Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has endured the lengthy delays in the completion of this fic. I appreciate that you stayed tuned and continued to read. You're all wonderful! :)
Renewal - Epilogue
Powerglide sat alone in the empty underground hangar that was once ARROW headquarters. Everything had been seized, crated, and was being transported to yet another secret facility. He had heard that the newest group was headed up by John Keller, which improved the chances of the operation, but that was all he knew about it.
Breckstein had been the one to tell him and to offer the estranged Autobot complete freedom to go where he pleased rather than be shuffled off with the rest of the aging collection. He trusted the man, because Eugene's concern for him when the blast doors had been opened was priority. The others, while not on Banachek's side, had been all too quick to annihilate the Sector Seven experiments rather than merely subdue them. The pieces had been swept up for study later. The cause of their attack had yet to be determined. Powerglide had most of the remains from an mp3 player hidden in his cockpit.
Somewhere beyond the hangar a steel door creaked. Powerglide gazed up at the rafters and then around at the walls, watching dust motes drift through the beams of florescent light. Maybe he would stay right where he was and enter stasis-lock, sleeping through whatever mayhem the inhabitants of the universe would unleash upon each other. One blitzkrieg or another, large or small, time and again. Did it matter what planet he was on, who he took shelter with?
He wanted to go home.
He cycled out a long sigh of air and watched the dust motes swirl on the resulting current, wondering if it would be better to simply wander the stars and never really settle down anywhere. No worries about finding allies that could truly be trusted, no fear of being taken advantage of for any reason...
He glanced sadly at the swastika that accompanied his victory marks. He missed his old pilots. He had been able to trust them to fly straight and true during battle. It hadn't been any of their decisions to hand him over to Sector Seven. He should have reformatted to a newer model and slipped in amongst the British air force, or discreetly arranged to be stored in a museum...
He sighed heavily again. There was one main problem with leaving Earth, anyway. He didn't have the power to get off the planet on his own.
The mountains where the Ark had crashed weren't the tallest in the world, but the altitude and clear airspace allowed a sentient jet to stretch his wings. Thundercracker regularly broke the sound barrier to his spark's content. Dirge, he noted, came up there to brood when the clouds were low enough to cover the peaks.
On one such afternoon the two were out so that there would be fewer mechs filling needed space at the Ark. The excavation in Australia had been completed and the delivery was expected soon. Thundercracker was curious but understood that the science team had work ahead of them and didn't need unnecessary personnel in the room. Dirge wanted to be out of the way for his own reasons.
After practicing some stunt flying, Thundercracker transformed in the middle of a dive and skillfully pulled up right at the side of Dirge's chosen ledge, perching beside him with nary a rock displaced. "Oh, well done," Dirge graveled out. "Going to do tricks every day for the rest of your life? They are never going to accept you and I, you know." He gestured broadly toward the town beyond the mountain range, then in the direction of the Ark. "Humans will not really accept our kind to begin with and you know there will always be a few dozen Autobots who will not trust us."
"Optimus Primes trusts us. The rest will follow his example."
"Pah. Optimus Prime does not have the best judgment. As soon as the other Decepticons surface they will be pointing fingers and calling us traitors. I could start counting down the days until Swindle gets caught double-dealing."
Thundercracker raised an optic ridge. "Swindle is another matter entirely. He is always a wild card. We swore our neutrality and proved it."
"Maybe you did. I was nonfunctional for months." Dirge uttered an annoyed rumble and turned away from him. He then tilted his head slightly as he saw an outdated aircraft flying in their general direction. He grinned somewhat on the unpleasant side. "Well, if it isn't the hero of the humans' World War. Come to buzz us again?"
"As long as it isn't ARROW business," Thundercracker murmured as he pushed off the ledge to transform and meet the visitor. Dirge did likewise. For a few minutes anyone from the town who might have looked up at the noise would have wondered what an old Havok, a lone imitation Blue Angel, and a Harrier were doing in the same airspace.
