TFE

C27 Comes the Dawn

Copyright 2008, masterfwiffo. All rights reserved.

Dawn broke over Gigantia's sprawling factories. The first hints of light broke through the thick smog that hung over them, undeterred by their presence, determined to bring morning to the world.

Megatron watched the light struggle through the spewing smoke, sorrow etched on his face. Though he was not responsible, he felt as though the entire burden of the planet's downfall was on his shoulders.

"Lord Megatron." A voice said behind him. Megatron hardened his features, reversing to the stern glare that had been his ever-present companion during his entire career. Despite Magmatron's case against him, Gigatron had elected to leave the third general in command of the Gigantian construction efforts. Magmatron had been furious, and ever since, had kept a sharp eye on Megatron at all times, searching for a sign of weakness. Megatron knew that Magmatron had it in for his position, and if he wished to maintain any hope of thwarting his efforts, he would have to become as stoic as his reputation would have him seem.

He turned, glancing down at Skywarp. "Yes?" He said, moderating his tone carefully.

Skywarp, well aware of the situation, followed in his manner. "Sir, I have a report about last night."

Megatron arched an eyeridge. "Last night?"

"Yes. Sir, we found Autobots."

"And why was I not informed?"

"Magmatron ordered us out. I assumed he would inform you."

Megatron allowed a brief smile to cross his face. "Did you, now."

"Which is why I'm here now." Skywarp continued. "We need to talk."

Megatron turned, motioning Skywarp to follow him. Together, they headed further into the factory, and into an empty storage area, far away from any prying optics. Free from potential observation, Megatron dropped his calm demeanor.

"That slagging imbecile is trying to drive me to the ground." He snarled. "Now, he's attempting to take my troops from me as well. I won't stand for it, if I have to extract his spark myself."

"Please sir," Skywarp said anxiously. "There are far more important matters to discuss."

Megatron sighed. "All right, what happened?"

"One ship, of a newer design. The ship itself was destroyed, possibly self destructed. Its occupants had split into three groups. We attacked - several are dead, others are missing, and we captured two. Magmatron is seeing the captives now."

"Go on."

"The third group, my squadron was sent to intercept. They went to Algasia. You may remember, the village we first found. One of the villagers attempted to assist the Autobots. He was arrested. As for the 'bots... Sir..." Skywarp paused, optics darkening. "I'm not sure how to tell you this, but, after the battle, while searching for the fleeing Autobots... I found a human."

Megatron gazed at him blankly. "Impossible. You must be mistaken."

"No sir. Afterwards... Starscream was gloating - he said he attacked Evac."

Megatron could do nothing but stare at him. "The second Prime... Here?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where is the human?"

"I had him locked with the Algasian traitors. He is safe."

"See to it that it remains safe." Megatron said quickly. "And for the love of Primus, make sure word of this does not reach Magmatron. Lock Starscream up if you have to."

"And what will you do sir?"

"I need to think." Megatron answered. "This trip may prove worthwhile after all."

--

Dawn broke among the hills overlooking the Great Pavilion. Light danced along the rocky crags and low brush. From the air, all one could see were the shadows cast by the rising sun.

But advanced sensors were scanning this field, sensors designed to find the hints of one of their own.

During the confusion of the battle, Recoil and Powerglide had made a break for it, covering their retreat with blossoming explosions. From afar, they had only caught glimpses of Elita and Brawn going down under their attackers. Several Decepticons had attempted pursuit, but had been eluded due to the Autobot's combat skills. Now the two were searching desperately for any other survivors of their expedition.

"I think they got Chromia too." Powerglide said grimly. "We may be all that's left, Recoil."

"I refuse to believe that." Recoil answered, her scanners roving the ground below. "Chromia and Elita have gotten out of worse before."

"Face it." Powerglide sighed. "The ship's gone. Either they ran, or it was destroyed. There's no sign of Chromia, and we saw Elita and Brawn get dragged off. It's over. We should just find ourselves a hiding place."

"Until what? Until we rot? You can go hide yourself. I won't."

Powerglide sighed. Recoil's youthful naiveté was showing through. Powerglide had been through enough to know when the situation was hopeless. Now was such a time.

He turned his gaze out, toward the thick smoke of the factories. He wondered what this world had looked like before the Decepticon invasion - peaceful, or a world of war as it was now? Perhaps he was never to know...

