Author's Notes: Hi everyone! I know it's been a long time since I posted an update for "My Spark Still Shines", so to make up for it here's a stupidly long chapter (at least by my standards). This is the part of the story where the relic hunts get more desperate and friendships are tested. Hope everyone enjoys this chapter, and I also hope to write more chapters soon :)
The Star Saber
The warm desert sun assaulted Bluestreak's frame like a laser cannon. He didn't know how the temperature could get so hot on a planet so far away from it's orbiting star. Even his tires were overheated as he drove on the dusty asphalt. Of course these things would make the Vehicon feel uncomfortable enough, but there was one more bit of awkwardness that was making everything even worse...
"Eww, Agent Fowler! Quit it!" Bluestreak whined, "I think you spit on my steering wheel that time."
"Sorry. I've had a bit of a cold," Fowler simpered apologetically.
"Cold? How can you be cold in this awful heat?" Bluestreak groaned.
"A cold isn't- You know what? Never mind," Fowler sighed as he gripped the steering wheel uselessly; seeing as how he wasn't even the one driving.
Fowler had been assigned to help search for a new home for Raf and his family. Ever since the 'Cons discovered where the Esquivel family lived they weren't safe there anymore. Raf's parents knew nothing of the Cybertronians, so Fowler had made up an excuse about Raf seeing a murder related to organized crime. That had upset Raf's mother enough. Everyone knew she'd probably have a heart attack if ever she found out the truth.
Bluestreak volunteered to join Fowler for the humans' protection, as well as a chance to visit with Raf. The humans had been showing up less at the base ever since the Decepticons had ramped up their hunt for Cybertronian artifacts. Optimus Prime didn't want the humans in any danger, so he insisted that they keep their visits to a minimum. Jack was in the base today, but Bluestreak didn't want to see Jack. He wanted to see Raf.
He was beginning to regret that decision however when he got to spend no time with Raf, spent too much time with a sickly Fowler, and had to deal with 115 degree heat with no end in sight.
"Raf has a big family," Bluestreak offhandedly commented, "There's like, seven other people."
"That's his parents, four siblings, and grandma," Fowler replied.
"Which one is Abuela?" Bluestreak asked, "Raf talks about her all the time."
"That's the Spanish word for 'grandma'," Fowler informed him, "Didn't you download Spanish into your alien supercomputer or whatever?"
"You know sir, that's exactly how Miko would ask that question," Bluestreak observed, and Fowler growled in annoyance, "But seriously sir, languages take up a lot of room. We Vehicons weren't expected to know anything beyond the basics, so we just observed which languages the Autobots were speaking and downloaded accordingly. I want more languages though. I want to be able to talk to as many people as possible. Humans are fascinating, and I bet more cultures would be even more fascinating. Hey, can Raf ride in the car after the next stop?"
"No," Fowler replied firmly, "We can't afford to do anything suspicious. As far as Rafael's family is concerned, you don't exist."
"That was Megatron's policy too," Bluestreak tried to joke, but it fell on deaf ears, "Huh, tough crowd. I wonder if the other Vehicons are having as much fun as I am," Bluestreak added sarcastically.
Fowler's only answer was to sneeze again, and Bluestreak's response was to groan again. This was turning into a long day. He only hoped things were going better back at the base.
"Almost got 'em all," Jazz announced to the team as he deleted more photos from various internet servers, "I've gotta say Bee, you and Smokescreen sure do take a pretty picture."
Bumblebee whirred in annoyance, not quite ready to joke about the morning he'd had.
"I still can't believe Smokescreen tried to attack a human," Klunker added ruefully.
"Yeah, my money would've been on Skytwerp cracking first," Saline remarked.
"Hey! I actually like the humans!" Skywarp defended himself, "Besides, we all know Smoky's trouble. I can't believe you guys let Jack go with him alone."
"Don't start, Skywarp," Arcee bit back in a hostile tone, trying not to think about the very concern Skywarp expressed.
It had been a stressful morning at the base ever since Smokescreen and Bumblebee had returned from patrol. When they returned Bumblebee had to inform everyone that Smokescreen transformed in front of a human and threatened violence, which resulted in the human getting a picture of both of them in robot mode. Smokescreen's defense had of course been 'But he started it!'.
Optimus Prime realized that their latest Autobot recruit had not been trained in how to deal with humans, and his solution was to send Jack out to teach Smokescreen more about human culture and road safety. With Jack and Smokescreen both gone from the base, they still had the problem of incriminating photos of Smokescreen and Bumblebee on the internet, but fortunately they had a secret weapon; a world class saboteur.
"And...done!" Jazz announced once he finished his task, "Now if only you guys would allow me to scrub all these spam accounts that keep poppin' up in our messages. What even is erectile dysfunction?"
"Maybe it means broken construction equipment," Skywarp offered, "Say, as long as your online, can we start our own website? Maybe post some Cybertronian stuff so it doesn't get lost?"
