Chapter 30

"So... still feel like attacking them head on by yourself?"

Sunstreaker glowered at Tracks as he struggled with the energon bonds tied tightly around him. "When I get loose the first thing I'm going to do is knock your teeth down your intake, then I'm going to wipe out the Decepticons one by one at my leisure."

Sideswipe growled from his twin's other side, "Not if I get there first."

Arcee stared at Cliffjumper's body, still slumped where he'd been gunned down earlier. Jazz bumped her with a doorwing, "Hey it isn't your fault. You'd have only gotten yourself killed in the process. He wouldn't have wanted that."

The white helmet bobbed, "I know that. But for so long it was just us. The only thing that saw us through serving Scorponoc was our friendship. We watched each other's backs," A numbness had set in, making the day seem even more unreal.

Perceptor stared angrily at his feet, "I'm sorry I got him killed, Arcee."

"Cliffjumper died as he intended to, to save the rest of us. Let's honor his memory by not trying to make emotional martyrs out of ourselves," snapped Bumblebee, trying to wriggle around in his bonds.

"Stupid little horn-head, stealing my thunder," grumped Sunstreaker. He flinched as one of the bonds started to sizzle into his paint. They were made, like many other things that Cybertronians used, of energon in a raw form. The more you moved the more likely they were to eat right through the top layer of your armor.

Arcee lifted her head, looking around, "Do you hear that?"

Bumblebee glanced around, "Is that a jet?"

Jazz searched the sky, some faint hope stirring in his spark, "I thought all the Decepticon jets were accounted for."

""If you do a low run over the base we should be able to jump from there!" They were close to the Decepticon base, soon it'd be in strike distance. Optimus shouted up to empty cockpit where Skyfire's neural net was located, "Skyfire, send a morse signal back to Vsevelov's dirigible with the location of the of humans we saw earlier. I'm willing to bet those are the humans the Decepticons were using for slaves!"

"Send a what to his what?" asked Blaster incredulously over the roar of the wind.

"He's developed a wireless technology to send that human code over! It works with the natural ionosphere of the planet! It's amazing!" squealed Wheeljack.

"Okay that I get, what's a dirigible?"

"Big fat flying thing filled with air!" Trailblazer answered, flapping his arms. Blaster shook his head and got ready to jump, the desert floor was not forgiving. He knew this from experience.

Back on the ground, the Decepticons were already scrambling to take defensive positions. Jazz yelled to the other Autobots, "On the count of three we all run left! Got it?"

He'd barely gotten the words out of his mouth as the ground behind them rumbled and broke open. The seven of them went scrambling forward, trying to get out of the path of crumbling debris and cliffs. As the Autobot reinforcements bailed out of Skyfire, the Nemesis burst from the remaining earth imprisoning it.

Skyfire took evasive action, shooting out across the desert. Optimus watched him go, knowing the mech would be back soon, but on foot. He threw himself down behind a collapsed cliffside, next to Jazz. Wheeljack knelt down beside them and started working on Jazz's bonds. "What's the situation?"

"They've been using us and the humans to get the Nemesis running again, I guess it was closer to completion than I thought. I'm not entirely sure how much juice they got," he took a deep breath. Before he could tell Optimus about their loss, the Nemesis began warming its guns.

Optimus knocked Jazz backwards, "Get down! They're firing a beam cannon"

A shaft of pure energy cut through the scattered boulders they'd been hiding behind a moment before. Nothing but cooling glass was left in it's wake. Prowl yelled over at Optimus, "How're we supposed to fight that thing?"

"I'm open to suggestions!' shouted Optimus over the staccatto of the Nemesis's forward guns. There was no way the Decepticons would get the main cannon on-line, but their smaller guns could still rip the remaining Autobots apart. Tracks felt his wings shudder at the memory of the guns ripping through the Ark's sister ship. Arcee met his gaze and nodded, nervously.

The Nemesis abruptly stopped shooting, then began to irratically rock. A noise like rivets popping off a busting boiler could be heard as the ship appeared to buckle. Wheeljack and Ratchet finished cutting Bumblebee free and peered around the the rock formation they were using as cover.

"What the..."

"Hell?" Ironhide finished his friend's thought as the Nemesis ripped in half.

The edge of the rip wasn't jagged, as if she were tearing asunder, it was smooth and looked as if the whole right wing were folding in out itself. Wheeljack shook his head, trying to clear it, "Tell me this isn't happening."

"I didn't think the Nemesis was a transformer as well!" said Ratchet incredulously.

"It... isn't," said Skyfire, who'd just joined them. His voice sounded even more metallic and booming underneath his great battle helm, a relic of a forgotten war.