"I see her!" Recoil yelled, pitching forward as she changed form, and dropping like a stone from the sky, landing heavily on the ground. Powerglide followed, also transforming. To his surprise, she was quite correct. Chromia was there.

At least, it looked like Chromia. She was leaning up against a rock, unmoving, optics dark. She didn't appear to be wounded, yet she wasn't moving. Powerglide motioned toward Recoil to hold back, and started toward Chromia's body, fearing the worst. He knelt down, and touched her shoulder gently. To his shock, her optics flared brightly, and she grabbed him, violently throwing him to the ground and planting her knee on the base of his neck.

"Chromia, stop!" Recoil protested. "It's us!"

Chromia stared blankly at the back of Powerglide's head for a moment, then released him, standing up slowly. "Sorry." She mumbled, attempting to compose herself. "It's been... a rough night." She motioned at the bushes behind her, where the body of a Decepticon warrior lay in a crumpled, and clearly dead, heap. She shook her head to clear it, and straightened up. "What's our situation?"

"Bad." Powerglide grumbled, dusting himself off.

"Bad, bad? Or just bad?"

"Worse than that." Recoil answered.

Chromia's optics darkened again. "I was afraid of that..."

--

Dawn broke through the waters of the great lake. Situated deep in the mountains, the lake remained free from the pollutants the factories were now spewing into the air. The lake itself was of little note to the local inhabitants, who cared little for its clear waters. But for the moment, the lake was a safe resting place for a group who should have been dead.

"I'm never going to forgive you, you know." Aris grouched, staring out the main viewport into the dark waters where they found themselves now.

"You can kill me later." Ironhide answered, "Assuming those blast doors hold..."

Ironhide had ordered a last ditch and somewhat suicidal attempt to save themselves. He had Aris detonate the weapons stored in the cargo hold, and then overload her holographic projectors to simulate an explosion, as the ship itself dived into the lake. The tactic had worked enough to fool the Decepticons, but at a great cost - the ship was unflyable, low on energy and supplies, and half of it was filled with water.

"Great, we avoided the Decepticons so we can die down here." Red Alert muttered, for the eighth time.

"Is this guy always such a pain in the servos?" Excellion whispered to Aidia. Aidia barely cracked a smile, focused instead on finishing a patching job on his arm. The crash hadn't been pleasant, to say the least.

"Well guys," Ironhide said casually, turning to them. "As far as I can see, our options are to pretty much wait here and die. Unless anybody else has a suggestion."

"You got us into this, you get us out." Red Alert barked.

Ironhide sat down in the captain's seat and leaned back. "I'll try, but at the moment, no promises." He said gruffly, doing his best to hide the fear in his spark.

--

Dawn broke through the mountains, dancing its way through the rocks and crevices, and upon a small human form staring grimly out into its rays.

Ever since that first fateful day when Megatron had rained fire down on her world, Michelle's life had been a chaotic turmoil of emotions. Fear, happiness, joy and sorrow all fought for dominance. She had all but fallen in love with an alien robot, been kidnapped by the US military twice, and held for ransom by the Decepticons. She had seen her friends build up an existence of happiness, only to have it torn down, and then built up again. She had been brought to the verge of death, and watched a good friend perish in front of her.

But through all of it, there was one feeling she had yet to experience - loneliness. Even in the clutches of the Decepticons, she could find a kind face among them. Yet now, she was utterly alone, lost on an alien world, separated from all her friends, if any were still alive.

She tried hard not to think of Chris and Evac. She had seen both go down in front of her, but their ultimate fates remained a question gnawing at her consciousness. It took all her willpower to push the growing fear to the back of her mind.

She glanced up at the slowly rising sun again, and turned, hesitant, unsure of where to go now. She had two options - attempt to return to the village, or head deeper into the mountains. Thanks to her exo-suit's stores, food and shelter were of no immediate concern. Only the threat of Decepticon activity weighed her choice. She watched the direction of the village for a long moment, and faintly saw smokey trails circling in the skies.

Decepticons.

She headed into the mountains.

--

The dawn broke above the Algasian mountain range, where the village that by chance, both the Decepticons and Autobots had wandered into, lay. But none of the dawning light pierced the caves below. Carved into the rock by an ancient underground water pathway, the cavernous caves were a wonder known to few but the Algasian villagers. They kept it their secret.

This was entirely unknown by the caverns' current occupants, clumped together grimly. They had literally stumbled into the caves on accident, fleeing from the Decepticon pursuit. Fortunately, Crosswise's sharp optics had spotted the small hole in the ground, that Optimus and Jetfire were only barely able to squeeze through.

