TFE

C18 When The Battle Lines are Drawn

Copyright 2007, masterfwiffo. All rights reserved.

Andrew Smith drummed his fingers quietly against the all too familiar windows of the black car he had made his home for the past several days. They had almost arrived at their final destination, and the weapon too was nearly completed. He cast a sidelong look over at Michelle, who was staring blankly out the tinted windows. She hadn't spoken in a full day, and refused food entirely. Smith could not help but feel a little bit of remorse. She was attached to the robot as if to a pet, but even she must realize that when a pet becomes unpredictable and uncontrollable, it must be put down.

It no longer mattered to Smith that he had once held pseudo-friendships with the machines. Like Michelle and Chris, he had thought them to be personalities - and they were. But preparing the way for their deaths was the least of sins Smith had done in his long years in the service of his country. He had realized the destructive potential of these robots far too late, and it had quickly become a burden to ally themselves with them, one that had cost hundreds of men their lives in the initial run. Smith harbored no ill will toward Evac's group in particular, but much like Michelle, they were merely bait to draw out the real targets. The fact that Evac had allied himself with one of the two warring groups on Earth had made that task all the easier. Once he had allied with the 'Autobots', as Sideways had called them, it became clear to Smith that he was now a wild card, and thus a threat. As far as Smith was concerned, when all was said and done, Evac and his friends would be one more casualty- but a necessary one if Earth was to be cleansed from the robot menace that had invaded it.

He was sure Michelle would see that in time. Perhaps a long time, but in time.

Smith glanced down at his watch again, and silently cursed. It had been far too long since Duke and the rest of the Maesetr's had reported in. After the second hour, Smith had sent a team in to find out what was going on. They had yet to report back.

Time passed on, and Smith sighed. He turned toward the front seat and gave Ben a nod. "Keep going, we've been here too long."

Ben nodded, but didn't answer. Smith scowled at him - he was begining to question the soldier's loyalty. He should have known better than to put someone that attached to the robots in an important position. But at least Ben continued to follow orders to the letter - at least his military discipline remained. As the car began to sputter to life, Smith heard a a distant roar of another engine. He turned to see a hummer speeding toward him - one of the two he had sent to the ambush location. Without waiting for Ben to turn off the car, he got out and waved down the approaching vehicle. One of the men he had sent out was there to greet him "Report." Smith rasped.

"We have bad news." The soldier hesitated for a moment. "The warehouse was destroyed when we arrived..." His voice trailed off.

Smith paled. "Dammit, what about the Maesetr's?"

"We could find no trace of Duke's machine, and he hasn't reported in."

"And the others?"

"We extracted Fairborne from the wreckage. She's alive but- well, it's a miracle she's alive at all. We've already sent her to the nearest military hospital, but I'm not sure she'll survive the trip. Her MAESETR was completely destroyed."

"And Powers?"

"I- well, we-"

"Yes?"

The soldier didn't answer, just handed him a picture. Smith looked at it for a moment, then tossed it away as nausea threatened to overwhelm him.

"He was ripped to pieces." The soldier said quietly.

Smith reeled, leaning against the car for support. "Thank you." He said weakly. "Dismissed." He got back into the car, his arms barely supporting his weight. His hand went to his eyes as he sank back into his seat, a frown filling his face. He glanced out from under his hand to see both Michelle and Ben staring back at him intently. He opened his mouth, but found no words to answer their looks.

A voice suddenly filled the entire car with a hideous cackle. "HA! Told you your toys couldn't stop them!" Sideways' voice taunted.

"Go away, Sideways." Smith answered weakly. No answer met him. Smith stared out the window in a daze, for the first time in a long time questioning whether he had made the right decision

---

Jetfire was glaring at Red Alert. He hadn't bothered to actually say anything, just stared at him for a long time as Red Alert continued repairs on his own arm. The Autobot engineer fumbled for a moment, then finally turned to glare back at him. "All right, you're mad. I get it."

"I've known you for a long time, Red Alert." Jetfire answered coldly. "Never would I have dreamed you'd do something so stupid-"

Red Alert shook his head. "I don't expect you to understand. Don't try. I did what I felt I had to do, and I'd do it again."

"Fills me with a lot of confidence." Jetfire growled, turning away. "When we get back to Cybertron, I'll have to write a full report-"

"Oh for booting up cold!" Red Alert advanced on him. "Don't you get it yet? This isn't about me. This is about what they did to Prowl, and Aidia, and Evac and everybody else! If nobody else was willing to stand up for them, well damned if I won't."

