There was a bit of tension back at the Autobot base. After the skirmish, Optimus reported his battle to the Council. They were debating for a long time, leaving the Autobots in a state of worry. Sira and Topaz were talking things over as well. "In summation," remarked Topaz, "I just don't see how we'll benefit taking the Harbinger."

"Are you kidding?!" countered Sira. "With the tech it's got and your understanding of the Enigma's systems, you could make your own ships!"

"We're simply not ready to go into space," replied Topaz.

"And I say we are," argued Sira. "Perhaps our alien visitors will agree?" She turned to Blackarachnia. "Wouldn't you agree? …Miss?"

"Hm?" mumbled Blackarachnia, having been snapped out of her thoughts. "Oh, yes, very ready for space."

"Something's on your mind," observed Topaz.

"Yes, actually," sighed Blackarachnia. "I just…I don't know what the Council's reaction will be."

"We're about to find out," called Jazz. Optimus came into the Command Center, looking downcast. "So?" quizzed Jazz.

"The Autobot Councilors have condemned Megatron's actions," reported Optimus. "In response, Straxus and all Decepticon Councilors have retired from the Council Chambers."

"They're pulling out of policy making?" gulped Bumblebee.

"Worse than that," sighed Optimus. "The majority of the Decepticons have cut off diplomatic ties and have pledged their allegiance to Megatron. The Pax Cybertronia is null and void. The Autobots are, once again, at war with the Decepticons."

"NO!" roared Ironhide as he punched the wall. "Four million years of pointless bloodshed and we start it all over again!"

"Mobius will do whatever it can to help you end this war quickly," assured Topaz.

"With all due respect," countered Ironhide, "we can't accept."

"Why not?" asked Jazz. "They've helped us before."

"They've helped us in threats that affected both them AND us," argued Prowl.

"They've also taken down Decepticons," hissed Ratchet. "And, so help me, if you tell me they only took down Shockwave, I'll break the Hippocratic Oath and slap you!"

"Seven people died on the Harbinger," countered Cliffjumper. "A wizard and a witch, two Mobians, and three humans. They were lucky because the Decepticons were taken by surprise. If they weren't, I doubt the casualties would be so low. We can't afford that kind of blood on our hands."

"We DO have a duty to protect this planet!" insisted Topaz.

"And the inhabitants," agreed Sira.

"It WOULD be beneficial to accept zer help," mused Perceptor.

"We've done fine in secret," answered Ultra Magnus. "Why should we drag dese people into OUR war?"

"Because we're NOT robots in disguise on this planet," replied Blackarachnia. "People can identify us in both of our forms."

"But we run the risk of harming civilians," argued Bumblebee. "I know I'm young here, but my father was tortured to the end of his days with the guilt of all the civilian casualties at Tyger Pax. We can't afford that kind of grief."

"We also can't afford to let the Cons harm humans in secret!" snapped Teletraan. "Think about it. What makes you think Megatron will just let people alone WITHOUT our public presence?"

"Prime, what's your opinion on this?" asked Topaz. Optimus drew in a breath, then spoke.

"I understand the people that don't want to involve the natives of this planet," he began, "but, the way I see it, they're already involved. Megatron knows how powerful Mobius is in terms of its military might. He won't hesitate until Mobius is under his heel. With or without our help, Mobius can't afford Decepticons on our soil. Besides, with the knowledge they have on us, we can easily beat the Cons. Therefore, we will NOT withdraw from the Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty. The N.E.S.T alliance is still in effect. Only, we shall share more of our secrets with our allies."

"And we shall certainly share more of ours," assured Topaz.

"Would you mind if I add my signature to this treaty?" asked Sira. "We ALL have a stake in this."

"I see no reason to refuse your name on the treaty," replied Optimus.

"Neither do I," supplied Topaz. "I will just need to clear this with Her Majesty."

"Optimus!" protested Ultra Magnus.

"I went on a journey that showed me that help must be accepted when offered," countered Optimus. "I cannot, in good conscience, refuse Mobius' help."

"…Dere's no changing your mind, is dere?" sighed Ultra Magnus.

