TFE

C12 Light of a Thousand Sparks

Copyright 2007, masterfwiffo. All rights reserved.

"Megatron is at the southern border!"

At the call, Evac rocketed into vehicle mode, shooting into the sky like a streak of light, his comrades hot on his tail.

Megatron was indeed, waiting, his arms crossed, standing like a defiant tower against the oncoming enemy. As he sensed their approach, a smirk crossed his face. He saw Evac transform, charging through the air with a battle cry, and chose that moment to cast a small object toward the ground, then fade away into the light of his transporter beam.

Evacs blade slammed into the ground, where Megatrons head had been only a moment before. But now, his enemy was gone.

Evac swore loudly, slamming his fist on the ground as his friends rolled up besides him.

"Unlike him to come by himself." Smith muttered, helping Chris and Ben out of Jazz's open door.

"He came to taunt us." Evac hissed. "Smirking at us, letting us know he could come again, and take- and take..."

Evacs voice disappeared in a swell of emotion. No one spoke for a long moment, all contemplating Michelles capture- and presumed execution. Evac had not taken it well- not that anyone expected him too. The loss of both Hightail and Michelle had devastated the bot, turning him into a silent, brooding, and frightening individual. Even Jazz and Crosswise had taken to avoiding him, as he was more likely to harm them in one of his periods of mourning then anyone else.

Crosswise looked away, before her eyes focused in on a small sphere lying on the ground - what Megatron had left behind. "What's this?" She asked quietly, reaching out for it.

"DON'T!" Evac screamed, throwing his full weight at her and knocking her aside. Crosswise cried out as she hit the ground. She looked at him in confusion. "Evac, what the hell are you-"

"It's a bomb!" Evac cried, grabbing her with a wild look in his eyes. "I've already lost Michelle and Hightail, do you think I could lose any of you? It must be a bomb, or a-"

"Communication sphere." Sideways said casually, grabbing it and pressing the button.

There was a flash of light, and the sphere seemed to move outwards, separating into 12 components, and forming a spinning circle of light in the center. Evac pushed himself to his feet and stared quietly at the object. Then an all to familiar face appeared in it.

Evac hissed the name out and his became slits, staring hatefully at the image that presented yourself.

"About time." Megatron spoke casually. "I was beginning to worry you wouldn't activate my communication array. Then I'd have to come back again.

Evac made a movement to charge the image, but Jazz and Crosswise grabbed him, holding him back.

"Easy Evac!" Jazz growled.

Evac ignored him. "WHAT DID YOU DO WITH HER?" He screamed at the image.

Megatron seemed to wince. "No need to yell, my dear Evac. We are all civilized beings here. If you are referring to the human, she is unharmed, and will remain that way unless certain conditions fail to be met."

"A hostage and a ransom note." Smith snorted.

Megatrons visage turned down to glare at him. "I was not speaking to you, human." He turned his attention back toward Evac, who continued his hateful stare. "But, you may consider it as such, if you wish. It is a crude, but effective tactic."

"What do you want." Evac spat, the words coming out like venom.

"Now, now, Evac, calm yourself. Allow me to be frank, so to speak. I tire of this wretched world you call home. It is currently my highest priority to get away from this rock."

"Then LEAVE!" Evac roared.

"It isn't that simple." Megatron continued, ignoring his outburst. "My ship has been disabled, and you can thank your human friends for that. But I am willing to offer you a deal."

Evac continued to glare, and said nothing.

"I have left in this message compartment a list of items I need, all of which the humans have available. Collect them for me, and bring them to these coordinates," A map flashed on the image as Megatrons voice continued to speak, "by sunset tomorrow. That should give you plenty of time to collect them. No need to worry about your human friend, she shall be well taken care of. On that day, I shall return her to you in exchange for the materials- unharmed and well. After that, my crew and I shall leave as quickly as possible."

Evacs eyes were slits. "And what makes you think I'll do what you say?"

"The life of your human friend is enough of a contract, I'm sure." Megatron said with a smile on his face. "Until then."

The image vanished, and the sphere returned to its normal configuration, a list scrolling on one of its small screens.

Evac stood, silent.

"It's a trap." Smith announced. "Do nothing he says."

"Hold on now." Chris interrupted. "We have a chance to save Michelle, shouldn't we-"

"No." Smith said flatly. "We cannot risk it. The last thing we can afford is to have Megatrons ship operational. I absolutely forbid it." Smith ordered, turning on his heels. "We cannot spare the resources or risk the consequences of Megatrons game."