Jetfire flushed. "For Primus's sake Red Alert- What the slagging heck happened to discipline around here? If I was in command, you'd eat those words."

"Well, you're not." Red Alert growled, and turned away, resuming his work.

Jetfire sighed, and stared at the ground. He was unused to dissension and outright rebellion, the ignoring of orders, and the general crises of command that had been going on. It irritated him to no end. It didn't help that Optimus had become a virtual non-entity since his return, as he had yet to speak to anyone. Jetfire was convinced something bad had happened there, but he was not sure what. He sighed again, and turned leaving Red Alert to himself.

He headed back toward his quarters, but stopped just outside of Optimus's. He paused for a long moment, struggling with whether or not he should disturb his captain. Then, with a soft grunt, he rapped on the door. "Optimus?"

He didn't expect an answer, but to his mild surprise, he received one. "Come in." Optimus's voice rasped.

Jetfire entered in, and was caught off guard by what he saw. Optimus was sitting on his bunk, staring at his open hands with a look that could only be described as one of sheer horror. Jetfire was taken aback by his commander's expression and demeanor, one he had never seen in him before. Optimus looked up at him slowly, his hands closing into fists. "Close the door." His voice whispered.

Jetfire did, quickly. "Optimus, are you all right?" He said anxiously. "We can get Red Alert to repair you-"

"It can't be repaired." Optimus said, his voice growing faint. "Not this."

Jetfire stared at him in shock. "Optimus-"

"How-" Optimus croaked. "How did Prowl deal with it. I-" He looked up toward Jetfire, his eyes pleading. "I killed them. With my own hands. I ripped one apart- I- I-" He broke off, unable to speak.

Jetfire stiffened, as it dawned on him what his Captain was telling him. And he too, found he could not speak.

Optimus was quiet for a long moment, his gaze returning to his hands. He stared at them for at least a minute before he spoke again. "Jetfire- I am stepping down from command. I- I cannot do this. Not anymore." He turned up to him. "Lead them well, Jetfire. As for me- I must atone for it, with my spark-"

Jetfire grabbed Optimus and shook him. "Snap out of it Optimus! Do you have any idea what you're saying?"

"Yes." Optimus said, his voice sounding dazed. "Yes I do-"

Jetfire stared at him in shock. Then his eyes narrowed. He was not about to let his commander go off the deep end. So he hit him. Hard. Optimus fell backwards, nearly paralyzed with shock. "The slagging Pit you do." Jetfire growled, grabbing Optimus, hoisting him off the ground and setting him on feet. "Now you listen to me. Ever since Prowl's death, you've lost it completely. First you turned into a coward, and then when something happened, you've done something worse - you've filled yourself with self-pity. Now I don't know what the hell happened there, and frankly, I don't care. You are a fine commander and a shining example of an Autobot, one I've been proud to work with, even if you had made some mistakes. I feel confident saying that there is not a thing you would do that I, or any other Autobot wouldn't have done either. Do you understand that?"

"Yes..." Optimus said dazedly, his voice uncertain.

Jetfire's eyes narrowed again. "Your tone tells me you don't, so I'm going to make this clear. You aren't stepping down, and you aren't 'atoning' for nothing, so help me Primus. You are Optimus Major, captain of this ship, my commander, and I'm going to make damn sure you remain that. There's a ship full of Bots here that care about you. Some of them might not make it the clearest, but all of us agree you're one of the best commanders we've served under." His words were pained now, "Ultra Magnus himself once told me you're among the brightest he's ever worked with. And none of us, not me nor Ironhide or Red Alert or any of us are going to let you throw that away. Are you getting it now?"

"Yes." Optimus said, a bit more force in his voice. His optics dimmed for a long moment, and then came back to life, brighter than before. "Yes, Jetfire, you are right. Thank you, old friend."

Jetfire looked him over for a moment. "That worked?" He said a hint humor in his voice. "I didn't think it would."

"Thats why you're not in command." Optimus said softly.

"Are you sure you're back to normal Optimus?" Jetfire asked, worry filtering through his voice again.

"No. I'm not." He answered, standing up. "I'm not sure I will ever be." He turned away for a moment, staring at the wall. "I still..." He glanced down at his hands again, then closed them, turning back toward Jetfire. "Thank you."