"No, I'm afraid not," replied Optimus. "However, we must not allow ourselves to be too despondent. There are two pieces of good news. First, the Decepticons on Cybertron have been ordered to wait until Megatron takes care of us, according to our Spy-changers."

"Good, we can keep the fighting contained here," mused Ironhide.

"Second, there's a pair of us that need to be rewarded," observed Optimus. "Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, come forward." Bumblebee and Cliffjumper couldn't help but feel a little worried as they obeyed, even though Optimus said it was good news. "You two have been a tremendous help so far," said Optimus. "Sadly, your respective positions limit your abilities."

"Sir, you're not…!" yelped Bumblebee.

"Therefore," continued Optimus, "it gives me great pleasure to award you higher positions equal in rank." He then revealed what was in his hands. They were shiny, new badges, different to the ones the two have.

"But, those are for…!" gasped Cliffjumper.

"Staff Sergeants," finished Optimus. "I'm giving you two promotions. Do you accept?"

"Happily!" cheered the two bots.

"Then, renew your vows as Autobots," directed Optimus. They crossed their arms and retook the oath.

"I pledge my undying service to my Prime and the Autobot cause! I shall devote my spark to achieving our goal of galactic peace, even if I must give up my life! I will defend the weak and helpless and remove any threats from the planet that which we protect! 'Til All Are One!" They then removed their old badges and allowed Optimus to put the Staff Sergeant badges in their place.

"Congratulations," praised Ironhide. "You two deserve that promotion!"

"Thank you, Sir," bid Bumblebee.

"Well, your research can get better from here," chuckled Ultra Magnus.

"Truth be told, we've hit a dead-end," muttered Bumblebee.

"Besides," continued Cliffjumper, "we have bigger problems. Scattered though they are, Megatron and his cronies are out there and we have no idea of their next move."

"Cliff's right," sighed Optimus. "Who knows what kind of scheme Megatron's cooking up!"

Megatron wasn't cooking up any scheme whatsoever. If anything, he was brooding over the events that happened an hour ago. His holo-form leaned against the side of his vehicle mode as he stared through the trees. "I had it," he ranted. "Victory was right there in my hands. And yet, Optimus' chaotic nature foiled me! How is it that a child of 154 Earth years can play the long game?! By definition, that's not an age where patience is a Cybertronian's strong suit! How did he come up with that plan?!"

"154 Earth years?" called a voice. "I didn't think the Matrix would pick a bot so young. How long has he been Prime?"

"Who's there?!" demanded Megatron as he transformed, ready to fire his cannon. "Show yourself!"

"Very well, but you may think me a ghost," replied the voice. He heard footsteps behind him and aimed his cannon through that area of the forest. He then saw a red light slightly below his eye level. He increased the focus in his optics to get a clearer view on the source of the light. What he saw made him lower his cannon in surprise.

"It cannot be!" he whispered. "You…live?!" There, stepping out of the trees, was Shockwave.

"Greetings, Megatronus," she bid. "I must admit surprise that you would wear the Decepticon colors. I take it you're the new Decepticon leader?"

"Correct," confirmed Megatron, "and it's Megatron." A grin then appeared on his face. "I must say, your appearance is quite the tactical advantage!"

"I am satisfied you think so, Lord Megatron," replied Shockwave as she bowed. "I have a base of operations for the Decepticons. I trust you will find them to be suitably Spartan."

"Give me the coordinates so I can get them to Soundwave," commanded Megatron. "He'll bring the Decepticons there."

"Very well," obliged Shockwave. She beamed the coordinates into his head and Megatron opened a private channel to Soundwave, giving him the coordinates and ordering all Decepticons to converge there. Soundwave obeyed and opened a lot of Ground Bridge portals. Megatron and Shockwave stepped through theirs and arrived at Robotropolis. Eggman and Metal Sonic were there to greet them.

"Welcome to my humble abode!" greeted Eggman.

"Shockwave, who is this?" asked Megatron.

"He's the one who built this city," explained Shockwave.

"I am the brilliant Doctor Julian Ivo Robotnik!" introduced Eggman. "But, you can call me Dr. Eggman!"

"Ah, yes, you're that blue rat's rival," mused Megatron.

"Sonic is no mere rat," countered Eggman.

