Optimus could contain it.

So when he saw the large group of Decepticon Protoforms engaging the human soldiers and Autobots, Optimus did a straight nosedive.

Ironhide was the first to spot him, and when he saw the look in Optimus' optics, he shouted: "Autobots, take cover!"

As the Autobots looked up and saw what he meant, they all made space for their leader to land on while he launched a barrage of Micro-HE Rockets onto the eleven Protoforms. To many, the way he entered and with that look on his faceplates, they could've easily mistaken Optimus as some kind of 'Angel of Death'. As the rockets detonated and stunned them, Optimus detach his Omega Combat Armor as he skated through the Decepticon lines, dealing each one a fatal blow. As he did so, his Autobots and the humans watched him in awe, as the formers cheered him on.

"Yeah, Optimus, teach those Decepticon punks a lesson!" roared Jazz.

"Look at him, bro, he's pounding them hardcore!" said Mudflap

"Look at them fall before our boss!" shouted Skids.

"Make those punks pay, Prime!" bellowed Ironhide.

"He's heading straight for Shockwave, let that cyclops have it, Optimus!" yelled Sideswipe.

Optimus had just offlined the eleventh Protoform before he charged Shockwave. The Decepticon Scientist/Assassin fired a desperate shot from his AstroMag Cannon, but with his single optic hanging out of its socket made it difficult, and Optimus easily dodged it by dive-rolling forward. As he did so, the younger Prime deployed his Energon Brass-Knuckles on his left fist, and then punched Shockwave so hard that almost half of his lower left chassis fell off, causing the one-optic mech to screech in pain.

Optimus then turned mid-stride and followed it up with a quick punch in the faceplates and then grabbed Shockwave's right shoulder, bending him down. "You die!" he snarled as he was about to pull his optic out with his right servo. But Shockwave managed to grab Optimus' arm with his left servo and push him back a little, but his damaged chassis made it hard to move.

Deciding that the one-optic Decepticon was too weak to fight, Optimus twisted Shockwave's arm cannon and aimed it directly at the cupola that housed the Control Pillar. Then he used his hacking abilities and fired, and was rewarded with an explosion.

"NO!!" cried Sentinel as the Control Pillar tumbled over the side of the building. The translocation paused, Cybertron's partially-transported face hovering in place of the sky.

No longer having a use for the 'Con, Optimus kicked Shockwave to the side, resulting in the grey-purplish mech to fall into the Chicago River with a huge splash. Optimus then turned his attention to scanning the Control Pillar that was lying on top of a pile of rubble. As he feared, it turned out that the Control Pillar was still active. Sentinel no doubt knew that, which meant that Optimus had to face his former mentor to prevent him from succeeding in reactivating it.

So with all his strength, he yelled out: "Get down here, Sentinel!"

Said Prime heard his former student calling him out, which he was too happy to comply. Sentinel could sense that the Control Pillar was still active, which meant that Cybertron could still be saved. And if he didn't, if the Control Pillar was destroyed, his planet will be sent back through the SpaceBridge to its original orbit.

Pulling out both his Primax Blade (now in its double-bladed form) and his Primax Shield from subspace, Sentinel snarled out: "Optimus, you forget your place!"

Jumping off the building, he thrusted his Primax Blade into its side to slow down his descent as he landed on the street below before taking up a stance. "I bring you Cybertron, our home, and yet you still choose humanity?"

Optimus just glared as he pulled out one of his servoheld Energon Swords and a Energon Battle-Axe from subspace. "You were the one that taught me that freedom is the right of all sentient beings," he countered as his battlemask snapped shut and with a war cry, charged Sentinel Prime.

The old Prime, who was unprepared for the attack, had his back slammed into a building, and then winced as Optimus stabbed him with his Energon Sword and battle-axe, but he still managed to yell out: "I will retrigger that Control Pillar!"

"Then you'll have to go through me!" yelled back Optimus as he pushed Sentinel into the building more.

"If I must, then I shall, Optimus!" said Sentinel as he pushed the younger Prime back, causing him to roll backwards. Optimus managed to regain his balance and blocked Sentinel's attack with his Energon Battle-Axe and slashed at the older Prime's legs. The fight had begun.

(Meanwhile...)

Sam knew that he had to help them somehow. So after reassuring Mikaela he would be fine, and leaving Brains and Wheelie in charge of protecting her, Sam ran towards the Control Pillar, followed by Donnelly, Marc and Mongo (though he didn't notice them). They weren't the only ones charging the Control Pillar, the Autobots, NEST Soldiers, National Guardsmen and Navy SEALs were also moving in too.

Ironhide saw Optimus taking on Sentinel and even though his instincts told him to go help his leader, he knew that Optimus was giving them an opening they needed to destroy the Control Pillar.

"C'mon, Autobots, this is our chance!" he yelled as he activated his dual forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannons.

"Charge the Control Pillar!" yelled Ratchet as he followed Ironhide's lead, along with the others. They stood behind the human soldiers as Lennox shouted out to them to keep going and were soon joined by Epps' team.

The Decepticons tried their best to stop them, but the majority were just Protoforms and stood little chance against them. A Decepticon stood on top of a building and tried to take a shot at Bumblebee, but he was struck by an Energon shot fired by Wheeljack. 'Bee gave a smile of gratitude to the Scientist/Inventor. Mirage tackled a Protoform to the ground and brought his dual forearm-mounted Cybertanium Curved Wrist-Blades down on him before he could react.

More Protoforms began to show up, along with the Constructicons, and were now being led by a wounded Barricade, Brawl, Devcon, Bonecrusher and Blackout, ordering them to attack them from both the front and back. But whatever the Decepticons did seemed to have no effect on the still advancing Autobots, who kept blasting their way through. Brawl had attacked Ironhide, separating him from the others, while Devcon had begun firing on the Wreckers, who returned just an equal amount of firepower.

Optimus and Sentinel were still locked in combat, ignoring everyone else, the other 'Bot was all they focused on. Optimus managed to knock Sentinel off his pedes and brought his Energon Battle-Axe down. But Sentinel managed to roll to the side, getting a small part of his armor scratched. The corrupt Prime then tackled Optimus with his Primax Shield, smashing him against a nearby building. Sentinel stepped back and lunged his Primax Blade towards his former student's chestplates, but Optimus got out of the way. The younger Prime swung his Energon Sword, slashing Sentinel's lower chassis and causing Energon to leak out. All of a sudden, the five Orbital Assault Gunships had arrived and begun to fire at Optimus while he fought Sentinel. The older Prime saw this and took advantage of their arrival.

"Decepticon ships, fire at Optimus!" he ordered as he clashed his Primax Blade with his former student's Energon Sword. The remaining eighty-four Orbital Assault Fighters also arrived at the scene, having received Sentinel's orders and were eager for the chance to kill Optimus. Sentinel had managed to push the younger Prime back when the ships opened up. Realizing what was happening; Optimus dove to a nearby statue for cover as he subspaced both his sword and battle-axe before pulling out his Ion Blaster and tried to shoot down the fighters and gunships.

Sentinel watched this, debating on whether to take out Optimus while he was distracted or go and reactivate the Control Pillar. He chose the latter because if the Pillars weren't turned back on or were destroyed, the feedback will send Cybertron back to its orignial orbit.

"Sentinel!" shouted a voice.

Said Prime turned to see Jazz, Mirage, Sideswipe and Ratchet charging him. Sentinel growled as he engaged them, trying to push past the four of them so he could reach the Control Pillar. The arrival of the fighters and gunships had separated the Autobots, Ironhide was still engaged with Brawl, Blackout was momentarily decking it out with Jetfire before being distracted by the National Guardsmen firing their M16A4 Assault Rifles and M249E2 SAWs at him. Meanwhile, the Wreckers were still taking on Devcon and Bumblebee was engaging Barricade in close-quarters combat.