Now she, Jazz, Optimus and Jetfire all sat in a circle, all brooding on their own thoughts, none of which were pleasant.

Jazz shifted again, restless and nervous. He stood, and for the fourth time, began pacing back and forth. "If they're hurt," He said quietly, "I'll never forgive myself."

Crosswise watched him mournfully. She felt the absence of their two human friends every bit as much as he did - she was just unable to express it. The humans had been their grounding for a long time - their support and wonder had kept the two of them sane in the harshest of times. But now, with their fate uncertain, they felt the human's absence greatly - Jazz, by far, the worse off. She shuddered, and stole a look toward Jetfire and Optimus. They too were mulling over a loss.

"I'm sure she had a reason." Optimus said quietly, looking mournfully at Jetfire.

Jetfire didn't answer, staring at the ground. Skyfire's sudden disappearance, grabbing Evac and running, had caught him off guard and had decimated his nerves. For his entire career, Skyfire had been a single, dependable variable. With her sudden act of... cowardice? Betrayal? He didn't know, and he couldn't wrap his mind around it. Her death he could have handled. Her unexplained actions, he could not.

Optimus too had been shocked by Skyfire's sudden disappearance, and was more than a little unnerved by her taking Evac. Like Jetfire, he couldn't understand what course of thought could have possibly led to that action. But the loss of his friend Evac, the disappearance of the humans, and the lack of contact from Elita's group or their ship despite their efforts upset him more. This entire expedition had led them straight into disaster, and he felt the burden of its failure.

They were a sorry group indeed. Crosswise stood, heading over toward the cave's entrance and casting a glance out, noting the sun's rays in the sky - and then the heavy footsteps that seemed to shake the ground. "Hide!" She whispered, and her companions, despite their state, pulled together and moved back into the cave.

She cast another glance out, then ducked out of sight as a giant thundered past, head roving, looking for any sign of his prey. The Decepticons were still searching for them.

Optimus glanced at his three companions, and motioned quietly toward the depths of the cave. All three nodded in agreement. At the moment, the cave was their only hope. They turned, and entered the darkness.

--

Dawn broke over the broken plains of Gigantia's continent. The plains were mostly flat grasslands, with occasional rocky outcroppings, remnants of mountains long past. In these small areas, plant life tended to thrive, feeding on nutrient rich soil local to the area. Skyfire noted all this from under one rocky ledge, surrounded by bushes and a tree hanging down overhead. The plant life gave her the only reasonable cover she could find from aerial search. But it was hardly ideal - a sharp pair of optics could easily find her beneath these. But it was all she had at the moment. With the breaking light, it was clear to her she would have to find a new spot to hide.

She glanced woefully back at Evac's unmoving form. He had been hit hard - hard enough to overwhelm his internal repair mechanisms. It would be some time before he would come back online. For the hundredth time, she wished there had been another option, any other option. But her orders prevented it. Orders from Sentinel Prime himself.

Before she had left on their mission, their noble leader had taken her aside. "Skyfire, you have proven yourself to be one of the most reliable soldiers in the army. It is because of this that I come to you." Those words had made her proud. But the request that followed...

"Should anything happen, save him. No matter what you must sacrifice, the Matrix must not be lost."

At the time, she took the orders lightly. What could happen that result in such a situation? Now she knew. And those orders now ate at her spark. Because she had abandoned her friends. If they survived... would they ever forgive her?

A distant whine in the skies caught her attention. She pulled back, holding close to rocks, praying to Primus that the Seekers flying overhead might miss her. The whine grew louder, then diminished.

She was safe. For the moment.

--

Dawn broke over the Great Pavilion, light filling a dark palace. But beneath the palace, in the long forgotten dungeons, some prisoners were entirely unaware of the fact.

Metroplex had never been chained before. He had never been beaten, forced to the ground, and made to beg for mercy before. He had fought Quintessons during the war, but even they could not match the viciousness of his own people.

"Traitor", he had been called. "Rebel", "Insurgent", even "Zealot" were his names now, all because he had dared make a stand.

"Why did you help them get away?" The giant had roared, a huge monster named Tidal Wave. Metroplex, calm as ever, had stared him straight in the eyes and answered. "You attacked them for no reason. I saw no other option."

"They were our enemies, and you aided their escape!" Tidal Wave had screamed.