"Wait just a damn minute!" Jazz yelled.

"We can't just leave her!" Crosswise cried.

"No." Evac croaked. Everyone paused, to look at him. His body seemed to sag under some invisible weight as he struggled to force out the words. "Megatron would never release her that easily. Smith... is right..." Evac turned away, his body shaking.

"Evac..." Crosswise said softly.

Jazz swore loudly, then transformed, roaring off. Chris cried out and ran after him. Crosswise stood staring blankly at everyone in confusion.

Sideways watched the proceedings quietly, a hint of amusement on his face. "Dissent in the ranks eh. Well, I don't know if Megatron's sincere or not, but with my cards played right, I can come out the winner. Yess..."

---

Chris found Jazz in vehicle mode, spinning around in circles, loud music blaring from his open windows.

"Jazz, calm down!" He yelled out, running out in front of his friend. Jazz skidded to a stop, his tires squealing in protest, before he transformed, collapsing on the ground in a heap.

"It's ok, buddy." Chris said quietly.

"No, it isn't." Jazz growled. "This isn't right. Michelle's gone and Evacs suffering because of it. Did you see him out there? This is killing him!"

"I know... I know."

"Dammit Chris," Jazz growled, then proceeded with a list of profanities (that to Chris's credit, he didn't teach him), before continuing on. "Why the hell can't we try and get Michelle back? Smith won't let us leave the base, he won't let us try and track down Megatron, and now we can't make a deal. What the hell is going on?"

"Jazz, I know, and I agree. Michelle's my friend too, you know." Then he sighed, "But no matter how much we want to do something, if Smith says no, we're kinda tied."

"But it's not right!" Jazz roared, hatred peeling out of his voice. "Smith be damned. We've got to do something."

"And do something you shall." A third voice added. They turned to face Sideways, sitting cross-legged on the ground, his head propped on his hand. "I of course, agree with my illustrious robotic comrade. I haven't known Evac very long, but I hate seeing this happen to him. Now, if you'll gather around, I have a plan. Evac won't like it, but then again, that's why we're not telling him..."

---

True to Megatron's word, Michelle was, at the moment, unharmed. Rather, she was sitting in a small cage in a Decepticons' personal living quarters.

Skywarp was the unlucky Con put in charge of her, and despite whispers of him being a babysitter, he actually felt he had a potential source of interest. Provided he could get a response.

He stared quietly at the sullen, tiny (relatively) figure in the cage, her legs drawn up to her chest, her eyes gazing at the floor in silence. Same thing she had been doing since she had arrived. Not a word to her captors, even to Megatron. Skywarp was used to silent and uncooperative captives, but there seemed to be no defiant bone in her body. Simply... sad. He felt a little bit sorry for her.

"Ahem." He muffled the sound out, trying to get her attention. No response met him.

He sat down, gazing quietly at her, and then decided a different approach. He picked up the data-pad on his desk, beginning to scroll through the works he had been reading for some time, hoping to find a profound and meaningful passage. With luck, he found one that seemed to fit the situation.

"A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,

We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;

But were we burdened with like weight of pain,

As much or more we should ourselves complain."

He gleamed with pride at his recitation, and glanced over at her cell. She was looking back at him, curiously.

"It's from one of your Earth authors." He said proudly. "A Shockspor, or-"

"Shakespeare." She said quietly. "I didn't know that one."

"Oh." He answered, crestfallen. "I had hoped you could help me with some of the dialect. The slang isn't in the database I downloaded."

"I never was much for Shakespeare." She said quietly, and turned away.

Disappointed by the setback, but not about to give up, Skywarp continued pressing. "I've been reading much of your kinds' works, and I must say, I'm most impressed. You do have a way with your languages. I've also read the works of Dickens, Twain, Welles and many others. Do you know something of them?"

The reply was mumbled, but audible. "A little. What's it to you?"

Skywarp was a little taken aback by the question. "Why, I wish to know about your species! Don't take all of us for mindless war machines."

Michelle grunted something.

"No, I'm serious!" Skywarp protested. "I really do want to know more about your kind. Your culture fascinates me-"

Michelle turned and yelled at him. "Then why would you have it destroyed?" Startled by her sudden outburst, Skywarp stared back in shock, and he saw in her eyes a burning rage, like the field of dead that he and his kind had left so long ago, when they had first arrived at Earth. And he could find no words to answer her.

