The dark menacing form moved into orbit with no fanfare. There were no alarms, no warnings going off, and no klaxons to alert the inhabitants of the planet that it was even there. Systems checked near space, and scanners remained at the highest level of sensitivity to determine the best possible location from which to carry out hostile intentions. Detecting the presence of an obsolete and no longer functioning weather satellite, weapons systems activated for a brief moment, and that satellite vanished into oblivion as it was instantly vaporized. Once the satellite was disposed of, Soundwave assumed both its orbit and appearance.

Within mere seconds, the planetary system of communications was detected, penetrated, and finally translated. With full access to the communication system known as the internet, as well as all signals directed into orbit, Soundwave now had almost the entire range of human communications in the western hemisphere at his disposal. He could single out any one of them or analyze thousands of them simultaneously. There were now no secrets that could be kept from him unless a secured landline was used.

The Decepticon immediately began formulating a list of US Government officials to be top priorities, and then suddenly, all of his systems came to a halt, as he understood that there was only one official that was needed for interrogation. Immediately, he started analyzing signals to pin point exactly which one he wanted in order to isolate that particular official.

Sec Def Keller let out a miserable sigh as he pushed his plate away from where he was sitting at the tables that had been set up for that morning's meeting in the hangar. In spite of what he'd promised his wife about trying to lose some weight, he had seriously over eaten. The mesquite-smoked steaks had been excellent, and he didn't know where Maigan had picked up the side orders from, but they too had been top notch. The potato salad, pinto beans, and cold slaw had gone perfectly with the iced tea that the base's commanding officer had supplied.

He let out a second heavy sigh in an attempt to find some comfort for his overly full stomach. It proved to be a futile effort, and while he was currently miserable from being stuffed, it was still well worth it in his opinion. He leaned back in his chair and shook his head at the thought of the man who had actually done the cooking on the steaks. It was true that the man was more than a little weird, but then it was just as true that he was good at what he did. It was strange. The man could be a total pain in the rear, but then turn right around and do something that was actually nice. Okay, so maybe Daniel had shown a serious mean streak when he'd given those agents those hot dogs made out of soybeans, but then he had been given a reason not to share just as he'd said. It was just that kind of thing that made Keller wonder just how far the man would go to get even.

After shaking his head to dismiss such thoughts from his mind, Keller reached for the snifter of Glenlivet that had been provided by General Mallory, as he tried to relax and let his food digest. He glanced at his wife just before he took a sip of the high quality scotch, and immediately saw that she was in the same miserable condition that he was.

"That was good BBQ, wasn't it, Margaret?" Keller asked her with a smile.

"Yes, it was. Far more palatable in fact than the person who prepared it." Margaret Keller intoned factually.

"Now Dear, I'll admit that he's a little rough around the edges..."

"No... Some of our friends are rough around the edges, but then again, most ranchers and ranch hands are. He is simply ornery!" Margaret replied haughtily.

The Secretary of Defense for the United States laughed, because he couldn't really disagree or even argue with the point his wife had just made. He was still laughing when his cell phone rang with the distinctive ring tone that told him it was a call from the White House. Sec Def John Keller's good mood was gone and he stopped laughing as he answered the call.

"John Keller speaking." He answered soberly.

"Mister Secretary, it seems that there are some complications with some of the protocols and orders that you issued a few days ago. Your presence is needed in Washington to verify these orders. I'm sorry to interrupt your vacation Sir, but this is something that can't wait." The voice on the other end said quickly.

Sec Def Keller had recognized the voice as that belonging to one of his aides, and he'd regrettably told his wife the score as he put away his phone. His wife nodded understandingly. Having their vacation disturbed while they had been at Hoover Dam was one thing since it was a meeting of some kind, and even though it had turned out to be legitimate, she still hadn't been pleased. This, on the other hand, was a type of situation that she understood and accepted as part of her husband's position. She watched in silence as he called and made arrangements for a plane to fly them back to Washington DC.

He had been watching, waiting, and patiently checking each of the myriad signals that he was intercepting. Then suddenly, he'd encountered the exact signal he'd been searching for. He'd immediately dispatched a unit to intercept, and interrogate the human.

The flight was both uneventful and relaxing, which had given the two a chance to relax. Neither one said anything to the other, but then after just over thirty years of marriage, they knew each other well enough that they didn't need to say anything. Once they landed at the airport in Washington, Margaret had gone home while the Secretary of Defense had gone to his office. John Keller had barely walked into his office when he was immediately besieged by White House staff, who demanded to know why such unilateral concessions were being given to a faction of sentient robots from another world.

"Look, the fact is, these Autobots have technology that is thousands of years ahead of ours, and they are also the only help we can count on in a war against their enemies, who have sworn to eliminate the entire human race!" Sec Def Keller stated emphatically.

"But Sir, don't you think that granting them asylum and full citizenship is going a little too far?" The chief of staff demanded.

"No, I don't! Just who or more precisely what do you think was responsible for that attack on Air Force One a few days ago? That successful attack, I might add! I'll give you one clue... the same alien robots that want to wipe us out! The worst of it is; that was actually one of the smallest and weakest ones." Keller said angrily. "So, no! It's not going too far at all! Now if you have any further questions, why don't you go ask the Secret Service if they even know what the attacker looked like! I know who and what it was because I was with the team that captured it, so don't argue with me on this! Now, if there's nothing else, I'll be at home with my wife."

