Author's Notes: I'd like to take the opportunity to first off, apologize for the extreme length of time it has taken me to turn out this chapter. Believe me, I've been annoyed with the wait even more than you guys might have been. That said it is also worth noting that the following updates after this will occur much more slowly than they have in the past, even though I'll do my best to get them out ASAP. Bear with me folks; the good times really are about to roll, as this marks the beginning of the end for Iconic Ruin.

Here, in Part I of chapter six, you may have noticed the words "Optimal POV" in the chapter title. This represents a change in the narrative's format for this chapter, as each part of this chapter is a retelling of the events that occurred in one period of time from multiple characters' point of views. Obviously, therefore, this first part will focus on Optimal Retaliation's actions and the actions of others that involved him. It is because of this that I give fair warning to all of my readers:

The first few parts of this chapter are probably going to seem really random and jumpy, and because the same events are being told from several people's point of views, it might get a bit boring at times to read the same stuff multiple times in different chapters. But believe me, there is methodology to my madness. Therefore, there is also a reason why I'll be doing so much backtracking. Do not skip the repetitive passages. Trust me, you'll miss a lot of key information if you do.

Also, for those of you who have waited forever for your characters to get some serious screen time in my fanfiction – some of you will now have your faith rewarded. And for those of you, who will continue to wait, believe me, your wait will not be too much longer. Every character that was submitted will appear in one of the parts of Chapter Six, I just can't tell you which ones yet.

There's a lot of stuff going on in this chapter and I've prattled away on my keyboard long enough. Therefore I'll wrap this up by expressing my gratitude to those who have read this fic all the way through, and I hope you join me in appreciating the fact that from here on out – this fanfiction is only gonna get better. Enjoy yourselves, and happy reading.

Radiata Plains, 2nd Vorn, Agorahex

Optimal Retaliation quietly rode along what was commonly known as the Radiata Plains. Though really, the Plains were not plains at all. A vast field of ash and battlefield debris, the Radiata Plains marked the extent of the radiation fields that enveloped Agorahex. In his past occupation as an archeologist Optimal Retaliation had heard speculation that the Plains had once been the suburban districts of Agorahex, and had been leveled by the same cataclysmic battle that had destroyed the city itself. At the time, Optimal Retaliation had not believed the stories. Few did, given the fact that the city proper itself was not reduced to piles of radiation soaked debris like its outlying districts.

But in the hours since departing the company of his Autobot comrades just before they were to enter the Plains the young Autobot had begun to wonder about such stories. Something about recent events troubled him, greatly. It was so familiar to him, and he couldn't help but feel angry with that. It angered him so much that they were making the same mistakes all over again, and he didn't just mean Centbot and Maximus Prime. Heck, even Evolution Prime's overreactions weren't the focus of his rage this time. It was focused on all of his fellow Transformers.

Honestly, for eight human centuries Autobots and Decepticons had waged their war and yet neither side could achieve victory. The war was a needless waste of lives but neither side could let go of their anger and resentment of the other side long enough to hammer out a peace treaty. He felt like they should have learned from their mistakes a long time ago – but how could anyone learn from a past that was hidden? Two Vorns had passed since the Awakening, over one thousand and six hundred human years. But carbon dating and other means of determining the age of Seibertron's cities confirmed that the Transformers had existed as a race long before that.

Once, the search for answers to the many questions that the people had concerning their common ancestry had united both groups of people. But, it didn't take long for the ideological differences to arise. Soon after that, the division between Autobots and Decepticons started and both people began to compete for the resources of their fair planet. It was mostly because of these resources that the Great War began; a war that in these days seemed like it had clearly not gone well for the Autobots. Additionally, with the destruction of Iacon at the hands of their own defensive superweapon it seemed certain the Autobot's days were numbered.

Even now, Optimal Retaliation knew, that even though right now was the moment when a peaceful accord was most needed it would never occur. Although they were peace loving by nature the Autobots had thought of Decepticons as nothing but the enemy for far too long. That kind of resentment and prejudice could not be cast aside overnight. They'd rather die than live as a defeated people, or at least the majority of them would. As for the Decepticons… they were Decepticons. Now that victory was near, and so many of their people slain by the activation of the Array, total victory was the only outcome the Decepticons would accept. If the Autobots didn't surrender (which naturally they would never do) then they'd all be killed (which the Decepticons would have preferred as an outcome anyway).