"I don't think this is intentional, look!" Bumblebee pointed as the remaining Decepticons came pouring out of the Nemesis as it started to crumple and twist inward. The great sweeping wings folded in and lengthened to form giant pole-like legs. The upper part of the hull exploded outwards into long sickle ended forearms. As the Decepticons scattered the bridge and cannon re-formed itself into a wicked looking head. The mouth of the head opened and roared incoherently.

"Of course!" said Arcee, slapping the front of her helm, "Nichols was pulling what was left of their sparks out. He was storing them in the center of the Nemesis to use the sparks as fuel."

"That's abominable!" shouted Tracks looking affronted.

Bumblebee watched as the ship turned and opened it's mouth above Astrotrain, who'd fallen to his knees. The center of the Nemesis' mouth burned a bright blue as a smaller glow left the Decepticon's body. The Nemesis threw it's head back and roared as Astrotrain's husk dropped to the ground. "But what's that got to do with that... that thing over there eating Decepticons? "

"I have no idea," replied Ratchet shaking his head in disbelief.

"The concentration of sparks may have given the Nemesis sentience of a sort. It gave it life," Arcee pointed out. Now that her battle lust was up, the numbness and pain of their earlier loss seemed distant. "Not far from how we procreate naturally."

"While it's true that usually only female Cybertronians can generate new sparks, under duress, which this thing is most certainly under, I would say that old sparks could create sentience on their own. Long ago, it was believed that this might have been possible, but we always dismissed it as being a creation myth and not the truth." Perceptor glanced over at Grimlock, who was in tank form, gleefully blasting fireballs at any Decepticon that ran too close, "In a way we can see this spontaneous existence of sentience in the Iron Knights- for none who were involved in their creation was able to really pin point how any of them developed true original thought. However, it is obvious that they do possess the same intelligence of any protoform- even if they do not have the form of protoform."

"I really don't think now is the time to wax poetic about life finding a way, Percy," said Bluestreak as he irritably dodged a stray round.

Sunstreaker shook a fist at Bluestreak menacingly, "Knock it off, or I'll knock you off. That's the first time he's sounded normal in weeks!"

Bumblebee snorted, "Same goes for you. But it looks like normalcy ends here. We've got incoming Ravage and he looks like he's wanting to talk."

The Decepticon spy tore across the battlefield, going between the legs of various Decepticons and dodging weapon strikes before vaulted over the edge of the makeshift barrier. He skidded to a halt beside Optimus and Jazz. Prowl made his way over to them, eager to hear what the Decepticon cat had to say.

"We propose a truce," Ravage was shaking with his tail tucked between his legs. "This thing is going to kill us all."

"This thing seems to be mostly interested in downing 'cons, not us,"Jazz observed, swinging his gun around his finger by the trigger guard while it charged.

"Once the monster finishes with Decepticons, what do you think it's going to do? Plant wild flowers and frolic in the prairies?" Ravage's jaws snapped shut with an audible click.

Prowl stretched lazily as another 'con screamed his last, "Well, I suppose it would be logical of us to help you out."

Optimus nodded, "And possibly the right thing to do in order to preserve this world. What does Megatron suggest?"

"An alliance of our scientific minds, this thing must have a weak spot," Ravage flinched.

There was a scream akin to metal scraping metal. Prowl snorted "Or just our scientific minds. Since I think Hook just got taken out."

"Very well, meet behind that large boulder back there, and we will discuss what strategy we can," Ravage took off for Megatron's side, only his speed saving him from obliteration.

Wheeljack and Ratchet made the first dash for the boulder in question, followed closely by Optimus laying covering fire By air the Decepticons were kings, but by land no one could out race a determined Autobot. Skyfire looked over at Arcee, "Are you coming? You figured out the riddle of how the Nemesis gained thought. I'd say that makes you an honorary member of the science team- such as it is."

Arcee looked on either side of her, sandwiched between Sunstreaker and Sideswipe, Tracks occasionally standing up behind her to fire off a round of more precise fire. She smiled and shook her head, "Nah, I wouldn't want to intrude. I kind of... like being a field medic."

Megatron kept his back to the boulder, watching the Nemesis over his shoulder. Soundwave crouched to his right behind a matching rock, each covering the other. Starscream grumbled to himself, glaring up at Skyfire. "This is a waste of time. Those who are able should just retreat!"

Optimus stood on Megatron's other side. The two took turns firing at the Nemesis, trying to give the remaining Decepticons cover long enough to find safety- at least temporarily. The Decepticon leader glared at the scientists, "Every moment you waste deliberating I lose more soldiers. Hurry up and decide what you're going to do!"

Percy shushed Megatron with a wave of his hand, "Hurring only results in sloppy science."

"And you want this thing taken care of, right?" Wheeljack asked, staring at the schematics they'd etched into the desert floor.

"At least tell us what you're working on loud enough that we can follow your plan,"said Optimus irritably. Even he was reaching the limits of his own considerable patience.