----

Megatron reclined back on his throne, staring quietly at the stars outside his main viewing window. The view had become very familiar to him by now, but he did not tire of it.

He did, however, notice another figure in the room, observing the same view in silence. Hightail had been standing there for some time, never speaking, or even looking his way. It appeared to him that she may have even been- well, the Transformers had no equivalent for crying, but who knows what strange habits the humans had rubbed off on her? Megatron was not used to being ignored, so he called to her.

"Is something bothering you, young child?"

She shook her head. "You didn't tell me you'd kidnap her."

Megatron grimaced. "Desperate times call for desperate measures. Besides, she is but a lowly human- and why not take advantage of your enemies' weakness?"

Hightail didn't answer, so Megatron concluded that he had made a valid point. If she was hurt by the thought, she would get over it, eventually. Such was the reality of an ongoing war.

"So boss, we ready?"

Megatron grimaced at Cyclonus's over-eager voice. "I told you the time. Moderate your patience circuits."

"Awww." Cyclonus muttered, stepping into view. "I cant wait to go in guns-blazing and slag those suckers-"

Hightail made an audible gasp. Megatron noted it, then turned back to Cyclonus. "You will do no such thing. I fully intend to honor my words, should Evac uphold his end of the bargain."

"Awwwww, Slag." Cyclonus slumped downward.

Megatron sighed. "All right, you may keep the option open, just in case."

Cyclonus whooped, and darted off to prepare for battle again. Megatron glanced toward Hightail - but found she had disappeared.

----

It didn't take much effort for Jazz, Chris and Sideways to recruit Crosswise into the effort. The plan was simple - a nightly raid on several storehouses, the location of the materials granted to them through Chris's network access, and they would have the materials on Megatron's list.

Then, they would high-tail it to the rendezvous point, and make the exchange- without Evac present, and without Smith aware. But there was one additional stage to Sideways' plan.

"A bomb?" Chris winced at the word.

"Indeed." Sideways said, what could have been a grin on his expressionless face. "Not one that could do any real damage, but one that can make a lot of noise, and smoke. We set that off, grab the girl, and go. Megatron will never sincerely let her free, so this is the best effort to get all of us out alive. Once we have her and have gone, Megatron will take what's left, and hopefully, leave us alone."

"I dunno." Crosswise said quietly. "Sounds risky."

"Sounds fine by me." Jazz said with a grin. "Action-movie stuff. Might be fun."

"This ain't a movie." Chris muttered. "But all right, I'll see what I can dig up in the storehouses."

"Excellent." Enthusiasm carried Sideways voice.

---

Night fell upon four figures making their way toward the main storage warehouse. Crosswise glanced at Jazz and shuddered. "Something doesn't feel right about this."

"You'll get over it." Sideways answered. "Yo, human. You got the list?"

"Yeah." Chris answered back, fumbling through the dark. "Most of what we need is in here- we'll have to do without the rest."

"It'll work. And?"

Chris sighed. "And the explosive too. I'll have to do some re-wiring to keep it from being too powerful, but it'll work."

"Good. Get to it."

Chris walked over to the keypad, typed a few numbers, and let himself in. "Go around to the loading entrance. I'll have the doors open in a minute." He closed the door behind him, shutting himself off from the robots, and sighed. Guilt nagged at his subconscious, not because he wasn't doing the right thing, but because he knew, that whether they succeeded or not, his career was over. "Maybe I can take Jazz and get a job on the racing circuit." He muttered. "That'd be a fun new life..."

As he continued on, thoughts of the end of his career continued to nag him. Unlike some others he knew, he truly did like his work. He loved fiddling with the computer systems, and resurrecting deceased OS's. He was one of, if not the best in his field. That's why he was here, and not making money in Microsoft or Apple or somewhere. But once he got booted out here, he knew the government would find a way to lock him out elsewhere. He was going to be damned for this.

But he also knew what he was doing was right. And that's what forced him to press onward.

The main storage room opened up before him - thousands of boxes with nothing but a number to identify them. Fortunately, he knew what those numbers meant. He headed over to the control panels that would open up the loading bay doors, and reached for the control.

And his hand froze in place as the distinctive sound of a pistol cocking filled the empty darkness. He whirled, and found him staring face to face with his best human friend.

"Somehow, I knew you'd be stupid enough to try something." Ben said grimly, pointing the weapon at him.

Chris swore (one that he had not yet taught Jazz), then added, "Dammit Ben, put that down. You scared me."