That history should have been enough of a lesson, but as time ground on the search for answers to the past came to an end after the war started. Both sides blamed the other for erasing knowledge of their common past. Optimal Retaliation doubted either side was correct. It didn't seem to fit with the general way either faction operated. But still, the fact that millions of sentient beings could forget so much of their own past should have been enough to make them all see that there was a bigger picture out there and that killing one another for such petty reasons was wrong.

But despite all that, not only was the war still ongoing, but there was potential for genocide on the horizon and at a time when the Autobots needed a united front more than ever here they were hunting down two of their own. It was an offensive thought to Optimal Retaliation, and it was one he couldn't get away from. Recent events had badly shaken his faith not only in his friends but also his faith in his own ideals. No matter how hard he had fought to save lives, still more died on other battles. It was a long, eternal circle of life, destruction, and death.

And the scene around him was a prime example of that. Agorahex had been the first city to suffer a cataclysmic event, but it was far from the last. Strategic weapons had been employed without hesitation in the opening days of the Great War, usually resulting in nothing but the destruction of kilometers of real estate and thousands of lives. How many had died here when Agorahex was destroyed? Optimal Retaliation didn't know, but he had the distinct impression that more Transformers had died on that day than had ever died during the Great War.

Fighting over resources that had become limited only because of the war both sides had fought over them. Fighting over a past that for all they knew they erased themselves. Ironic? Certainly. Pathetically stupid? Without a doubt. It was so stupid that for a while Optimal Retaliation could have been fooled into thinking it was a holodrama. But the Radiata Plains, which surrounded the Autobot, were all too real. With so much loose debris in the area the only safe paths to travel were small valleys cut into the Plains by some random event of nature. As a consequence it felt very much like Optimal Retaliation was rolling through a great black mountain valley.

Even more intimidating, though, was the random energon surges zapping through Optimal Retaliation's body. The high concentrations of energon radiation meant that even with his internal energy dampers on full his system was still flooded with more raw energy than it could safely handle. This physical strain to be certain was definitely not helping the Autobot's mood. After all, what could sour an already dour mood better than random electric shocks? His radiation warning alarms also constantly reminded him that he only had so many cycles he could remain in the city before his laser core overloaded from a massive energon radiation surge after his dampers failed.

In short, there were a lot of things upsetting Optimal Retaliation at this very moment. Worse still, half of them were things he couldn't do anything about. But the issue of Centbot's suspected desertion was not one of those things. He could get some answers out of his mentor and old friend, and he would. But before he could answer his many questions, he needed to find the rogue Autobot first.

Optimal Retaliation put the pedal to the metal and his engine roared as he picked up speed and headed further towards Agorahex. It was time to settle things one-way or the other.

------

To Evolution Prime, wasting time was one thing. Wasting time because his predecessor and a foolishly stubborn Autobot decided to betray him and every other Autobot was quite another. He was wasting time here hunting those two down plus that Decepticon which aided in their escape instead of being back in Iacon, making preparations for winning this war once and for all. True, he could be back in Iacon helping to carry out his plan to put the Decepticons in their place while regulating this duty to his lieutenants… but he had only just been appointed as the new leader.

Evolution Prime was not yet certain of his troop's loyalties, and he knew many Autobots whispered doubts about Maximus Prime's guilt. To maintain his unstable political office, he needed to make sure his authority was absolute. The outright defiance of Centbot and Maximus Prime had made him appear weak, and he did not like to be thought of as weak. Nobody respected a weak leader. He had made his decision on Maximus Prime's fate, and he had to carry it through no matter what. This was too important for him to hand down to an unproven officer no matter how skilled.

Optimal Retaliation, ironically, had proven to be the prime example of Evolution Prime's fear about handing this operation down to a lower tier of the food chain. That Autobot had betrayed him, and given that several members of the team he had assembled had known Optimal for a long time raised the possibility that still more traitors existed within his ranks. Paranoia was an uncomfortable feeling, and Evolution Prime struggled to keep his paranoia in check… but honestly – how could anybody in his position not be paranoid?