"I think I have it," said Percy. He looked over at Ravage, "Go and retrieve Bluestreak's sniper rifle, I have need of it," the cat nodded and was gone. Percy looked up at Megatron, "The Nemesis' weak point is the collection of sparks in it's mouth. If we can shoot that we can shatter the sparks and send them drifting outward again."

"Will that bring my warriors back to life?" Asked Megatron.

Percy shrugged, "It's a definite possibility, although many of them have been severely damaged. It will take a lot of time for them to heal. I doubt we could see benefits of this for the next oh..."

"Just get to the point!" shouted Megatron, pointing his cannon at Perceptor.

The small bot didn't flinch, but instead grabbed the barrel of the cannon, "That's the other thing I need. The power of Bluestreak's sniper rifle isn't enough to shatter the sparks. However, if we add-" he stopped himself from continuing his train of thought as Ravage ricocehetted into the room, spitting out Blue's sniper rifle. "No, there isn't time to explain it all. Here is what we must do. Only the power cell from Megatron's cannon can power the sniper rifle, anything else is not the right caliber of output energy and would take me longer to rig. Megatron, you and the remaining Decepticons must run interference in order to get the Nemesis to open its maw long enough for me to get a clear shot. Meanwhile, I will sit on top of Skyfire's shoulders to fire the weapon since I otherwise I am not tall enough to make the shot."

"So you want me to hand over my weapon and then go run out in the line of fire," irritation crept in to Megatron's voice, "Just how stupid do you think I am?"

"I sort of like the idea," quipped Starscream, smiling.

Megatron growled at him, "You'll be out there too, idiot. Or did you forget that we all must go because there are so few now. I blame you for this. You're the one that brought Nichols into our fold."

'If I hadn't you'd still be a head in a box! That would be full of glory and amazement, wouldn't it! Run the world from the safety of a tiny wood chip filled box," squawked Starscream mockingly.

"We don't have much time," said Perceptor, cutting off the banter. He disassembled the sniper rifle and as fast as he could, getting ready to jury rig it with the fusion cannon's power cell. He looked up and Megatron and held out his hand, "I'm ready for the gun."

Megatron stared at it, torn between saving his remaining troops or being destroyed by the Autobots or Sarscream when he was disarmed. Optimus made the decision for him, handing his enemy his own hand cannon. Megatron stared at him blankly, but took the gun, handing his own to Perceptor.

Optimus nodded to him, "Till all are one."

Megatron locked eyes with him for one last long moment, "As you say. Come Soundwave, Starscream. Soundwave, shoot Starscream if he attempts to escape."

"As you command, Megatron."

The Nemesis immediately knew when Megatron reentered it's area of recognition and trumpeted a challenge. Megatron fired off a shot with Optimus's gun, it had a bigger kick than he had given it credit for but his shots did little more than frustrate the Nemesis. Starscream ran, transforming as he went and led a strafing run at the abomination. As he charged in he noted the inanimate bodies of his fellow trine members. His anger with the Nemesis bubbled over, no one took what was his. With a shriek, he landed on the back of the Nemesis, running down it's spine so that the head whipped around and snapped at him.

"He's ruining any shot I could take!" said Perceptor from Skyfire's shoulders. He looked through the scope, "I only have one shot before the gun will most likely over heat and need to be repaired."

Skyfire frowned, "The fastest way to get Starscream out of the way is for me to to go over there and knock him down. It's risky, but I know Starscream, he'll do this all day."

"Will I be tall enough for you to shoot from?" asked Optimus, glancing around to see if there was at least a taller rock he could stand on.

Perceptor did the calculations in his head, then nodded, "Yes, you'll do."

Skyfire dropped Perceptor down on top of Optimus's shoulders. He took a running leap and transformed midair, his engines nearly knocking the two down. At full speed he slammed into Starscream- who seemed very surprised to see him. The two tumbled down off the back of the Nemesis and were lost to Perceptor's sight.

The Nemesis caught a blast in the side of the head with Optimus's heavy gun. It squealed in pain and began chasing after Megatron and Soundwave once more. It made short work of the spy master, his last moments were spent taking a hit that was meant for his leader. Megatron paused only a moment to register the loss of his final soldier, then braced himself for the inevitable. The maw was right before him, opening slowly. The Nemesis and those that granted it sentience were savoring their triumph.

Megatron could feel a deep tugging in his chest, like a ship door open in space. The world was blurring and he couldn't concentrate enough to even lift the gun in his hand let alone fire it. It suddenly seemed like the maw was getting closer and closer, he realized he was being pulled in. He struggled weakly, determined to fight to the last.