Jetfire reached out and put his hand on Optimus's shoulder. "Remember this Optimus. No matter what, we're here for you. Now come on, you've got a ship awaiting your command."

"Not just yet." Optimus answered. "I need to see someone first."

----

Pain greeted Evac as he returned to consciousness. Much pain that seemed to course through his entire system. He groaned, his vision returning slowly. He could see the now familiar surroundings of Autobot HQ around him, and the dim outline of a figure standing beside him, watching over him.

"Optimus..." Evac said, straining to make the words come out. "What happened?"

"You walked into a trap." Optimus answered softly. But his eyes seemed distant and his voice barely audible, as he added, "As I said you would." Then his optics refocused and turned back down to him. "But it doesn't matter now. You're safe, and no one is hurt." His optics dimmed for a long moment. "No one's hurt." He repeated.

Evac let his optics blink off for a moment, then his eyes opened again. "You came to rescue me." He said quietly.

"Yes." Optimus answered. "Yes. I did."

Evac grimaced. "Optimus, I owe you an apology. I shouldn't have-"

Optimus raised his hand to quiet him. "No, my friend. It's I who should apologize. For... everything-" Optimus's voice choked off for a moment. Evac noticed Jetfire now, who stepped forward and laid a hand on Optimus. Optimus stopped for a moment, in-taking air heavily, before he spoke again. "Evac, I did a lot of things back there. Things- I think I will always regret." His gaze shifted down to Evac, his eyes pleading. "You do not need my forgiveness. I need yours. I do not know if I can ever atone for what I did."

Evac gaped at him, unable to respond. Optimus's eyes went dark at the lack of response. Jetfire glanced at Evac, his expression conveying a pleading. Evac took a moment to find his words. "Of course Optimus. You have it. You needn't even ask."

Optimus's eyes came back on, looking brighter than before, hope seeming to emanate from them. "Thank you Evac. My friend."

"You're welcome." Evac answered, for the first time in his life feeling sheepish.

"Rest well, Evac." Optimus said, his voice strengthening. "You will need to be at full power. When we go to rescue her." He shot a fleeting look back at him, and in his eyes was an apologetic smile, and then he left, Jetfire close behind.

Evac stared after them, bewildered and confused, yet somehow more at peace than he had been before.

---

Major Raymond Duke, former leader of the Extraterrestrial Response Combat unit known as MAESETR, was eating a hamburger at a fast food joint well in the middle of nowhere.

He could have returned to headquarters. But he didn't. He could have continued fighting. But he didn't. He could have surrendered, called for backup, or just gone home. But he didn't. Duke didn't know what to do. And that's why he was eating a hamburger.

He had gotten some very weird looks when his beat up, torn apart MAESETR rolled into the parking lot, and a lot of confounded stares as he entered, looking like someone who had just walked in from the war. But he didn't care. He didn't care about a lot right now.

He sighed, putting his half-eaten burger down, and leaned back in his chair, gazing out the window grimly. His mind was a mess of conflicting emotions, and indecision continued to numb his mind. After seeing how they fought, the robots rescuing each other, mourning for the dead, and fighting back to reclaim lost lives, Duke could no longer view them as enemies. Smith had lied to him, that much was clear - but yet, Powers and Fairborne were most likely dead because of them, and many others had been harmed in their wake as well.

But how much of it was Smith's fault? He had captured that young woman, starting the war with the alien machines. He had them assault and harass the machines at every turn - yet, all they had wanted was to get their human friend back.

But then there was that other footage Smith had showed - the machines assaulting one of the government's installations, killing many. Duke had actually known a few killed in that attack - acquaintances burned in the alien weaponry. But still, the way he had seen them fight did not match up with Smith's story. Everything just seemed wrong.

And that's why he couldn't bring himself to return to base. But his loyalty as a soldier prevented him from abandoning his post completely. Doing so would be against his character.

As he pondered all this over his hamburger, a thought struck him. With a grunt, he pushed the half-eaten remains of his meal away, left a tip and walked out. He knew what he would do. It required waiting. But one way or another, he'd get the answers to his questions.

----

The sun rose and set again, and by the next morning, the Autobots - even Aidia, who still remained quiet and sullen - had gathered again in the bridge. Evac, Jazz and Crosswise were there too, along with the human Chris. Optimus overlooked the gathered crowd and felt a sudden aching of his spark. He could not help but believe that his actions in the warehouse had failed them all. Telling them truth would be the hardest task of all. But he was still burdened with command, and he had every intent now of seeing it through to the end - to whatever fate Primus had planned for them.