Ben didn't move. "I really hoped you wouldn't. I really hoped Smith would be wrong this time, when he sent me here. But somehow I knew."

Chris froze up. "Your serious... aren't you." He said with dawning realization.

"Yeah." Ben answered. "Chris, you know I'm your friend. You know as well as I do that this is stupid. What say we just go out that door, and head down to the bar and have a beer. Pretend this never happened, and get on with our lives."

"I can't do that buddy." Chris said grimly. "You know this isn't about us. We've got to do what we can to get Michelle back."

Ben looked down at the ground for a moment. "You think I'm not worried about her? Come on, you know I am. But you know as well as I that it's trap."

"No, I don't."

Ben looked at him long and hard. "Come on, buddy. Don't make me do this."

Chris stood his ground and shook his head. "I can't." And then one swift motion, he turned and slammed his hand on the button.

A shot rang out just as Jazz charged in. He saw Chris slump to the ground and with an angry roar, brought his hand across quickly sending Ben flying against the wall. Ben slammed against it hard, and dropped with a groan.

Jazz stared at him, his lone optic wide for a long moment, before turning back to Chris. Chris got up shakily, his hand on his arm. "You all right?" Jazz said worriedly.

"Just a scratch." He said answered. "He missed... No... not at that range. He's too good a shot to miss..."

Crosswise knelt down to examine Ben quickly. "He looks like he'll be ok." She said softly.

"We better hurry." Sideways muttered. "It won't be long before Smith realizes-"

He was interrupted by a very heavy footfall. "Aw slag." Sideways whirled, turning to stare up at a great figure leaning down so that he could peer inside the warehouse. "What goes on?" Omega Supreme rumbled. From behind the protective visor, all could see his eyes scanning the scene. Jazz and Crosswise glanced at each other anxiously.

"You intend to meet Megatrons' demand?" Omega rumbled.

"In so many words..." Sideways answered slowly.

"Very well." Omega answered. "Which containers must go?"

Chris stood up. "You mean, you're helping us?"

Omega nodded. "Evac will not return to normalcy unless we rescue the girl. This mission takes priority."

"Well, I'll be..." Jazz whistled.

Sideways looked up at Omega, for a brief moment, actual respect on his face. "I never would have guessed you had it in you."

---

It took another thirty minutes for the base to realize what was going on. At that exact moment, the alarms started blaring.

"There goes the party." Sideways muttered. "Yo, we got everything?"

Chris looked up. "Yeah, most of it."

"Then we should depart immediately." Omega rumbled. Energy shot out from his hand, encircling the stacked storage containers, and lifting them into the air. He transformed, and boxes landed neatly into a groove on his back.

Chris got in Jazz as he and Crosswise also transformed, and Sideways took to the air, hovering.

"We will need to breach the perimeter for my teleportation field to work." Omegas voice thundered through the comm. "Follow me."

Omega started off at a slow roll, but then his train-like form began to gather speed and soon he was charging forward with unstoppable momentum. Human soldiers and vehicles raced out of the way as he barreled onward, crashing straight through the perimeter defense, with Crosswise, Jazz and Sideways hot on his tail. Then a light shot out front of him, creating a huge white warp-hole that seemed to grab and pull all of them through, the terrain around them disappearing and reforming elsewhere. Omega rolled to a slow stop, and Jazz and Crosswise turned on their breaks beside him, Jazz letting Chris out as he transformed. "This the place?" He asked.

Chris double-checked the coordinates. "Yeah." He took another look around. They were in the middle of a dry box canyon, with walls tall enough to hinder a quick escape, but low enough to see that beyond it was nothing but more rocks. "I don't like this at all."

"No point in wasting time." Sideways said cheerfully. "Let's get to work."

---

Smith was grim. "What did they take?"

One of his aides looked up. "Exactly what you'd think they'd take. All of it is from Megatrons' list."

Smith sighed. "I was afraid of that. The damage?"

"Well, it's all replaceable..."

"Good."

"But replaceable doesn't mean it won't cost us a ton."

"Oh." Smith turned away and was silent for a moment. "I'll need to talk to Evac."

"Is that wise, sir?"

"We'll see."

---

They found Evac in an empty hanger. He was sitting on the ground, motionless, head bowed over folded legs. To Smith, it almost seemed like an aura of despair surrounded him. He shuddered as he walked closer, and opened his mouth to speak. "Evac." He heard his voice reverberate around the room, but received no movement from his alien guest.

"Evac.' He said again, "I have some... distressing news. Omega Supreme, Crosswise, Jazz and Sideways are gone."