The three landed and transformed on a small mesa below the mountain tops. Thundercracker approached with one hand out in greeting while Dirge hung back. Powerglide hesitated for a second, then shook the proffered hand. "Have you come to see history, too?" Thundercracker asked.
"History of what?" Powerglide sounded confused.
"You haven't heard what was found?"
"No. I wasn't really in contact with the Ark unless I spoke with Broadcast. I heard he was in critical condition, and otherwise I've been... busy."
Dirge chortled and spoke up from behind Thundercracker, "So you didn't notice anything extraterrestrial going on back during your fight with the Axis of Evil?"
Powerglide shifted to look past Thundercracker, optics narrowed. "Which one?"
"See!" Dirge pointed accusingly. Thundercracker held one hand up toward him, the other against Powerglide's chest.
"Dirge, do not instigate. You know from the report that the body had been buried for several thousand years."
"Body?" Powerglide quickly switched attention to Thundercracker. "Whose body?"
"An ancient Cybertronian," Dirge provided, now facing away from the other two. "A fleshli- a friend of Ironhide's found it, showed him, and when some of our mutual acquaintances arrived on planet, there was a little scuffle, and now a no-longer-alive Convoy is on his way here."
"ARROW didn't know," Powerglide said, both stunned and relieved.
"Thank the Allspark," Dirge scoffed.
"Dirge, enough," Thundercracker warned with a stern look. He turned again to Powerglide. "The body was in Australia, so we've been waiting several weeks for the excavation and delivery."
"And today it's here," Dirge announced, grinning over at them while pointing to the horizon.
Powerglide lowered a set of round lenses over his optics, magnifying his visual reception to see the speck Dirge indicated; it was a C-17. He thought for a moment. "While I'm sure a deceased Prime's remains raise questions about Earth, I came here for another reason. I want to find a way to leave this planet."
Lennox and Epps, more familiarly attired in their respective army uniforms, exchanged stories as they headed for the courtroom designated for Tom Banachek's hearing. Epps described the mystery cavern and Swindle's drones. Will told him of Ratchet's diagnosis. "You've absorbed Allspark energy?" Bobby stared at him incredulously. "Man, you are like the King of Weird or somethin'."
Lennox chuckled, albeit awkwardly. "Nah, I'd say that was Sam. I think I'm more like just a duke."
The sound of someone running in high heels came from behind them. They turned as Maggie caught up and then stopped to catch her breath, holding out a CD case "Just got this from Latch. Swindle is refusing to testify on a live feed, but he sent a recording to serve as his testimony."
"What?" Epps said, more statement than question. "He's the key witness!"
"Something about his identity being under some pan-galactic protection law. Shadow Proclamation, or something. Latch said it basically means that due to our lack of transwarp-spatial encryption, his location could be broadcast to beings he doesn't want finding him."
Will shook his head, bewildered. "Why the heck didn't he mention it sooner? Like when he first claimed he could offer testimony?"
Maggie pressed the CD toward him. "Sorry, I'm just the messenger. Review it first. Latch said it wasn't bugged, that it's genuine data."
Epps plucked it from her hand. "It better be. The more I hear of this bot, the more I wonder how a real deal with him holds up."
"He wouldn't lie to Latch," Maggie said solemnly.
Lennox cocked an eyebrow. "Does Latch have something on him?"
Maggie shrugged, trying too hard to make it look casual. "He's become more quiet about a lot of things. I thought I was making a connection with him, but two days ago he clammed up and will only talk official business with me."
Bobby and Will, each having their own friendship with at least one of the Autobots, traded glances. Two days ago the body of Live Convoy had arrived at the Ark. "Maybe he's helping with the autopsy results long distance," Will offered. "Ratchet had said it would take about a week to analyze everything."
"No, he would have told me if that was it. It's something else." She then gave them a frank look. "Don't let me keep you from the hearing." She pointed to the CD. "I've got more of ISOC's files to look into. Good luck." She strode off the way she had come.