As soon as he left his office, John Keller called his wife to let her know that he was coming home, and to expect him shortly. The man shook his head as he got in the back seat and allowed the driver to take him home. Releasing a stress filled sigh, he leaned his head against the back of the seat. He fervently hoped that the total whirlwind insanity of the last few days would come to a stop, but with a ship full of more of the robots coming in, he knew that it was too much to ask. He tried to relax as he rode home, but that proved to be in vain, things had just been happening too fast lately, and he needed to slow down. It was strange in that he'd actually been able to relax while in the company of those that were the source of his current stress, but now that he was away from the alien robots, he just couldn't seem to wind down.

The car rolled to a stop in the circular driveway of his home outside of Washington DC. The Secretary of Defense felt every bit of his age as he climbed out of the back seat.

"Thanks Derek. You go on home, and I'll see you later. I'm taking some time off." Keller told the driver.

"Are you certain Sir?"

"I'm positive on this one Derek. This job is turning out to be more of a headache than I realized it could be." Keller said tiredly.

"Very well, Sir. Give me a call if you need me." The driver answered before leaving.

The evening sun was nearing sunset as he turned towards where his wife was waiting for him in the gazebo. John Keller smiled at the sight of a big glass of iced tea, and a good Glenfiddich waiting for him at the table.

He watched in total silence as the one he'd come for moved closer to his hidden location. He'd been notified of his brother's status as a captive of the hated Autobots by his creator, and he'd even received the data uplink from the bot as soon as he'd landed, but he ignored that data in favor of pursuing his designated prey. Besides, he had been informed by Soundwave that it probably contained some type of cyber virus, since Frenzy was a prisoner in enemy hands.

As soon as the specified human was close enough, Rumble charged out of the decorative hedges at full speed. He headed straight for the female first. Moving in a barely discernable blur, Rumble ran right at the human, and knocked them both down. The male got up angrily and Rumble smiled as he aimed one of his pile drivers at the woman's face. He was really going to enjoy this.

John Keller stared in utter horror as the small red machine prepared to slam some sort of hydraulic ram into his wife's face. Unarmed, and with no one nearby, he knew that any move he made would mean instant death for his beloved wife of more than thirty years. Without even realizing it, a silent prayer flew through his mind.

The red machine stared at him with pure malice apparent in every menacing snarl that the thing shot at him. Then suddenly, a look of total agony appeared in the things face, and a small cry of pain emerged from it as it staggered backwards.

Rumble staggered backwards as an unbelievable amount of agony shot through his frame. Never had he felt anything even remotely as painful as this. It was as if every pain receptor in his frame had been over sensitized by a factor of ten, before someone had dropped him in a vat of molten metal. Within a few microseconds as the natives of this world measured time, he couldn't take it anymore and he screamed in both terror, and pain.

Mrs. Keller stared in stark terror at the robot that had just threatened to kill her. She knew without a doubt that it wanted something from her husband. But then, when it had staggered back and screamed, she knew that something was causing it more pain than she wanted to know about. She slowly got to her feet, and discovered that she was going very stiff soon, since she was already a little sore. She went to stand next to her husband, and hoped that he could tell her something about the still shrieking machine.

His mind was completely blank from shock. First, this thing had appeared out of nowhere to nearly kill his wife, and had then threatened to smash her flat with some sort of ram thing, and now it was acting like he'd taken a cutting torch to it or something. Sec Def Keller shook his head as he tried to understand what was happening. Then the thing turned towards him and he could see the optics. There was a desperate pleading contained in those glowing orbs, even as the thing's voice died out to nothing more than a mere croak of agonized pain. Then when the robot turned to look in horror at the same weapon that had been aimed at his wife, John Keller thought he understood what was happening.

Rumble couldn't believe it. His right pile driver was disintegrating right before his optics, and he felt what just had to be each and every molecule as it happened. The incredible pain was spark shattering in its unbelievable intensity, and he turned once again to look at the fleshy natives of this world and tried to beg and plead for his life.

The aging couple watched in stunned silence as the red machine began to vanish right before their eyes at a faster rate. The stuttering croak of agony almost sounded like the thing was trying to say something, but what was happening was obviously too painful for it to form any coherent speech. Even though it was a machine, and even though it had intended harm, it was still horrifying to watch anything die in this fashion.

As he looked at the two while they stared in what looked like the same level of horror that he was feeling, Rumble understood that they could do nothing to help him. With the pain that he was in, he couldn't even focus well enough to say goodbye to his brethren or his creator through his inherent spark link. It was a horrible realization to know that he was going to die alone. Then, another even less welcome thought surged through his processor, and he realized that he wasn't even able to warn anyone about what was happening to him. Whatever strange weapon the organic natives of this planet had come up with, was killing him, and would most likely kill any that followed him. It was a realization that tore and broke his dying spark to know that his brothers and creator would suffer the same fate when they tried to find out what happened to him.

With disbelieving eyes, the two humans watched while the top half of the robot hung suspended in mid air with nothing to support it. Limbs and armor plating were vanishing quickly, and yet at the same time, it wasn't nearly quick enough. The heart breaking, gut-wrenching voice carried every bit of pain the thing had to be feeling at that moment, and it seemed like it would never end.

When it was finally over, and nothing remained of the machine that had been about to kill her, Margaret Keller turned to her husband in disbelief. "What... what just happened?"

John Keller swallowed hard as he tried in vain to rid himself of the lump in his throat. "I thought they were exaggerating, but..."

"What just happened, John?" Mrs. Keller demanded in near screaming hysterics.

"I'm not sure, dear, but it looks like that was the wrath of the robot God. I... I mean it's the same thing they showed me back at the base... but why that one? He wouldn't have sworn that oath, so... I don't have a clue. The only ones that will know are back at Nellis." Keller stated hesitantly.