The twins were ganging up on a Protoform while getting closer to Sentinel, and Jolt was trying to help the femmes get out of the heavy firing. Wheeljack was actually trying to use his Experimental Energon Battle Rifle to shoot down any of the ships that were attacking the humans. Jetfire had taken to the air and was shooting at 'Cons and gunships alike, but had to be cautious as to not get into their line-of-fire. After a moment, Jetfire decided to go to the ground battle and engaged Sentinel.

"For Optimus Prime!" he shouted as he swung his Double-Bladed Energon Axe down on the corrupt Prime's Primax Shield, knocking Sentinel back.

As he staggered backwards, Ratchet tried to take Sentinel from behind with his right forearm-mounted Cybertanium Buzzsaw, but the old Prime managed to smack him back with his Primax Shield. Then Sentinel attacked both Sideswipe and Jazz, with the former flipping backwards into the air to avoid the Primax Blade while the latter transformed into his alt-mode to get back while activating his Stealth Force mode and firing on the Prime. Mirage jumped over Sentinel, doing a spin in midair as he did so, and managed to cut a small part of the Prime's armor off while Ratchet sliced a chink of Sentinel's armor at the waist. The old Prime forced the CMO back with a swing of his Primax Blade. Ratchet dive-rolled backwards while shooting at the Prime with his Energon SMG. Sentinel continued his attack on the Medic, but was paused when Jazz fired at his back with his Crescent Shield Cannon. "This is how we do it, fool!"

Grunting, Sentinel quickly subspaced his Primax Blade before pulling out his Cosmic Rust Pistol and preparing to fire on Jazz, but before he could the trigger something smacked him in the left cheekplate. Sideswipe had attacked him while his guard was down and proceeded to charge him with his dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Swords. But Sentinel blocked the attack with his Primax Shield and threw him to the side, while Mirage and Ratchet came at him again.

Sentinel knew that they were distracting him, keeping him away from reactivating the Control Pillar. If they kept at this, then he would never get to there in time. He also noticed that all of the Decepticons here were already engaged with the other Autobots, but there was one group who were close enough to retrigger the Control Pillar.

"Constructicons, get to the Control Pillar and retrigger it! Combine into Devastator if necessary, I detect human aerial units incoming!"

Elita was firing at a Protoform, bringing him down with a shot to the spark-chamber, when she heard her sparkmate growl in pain. "Optimus!" she cried as the ships continued firing on the young Prime.

"I can't hold them! The fighters and the gunships have us pinned!" shouted Optimus as he managed to shoot down a fighter as he tried to get into better cover when a fighter fired its dual Energon Wave Cannons that knocked the young Prime off his pedes and his Ion Blaster out of his left servo. "NO!"

Ironhide saw this as he had Brawl in a helmlock. "Prime!" roared the black mech just as he was about to tear off the 'Con's helm. But Brawl managed to get out of the helmlock and punched his Autobot counterpart in the chassis, denting his armor. Ironhide grunted as he backed off, but tried to get passed him so he could reach his leader. But Brawl sidestepped and was in his way again.

"Get the slag out of my way!" yelled Ironhide.

Elita also tried to get to her sparkmate, but was struck by a blast instead. "Sis!" cried Chromia and Arcee as their oldest sister smashed into a nearby car. Bonecrusher had returned (with his right optic back in its socket), despite not giving his self-repair system enough time to fix his dislocated left arm, he was still a threat with his right arm, right wrist-mounted Micro-LMG and mine-scoop. The Close-Combat Specialist had advanced towards Elita when something had wrapped around his right leg and pulled him to the ground. Jolt had his dual wrist-mounted Electro-Whips on him, halting his advance on Optimus' sparkmate.

"Arcee, 'Mia, get your sister out of there, I'll deal with this lugnut!" shouted the blue 'Bot as he tugged his Electro-Whips, pulling Bonecrusher. Knowing that the young mech was trying to help them, the sisters raced over to help their eldest to her pedes. Bonecrusher turned to face Jolt as he prepared to punch him, but Skids and Mudflap suddenly grabbed onto his shoulders, tightening their grip.

"No one messes with our pal, Jolt!" yelled Mudflap.

(Meanwhile...)

Lennox directed his men and the National Guardsmen to cover as the Orbital Assault Fighters and gunships flew overhead and fired on the Autobots. Then he, Stone, Graham, Hooch, Eddie, Tanaka, Eckerson, Burke, Zimmerman and Perkins ran over to where the Navy SEALs were at. Currently, Lieutenant Rourke, the SEAL platoon leader, was talking into the handset of the AN/PRC-117G-MP Falcon III Multiband Manpack Radio that Special Warfare Operator Second-Class Ajax was carrying.

"Navy boys, what's the ETA on those Tomahawks?" asked Lennox.

"We just called them in, ETA is five minutes," replied Chief Special Warfare Operator Nolan. "And we also got a NEST air cavalry reconnaissance squadron coming in to support us."

The Army Ranger nodded. "Well, we won't be getting any support if we don't take those ships down!"

Epps had just joined beside them, cursing as a Orbital Assault Fighter shot near them. "The whole thing's gone to shit."

"An't that the truth," commented Lennox. "Hey, did you see where the Control Pillar landed?"

"Yeah, somewhere to the right where the Autobots are duking it out with Sentinel, on top of a pile of rubble I think, passed the four-legged 'Con."

Suddenly, Rourke turned to Lennox and shouted: "Sir, the Tomahawks are coming in, 20 seconds, danger close!"

Taking one deep breath, the Army Ranger hollered out: "LAZE AERIAL TARGETS! WE GOT BEAM-RIDING TOMAHAWKS INCOMING, LAZE AERIAL TARGETS!"

Every NEST Soldier and National Guardsmen who heard him immediately activated their AN/PEQ-2A IR Designators and painted any of the Orbital Assault Fighters and gunships they could spot. Nolan brought out a AN/PEQ-1 SOFLAM (Special-Operations-Forces-Laser-Acquisition-Marker) and aimed it at one of the Orbital Assault Gunships.

Soon, a large wave of BGM-109E Tomahawk Block IV Land Attack Missiles soar through the air, striking sixty-nine of the Orbital Assault Fighters and all five of the Orbital Assault Gunships with great precision. The ships began crashing into the ground, the Chicago River, buildings and even into each other. Sentinel Prime watched as a majority of his forces were destroyed in an instant. His grieving didn't last long as Sideswipe charged at him again with his dual wrist-mounted Cybertanium Swords. Sentinel stopped the attack with his Primax Blade and using his size, flipped the smaller 'Bot over him.

"Constructicons!" shouted Sentinel. "Merge and protect the Control Pillar!"

Long Haul smiled with sinister glee as Demolishor, Mixmaster, Rampage, Scrapmetal, Hightower, Overload, Scrapper and Scavenger turned to face him. "Constructicons unite!"

Both the Autobots and humans looked up in horror as the nine Constructicons merged together to form into the 103-foot tall Combiner that now stood before them in the flesh. By then, twenty-four AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters had just arrived at the city's outskirts as Devastator began firing at the Autobots and the humans with his twelve Neutron HMGs.

"Shit!" shouted Burke as he banged his right fist against a destroyed car. "Now what are going to do?"

As if answering his question, several Cybertronian air-to-surface missiles came down from the sky and struck Devastator in the back. This caught everyone by surprise as they looked up to see where the missiles had came from, and what they saw shocked them.

Coming down was none other than the Ark, fully repaired and operational. But it didn't stop there, the spacecraft began to shift and suddenly transformed into a 105-foot Cybertronian, weapons out. The mech landed and his blue optics scanned the battlefield when he finally spotted Optimus.

"Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots: Identified," he said as turned to face Devastator while raising his left clawed servo, revealing a built-in Mega-Laser Cannon. "Major threat detected. Omega Supreme: Neutralize." And fired a beam that struck Devastator in the left arm, causing the Combiner 'Con to roar in pain. Then Omega morphed his right arm into a Mega-Thermo Rocket Launcher. He fired four Mega-Thermo HE Rockets at Devastator, striking him in the helm and chassis, causing the Decepticon to wince in pain. Despite that, Devastator managed to recover. With a roar, the Combiner charged the giant Autobot, with the two of them now in a wrestling match as Omega fired the multiple turrets mounted on both his back and shoulders, sending energy bolts everywhere.