"I did what I felt was right." Metroplex had said coolly. "My friends will support me," he added, glancing back at Quickmix and Railracer. The two had averted their eyes.

Metroplex gawked at them in surprise, but before he could turn back, Tidal Wave's fist had sent him to the ground. That was the least of the pain he was forced to endure. Only two had remained by his side - Big Daddy and Terraform. Both had suffered as well.

Below Metroplex's great cell, where he had been condemned to remain chained until he was ready to swear loyalty to the Decepticons, a far smaller cell held several more occupants. To the Giants, and even to the Decepticons, it was little more than a small box, locked atop, and inside three occupants stared warily at each other.

Big Daddy had taken the brunt of the punishment for the pairs decision to support Metroplex. Like their large friend and partner, they had been hauled away to the Great Pavilion and banished to the dungeon. Big Daddy had yelled something about rights as their captors abandoned them, but it fell on deaf audials. Metroplex had been too exhausted to even protest as they were abandoned.

A few clicks later, a lone Decepticon had entered the dungeon, and deposited a third member in Big Daddy and Terraform's small cage. Now the two were eyeing the strange newcomer with caution.

"He's the ugliest Minicon I've ever seen." Big Daddy finally decided. Terraform shoved her elbow into his side, inadvertently, and forgetting entirely about the punishment he had received there earlier until his gasp of pain reminded her.

"Sorry." She said quietly.

"Well, he is." Big Daddy grumbled. "It is a he, isn't he? I can't tell."

"Err, yes." The newcomer answered, staring back at him. "Aren't you guys, like, umm, short for Transformers?"

It took all of Terraform's strength to keep Big Daddy from leaping on the stranger, as he was very sensitive about his height.

"Sorry!" The stranger apologized hastily. "I'm just used to seeing Transformers way, way bigger thqn me."

Big Daddy started to protest before Terraform elbowed him again, eliciting another cry of pain.

"Sorry." She apologized again, standing up and walking toward the newcomer. "I'm Terraform," She said softly, extending her hand in a friendly gesture. "And that's Big Daddy. What's your name?"

"Chris." He answered, taking her hand.

"He really is a slagging ugly Minicon." Big Daddy grumbled. Terraform shot him a look.

Chris considered objecting, but then considered that they might not know how to react to a human in an exo-suit, so he remained silent on the matter. "What they bring you guys in for?"

That question sent Big Daddy off on another tirade, while Terraform and Chris ignored him, and Terraform politely filled him in.

Chris sighed, and glanced out of the small cage's bars, up at Metroplex, chained to the wall of his own cage, unmoving, his eyes dark. He stared at him for a moment, then shuddered. "Things don't change, even on other planets." He said quietly.

"What was that?" Terraform asked.

"Nothing." Chris muttered, unable to take his eyes off the giant's pitiful form. "Nothing at all."

--

Dawn broke, its rays piercing through the throne room of the Great Pavilion, where the new ruler of Gigantia sat, the sun reflecting off his golden visor. He faced his courtroom, now lined with great white banners proclaiming the symbols of United Gigantia and the Decepticon Empire together.

But at the moment, someone else was in control of the proceedings here. Lord Zarack had relented his control of judgment to Lord Magmatron for the trial of two Autobot spies that now knelt before his throne.

Elita One and Brawn had been forced to their knees, held down by the firm arms of their captors, and were staring solemnly at the floor as Magmatron conversed quietly with the Gigantian on the throne. "I'm sorry, Brawn." Elita said quietly.

"Ain't your fault." Brawn answered.

"They're likely to kill us." Elita added.

Brawn nodded. "Yeah, probably." He said, casually.

Elita couldn't help but smile. Nothing could ever shake Brawn's spirit, even a situation as dire as this. "Thanks Brawn."

"Quit 'yer yapping." A harsh voice snarled as a Decepticon kicked her violently. Elita winced, but held firm.

Magmatron turned, stepping down from beside the throne. "Two Autobot prisoners." He said coldly. "Now, how did you find our world?

Elita glanced at Brawn and nodded. Both remained silent.

"Obviously, you're well trained." Magmatron continued, marching down. "Let me get a good look at you." He knelt down and grabbed Elita's face, peering into it. "By Primus." He gasped, pulling for a closer look. "It's Elita-One!"

A gasp went through the Decepticons in the room, and several did a double take. "I hardly recognized you." Magmatron continued, standing up and turning away. "It's been a long time since your glory days, hasn't it."