"Autobots," He announced, "And my friends," he gestured toward Evac, "Much has happened. As you all know by now, Evac and Red Alert charged into the human trap against my orders. And I followed them and doing so was a move I shall always regret. But I shall regret more my actions and words that led them to do that. In my own fear and shortsightedness, I lost track of what was truly important - the friendships that I had worked hard to build, and the sworn duty of all Autobots to protect the innocent - even those of another race. I will not make that mistake again."

"What is important now is that at least two of the human weapons are destroyed, and the third damaged. We must move now before they can create more, if we ever wish to see our friends again. So with that, I must again ask you all to fight alongside me, one last time, against a species we would rather make peace with. It will be dangerous, make no mistake, and I will not force anyone to go. The last time I made this speech, one of my best men died. The danger is real, and I would not fault any who would stay behind."

Jetfire shook his head. "Optimus, you would not even need to ask." The other Autobots murmured their agreement - even Aidia.

Evac looked at Optimus. "I too made a mistake. FOr not seeing your point of view. I cannot fix that mistake. But I can prevent that from happening again. I will go with you." He turned hesitantly toward Jazz and Crosswise. "And for you two, I- I made the mistake of assuming my desires were yours as well. I am sorry. If you were to stay behind, I will not blame you."

Crosswise and Jazz gazed at each other for a long moment, then Jazz turned toward Evac. "It would be wrong for us to abandon you now." He reached down and took Crosswise's hand gently. "We're in."

"Then we're all together." Optimus said. "Good. Now, Chris?"

The small human stood up. Optimus reached down and took him up in his arms, placing him on the main control panel. "Optimus asked me for help the other day, and together we tried to figure out where Smith is heading. Judging by the general direction they've been going, there's only three installations that Smith could be running to. Of those, only one has the facilities that would be of any use in fighting giant robots." He added a wink to the last part. "So I figure they're here." A map appeared on the screen behind him, tracing the general area and then highlighting one area in particular. "There is one problem. Your teleportation thing you've been using leaves a large energy pattern they'd recognize - to get there without alerting them, we'll have to drive in from a good distance away. Here." Another circle lit up, nearly 75 miles from the first location.

"So that's it." Optimus muttered.

"Be warned," Chris continued, "They've all seen a Decepticon attack on a human installation before, so no doubt they'll be prepared this time."

"Only problem is the Decepticons were trying to kill people." Jetfire growled. "We're not."

"Only as a last resort." Optimus nodded. "It'll be hard."

"But we can do it." Evac said confidently.

"Yes." Optimus replied quietly. "I think we can. Autobots, get ready to roll!"

A cheer met him, and the Transformers dispersed. Optimus watched them go, but singled out one in particular. His hand fell on Aidia's shoulder.

Aidia looked up at him. "You want me to stay behind." She said quietly.

Optimus nodded. "Yes. I need you to operate the warp-gate again."

"And what if they take out our communications again?"

"I had Red Alert hot-link the communications systems through mine. I have a double-back up that can be initiated if they try it again. Do not worry Aidia." He knelt down and took her young face gently in his hands. "This time, I promise we'll all come back."

Aidia looked at him sadly. "You said that last time."

Optimus's eyes were downcast for a long moment. Then he looked back up at her, and pulled her close. "I won't lose anyone else." He said softly. "On my spark, no one else will fall."

Her eyes closed. "I believe you." She said hesitantly. "I... trust you."

And those words meant all the world to Optimus.

---

Omega Supreme was surprised to see virtually everyone walking out of the ship. Surprise happened very rarely in his life, so he took a brief moment to relish it before moving to intercept them.

"Stop." He said flatly, the mere sound of his voice enough to shake the ground. "Where are you going?"

Evac glanced at Optimus, and then raised his hand. "I'll talk to him." He said quietly, then stepped forward. "Omega, we're going after Michelle."

Omega Supreme shook his head. "You did not learn your lesson." He said quietly. "Will you continue to err until you are destroyed?"

Evac looked up at him, and sighed. "Omega, I have to rescue her, whether or not we have your blessings."

"It is a foolish errand," Omega growled, "One that will lead to your death as well as your friends."

"Omega, please." Evac said quietly. "I know you don't approve, but I have to do this. Even Optimus agrees now."

Omega knelt down, his eyes burning into Evacs. "Are you prepared to live with the consequences of your actions?"