Meanwhile, Sentinel could only gawk but was snapped from gazing at the Autobot behemoth when Mirage slashed his armor. Focusing on the present, the old Prime realized the Autobots were overpowering his forces, and he couldn't allow Omega Supreme to come towards him or the Control Pillar. He was still having a hard time acknowledging the legendary Cybertronian, an ancient servant of the Dynasty of Primes. Why wasn't he helping him? Wasn't the survival of Cybertron Omega Supreme's top priority? Either way, he needed to get Omega away from the Control Pillar.

Now free from the fighters and gunships pinning him down, Optimus made his way to Sentinel Prime, but was cut off by Blackout who opened up on the young Prime with his left forearm-mounted GAU-2/A Minigun, who was joined by four Protoforms with their Fusion SMGs. Optimus raised both of his arms to protect himself, until Jetfire flew in and attacked the four Protoforms, leaving Blackout for Optimus. Not afraid to face the Autobot Leader, the Tracker brought out his right wrist-mounted Whirl-Blades and charged Optimus, while said Prime brought out both his Energon Battle-Axe and his servoheld Energon Sword.

Brawl and Ironhide were still locked in combat, their fists putting dents in each other's armor. Ironhide managed to make some room between them and fired his dual Ion Pulse Cannons at Brawl. The Decepticon Heavy Weapons Specialist growled and fired his right forearm-mounted AZP-23 Amur Quad-Barrel Autocannon, before slashing at Ironhide's chassis with his left wrist-mounted Cybertanium Claw-Blades.

The black mech felt the mark his weapon left on his chassis before grabbing Brawl's helm and giving a helmbutt, denting the 'Con's helm a little. The transformed tank staggered backwards, letting Ironhide put a couple of rounds into him with his Ion Pulse Cannons, but Brawl merely laughed it off. "C'mon, that tickles!" he shouted as he powered-up his dual back-mounted Four-Tubed Micro-Rocket/Missile Launchers before firing two Micro-HE Rockets at Ironhide.

"I'll give you something really ticklish!" yelled the black mech as he pulled out his Heavy Iron 1.0 Assault Rifle from his back and fired at Brawl. The repeating High-Explosive rounds continued to ricochet off the 'Con's armor, but soon Brawl went limp in his right leg. Roaring, Brawl smacked the automatic weapon out of 'Hide's servos before tackling him against a nearby building. Ironhide slammed both of his fists down on Brawl's helm, slackening the 'Con's grip on him before delivering a K.O punch right in his faceplates.

Done with Brawl, Ironhide turned his full attention on Sentinel Prime. The memory of what he did to Bumblebee, how he betrayed them, betrayed Optimus, surged through his circuits as he fired at the Autobot turncoat with his dual forearm-mounted Ion Pulse Cannons while charging. He was rewarded with a cry of pain from the traitor.

The red and grey mech brought his Primax Blade down, but Ironhide dodged it and used this moment to punch Sentinel in the faceplates. "This is for me!" he yelled as he punched the old Prime again, Energon coming out of his mouthplates. "And this is for Bumblebee!"

Sentinel roared as he brought his Primax Blade back up, but before he could strike, something shot him in the lower chassis. Chromia came running towards him, firing mercilessly with her Photon Cannon. "No one hurts my mate but me!" she shouted defiantly, causing Ironhide to roll his optics.

Another pair of shots came as Elita fired at Sentinel's back, cutting a small part of his armor off. "And that is for betraying Optimus' trust."

The old Prime backed away as Arcee fired at his right leg. "And that is for hurting my sister!" she cried just as Ratchet swipe his Cybertanium Buzzsaw against his left arm. Wheeljack had fired a shot from afar, striking Sentinel in the chassis and causing him to stagger backwards. Sideswipe then stabbed the corrupt Prime in the left leg while Mirage slashed him in the other arm. Jazz fired two shots at him, the first one hit while the second was deflected by Sentinel's Primax Shield. But this left him wide open for Ironhide, who fired his Heavy Iron 2.0 Battle Rifle at his right side, knocking Sentinel back a bit.

(Elsewhere...)

Sam spotted the Control Pillar lying on top of a pile of rubber where the two Cybertronians were fighting nearby. There were no other Decepticons in the area at all, but then he spotted a familiar figure heading towards the Control Pillar.

Dylan Gould, where he came from or how he survived the prisoner incident earlier was unknown, but it was clear that the Control Pillar was his intention and he had a good start on Sam.

Grunting, the young man ran with all his might towards the Control Pillar. Unfortunately, Dylan had caught sight of him and was also doubling his efforts to reach it first. Sam had finally managed to catch up to the human traitor. "Dylan!" he yelled as he began climbing the pile of rubble. "Wait, stop!"

"No!" shouted Dylan defiantly as he pushed a fallen support pillar, causing it to roll towards Sam who tripped over it.

"Dylan, stop!" shouted Sam again.

The traitorous businessman spun around and pulled out a 3rd Generation Glock 17 Pistol (taken from a dead Chicago police officer) and aimed it at Sam who stopped in his tracks as he put his hands up defensively.

"Dylan, you can't do this, okay?" repeated Sam as he tried to get him to see reason.

But the man remained unconvinced. "There's only one future for me."

"The only future you'll have is spending the rest of your life behind bars, traitor!" shouted a male voice.

Startled, Dylan only had enough time to spin around before Donnelly slammed the butt of his M4A1 Assault Carbine into his face, knocking him out cold and causing him to fall off the pile of rubble. Mongo confiscated Dylan's stolen weapon as Marc put the human traitor's hands behind his back before putting FlexiCuffs on them while Don kept his weapon trained on Dylan. Sam gave the Army Ranger a smile, with Don giving a nod in return as he went with Mongo and Marc in dragging Dylan next to a street lamp and prevent him from escaping.

Suddenly, a Decepticon Protoform appeared out of nowhere and before anyone could react, slammed his left servo down on the Control Pillar, bringing it back to life. Everyone stopped for a moment to watch as the Control Pillar rose up again and shot a beam of energy back into space.

(Back with Megatron...)

The Decepticon Leader pulled his hood back and looked up into the sky. "Cybertron," murmured Megatron as he looked at his long-lost homeworld. "At long last, you are saved."

But now was not the time to celebrate. His could sense that Shockwave, Sideways and Grindor were no longer active, leaving Barricade, Starscream, Devcon, Brawl, Blackout, Bonecrusher and the Constructicons as the only capable officers to command their forces to push back the Autobots until Cybertron had fully entered the system.

Then there was Sentinel Prime, a tool which was slowly losing its usefulness. He was no fool that he could tell that the old Prime was beginning to take command of his Decepticon forces. Soon he would be nothing and Sentinel would rule.

Well, not on his watch.

"Time to show them that I'm still in charge," he murmured as he transformed and headed towards the old Prime's last known location.

(Back with Jolt...)

The blue 'Bot slammed into a truck that Bonecrusher had thrown him at. The twins were still holding onto his shoulders, refusing to let go. Bonecrusher snarled as he tried to grab them, while shooting his right wrist-mounted Micro-LMG everywhere. Mudflap had grabbed his mine-scoop, trying to snap it off while shooting at the 'Con's back.

Bonecrusher had finally got a grip on Skids, ripping him off of his left shoulder and then smashing him hard against the ground. "Skids!" yelled Mudflap, snarling as he fired even with greater precision at the 'Con's back. Jolt by then had gotten back up and took out his dual Electro-Whips, striking Bonecrusher in the faceplates and damaging it more. Yelling incoherently, the Decepticon tackled Jolt while landing on his back, knocking Mudflap off of him.

Getting up first, Bonecrusher grabbed Mudflap, intending to crush the smaller 'Bot in both of his servos. But Jolt tackled him from behind, as well as grabbing his already loose mine-scoop. Jolt began bending it, and before Bonecrusher could realize what was going on, the blades of his own mine-scoop skewered him through the spark-chamber.