The Autobot Councilor had already sent most of his group ahead to the Central Archives, leaving only Sharpwing and Spidertron to follow him. And soon enough, they'd be leaving him behind too. "Do you two understand your assignment? I want it to be clear that if you find him you are ordered to bring him back to me by whatever means are necessary."

"Understood, Prime." Was the immediate reply from both Autobots.

Evolution Prime smiled a bit. It was risky to trust his people when they were split up like this, but he had little choice in the matter. "Very well then, get going. We'll meet back at the Central Archives."

With that, Sharpwing rose into the air -Spidertron riding on the Autobot flyer's back- and banked away. They had been assigned the task of hunting down and apprehending Optimal Retaliation. Everyone else was assigned to continue with the main objective. Evolution Prime would be joining the main group shortly, but first he contacted the Autobase back in Iacon. He was gratified when ThunderCrush, the Autobot who Evolution Prime had installed as regional commander of the city in his absence, appeared on one of Evolution Prime's internal video screen monitors and began filling him in on current events underway within the city.

-----

Starscream SB hovered well above visual range of the city below him, partly because there was little in it that he wanted to see but also because he didn't want his prey to find him. Or, more accurately, Galvatron Prime didn't want those ever-observant Autobots to notice he was spying on them. Starscream would have preferred a straight fight to all this snooping around, observing the enemy. He was a warrior, not a scout. Why bring a seeker along for scouting? Let Dark Ops or any of the other egghead 'Cons in the group do the snooping – they were good at it.

But scouting wasn't his job; annihilating Autoboobs was more his speed. His engines needed to be screaming and inspiring fear in his enemies as he descended on them with his null-ray lasers blazing. They didn't deserve the indignity of hovering around at a speed that for a seeker registered as barely moving. Not to mention all of this remote spying and observing was proving to be a severe strain on his optic circuits. And furthermore, why in the universe did Galvatron Prime need Starscream SB to update him every time one of the Autobots twitched a finger?

Galvatron Prime insisted that every detail was crucial to planning their little ambush, but what possible strategic value could there be in the fact that one Autobot was going two k/ph slower than the one in front of him? It wasn't until the Autobot formation began to split up that Starscream SB started to get excited. Finally, something that had a relevance he could understand was happening. Then, however, he noticed that a small group turning to the side of the main group contained Starscream SB's old nemesis Sharpwing. That realizing had sent a wave of heat rising up through Starscream's fuel lines. He so desperately wanted to invert himself and dive down on Sharpwing's tail while reducing the cocky fool into slag.

But, he didn't dare go against Galvatron Prime's orders. Doing so would be the same as committing suicide. Thusly so, he wisely checked in first. Besides, if Galvatron Prime denied his request, he could always disobey the order after pretending that there was comm. interference. They'd been in this radiation bath for a long time, and it was beginning to affect their systems somewhat. The one disadvantage to the fact that they managed to beat their Autobot quarry to Agorahex. "Starscream SB to Galvatron Prime, the Autobots have split up into two different groups. The larger one is heading towards our trap; the second one is apparently going after a secondary objective. Request permission to eliminate the stragglers personally, sir."

Galvatron Prime mulled over the request for a second before asking a question which he had already figured out the answer to. "Is Sharpwing in the group, Starscream?"

Were he in his robot mode instead of his jet fighter alternate form, Starscream SB would have frowned. He already knew where this conversation was going. "Yes, Galvatron."

"Then do not engage them under any circumstances. This mission is too important to waste on your petty rivalry." Galvatron Prime replied dismissively. Starscream SB bristled a bit at Galvatron's words, but he managed to bite back a hasty reply. Instead, he simply cut the link, fumed, and backed to follow Sharpwing. He might not be able to shoot Sharpwing, but if he tagged the little fool until the time was right, he just might eventually get the chance to nail his old rival.

1st Southern District, 2nd Vorn, Agorahex

Optimal Retaliation rolled slowly to a stop upon reaching the city. Up until now, he had followed a trail left behind by his old friend and former leader as they also had rolled into the city. But the trail ended now that he had entered the city proper, suggesting that they either took steps to avoid leaving a trail or had gone into robot mode from this point. Whatever the case may have been it still meant that Optimal had reached the end of this proverbial road.