"Then I think we'd best get back there and find out what just happened, because I don't know about you, but that was the most frightening thing I've ever seen!" She said shakily.

Secretary Keller nodded his head. He couldn't argue with that, and wouldn't have even if he could. There were some things, that just weren't meant to be seen, and he was sure that this had been one of them. His hand shook as he got out his cell phone and made arrangements to be flown straight to Nellis Air Force Base.

Through out the flight, neither of the two spoke. What they had witnessed had not only been too horrific for words, but it had severely unnerved them as well. As soon as they disembarked from the Government issued Lear jet, they had gone straight to none other than Optimus Prime.

Optimus looked down at the aged humans with serious concern. Something had obviously happened that was no laughing matter. When the woman briefly described what had happened, Optimus reached down and lifted the two in his hand, while sending out a summons on his com unit. "I've called the others together, so we can discuss this and find out what happened. Both of you can relax. Neither I nor any of the bots under my command will allow anything to happen to you." He said firmly in a reassuring tone.

As he entered hangar six with the two humans in his hand, Optimus looked around to see who was present. He didn't have to look for Ratchet since the medic was already headed straight for them and even had a scan in progress.

"Hmm... At least the two or aren't seriously injured, although Mrs. Keller should take it easy for the next few days." Ratchet stated abruptly.

All of the Autobots had gathered for a swiftly called meeting and more than a few of the personnel from the base were in attendance as well when the hangar was filled with shouts as Glen and Maggie came running in while the latter carried the curled up and whimpering form of Frenzy.

"What happened?" Ratchet asked quickly when he realized what the woman was carrying.

"We don't know! We were supposed to meet up with him to do some more work on the Government firewalls and we went in the computer room and found him like this." Glen exclaimed almost frantically.

Ratchet conducted one scan after another and found nothing wrong on any of the scans. Mystified, he finally tried asking the little mech. The only problem was; he couldn't understand the answer when he finally got one.

"Is there anyone here who can understand him?" Ratchet asked irritably after questioning the spastic mech for the fifth time.

"I think the only ones that can understand him are Barricade and Daniel." Bumblebee answered.

"In that case, I'll give them both a call." Optimus said as he commed Barricade, and sent a signal to the scanning unit that Daniel hopefully still had with him.

All of the other human personnel had arrived before the amber warning light came on signaling that the lift was rising from below. Several minutes later Barricade's voice could be heard as he said something to the other occupant on the lift.

"So, are you gonna tell me what the hell's goin on or not?" Daniel demanded in irritation as the lift came to a stop.

"For the tenth time you disgusting lump of meat; I can't give you information I don't have!" Barricade snarled.

"Some piece of super advanced alien technology you are! Why don't you have it?" Daniel demanded as the lift came to a stop.

"Because, no one's told me, you worthless organic meatbag!" Barricade retorted instantly. "Besides, we're here so we can just see for ourselves!"

"Oh… so you couldn't ask ten minutes ago, when we got the call... nooo! You gotta be a jackass about it, don't ya, you worthless pile of junk!" Daniel retorted.

"I can't be all that worthless... after all, you did complete my repairs!" Barricade shot back with a smug grin.

"Didn't have a damned choice! You're too fuckin worthless for even my junkyard, and I buy almost anything, so what the hell makes you think that any other junkyard would want your busted ass chassis?" Daniel quipped just as smugly.

"Shut up, you miserable viral plague. We're here, and we need to find out what happened!" Barricade snapped as the two stepped off the lift.

"What's goin on?" Daniel asked loudly as he and the mech who was easily keeping pace with the rapidly moving salvage operator walked up to Optimus.

"Something has happened, and I'm not completely certain, but I think Frenzy has been affected by it. You'll have to get further detail from Ratchet or perhaps Frenzy. We aren't able to understand him, but the two of you can. That's why you were called." Optimus stated calmly.

"Frenzy! What's wrong?" Barricade demanded as he walked over to where Ratchet was still scanning the small mech.

The optics of nearly every bot in the hangar shot wide at the sight of the demented little salvage operator with an obvious death wish quickly scaling Ratchet's frame like a monkey up a tree, before the man stepped into the mech's hand and knelt down next to Frenzy.

The chrome little mech let out a sound that was almost a whimper, as two of his optics focused on Barricade, while the other two focused on the human next to him. Pain of some kind was evident in those somewhat dim optics as the mech began to stutter out an answer.

"I... I ... He died. I felt it. Painpainpain. More p.p.p. pain." Frenzy answered in his spastic fashion.

Not entirely certain that he understood it right, Daniel looked over at Barricade for confirmation. "Okay, why would he feel a rumble die?"

"Rumble is not a what, but a who! Namely one of his brother cassettes. They are spark linked so he would have felt it if something happened to one of the others." Barricade said quietly.

"Okay, so the question is what happened to Rumble, right?" Daniel asked quickly.

"From the description that I was given, Rumble was apparently the mech who attacked the Secretary of Defense and his wife. From what they observed, it seems that Rumble might have fallen afoul of the Oath of Primus, but I don't know how that could have happened. Rumble would not have made that oath." Optimus supplied quietly.

"Rumble didn't, but Frenzy did! Having the type of spark connection that they do, I suppose that it's possible that Frenzy's oath might apply to them as well." Starglide put in.

"If that's the case, then someone will need to inform Soundwave of this. If he is killed, then Frenzy will die soon afterwards." Barricade added suddenly.