Epps tapped the CD case against his palm. "Let's see what he's got to say that couldn't be transmitted live."
An hour and a half later they were sitting in the front row of the court room. Simmons was on the stand going over Banachek's history in Sector Seven. There was a man there named Brodsky who also had Sector Seven records to share. Lennox recognized a few ARROW agents seated around, including Eugene. John Keller was overseeing the hearing.
Banachek seemed calm throughout the proceedings, even nodding to some of the things said. He did, however, momentarily narrow his eyes when Swindle's testimony was played. The video image was of his fake human countenance, and the testimony included security clips from the base that had previously been viewed by the attendees, details of the device used to take control of the base's soldiers, and a vivid, often close-up view of the effects of the spark drain device upon Swindle's true body - without showing the Cybertronian's camera head and with his chest screen disfigured by back lighting, making him conveniently anonymous as far as a Cybertronian goes. Epps thought to himself that Swindle was very well-versed in eliciting sympathy over the torture of helpless bystanders.
Tom took the stand. "We all know why the Transformers came to Earth. We now know why the Decepticons stayed after the destruction of the Allspark. But what neither faction realizes is that their very presence is attractin' another threat to Earth. You have the slides of the alien glyphs ISOC translated based on previous finds by Sector Seven. The cavern contains more information, but what these here tell us is a warning to all Cybertronians that they are bein' tracked - something is seekin' for them, and it will destroy everything in its path to get to them. That is why I took over the base and was goin' to bomb both the Autobots and Decepticons. If they are gone, the 'beacon' will deactivate and take our planet off the radar of this threat."
Keller stood, the same look on his face as within Hoover Dam upon informing Tom that Sector Seven now had a national saecurity issue on their hands. "How would killing them deactivate this beacon?"
"From what we have translated, it can 'sense' their sparks. That is why I used Swindle as a test subject. The Allspark energy in the converted Sector Seven experiments was too small to register, or rather, too small a spark fragment."
"Did your use of that... device on Swindle have any relation to the revolt of the Sector Seven-created N.B.E.'s?" Keller let the word 'torture' hang in the air between 'that' and 'device', as well as making a point to call the experiments by a significant acronym.
"I admit I was not aware of that side effect of turnin' the device to maximum after havin' performed partial drains on the... smaller N.B.E.'s."
Breckstein bolted up from his seat. "A fragment of a spark is still a spark! We also know that sparks can be split, and one half live on if the other half dies - or if it's suppressed. You did the same thing as Megatron!"
"For the greater good of the country," Banachek replied, still calm.
Breckstein was visibly fuming. The serviceman beside him took his arm to encourage him to sit - which he did, while muttering, "Creep." It was clear he meant a harsher word.
Keller scowled at the interruption, giving Eugene a sharp look, but his next question was for Banachek. "Is that the same as your awareness of the potential danger of hiding the Allspark and Megatron?"
"Those were the decisions of my predecessors."
"Yet you have repeated their oversight. You gave me ARROW only to use the resources for ISOC. Your R and D gave us anti-Cybertronian weapons while you were hiding devices that would have been rejected and decommissioned. Tom, you had what you needed to collaborate with the President and I on what to do about the situation. We could have alerted the Autobots and made a joint effort to oust the Decepticons, and, if the Autobots were aware that their presence was a danger to us, they would surely leave willingly. If your translations are correct, I have every confidence that the Autobots will make preparations to contain their current Decepticon detainees and choose the right course of action as soon as they have reviewed these glyphs for themselves."
"The Ark will have to go, too, Tom said mildly. "You'll have to start helpin' them dig it out."
Rattlelatch peered across the dank, abandoned subway station, his external lighting casting a bluish hue across everything. He had figured that it probably wasn't completely abandoned, but it was far away from humans and city noise. On the other hand, the rows of exposed I-beams and tangibly oppressive ceiling reminded him of a bad incident on Cybertron. At the moment, however, he was accepting of the memory and claustrophobia. The advantage of the station's depth was what he had sought - most communication signals couldn't reach it. He had been careful to broadcast the approximation of his whereabouts to Autobase and the Ark, although his message warned that he was busy.