"Ep ep ep!" Ratchet pushed Skywarp away as he headed for Jazz's workstation, "We cannot afford to leave a trace of our existence for the humans to find."
"Why not? Who else is gonna remember our stuff?" Skywarp asked with a shrug, "We have to tell them eventually. I mean, if three kids can find us, then anybody can find us."
"Watch it, Skywarp. You're skating on thin ice," Arcee warned him.
"We will reveal ourselves when Optimus says the time is right," Ratchet explained, "Until then, we are robots in disguise."
"You know...Skywarp may have a point," Jazz pondered, much to everyone's shock, "Not about the website, but about archiving our culture. I have a huge store of music from Cybertron as well as other locations, and I'm sure we could download some memory files from the other Vehicons. You know, just in case one of us loses our memory again. We don't have to put anythin' top secret in there. Just make it like a time capsule."
"I suppose that's not a bad idea," Ratchet admitted, "I'll ask Optimus if it's okay."
"Hey! When it was my idea you thought it was garbage!" Skywarp exclaimed indignantly, "Pit, you Autobots are mean!"
Ratchet was about to reply to Skywarp, but everyone is interrupted when Smokescreen came racing into the room in his vehicle mode, stopping only to let Jack out before transforming into robot mode. Both Jack and Smokescreen were laughing, which immediately made most of the 'Bots suspicious. Jack never laughed like that, and Smokescreen looked like he had gotten away with something.
"Hahaha, I am so posting this tonight!" Jack exclaimed while looking down at his phone.
The Autobots and Vehicons just stared at the duo, who were still reveling in whatever mischief they had gotten into.
"Arcee, Arcee! Check out Vince's car!" Jack chuckled as he held up the phone.
"The bully?" Arcee asked skeptically, already suspecting what had happened.
When Arcee looked down at the phone, the tiny picture on the screen was of Vince's shiny black and flame painted sports car...completely covered in burgers and fast food wrappings.
"Hey Vince, do you want fries with that?" Jack quipped, followed by more laughter from him and Smokescreen.
"You attacked a human with...food?" Klunker asked in confusion.
"Hey, no worries. No humans were harmed in the making of these photos," Smokescreen assured everyone.
"You two cannot be serious..." Ratchet sighed as he rubbed the tension out of his face.
"Oh come on, Smokescreen passed driver's ed," Jack pointed out, "Work hard, play hard."
"Hey, can you teach me stuff next?" Skywarp asked Jack excitedly, "I, uh, wanna learn more about human culture too. Yeah...and, uh...can we throw the food over a bridge this time!?"
"Skywarp. Room. Now," Ratchet ordered.
"Aww! No fair!" Skywarp whined, "Smokescreen got to throw food at humans!"
"NOW!" Ratchet screamed, and Skywarp ran out of the room like he was on fire.
Ratchet sighed in frustration, and Smokescreen and Jack saw this as their cue to leave before they were noticed again. With a new Autobot, new relics to find, and a base full of former Vehicons, everything was just getting to be too much for Team Prime; especially Ratchet.
Knockout felt as if he was being further demoted with every new assignment he was given. He had been kicked out of his medbay, but contrary to what he had assumed, he was not allowed to recharge. Instead he was ordered to build a decoy beacon that could mask its own signal all the while creating a false Iacon relic signal that moved every two breems. It was an intense assignment, and Megatron was not willing to wait longer than a single earth day for its completion.
"This isn't fair," Knockout muttered to himself as he worked, "I wanted to make the universe a more beautiful place. I wanted to give mechs and femmes the beauty that I myself have aspired to. But no! I get stuck on this floating tin can as Megatron's personal grease monkey. Oh frag, I just sounded like Starscream. Pit, not wonder that seeker is so bonkers. Being Megatron's whipping boy would do that to a mech after so long..."
When Knockout finally managed to complete the device and test it, he was sure that Megatron would at least be pleased. Surely then Knockout could finally get a nap and dream of being anywhere else in the universe besides this ship. Whenever he comm'ed Megatron however...
/Good. Bring the device to the bridge. I am addressing the troops now,/ Megatron commanded, /I have a surprise for everyone./
Megatron shut off the comm without awaiting Knockout's reply, and Knockout stood up from his berth and picked up the decoy device.
"A surprise, huh?" Knockout pondered to himself, "Maybe he is going to execute Starscream after all."
Knockout then strapped the decoy to his back and grabbed his shock prod. He knew he wouldn't need it, but he felt naked without it. The light yet solid weight, the silver gleam when it caught the light, the feeling of power as he jammed the electrified prongs in between a mech's armor. Yes, he needed that as long as he was working in a cutthroat environment like this one. As long as Knockout had his prod and his surgical knowledge, he could convince himself he was powerful.
Meanwhile on the bridge all Starscream could do was stare. He stood next to Megatron, with Soundwave on Megatron's other side. Normally this would make Starscream feel either nervous or mighty, but on this day he didn't feel either of those things. All he could do was stare at the two mechs standing before them on the bridge.