"No! No tell! Oath stop them. .m.m.m. Frenzy k. K. Ke. Keep oath." Frenzy stuttered emphatically.

"Did I just hear that right? Is he sayin not to tell this Soundwave so that the oath he swore could kill them and maybe him too?" Sec Def Keller demanded suspiciously.

"Unfortunately, that is exactly what he said. Soundwave is among one of the more dangerous mechs alive. Not only is he highly skilled in communications, but under certain circumstances he can also read the mind of any mech nearby if he wants to. Losing him and his abilities would hurt the Decepticons and their cause greatly." Optimus stated gravely.

"Are you seriously expecting me to just let him risk his life on the off chance that this Soundwave character would try to kill someone?" Keller demanded. "Granted, he's the one that first tried to kill me, but still, if one of those others like him dying does this to him, then I can't let him do it. That attack happened several hours ago, and he's still down for the count!"

"You're right. Frenzy is still incapacitated. If Soundwave had performed the attack, then he might well be dead right now, and given the origin of that death, I doubt that I or Daniel would be able to bring him back." Ratchet replied irritably.

"Frenzy has made a choice while knowing the repercussions. At this time, it is only his oath that will prevent any assault from Soundwave or his cassettes from succeeding. I realize that he's willing to sacrifice his own life to ensure the safety of this world, but think about the wording of the Oath that Barricade swore and Frenzy seconded. Soundwave himself wouldn't have to attack Earth or even order another of his cassettes to do it! Just allowing another Decepticon to attack Earth would result in his death and Frenzy's as well. Plus, it still wouldn't prevent that attack from happening. Soundwave will have to be told." Starglide said firmly.

"No! Not tell Soundwave! No!" Frenzy bellowed as loudly as he could while glaring at the femme.

Starglide stepped forward and took the small form from Ratchet's hand, and positioned her own hand, so that Frenzy was facing her optic to optic. "Look Frenzy, I understand that you are taking that oath as seriously as it deserves, but all it would take is for Soundwave to allow another mech to do anything that would jeopardize Earth, and you would die having never had the opportunity to fight back. I do not wish to see that happen."

"As much as I hate to agree with her on anything, she does have a point. Ain't no use in dying for nothin." Daniel added trying to reason with the little mech.

"D... dondon'tdon't... don't care! Not tell!" Frenzy huffed adamantly while he crossed all four of his arms across his small chest plates, and tried valiantly to appear to be in better condition than he actually was.

Optimus pinched the bridge of his nasal plates as he felt a phenomenal processor ache coming on. This was indeed turning out to be one very long vorn. "Very, well Frenzy. Though I do not agree with your decision, I realize that this is your decision to make, and I will abide by it." He said heavily.

Starglide looked down at the small mech in her right hand, and tried to think of something, anything that might convince him to change his mind. Drawing a complete blank on that score, the femme nodded her head in respect for the tiny bot. Whatever else he might be, and whatever he might have done was now in the past. At this moment, he was intentionally using himself as a means of shielding Earth from anything Soundwave might be planning, and she couldn't help but admire the resolve behind such an act.

Ironhide was staring at the mech in his sibling's hand with a bit of newfound respect. He would never have expected the little 'Con to be so unyielding in his defense of this world. The only thing that that bothered him was why the 'Con would do it.

It had taken him several hours to recover from the pain caused by the death of Rumble. Now that he was beginning to think clearly once again, Soundwave began to search for the cause. Accessing the Human's internet, he began searching for anything that might possibly pose a threat to a Cybertronian. An instant later, the notoriously emotionless mech cold have sworn that he felt the energon freeze in his lines as he discovered the existence of dangers that no Cybertronian could have imagined in their worst nightmares! The sheer terror that he felt from his symbionts was perfectly understandable, given the circumstances.

Grief and rage instantly replaced the agony he'd felt over Rumbles death. Had he known of the existence of such creatures, he never would have sent any of his creations down to that abominable planet! Soundwave began to analyze other options, but soon found that he didn't have enough on the ground intelligence available. With no other recourse left, he accessed the upload he'd received from Frenzy via Rumble. As soon as he accessed the files from Frenzy, all of his systems froze. This? This was what had caused Rumble's death? Impossible! Soundwave couldn't believe it, but yet, it appeared that it was true. He would obviously need to consider this new development very carefully before he proceeded any further.

After more than two hours of carefully analyzing the data upload from Frenzy, Soundwave knew that there had been no mistake. Frenzy had made an oath in response to kindness from a human, and because of a few native items on the planet that he didn't want destroyed by war with the Decepticons. Having learned that the horrific creatures he had retrieved information on were truly nothing more than fictions that Frenzy had made to appear real, Soundwave headed to the surface of Earth. It was time to settle this, once and for all.

He entered the atmosphere of the planet as a blazing ball of fire that only served to provide a visual clue for the incredible fury that blazed even hotter in Soundwave's spark. He came in hard and fast, because he knew the exact tolerances of his frame, as well as the composition of the atmosphere. He knew that he had to make his entry as fast as possible, because with Frenzy's oath, there was no way that he could risk his death and the deaths of his remaining cassettes, by blinding the humans to his arrival. Instead, he made sure to make it to the surface as fast as he possibly could without sustaining damage.

