Chapter 1

Seizer had expected to find a group of battered, defenceless Autobots huddled inside the storage bay, their energy reserves most likely depleted by their recent clash with the Nemesis Army. What he actually came face to face with, however, when he stormed the bay, he never expected.

He and his team of foot soldiers were greeted with several charged weapons pointed in their direction. The missing Autobot officers who had fled from the Command Center now stood their ground, and were accompanied by a team of Decepticons – their leader, a large, silver and black mech, pointed his cannon at Seizer as the Destron and his party entered the bay.

"I suggest you turn around and go back to whence you came," Megatron told him, "or we will have to send you back ourselves… in pieces."

Seizer held up a hand to signal to his team behind him. They stopped all activity, though their weapons were still drawn and ready. "Or, how about: hand the Autobots over to me, and no one needs to get hurt," he finally answered.

Before Megatron could say anything in response, Ironhide stepped forward, aiming his blaster at Seizer. "You want us? Come and get us," he said with a scowl.

Seizer gave him a sly grin in return, though it was a deceptive grin because it concealed his true intentions. "If you insist," he replied and then, without warning, fired a volley of searing laser blasts at the Autobot.

"Arghhh!" Ironhide fell backwards with the force of the assault, crashing to the floor beside his fellow Autobots, and that's when all chaos broke loose as Seizer's team of Destron soldiers opened fire upon them all at once. The Autobots responded immediately, firing back. Ironhide clambered to pick himself up, intending to jump back into the fray, though he was unsteady on his feet; one of the others held him back with a hand.

"Stay back!" It was the same Autobot medical officer who had escaped the Command Center with Jazz and Prowl. Taking over for Ironhide, he fired his own blaster back at the storm troopers, joining Prowl and the rest of the team in their counter-attack.

When the battle erupted, Megatron aimed his fusion cannon directly at Seizer and fired. The blast hit the Destron's side, knocking him off his feet, and he scrambled away as his soldiers covered for him. Six of them engaged in direct combat with the Decepticons, opening fire upon them. The Decepticons reciprocated, standing their ground, Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker and Dirge firing back in kind. It wasn't long before they emerged victorious.

Seizer had only expected to find Autobots on the run, Autobots who were already battle weary and who he could have easily rounded up. He had not anticipated the Decepticons or their counter-attack, and it was for this reason that his team was defeated quickly. As Destron soldiers lay strewn across the floor of the storage bay, most of them rendered non-functional, he attempted to flee but was blocked at the entrance by Starscream.

The Decepticon leader approached Seizer, who attempted to back away, and slowly raised his cannon to the Destron's chest. Then, as Seizer's optics grew wide with realization of his impending fate, Megatron fired.

The transformed Autobot formerly known as Optronix took several moments to survey his surroundings, not saying a word – until, finally, his optics rested upon the Destron scientist Deluge. There was a deathly silence all about them as Autobots and Destrons alike looked on, waiting with anxious anticipation to see how the Nemesis Prime would react – even Straxus, who now had his full attention upon Deluge's awesome new creation. It was surely a sight to behold.

"Who… what… am I?" Nemesis Prime demanded of Deluge, his voice deep and fearsome, his hand slowly forming into a clenched fist as he lifted it to his face, examining it curiously.

Deluge maintained his composure, and his grin slowly widened. He stepped closer to the Nemesis, carefully and deliberately, wanting to reassure him. "Do not be afraid. You are the greatest of all my creations – indeed, of all creations, and a true marvel of scientific endeavour."

Nemesis slowly looked from Deluge to Straxus, and then back again as a low growl emanated from his throat. He was far larger and physically much more powerful than Deluge or any of the Destron guards – his might seemed to be matched only by Straxus himself. Nemesis looked down at the control module in Deluge's hands, his red optics glowing. "Why did you create me?" he insisted.

"Oh, a very special destiny awaits you, Nemesis Prime. Together, we shall conquer all of Cybertron for the glory of Lord Straxus, and of all Destrons who follow him… and you, Nemesis, you alone shall have the great honour of leading my Nemesis Army, to victory!" Deluge replied gleefully.

Nemesis Prime took in the scientist's words in silence until he had finished speaking. Then, as all optics and audio sensors awaited his response, Nemesis reached out and took the control module from Deluge's grasp. He examined it, turning it over in his hands.

The scientist moved closer in an attempt to reclaim his control module, but Nemesis kept it easily out of his reach. "You don't need that; give it to me," Deluge demanded feebly, nodding, his hand beckoning.

With one large hand wrapped around the module, Nemesis lifted it up in front of Deluge's face and then, with a malevolent snarl, began to squeeze it until it was nothing more than a crushed chunk of scrap. When he opened his hand, the module was unrecognizable; a thin, mangled piece of useless metal. It fell to the ground with a light clunk.

"No… no, no, no. What did you do?!" Deluge said in alarm, and bent down to retrieve the ruined module, but was suddenly stopped by a pair of large hands grabbing him by the neck and he found himself being lifted up off the ground. As he felt his throat slowly being crushed by Nemesis' strong fingers he struggled to speak, but found that he could produce nothing more than a subdued gargle from his vocal processor. His attempts to pry the powerful fingers from around his throat were all but futile.

As Deluge struggled to free himself, Nemesis gazed at him, optic to optic. "I am not Destron. I am… Nemesis Prime!" he emphasized forcefully, before releasing his grip on Deluge and violently throwing him backwards. The scientist landed hard on the ground.

Then Nemesis turned his attention away from Deluge, no longer interested in him, and noticed Straxus with his lethal blade held out in front of him. Before Nemesis could react, Straxus motioned for his guards and officers to converge upon the rogue Prime.