"He IS a valuable ally to the Autobots," agreed Shockwave.

"Yes, well, he is a nuisance, I grant you," muttered Megatron as he massaged the back of his head. More Ground Bridge portals opened up, allowing the Decepticons to enter Robotropolis. "What kept you?" hissed Megatron.

"Traffic was terrible," joked Soundwave. "Dude, you wouldn't believe how much distance I had to cross to get us all here! I'm running on fumes!"

"If that were true," remarked Shockwave, "you would be in emergency stasis lock."

"Come on, Shocks, can't you…" Soundwave stopped asking when he clapped optics on Shockwave. "It…it can't be!"

"Shockwave?!" yelped Starscream. All Decepticons were in a similar state of shock.

"I know," chuckled Megatron, "quite an unexpected turn! Shockwave, I thought you perished at my hand."

"Yes, as did we all!" stammered Starscream as he took cover behind someone.

"Stop hiding behind me!" snapped Thundercracker.

"Reports of my demise were greatly premature," answered Shockwave. "A group of Autobots had infiltrated my facility in Washington D.C. in order to stop my space bridge supply line. I gave chase into the vortex but failed to accurately predict the outcome. Megatronus had shot me in the eye." Megatron twitched at hearing his old name. "I awoke in the rubble briefly enough to replace my eye, but I could not stay out of stasis lock. I allowed myself to slip into stasis once my artificial eye was fully accepted into my systems. I then awoke in an Energon Repair tank of Eggman's design, disoriented, but fully repaired. It soon became clear I was marooned on this planet with no means of communication. I had frequent encounters with the Autobots and have gained Dr. Eggman and Metal Sonic as my allies. Optimus has proven to be a thorn in our side and has started to make himself a thorn in yours, from what we saw an hour ago."

"You saw the entire thing?!" snarled Thundercracker. "And you didn't feel the need to help us?!"

"Thundercracker, enough," ordered Megatron.

"I needed to observe the fight to see how much of a threat Optimus could be," replied Shockwave. "Now, we know never to underestimate him. However, I am left with a question of my own." Shockwave advanced on Starscream. "Why was I abandoned? Left for scrap? Why?" Starscream was terrified but spoke the truth.

"The…the explosion!" squeaked Starscream. "It collapsed the power core chamber! The last thing we saw was you charging into the space bridge portal! No one saw you come back out!"

"I find your reply to be…logical," replied Shockwave. Starscream released a breath.

"But, you will be pleased to know I avenged your seeming demise by personally terminating the Wrecker leader!" he boasted.

"Careful, Starscream," sighed Knock-out. "You may pull a wing strut patting yourself on the back."

"Ah, so YOU were the one who terminated Roadbuster," mused Megatron.

"That's me!" cheered Starscream. "And, as the second-in-command, allow me to welcome you back to the Decepticon fold, Shockwave."

"And allow me to clarify the new chain of command," boomed Megatron to all Decepticons. "While Starscream will address military matters, Shockwave will oversee any scientific endeavors."

"So, we EACH report directly to you?" quizzed Starscream.

"Affirmative," confirmed Megatron. Starscream kept up a polite smile for a few seconds until his scorn overrode his sensibilities.

"Completely logical, My Liege," he hissed.

"Now then," said Megatron to Eggman, "my communications officer requires a work-station."

"Shockwave prepped one for him right here in the Command Tower," replied Eggman as he showed a Transformer-sized computer work-station. "Er, which one is your communications officer?"

"DUDE!" called Soundwave. "That's me! The Bodacious Soundwave!"

"Excellent, Mr. er, Soundwave," stammered Eggman. Soundwave sat down at the work-station and started playing around with the computer.

"So, I can use this part of the database?" he asked. Metal stepped forward.

"Absolutely not!" he snapped. "That information is of the highest…!"

"What Metal means is," interrupted Eggman, "our entire database is open to you. Feel free to explore it at your leisure."

"RADICAL!" cheered Soundwave.

"No one says that anymore!" snapped Thundercracker.

"Sadical," sighed Soundwave. He was about to get to work when the screen glitched out. He tried to find the source when Metal Sonic spoke.