A distinct creaking sound could be heard as Evac turned his head to stare at him.

"They took what Megatron wanted." Smith continued grimly. "There is little doubt what they mean to do."

Evacs voice sounded dry and cracked. "No..." He croaked. "They wouldn't-"

"They injured Ben and several others on the escape." Smith continued. "What are you going to do?"

Evac was silent.

"Evac?"

With surprising speed and energy, not present a mere moment before, Evac was on his feet and out the door, transforming and leaping into the air. Two previously unseen thrusters appeared on the helicopter's side, hissing out a great roar and a stream of energy as Evac shot off into the distance.

Smith watched him go and sighed.

"You knew he was going to do that, didn't you?"

Smith turned to see the aide he had been talking to before at his side. "Yes." He answered. "I did. I wanted him to. I would rather deal with them all as enemies, then have them separated."

His aide nodded, and turned to follow his gaze. A moment later, another aide came running up, panting and out of breath.

"Sir!" He cried. Smith turned and glared at him. The aide looked up, panic on his face. "Sir!" He cried again. "They took the specimen!"

Smith went white.

----

Jazz grunted under the weight, feeling his knees buckle as he and Crosswise moved the largest of the container they had appropriated. "The hell is in this one?" He growled, straining against the weight.

Chris glanced quickly at the number. "It's supposed to be Uranium ore."

"Sure is a lot of it." Crosswise gasped. "Did Megatron really want this much?"

"No." Chris answered, "But we didn't have time to sort it."

Crosswise and Jazz grunted as they set it down

"You know..." Crosswise said quietly. "If Megatron doesn't need all of it, why don't we just take what he needs, and return the rest to Smith. He won't be happy with us, but at least we'll have some of it back."

Chris shook his head. "It won't do much. But it might help. A little. Can you guys bust that thing open?"

Jazz cracked his knuckles. "Sure thing."

"Be careful with that." Sideways warned. "Uranium ore is nothing to-"

Jazz slammed the full strength of his fist into the side of the container, cracking it.

"Oh never mind."

Jazz grabbed the cracks, and began to pull it part, until the outer layer began to peel off. Inside that was another box, made of steel.

"The hell?" Chris muttered. "That's not how you store ore..."

Jazz found the seams of the second cart, and pulled. To his surprise, the sides fell away this time with ease. And everyone present stopped, and stared.

---

"We had it marked as a shipment of Uranium ore." Smith's aide said quietly, "In our computers, on the box, everywhere. We wanted no-one to know it was here."

"Well, good work on that." Smith growled.

His aide winced. "What should we do, sir?"

"Nothing." Smith answered. "But get ready. We're going to have to implement a shift in tactics."

---

Evac moved at speeds he hadn't thought himself capable of. Thoughts continually raced through his mind, thoughts of betrayal, of fear, of concern. The whirl of emotions outmatched that of his blades, and sent his mind spiraling into confusion. He could barely work out what thoughts were his, and what were memories, being distorted by his confusion.

Mercifully, he did not have too long to dwell on them before his comrades were in sight. He shifted out of vehicle mode, dropping to the ground and landing with a heavy thud that shook the earth. Jazz and Crosswise whirled, staring at him in surprise. Sideways shirked away from his glare, and Omega remained stalwart and silent. His eyes narrowed on those he had called friends, only seemingly moments before. "What did you do..." He hissed.

"Evac..." Crosswise said softly.

"How could you do this to me? To our friends?" Evac cried, turning on her. "Are you all going to abandon me now?"

"Evac." Jazz said quietly. "Look."

Evac followed his gaze - and then went silent. He stared, unbelieving what he saw before him.

It was a Transformer. It's armor had been pulled apart so that only a skeletal frame remained, and even pieces of that had been pulled apart, wiring and interior circuitry visible at all angles. It's skeletal, helmet-less face was frozen in a scream- with a chill, Evac recalled Hightail's vivid description.

"No..." He said softly, reaching for the dead, frozen face. "I recognize him... Trailbreaker..."

All were silent, as Evac continued. "I remember now... so full of life. Such love for this world- for the mountainous paths and low valleys. I remember now..." As he spoke, his voice began to go weaker. "The humans... had you?"

"They must have been hiding his body." Chris said quietly.

"Did they..." Evac started weakly, "Did they-"

"No." Omega rumbled, speaking for the first time in a while. "He has been dead for some time - before we went off line, likely. The humans, however, disassembled him."