"You will bow down to me, or taste death!" the war lord bellowed, his glaive at the ready.

But Nemesis Prime stood his ground, unperturbed and seemingly unafraid of the Destron leader or his army of followers. Instead, he stepped towards Straxus, and as he did so two guards reached out to grab hold of him. With one swift, powerful swing, he slammed his forearm across their faces without even turning to look at them, knocking them away as if they were nothing more than a couple of sparring drones. Guards standing nearby became alerted and raised their weapons, pointing them at his back. "I… obey… nobody!" Nemesis declared, red optics glowing.

Straxus swung his glaive down hard, aiming for Nemesis' head. As he did so, Nemesis side stepped and grabbed hold of the glaive with both hands. Straxus struggled to keep his balance, the two of them fighting to overcome the other with brute strength, and for a while it seemed that they were evenly matched. Destron soldiers as well as their Autobot captives all looked on in surprise, watching the melee between the two powerful opponents. Guards stepped back to allow them room, as Nemesis threatened to overthrow Straxus, but the war lord was stubborn. He roared at Nemesis, infuriated by the outright challenge to his authority, and finally managed to connect his blade with Nemesis' midsection.

Nemesis staggered backwards and fell to the ground, one hand held against the injury. There was smoke and sparks, and drops of glowing energon trickled down his front, but it was only a temporary setback. Nemesis' expression turned cold as he slowly rose to his feet, his optics fixed upon Straxus, who looked down at the Nemesis in triumph. However, the war lord's pride was short lived as he realized what was about to happen next.

Soon after Straxus' army had secured the Iacon Command Center, drone activity had subsided as the Nemesis Army stood by to await their next command, relayed to them by Deluge. Now, all around, the drones that were still intact began to stir, as if injected with a flush of fresh energy, spurred to life once more. They came forth out of the rubble and from behind buildings and structures nearby from all directions, and began to form a circle around the gathered Destrons and Autobots.

Straxus watched the drones coming towards him, and his expression changed from one of superiority to one of surprise and concern. "Deluge! Stop them!"

A short distance away, Deluge struggled to sit up, still recovering from his confrontation with the Nemesis. "My Lord, I – I can't. My control unit is destroyed!" he replied, and scrambled to retrieve the unit from the ground.

Straxus let out a furious roar, but it was cut short as panic overtook him. He slashed out at the encroaching drones with his glaive, knocking one down and then another, but each time he got rid of one drone two more would appear in its place. "Well, don't just stand there!" he shouted out at his team of warriors. "Get them away from me!"

Clench, standing nearby, began to blast the drones with his cannon, but as soon as he did so many of the drones turned towards him and began to converge upon his position, seemingly unhindered by the energy from his weapon. He looked on, astounded, and then began to flail backwards in an attempt to get away from them, looking for an escape route.

"No! Don't use energy weapons against them – it'll only make them stronger!" Deluge shouted at Clench over the commotion.

Distracted and confused, Clench faltered for an instant, but that was all that it took as the drones encircled him completely, converging upon him and threatening to swallow him up in their midst.

Straxus knew a hopeless situation when he saw one. There was no time to gloat in his victory, or reign terror upon his Autobot prisoners. All that mattered now was his own escape, so that he could return later to exact revenge upon all his enemies. He would not be able to do that if he was killed by his own Nemesis Army. "Withdraw!" he called out to his warriors. "All units – withdraw!" he repeated and immediately took to the air, transforming into his mighty space craft mode. Then he streaked away, high up into the air, without waiting for his fellow Destrons to follow after him.

Upon hearing the command, Clench transformed into his alt mode – a massive truck – temporarily disorienting the drones that were groping and clamouring for his energon. As he began to roll forward, some of the drones were crushed underneath his wheels. Of course, he would never be able to defeat them all this way – he would first succumb to their sheer numbers – all he could do was speed away as fast as he could. Several ground troops followed after him, desperate to out-run the drone army, while the rest of Straxus' flight capable warriors were able to escape the drones' clutches with little effort. Only Deluge remained behind.

Nemesis Prime watched them go, looking up at the sky without saying a word. Then he raised an arm, and all drones immediately gave up their pursuit, turning to their new leader for further instructions. The Nemesis Army was now fully under his control.

Whilst the danger for the Autobots was far from over it appeared that, at least for now, they were safe from Straxus and his Destrons. But none of them had any sure idea of whether or not, in his current form, Optronix posed any threat to them at all.

Hot Rod had watched quietly as the entire drama had played out, hoping that his good friend was not entirely lost to them. He was the first among the group of Autobots, now free from their Destron captors, to approach the formidable robot. "Optronix?" he ventured forth, ignoring the others' startled warnings. "Optronix?"

Nemesis Prime slowly turned back to his former companions. He did not seem to acknowledge his former name, though his optics tracked the cadet who had called out to him.

"Optronix… I know it's still you in there," Hot Rod offered, but he was met with a cold stare. "Don't you remember? It's me, Hot Rod… please, let us help you." He stepped toward Nemesis, reaching out a hand, but was startled as the former cadet reached for him suddenly, grabbing the young Autobot by the throat.

"I… am… Nemesis Prime!" he reaffirmed, his optics glowing intensely.

Hot Rod held his hands up around Nemesis' grip in a vain attempt to pry off the strong hands from around his throat. In a moment of fear, and realization that he may have made a mistake, Hot Rod thought that he would die – his throat crushed by the hands of his former friend. But, then, he felt the lethal grasp slacken, and felt the pressure on his air intakes abate as the Prime's hands released him. It took him several moments to recover from the shock of his close call.

There was nothing more Hot Rod could do as he watched Nemesis Prime slowly turn around and walk away, the Nemesis Army drones lumbering after him.