First, the diminutive form of Frenzy, returned to his former navy blue and purple glory. He was no longer Soundwave's right shoulder guard. Now he could transform into dual missile launchers that attached themselves to Sondwave's back. The second mech of course was very familiar to Starscream. Same blue and silver color, same slender seeker frame, and an impassable face that gave away nothing of his thoughts or intentions. Thundercracker, his beloved trine brother, was standing there in the mesh. It felt too good to be real, even now.
After a few breems everyone was gathered together below decks awaiting Megatron's announcement. Megatron was just about to speak when the doors to the bridge whooshed open and Knockout ran in; late as usual and toting the decoy device on his back like some lost human hiker.
"Ahem, now that everyone is here," Megatron began while giving Knockout a withering glare, "I have good news. The Decepticon forces on earth have gained two new members. I am certain you remember both of them well. Allow me to reintroduce Frenzy, symbiote to our own Soundwave, and Thundercracker, trine member of Starscream."
This announcement was met with silence, since the Vehicons didn't know whether they were supposed to clap and cheer or if Megatron was going to keep talking. Megatron was annoyed by the silence but chose not to directly address it at the moment.
"Which brings me to my next announcement," Megatron continued undeterred, "Starscream has rejoined the Decepticons. I have decided to overlook his most egregious transgressions this time since we are in need of warriors. He will rank 4th in the command structure, under myself, Dreadwing, and Soundwave."
"What!?" Knockout suddenly piped up, "Starscream still outranks me!? He practically joined the Autobots! Meanwhile if I so much as cough around here you yell at me!"
"Wait, you only yell at him?" Starscream interjected, "When I cough you hit me!"
"I'll hit you both if you don't shut up!" Megatron roared, silencing both arguments, "Now, with our forces increasing and the decoy ready for use, it is time for us to go relic hunting."
Thundercracker said and did nothing during this exchange, but the thought was clear. This was a mistake. Megatron had turned him into a Vehicon, and even now with his forces dwindling (despite his claims) Megatron still abused his troops. Thundercracker knew Starscream had given up too easily, and couldn't help but feel guilty about that. After all, his trine commander only surrendered to save his life. He only wished he knew what he could do for those still enslaved by Megatron...including the audience down below who didn't even realize they were worthy of respect.
At the Autobot base, Optimus Prime and Jazz worked together to decode the Iacon relic locations. Two helms were better than one after all, and while Optimus was the one that could read ancient Cybertronian Jazz was the one who knew computers inside and out. Together they made a most efficient team.
"We have almost decoded the location of the next relic," Optimus announced to the room.
"You might not need to, Optimus," Ratchet replied as he pointed to another monitor, "It appears a signal beacon has been activated."
"A new relic? Alright!" Ironhide cheered, "I can finally get off'a my can and do somethin'! When do we leave?"
"Ironhide, I am not certain you are ready for duty," Optimus warned his old friend.
"Oh, come on Prime! Bulkhead gets to fight now!" Ironhide argued, "Besides, if any 'Cons show up I wanna see my little girl thrash 'em like the base metal they are!"
"Thanks, Sire," Arcee replied with a small smile, "But it isn't that simple anymore. Remember, we have to be careful around the Vehicons. For all we know we could attacking a civilian or an old comrade."
"Or Sixshot," Skywarp added, which earned him some unappreciative glares.
"Megatron is desperate to locate the relics before we do," Optimus pondered, "You may be right, Ironhide. We need as many Autobots as possible to secure every relic."
"Does that mean we have to go too?" Saline griped.
"That would not be wise," Optimus replied, "If Megatron sees you Vehicons have joined our side, then he will surely stop at nothing to destroy you."
"But I've been on missions before," Bluestreak pointed out.
"Yes, but this is different," Optimus countered, "I can feel it. Something about the latest relic is...calling to me. I will not put lives in danger unnecessarily. Ratchet, open the ground bridge."
"Alright!" Bulkhead cried out excitedly, "Let's do this!"
"Where is Smokescreen?" Optimus asked as he looked around at his Autobots.
"He's still out taking driving lessons with Jack," Arcee replied.
"We cannot wait," Optimus decided, "Autobots, move out!"
With those words Optimus led the charge, followed by Bulkhead, Arcee, Bumblebee, Ironhide, and Chromia. Ratchet closed the ground bridge, and looked at what had been left behind. Bluestreak was there to help him prepare the medbay in case of casualties, and the ICN couple was there to keep Skywarp out of his way. Jazz meanwhile was still decoding Iacon relics, and despite his impassive Vehicon face plate Ratchet could tell something was wrong.
"Everything okay, Jazz?" Ratchet asked.
"The signal..." Jazz replied uncertainly, "...It moved."
Frenzy was still on the Nemesis. By now Megatron, several Vehicons, Starscream, and Thundercracker had gone off to take the relic from under the Autobots' nose cones. Soundwave meanwhile was flying around with the decoy beacon so as to lead the Autobots away from the real location of the artifact. Frenzy didn't want to go, so he told Soundwave he still wasn't feeling well. Soundwave thus allowed him to stay home. It felt good to have a sire looking out for his needs again.