"Why..." Evac stood, shaking. "Why... didn't they tell us?"

"More then likely, they wanted to find a weakness." Chris spat. "I don't know if you realize this, but the higher ups are afraid of you."

Evac stood for awhile longer, staring at the body. Confusion, then for a brief moment, anger. Then another expression arrived on his face. "Can we bury him before Megatron arrives?"

Everyone turned to stare at him.

"We'll have to be ready." Evac continued, a strange calm descending on him. He turned toward his friends, and they saw that his face had a sad, but accepting smile. "Ready, if we're going to rescue Michelle."

----

Sundown arrived, the last vestiges of light trickling over the canyon walls. Trailbreakers' remains were gone now, buried nearby with a small, stone marker the only evidence of him having ever been there. And now, Evac and his comrades stood firm, next to their piles of what they hoped could pass for the materials Megatron listed.

The sun dipped slowly behind the horizon, the sky turning orange as it began to fade to twilight. As the sun went down, lights flashed down from the sky, and Megatron landed, accompanied by three - Demolisher and Cyclonus at his side, and Skywarp gently holding the cage which contained their prisoner.

Megatron surveyed his opponents. "This seems a little unfair." He commented dryly. "With your giant here, we're quite outmatched. Allow me to... shall we say, even the odds."

With a large thump, Shock Fleet landed. Weapons already primed and ready. Evac glanced at the titan for a moment, uninterested. "We're not here to fight Megatron. Will you make good your end of the bargain?"

"Indeed we aren't Evac, but the wise commander always comes prepared." Megatron said dryly. "But I am ready. Skywarp?"

Skywarp walked toward the center wall of the canyon, placing Michelle well out of the way, against the rocky edge. Evac stared toward her, and saw her gripping the iron bars of her cage, staring back. Hope began to well up in his optics again as he turned back toward Megatron.

"And you?" Megatron said expectantly.

"We were unable to get everything." Evac replied. "But what we could gather is there."

Megatrons eyes narrowed, but he nodded. "Skywarp. Inspect it."

Skywarp moved in, his optics sweeping the crates.

"Everything appears to check- wait..."

The crates exploded with an ear-shattering bang, blanketing the canyon in thick smoke.

Megatron roared in anger, bringing his weapon to the forefront, optics scanning the billowing clouds for movement. Then the smoke seemed to part in front of him, breaking across Evacs form as he hurtled downward from a leap, bringing his blade right at Megatrons head. Megatrons' arms shot up, attempting to shield his face from the blow- the edge cut deep into his arm, and stayed. With a roar, Megatron threw his arm outwards, sending Evacs' blade flying from his grasp, and imbedding it in the ground a good distance away. Evac charged into Megatron, shoulder first, and shoved him violently away.

As they battled, their allies all descended on each other. Sideways took off into the sky with a whoop, with Skywarp hot in pursuit. Jazz tackled Demolisher at full speed, and Cyclonus leapt into the air, transforming and firing harassing lasers at Crosswise, in-between his giddy cackles. And in the midst of the field, two titans collided, as Shock Fleet charged into Omega Supreme, forgoing all weapons in favor of a contest of brute strength, one which Omega gladly accepted.

And as the fight continued, Chris ran toward Michelle, barely missing being stepped on by Jazz and Demolishers furious fight.

"Thank God, you're all right." Chris panted weakly, as he gripped the iron bars of her cage.

"Thank him after you get me out." Michelle said, her voice sounding very weak. "Why did you come for me? You never should have-"

"Save it." Chris reached into his pocket for the one thing he had thought to bring, a heat-based cutter of his own design. "Stand back." He ordered, bracing himself against one of the bars, and then pushing the cutter into it. There was a loud grinding sound, fortunately drowned out by the ongoing battle. But to his shock, it was Chris's device that gave way before the bars.

Michelle looked at him helplessly.

"Uh oh." Was the only response he could muster.

---

Megatron grunted as Evac slammed into him yet again. He reached up, grabbing for Evacs' arm, and found it. He wrenched it aside violently, causing Evac to cry out, before Evacs foot came up into Megatrons' chest. Megatron felt himself stumble backwards, and Evac came again, more furiously this time, and with greater strength then Megatron had previously observed in him. He had thought he had been prepared for a fight with Evac- but this was different. Evac wasn't holding back anything now. Another blow sent Megatron reeling- he simply could not keep up with Evacs' furious attacks. Then another smash to the head sent Megatron sprawling on the ground. He landed face first in the dirt.