Evolution Prime knew or at least honestly believed that Centbot and Maximus Prime were heading towards the Central Archives of Agorahex in order to access the information stored there. On that, Optimal Retaliation agreed with Evolution Prime. But where they disagreed was on the matter of whether or not Centbot and Maximus Prime would stay in that location. Evolution Prime thought they would, Optimal Retaliation knew they wouldn't. Centbot hated staying anywhere for any great length of time, and Maximus Prime knew they'd be tracked there anyway.

Thus, Optimal Retaliation's dilemma was figuring out where Centbot would have gone next. If Optimal believed that Centbot was a traitor, then Polyhex would be the logical destination. But since Optimal Retaliation didn't believe Centbot was a traitor even for a second he dismissed that thought out of hand. They couldn't get back to Iacon, so they would have had to find somewhere else to park inside Agorahex itself. And given the level of destruction visited upon this city, there were very few places inside the city that would offer a sufficient level of cover from any sort of determined search party.

Of course, nobody had ever bothered to fully map out the ruins. Their layout changed too rapidly due to what many suspected to be subsurface facilities crumbling and dropping the layers of infrastructure above down into the resulting chasm. Thus, Optimal Retaliation had no idea where to begin his search. But, sitting around gawking at the scenery wasn't going to find anybody. Optimal Retaliation transformed, his trailer section vanishing as it always did as he assumed his robot form from his oil tanker truck alternate form.

He looked around, Optimal's gaze sweeping across the bombed-out cityscape around him. It was barren, dark, lonely… pretty much the perfect place for someone who didn't want to be found. The sheer size of the city would slow his search, but he had to at least try to find them. Picking a random direction, Optimal Retaliation wandered off in his chosen direction. His only company on his journey that he knew off was the metallic footfalls of his metal feet walking along the hard pathway.

-----

Perhaps the greatest irony of it all was the simple fact that while one party or another was spying on all the others; those parties in turn were being spied on by somebody else. This unknown third party, however, had kept itself hidden as it observed closely the recent development in this ancient city. Agorahex had not drawn such a crowd of influential Transformers since the last Great War, at least to that third party's recollection. But, whereas the other two parties were involved in this mess indirectly because of the actions of the rogue Autobots, this third party was involved for a somewhat more sinister reason.

It noted the respective positions of all the players in this game, evaluating the odds of Virsago successfully completing his part of their deal. Quickly coming to the conclusion that they could not complete their original plans under these conditions – the third party quickly ceased its observations and disappeared entirely. It had things it needed to discuss with Virsago, after all.

Virsago's Lair – Virus Development Section, 2nd Vorn, Agorahex

Virsago slowly paced outside the corridors of the Virus Development Lab inside of his lair complex. His recent nightmare still affecting him and he was still trying to bring his rattled nerves back into focus. It was hard enough living with the knowledge of the past, but these half-memories of his were becoming excruciatingly tiresome. When he had made the original decision to come here to check out the progress of the Iacon Virus program it was a thought made in a desperate need to get his mind focused on something else.

But in his haste to escape the past he ended up running right back into it again. He had forgotten that this lab was the same one that used to belong to his old friend, and thus having remembered that it all came right back to him. It bothered Virsago greatly how his half-awakened memory refused to allow him proper rest anymore, it was beginning to hinder his ability to function. During the long period of time after the Awakening, after being brought back to life and learning what had happened before the reset his anger had sustained him. It lent him the determination he needed to endure the long period of waiting and scheming from behind the shadows necessary to reach the position he was in now.

But now that which had once sustained him was now becoming a problem. He was feeling increasingly restless; he wanted to get to the end of it all – right here and right now. No more waiting and plotting, just plain and simple execution of his wrath. Centbot, Maximus Prime, Decatron, Gore… all of them were close now. With but one extension of his amassed power he knew he could crush them all with one fell stroke. But doing so would be pointless, it would create boundless chaos and that was not Virsago's goal.