Upon reaching the surface, Soundwave took the first available alt mode to be found. The AT&T GMC Panel truck was being used for telephone line repairs and jack installation in Human homes, but that was of no importance to the mech at that moment. He discretely made his way into Las Vegas, while switching his alt mode more than six different times in order to avoid pursuit and detection by the humans. He knew that because of the oath Frenzy had made, that he wouldn't even be able to defend himself against any attacks from the humans if he was discovered. It merely made his need for stealth that much more critical. The only real problem that he was encountering was that constantly changing his alt mode was severely draining on his energy reserves. He moved to one of the less savory areas of the city, and waited to find an alt mode that would be both suitable for his frame size, as well as his personality but was also something that would not attract undue attention for the time being. The mech's patience was rewarded when a black car passed by his location. As soon as he had spotted it, the mech was looking it up on the human's internet to discover what he could about it. This was something he had been doing with each vehicle that passed. Now, however, he had found something that he actually liked.

It was a jet-black satin finish, with limousine tint in the windows. Being an older model car ensured that it wouldn't attract too much attention, but at the same time, its appearance and performance were highly intimidating. The highly customized 1985 Oldsmobile FE3-X 442 was better known to the humans as the 'Darth Vader II'! Although he would never have known of its existence had he not encountered one, it was exactly what Soundwave wanted! Sleek, powerful, and intimidating. It possessed an ominous appearance, aggressive performance, and handling, plus it was even named after a fictional, but still highly intimidating individual. In Soundwave's opinion, a more fitting alt mode could not have been found.

General Mallory handed the Secretary of Defense and his wife, each a glass containing four fingers of scotch from his bottle of rather expensive '72 Glenlivet. He wasn't concerned about the expense at this point, because he knew good and well that these two had just received a shock that was a lot worse than the one he'd gotten the day before. Sure, he'd known that aliens existed, but then he'd had the body of one, and a wrecked ship that belonged to others. The Kellers on the other hand, had just been attacked by an alien that had truly meant to kill them, and only what seemed to be divine intervention had saved their lives. It didn't matter who you were, something like that was bound to shake you up.

Optimus Prime stood silently in the hangar as he observed the two humans out of concern for their health, although he was keeping an optic on everything else that was also going on in the hangar as well. Frenzy was in a corner recalibrating the machine guns that had been returned to him along with his other weapons. Mikeala was watching this process with interest. Sam was also watching, although it was more out of morbid curiosity, considering that the mech had tried to kill him at one point. Ratchet was berating Barricade as he reinstalled the myriad weapons that the noted Enforcer was particularly fond of, and Daniel was assisting the medic in that process. The three of them were once again trading insults and bantering with one another. The Autobot Leader paid them little heed since both Starglide and Ironhide were standing nearby in case they were needed to break up any quarrels. Everything seemed to be starting to settle down smoothly, which was why Optimus was so surprised when he received a comm signal from an unknown source.

"Designation Soundwave requesting direct communication with Optimus Prime. Purpose; informative discussion." The transmitted voice stated as the Autobot leader opened the channel.

The optics on the large Autobot narrowed in suspicion as he listened to the request. Soundwave had never been known to lie or falsify anything as far as he knew, but then this particular Decepticon had always been more than a bit of a mystery to the Autobots. Little was actually known about the enigmatic mech, except that he was notoriously calculating and nearly emotionless in pursuit of his goals.

"What do you want Soundwave?" Optimus answered reluctantly.

"Elaboration. Designation Soundwave requests direct communication. Clarified purpose; discuss the immediate cessation of hostilities for this unit." Soundwave replied instantly.

Optimus knew that Soundwave had never been one to falsify information; just as he knew that there was now no way that the mech could do anything against him. Rumble's unexpected demise was ample evidence that Frenzy's oath applied to his fellow cassettes as well as himself. The Autobot leader sent a data burst containing a set of coordinates not far from the base, so that if something did happen, back up would not be far away.

"Secretary Keller, may I speak to you privately?" Optimus asked quietly.

Secretary of Defense John Keller nodded and got up from the table he was sitting at with his wife. Exiting the hangar so that they could speak without being over heard, he turned to the Autobot Leader. "The way you asked about this makes me think that something's up. What is it?"

"Soundwave has just contacted me requesting that I meet with him to discuss a cease fire that would apply to him, and most likely to his cassettes. I believe that he may have learned the cause of Rumble's death. If this is the case, then it means that even if he refuses to join the Autobot ranks, he would still need to work with your government to defend your planet from Decepticon intentions. Either way, this provides a possible opportunity that you should take advantage of." Optimus said gravely as he knelt down to allow the man to look him in the optics more comfortably.

The Secretary of Defense shook his head as he thought about what he'd just been told. "I know you're right about this Optimus, but this... this whole mess just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Last week... I was pretty sure that there might be life on other planets out there, but now, it seems that we're caught up in the middle of a war, that doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon."

"Anyone who ever said that the responsibilities of leadership were easy was obviously never in a position to lead others. As leaders, who are responsible for the welfare of those we lead; we often have to set aside our personal feelings and do what is best for those we serve." Optimus said in an almost sad tone.

SecDef Keller sighed heavily as he suddenly looked up at the large Autobot "I know. I know. That's about the hardest thing to do though, isn't it?"

"Yes, Mr. Keller. It is." Optimus agreed readily.

"You know, I'd really appreciate it, if you'd call me John. With this job, that's something I reserve for my friends."

"I am honored to be considered your friend, John." Optimus answered seriously.

"Good. Now you can do me one favor. Take me with you to meet this Soundwave character."

"What? Why?" Optimus demanded in surprise.

