READ THIS FIRST! Yes it's another author's note but it's important. We're at the end. Sort of. When you get to the divider that looks like XooXooXooXooX, you can stop and let that be the end if you want. Otherwise, you can keep going and get the set up for the next story called "A Blessing And A Curse" that will get going in January or early February. That one is going to be a sort of Rip Van Winkle-y thing that ties in with "No Easy Answers" where I'll take a stab at something else that's been done. And since a whole bunch of years were skipped in this one, I might do some little one shot stories about things that happened then. Anyway, I'm glad so many of you really enjoyed this. Thank you for all the nice comments. It was fun. Transformers belong to Hasbro and Takara, but I wish they'd give me a cut of the take.

Come Around
By: Quetzal1

Chapter 19
End of the Line

xxxxxxx

Things were going well. In fact, better than anyone had dared to hope. In a few more days they would have enough energon to leave this insignificant rock of a planet forever. Megatron was feeling pretty good about the situation, but he would leave nothing to chance of course. The mech was sitting outside leaning against the remains of the rusty shed that stood near the silo doors. A bunch of his troops in high spirits and together in a relatively small area necessitated some time away from them. The night was very cool and the sky was clear and loaded with stars. If you looked up and nowhere else, this could be anywhere. A light breeze was rustling the tall grass surrounding the area. After all this time, victory was within his grasp. Cybertron would be theirs and once everything was in order there, conquest of the universe would be next. He had waited and struggled for so long to get to this point. Sometimes in low moments it had seemed like too much to even dream of. His reverie was interrupted by the sound of dirt and gravel crunching beneath light steps.

Erica needed some time away from the others. This temporary base didn't provide for solitude whenever you wanted it like the main one. Dirge and Starscream had elected to ignore the warning signs of an impending tornado that day and had gone on a little ride as a result. They were lucky to get away fairly unscathed. It did make for a good story though. The problem was, she'd already heard it and some of the others who hadn't did not really believe it and so excessively noisy arguments were breaking out. The quiet outside was amazing after all that racket. After her eyes adjusted, the stars looked so close and provided enough light that she could see obstacles and avoid them. Did the night look the same on any planet? Very soon she would be looking at alien constellations. There was a sandy place on the far side of the long shed that would be a comfortable spot to sit for a little while. She rounded the corner and was startled to find something already sitting there. Out of reflex she went into a crouch and aimed the laser on her forearm before recognizing the familiar crimson optics glowing in the darkness.

"Stand down," came the gravelly command from the black.

"Forgive me, Lord Megatron. I didn't know anyone else was out here," she said, getting to her feet and bowing. Best to be real polite when you've just drawn your weapon on the boss, especially since it had been upgraded to cause damage to about anything.

"You are forgiven. Why are you out here?"

"I needed some quiet. The others are a little wound up tonight."

"Agreed."

"May I join you?"

"Certainly." He placed a hand on the ground and then brought it around to rest against his midsection after his pet had climbed aboard. She leaned back against the thick armor plate between a couple of vents. It felt like he had been out in the sun but the silent cooling fans were providing the warmth as they pulled heat away from internal systems and released it to the outside. She had intended to just plunk down on the soft ground, but this was better.

"Victory is at hand," he said.

"Yes."

"Do you anticipate life on Cybertron with pleasure or are you becoming apprehensive?"

"I don't know. It's hard to grasp the idea of living on another planet and one that's nothing at all like Earth. It just brings up a lot of questions."

"Such as?"

"Little stuff, like where will I live? Will I be able to move around freely or will I have to watch out constantly?"

"You will live at Darkmount with myself and the others, of course. And since you belong to me, you are free to do as you please within reason."

"What's Darkmount, a city?"

"No, it is a fortress in the region known as Polyhex."

"What am I going to do there? What would you possibly need me for?"

"You will continue as you have here. There will be much work to be done that will require your skills."

"Will there be other Decepticons?"

"Yes. There will be those who remained on Cybertron and there may be others who were gone in an effort to colonize areas to expand the empire."

"They won't be hostile, will they?"

"I think you will be more of a novelty than anything else at first, as none of them have seen a human before. Given time to observe and speak with the others, I think they will eventually come to accept you."

"I hope so."

"A large number of them are seekers, so that may help given your apparent affinity for them."

"Maybe." She didn't argue. Erica tried not to show any favoritism as she went about her job, but she did seem to gravitate toward them.