"I will not allow these emotional malfunctions to gain access!" he roared.

"What can you do about it, pipsqueak?" asked Knock-out. "I'm not the best warrior and I CAN take you down."

"Doubtful," snarled Metal. "My superior skills will topple you!"

"Superior?" repeated Soundwave. "You, little dude? No, no, Soundwave: superior. Metal Sonic: inferior. Okay?" The fact that he spoke like someone with a superiority complex would do to a non-English speaking foreigner infuriated Metal, so he used his Polarity hands to shove him across the room.

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING INFERIOR?!" he bellowed. "NOBODY WOULD WORK WITH AN UNCHARISMATIC BORE LIKE YOU!"

"Bore?" snarled Soundwave. Rumble then ejected from Soundwave's backpack in hover-atv mode.

"NO ONE CALLS SOUNDWAVE UNCROSOMATIC!" he said "RUMBLE, TRANSFORM!" His legs unfolded from the top of the vehicle and the arms folded away from the rear, allowing the head to pop up. He combined his hover generator struts to make a large hammer. "Get ready to crumble before…!"

"Rumble, return," droned a monotonous voice with a robotic undertone. Rumble turned to see that the back flap of Soundwave's helmet had retracted into his head and a mouth-plate had been deployed. Soundwave was about to get serious and Rumble decided not to argue. He returned and Soundwave activated cables hidden in his arms to use as whips. Metal tore a chunk of the floor out and tossed at Soundwave. He blocked it using one whip and grabbed Metal with the other. He then mentally commanded it to bring Metal to his face. "Soundwave: superior. Metal Sonic: inferior," he boasted in that creepy monotone the mouth-plate generated.

"Soundwave! Release him!" roared Megatron. "I do not intend to start a partnership so roughly!"

"As you command, Megatron," droned Soundwave. He released Metal Sonic and deactivated his mouth-plate, restoring the back-flap and sitting back down to access the database Eggman had provided.

"Let me apologize for Metal's rudeness," offered Eggman. "He's a bit sore that he lost three times to the Autobots. He holds a grudge worse than me. The only way that he can get rid of that anger, and I will be the first to admit how unhealthy it is, is to lash out at anyone that resembles a Transformer. Rest assured; he will be disciplined."

"I'm glad to hear that," replied Megatron.

"WHOA!" called Soundwave. "Dudes! We just picked up a mondo huge energy signature!"

"Can you identify it?" quizzed Megatron.

"Already did so," replied Soundwave. "According to our host's files, it belongs to something called a Chaos Emerald."

"I've seen a pair of them before," mused Megatron. "They're seven mystical gems that grant their master an enormous surge of power. Optimus has the cyan and yellow Emeralds while Shadow has the green one." He turned to Eggman. "Doctor, I cannot stress enough how we must get this Emerald to gain any advantage over the Autobots as they have not made any serious study since they cured the Dyno-bots of their…condition."

"The Dyno-bots can transform normally?" inquired Shockwave.

"And they're on Cybertron to stand trial for all the weapons they stole," revealed Megatron. "In any event, we need an Emerald to fully understand it."

"And all seven will help you put your plans into action!" cheered Eggman.

"Not until we study them," countered Megatron. "I will not have this one blow up in my face. Shockwave, have you made any study into the Emeralds?"

"No significant study was made," reported Shockwave, "but I've made a bit."

"Then it is imperative," directed Megatron, "that you make a complete study of the Emeralds. Starscream, you will retrieve the Emerald. Do NOT return empty-handed."

"Don't know the meaning of the word," boasted Starscream, seeing this as a chance to get back into Megatron's good graces.

"Isn't that TWO words?" mused Skywarp.

"Perhaps in Cybertronian," lectured Thundercracker, "but not in English. The hyphen makes it a compound word, the operative word being 'A'."

"Tell me, Thundercracker," snarked Starscream, "has writing in English made you forget what you truly are?"

"Why, you screechy, stiletto-wearing…!" snarled Thundercracker.

"Enough!" boomed Megatron. "Soundwave, open a Ground Bridge for Starscream."

"Sure thing!" confirmed Soundwave. A Ground Bridge opened and Starscream ran through.