Elita remained silent.

"I was going to have you executed." Magmatron continued, "But a prize like you is far too valuable to dispatch so casually. Gigatron would love to get his hands on you." He smiled evilly. "Yes he would indeed."

"Rot in the pit." Elita spat.

"Of course," Magmatron said, ignoring her. "I have no such reservations about your friend. Barricade?"

Faster than Elita could react, a small black Decepticon whirled, shooting his hand straight upwards into Brawn's chest, and yanked out his spark with the shrieking of rended metal. To his credit, Brawn made no sound as his spark flashed out of existence. He simply ceased to move.

Elita looked away.

Magmatron turned back. "Get rid of the body." He said coldly, as Brawn's remains were dragged off. "As for her, take her to the dungeon."

He paused, considering something else, then smiled. "And make sure she is, shall we say, incapable of causing us any more problems."

"Gladly." Barricade snarled, a twisted grin on his face.

--

Dawn had broke, and now the sun rose well into the Gigantian sky. Michelle watched it for some time, hoping that something, somehow, would give her an inclination of what to do. It didn't.

She sighed, and turned back toward the cliffs. She had been wandering through the rocky crags for what seemed like hours now, with not a sign or word of anything familiar, much less friendly. She sat down among the oversized bushes - each on the size of a tree back on Earth -, and tried yet again to think of an appropriate course of action.

A sudden noise caught her attention. She looked up quickly, trying to identify the source of the noise - friend or foe, anything was better than nothing. But her eyes couldn't see a thing.

She paused for a moment, doubt gnawing at the back of her mind, and then decided a more risky effort. She called out. "Hello? Is anyone there?"

She heard the noise again, and turned just in time to see a small form disappear behind a couple rocks. "Wait!" She protested, leaping to her feet. Or rather, she tried to, but her bulky exo-suit caused her to stumble forward and land face down in the dirt.

She lay there for a moment, staring at the ground, and sighed. "That didn't help." She muttered to herself, pushing herself up. She was a bit surprised then to find something staring right back at her.

It was a small transformer, smaller than she was, light blue in color, small wheels on her arms and legs suggesting a car-like vehicle. The build was light, the face etched with curiosity.

"Hi..." Michelle said sheepishly.

The small transformer cocked its head, continuing to gaze at her. "You're not a minicon?" It - or rather she, judging by the voice - said quickly.

"No." Michelle answered, studying the Minicon. "And... I'm lost. Can you help me?"

"If you're not a minicon, what are you?"

Michelle started, hesitated for a moment, then reached up and pulled off the exo-suit's helmet.

The minicon started, at the action, then backed up. "Why do you have two heads?" She demanded accusingly.

"I only have one." Michelle answered. "This is my real face. I'm a human."

"A... human?"

"Yes," Michelle continued, hoping that Chris's earlier assessment of the planet's atmosphere had been correct as she removed the rest of the suit. "A human, from the planet Earth."

"Planet... Earth?" The minicon worked that over in her mind for a moment. "Does that mean you're... AN ALIEN?" The Minicon gaped.

Michelle couldn't help but laugh.

The minicon continued to stare at her, taken aback by her reaction. Michelle decided to take the initiative.

"I'm Michelle," she announced, taking the minicons hand. "What's your name?"

The minicon studied her hand, obviously intrigued by the strange softness of her organic body. "I'm Glitch." She finally answered, then looked back at Michelle. "But.. Why are you so different?"

Michelle laughed again. "I thought the same thing the first time I met someone like you. Can you help me?"

"On one condition." Glitch answered.

"Uh, ok?"

"Tell me everything about you!"

--

Starscream leaned back, watching the sun rise higher into the sky. Dawn was well gone, and the day was in full swing. And as far as he was concerned, it was going to be a very good day.

He'd been looking for an advantage, for an chance to get himself into better position for the opportunities he knew were coming. And such an advantage was at his wingtips now. Word of his victory over Evac had spread quickly among those under Megatron's command, and he had caught several respectful glances from Shockwave. It had helped that he had spent his time on Gigantia going out of his way to get on Shockwave's good side. He had reason - he knew that deep down, Shockwave had the same drive and motivations that consumed Starscream's spark. And now, after the debacle on Earth and Megatron's near-failure on Gigantia, he sensed that Shockwave, along with his idiot brother Sixshot and their old war friend Payload were becoming dissatisfied with Megatron's command. In that dissatisfaction, there was opportunity. It was just a matter now of getting the Enforcer trio to see eye-to-eye with his goals.