They sat there for a long while, neither saying further. The stars sparkled and the breeze continued bringing the smells of springtime. Unintentionally, the human began to fall into a light doze. In the beginning of this odd relationship she would never have thought it possible in a million years.

Sensors told Megatron that she was slipping ever closer to a full on recharge cycle. Initially he had no intention of honoring any of her requests and was going to leave her to her fate, but since then he had changed his mind. Hard to believe, but the mech had actually come to enjoy her company sometimes. Her inferior organic brain had a way of viewing things from unusual angles that sometimes forced him consider things in new ways as well. And her simple faith in his ability was also pleasant. She was a soldier with no underhanded ambitions. Sort of like Shockwave without the sycophantism, except that he didn't really trust him, either.

"Wake up. It is time to go back."

"I'm awake," she said around a large yawn.

Back on the ground, it seemed much chillier and she wasted no time going back into the silo.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

"We know what they're up to, but how do we stop them?" Asked General Harold Buchannon. The successor of Martin Sherrod was no nonsense but he fully recognized that the Autobots were far more knowledgeable than any humans when it came to fighting Decepticons and it would be wise to take any assistance they offered and consider any advice.

Optimus Prime toyed with one of the tiny rockets tangled in a mass of copper wire, which had been left in a field somewhere in Kansas. It was ingenious really. If the Sky Spy satellite hadn't just happened to pick up on the Decepticon activity they might have gone on indefinitely or until their goals were fulfilled. Of course they knew that a large quantity of the toy rockets had been stolen from a manufacturer and the copper wire from various suppliers, but no one had been able to figure out why. The humans had provided that answer. Their scientists surmised that the rockets with the wire served as antennas. They used something similar in their study of the properties of lightning. It was certain that the Decepticons were using it for energon production somehow. The idea that this had gone on undetected for weeks truly unsettled him. How far had they progressed, and to what end? Was there some devastating new weapon about to be unleashed?

"The first thing would be to locate their base of operations. To chase the storms would require something near to the general area," he replied.

"We have received reports of possible activity near Fargo, Texas. At first it wasn't considered credible."

"Why not?" Ironhide asked.

"There's nothing there to speak of. No power plants or anything else like the usual targets. And with all the media coverage people are jumping at shadows."

"But now?" Optimus prompted.

"We looked a little harder. There is an abandoned missile silo there that would make someone a perfect hiding place. A group of Army Rangers were deployed to the area to observe and report back," Buchannon noticed the look of concern on the faces of some of the big machines. "Don't worry. These are some of our best soldiers. They are very good at what they do and they had strict orders not to engage if it turned out someone was there."

"What did they discover?"

"We were hoping you could tell us." A series of slides were projected onto a screen that the man had brought along. The first showed just the area. The second revealed something that definitely looked like the enemy except that no one had seen them before.

"Do you recognize them?"

"No. Perhaps they are new arrivals."

"Great, just what we need," Gears complained.

Had Erica been there she could have easily identified them as Eight Ball and Sundog, a pair of the F-4s who had been assigned to that site. Additional slides showed Thundercracker and Ramjet arriving with another of the F-4s and then Blitzwing and Soundwave following soon after. The group disappeared underground and then there were still more slides showing the space bridge pulling the newest Decepticons upward and through the opening it created.

"So they have a space bridge there, that must be where they send away all the energon they've been collecting," Ironhide observed.

"Yes, but where are the others? It's unlike Megatron not to be directly involved in something like this," Optimus mused. If it had been Starscream he might have considered it some sort of power play within the enemy's ranks but the presence of Soundwave and Thundercracker, who were known to be very loyal, indicated otherwise.

"Well here's a scary thought," Wheeljack said, "What if they have more than one bridge going?"

"We'll send someone to systematically check every single known missile site. If they have one there's probably others." General Buchannon said as he reached for the phone to set things in motion.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

As loathsome as it was to admit it, harvesting lightning had been a brilliant idea, Starscream thought. They were on the last day of the project if all went as planned. He could hardly sit still at the thought of being back on Cybertron with enough energy to restore it to its former glory. If only he were in charge as he should be, things would be perfect. There would be time enough for that later. For now he would co-operate. Once things were in the proper shape he would find some way to take his rightful place as ruler. It was just a matter of time and he had plenty of that.

Something seemed amiss, but Thrust couldn't say just what it was. As they approached the location of the space bridge he observed nothing out of the ordinary.