The actual reason Frenzy wanted to stay behind wasn't laziness or illness however. It was research. Now that he remembered his friend Eject he had to find him again. If Eject was on this ship, then perhaps Frenzy could protect him, maybe even find a way to return his memories to him.
With this in mind Frenzy snuck up to Soundwave's computer station on the bridge. Dreadwing was left in charge of the bridge, but Frenzy knew he could sneak past that guy. Dreadwing might be loyal, but he didn't exactly have optics in the back of his helm, and Frenzy knew how to sneak around.
When Frenzy made it to the console he climbed up on the chair, which was no easy feat with his diminutive size. That was the only thing Frenzy missed about being a Vehicon. As a Vehicon he was tall.
From the chair Frenzy hopped up on the console, but then realized the noise he made when he landed. He held his intakes and swiftly looked over at Dreadwing, but fortunately the oversized seeker hadn't seen him yet. Apparently seeker was just a name given ironically.
Frenzy used tubes in his wrist to hack into the computer's mainframe. Finding Eject wouldn't be that difficult. Drones were given serial numbers based on their location and their place in the assembly line. Frenzy had been PLX-7205. That meant Eject was either PLX-7204 or PLX-7206 since they were 'built' at the same time. If Frenzy could find those two drones then he could use Thundercracker's spark reader to determine which one was Eject.
Frenzy typed in the number PLX-7204 first. He hit the jackpot when he found out that drone was alive and stationed below decks in engineering. Next he typed in PLX-7206. That droned had been killed seven months prior by an Autobot. Well, Frenzy could only hope Eject wasn't that guy.
"Frenzy! What are you doing?" Dreadwing's booming voice snapped; startling Frenzy so much he fell off the console.
Dreadwing's accusation turned to worry as he realized the little symbiote broke one of his arms when he fell. If Soundwave found out about this transgression Dreadwing would be dead. Not to mention the dishonor of harming one of the smallest members of their team.
"Don't worry, Frenzy," Dreadwing said softly as he picked up the frightened symbiote, "I will take you to Knockout. He will repair you."
"Knockout?" Frenzy asked with dread, "No!"
Frenzy then started struggling, and Dreadwing had to move quickly to keep his grip on the terrified mech. Dreadwing feared that he would drop Frenzy again, so he gently set Frenzy down onto the floor. Once Frenzy was sure he was free, he tried to get up, only to find he couldn't. His leg had been hurt too!
"Frenzy, calm yourself!" Dreadwing ordered, "You need repairs. Knockout is our medic. He will heal you."
"No! Knockout is a butcher! I don't wanna die! Let me go!" Frenzy screamed as he tried in vain to get up.
"Frenzy, please. You need to see a medic," Dreadwing urged him.
"No! Soundwave can fix me! Leave me alone!" Frenzy shouted; in full tantrum mode.
This was exactly what Dreadwing didn't want. He would prefer it if Soundwave didn't find out about this until after Frenzy was fixed. He just hoped Soundwave wasn't close enough to feel the pain through his guardian bond with Frenzy. Then Dreadwing would surely be in trouble. Dreadwing sighed, wishing he had gone with Megatron instead of Starscream and Thundercracker. Now he was stuck babysitting an injured mech with a fear of medics.
"Frenzy, would you allow me to repair you?" Dreadwing finally asked when he realized he was getting nowhere.
"Well...okay," Frenzy relented, "Even if you made it worse, it still beats Knockout the Vehicon slayer."
"Is that why you fear him? Because he dismantles drones?" Dreadwing asked even as he began soldering the arm back in place, "Frenzy, those aren't real soldiers. They are merely machines. Knockout would not treat you like a drone, I assure you."
"They're real," Frenzy declared, "They're Autobots, but they're real."
"Autobots?" Dreadwing parroted, "The...Vehicons?"
"Yeah, they're Autobots and Empties, but they have Sparks just like the rest of us. I used to be one," Frenzy told him, "Listen mech, you gotta talk to Knockout. He's killing our army. Will you do that, sir? Will you help us?"
"I will...look into it," Dreadwing promised, though he was uncertain about doing so.
"Thanks. I can see why Megatron promoted you. You're a reasonable mech," Frenzy replied gratefully.
Dreadwing spent the next couple breems patching up Frenzy's body, and once he was finished Frenzy took off to complete his quest for information. Dreadwing meanwhile wandered over to the console and looked up Frenzy's service record.
Since Frenzy had been missing for so long the record still listed him as KIA, but Dreadwing was certain Soundwave would fix that soon enough. Dreadwing then looked at Frenzy's psychological profile, and wasn't that surprised by what he found. The account was added postmortem, but it stated that Frenzy had a processor glitch that caused hallucinations. Cybertronians called it the illusion virus. Humans called it schizophrenia. Either way it was exactly what Dreadwing expected to find. A paranoid delusional mech that believed Vehicons were real.