As he moved the dead frame aside, Jolt looked at Sentinel Prime, who was fighting his fellow Autobots. "Go help your brother, Mudflap," said Jolt to the orange and grey 'Bot. "I'm going to join the others."

And with that, the blue 'Bot charged towards the corrupt Prime, dual Electro-Whips out. He swung his right whip at the Prime's back, hitting him hard. Sentinel snarled as he turned his attention on Jolt, but that allowed Sideswipe to scratch his armor a little. Jolt fired a few bolts from his Electro-Whips, stunning Sentinel. Sideswipe followed it by pulling out his dual Fusion Pulse Pistols and fired at the Prime's chassis.

(Meanwhile...)

Mikaela watched the scene of carnage with shocked eyes. She had seen the Autobots fight the Decepticons many times before, she's even been in the middle of five of them herself, but never so large and serious like this. And yet her concerns were not cowering to the side, but how to help her friends. Leo had gone to find Sam and the Autobots and humans were fighting Sentinel. She wasn't some girl in distress; she knew she had to do something.

Then something caught her eyes: Bumblebee fighting Barricade, and losing at that. Despite having a damaged right pede, Barricade was gaining the upper servo over the yellow 'Bot. She knew that Sam would be devastated if something happened to him and with how he was faring against his Decepticon counterpart, it would happen very soon.

That's when Mikaela spotted a car that actually might be working, just needed a little hot-wiring and it would be good to go. Knowing how she would use it, she made a dash for the vehicle, but was tripped by something. That 'something' was Frenzy, the 4-foot Mini-Con was looking down at her with murderous red optics. "Kill-kill-kill, fleshie!"

'Shit', she thought to herself as she rolled to the side. Being a human, she could easily be killed by this nut-job, since he was now firing his Cybertanium Shurikens at her. She spotted a broken piece of pipe and tried to make a grab for it, but the damn 'Con trapped her left wrist with his right pede, hard, causing her to moan in pain. But before he could kill her, Wheelie and Brains had jumped onto his right shoulder. "No one hurts my Warrior Goddess and gets away with it!" shouted Wheelie.

Knowing that those two wouldn't last long against the taller Mini-Con, Mikaela did some fast-thinking. Having lost sight of the broken pipe piece from before, she went for a nearby block of cement that was light enough for her to pickup. With a clear sight of her target, Mikaela threw the projectile at Frenzy's helm. It struck him straight on, knocking out one of his four optics and damaging his insect-like mouthplates a little.

"Move!" she yelled to the two smaller Mini-Cons as she made a mad dash for the car. Wheelie transformed into his alt-mode of an RC Monster Truck with Brains grabbed onto him in the back, while the blue Mini-Con zoomed behind the female.

It was a black SUV, that's what the car was. Both its bumpers and back-doors were bent, but besides that, it still seemed drivable. Once Wheelie and Brains got into the left passenger seat, she took out her pocket knife and began to hot-wire the SUV. Unfortunately, due to the beating it had taken, it wasn't as easy. Hell, she wouldn't be surprised if the little trick she was about to do wouldn't kill the engine.

Just as she got it started, Wheelie screamed. Mikaela looked up and saw to her shock a damaged Frenzy banging at the front windshield. Fortunately, she had the common sense to lock all the doors and trunk once she got the thing working, but the glass wasn't going to hold forever; if only she had some kind of actual wep-

Brains quickly pulled out his Ion Pump-Action Shotgun and aimed his weapon at the 'Con and fired. His first shot broke the glass and struck Frenzy in the faceplates, causing him to stagger back. He fired again before the 'Con could recover, hitting him somewhere in the lower chassis. Brains fired a third shot, this time knocking Frenzy down right in front of the SUV. Gripping the wheel with both of her hands, Mikaela stepped on the gas-pedal hard, going at full throttle. As she drove forward, she felt the wheels going over something bumpy, that 'something' was hopefully Frenzy. Wheelie and Brains looked out the rear-view mirror and grinned at seeing the disfigured and offlined form of Frenzy.

(At the same time...)

Barricade struck another blow to Bumblebee as the yellow 'Bot fell flat. Even though he was limping on his right pede that could break at any second, he was able to do a good beating on his long-time Autobot rival. 'Bee tried to punch him in the faceplates, but Barricade managed to dodge it and throw Bumblebee over his shoulders and on top of a nearby car. The Decepticon Scout grinned as he pulled out his Fusion SMG from subspace and pointed it at Bumblebee's helm. "Goodbye!" he snarled.

Suddenly, something struck his left leg, almost breaking it. Growling in pain, Barricade got onto his knees, allowing Bumblebee to knee him in the chinplates. The yellow 'Bot continued to pound Barricade to the ground until he decided to morph his right arm into his Solar Plasma Cannon. But by then, Barricade had managed to get loose and transform into his alt-mode and drove off the battlefield, deciding it was better to withdraw rather than stay and fight.

As the SUV's engine finally died down from that little stunt, Mikaela looked up at 'Bee, who did a nod of thanks to her.

The young Scout then focused his view on Sentinel, who was now on the other side of the Chicago River. Deploying his dual shoulder-mounted Six-Tubed Micro-Rocket/Missile Launchers and fired at the corrupt Prime, striking him in the chassis. Sentinel Prime staggered a little from the blow, allowing Ratchet to fire his Energon SMG at his faceplates, chipping a small part off of him. But Sentinel swung his legs and knocked the Medic off his pedes. Then he pulled out his Cosmic Rust Pistol before aiming it at Ratchet. But before he could pull the trigger, two Electro-Whips wrapped around his right arm and sent an electric shock through it, nearly short-circuiting most of the wires in it. Sentinel turned to look at Jolt, the one who had shocked him just as the twins jumped onto both of his shoulders.

Sentinel had just shrugged Skids and Mudflap off of him when he heard a human shouted: "Rocket!" before an 84mm HEAT (High-Explosive-Anti-Tank) Rocket struck the barrel of his Cosmic Rust Pistol, destroying the weapon beyond repair and also bowling him over with concussive force. Hooch watched with satisfaction from his position as Sentinel was literally knocked off his pedes. "Die, you traitor!" he yelled, glad that he finally got to use the AT4-CS Rocket Launcher.

As Sentinel started to get up, he began to assess the situation. The Pillars were working again, but the Control Pillar had to be defended. The Autobots and their human allies had blocked the quickest way, so he had to take an alternate route. He quickly transformed and withdrew from the battlefield, ignoring enemy fire.

"He's getting away!" shouted Sideswipe.

"Forget about Sentinel, we've got bigger problems!" yelled Jazz. Coming towards them were the ten remaining Orbital Assault Fighters in the city, all of them converging towards their position. Jazz readied his Crescent Shield Cannon, knowing that there was only one 'Bot close enough to get to their target. "'Bee!" he shouted through the comms. "Get to the Control Pillar, you're the closest one there. Wreckers, give him covering fire!"

With several clicks, Bumblebee headed out towards the target, nearly getting smacked by Devcon blocking him. But Micro-HE Rockets, fired by Roadbuster, soon struck the 'Con. "Move, lad, move!"

And he did.

(Back with Optimus...)

The younger Prime paused from fighting Blackout to see how Jetfire was doing. The old Seeker had already disposed his four opponents and was making his way towards him.

"Do not worry about me, Jetfire, go and help the others. They need a flyer," said Optimus as he pushed back the Tracker. Jetfire looked unsure about this, but nevertheless, complied with Optimus' command.

Blackout fired his left forearm-mounted GAU-2/A Minigun at the Prime, who dodge them and landed a punch into his side. Blackout slammed a punch into Optimus' chassis and pushed him back with his chassis-mounted Energon Wave Cannon and then slashed his chestplates with his right wrist-mounted Whirl-Blades. Then he kicked the younger Prime back and fired his Energon Wave Cannon again, causing Optimus to do a roll backwards.