"You," Thrust said to Four-three (Blaze to the human.) "Land and see what's going on down there."

"As you command."

"I give the orders here, Thrust," Starscream said. "What are you so nervous about?"

"It's just a feeling I have."

"Ridiculous."

Blaze (so named because of compressor stall problems that caused massive flames to shoot from the exhaust of his engines sometimes) transformed and landed. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to be looking for. "Oh-eight? Four-seven?" He called with no response. Where were the others? They were supposed to be guarding the site. Maybe they were inside. He entered through the smaller door next to the large one that covered the silo. It was silent inside. The space bridge was in the usual place of course, but as he got closer he could see it was damaged. If he had a true personality he would have been pretty nervous by then, but as it was, he was merely curious until he saw something else in a far corner. It was the burned out carcasses of Eight Ball and Sundog. Blaze stood there for a second or two upon registering this new information. A slight metallic scraping sound from the darkness provoked him to action. He leapt upward, transforming as he went, and blasted a hole in the main silo door. He had not gone any more that one hundred feet through the opening before he was cut to pieces by laserfire that ignited all the energon he was carrying in a violent explosion.

Starscream and Thrust snap-rolled in opposite directions from each other to avoid the flying debris.

"Autobots!" Starscream hissed with rage. "Destroy them!"

Two seekers against eight Autobots were not much of a threat, especially when they had to protect the volatile energon cargo. They did manage to land several effective missile strikes inside the silo before retreating. Both tried to contact the others to no avail. They did not know if it was because of damage they had sustained or because there was interference from the storms or what, but it was a very unsettling feeling.

In fact it was a frequency disruptor that had been activated the minute the plot was discovered. There would be no warning for the Decepticons in Kansas.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

Scrapper had no idea of what the hold up was with the seekers. They should have been back by now. He and the other Constructicons had gone a considerable distance north chasing a storm. No one had been able to contact them. Slag it. They would take the energon they had collected while they had waited and deliver it to the space bridge in Kansas. It wasn't that far and it would be a good place to take five while they waited. That Starscream was going to get an audio sensor full after all his bragging about the superiority of air transport. Bah!

Upon arrival they were met by Thundercracker, Ramjet, Blitzwing and three of the zombies.

"What are you doing here?" Thundercracker asked.

"Getting the job done," said Bonecrusher with a smug grin.

"Where's Screamer and the others?"

"Who knows? They took a batch of energon to the Texas bridge and we ain't seen them since," said Longhaul.

"Did you try calling them?"

"Of course," said Hook.

Something was very wrong here. "Blitzwing, go see if you can find them."

"There you go," he said pointing. Two small specks on the horizon were getting closer with stunning rapidity. It was their missing comrades.

"What happened to you two, and where's what's his name…Four-three?" Thundercracker asked.

"It was an ambush!" Starscream said. "The Autobots were in the silo waiting for us. They destroyed the bridge and three of the zombies. That last part wouldn't be so bad except Four–three had a full cargo of energon."

"Oh that's bad. Megatron will be super pissed," the blue seeker said, unconsciously using the humans' swear. "Why didn't you call for backup?"

"We tried," Thrust said. "No one answered."

"None of us heard anything," said Scrapper. "Communications seem to be jammed."

The Air Commander looked alarmed. "Here too?"

"We tried to call you and you didn't hear it, right?" asked Scrapper.

"We heard nothing," Thrust confirmed.

"This is Site two calling Iowa site three, acknowledge," Thundercracker said, again trying to call out. Nothing happened.

"Kansas site two to headquarters, come in please." More nothing.

"Maybe we ought to get out of here," Longhaul suggested.

"We can't just leave the bridge unguarded," Starscream said.

"How about we get this energon out of here and then worry about rest after that?" Thundercracker said.

Without being told, three of the F-4s stepped up to the approach to the bridge and transformed, waiting patiently to be loaded down with energon and launched.

"These things can't carry all of it," Starscream said, plainly annoyed.

"Let's send what we can," Thundercracker replied.

"Hey geniuses, how are we going to send anything when we can't tell HQ to activate the bridge?" Scrapper asked.

Scavenger had remained quiet. His sensors were feeling kind of scrambled. He should be able to read all manner of communications frequencies utilized on this planet but he was getting nothing. A fast scan from his internal diagnostics showed that everything was normal. What about subspace, did that still work?