There was no doubt about it. Team Prime had been tricked. The signal beacon they were following was moving about, meaning it was most likely false. The movement alone would not have been enough to convince them, but Jazz had located another identical signal, the real signal.
"I can't get in touch with Optimus," Ratchet fretted as he tried more frequencies.
"Maybe he died," Skywarp shrugged.
"No, he's still alive," Ratchet replied, "Why won't he answer?"
"We need a 'Bot to grab the relic before the Decepticons do," Smokescreen, who had returned moments ago, pointed out, "Send me in, Doc. I'll prove myself. I'll get the relic before Megatron can say 'Starscream, you fool!'."
"Hahaha, he does say that a lot," Skywarp chuckled.
"You're not going in alone," Ratchet insisted, "You need backup. Unfortunately all we can spare is Skywarp, Klunker, and Saline."
"Us?" Klunker asked in confusion, "But we are not warriors. My mate and I are merely energon miners. We would be useless in a fight."
"Can I still go? I kill things all the time," Skywarp volunteered, "Just yesterday I killed a dangerous monster. I think Miko called it a...spy-dar."
"You mean a spider? Yeah, real dangerous," Jack replied sarcastically.
"Look, I don't like this either, but Bluestreak and I need to stay here to prep the medbay in case of casualties, and Jazz is still decoding relic locations," Ratchet explained.
"Casualties!?" Saline barked, "Well, it's nice you have so much confidence in us. Thanks a lot, Autojerk!"
"Just leave," Ratchet groused as he opened the ground bridge.
As the swirling green vortex beckoned, Smokescreen and his Vehicon posse prepared to roll out. As they were leaving however, Smokescreen kneeled down to Jack and whispered, "Hey, Ratchet said I needed all the backup I could get. Wanna come with?"
"I...I shouldn't," Jack replied uncertainly.
"Come on, it'll be fun," Smokescreen encouraged him.
"Yeah, and you'll get to see a relic in action!" Skywarp added, "We might even kill some Decepticons~" He said this last part in a tempting sing-song voice.
"Well..." Jack deliberated with himself.
...On the other side of the ground bridge, Smokescreen raced out in his alt mode. He was soon followed by a sleek purple car, two purple mining drills, and one conflicted human. The vehicles all transformed into robot mode, and Jack shook his head at his own stupidity.
"I just pulled a Miko," Jack groaned with instant regret.
"I know. Isn't it fun?" Skywarp replied excitedly; either unaware of Jack's discomfort or purposefully ignoring it, "I wanna touch the relic!"
"Hey, no shouting!" Saline shouted, "We don't know if we got here first or not, idiot!"
"We probably didn't," Klunker reasoned, "After all, how could they send a false signal unless they knew the real one?"
"I've got a bad feeling about this," Jack said worriedly.
"Relax, we got this," Smokescreen replied dismissively, "No filthy 'Cons can stand up to Team Prime!"
"We're not Team Prime," Saline noted pessimistically, "We're the B team. No, wait! We're not even that. We're the D team! D for 'Dese are the only Autobots we could find!'."
"These doesn't start with a D," Klunker pointed out.
Saline just facepalmed, and Klunker decided not to gloat over shutting her up for a minute. After all, he knew why she was acting this way. It was the same reason he was walking so slowly. They were scared. Smokescreen and Skywarp might've been too naive to understand what they were walking into, but Klunker and Saline understood very well. They were revealing themselves to the Decepticons, and likely not coming back alive from it.
"Guys, look over there!" Jack quietly exclaimed as he pointed to a nearby mountain, "Megatron's here."
The other poked their helms around the rock to look and sure enough, there he was. It wasn't just Megatron though. There were Vehicon miners and warriors, Insecticons, Starscream and a blue seeker, and the old warlord himself. They were all gathered round for a single purpose; to pull the latest relic out of the mountain.
"What is that thing?" Jack asked.
The Vehicons were all clueless, but Smokescreen however knew exactly what he was looking at. He just wasn't sure how he could be looking at it. That relic was the stuff of fables, of legends.
"The Star Saber," Smokescreen with those simple words couldn't fully convey what he was feeling at that moment, "Alpha Trion told me all about it. It's an ancient sword with incredible power. It was forged by Solus Prime during the age of the original 13 Primes. Well, according to legend anyway."
"So it's a sword. Big deal," Saline harrumphed.
"I'm with Saline on this one," Klunker concurred, "Autobots and Decepticons have many swords. A sword hardly seems an impressive artifact."
"This isn't just any sword," Smokescreen assured them, "This is the Star Saber. It can only be wielded by a Prime."
"Yeah, well apparently Megabutt don't qualify," Saline snickered, "Look, he can't pull it out!"
While the others talked about Megatron and the Star Saber, Skywarp was frozen in place. He stared for a long moment, but he couldn't believe his optics. Starscream and Thundercracker. Together. After all this time. Skywarp didn't know exactly what happened to Thundercracker, but he had heard from other Vehicons that Thundercracker had died. But that seeker...there was no mistake. His brother was alive, and so was Starscream. They were with the Decepticons, and here he was with a bunch of Autobots trapped in a car body like some kind of ground pounder. It just wasn't fair.
