Author's Note:

So, Nightwind's goin' out on a limb here, in two ways:

1) Normally, I don't post stories unless they're completely finished and fully edited to my satisfaction. 2) Normally, I don't write stories in chronological order. I write what comes to me as it comes to me; often the very last part of a story that I write is its beginning.

But since this story already has something of a built-in plot, I've decided to try posting this one as I write it, which goes against Condition One up there. This also forces me to write the story in chronological order which goes against Condition Two. I consider it an experimental writing exercise. Hopefully, it will be a successful experiment for me. We'll see... I can't tell you how often this will be updated, though. It will depend upon how the spirit moves me. I'm hoping for weekly updates, but that might be too ambitious. Nagging me to update might -- or might not -- help.

The story itself is pretty straightforward: It will detail the events shortly prior to, during, and just after the live-action Transformers movie (a continuity which, for the record, I consider to be completely separate from and different from the original G1 continuity), all told from Barricade's point of view. Why? Because I've become a rabid Barricade fangirl for some reason that I can't entirely explain, and thus I wish to expand and fill in his character to my satisfaction. I need no other reason. :) So...Well, enjoy. :)

The small and marginally-intelligent organic creatures who infested in plague-like proportions the poor, innocent planet one orbital position sunward called the planet on which Barricade was strolling "Mars." He had discovered this in the course of diligent intelligence-gathering via what the same organic creatures called "the Internet." He had also discovered that it was the name of an ancient – on a human timescale – deity who in some similarly ancient culture was the patron of war. Either that or the planet was named after a candy company. Barricade highly suspected the former, however.

But whatever the origin of Mars's name, one thing was certain: The humans who inhabited Earth were utterly fascinated with the place. They had been so, so Barricade had further gleaned from his intelligence-gathering activities, for at least two hundred of their years, and two hundred years was a long time for a race composed of individuals as pathetically short-lived as humanity. But Barricade, for the life of him, could not comprehend the reason for their fascination.

Mars was a planet dead in both the biological and geological senses of the word. It was cold. It was practically atmosphere-less, and it did not have much to offer in the way of gravity, either. Its landscape, if one stooped to call it such, was utterly uninteresting, an unending rock-strewn vista of rusty red iron-oxide dust punctuated here and there with impact craters, deeply eroded rifts and valleys, and the largest extinct volcanoes that Barricade, in all of his extensive galactic peregrinations, had ever seen. Most annoyingly, the planet was regularly plagued with dust storms that seemed to last forever and that, so he and his comrades had quickly and unfortunately discovered, wreaked all sorts of merry havoc with all sorts of Cybertronian systems.

All in all, Barricade could think of literally thousands of planets far more fascinating than Mars could ever hope to be. Yet, the humans had amassed and reported vast amounts of data regarding their neighboring planet, spending inordinate amounts of time and what they called "money" in order to facilitate that data collection. They launched telescopes into the orbit of their own planet so that they could see Mars – among other things – better. Their astronomers wrote dozens of papers about the possibility of life existing on Mars. Some other humans – those given to wild, highly improbable imaginings – envisioned a future in which Mars was subjected to a process that they charmingly termed "terraforming" so that their pathetically delicate fleshy kind could live on Mars without terminating due to asphyxiation and exposure. Lastly, a significant portion of what the humans considered to be classic literature was devoted to the notion of Earth being invaded and in some cases conquered by fearsome aliens from Mars.

The authors of that literature, Barricade reflected with something approaching irony, had almost been right. He and his comrades were indeed aliens who liked to think of themselves as fearsome and who were indeed plotting an invasion of Earth. And that invasion would indeed originate from Mars even if he and his comrades did not actually hail from what the humans called The Red Planet. Yes, irony indeed…

Despite all of the humans' rampant fascination, though, it had only been quite recently that they had started to dispatch more-or-less permanent scientific probes to their neighboring planet. One of those probes Blackout had decided to destroy before cooler heads – like Barricade's own, for instance – had been able to convince him that announcing their presence on Mars in such a blatantly spectacular and attention-getting sort of way was not the brightest of all possible ideas. But then, Blackout was not known for regularly harboring any ideas that could be construed as even moderately dim, much less bright. Since that incident, though, Mars's small group of resident Decepticons had studiously avoided the two rovers that had subsequently taken up residence on Mars while also carefully evading the scrutiny of the various satellite spacecraft that the humans had seen fit to simultaneously inject into Mars's orbit. That the rovers and orbiters had unceremoniously arrived not long after Blackout's impetuous act was, in Barricade's studied opinion, not at all a coincidence.