"Kansas site two calling headquarters."

XxXxX

What in the name of all that was sane were those idiots doing out there? Megatron wondered. He had heard from no one all afternoon and received no reply when he tried to reach them. The monitor showed a very violent and active storm pattern. They should be reaping untold amounts of energon and sending it back regularly. Space bridge activation had to be carefully coordinated since all of them terminated in the same spot. If more than one tried to send at a time it could result in cataclysmic destruction on the receiving end.

The tyrant was becoming more and more aggravated when a faint voice came through the static.

"…site two calling headquarters. Do you copy?"

"Speak up, Scavenger. I can barely hear you."

"Something is interfering with comm….SHRRRKKKK…but we are ready to send cargo."

"Stand by for transmission, Shockwave. Activating bridge."

Back in Kansas there was a small sense of relief. They weren't totally cut off after all. The bridge activated and the F-4s were pulled upwards and out of sight.

It was fortunate because as soon as the device became still again there was something else. Engine noise seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. The Decepticons were looking for the source and seeing nothing…until the hologram began to dissipate. They were effectively surrounded by Autobots and dozens of the human's tanks.

"Headquarters, we are under attack! Requesting reinforcements! Do you copy?"

Back in South Dakota, the only part that got through was 'under attack.' Whatever was blocking the signal must have gotten stronger because the subspace frequency was silent after that. It must be those wretched Autobots. Humans attacking wouldn't have gotten such a terrified sounding response from that coward Scavenger.

"Soundwave, get to the third bridge and counteract any attempts to block communication and prepare to hold that site at any cost. Take one of the force field generators. Total victory is within our grasp. We must not fail."

"Affirmative," Soundwave replied.

XxXxXxXxXxX

"What is up with this thing?" Erica asked no one in particular as she tapped the communicator that was pressed into her ear.

"I got nothing," Skywarp said. "Maybe it's all the lightning. Could we have fried something?"

"Not all of us at once in the same way. Do you think it's just some kind of pocket of interference, like a dead spot?"

"But it was fine this morning," Onslaught said.

"Yeah, that's true. But whatever's going on we need to figure it out, this stuff's really getting backed up." Great stacks of compressed energon cubes were standing off to one side of the bridge awaiting transport.

"I do not like it. I am going to check the perimeter," Dirge said and then was transformed and away.

"Shocker and Comet, maybe you ought to go south a little way and see if you can see anything," Erica suggested. "But don't go any farther than fifteen or twenty miles."

The two 'bots said nothing but merely did as they were told.

"I'm with Dirge," said Swindle, "There's something going on."

Further speculation was brought to an end with the arrival of Astrotrain. In his patrolling the air corridor between sites he had encountered the same communication problems as everyone else. He had gone to the closest site, which was Kansas to see if they were having trouble also and got there just in time to help try to repel the attack. The Constructicons had formed Devastator and were doing fairly well. If it had been only humans, they wouldn't have had too hard of a time but there were so many Autobots it was a no win situation. The space bridge had taken too much damage and malfunctioned badly when the zombie seekers tried to return. All three at that location had been destroyed on reentry. The decision was made to get the energon out before retreating.

Astrotrain was the largest and so had taken on as much cargo as he could manage and left.

"What's going on?" Vortex asked.

"It's a disaster," said the triple changer. "The Autobots and the humans are attacking the Kansas bridge. They already destroyed site one. Thundercracker, Starscream, Ramjet and Thrust will be along anytime now with the rest of the energon."

"What about the F-4s?" Erica asked.

"They're done. The ones here are the only ones left."

The engineer felt a little ill. Those poor things. They never had a chance. She looked over at Shadow and Bullet to see if the news affected them at all. They continued to wait for orders impassively. If they felt anything, they were keeping it to themselves.

Soon after that, their numbers rose as the other seekers arrived.

"Are you guys ok?" Erica asked.

"Yeah, we're fine. Devastator held them off long enough for us to get away. Oh, and we ran into Blitzwing and sent him to find the Stunticons."

"Why are you just standing there?" Starscream demanded. "Let's get this energon out of here."

"We'd love to, but we can't call Megatron to activate the bridge," Skywarp replied.

The Air Commander was about to say something else when Soundwave appeared. He was an expert at communications and after a few attempts, managed to block the frequency disruptor.

All of them heard the message sent by their leader as soon as contact was established.