"We should wait for backup," Jack advised, "There's too many of them, and those Vehicons are mostly former Autobots. It's too risky to attack them head on."
"You heard Ratchet, backup's not coming," Smokescreen reminded him, "Megatron can't be allowed to get the Star Saber. I'm going in!"
With that Smokescreen leapt from behind their cover and started charging into the open ready for a fight.
"Wait! Come back!" Klunker yelled after him.
"After him, before he gets killed!" Saline ordered.
Megatron heard the commotion and saw what appeared to be two of his miners chasing after an Autobot. He watched with detachment as his troops went after the brash young Autobot. The fool was surrounded. There was no way he was going to get near the relic. Then something unexpected happened. The two miners behind Smokescreen body checked two Vehicons in front of the Autobot out of the way; allowing the intruder to have more room to run. They were helping him!
"Destroy those two miners!" Megatron roared at his troops, "I'll deal with the Autobot myself."
Jack meanwhile was trying to remain concealed as Smokescreen and the Vehicon miners fought against the Decepticons. After a moment he noticed Skywarp was still there, and in fact hadn't moved since they got there. He was quiet, and staring straight ahead. Considering it was Skywarp, this was especially eerie.
"Hey Skywarp? Buddy? You okay there?" Jack asked awkwardly.
Skywarp seemed to snap out of it, but instead of looking down at Jack, he looked up in horror. The reason became obvious when a familiar braying sound was followed by an ominous shadow falling over them.
"Insecticon!" Skywarp screamed unnecessarily, "Run for it, human!"
The Insecticon whinnied and flew down to tackle Jack, but Skywarp ran interference and got pushed hard into the ground by the angry beast. Jack watched in terror as the Insecticon bit down on Skywarp's arm in an effort to get to his face plate. Skywarp held the beast back, but it was clear he was no match for that thing.
"Call...Ratchet!" Skywarp grunted as he fought, "Need...backup!"
Jack didn't have to be told twice. He pulled out his cellphone and frantically dialed. He could see the shadow of a second Insecticon, so he pushed himself against the rock in an effort to buy himself more time.
/Jack? Where are you?/ Ratchet asked in a half worried and half accusatory tone of voice.
/I'm with the relic,/ Jack said quickly, /It's called a Star Sab-"
Before he could answer the second Insecticon had backhanded him, throwing him to the ground and forcing his cellphone out of his hand. Jack stood up despite the pain and got out of the way before the Insecticon could grab him. He ran into a crevice created by two boulders, but the Insecticon was still trying to get him.
Smokescreen meanwhile had made it as far as the sword thanks to the help of his two Vehicon pals. They came up on either side of him, and Smokescreen tried pulling the sword out of the rock. Just like with Megatron, Smokescreen couldn't do it, so the Vehicon couple tried to drill it out. No such luck.
"Wow, that thing's in there tight!" Smokescreen stated the obvious.
A swarm of Vehicons then showed up and started pulling the miners away from the relic, and Megatron blasted Smokescreen with this fusion cannon! Smokescreen fell down, wounded but alive, and Megatron stepped closer to inspect his prey. The miners tried to break free of their captors, but they weren't strong enough to fight against the warrior class drones holding them. Smokescreen looked up defiantly as Megatron regarded him.
"What is your name, Autobot?" Megatron interrogated.
"Why?...Who wants to know?" Smokescreen rasped cheekily despite the pain he was in.
Megatron was ready to strike the impudent brat, but then he heard shooting from the distance and saw the Autobots running right for them. This was very bad for Megatron. If Optimus got too close to the Star Saber, he could gain power beyond even Megatron's wildest dreams, and that thought frightened the warlord.
"Where's Optimus?" Megatron demanded to know, unable to see him on the battlefield.
Optimus was of course driving toward the relic, and the Vehicons tried fruitlessly to fire at him. This distraction allowed the miner couple to escape, and they ran toward where they last saw Jack and Skywarp; relieved that Arcee and Bulkhead were following them.
Before they could get to the clearing however, four Vehicon warriors tried to stop the Autobots and miners from going any further. Seeing the Insecticons ahead and knowing time was short, Klunker and Saline each tackled two Vehicons to allow Arcee and Bulkhead to pass.
Skywarp meanwhile was pinned down by the Insecticon. He could feel the acidic slobber of the Insecticon dripping on his frame as his arms weakened from the struggle of holding the beast back. He was sure this was the end, and even now he could hear the other Insecticon digging in the dirt in an effort to get the human. He couldn't save himself or Jack, and his trine would never even know how he died...
Just then a massive wrecking ball hand knocked the Insecticon off Skywarp, and Skywarp unceremoniously hugged Bulkhead for saving his life.
"Hey! Get off me!" Bulkhead groused.
"Eh heh, sorry," Skywarp simpered as he backed off, "Just, uh, glad to be alive is all."