Virsago was trying to bring the people's past back to them first, and then he'd satisfy his need for revenge on those who had wronged him. So was the argument he used on himself so very often, but after nearly two entire Vorns the excuse was wearing amazingly thin. Virsago narrowed his optics as he gazed at the Lab's doorway – quietly reaffirming his own willpower to proceed even in the face of his own impatience. There were more important matters to contend with now – but even so Virsago began to wonder how long he could contain himself.

Virsago was about to enter the Lab, but that was when he felt a large shift in the energy field behind him in the corridor. He didn't bother turning around to see who it was as there was only one Transformer on the planet at present that could generate an energy field strong enough for him to detect. "What do you want?" Virsago asked irritably, his voice conveying the sense that he was not at all pleased to see his ally directly behind him. To be honest, Virsago had sent him off on that reconnaissance mission simply to get the tiny pest out of his hair.

Nevertheless, his ally did have use upon occasion, so when his ally stated that their deal needed to be renegotiated he turned on the Transformer and heard him out. A short time later, his ally was gone, vanished into thin air right in front of Virsago's optics. But Virsago couldn't help but feel like he had made a mistake by allowing his ally to do what he was now doing. Sadly, this was one of those rare moments when Virsago didn't have a choice. All he could do was plan for the worst and hope that he wouldn't come to regret the new deal.

1st Southern District, 2nd Vorn, Agorahex

Optimal Retaliation was still walking along on his chosen path, not really knowing where he was going. His progress was slow and deliberate, as he explored every building and hole in the ground he could find. Even after hours of searching, he figured it unlikely he'd explored more than a few city blocks' worth of territory. It was actually kind of annoying, but he had no choice. Centbot could be anywhere in this city, and therefore Optimal had no choice but to search the entire damned thing if necessary. The progress was slow, but he figured the others wouldn't have much more luck.

Then as he was about to transform back into his alternate vehicle form, he felt a strange sensation running up through his circuits. Like an energon surge (which he was already all too familiar with) but less painful and distracting. He was keen to ignore it, but then he heard a voice behind him. It was a higher pitched voice, one could even say childlike were it not for the complete lack of innocence in the tone. "I do hope you have a better search method in mind, Autobot. You're never going to find what you seek this way. And you can put that away, if I posed any danger to you you'd have been dead before I chose to reveal myself."

Optimal Retaliation narrowed his optics at the tiny ball-like creature that addressed him, just for a moment spitting the thing dead center on the sights of his double-barreled plasma shell shotgun. "Identify yourself first, then I'll decide for myself if you're worth shooting or not." Was the Autobot's reply.

The tiny little thing sighed, its ball-like body turning both to the left and the right as if to shake its head at him. "Autobots of the modern age are so suspicious of strangers. But very well, the name is Minicron, and I can point you in the right direction to find your friend."

Optimal Retaliation's optics widened and Minicron would have smirked if he had the proper appendage to do so in this form. "How did you know about that?"

Minicron scoffed. "This is my city. The energon radiation that is so harmful to you is what sustains me. I live here, and as such I know everything that goes on within the borders of my city. I saw you and your friends enter this city, as well as the others. Given that they arrived first, it doesn't take much to connect the dots. You followed them, and now you're searching for them."

Optimal Retaliation thought that over, though his claim of being sustained by the radiation field, which was lethal to any ordinary Transformer over sustained periods, seemed extremely strange to Optimal Retaliation. "And so what faction do you ally with?"

Again, Minicron scoffed, only this time he followed it up with genuine laughter. Optimal Retaliation noted, however, that a little ball barely two meters in diameter with two arm-like appendages sticking out of it looked extremely odd when it laughed. "Boy, my home is a radiation soaked ruin. Do you really think I bother with the extremely petty politics of your war? I don't care if you wipe each other off the face of this planet – I just want you all to leave my city well enough alone. As a matter of fact, once I'm done here I'm off to Iacon. But first I want to help you find your friend, so you can get the Pit out of Agorahex."

Optimal thought over Minicron's words and while he wasn't entirely satisfied with the answer he also decided that he needed help to find Centbot before anybody else did. And if Minicron's claims were true he'd be the only Transformer on the planet with intimate knowledge of Agorahex. That knowledge would greatly speed up the search. He lowered his shotgun and racked it before turning back to Minicron. "Can you take me right to where they are now?"