Optimus countered with his dual wrist-mounted Energon Swords, almost slicing off half of Blackout's Whirl-Blades. Then the Prime stabbed the 'Con in the left leg, causing Blackout to bent down in pain and allowing Optimus to knee him in the faceplates, making the larger mech stumble backwards. Quickly recovering, Blackout tried to strike him with his Whirl-Blades, but Optimus deflected it with his Energon Swords. Retracting one of his swords, the young Prime punched Blackout in the faceplates and then slicing off his Energon Wave Cannon. Blackout stumbled again and then regained his balance, firing his GAU-2/A Minigun and swinging his Whirl-Blades. But Optimus Prime managed to dodge them all before grabbing Blackout by the sides. With a mighty heave, the Autobot Leader flipped the larger 'Con into the air and slamming him into the ground, hitting it helm first. While trying to get back up, Blackout was struck in the back hard, this time by Jetfire's Double-Bladed Energon Axe, before getting another hit in the faceplates. Seeing how the ancient Seeker had finished with the other four Protoforms and was now ganging up on him with Optimus, the Tracker decided it was time to retreat. Firing a few final shots to force the Autobots back, Blackout transformed and flew out of there.

With the flyer gone, Optimus focused his optics on Sentinel's retreating form. Pulling out of his Barrage Cannon, Optimus charged while firing on the old Prime while he was still in his alt-mode at the same time. Once he was close enough, Optimus put away his weapon before pulling out both his Energon Battle-Axe and one of his servoheld Energon Swords, and managed to stab Sentinel in the abdomen just as the red and grey mech was transforming and thus their duel continued. Meanwhile, Jetfire had already transformed and gone to help out the others.

(Back with Bumblebee...)

The yellow 'Bot was nearing the Control Pillar with Devcon still behind him, who was still struggling to get the Wreckers off of him while they were still shooting at him. Bumblebee also kept his gaze on the two giant Cybertronians fighting almost directly above him.

Devastator fired his Neutron HMGs at Omega, trying to slacken his grip on him. But his foe would not falter and merely slammed Devastator on the ground and proceeded punching the 'Con in the faceplates twice.

The Decepticon Combiner managed to retaliate though and slammed a powerful punch to Omega's faceplates, stunning him. Then Devastator kicked the 'Bot backwards and soon got himself back to his pedes. Then he fired all of his weapons at Omega Supreme. Said 'Bot merely flinched at the massive firepower striking him, but did not weaken. Instead, Omega managed to fire his Mega-Laser Cannon at Devastator's front pedes, causing his balance to become uneven.

While the 'Con tried to rebalance himself, Omega grabbed Devastator's right arm and slammed him against a nearby building. The Combiner responded by biting on Omega's right shoulder, trying to tear it off. But Omega Supreme kneed Devastator in the chestplates, causing the 'Con to let go of his grip. Then Omega Supreme wrapped both of his arms around his enemy and lifted him into the air. With great strength, Omega threw Devastator into the Chicago River with a massive splash. Flying into the air now, Omega landed on top of a turtle-backed Devastator.

The Combiner realized that he had to do something before it was too late. He did a last opening move by activating his Vortex Grinder, trying to suck in Omega. But instead, Omega Supreme, grabbed his mouthplates with his right servo and slammed his left servo into his chestplates.

"Omega Supreme: Terminate!"

And with that, Omega Supreme fried his Mega-Laser Cannon into Devastator's chestplates at full-power, causing a huge explosion underneath him and a huge wave of water erupted in response to the explosion.

(Meanwhile...)

Optimus and Sentinel were still clashing, with the former pushing the latter back. Their duel had led them onto a bridge where Optimus started to gain the upper servo. Sentinel had tried to slash Optimus in the chestplates, but missed and the younger Prime proceeded by bringing his Energon Battle-Axe down on the Primax Blade, snapping it in two. Then Optimus kicked Sentinel in the chestplates and plunged his Energon Battle-Axe into his lower chassis, ripping out some of the red and grey 'Bot's armor.

With one blade gone, Sentinel snarled as he raised his Primax Shield against his former student's attacks. "You were always the bravest of us!" he shouted as he went back on the offensive and started to push Optimus back. "But you could never make the hard decisions!" Then Sentinel stunned Optimus with his Primax Shield and gave him a punch in the faceplates, causing the younger Prime to spit out Energon. Then Sentinel kicked Optimus in the left leg, crippling it a little and making it harder for the young Prime to move.

Optimus was force to use his servoheld Energon Sword to deflect his former mentor's attack. As he did, he realized that he needed to end this quickly or he would loose. Sentinel was clearly too strong for him, even with the minor injuries he sustained from Hooch and the other Autobots, and with only half a weapon. Fortunately during Sentinel's rant, the old Prime left an opening and Optimus took it, stabbing Sentinel in the lower chassis with his Energon Sword. That stunned Sentinel and paused his attack, allowing Optimus to smack him with his Energon Battle-Axe and get back on the offensive.

Optimus swung his Energon Sword, but Sentinel ducked just in time, then he used his Primax Shield to knock the Energon Sword out of the younger Prime's left servo. "Our planet will survive!" roared Sentinel as he thrust his Primax Blade into Optimus' lower chassis and nicking his bipedalism cord (the spine), stunning the young Prime. Sentinel continued by banging his Primax Shield against his former student's helm, knocking him down and causing Optimus to lose his grip on his Energon Battle-Axe as it skidded to the side. Before Optimus could get up, Sentinel grabbed the severed half of his Primax Blade from the ground before stabbing it into Optimus' left shoulder and dragging him along the bridge.

"We were gods once, all of us!" shouted the corrupt Prime as he cast aside his Primax Shield and pinned Optimus with his right pede. Sentinel gripped his Primax Blade with both servos and raised them high, preparing to deliver the final blow. "But here, there will only be one!" he declared.

Then Sentinel cried out in pain.

(At the same time...)

"Move! Move! Get to cover!" shouted Lennox as he, Epps, Graham, Burke, Tanaka, Stone, Hooch, Eckerson, Zimmerman, Perkins, Eddie, Rourke, Ajax and Nolan got to cover with Ironhide and Ratchet. The Orbital Assault Fighters, though few, were still a challenge for the human soldiers and Autobots, especially now that Starscream had joined in. Two of the fighters had been shot down amazingly by BGM-71F TOW-2B Wire-Guided Anti-Tank Missiles fired from a nearby M1134 ATGMV (Anti-Tank-Guided-Missile-Vehicle), but that didn't really help the situation.

"Shit, those damn things are keeping us from getting to the Control Pillar!" shouted Eckerson as he helped one of the National Guardsmen to cover.

"Ironhide!" shouted Sideswipe as he tried to get his former mentor's attention. "Mirage and Wheeljack are with Mikaela and the Mini-Cons. She said that Sam, Leo, Don, Marc and Mongo had gone to destroy the Control Pillar."

"They could be hurt then if the Control Pillar has been reactivated," said Ratchet as he fired his Energon SMG at an Orbital Assault Fighter passing by. "I should regroup with Bumblebee to make sure that neither of them are seriously injured."

"No, I'll go," said Jolt. As his mentor stared at him in shock, he replied: "You're needed here, where there are more possibilities of injuries. I've studied the human's internal structures, so if any of the three of them are injured, I should be able to treat them."

"I'm down with that," said Jazz as he cocked his Crescent Shield Cannon. "Ironhide, you and the twins provide covering fire."

"We got your back, Jolt," said Mudflap as he readied his left forearm-mounted Photon LMG.

"Lennox, you and your boys go with him too," said Jazz to the Lieutenant-Colonel.

"Now!" shouted Ironhide as he jumped out and fired his Heavy Iron 1.0 Assault Rifle, while Skids and Mudflap joined him. Needing no more words, Jolt made a dash for the Control Pillar's location with the human soldiers right behind him. Starscream spotted this from where he was perched and morphed his right arm into his Eaglefire Rocket/Missile Launcher, but the sounds of jet thrusters from behind caught his attention. Turning around, Starscream saw Jetfire flying straight towards him. The 'Bot quickly transformed and before the 'Con could react, kicked Starscream over the ledge.