Just as Optimus watched the life go out of his enemy's eyes, there was a huge explosion from the head of the Nemesis. Bright white flecks of light went sparkling outwards, like shattered glass as the Nemesis's pseudo spark chamber was destroyed. The recoil knocked Perceptor off Optimus shoulders, and the explosion of the Nemesis itself knocked Optimus flat on his back as the sky lit up like daylight for a brief moment.

A cheer went up from the Autobots hidden around the battlefield. They had been sheltered from the brunt of the final explosion, though they were covered in soot and dirt. A few had suffered burns and pits from the rocks, but nothing crippling. Tracks punched Sunstreaker in the arm, "Well, we survived."

Sunstreaker glowered at him, "Don't touch me. I don't like you."

Sideswipe smiled at Tracks' bewildered look, "Well he's back to normal."

"But not all of us," said Jazz softly. The group made their way to where Arcee had found Cliffjumper's body. She folded his arms over his chest gently. Jazz looked at Optimus, "I'm sorry, I wanted to tell you earlier... that we lost Cliffjumper."

"I'm not lost..." creaked a voice from Cliffjumper's heavily damaged face, "I'm right here."

"Cliffjumper?" Arcee gave a whoop and threw her arms around him.. "You're alive!"

Ratchet pushed past the others to kneel beside his patient. "Stand aside you idiots, let a doctor work. How many fingers am I holding up?"

"How the slag should I know?" muttered Cliffjumper, "I can't see anything. And what the hells wrong with my mouth, why can't I open it?"

Arcee reached up and re-hooked his lower jaw. Carefully he moved it around, trying it again. "That's better. Last thing I remember was getting shot, and then I seemed like I floated around. And there were a bunch of voices and they were real angry. I got angry too."

"When are you not angry?" asked Jazz, laughing.

"Slag you, you fragging fhhkk." His jaw fell off entirely.

Ratchet picked it up, "It's okay I can fix it."

"You'll just have to wear a mask like me from now on. It's the height of fashion," said Wheeljack, rubbing his own jaw.

Cliffjumper made gurgling noises, then began telling everyone off in Cybertronain over the com.

Bumblebee looked up at Skyfire, "Where did Starscream go?"

The white bot was sporting a multitude of new dings and wounds, some of them serious. "I don't know. Once Megatron fell, he took off. It'll be a very long time before any of us hear from him I'm sure."

"If Cliffjumper's spark was freed when the Nemesis exploded, do you think that it might help Mirage too?" asked Bumblebee, looking over at the shuffling bot who was being treated to some chest beating boasting courtesy of Grimlock.

"It's possible. It's also possible that the Decepticons might return on their own as well one day. They're heavily damaged, but they've survived worse," Ratchet replied coming over to check Skyfire's wounds.

Optimus retrieved his gun from Megatron's cold hand, "We can inter them below the ground."

Prowl frowned, "And if they revive?"

Optimus looked down at the scattered remains. Most of the 'cons were still solid enough that they would eventually revive- if all the sparks went back to their rightful owners. "That's something we'll have to face when it happens."

The gathered Autobots were battered and bruised, but alive. There was hope for at least a temporary peace while the Decepticons slumbered. There were still unanswered questions, the greatest of which was who would lead them? The matrix had made it's choice before but now it had a number of new Autobots to choose from. Would it reject him now? Part of him found that thought horrifying, while another was almost hopeful that it would. "As to the subject of who should lead..."

"Not this again," said Bluestreak, his door wings sagging even further.

"You've still got the matrix in you, don't you?" asked Wheeljack.

"Yes... but there are more candidates now-"

"You're not weaseling out of this, you're it," Ratchet snapped irritably.

"I don't feel like Prime... What if the matrix would choose another?"

"Psh," said Sunstreaker, "You're Prime to us. Who cares what some dumb relic thinks. For all we know it's original function was to make shaken energon drinks."

Jazz nodded, "I agree. You're Optimus Prime to us."

Optimus felt a warm glow inside his chest that he wasn't sure was the his own reaction to the praise or the matrix making it's choice known. Either way, he had a duty to those he served beside and to the new world they called home. He would enjoy peace while it was here, and face conflict when it inevitably found them once again.



omg. so three years and two moves later this thing is finished. They lived happily ever after. I'm sorry, I couldn't think of an epilogue... other than obviously the 'Cons will rise again eventually!

Thanks to everyone who read through. :3 I apologize that it seems rushed at the end, but i knew that if I didn't get it finished soon, it would languish forever as i moved on to other personal projects(which are tipping the scales at 100 pages now).

I'll continue with the comic version(it's on my deviant art account) as long as I can, but I don't know that i'll finish it since, like i said, i have another project i'm working on and WOS is pretty long. Still. This has proved to me that i can write a good story to the end and i can make a decent comic. things i never thought i'd do. I really appreciate the feedback and comments that i've gotten. thanks for hanging in there with me! :D