Evac roared, and leapt on him. But Megatron did something he didn't expect. He aimed his cannon straight at the ground, and fired. The explosion threw up a cloud of smoke and flame, engulfing both he and Evac in a fireball. As the other warriors turned in shock, they saw Megatron and Evac, now locked in combat, both aflame. Megatrons fist slammed into Evacs head, knocking him backwards. Then Megatrons' hands formed a ball, and he brought it down heavily on Evacs head. Evac gave a cry and collapsed. Then a kick from Megatron sent Evac sprawling backwards.

The flames extinguished themselves over Megatrons' form, and he stood, blackened, his face contorted in rage. "I gave you a chance, Evac." He hissed, his voice wheezing and heavy. "I would have left this world to you and your species, and never would have returned."

Evac got to his feet, shakily, but returned Megatrons glare. "And you killed thousands."

"I warned you!" Megatron roared, his cannon coming to bear. "I gave you a chance!"

And then his aim shifted- not at Evac, but at the tiny cage sitting aside. Evac saw this, and gave a cry. Chris turned white, and Michelle went deadly pale. Time froze for what seemed like an eternity as Megatrons cannon fired one last shot.

An explosion sent Chris flying, and the burning remains of the cage up into the air. Evac let out a primal scream, fire flashing in his eyes as he charged Megatron one last time. His hands grabbed his sword out of the ground as he charged, his sword cutting a deep gash through Megatrons chest.

Megatron ignored the pain, grabbing Evacs arm as it passed and wrenching it in the wrong direction. Evac screamed, and something in the sound sent Megatron into something akin to a bloodlusted rage. He roared in his rage, tearing into Evac, now open and defenseless thanks to Megatrons maneuver, and not allowing his opponent a chance to recover from any hit. Blow after blow shook Evacs body, a furious, unending torrent of pain from Megatrons fists. He could feel his interior systems shattering under the continuous blows to his face and torso, and he could not move quick enough to defend himself.

Megatron pushed himself forward, using his body as a living ram, running Evac all the way against the canyon walls, where he seemed to break open under the stress. The unending torrent of fists continued to pummel Earth's champion, tearing him apart blow by blow.

---

Chris got up dazedly. He looked around, trying to remember what had just happened, and then he saw the burning remains of the cage scattered around him.

"Michelle!" He cried, turning, trying to find any trace of her. Then he noticed a particularly large subsection of the cage lying against the cliff wall. He ran over to it, and found an unmoving form inside. Megatrons blast had missed her- but the explosion hadn't. The force had thrown her violently against the cliff, and searing burns covered her body. Chris paled, and felt his stomach turn at the sight. "Oh no..." He whispered, leaning down. Between the burns, he could see her arm and one leg turned in opposite directions, and gashes and cuts that had been cauterized by the heat.

But he also saw her chest rising up and down in slow, staggered gasps. She was alive.

"Jazz! Crosswise! Evac!!!" He called out in vain, but all were too preoccupied to hear him.

Then something was in front of him. Two great white hands reached down and grabbed him. He saw for one moment, two robotic eyes staring down at him, and then he was whisked away...

---

Omega Supreme saw Evac hit the wall, and suddenly his entire focused changed. With a roar and an unprecedented burst of strength, he tossed Shock Fleet aside like a rag doll, and charged toward his fallen leader. Shock Fleet let out a grunt, and grabbed Omega's leg, bringing the other giant down, nearly on top of Jazz and Demolisher, who scattered.

Megatron continued his pounding, before grabbing Evac, and again throwing his body against the wall. Evac let out a loud groan as his chest compartment split open at the impact.

"One way... or another..." Megatron said, between gasps trying to cool his overheated systems, "I will... be rid of you." He started toward Evac, and his eyes focused in on his chest. "Even..." He hissed, "If I have to rip out your spark."

Omega gave a cry, and again struggled to get away from his fight to Evac, but Shock Fleet would not allow him, his fists beating steadily into the ancient giant. Omega could only watch helplessly as the rest unfolded.

Megatrons hands came down to Evacs chest and pulled it apart, ready to reveal and extinguish the spark within. But that's not what he saw.

For a brief moment, Megatron stared into infinity.

A blinding light, greater than the brightest day, engulfed the field. All battles ceased, and every living thing in the canyon turned and stared in a mixture of shock and horror. As if in fear of the light, all noise ceased. For a moment, only the light existed.