Evac looked back at him. "What... do you mean?" He said cautiously.

"You still do not understand." Omega muttered. He looked up at the other Transformers gathered around. "Leave us be!" He thundered, causing them all to scatter; Optimus quickly took everyone back inside. Omega knelt closer down, and his voice immediately dropped. "Do you know why, you are not dead?" Omega asked.

He was met with a look of total bewilderment. "What?"

"When you fought Megatron, you should have died. What protected you?"

Evac fumbled to find words. "I- I don't know what you're talking about-"

"Within you is a great power, one that must be protected at all cost. It is why you have no memory of what came before. It is why you and your friends live. It is why you are still alive now."

Evac took a moment for the words to sink in, then his eyes lit up. "You know what happened to us." He whispered in awe. "How we got there, under the ice. You know!"

"I know many things."

"Tell me!" Evac cried, "Tell me now!"

"It is not for you to know." Omega rumbled. "Do not seek the answer - it is not what you wish it to be."

"Dammit Omega!" Evac swore, "Why didn't you tell us you knew?"

"It is not for you to know." Omega repeated.

Evac paused for a moment, anger and confusion clouding his mind. Omega obviously did not want to continue that line of conversation, so Evac redirected it. "You said I carried great power. Can you tell me more?"

"You will learn, in time."

Evac paused for a moment, then his hand reached up, unlocking a hinge. His chest slowly swung open, and a dim light shown outwards. "Is it this?" Evac whispered.

Omega's hand came forward and pushed Evac's chest closed. "It must be protected at all costs." He thundered. "It is why you must not go."

Evac sighed. "I can't obey you Omega, no matter the risk."

Omega's eyes closed. "I see death in the future, Evac. Is that what you are willing to risk for your friend?"

"I would gladly risk my life!"

"Would you risk another's?"

Evac paused for a moment. "Yes..." He said hesitantly, "I would."

Omegas optics closed and a heavy sigh rumbled out. "I will go with you." He sighed. "The consequences will be your own."

"I know." Evac said softly. "And thank you, Omega."

Omega didn't answer.

---

The warp gate opened into the middle of a desert, and a large group of Transformers piled through. Chris glanced at the menagerie from Jazz's shoulder. "Too bad they aren't in a city. We could use our vehicle modes to our advantage. They'd spot us from a mile here."

"I'll make sure to scan a tank in case we have to do this again." Jazz said dryly.

"Autobots, move out." Optimus said firmly. "And stay together. No mistakes this time. I'm bringing everybody home."

The group of Transformers began the long drive toward the human installation.

Fifteen minutes up the road, Major Duke was waiting for them.

---

"Lord Megatron, I have it!"

Megatron came to Sixshot's side and grimaced at the images on his screen. "What are they doing warping into the middle of nowhere?" He wondered aloud.

"I'm not sure, but..." Sixshot hit a few more buttons, "I think it's all of them..."

"Evac's group?"

"And the Autobots."

Megatron was given pause. "The... Autobots..." He said dimly, as if waking up from a dream. "Oh, yes. Of course. This turn of events hardly surprises me, though it will undoubtedly make our task more difficult." He frowned for a moment. "Get Starscream."

"Starscream?" Sixshot asked, shocked.

"With these numbers, I will need everyone at my disposal - including him."

"But he's-"

"Acquitted. Go."

Sixshot obeyed. Megatron stared intently at the screen for a few moments more. "And this is what it all comes down to." He muttered. "Optimus has no idea what he's dealing with. No matter. Anyone who stands in the way of my prize will be eliminated."

He continued to watch the screen, and then turned, and was surprised to see Hightail standing in front of him, looking up wistfully at him. "You- wanted to see me?" She said hesitantly.

It took Megatron a moment to remember that he had indeed sent Skywarp for her some time before. Anticipation was clouding his mind. He wondered briefly how long she'd been standing there before he was able to refocus. "Yes, I did." He said quietly.

Hightail stood at attention - to Megatron's surprise and pleasure, Skywarp was refining her into quite the soldier. Not perfect yet, but she was adapting remarkably well to the Decepticon lifestyle. Perhaps that was all she needed in life- someone to give her a bit of direction. Megatron shook his head- his mind was wandering again.

"Are you ready for your first military action?" He said firmly.

"Yes." She answered. Megatron could not detect any hesitation.

"Against Evac?"

Hightail wavered for a moment. "Yes." She said after a brief hesitation.