He dimmed his lights, gazing down toward the tracks that lay in disrepair. He then jolted upright, lights glowing as he realized that at another time he would have been collecting those scraps and the electrical systems that ran them. He tried staring at the ceiling again, but it felt like it was lowering onto him even if his sensors were saying it couldn't be, and he shuddered, dimming his lights again.
A faint crackle registered on his internal comm, a highly encrypted message squeaking through. Swindle's voice whispered, "Yoohoo, Latch-i-boy, I know you're out there..."
The minibot put his face in his hands, dragging them down in a weary fashion. "What do you want now, Swindle?"
"I heard a little rumor that a few of the fly boys want to leave the planet. I was thinking I'd extend my generosity and give them a lift on my transport. I'd like to know if you want to come along. I've found I missed having a partner with your talents."
"You mean you need someone to watch your back."
Swindle didn't reply, but Rattlelatch could picture the knowing smirk that would be on his chest screen. No response to the comment came, so he stayed silent as well, staring across the way at the I-beams, imagining he could see debris falling behind them, then in front of them, the dust cloud billowing toward him. He blinked the memory away.
"What do you say, Latch m'boy?"
"For starters, don't call me by any nicknames. Just 'Latch' is fine."
"I didn't agree yet."
"My, you're touchy today. I'm sorry to have bothered you." He sounded like he meant it.
Rattlelatch considered mentioning his thoughts even though Swindle was the last mechanoid in the universe anyone should confide in; yet, whatever passed for trust for Swindle he seemed to have placed it in the minibot.
"I'll think about it, Swindle. I could use a change of scenery... before I become part of it."
Jazz knew the meeting was serious and that the subject should be afforded utmost reverence, but as he situated himself on Teletraan-1's main console, he couldn't help thinking that the atmosphere was drowning in geeky wavelengths. He could have used some background music to make things slightly livelier. He also wished that his brother was there to share the opinion with him. Even sharing the meeting via data feed wasn't possible at that moment since Broadcast had been placed in a cryogenic stasis chamber in preparation to transfer him to his new body.
A cable led from Jazz's back to the console, boosting the security on the feed to Autobase. Bumblebee, Arcee, Chromia, and Ironhide were there guarding the Allspark shard. Everyone else was at the Ark.
Ratchet and Wheeljack stood to one side as Perceptor called for everyone's attention. "I have completed the translation of both sets of glyphs. Those in the cavern that the humans discovered were carved by the very Ancient who came to rest here: Live Convoy." He lowered his head for a moment in respect. "He transcribed an account of his visits to this planet and subsequent visits by his followers. His edification was of continuous observation of planetary birth in the universe. He and his followers were recording the development of this solar system, never interfering nor influencing... until an incident forced Live Convoy's hand.
"This is where Ironhide's file commingles. Live Convoy encountered what we know as the Seekers, those who searched for cosmic elements that could further protect or fuel the Allspark should it begin to fail. Live Convoy does not name the bot, or bots, who found him, but he does cite their message: An imbalance had seized Cybertron and was reaching out to touch the sparks of every Cybertronian, and would find them regardless of how far they had traveled. It would decimate our race and all that our culture had integrated with.
"I surmise that this imbalance refers to the division amongst our race, the progenitors of the Autobots and Decepticons. With the influence of the Primes spreading so far from 'home', those who had yet to find their calling or chosen Convoy were becoming disoriented. Live Convoy rallied the other Primes to return to Cybertron before the imbalance grew greater.