And so the projected timescale of the Decepticons' plan, such as that plan was, had been somewhat shortened. For several of the humans' years now, Starscream had apparently been content to simply monitor Earth from the relative safety of Mars, on the pretext of gathering information in order to completely ensure the success of their future recovery mission. All the while, he'd been offering up increasingly artful excuses as to why the Decepticons weren't actually doing anything about finding Megatron and the Allspark and were instead sitting there on Mars, ineffectually waiting and watching. For precisely what they were waiting and watching, Barricade was wholly uncertain. He was, however, still 92.7 certain that both Megatron and the Allspark could be found somewhere on or perhaps inside of the planet called Earth, despite the fact that all of his efforts to detect any energy signatures from either of them had ultimately proven fruitless. Still, despite all of Barricade's patient counseling otherwise, Starscream had flatly refused to budge from his stubborn holding pattern.

Barricade knew precisely why Starscream was stalling: Finding Megatron meant that Starscream would no longer be leading the Decepticons, a position that he'd been holding – not to mention greatly enjoying – for thousands of years now, in the wake of Megatron's disappearance and extended absence. Starscream was and always had been loath to give up any sort of power that somehow managed to find its way into his hands, and he was no doubt contemplating how he could plausibly finagle a way to unEarth, so to speak, the Allspark without also being obliged to make a serious effort to unEarth Megatron. For that, he apparently needed time and a great deal of it. Hence, the stalling. Understanding Starscream's motivation for doing nothing, however, did not serve to make their leader's stalling any more tolerable as far as Barricade was concerned.

And now at least some of the humans could hardly fail to be aware that something far beyond their ken was lurking somewhere on their beloved red planet. This had rather undesirably, from Starscream's point of view, given Starscream what the humans would likely call a "kick in the butt." Perhaps Blackout was much smarter than Barricade had given him credit for and just such a Starscream-prod had been Blackout's intended result from the start when he'd decided to destroy the humans' Mars rover…

A semblance of a smirk passed across Barricade's face at the improbable thought; it was far more likely that Blackout had simply succumbed to the frustration associated with a few years of all-encompassing boredom. Still, Blackout's action, the humans' apparent reaction to it, and Barricade's own piecing-together of some tantalizing and obscure bits of human history had all conspired to force Starscream's hand or otherwise risk a mutiny in which he would be greatly outnumbered. As power-hungry as Starscream was, he was also a coward; he greatly valued holding on to life and limb even at the expense of holding on to hard-won personal power.

It was, Starscream had apparently been forced to conclude, time to do something. Even if that "something" was only to ostentatiously send Barricade off on what Starscream no doubt hoped would be a doomed-to-failure mission.

Doomed-to-failure mission or not, Barricade could hardly claim that he would be sorry to leave Mars, his dubious "home" for the last four Martian solar orbits, and leave it he would very shortly, just as soon as he managed to locate Frenzy. He'd had quite enough of the endless painstaking efforts to pick gritty Martian dust and sand out of the myriad crevices of his body, for one thing, and from what he knew of it, Earth at the very least had far less dust than had Mars. A change of locale would, in Barricade's estimation, result in a marked improvement in circumstances and living conditions, and he would be the first Decepticon – but not, alas, the first Cybertronian – ever to arrive on Earth. Other than, in all likelihood, Megatron, of course.

On the other hand, Barricade was to be saddled with the constant presence of Frenzy as a partner for the duration of his covert endeavors on Earth. Given Frenzy's general demeanor, this was something less than an improvement in circumstances and living conditions. But, Barricade supposed, the partner requirement was both tolerable in at least the short term as well as to be expected; he highly doubted that Starscream trusted him or any other of his subordinates well enough to send anyone to Earth by himself.

Idly, as Barricade wandered and scanned the barren, sterile Martian landscape in search of Frenzy's diminutive form, he wondered if he was going on this mission in order to keep an eye on Frenzy or if Frenzy was going on the mission in order to keep an eye on him. In the end, he supposed that it hardly mattered, so long as he escaped from the unending monotony that was life on Mars. In order to accomplish that goal, he'd gladly take along a hundred Frenzys, if need be.

And as that very thought entered Barricade's mind, he spotted the object of his quest just cresting the lip of an impact crater not far away. Barricade picked up his pace, making a beeline for Frenzy before the much smaller Decepticon could disappear on him again. Because as far as Barricade was concerned, the sooner he could leave Mars far, far behind, the better.