Disclaimer: The Transformers and all associated characters do not belong to me. "The Sun is Burning" by Simon and Garfunkel is also not mine. Offroad is property of himself, but he's my creation.

Sunset on Jungle City

It was such a nice day. It had all the contents of a nice day: blue sky, fluffy white clouds, chirping birds, and a tan Omnicon resting comfortably in the shade of a Mayan pyramid.

Offroad mimicked the human habit and sighed with pleasure. What better way to spend an afternoon off than in the pristine beauty of Earth's jungle?

A gentle breeze ruffled the grass at the foot of the pyramid, and a leaf wound its way through the air to find a berth on Offroad's forehead. The technician smiled, just letting it rest there for a moment before the wind took it away again. He stared up at the blue sky and felt as if he would simply melt into the grass. It was all so beautiful, so perfect.

Those stuffy bots back on Cybertron who complained about associating with the fleshies, as some had nicknamed them, should take a vacation here. They'd soon be putting those "I Heart Earth" bumper stickers on their fenders.

A flicker of motion at the edge of the forest caught Offroad's optic. He turned his head ever so slightly to see a small dark creature snuffling around at the edge of the jungle. Offroad searched his memory banks as it moved hesitantly at the border between trees and grass.

A tapir, it was called, a rare and endangered species of Earth mammal. They had been dying out in this area, but human efforts were slowly bringing their numbers back up. How lucky was he, to have one simply walk right out in front of him?

Offroad didn't move for fear of scaring the creature. He simply watched as the tapir cautiously stepped into the clearing, nibbling delicately at the forest plants. An amazing creature, so fragile and yet Offroad could not take his eyes off it. He was trapped as securely as if he'd been held by an electromagnet. Offroad's hand shifted slightly, rasping against the rough stone. The organic froze. It raised its head to stare at Offroad, and he stared back.

Time seemed to be standing still for Offroad and his little clearing. There was nothing in the universe but Offroad, the tapir, the grass and the stone temple that cast a benevolent shadow over all three of them.

The next time Offroad looked up, the sky was darkening. Earth's sun touched the tops of the tree-covered mountains and set them aflame with reds and oranges.

No, too violent, decided Offroad. He'd had enough things getting set on fire after the last set of Decepticon attacks. The sun had bent down to kiss the mountains, and it was making the sky blush; that was better.

Time to be heading back before it got too dark. Offroad stood up and transformed, watching with regret as the tapir fled back into the jungle. He'd have to remember this spot. The fading light reflected off his metallic frame as he transformed and rolled down the crude dirt road that led to Jungle City. In the tourist season, it would have been packed, but no one came up here this time of year.

As much as he hated to leave the pyramids, the drive back was almost as nice. His road was actually an old riverbed with the bottom flattened out by erosion and tire treads. The walls reached up as high as the roof of his altmode, making it feel like a green and brown tunnel.

This was, what did the humans call it? The scenic route. It wound down and around the mountains, actually taking him farther away from Jungle City before curving back around. Perhaps the route wasn't the fastest, but it was the best looking. A bit like a few transformers he knew, actually.

Something furry scurried through the trees and chattered at Offroad. Jungle insects sang merry songs of love and greeting to him. Through the leaves above him, he could see the first evening stars.

Offroad drove perhaps a little slower then he could have. Being a little bit late wouldn't hurt anything. The city would still be there when he got back. He shut off his optic sensors and drove by pure instinct for a few moments, just soaking up the beauty around him as if he could somehow absorb it and keep it forever.

The animal noises were suddenly silenced, to be replaced with the sounds of battle. Offroad transformed and stepped out of the riverbed to get a better view over the tops of the trees.

He didn't like what he saw. Bright flashes of light signifying explosions lit up the city. Dark specks that could only be Terrorcons were flying about the burning towers. Smoke was billowing up and staining the sunset. Where were the other Autobots? They should be here; they should be defending the city. He stood on tiptoe, looking all around him.

There, on the cliff to the north. He could see one larger Autobot who was obviously Optimus Prime, and a few smaller ones who he couldn't identify from this distance. Were they hiding? Had the battle been lost so easily? One of them, he might be that rookie Ironhide, hefted a long-barreled gun and aimed it at the city.

No, not at the city. The energon ore inside the city, exposed by the Decepticon attacks. Offroad's optics widened. They couldn't do that. Detonating that much energon would be catastrophic. It wouldn't just destroy the city; it would take out a huge portion of the jungle around it.

Offroad shook his head and mouthed desperate pleas , knowing that they couldn't hear him. No, no, you can't. Please, no.

A burst of light came from the cliffs and arced toward the city. Even as Offroad's mind was still coming to terms with the fact that it had actually happened, his body was already reacting. He threw himself down in the riverbed and covered his head.

There was a burst of light, and then a deafening explosion. Offroad braced himself as the shockwave ripped through the jungle. Trees were torn from the ground and hit him on the back and sides. He huddled up against the wall of the riverbed, hoping he'd still be alive when this was all over.

Finally, the roaring ceased and Offroad cautiously lifted his head. He shoved a couple of fallen branches away and stood up shakily. It looked as if Unicron himself had come down and swept his arm across the landscape. Previously green areas were laid bare, and the city itself was a burnt-out shell. Offroad felt sick.

The road was blocked by fallen trees and other sundry pieces of jungle debris. He'd have to stay in robot mode and walk back through the jungle as the jet flies. Offroad resolutely trudged back up the mountain, constantly staring at the area right in front of his feet to keep from seeing the organic wreckage.

As he reached the top, he was suddenly trapped between a need to scream and sob. The pyramids… The ancient stone temples were now no more than rubble. Thousands of years old, made by humans who didn't even have wheels, let alone complex machinery, and they had been destroyed in mere seconds.

Who had authorized this, this atrocity? To destroy the entire city and surrounding area just to spite Megatron? They could rebuild the city; they could mine more energon. Let the Decepticons take what they wanted for once, it wasn't worth it.

Offroad tripped, and struck his head on a crumbling piece of stone. He pushed himself back up again and kept going without missing a beat. The technician didn't want to look at the ruins, didn't want to think about them. He moved on autopilot, his mind withdrawing as his body moved forward.

Offroad tripped again and buried his face in the damp earth. Spitting dirt and leaves, he tried to push himself back to his feet. His hand went out and touched something soft and wet. Offroad jerked away as if he'd touched a live wire. He looked at his palm. It was stained with a red liquid, darker than rust and thicker than oil.

He glanced back over to where he had unthinkingly put his hand and stared with horror at the blood and viscera covered corpse of the tapir. Its body was pitted with stone shrapnel and its eyes were still wide open, frozen in fear.

Offroad had seen dead transformers before, and injured humans on a few occasions, but something about seeing this innocent creature's life snuffed out like an electrical fire made his central processor ache.

The tapir hadn't asked to get involved in an interplanetary war over a substance it had no need for. It just wanted to live out its life in peace, maybe find a mate and raise a family. Earth creatures lived such short lives anyway; what right had they to make them any shorter?

There was no time for regrets. Optimus Prime couldn't have evacuated the entire city in such a short time. There had to be others who were caught in the blast and weren't as lucky as him. He would be needed back at the city, to help repair the injured. No time to mourn the dead.

Offroad's hand retracted and an arc welder appeared in its place. He touched it to a pile of fallen branches and they burst into flames. Offroad gently placed the corpse of the organic upon the funeral pyre, as he had seen humans do with their dead in movies.

"I'm sorry."

He ran off into the darkness.