The Decepticon Air Commander didn't have enough space to transform and he couldn't get a good grip on the building, due to his damaged left arm. All Starscream could do right now was to slide down as carefully as he could to avoid taking any serious damage. When he crashed onto the ground, he felt more wires in his left arm come slightly apart. "Slag this all to the Pit," he muttered to himself as he finally transformed and flew out of the battlefield. In his processor, none of this was worth his spark and as he flew over the Autobots and away from the Orbital Assault Fighters, Starscream had hoped that Megatron was suffering right now; then he could take command of the Decepticons, what remained of them.

(Back with Optimus...)

Sentinel Prime cried out in pain as something struck him in the back, his metal cape falling off as he struggled to stand. As he moved, he revealed his attacker: Megatron, armed with his Tactical Fusion Shotgun in his right servo and fired another shot. When Sentinel looked at the former Lord High Protector, he realized that he had been deceived. Megatron had never lost his power, he merely hid it, disguising it with weakness and a shabby frame.

"This. Is. My. World!" declared Megatron as he grabbed the old Prime by the helm and smashed him against the bridge's railing, causing the top of Sentinel's helm to come off. He followed it up with a stab to the left leg, but Sentinel managed to push him back and recover his Primax Shield.

"If you think that I would let you lead the Decepticons and finish off Optimus, then you are mistaken," snarled Megatron.

"You...fragger," croaked Sentinel. "You would destroy Cybertron for your own selfish reasons."

"Shouldn't really be that surprised?" croaked Optimus who was trying to slowly remove the severed half of the Primax Blade from his lower chassis without damaging anything vital as his self-repair system was working on overtime. "You, who betrayed those who you call 'brothers' and 'sisters', are now being betrayed by the one you call your ally."

The old Prime growled as he looked down at Optimus. "I do this for the survival of both our race and our planet, while Megatron fights for his own selfish gains. And you would have us be like slaves to a race that is inferior to us, while our kind acts as refugees amongst the stars."

"Enough!" growled Megatron, who had his clawed servos extending for battle. "I shall now rid me of two annoyances, starting with you, Sentinel!" And then he charged the older mech with clawed servos raised. Sentinel steadied his Primax Shield and brought his Primax Blade down to meet the Decepticon Leader's attack.

(Back with Bumblebee...)

He spotted the active Control Pillar hovering on top of a pile of rubble next to an offlined Decepticon Protoform, with Donnelly, Mongo and Marc guarding Dylan Gould (who had regained consciousness) at a nearby street lamp and making sure he didn't escape justice for what he had done. Bumblebee began firing at the Control Pillar with his Solar Plasma Cannon, damaging it slightly, but not doing anything lasting. He also spotted both Sam and Leo near the pile of rubble and could hear Jolt coming up behind him. A thought came into his processor, a very dangerous one, but it would be worth it.

Even as Jolt began firing at the Control Pillar with him, even as Sam and the other humans were shouting out to him, even as the Wreckers had finally offlined Devcon with Roadbuster shouting: "Rip that Control Pillar down!" Bumblebee did a leap into the air and tackled the Control Pillar, destroying it as its energy went through his circuits.

"'Bee!" yelled Sam as said 'Bot rolled onto the ground. Jolt skidded to the Scout's side and did a quick scanning of his vitals, before doing a sigh of relief. "It's nothing serious, he just had too much energy. A quick discharge should have his systems reboot back to normal." Jolt paused as he looked up. "But seems it was worth it."

As the others looked up, they saw Cybertron retreating, going back through the SpaceBridge. Without the Control Pillar, the other Pillars had no way of bringing the planet through, but to send it back to its original orbit. As it did, the energy from the remaining ninety-nine Pillars struck the four remaining Orbital Assault Carriers that were still hovering over Chicago, sending them back with Cybertron.

(Meanwhile...)

Megatron and Sentinel paused their battle as they looked up to see their homeworld being sent back to its original orbit. They both had looks of horror written on their faceplates as all of their hard-work disappear. Suddenly, Sentinel snarled as he bashed Megatron with his Primax Shield. "This is all on you!"

As they continued to battle one another, the two of them didn't notice Optimus finally removing the severed half of the Primax Blade from his chassis. They were even still too busy fighting one another to see Optimus retrieving both his servoheld Energon Sword and his Energon Battle-Axe, and by then, Megatron had finally wrapped his right servo around Sentinel's throat while mocking him. "I wonder how it might be for me, with two of my greatest enemies offlined?"

Deciding that now was his time to be noticed as his battlemask snapped shut, Optimus replied with: "Time to find out."

Both Megatron and Sentinel looked at the young Prime in shock and surprise as Optimus charged them, throwing his Energon Battle-Axe into Megatron's chassis, stunning him. Then, Optimus thrust his Energon Sword through Sentinel's chassis and severing his bipedalism cord, paralyzing him below the waist down. As Sentinel collapsed forward, Optimus subspaced his Energon Sword before grabbing the handle of his Energon Battle-Axe that was still lodged in Megatron's chassis.

The Decepticon Leader tried landing a punch to Optimus' faceplates, but the Prime dodged it as he pulled the battle-axe to the side and ripping out a good chunk of Megatron's chassis off. Then he rammed the weapon into Megatron's chestplates where he could see the bipedalism cord, resulting in a lot of Energon to leak out of the 'Con. Megatron gasped as he pulled the Energon Battle-Axe out, then he staggered backwards and fell over the bridge and into the Chicago River.

Optimus took a moment to look at Megatron's frame sinking into the watery depths. But he had another issue to deal with, looking back at his former mentor. Subspacing his battle-axe, Optimus picked up Megatron's discarded Tactical Fusion Shotgun as Sentinel tried to crawl towards his Primax Shield, but his younger student was already standing above him, weapon cocked.

"Optimus, all I ever wanted was the survival of our race," began Sentinel pleadingly, before taking to moment to cough out some Energon. "You must understand why I had to betray you."

The younger Prime's optics narrowed. Like many others, the Autobot-Decepticon Civil War had changed Sentinel Prime. He had started in this conflict as both a warrior and inventor, forging the weapons and tech to win the war and inspiring the Autobot troops. Over time, though, he had lost hope. The one thing he was supposed to give to others, he had lost himself. He was the one who had forgotten his place, both as an Autobot and as a Prime. He had tried to use his power to fix Cybertron to the detriment of his values, compromising everything he was and had stood for in exchange for a fleeting chance at survival. And because of it, he had tried and almost succeeded in killing both Bumblebee and Ironhide. He had willfully ordered the slaughter of thousands of humans. He had even tried to displace Megatron as leader of the Decepticons and had proven himself to be just as rotten and depraved. Optimus scowled and looked down at his former mentor with a mix of both pity and disgust.

"No, Sentinel, you just didn't betrayed more than just me," replied the younger Prime. "You betrayed the spirit of the Autobots, betrayed everything you once taught and stood for...and in so doing, you betrayed yourself as well."

Knowing what he meant and what he planned to do, Sentinel shouted: "NO, OPTIMUS!" and made a grab for his Primax Shield. But it was too late; Optimus had fired, hitting him in the spark-chamber and offlining him instantly.

As Optimus stood back, looking at his mentor's lifeless frame before he threw the Tactical Fusion Shotgun down as if its weight was too great to hold. The sound of human feet and Cybertronian pedes caused Optimus to turn around to see Sam, Mikaela, Leo, Lennox, Epps, Graham, Perkins, Burke, Eckerson, Tanaka, Stone, Hooch, Eddie, Zimmerman, Rourke, Nolan, Ajax (they were joined by Donnelly, Marc and Mongo after the three of them handed Dylan Gould over to the Illinois Army National Guard's 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade's 33rd Military Police Battalion), the rest of the NEST Soldiers, Navy SEALs, National Guardsmen and Autobots walked up to the bridge.