"Attention all Decepticons. Converge immediately upon Iowa site three. Repel any attackers by whatever means necessary. The energon must be transported at all costs."

Soundwave then set about activating the force field generator. It flickered on, encasing the silo and some of the ground around it in a field that would repel any attacks for a while. It was not a moment too soon. While Shadow and Bullet were being sent through the bridge nearly overloaded with energon, Dirge, Comet and Shocker returned with bad news. There was a crowd of Autobots and humans on the way. It was a larger force than the one that had attacked the Kansas site.

"You have your orders. Protect the bridge at all costs," said Soundwave.

Easy for you to say, you're in here. Erica thought.

Dirge and the Combaticons soon had help when the Constructicons arrived looking a little rough around the edges.

"Did you terminate them?" Onslaught asked.

"No way," said Scrapper. "There were just too many."

"Or maybe you just weren't up to the task," the Combaticon taunted.

"You think it's that easy? You go right on out and fight them yourself."

"With pleasure," and then the mechs merged together to form Bruticus. "Let them meet their doom!"

"Yeah, let us know how that works out for ya," Mixmaster said with disgust.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

It was a colossal battle. No one side could claim an advantage for long. The Decepticon forces at one point thought things were beginning to favor them when the Stunticons finally showed up and formed Menasor, but then that hope was crushed with the arrival of the remaining Autobots aboard Skyfire. The mechs were evenly matched but the humans' armed forces were starting to tip the balance.

It would have been of no consequence except that the force field was starting to fail. Each time it was struck with lasers or bullets it would flicker more and more.

"I don't think we're going to make it," Skywarp said.

"We'll go as long as we can, but I think you're right," Thundercracker replied. They had managed to send half of the huge pile of compressed energon cubes but there was so much left. They had resorted to rigging a net and loading it as well to be towed by one of the F-4s. So close but so far away.

Erica was preparing to fight. How they could possibly continue to send the cargo once the force field was down was beyond her. There were machines and humans everywhere she looked. It was total mayhem. The skies were full of aircraft. Some were damaged but kept going. She expected to be very busy later attending to injuries. Overhead the force field gave one last flash and crackle, and then it was down. Immediately gunfire of every kind was directed at the bridge.

The device activated again, this time returning Shadow, Comet, Shocker and Bullet. Each of them took a position around the bridge and began firing upon their attackers. First they would decrease the number of the enemy and then they could get back to ferrying the energon. The enemy had other ideas.

Shocker was the first to fall. An incoming incendiary mortar round did him in. No more would he be plagued by electrical problems or anything else. Bullet went down not long after when he was struck by a couple of shoulder launched missiles. The magnesium charges melted some critical internal workings before he knew what had hit him. Comet went airborne to try his luck there and was blasted by three Aerialbots.

Only Shadow remained. He had a much better grasp on how being a moving target made things more difficult for one's enemies.

Erica was doing damage and managing to avoid being hit by anything. Aside from having to dodge Bullet when he fell, it hadn't been too bad. All the other humans were concentrating on the big targets. Except for one.

Less than a mile from the chaos was a solitary soldier. He was Corporal Matt Watterson of the United States Army Special Forces. He was lying on the ground carefully adjusting his weapon. The scope on the rifle was highly accurate and very strong and he had already made allowances for range, wind and elevation. He brought the weapon to bear on his target. The son of the late Larry Watterson was one of the best snipers the Army had ever produced. When he fired, he did not miss.

The air was thick with lasers and bullets. Erica noticed how the sound of a ricochet was very similar to the effect used in the movies. She wasn't sure but it looked like maybe, just maybe they were starting to repel the attackers. She stepped out from behind a section of the bridge to get a better shot at an Autobot who wasn't paying any attention to what was behind him.

It's been said by veterans of war that though you might hear bullets whizzing through the air all around, you never heard the one that gets you. Erica did not hear it.

Corporal Watterson had aimed for her heart, but the fortunate engineer tripped at the last possible microsecond and the projectile tore into the area beneath her right shoulder and exited the back leaving a gaping wound. She spun back just a little and fell. The world got dark for a second or two, but then came back with a monstrous pain. When her vision cleared, there was Skywarp looking horrified as he crouched over her.

"Do you still function?" he asked.

"Yeah, but God, this fucking hurts."

"We have got to get you out of here."

"You can't go. You've got to take care of the energon."

"Slag that!"