"Take me with you when you go to meet Soundwave. Look, this isn't as harebrained as it seems, okay. That oath of Primus thing is still in effect right? That means none of them will be able to do anything before they start to disintegrate. I know I didn't believe it when I first heard about it, even though you showed me some really fancy video. But now, I've seen the proof with my own two eyes. My wife is still alive because of your Primus. So I owe him big time for that reason alone. Not to mention all the other reasons. But that oath means that Soundwave doesn't really have much choice in defending Earth. He's probably not going to like siding with you or the Autobots after being at war with you for thousands of years, but he hasn't been at war with us until now! So maybe, just maybe, the two of us can convince him to side with humans even if he wants nothing to do with the Autobots." John reasoned.

"Now look. I'm not saying we have to do it that way, because we don't. But it does give us another option. You say that having Soundwave on our side would be huge advantage; I'll take your word on that because you'd know him a lot better than I do. On the other hand, that Frenzy character insisted on joining us so he could keep his damned coffee and internet of all things." John said with a rueful shake of his head. "I hate to say it, but that crazy junkyard owner actually did something very right when he gave Frenzy that coffee. Strategically, and tactically, there won't be any difference between him joining you or siding with us. At least not as far as we're concerned, but it might make a difference to him." John said earnestly.

"In truth, I had not considered that possibility. You could very well be right. However, Soundwave is noted for being an extremely logical and emotionless mech, and it will likely require a logical reason to join us, whether Human or Autobot. He will need a valid and logical reason to directly oppose the remaining Decepticons." Optimus replied.

"I think you're right on that one. The whole 'join us or die' thing doesn't actually hold that much appeal to us humans either. I know a lot of our soldiers would tell whoever gave 'em that option to get bent!" SecDef Keller said emphatically.

"As much as I would like to disagree with you on that, I can't. There are many Autobots who would say much the same when presented with that as an option. So, in that case, let's go." Optimus answered as he transformed.

The Secretary of Defense climbed into the cab of the large blue and red Peterbuilt truck, and sat in the driver's seat, as Optimus headed for the coordinates of the meeting point.

Soundwave stood impassively at the exact coordinates that he had been given by the Autobot leader. He did not fidget, nor did he pace. In fact, there was absolutely no outward sign of the turmoil within his processors. His cassettes were waiting in their carry holds where Soundwave knew that they would remain safe for the time being; the ever-uncertain future on the other hand, was another matter entirely.

He would never have believed that it would come down to this. Megatron was dead. According to the report that Starscream had delivered to the rest of the Decepticons, he'd been deactivated by one of the organic flesh creatures who inhabited this planet. Soundwave remembered the mech. Megatron had been the High Lord Protector of Cybertron for untold thousands of years, before he'd launched this war. In the beginning, Megatron had promised and vowed to bring about a measure of equality that was unprecedented in Cybertronian history. Soundwave himself had possessed severe doubts about any mech's ability to bring about such change when he'd first encountered some of the propaganda that was being spread by many bots. Then, his position as a lowly mining technician was ended because of an immensely biased prejudice against his rumored telepathic abilities. Those abilities hadn't even been verified, but that mere rumor had been all the excuse that was needed or wanted. It had been Megatron himself who had attempted to intervene in his behalf. Even though he'd brought the full weight of his rather exalted position as High Lord Protector to bear against Soundwave's employers, it had proven to be a worthless effort. The prejudice was simply too rampant, too pervasive for mere words to counter. Megatron himself had then struck the first blows of the war in Soundwave's behalf, and killed the mech with ease. In that single decisive moment, Megatron had earned Soundwave's loyalty. Now, Megatron was dead, the lives and very existence of his much loved cassettes were in jeopardy, and his own life was also at risk.

Although he personally had no qualms about risking his own life, he would not risk the lives of his cassettes without one pit of a good reason! With the All Spark now destroyed, Megatron deceased, and the oath that Frenzy had sworn, Soundwave could see no other option but to side with the human natives of this world. Joining the Autobots was simply out of the question, because he was certain that the same unyielding prejudice that had caused this war would remain. He entertained some small amount of hope, that these humans might be willing to give him and his cassettes the type of chance, and the opportunities that simply hadn't been available to him on Cybertron. Now, all that remained for him to do is to convince the Autobot leader, who was supposedly fair and open minded, that neither he nor his cassettes would pose a threat to Earth. Soundwave was certain that this would not be an easy task, since he was fairly certain that he couldn't use his telepathic ability on the Autobot without risking everything he still cared about.

He noted a rather large vehicle approaching the designated coordinates and scanned it. Sensing the presence of a human in the vehicle Soundwave immediately assumed his alt mode to avoid detection while awaiting the arrival of the Autobot leader. The vehicle moved steadily towards his position without pausing, and Soundwave became leery because of both the fairly remote location as well as the lack of paved roads. Then, the large cargo hauler rolled to a stop and the human inside climbed down from the cab of the large blue and red vehicle. Soundwave felt his spark sink and nearly freeze as he recognized the human as the same one he had targeted for interrogation.

Soundwave watched in silent horror as the blue and red cargo vehicle began to transform. That was when he noticed the rather small Autobot emblem on the front where the manufacturer logo would normally be. Soundwave remained in his alt mode and started his engine. He knew that if this came down to a firefight, that he would be helpless to even fire a single shot in self-defense, therefore he'd have no choice but to flee. It was not a pleasant realization.

"Soundwave shut down your engine and stand down." Optimus said in a quiet voice that had a firm edge to it.

"Negative! Self-defense, not possible. Remaining viable alternative; retreat." Soundwave replied immediately.

"You requested this meeting, Soundwave…" Optimus began.