Many of his Cybertronian comrades were damaged; Wheeljack was being supported by Jazz, Mirage was gripping his left arm; one of Jetfire's wings had been damaged. Bumblebee and Ironhide looked a little beaten up but otherwise fine, along with the others. Elita walked up to him, staring at Sentinel's corpse, but through their bond, he knew that she knew that she was more concern about him.

"Optimus..." she whispered, looking at him with her beautiful aqua optics.

"Yes, Elita, it is done," said Optimus, his voice sad but yet relieved at the same time. The purple femme said nothing after that, just embracing her mate.

Ironhide walked over to Bumblebee as Sam ran to embrace Mikaela, and put his right servo on the Scout's left shoulder. "Good job out there, kid," he said. Usually such compliments would make him feel embarrassed, but this time, Bumblebee raised his helm with pride.

Ratchet placed his left servo on Jolt's right shoulder, but in a more fatherly way. "You fought bravely." Jolt smiled sheepishly as Skids and Mudflap also patted their friend on their back.

Optimus Prime smiled as he watched Epps and Eddie bump fists and his other friends helping one another, when all of a sudden, a shadow loomed over him. He looked up to see the giant Omega Supreme looking down at him with his blue optics.

"Omega Supreme?" asked the Prime.

Said 'Bot nodded solemnly as Optimus said: "Would you gives us the honor of transporting us out of Chicago?"

"Omega Supreme: Gladly," he replied as he transformed into the Ark, then opening his doors for both the humans and the Autobots to enter. Ratchet approached his leader. "I'm going to need a stable place to do repairs, sir."

"The Ark probably has a Medical Bay that you can use, Ratchet," said Wheeljack. "But we're going to need a better place to land it in order for you to do anything."

"I think I know a good place," said Lennox, getting everyone's attention. "The Grand Canyon."

Chapter Text

(A few hours after Sentinel's death...)

Despite his damaged state, Barricade managed to drive down the streets of war-torn Chicago. Bonecrusher was dead; he'd seen his comrade being offlined by the blue brat. Frenzy was also dead, along with Ravage, Devcon, Scorponok, Soundwave and the Constructicons; Brawl, Blackout, Sideways, Starscream, Grindor and Shockwave were nowhere to be found. Megatron’s Energon signal went offline a few minutes ago and that gave the Decepticon Scout enough proof that it was time to go.

As he made a right turn, he was shocked to see Long Haul, Mixmaster, Rampage, Scrapper, Grindor, Sideways and Starscream. Happy to find some of his fellow Decepticons, Barricade drove up to them and transformed. “Finally, I thought I was the only one that survived.”

“You’re telling me. Me and half of my boys barely made it out of there before that giant ‘Bot pulled the trigger,” said Long Haul as he rubbed his right wrist while taking a look at Sideways. "Hmmm, damaged circuitry between the chassis and the left shoulder."

"There are still many Decepticons alive on this planet, and I will reorganize our forces to our new base of operations and the seeds of our future empire...under my command of course."

Barricade hated to admit it, but Starscream was right. The Seeker had a way of getting things organized almost as good as Megatron. Whenever the big boss wasn't around, Starscream would show how good of a leader he was (even if he was a cowardly fighter and a sneaky backstabber as well). And the former Kaon Enforcer knew that he would have to stick with him in order to survive.

"So what do we do first, Lord Starscream?" asked Barricade.

Liking the sound of that, the Decepticon Air Commander smiled as he explained their next move: "We must suitable base that can fit our entire army. Barricade, escort Long Haul and Sideways to these coordinates, the area should serve as a good base of operations. Grindor, you shall accompany me to locate anymore Decepticons on the planet. Also, Long Haul, when you arrive there, setup a communication disk so we can contact any other Decepticons taking refuge among the stars."

(Meanwhile...)

Deep within the Chicago River, Megatron's frame began to float down into the depths. Fish would swim either pass as the massive figure landed on the ground, creating a small uprising of sand to come up from the ground due to the impact. Once Megatron's helm struck the ground, a flicker of life in his optics happened quickly followed by the occasional twitching of his clawed servos. After that he was dead still.

Suddenly, another figure dove into the water, almost as big as the Decepticon Leader and moving. As he got closer to Megatron, it was revealed to be none other than Blackout. Megatron's loyal Tracker had come to retrieve him, despite the stacking odds of him being online.

Blackout did a quick scan of his leader before setting his servos underneath his frame and with a mighty heave, lifted Megatron's form up and made his travel back to the surface. In order to avoid detection from the Autobots, NEST or the U.S Military, Blackout had to swim at least three miles to be out of sight as he busied himself with jamming their scanners.

Once he got to the surface, he carefully placed Megatron's frame on the cement ground, and after getting himself out, Blackout began looking for supplies to help him carry his leader. Fortunately, he was near a construction site and used some heavy-duty, high-tension cable rope and other supplies to create a makeshift stretcher for Megatron, at least until Blackout found a more private area to do what repairs he could do.

(Elsewhere...)

At an isolated location was Brawl and the eight remaining Orbital Assault Fighters and their pilots. The Protoforms were doing minor repairs on their crafts, with Brawl supervising and giving useful suggestions, when they heard the sound of helicopter blades. All nine of them spun around to see an MH-53J Pave Low III flying towards them, but they relaxed when their scanners told them it was Blackout. They were shocked though to see the 'Con carrying Megatron's shattered frame and laying it gently before them. Soon, Blackout joined Brawl and the eight Protoforms on the ground, a grieving look written on his faceplates.

"Brawl, what is you damage status?" asked Blackout as he worked on some circuits on Megatron's frame.

"Stable for now," replied the Heavy Weapons Specialist, then he looked at Megatron's form.

"Is he...?" asked one of the Protoforms.

"In emergency stasis lock, and online for now," replied Blackout as he pulled out some seaweed from his frame. "But I don't have the repair tools nor the expertise to repair him, our leader will offlined, and Starscream will try to usurp command."

"A true statement, Blackout," said a familiar voice. The ten 'Cons turned to see Shockwave walking towards them. Dragging with him in his left servo was Soundwave's helmless frame and was carrying both Ravage's remains and Laserbeak's mostly intact frame in his subspace. His single optic was back in its socket and his self-repair system had finished fixing most of the damage done to his lower left chassis. Everyone moved to the side as the Scientist/Assassin examined Megatron's frame. "I know a place where I can do enough repairs to keep him stable and setup a new base of operations, but we must act quickly."

"What do you want us to do?" asked one of the Protoforms, now lightened by the news that their leader can be saved.

"Brawl and you eight shall come with me," ordered Shockwave before turning to the Tracker. "Blackout, I want you to head out and roundup any Decepticons who are still loyal to Megatron and those who shall follow you. Then bring them to these coordinates. If Starscream has begun to rally the Decepticons under his wing, then we must act quickly or he will doom us all."

As Blackout transformed and headed off into the air and to wherever, Shockwave contacted someone on the comms. "Astrotrain, prepare both your internal Medical Bay, I need it for three wounded. And prepare your Cargo Bay for eight Protoforms and their Orbital Assault Fighters."

A giant Cybertronian spacecraft appeared, colored in purple and grey, landed in front of the group. As it did, a deep voice came from it: "All aboard."

Shockwave turned to Brawl as the Protoforms returned to their fighters. "Carry Megatron in while I prep the Medical Bay," said the Decepticon Fourth-in-Command as he went into Astrotrain while dragging Soundwave's frame with as well.

The Heavy Weapons Specialist nodded. As he lifted the frame of the Decepticon Leader, he received two transmissions; the first was from Starscream and the other from Blackout.

"My fellow Decepticons, Megatron has fallen and Operation Pillar has failed. Your only hope for survival and victory once more rests with me. Join me and I won't fail you like Megatron has, for not just you, but for our planet, which is now gone. Come to these coordinates to begin your new service to me, Starscream."

"My fellow Decepticon brothers and sisters still loyal to Megatron, rally behind me, Blackout. For though his plans to bring Cybertron to this system may have been thwarted, his dreams for the survival of our race still lives on. Follow me and we shall be victorious. All hail Lord Megatron!"

