Author's Note: I've had this idea swimming around in my head for a while now, so I decided that it was time to get it out. "Metal and Neon" is in the process of winding down; it's not finished yet but it's getting close, and this fic idea has been getting more insistent lately. So here is the prologue; tell me if this fic is worth following to completion (even if you say it's not I'm gonna finish it anyway; it's been driving me crazy and I want it out of my head).

This fic takes place sometime after "Metal and Neon" and the way I have it planned will explain a few things about the earliest stories in this series. If you read "Transformation" then you know that Wheeljack was the one who originally designed Ultra Rodimus, who had the schematics ready when Rodimus Prime was dying. But didn't you ever wonder where he got his inspiration?

Disclaimer: I don't own the Transformers. I wish I did, 'cause then I would be very rich, but I don't. I do own the characters of Ultra Rodimus and Falcon. Everyone else belongs to people with really powerful lawyers.

Past and Future

Prologue: Touching History

Time is a strange thing. It seems to pass so fast and yet so slowly, never changing its path but flowing forever in one direction. At least, that is the belief. But Time is more like a piece of string in the wind, kinking and twisting and looping. When the loops of Time come close together, it can trigger intense flashbacks in people. But if the coils of Time actually touch... who knows what might happen.

Ultra Rodimus didn't even know what hit him. One moment he was driving back to Iacon from the newly-built Stargate complex in the Badlands, the next he was inside some kind of distortion. It was nothing like a dimensional gateway. Instead of being a tunnel this new anomaly was like a rip in the air, a hole in reality itself. Its edges flared and burned him whenever it touched his armor. He transformed, struggling against the whatever-it-was that had him. Failing that, he tried to call for help but something had scrambled his comlink.

The lifebond he shared with Ultra Magnus flared. He could feel his mate's alarm and worry. Ultra Rodimus reached out a mental hand, touching his mate's mind.

(Help me!)

Then it pulled him in.

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Magnus had been conversing with several other Autobots when the first sense of wrongness hit him. He stiffened, optics going wide, head snapping up, staring at something only he could see. The group around him fell silent and watched him carefully, knowing that the only thing that would make him react like that was something coming through his lifebond. And that meant that something had happened to their leader.

Everyone who saw Magnus freeze wondered what could possibly have gone wrong this time. Not too long ago they'd come back from another dimension, having beaten off an attempted invasion by the Decepticons. Perceptor's specially-constructed sensors had shown that the opening had closed, and there had been no new weak spots detected. But if it wasn't a dimensional breach, what was it?

The city commander's optics flashed a brilliant blue, and an expression of pure panic appeared on his face. Letting out a choked cry, he whirled and dashed out, transforming in mid-step. Now very worried, every Autobot in the vicinity followed. Hot Spot radioed for Peceptor to join them.

Magnus led them to an empty area just outside of Iacon's walls. Then he transformed back to robot, staring wildly at the empty air right in front of him.

"Perceptor?"

The red and blue scientist stepped cautiously forward and pulled out his sensors. He'd built them specifically to detect dimensional breaches and anything similar. But this time he didn't detect any of the readings that were consistent with a tear in the barriers between two different realities. Frowning, he adjusted the spectrum of the scanners. It began to beep wildly. A red light flashed rapidly. Perceptor's optics went wide.

"What is it?" Streetwise demanded.

Perceptor's jaw worked silently for a moment. Finally he looked up. "The energies I am reading are not consistent with anything I have detected in or around a breach between dimensions."

"Then what is it?"

The scientist looked even more uncertain. "From what readings I have gathered..." he paused, then steeled himself and continued, "this anomaly is a breach."

"But if it isn't a hole between realities, then what is it in?" Springer asked.

"Time."

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Ultra Rodimus groaned and sat up, holding his head in an attempt to stop the pounding headache raging between his eyes. The fact that he had a headache was enough to let him know that he was human again. He was used to being human now, but the fact that he had not initiated the change from robot to human bothered him.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, the headache subsided enough for him to get his bearings. Blinking against the bright light, he looked around.

He was in a small clearing surrounded by stone. The ground was mostly rock and sand, with small, hardy plants clinging to life here and there. The sky overhead was blue, puffy white clouds drifting through his field of vision.

Earth.

How had he gotten to Earth? He'd been on Cybertron! He chewed on the question as he pulled himself to his feet, every muscle screaming in protest. He ached from head to toe. Wobbling on his feet, he made his way to a break in the rocks and emerged from the clearing. But when he caught sight of what loomed ahead of him, he froze.

The mountain was massive. A thin wisp of smoke rose lazily from its peak, indicating a volcano that was possibly still active. But it wasn't the threat of lava that left him paralyzed with shock.

It was the huge ship lodged in the mountain's flank, its rear thrusters pointing skyward, its hull pitted and scarred. The ship that, in his reality, had been destroyed by the Decepticons not long after he'd become Autobot leader.

The Ark.

A scraping sound startled Ultra Rodimus out of his thoughts. He spun around to find a robot towering over him, eyeing him suspiciously, aiming a weapon right at him. The robot was black and white, his helmet bearing two red, curved crests. The doors of his alternate mode spread out from his back like wings.

"Who the hell are you?" the robot demanded.

To be continued...

So, tell me what you think. Should I continue? Send me a review and give me your opinion.