"Request did not include termination!" Soundwave interrupted bluntly, as he put his transmission in gear and revved his engine.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up, both of you! This isn't going to come down to a shoot out if I have anything to say about it. Now from what I understand, Soundwave here, asked for this meeting. So, before things go any further, I think we should hear him out. And we're not going to get anywhere with a bunch of displays of robot style bravado! So both of you just need to calm down!" John Keller spoke up quickly.

"Soundwave obviously knows about the oath the Frenzy took, and he knows that he can't fight back without that Primus of yours taking him out. He came here to talk, so that's what we're going to do, and that's all we're going to do!" Keller stated firmly.

Optimus didn't say anything for the moment as he scanned the mech in front of him. The alt mode that the mech was using was obviously a high performance vehicle, but then Optimus realized something. The secondary engine that Daniel had located for him could easily outperform what Soundwave was using. If it came down to it, the Decepticon communications officer couldn't even make a decent run for it. Then he realized that all of the Autobots had secondary engines that would allow them to catch up to the mech if he did try to run. Whether he knew it or not, Soundwave was basically trapped!

"Very well, John. I will hear what Soundwave has to say." Optimus stated finally.

"And you'll keep an open mind about it?" Keller asked intently.

"Yes. I will keep my processors open to whatever suggestion he might make. That does not however, mean that I will necessarily abide by those suggestions." Optimus qualified.

John Keller let out a heavy sigh of frustration. This had been a very long day, and it was only getting worse by the minute. He ran his right hand through his hair before looking up at the Autobot leader. "As long as you're willing to listen, I guess I can't ask for any more than that." He said in exasperation before turning to face the older model black car.

"Now look, I know you sent that Rumble character after me for some reason, and he damned near killed my wife. So, the only reason I'm trusting you enough to be in the same area that you're in, is because of that robot God by the name of Primus! That boils down to the fact that I don't have a whole lot of a good reason to trust you." Keller began seriously.

"On the other hand, Frenzy did try to kill me the first time I ran into him, and I have to give him some credit for doing a fine job of things so far…"

"Fictitious website; effective at minimum; potentially terrifying." Soundwave stated with no small amount of pride in his creation's accomplishment.

Keller snorted a short laugh at that. "Yeah, he did a bang up job on that, didn't he? But the question is; what do you want to accomplish by this meeting?"

"Designation Soundwave requests to join Human faction. Cassettes will assist in Earth's defense. Autobot faction; biased, possessed of prejudicial preconceptions and not trusted. Protection from Autobot forces also requested." Soundwave told the human firmly.

Optimus revved his engine in anger at the rather provocative words from the mech, because he did not like being told in such a blunt fashion that the mechs under his command were considered bigots. But then the Autobot leader froze in the middle of his thoughts as a rather unwelcome and very nasty realization occurred to him. There were quite a few of his troops that would eagerly take any opportunity to offline the mech in front of him without waiting for any type of excuse. If he were to be perfectly honest about this, then he would have to admit that he had at least three Autobots who might need to be watched for quite some time. It was not a welcome realization for the Autobot leader.

"Soundwave, I will give you my word that I will not allow any of the Autobots under my command to initiate an assault against you. I am aware that the oath to which Frenzy swore would prevent you from initializing an attack against them, and even prevent you from adequately defending yourself from any attack they might use. Therefore, I will make it clear that they are not to provoke you in any way! Is that agreeable?" Optimus stated firmly.

"Affirmative. Provision; cassettes must be included!" Soundwave replied without hesitation.

"I will agree to that. However, you will be reporting to, and receiving your orders from humans, not an Autobot! Both you and your cassettes will become part of a response force that will be directed and governed by humans! You will not be given an Autobot insignia, nor will you become a member of my troops. Is that understood?" Optimus stated in a no nonsense tone of voice.

"Affirmative. Organic natives; preferable to Autobots." Soundwave retorted smoothly.

"Well! I guess that settles that! Okay, Soundwave isn't it? I'm John Keller. Now, obviously, you already know who I am, and what my position is, so I don't think I need to tell you that I'm one of the people you'll be taking orders from. Now, I can already tell that you don't like or trust the Autobots, and I'm sure you got reasons for it, so I won't try to convince you otherwise. What I will say is that you'll have to work alongside 'em sometimes and it might not be an easy thing to do. I just want you to understand, that I'm not going to hold a grudge. I'll admit that I'm not happy about my wife getting attacked as a way to get to me, but the one that did it's dead. That doesn't put you and me off to a very good start. So, why don't we let bygones be bygones, and start all over?" Sec Def Keller said bluntly.

Soundwave could not believe his audio receivers! This organic in front of him freely admitted to knowing that Rumble had been responsible for an assault on him, and his organic spark mate, but was still willing to give he and his cassettes a chance! Never, had Soundwave encountered such unyielding support from an adversary. It was the type of situation that Soundwave could not even have dreamed of back on Cybertron. He knew that he had to make the best of this one last chance.

"Opportunity; appreciated. Request permission to begin calculating necessary defensive readjustments." Soundwave said finally.

John Keller shook his head no while waving his right hand in the same way. "Let me get this straight. You're asking permission to think about methods of reorganizing our defenses?"

"Affirmative." Soundwave answered immediately.

"Okay, no! I don't have the slightest clue about how things are run with the Decepticons, but around here, you can think about anything you damned well please. Draw up all the plans you want. If you come up with something that you think needs to be implemented, then you can come talk to me or someone else in a position to authorize it. If the plan seems solid enough to work with, then we can start to work on it. On the other hand, there might be some things you end up thinking of, which would never have occurred to one of us humans that you can do without even talking to us about. That website you mentioned that Frenzy set up? No one had a clue that he was even setting that up until one of my advisors saw him doing it. Then, well, it just sorta took off when a bunch of folks started suggesting things to put in there. He didn't ask, and for something like that, he didn't need to! Get the picture?" Sec Def Keller explained a little smugly.