Minicron's entire body shook again in his version of a headshake. "Regretfully I cannot. One of them entered the Central Archives and has not been heard from since. The other one has moved on, where I cannot say but judging from their past actions I believe that I can say I know where they are going with some certainty. But, I believe it is important for you to arrive there before they do, so prepare for a bit of a shock." One of Minicron's tri-clawed manipulator arms extended and locked around one of Optimal Retaliation's forearms.

Subsequently, both vanished into thin air.

-----

"Well, now… isn't that a neat trick?" Starscream SB muttered to himself as two of the many Transformers he was observing simply vanished into thin air. And Sharpwing was heading right for that spot where they disappeared. Had been for quite some time now. In his own moment of combined paranoid delusions and fallout from watching far too many science fiction holograms Starscream SB figured that the Autobots had developed some sort of teleportation technology. Angered by the thought that his old rival had found a way to upstage him, Starscream SB broke with Galvatron Prime's orders and immediately reduced altitude as he closed on Sharpwing's tail.

He'd slag Sharpwing, those other two Autobots, and take their teleportation technology himself. Then all the glory of this victory would be his… it was such a sweet thought to the rather depraved mind of Starscream SB as he throttled up to full and charged his weapons, glad to finally be acting like a warrior again. This time, Sharpwing would not escape him. This time, the victory would be his and his alone. No escape would be permitted, nor would any mercy be shown. After all, Sharpwing would rather die than surrender anyway.

-----

Sharpwing and Spidertron quickly looked out across the empty patch of debris that marked the spot where Optimal Retaliation and Minicron had just vanished. Both were shocked at the event, as neither one of them could possibly have suspected Optimal Retaliation would have found a way to use such technology. It took them a little while to get over their surprise, and it was Spidertron that got his voice back first. "I told you we should have shot first and asked questions later!"

Sharpwing was tempted at this point to simply roll to his portside and dump this irritating Autobot off of his wings, but alas, he resisted the urge. After all, at least this time the 'Bot had a point. Sharpwing was hoping to get the jump on Optimal Retaliation and surround him before trying to talk him into going back. He could have sent a message, but doing that would likely have resulting in Optimal Retaliation beware of the fact that he was being tracked and ducking deeper into the city.

Likewise, neither he nor Spidertron had the sort of weaponry available to disable Optimal in one shot without risking the said Autobot's life in the process. But nevertheless, even that option would have been better than letting Optimal Retaliation get away like this. In all the years Sharpwing had flown the skies of Seibertron he had grown used to the fact that observation from the air gave him a nice advantage when it came to keeping track of his enemies. To him, this teleportation stuff was cheating.

Spidertron, for his part, was actually kind of happy about this. For a long time he had hoped to provide the Decepticons with something that would lead to a decisive end to the war. If he could get his hands on that little ball and thus the teleportation device… surely Galvatron Prime or another member of the Tripedicus Council would reward him greatly for his efforts. He looked down on Sharpwing's cockpit bubble, wondering what Sharpwing would do if he knew that he was carrying a traitor on his back. Probably fling him off into a blast furnace, Spidertron figured glumly.

Then, however, a thought occurred to Spidertron. "Sharpwing, turn on your radiation sensors."

"What? Look, S-" Sharpwing started, but Spidertron cut him off.

"Just humor me, fly-bot. Turn 'em on and look for any spikes in the radiation field."

Sharpwing grumbled something that Spidertron assumed to be an insult against him, but in the end complied. A few moments later, he whistled. "Well I'll be… there's a spike in the radiation field near the eastern district of the city. It's dissipating fast though."

"Patch the data to me." Spidertron requested, and soon enough the displayed information scrolled across his vision. Spidertron smirked; glad he'd learned something from the geeks and eggheads after all. He figured a teleportation device had to use a huge amount of energy, and he was right. Now, once again, they were on the hunt. "See? There is a reason I was assigned to this mission after all."

The world turned to starboard as Sharpwing banked and brought them around on their new heading. "Don't get cocky kid, anybody can get lucky once or twice. Do well in a fi – damn you!" Sharpwing suddenly shouted, and Spidertron was about to take offense to the comment when suddenly Spidertron hung on for dear life as Sharpwing pulled a tight portside turn. It was at that moment that the null-ray shot Sharpwing had barely evaded burned past, followed by the appearance of the Decepticon seeker on Spidertron's own sensor grids.