Thundercracker saw it happen and was already thinking. "SEVEN-FIVE GET OVER HERE NOW!"

Shadow was used to being ordered around, though sometimes he didn't care for it. Thundercracker rarely yelled at him so it must be very serious.

"How bad is it?" The blue mech asked as he looked over Skywarp's shoulder.

"She's leaking blood pretty badly. What do we do?"

"We'll send her back to HQ. Megatron will know what to do. He's studied humans a lot more than any of the rest of us."

"I'll do it."

"'Warp, you can't. We have to finish the job."

"Frag the job!"

"Listen to me, there's no time for this. We're the only ones left. We'll get it done and then you can go, all right?

"But she can't wait."

"She won't have to, see?" He said gesturing at Shadow who had transformed and was waiting patiently with the canopy open and engines cycling up.

"I don't know…"

"It's the only way."

Skywarp carefully picked up the human trying to cause as little pain as possible. There was so much blood. He placed her in the pilot seat and then paused.

"You better not mess this up or I will gut you myself," he said.

Shadow said nothing in response but closed the canopy and steered toward a clear area to take off. Many shots were aimed at the jet but the two seekers put down enough covering fire to allow a clean escape.

XxXxXxXxX

If she didn't move, the pain was a lot less intense but she was still fading in and out of consciousness.

"Are you still operational?" Shadow asked.

"Yeah, kind of."

"At present speed we will reach our destination in approximately 40 minutes."

"Good."

"How may I assist you?" Geez, that voice he had made him sound like her welfare was the last thing he wanted to deal with. This wasn't the case and she knew it.

"Just get me home. I don't think there's anything else you can do."

"You will advise of any changes?"

"Uh-huh."

Awareness came and went, she didn't know for how long. Erica snapped back to consciousness when there was a loud bang and the aircraft lurched to one side. Alarms began to sound inside the cockpit.

"What's going on, Shadow?"

"I have sustained damage."

"From what?"

"A human launched projectile. Observe," he said, and then rolled to the left so that she could see the ground below. It was an armored column that stretched for miles. They were heading for the last silo.

"Shit, we gotta get there in time to warn Megatron!" she knew their leader was supposed to be indestructible but everyone had limits.

"It will be done."

Erica looked at the instrument panel. One engine was losing oil pressure and would never make it. Shadow said nothing more for another twenty minutes.

"Fasten the seatbelt and prepare for ejection."

"What are you talking about?" She said as she struggled with the multiple belts and latches.

"We are approaching our target. I am too damaged to land. You will be ejected. The seat has been fitted with a parachute."

At that moment the damaged engine blew itself apart setting off more alarms.

"Ejection imminent," Shadow said, in a pained voice.

"Wait."

"No. You will be ejected or you will be destroyed. Commencing countdown, launch in five…four…three…" the canopy blew off, "two…one…" There was a 'whoosh' and then the human was suddenly in open space and falling. The chute deployed and she was then gently on her way down.

The same could not be said for Shadow. The F-4 was trailing smoke and never veered as he flew into the ground and exploded.

XxXxXxXxX

Inside the silo, Megatron activated the space bridge yet again. In two or three more trips they would have all the energon they would need. The attackers seemed to be giving up. Many of the humans had retreated. It would happen at last. Cybertron would be his.

There was a loud explosion outside that caused vibration and some small bits of debris to fall around him. That surely wasn't Seven-five. Soundwave had alerted him to the imminent arrival of the human. Evidently she had sustained an injury of some kind. He did not know the extent of the damage. His sensors alerted him to the arrival of his pet at the same time he heard something behind him. The mech turned around in time to see her collapse in a heap just inside the doorway and make no attempt to rise.

"Greetings Mighty One," Erica said weakly when her realization returned and she saw the white and silver tyrant towering over her. It was getting harder and harder to come back.

He said nothing, but instead crouched and carefully picked her up. She would not have imagined him capable of such gentleness. The mech looked at her and performed a scan. The news was not good. There was too much blood gone and she was on the verge of shock. It was surprising to him that she had somehow gotten back down to the control room from outside in this state.

"You have to get out of here," she said tiredly.

"What?"

"They're going to be here soon."

"Who?"

"The Army or something. They got Shadow. He crashed."

"I fear no humans."

"I know you don't, but there's an awful lot of them and only one of you. And there's probably Autobots too." She coughed from the exertion and then looked at her hand. It was covered with a fine spray of blood. "Shit, that isn't good."