Soundwave was stunned into momentary silence. Such independent action would have been a death sentence among the Decepticons. Even if the results were beyond all possible expectations, there would have been severe repercussions from both jealous mechs as well as from Megatron himself who would not tolerate any form of potential insubordination!

"Autonomous action is permitted?" Soundwave finally asked in surprise.

"If it's something that doesn't jeopardize lives or resources… absolutely! Otherwise, talk to me, or one of the folks I point out to you, so we can discuss it, maybe even refine it a bit, and put it to work. But you can think up any plan you want." Keller said flatly. "Understand?"

"Affirmative. Parameters clarified. Responsibilities; understood." Soundwave answered promptly.

"Good! That settles that. Now, I'm going to have to ride with you while we follow Optimus back to the base, because otherwise there's going to be a lot of red tape and idiotic procedures to go through in order to get you on that base. There aren't a whole lot of robotic cars roaming around on this planet, and the Guards at the gate will be pretty sure that you got someone hiding in the trunk or something if I'm not sitting in your driver's seat." Keller suggested.

The only response from the jet-black car was that the driver side door slid silently open, while the massive engine under the hood continued to release a steady menacing rumbling purr.

"God Damnit!" Daniel growled angrily, as he reached up and scratched furiously at his head with his right hand.

Frenzy snickered before slugging down some more of the Mean Bean that he held in his upper right hand. "Ch-ch-check mate!"

"Damnit!" Daniel growled again as he glared at the chessboard where he'd been thoroughly decimated.

Frenzy began cackling even louder as one of the main doors to the hangar opened and the large red and blue form of Optimus rolled in followed by a jet-black Oldsmobile.

"Coffee Man lose!" Frenzy called ecstatically.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah! Hey ya hear this?" Daniel said as he held up his right hand that was shooting the bird straight down.

Frenzy focused all four optics on the human in confusion at that question.

"No? Then let me turn it up for you!" Daniel stated with a smirk as he turned his right hand so that he was now shooting the bird properly.

"Better yet, let me give it to you in stereo!" Daniel smirked as he shot the bird with both hands now.

"Or do you prefer 3-D surround sound!" Daniel popped off as he began moving both hands in circles while smirking at the mech across the table.

All four of Frenzy's optics shot wide at that. He knew exactly what this human was doing! Suddenly he got an idea.

"Fo-fo-four point oh digital, Bitch!" Frenzy snarled as he sat his coffee drink down and shot all four of his hands in the air while shooting the bird at the human with all of them at once!

The loud crash that was heard could very well have been the sound of the Salvage Operator's face falling, but was most likely to have been caused by Barricade falling on his aft before he started laughing uproariously.

Daniel gaped at the little silver mech in shock for a moment before glaring over at Barricade. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Laugh it up, Rust Bucket! I don't give a fuck what you say… I'm borrowing this little guy the next time I need to flip you off!" He snarled sarcastically.

Of course, that only made both mechs laugh even harder, while quite a few humans in the hanger were now snickering as well.

"Time for a rematch, ya 'lil Coffee Machine!" Daniel snapped as he began setting up the chess board again.

"You might as well give up now, Fleshwad. Frenzy has already decimated that chess playing program called 'Deep Blue', and even that wasn't really able to present him with much of a challenge." Barricade stated with a smug sounding snicker.

"Whoa! Where did he get a hold of that program at?" Glen demanded suddenly.

"I've heard of that thing. Isn't that the computer program that beat a Grandmaster at chess? That thing was all over the News a couple of years ago." Mikeala put in.

"Yes, it is. And the human that got beaten was Kasperov. Frenzy downloaded the program not too long after we arrived on Earth. It didn't take him long to learn how to play, but it did take a couple of weeks before he developed a program that could actually give him a challenge." Barricade answered nonchalantly as he began to get back to his feet.

"Oh great! I'm going up against something that can beat the living hell out of a Grandmaster!" Daniel muttered sourly.

"Okay, Frenzy. You can hand it over now." Daniel snapped louder as he looked back at the little silver mech.

"H-h-hand what o-o-o-ov-over?" Frenzy asked in confusion.

"My ass! If you're gonna beat me that damn bad, you can at least be nice enough to hand it back to me!" Daniel quipped in a sour tone as he finished setting up the board!

Barricade sat back down as he started laughing at the salvage operator again.

"Let's go." Daniel told Frenzy seriously.

"You're actually going to try again? After what we just heard? You really are a glutton for punishment aren't you?" General Mallory demanded in disbelief.

"Well, I figure if I'm gonna lose, I might at least be able to learn something. Besides, if he's that damned good, even if I keep losing, I might get good enough to beat most people." Daniel said reasonably.

"I'll be damned. You actually said something that makes sense for once!" General Mallory retorted.

"I am afraid that you're game will have to wait." Optimus said as he transformed and stood up.

At that point, everyone noticed that the large mech had returned. A couple of the people in the hanger also noticed the black car that was being exited by Sec-Def Keller. Almost instantly, Daniel was heading over to the customized Olds. He was again beaten when Mikeala got there first.

"Pop the hood! I have got to see what you've got under here!" Mikeala said with a grin.

"You'll have to ask him to do that." Keller replied evenly.

"Ask who?" Mikeala asked confused.

"Soundwave." Optimus said answering the question somberly.

"Oh slag!" Barricade exclaimed loudly.