"Hang on!" Sharpwing shouted unnecessarily and he rolled over so that his cockpit was pointing towards the ground. Then he pointed his nose at the deck and dove. Starscream SB mimicked the maneuver and followed, firing as he came. Spidertron's world spun so violently as Sharpwing performed an evasive corkscrew during his descent that he swore that if he lived through this he was never going to fly again. Numerous null ray blasts flashed past, some getting damn close to connecting but none of them actually did so. Eventually though, Sharpwing was forced to end the roll and even out before pulling out of his dive.

Sharpwing's descent had taken him down to street level, namely one of the thousands of streets and long straight-aways that wound through the city. Starscream SB pursued, still shooting. Spidertron looked back, panic nearly making him contact Starscream SB and tell him he was on the Decepticon side of things in order to preserve his own life. Thankfully, however, common sense prevailed and he held his tongue. Starscream SB might kill him, but Sharpwing would certainly do so if he discovered that his companion was a traitor.

As such, Spidertron looked to Sharpwing to get them out of this. "What are we gonna do?"

Sharpwing took the time necessary to turn around a corner in a hard portside turn in order to escape another flood of null-ray shots being produced by Starscream SB. "What do you think we're gonna do? We're going to complete this mission, Spidertron. Now get ready to jump on my command."

Spidertron thought for sure that Sharpwing had fried every last one of his logic circuits. "Get ready to what? In this? Are you insane?"

Sharpwing didn't have a whole lot of patience for bickering while he was getting shot at. "Look, one of us has to complete our assignment and I can't maneuver very well with all this useless weight on my back! I'll slow down enough so that you can safely jump off, then you can continue the mission on foot."

"That's insane! You're going to get yourself killed!"

Sharpwing could've shrugged. "I'm a 'Bot, tis what we do. Now get ready to jump on my mark!"

Sharpwing was fast approaching a large building, easily about twenty stories tall. He quickly ascended towards the top of the building, the progress of his ascent being marked by the null-ray fire of Starscream SB, which lit up the building below Sharpwing's tail. Just before reaching the top though, there was an odd creaking sound from Sharpwing's own wings, and Spidertron looked over to see the leading edge of Sharpwing's portside wing was opening and a large emitter of some sort was folding out. A quick pivot of Spidertron's head to the opposite side confirmed that there was a similar emitter extending from the starboard side wing as well.

Then came Sharpwing's rapid deceleration, and Spidertron was nearly thrown off the top of the Autobot. Starscream SB's null ray fire abruptly ceased, and the Autobot traitor found that odd. Surely now was the opportune moment for the Decepticon to fire on his prey was it not? Either way, Spidertron had more pressing concerns as Sharpwing shouted the word "Now!" at him and so Spiertron pulled himself up and jumped off of Sharpwing just as the Autobot flyer clear the roof of the building.

Spidertron hit the roof hard and rolled with the impact to minimize any possible damage. Then there was the sound of screaming – but not the sort of screaming that was emitted by a jet engine. No, this was the enraged sort of scream and Spidertron looked around to find out what happened. It didn't take him long to find the answer, as there lying about twenty meters ahead of him was the severed bulk of Starscream SB's port wing.

Spidertron looked up and saw Starscream SB already transformed into robot mode and heading up higher into the air – Sharpwing following with the energon blades generated from his wingtips still glowing after he used them to cut off Starscream's wing. Spidertron whistled, finally understanding the name "Sharpwing." But even as he watched Sharpwing's multi-barreled laser gattling gun open up on Starscream SB, he noted that Starscream SB was back off a lining up a shot.

Spidertron tried to shout out a warning, but it was too late. Starscream SB's null-ray blast caught Sharpwing square in the port engine, which promptly overloaded and shut down. Sharpwing swore as he spun out uncontrollably and began an erratic spiral down towards the ground that rapidly rose up to greet him. To make matters worse, Starscream SB was in hot pursuit, firing away sporadically, playing with the wounded Autobot. Spidertron shook his head, brushing himself off and standing up. Well, he was safe now, and he had a mission to complete. Sharpwing's problems were his own now; Spidertron had done all he was obligated to do. He looked around for an access hatch that led from the roof down into the building itself.