"Regrettably, I don't think there is anything I can do for you," the mech said quietly. He did not love her as most would love a pet, but not because he was incapable of the emotion like everyone believed. If Erica had had a few lifetimes she might have been able to get around the suspicion and wariness but she didn't. But that isn't to say he wasn't fond of her in his own twisted way.

"You must be in terrible pain. If you so desire I can end your suffering. It would be instantaneous."

"No, I think I'm gonna ride this pony as long as it runs," she said, lying on her uninjured side and curled up tightly.

"Very well."

"Could I ask you for a couple of favors? I swear, it's the last time."

"Certainly." It was then that Megatron came to perform the last selfless acts of his life.

"If you can… would you stay until it's over? I don't want to die alone."

"Of course. Do not concern yourself further."

"Thank you. And when you see Skywarp, tell him something for me…"

"What?"

XxXxX

The mech was impressed with her will to live. As he continued to operate the remaining space bridge, he simultaneously monitored the human's bio functions. She drifted in and out of consciousness, staying out longer and longer each time. An idea occurred to him. It was probably too late, but there would be no harm in trying this experiment. He carefully placed her on a nearby recharge platform and then opened a small panel on his left arm. Close to the surface was a conduit that carried the pale blue repair fluid. He pulled one end free and carefully allowed a few drops to land on the open wound. The liquid sat on the surface for a few seconds and then was absorbed. Nothing happened. He returned to the control panel and sent the last batch of energon home. When the mechs carrying it were returned, the order was given: Destroy the bridge and converge on the South Dakota site immediately.

Megatron returned to Erica. Her breathing was taking on a noisy, rattled sound. He reached out and patted her on the head one last time. Two minutes later she ceased functioning.

XxXxX

Skywarp flew over the armored column at the speed of sound, strafing it as he went, before teleporting out of sight. The humans were getting close to the field HQ. No doubt the Autobots would be joining them as soon as possible.

When he emerged he was within sight of the silo and was in time to witness Megatron blasting it into rubble. The seeker transformed and slid to a stop.

"Greetings Skywarp," the mech said solemnly.

"Greetings Lord Megatron." He was unsure how to proceed. There was evidence of an explosion nearby. The remaining scraps identified it as an F-4 Phantom. His manner betrayed his worry and he didn't have to ask about what was on his mind.

"Erica functions no longer. The damage was too extensive."

The seeker said nothing but his wings visibly sagged.

"However, she did request that I inform you of her thanks for everything and that you remained her favorite 'lawn dart,' whatever that means."

"Thank you." Skywarp did not bother to elaborate on the joke. On occasion when, out of orneriness, he called her a puny human her retort was usually to call him 'lawn dart' or the variant 'big dumb lawn dart' if she was annoyed. And now it seemed he was no one's dart.

"Her sacrifice was not in vain. Cybertron is ours."

"Yes."

They said no more and were soon joined by the rest of their faction. The humans and the Autobots were much too late. The Decepticons were reveling in their triumph on their home world before the next sunrise on Earth.

XooXooXooXooXooXooXooXooXooX

The silo was mostly destroyed. Entry would be next to impossible. It had served several purposes and its last use was intended to be as a tomb. Megatron knew that his human's biological functions had stopped, he did not bother to scan for bio-mechanical functions. Had he done so he would have discovered that his last ditch experiment was a success. Kind of. The mech was one of the few who really knew the secret of the blue substance from the internal diagnostic and repair systems. The reason that it was so effective in healing wounds was because it was full of nanites, tiny robots that were microscopic even by human standards. These nanites could reconstruct almost any part up to a point. They also tended to have a degree of the knowledge of their carrier. Megatron's nanites had entered Erica's bloodstream, what was left of it, and had encountered a number of interesting mutations that the human had no knowledge of. She had been right to be concerned about exposure to energon and all the different alien energies. If the sniper had not killed her, in another six months she would have endured something much, much worse before finally meeting death.

The attempted destruction of the silo further set things in motion. In time the nanites would have run out of energy in the human's body. Fortunately for them, the explosion caused the recharge platform to fall and land upon a low voltage cable that was connected to the power source for the computers. There would be plenty of energy for them now. It would take a lot of time but with the power and the mutations they had plenty of material to work with and they proceeded to get down to business.

The End

To be continued as A Blessing and A Curse.