'Civil war,' thought Brawl as he and the eight Orbital Assault Fighters and their pilots entered the massive Decepticon before Astrotrain closed his doors and took off towards Shockwave's new base of operations.

Chapter Text

(Flashback...)

It surprisingly took at least two weeks to dump the dead bodies of Hatchet, Crowbar, Crankcase, Frenzy, Devcon, Bonecrusher, Hightower, Scrapmetal, Scavenger, Overload, Scorponok, Demolishor, Sentinel Prime, along with 499 Decepticon Protoforms and one Driller into the Laurentian Abyss (with help from Omega Supreme). They were soon followed by the wreckage of ninety-one Orbital Assault Fighters, five Orbital Assault Gunships and one Orbital Assault Carrier.

Almost 26% of Chicago was destroyed with 30,129 dead, 21,450 wounded, and another 50,345 homeless.

As for Dylan Gould, he was immediately extradited to The Hague and stood trial in front of the International Criminal Court for committing attempted genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Through both the court and the jury's eyes, they saw the former businessman as a sadistic psychopath with delusions of grandeur (thanks to the evidence gathered by the FBI, IRS, along with Sam and Mikaela's testimonies) who was responsible for the mass-murder of 30,129 civilians killed in Chicago and was willing to condemn six billion lives to death for his own selfish desires. The trial lasted for a week and Dylan Gould was found guilty on all charges and condemned as both a war criminal and a traitor to all of humanity before being sentenced to death by hanging, with the sentence being carried out a day later. Dylan's firm was shut down by the U.S Government and labeled as a criminal organization, while Simmons bought the Gould Estate with his own money and renamed it the Simmons Estate and sold out all of Dylan's private cars with high-prices and used the money in the restoration of Chicago.

(Etosha National Park, Namibia)

The twenty-one Hatchlings inside the crates chirped and squeaked with curiosity, hunger and fear. Curiosity towards the question of where the giant khaki-colored mech that had taken care of them had gone to. Sure, he wasn't the best of caretakers, feeding them loose pieces of Energon and keeping them inside these tight objects, but at least it kept them alive and satisfied. The hunger was caused by the fact that they were very hungry, having only eaten a few hours ago by a different mech before he too departed. And the fear was what would become of them if they didn't have sustenance soon. Also, a Angolan Python was slithering towards them.

But before it got any closer, a giant metal foot that came out of nowhere, slammed right in front of it, causing it to retreat and search for easier prey. The Hatchlings looked at their savior, clicking and chirping innocently.

Ratchet couldn't help but smile in both amusement and relief. His quick scans showed no problems with the Hatchlings' frames, except that they were hungry. Behind him were Jolt and Arcee. The pink femme walked up beside the Medic, then moving closer to the Hatchlings that were clicking and squeaking at her.

"Shh, little ones, everything's okay now, we will not harm you," said Arcee as she ran her digits gently against the closest Hatchling's faceplates, reassuring them that they were no threat.

Ratchet was typing something in his left forearm-mounted Datapad. "All of their vitals are in good shape despite the environment they're in, they just need a bit of energy, Jolt?"

The young blue 'Bot walked up from behind his teacher and bent down towards the Hatchlings. Using his dual Electro-Whips, he sent out a low-electrical hum, sending energy towards the Hatchlings, who chirped with satisfaction as they felt it going through their systems. The low hum also began to put them slowly into recharge.

"This is Ratchet to the Ark, Hatchlings are secured and waiting for transport. And tell the pilot to drive carefully, I don't feel like dealing with cranky Hatchlings while in the air."

While Teletrann-1 responded, Jolt began picking up one of the crates, taking care not to wake the sleeping Hatchlings. Following his student's example, Ratchet picked up the remaining two crates just as the ship flew overhead of them.

Arcee walked up alongside Ratchet who was at the front. "Things seem to finally be changing for the better, huh?"

Ratchet nodded in agreement, as he looked down at one of sleeping Hatchlings, thinking now that things were going to be better now, their race would survive.

(Grand Canyon, Arizona, five months later...)

"Is that it?" asked Annabelle Lennox as she stared outside one of the Ark's window where the back turret was. She was sitting on top of Jolt's servos as the two of them looked at a part of the Grand Canyon, unseen by human eyes. It had been five months since the Battle of Chicago and the Autobots had decided to relocate their forces somewhere else due to the news of more approaching to Earth. While NEST human personnel would stay at their base in Washington D.C, Optimus and the Autobots would remain in their new base in the Grand Canyon, in the parts banned to humans, except for the Lennox and Epps Families, Sam, Mikaela, Donnelly, Burke, Stone, Eckerson, Graham, Tanaka, Hooch, Mongo, Marc, Eddie, Zimmerman, Perkins, and even Simmons and Dutch.

"Yep, that's it, and that's where we are landing. Hey, there's Ironhide waiting for you down there," said Jolt as he pointed to the Heavy Weapons Specialist.

Once the ship finally landed and the hatch door opened, Annabelle raced out of the Ark towards one of her two Autobot family guardians, squealing with joy. Ironhide chuckled as he bent down to gently lift the six-year-old girl up, resulting in Annabelle to hug his faceplates. "C'mon, Sparkling, let's go see the others."

After getting a confirmed nod from Sarah Lennox, who had just got outside of the Ark, the black mech flipped some switches and the base's doors opened. As Ironhide walked in, it was shown that most of the interior of the base wasn't fully covered in metal yet and most of the wall was natural rock. Cords and supplies were lying everywhere with the Autobots hard at work putting them together. Wheeljack was placing computer chips into the mainframe, while Mirage and Sideswipe held the computers in place. Skids and Mudflap were running back and forth with supplies and tools that the others might need to use. Arcee and her older sisters were dragging wires and plugging them into the right outlets. Ratchet was checking his medical equipment, while Jolt was doing a practice run on the base's energy levels. Jazz was checking small corners with Wheelie and Brains incase something was wrong. The Wreckers were working on making the blast-doors for the base and Jetfire had just flew out to place the satellite dish on top. Optimus was holding a Datapad while watching Wheeljack work.

"Wow..." said Annabelle in awe as she looked around the base. Skids and Mudflap had taken noticed of her, and dropped their stuff as they ran over to her. "Yo, Anna!"

"Hi," she beamed as Ironhide allowed Mudflap to hold her. "Your base is so cool!"

"It will be even more cooler when its done," said Skids as he and his twin began to show her and her mother the rest of the base. Wheeljack stepped back from the computer he was working on and after Mirage and Sideswipe placed it on the nearby wall, he turned to Optimus. "Okay, Prime, let her in."

Optimus nodded as he walked up to the computer and plugged in the device. After a few seconds, Optimus removed the device and said to the computer: "Teletrann-1, report."

A light on the screen appeared and then a woman's voice spoke: "Here and loving the new home, Optimus. I trust that Omega Supreme is behaving?"

The young Prime smiled. "Yes, he is doing well. Though I believe he may need some time to adjust not having you in him."

There was a brief chuckle from the A.I until she picked up something. "I have several Energon signatures approaching the base, orders?"

"That's probably Bumblebee," said Ratchet as he joined Optimus. "We've detected Autobots making landfall a few days ago. 'Bee went out to greet them."

Suddenly, Jetfire spoke through the comms: "Lord Prime, I've receive word from the humans of NEST that multiple Cybertronians with Autobot signatures are approaching Earth's orbit."

"Understood, Jetfire. Head on over to the designated coordinates, we will be there shortly," replied Optimus before turning to the others. "Jazz, Mirage, Jolt, Skids, Mudflap, Wreckers, remain here. And when Sam, Mikaela and the others arrive, let them in. Ratchet, you and the others will accompany me aboard the Ark."

As said 'Bots began making their way to the ship, Ironhide walked alongside Optimus. "Looks like things are begging to turn for the best of us."

Optimus Prime nodded. "Yes, old friend, it seems things are. Though the Decepticons remain at large on Earth, they are now scattered, meaning we will be ever closer to bringing an end to this war."

Little did they know that the next three years would be hell for them.