"However, he left behind a failsafe in the event that they were too late. It was something each of the Primes knew of, and Live Convoy indicates that the others acted in concert with him regarding them. A few followers of each remained upon chosen planets to guard the secret. A second set of glyphs in Ironhide's file hints at it, but does not name it. I believe it is a relic much like the Allspark, although I have no evidence of what it can do nor its physical appearance. I do not believe that any were put into effect. The final message in the cavern is written by Live Convoy's last follower. It states that the Prime was going to return to this solar system. Whoever killed Live Convoy assaulted him and perhaps this follower as well before he could send or carve another message, to give a warning or relay the outcome of the mission of the Primes."
While everyone else was quiet thinking over the information, Jazz was quickest to speak his mind. "So, should we try to find this relic, see what it can do? Even if it don't bestow happy vibes throughout Cybertroniland, it's still a piece a' our history."
A few glances turned to Optimus for his thoughts on the suggestion. His optics were dim and distant, his processors whirring at high speed. After a few moments he said, "There is no memory from Pax Convoy of any plan or of relics other than the Allspark. He acknowledged the division had begun to occur, but he and his descendants remained neutral until Zeta Prime cast off the title of Convoy and sided with the Autobots."
The others were silent for several more minutes; not all of them knew Optimus could access the data tracks of his Convoy lineage.
Ironhide finally broke the silence. "I think we should try the search. There are more 'Cons to catch, after all. We might find both along the way."
"How will we know this relic, though?" Gears asked.
"Maybe we should search for that last follower," Wheeljack suggested. "If his body is buried like Live Convoy's was, he might at least be near it's location. I mean, that's kinda logical, if he was supposed to be guardin' it."
"Or he might have led his attacker in the complete opposite direction for that same reason," Prowl interjected.
"So?" Wheeljack replied. "It ain't like there aren't enough of us to cover the four corners of the globe, metaphorically speakin'. If we get help from our human friends, it might even go faster - for all we know, it's already in a Sector Seven vault somewhere. Or whoever's vault. I've lost track." He thoughtfully tapped his mouth guard.
Some time later...
"Welcome aboard the U.S.S. Flagg, boys an' girls."
Maggie stepped down from the Black Hawk and slowly moved away from it, taking in the sight of the aircraft carrier's sparsely-manned deck. Lennox, Epps, Breckstein, and Simmons looked right at home. Despite having military-issue clothes, she and Glenn had an aura of being lost.
The young man with the Brooklyn accent who had greeted them was smiling while rocking on his feet, his hands clasped behind his back. He did look like he belonged there, yet at the same time he managed to seem out of his element. "When you're done gapin', follow me." He then flashed Maggie a grin. Taken aback, she waited for Will or Bobby to follow first.
They went to the control tower for another view of the deck before they were joined by John Keller. "It's good to see you all made it here," he said, meaning he was glad they had accepted. "We're off to a successful start, but I'm more than ready to launch the next phase. Here are your dossiers with cabin assignment, this week's training schedule, and codenames. Start studying." He handed them each a sealed manila envelop. "You've got time to get into the routine around here but you need to keep on it. I know not all of you need that warning but you are aware that anyone could wash out from lack of diligence."
His gaze fell on Glenn, who nodded. Maggie was proud of him. He had worked hard to prove himself worth being included in this team, even though it wouldn't lead to being partners with an Autobot. He did get that new phone, though, with all the bells and whistles that Keller needed him to have for the job.
"You may now leave to situate yourselves. At eighteen hundred hours there will be a meeting in the gear hall to distribute the cold weather attire. You will want to include the parkas, it'll be cold up north." He paused to inhale, lifting his head in salute to them. "Sigma Six, you are dismissed."
Coming next in The Remembrance Trilogy: Transformers: Resilience.
As a final disclaimer: I don't own the Transformers, the Autobots, or the Decepticons, nor G.I. Joe or Sigma Six, nor Doctor Who. I'm not making any money off of this fan fiction, it is merely for entertainment purposes.
My fan created characters do belong to me, those being Rattlelatch, Rhythm & Blues, and human extras that were made for the express purpose of playing in the Transformers universe.