"Yeah, I got that," Bulkhead replied dryly.
The other Insecticon meanwhile was shooed away by a few choices slices and kicks by Arcee, and once the immediate danger was over she glared at Jack, who was only just now coming out of the rock.
"Arcee, I can explain!" Jack sputtered.
"Later, Jack," Arcee snapped angrily, "Skywarp, watch him."
Arcee and Bulkhead then returned to the heat of battle, and Jack and Skywarp stared at each other for an awkward moment.
"She must be crazy," Skywarp finally said, "I can't keep myself alive, and she wants me to watch you? I don't get it."
"What I don't get is how she trusts you more than Smokescreen," Jack snorted.
"Yeah, femmes are weird," Skywarp concluded haplessly.
Back on the battlefield, it was Autobot against Vehicon, and the fight was made all the more difficult with how careful the Autobot team was trying to be to not kill their opponents. They knew these Vehicons were likely former comrades, and even in this life or death situation the Autobots didn't want to risk killing the next Jazz or Bluestreak.
Megatron, desperate to keep the relic from the hands of a Prime, ordered all of his fliers, including both of the seekers as well as flying Vehicons, to help him lift up the harness attached to the mountain. They were going to take the massive piece of stone with the sword inside up to the Nemesis. It might not be of use to them, but at least it would never be of use to Prime.
"I cannot help you, sir," Thundercracker abruptly told Megatron.
"What? You dare question my orders?" Megatron hissed, "Has your previous life made you...soft-sparked?"
"No sir," Thundercracker replied respectfully, "I donated my t-cog to Starscream. I cannot transform."
Megatron seethed, but didn't say a word. There was no time for this nonsense. Optimus was almost past the blockade. They had to get the relic out of there now!
"Very well. Starscream, with me," Megatron ordered curtly.
Starscream dutifully followed as the Nemesis shifted into a position over the relic. Thundercracker just stood there uselessly, not knowing what to do. He was sure Megatron would scrap him again. Maybe even turn him into an Eradicon again. It felt like a fate worse than death now that Thundercracker had regained his identity, and he wasn't sure how to prevent such a punishment from happening now that he had revealed his weakness.
As Thundercracker turned to return to the battle he saw two things. One, Optimus Prime was driving up the mountain to get to the relic. Two, a Vehicon was running right toward him; apparently being chased by a small flesh creature.
"TC! TC!" The Vehicon shouted as it ran toward Thundercracker, "Wait!"
"Hey, come back!" The human yelled as it tried to catch the Vehicon.
"You will not refer to me in the familiar," Thundercracker told the wayward drone, "I am your superior officer. You will refer to me as Lieutenant or sir."
"Listen, I gotta talk to you and Starscream!" The Vehicon raved, apparently unconcerned with what Thundercracker had just said.
Thundercracker was confused. This Vehicon had not come with them to the dig site. Thundercracker was intimately familiar with each Eradicon, and at least knew the designations of each Vehicon. This one was VS-5000, a mech reported as dead after failing to retrieve the mask of Zeta Prime. A mission where the Autobots had deployed Chromia and a...Vehicon.
"You," Thundercracker whispered ominously.
"You recognize me?" Skywarp asked hopefully.
"Indeed I do, traitor!" Thundercracker growled before he opened fire on Skywarp.
Skywarp knew Thundercracker's mood shifts, and knew his trine brother was about to shoot him, so he ducked out of the way just in time. Jack screamed, and that was when Skywarp realized the human had followed him. Thundercracker was readying another missile to fire, so Skywarp picked up Jack and ran away with him before the poor teenager became 'Con roadkill.
There were many fights going on around the battlefield. Vehicon against Autobot, Vehicons against miner drones, Skywarp running away with Jack, Autobots against Insecticons, and Thundercracker ready to shoot the Vehicon in the back. Everything stopped however when they saw the blue tinted glow up above them.
On the piece of mountain hovering above the battleground was Optimus Prime taking hold of the Star Saber, and the Star Saber responding by giving the Prime use of it's power. It's force was so powerful and bright that it blasted itself from the mountain, and Optimus landed on the ground roughly on his pedes. He looked up at the Nemesis, and from the Nemesis Megatron looked back at him.
As Megatron stared at the view screen and the determined face of his foe, Starscream and Dreadwing saw something on Megatron's face that they had never seen before. Fear. Naked, unfiltered fear. Megatron knew what this moment meant for them, and he had to stop it.
"Drop the mountain on him!" Megatron ordered his minions.
Soundwave did as instructed and released the clamps, allowing the giant piece of rock to roll down to earth and straight toward the Prime.
The Autobots and remaining Vehicons all ran for cover, and they expected Prime to do the same. Everyone was shocked when they saw Optimus turn around to face the oncoming boulder instead.
"Optimus! Get out of there!" Arcee shouted.
What happened next was awe inspiring to the Autobots and utterly frightening to the Decepticons. Optimus hefted his new Star Saber, made a slicing motion, and used the energy to split the rock in two! The two halves of boulders eventually came to a stop, and Optimus glared up at the warship. He then used the same sword's energy on the Nemesis, causing everything to shake as the Decepticons struggled to remain standing.