It was time for him to do what Sharpwing had told him to do – find Optimal Retaliation. And while he was at it, he might as well take that nifty little teleportation device Optimal Retaliation had apparently found.

-----

Sharpwing was going down, and he was going down hard. Two subsequent null-ray blasts has disabled both of his engines and his rudders. He still had his wing blades but without engines they were useless. All of his other weapons were all forward facing, and Starscream SB was behind him. He's always behind me, probably explains why he doesn't seem to like me very much these days. Sharpwing thought to himself with a smirk. But the good humor didn't last long under the imposing reality of the fact that the ground was rising up to greet him quickly and he only had maybe a minute to do something.

"Heh, heh, goodbye Sharpwing. I'll look forward to salvaging your remains after you crash. Maybe I'll replace my wing with one of yours… then again, for somebody like you that might be too much of an honor so –"

"By Primus, shut up!" Sharpwing shouted back at Starscream SB, interrupting the Decepticon's bragging as he transformed into robot mode and turned himself around to face Starscream SB. Wanting nothing else but to shut his longtime rival and enemy up once and for all Sharpwing unloaded with his gattling. But at this range, the amount of damage the gattling could do was minimal and both of them knew it. Starscream SB crossed his arms in front of them and let them soak up all the damage the gattling could produce.

Starscream SB intended it as a show of superiority to accompany his final victory over his rival. But the pair of missiles Sharpwing launched immediately thereafter carried a different message entirely and the Decepticon's optics widened considerably when he noticed the launch. Immediately Starscream tried to move off to the side, and by doing so he managed to evade one of the missiles.

But the second one hit dead on, and the resulting explosion obscured Starscream SB from Sharpwing's view, and threw the shouting Decepticon back into a building across the street. "Heh, gotcha after all." Sharpwing muttered to himself with a smirk, then he just waited for the last astrosecond before he hit the roof of a building below him. When he hit, Sharpwing's sheer momentum shot him clear through the roof of the building and down several more stories before he finally came to a stop deep inside the building – a hole in the roof and several floors below along with a billowing smoke cloud the only evidence of Sharpwing's location.

13th Eastern District, 2nd Vorn, Agorahex

As soon as they arrived at their destination, Optimal Retaliation suffered the effects of a massive energon radiation surge that made him convulse and nearly put him into stasis lock. As a consequence of his convulsions Optimal Retaliation fell to the ground, and Minicron made no effort to help up the Autobot. "A little shock eh?" Optimal Retaliation shot the question at Minicron accusingly, and the diminutive Transformer shrugged unapologetically.

"I told you before, the radiation does not have the same effects on me that it has on you. Besides, here we are." Minicron declared suddenly, pointing off into the distance.

Optimal Retaliation tracked his gaze across the ruined cityscape to where Minicron was pointing, painfully standing up at the same time. What Minicron was pointing to was a small ovular structure, two stories tall and constructed in the same rounded fashion that made up typical Autobot architecture. Whatever color the structure had in the past had long since eroded away, and the building had a lot of apparent structure damage as did much of the surrounding city. But otherwise, it was intact. "What is this place?"

Minicron replied quickly: "Centbot's old house."

That surprised Optimal Retaliation greatly, and he turned around in order to ask Minicron to repeat himself, but when he turned he noticed that Minicron was gone – teleported away. Optimal Retaliation turned to what Minicron had called Centbot's home and walked up to the door. He stood there for a while, wondering what he'd find inside. Hopefully some answers, but he had no way of knowing whether Minicron was telling the truth.

But he wouldn't find out one way or the other if he just stood out here. Optimal Retaliation reached for the door controls, activated them, and once the doorway retracted into the wall… he went inside.

-----

Minicron smiled when he observed Optimal Retaliation go inside Centbot's former home. "One small step for Virsago; but one giant victory for me. Pity I have to run to Iacon."

Minicron turned his back on Agorahex, and this time flew off into the air the old fashioned way toward Iacon. After all, he had a deal to honor…

To be continued in Chapter Six: Part II