Then, with a cry, Megatron stumbled away from the lights source, clawing at his eyes as smoke poured from the overloaded optics, his anguished bellows echoing around the canyons walls.

Skywarp turned, dropping his weapon and all thought of Sideways, diving down toward his fallen master. His anguished cry of "Lord Megatron!" joined the din.

Sideways stared for a long moment. "Damn. There goes my trump card." Then his optics found two vehicles, fleeing into the distance. "Lucky break! Another on just landed on my lap." With a sinister chuckle, he turned and followed them.

---

Skywarp grabbed Megatron, holding his fallen leader close. Megatron lay still, unmoving, his fried optics staring wide open into the sky, now only blank pallets of white. As the light began to fade, Skywarp made a quick command decision. "Our leader has fallen!" Skywarp cried. "Decepticons, Retreat!"

He held Megatrons' body as the phased away into the sky, Demolisher and Cyclonus following them. Then Shock Fleet too leapt into the air, transforming, and making his way into the atmosphere, leaving only the Earth bots behind.

Now free of Shock Fleets restrictions, Omega Supreme ran to Evacs side. Jazz and Crosswise joined him. Crosswise took one look and Evacs' body, and turned away in revulsion. He seemed nearly torn, limb from limb, his body beaten and cracked over every surface- a crumpled shell of what he had once been before. His face stared into the sky, frozen in a look that could only describe death. And from his chest, a strange, soft glow pulsed.

Omega stared at him for a long moment, complemented by Crosswise's repressed shudders, and Jazz's look of denying unbelief. Then slowly, laboriously, he reached out his hand, casting it over Evac's body. A soft glow came from his hands, and energy began to envelope the unmoving form.

"What are you doing?" Jazz cried.

"Saving him." Omega rumbled, as he continued to bathe Evac in light. And as Jazz and Crosswise watched in a mix of horror and wonder, a miracle occurred. Evac began to heal, in front of their very eyes. The tears began to mend, and the dents straightened. Through powers unknown to Autobot or Decepticon, Evac's body began to restore itself. Then a bright light shot from Evac's chest, enveloping Omegas own hand. Omega closed his eyes, and let this new flow of energy mingle with his, sending the restoration process to it's maximum. A few moments later, the light faded, and Evac lay on the ground, looking as well as the day he had first come on line.

Jazz stared at Omega Supreme in silence. "How did you do that?" He asked quietly.

"You are meant to know." Omega rumbled, sounding weakened. "In due time. Not before."

Evac's optics flickered to life. "What... happened?" He said weakly, staring into the sky.

"Nothing that matters now." Omega answered. "Let us return."

"Wait..." Evac croaked. "Where's..."

Jazz's optics shot open. "Chris! Michelle!" He whirled, running through the battle scarred wreckage, searching for them. But he could find none.

Then, Sideways returned, panting as though with exhaustion. "They got away!"

"Who?" Crosswise demanded.

"Two Autobots... they teleported..." He turned toward Evac, a grim and desperate look on his face. "They got Michelle and Chris!"

-------

-Epilogue-

Sixshot shook his head grimly. "No use. The CR chamber can't fix 'em." He muttered. "I'll have to build substitute optics from scratch. It will take awhile."

"Well get to it!" Skywarp demanded angrily. "Go! Megatron does not have time to spare!"

Sixshot shrunk away from Skywarps uncharacteristic outburst, and hurried off. Skywarp turned back to Megatron, looking mournfully at his leader.

"Go on, Skywarp." Megatron croaked softly. "There's nothing more you can do here. For now, you are in charge."

"Yes, Lord Megatron." Skywarp answered, bowing hesitantly.

"I wish to... be in peace..." Megatron continued, croaking out the words. Skywarp nodded, and hurried out of the room.

Megatron sat for a long time, staring into nothingness. Then, he cocked his head. "I hear you. Hightail, is it not?"

"Yes..." The faint reply came.

"Come in here."

He could hear her coming in, her steps soft, yet feeling like they had great weight behind them. He reached out, motioning to her. He felt her small hands take his, and he gripped them gently.

"I'm sorry..." Hightail said, her voice strained with emotion. "I- I didn't know. I didn't think he could do this- I- I-" Her voice began to break.

"It's all right, child. I believe you." Megatron said softly.

He stood there, holding her hand as though it might bring him some small measure of comfort. Then he spoke again.

"Do you know what I saw?" He said, his voice so soft, it was barely audible.

"No..."

"It was... the light... of a thousand sparks..."

Then Megatron went silent.

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