Megatron's optics dimmed. "We are about to fight what may be the most important battle of the entire Cybertronian Civil War. Here, on this backwards planet in the middle of nowhere, unknown to Autobot and Decepticon alike, lies an object of more importance then any of us have ever dreamed. I need to depend on every one of my troops to do their job." His eyes returned to their normal red and his gaze hardened on her. "Can I depend on you?"

She hesitated for a moment, doubt flickering on her face. Then it hardened. "Yes." She replied flatly. "Of course, er, Lord Megatron."

Megatron smiled. "Excellent. Go to Skywarp, he will have further instructions. And tell him to hurry - the time for our attack is nigh."

----

Optimus slammed his brakes and stared. In front of him, the human war machine was standing. And to his sight, it was the best it could do. Damage and blast marks raked across its hull, and its primary cannon was a shattered mess. All it had remaining were a few missiles, seemingly lodged into their launchers. But still it stood, an air of defiance surrounding it.

Evac and Jetfire landed, transforming as he converted to robot mode. Both glanced at him, then back at the machine.

"He's waiting for something." Evac muttered. "Us?"

"Let me take care of it Optimus." Jetfire muttered, drawing his gun. "One quick shot and-"

"Negative, Jetfire." Optimus waved him aside. "I've had enough killing on my account. Let me talk to him."

He walked forward toward the machine, who raised its weapons hesitantly, but did not fire. Optimus raised his arms in what he hoped would be a gesture of peace.

The human machine continued to wait as he drew close.

Optimus stopped several meters short, and stared at the human inside. Involuntarily he shuddered, as for a brief moment he was taken back to the burning warehouse...

"So, this is it."

Optimus was startled at the human's voice. He glanced over the cockpit, trying to discern the humans features. "We mean you no harm." He said quickly.

"I've seen a lot that says otherwise." The human answered. "But for some damned reason, I feel inclined to believe you. I don't know why- but, I do. Why are you here?"

Optimus let his eyes darken for a moment, as he spoke. "We came here by accident. Were we left to our own devices, we would have left your kind alone, until you were ready to enter the universe. But fate and our enemies stranded us here - and since then, all my actions have been mistakes. We- no, I have bred a lot of ill will between your race and mine. It is something I cannot undo, and I regret it."

"Those enemies you spoke of," The human said hesitantly, "Were they the ones who attacked us?"

"Yes." Optimus answered. "Had we known, we would have sent aid."

The human hesitated. "I shouldn't, but I find myself believing you. One last question. What do you intend to do now?"

Optimus bowed his head. "All we want is our friend back. Then, Primus willing, we can be left in peace."

The human stood for a moment, as if making a final decision, then stepped aside. "Go on. They've taken your friend to the base. Be warned, there is a trap waiting for you. Some kind of weapon - I don't know the details. Keep your eyes open. I hope I'm not making a mistake."

"I hope I'm not either." Optimus answered. "Thank you-"

"Duke." The human answered. "Good luck."

"Thank you." Optimus repeated. Raymond Duke nodded his head, then transformed, tires squealing as he rode off away from the group. Optimus looked back, and saw both Evac and Jetfire nodding with approval. The group transformed, and resumed their quest.

---

Again Optimus rolled to a stop. "That would be it, I assume." He muttered, his optics squinting to make out the form in the distance. Behind him, the remaining Transformers converted back to robot mode, Red Alert and Ironhide with their weapons at the ready, Jazz and Crosswise holding to each others hand, Chris seated on Jazz's shoulder, and Omega Supreme, standing still and aloof, quiet and detached as always. Jetfire and Evac stepped to Optimus's side.

"Yeah, I assume so." Jetfire muttered, scanning the base. "What now?"

Evac glanced into the sky. "I suppose I could do a flyby, gather some quick recon on the best way to get in."

"Frontal assault." Jetfire growled. "Take 'em by surprise and wipe 'em out."

"I want to limit the human casualties as much as possible." Optimus growled, "To say nothing of our own. I suggest we wait-"

"I'm sure waiting won't be necessary, No..."

Everyone whirled to find one more figure standing behind them, eyes aflame and arms crossed over the great purple symbol on his chest.

"There's no need to wait when your enemy is before you." Megatron laughed, as 7 lights descended from the sky, followed by a great warship. "The lines are drawn, and it's all brought us together for this," He continued, unbridled glee in his eyes.

"The endgame."

-----