The ground bridge opened and the Autobots left, leaving the Decepticon to know that this was their darkest hour. After this fiasco, Thundercracker was starting to see how the Autobots had managed to entice Vehicons to their lost cause. If the Autobots weren't stopped, then the Decepticons were doomed.
Back at the Autobot base the mood was less celebratory than one would have thought. Smokescreen of course was still impressed by the Star Saber's power, but Arcee wasn't ready to let him off the hook just yet. She had been wary of the young cadet from the start, but this was the last straw.
"What were you thinking?" Arcee chewed out Smokescreen, "After everything we said about not putting humans in danger, and you bring Jack along on this mission anyway!"
"Arcee, it wasn't his fault. I-" Jack stammered.
"Save it, Jack," Arcee cut him off, "And you! You Vehicons should have stopped them! Especially you two! Saline, Klunker, you raised a son! How could you let this happen?"
"Now hang on, sister!" Saline snapped in return, "We never babied Bulkhead like that! Sure, I worry about him, but I didn't stop him from living his life. Jack is practically an adult by his people's standards."
"Yeah, his people. Humans," Arcee reminded her, "Humans are too fragile to be put into the center of combat like that. You knew there was a relic! All of you knew! Yet you disregarded common sense and brought him along anyway."
"Look, I know. I was reckless, and I'm sorry," Smokescreen spoke up, "If you have to kick me off Team Prime I understand..."
Arcee didn't say anything. She just glared at Smokescreen with more anger than she had felt in a long time. Optimus, who was still holding the Star Saber, walked up to Smokescreen in that moment. Even Optimus, the most reasonable member of the team, look angered by what had happened.
"Smokescreen, we must not put humans in danger. No matter what," Optimus said sternly.
"I understand, sir," Smokescreen replied contritely.
Bluestreak meanwhile was preparing the medbay while they spoke. He knew Ironhide would need some more energon due to a small injury, and Skywarp had some acid burns from the Insecticon. It wouldn't be anything he and his sire couldn't handle. As Optimus once again forgave Smokescreen, Bluestreak's attention shifted to movement he saw near the entrance to the personal quarters. There, sneaking into the hallway, was Skywarp.
Bluestreak shook his helm. He knew Skywarp was likely trying to escape punishment. After all, he helped Jack pull of his great escape. Helping someone pull a Miko was surely grounds for work detail, and Skywarp likely didn't want to deal with that. Bluestreak still had to treat Skywarp's burns however, so he grabbed his medical kit and went to their shared room.
When Bluestreak got to their quarters he saw Skywarp placing a data pad on his berth. This didn't seem so weird to Bluestreak (except for the fact that Skywarp was reading), but then he noticed that the drawings Miko made for Skywarp were no longer taped to the wall. That was odd.
"Hey Skywarp, where are your drawings?" Bluestreak inquired.
"In the empty space that serves as my trunk in vehicle mode," Skywarp replied.
"Oh? Why is that?" Bluestreak asked, still wondering what Skywarp was trying to pull.
"I'm leaving," Skywarp replied matter-of-factly.
"Leaving? What do you mean leaving?" Bluestreak asked uncomprehendingly.
"I mean I'm running away, or whatever you call it," Skywarp stated, "My brothers are still up on the Nemesis. They're alive, and I have to go back to them. They might not believe me, and they might even kill me, but I have to try to convince them that I'm really me. I need my trine, Bluestreak. I miss my brothers."
"No!" Bluestreak shouted as he used his body to block the doorway, "You can't leave Team Prime! You'll rejoin the Decepticons, give them the location of our base, and get us all killed!"
"I'm not going back to the Decepticons," Skywarp refuted, "I just don't wanna be here. I have to warn my brothers!"
"Warn them? Of what?" Bluestreak asked.
"That we can't stay on earth anymore," Skywarp replied, "Optimus Prime has the Star Saber. That is too much power. I was already afraid of him before, but I'm terrified now. He'll kill Starscream, and maybe TC too. He has no reason not to. He'll kill all of his enemies and make Cybertron reinstate the caste system! I don't wanna live like that, not again. I want Screamer, TC, and me to all live on a new planet where nobody knows what we are. I want us to be a family again, Blue. Do you know what it's like to be so far away from your only brothers?"
"Actually, yeah, I do," Bluestreak replied solemnly, "Because my only brother is dead. Prowl died trying to keep the Decepticons from killing us all. Megatron is mad, Skywarp. If you show up on the Nemesis he won't let you go. He will kill you if it means silencing you. Please, don't do this. You're one of us now."
"No Blue, I'm not," Skywarp replied sadly.
Before Bluestreak could register what was happening Skywarp turned his arm into cannon and shot him in the face plate; knocking him out. Bluestreak fell to the floor in an unconscious heap, and Skywarp stepped over him on his way out of the base and away from Team Prime.