But they were only part of the equation. He and the Enforcers could not usurp Megatron alone. Something more was needed. And that was found in the Minicons. Starscream eyed Sunstorm, Dirge, Thrust and Leader-One, talking quietly among a group of the worker minicons that had been 'drafted' into the Decepticon's great construction projects. They had always clammed up whenever any Decepticon was near, but Starscream had a talent for overhearing such quiet conversations.

Their words were of dissent and rebellion, of a Minicon revolution in its infancy stages, upstaging and overthrowing the Giant's order, and taking the planet back for themselves. Those words were wonderful to Starscream's audials. In dissent, there was opportunity.

But there was one final factor that lead Starscream to believe that big things were in the air. He glanced back at the greatest of the construction projects, hidden underneath a massive warehouse, bigger than a Decepticon Battle Cruiser. Starscream did not know what was underneath it - as far as he knew, very few did. But he did know that Sixshot had been assigned to that warehouse. And because of that, things were looking up indeed.

Starscream smiled. Pieces were falling into place. He just had to push them to form his picture. He started toward the group of Minicons, the most sincere look he could muster on his face. "Ah, my friends," He said casually, walking up to the tiny transformers, "How are you this fine day?"

--

The sun rose high into the sky, blazing down over the Gigantian fields. Skyfire continued to watch it in silence. The silence was briefly broken by the whine of Seekers streaking overhead, and then stillness settled over the area again.

That stillness was broken by a stirring. Skyfire looked back and inwardly groaned. Evac was coming back on-line. This was a conversation she had been dreading.

Evac's optics opened, and he pushed himself up, shaking his head to clear it. "Where am I?" He muttered, looking around.

Skyfire quickly masked her doubts, becoming cold and aloof. "Safe." She grumbled. "That's all that matters."

Evac glanced around. "Where's everyone else?" He said anxiously.

"I don't know."

"We have to find them." He said, pulling himself to his feet, and starting toward the daylight.

Skyfire blocked him. "We can't. Not right now - it's too dangerous. Decepticons everywhere."

Evac halted, glancing warily at her. "Yes... I suppose. We'll have to wait 'till night." He sat back down, then paused for a moment. "How did I get here?" He said suspiciously.

"I brought you." Skyfire answered. "After Starscream put you offline. We were... overrun."

"What happened to the others?" Evac demanded.

"I don't know." Skyfire looked away. "I didn't see it."

Evac stared at her coldly. "Really."

"Yes." Skyfire said, and then refused to say anymore.

--

Chris leaned back against the wall in his cell. All things considered, it could be a lot worse. He, Terraform, and Big Daddy - when he wasn't yelling about trivial things - had been chatting more or less pleasantly, trying to make the best of their somewhat dim situation.

"So, he's your boss?" Chris said, motioning back at Metroplex's cell.

"Not quite." Terraform answered softly.

"More than that." Big Daddy elaborated. "He's our closest friend. I really couldn't picture doing anything without him."

"He's always looked after us." Terraform picked up. "And we always look after him."

"He's like your family, then?"

Big Daddy looked at him oddly. "You use strange words, Chris. What do you mean?"

Chris paused, trying to decide how best to explain the concept to the minicons. "He's, like, inseparable. You know, someone who's always there, who loves you unconditionally, who you can always trust, no matter what." He finished, feeling proud of himself for coming up with such a succinct explanation.

Big Daddy nodded. "Yeah. He's like that."

"We all are." Terraform said softly. "Family. I like that."

They lapsed into silence for a moment, before a loud clang startled all of them. Someone was coming.

Something was dragged down the stairs, out of the view of their cage, and then dragged right across to a vacant cell.

Chris's jaw dropped. "It can't be."

Two Decepticons threw the body into the cell, then turned, walking off with a chuckle. Chris stared in horror at the unmoving form.

He didn't know what Cybertronians felt pain like, but the sight chilled him to the bone. The body was little more than a structural frame now, wires and scarring still visible from where the outer parts had been ripped off. The transformer was lying there, body occasionally convulsing with pain, all but stripped of any armor. Chris could see the dimly pulsing spark chamber in the chest, and the wires trying to will the battered body to move. And the face - the face was clenched, trying to bear the excruciating pain.

It was Elita-One.

--

Megatron stepped forward, finding Magmatron gazing with pride at the powerful warehouse before him. "I hear you captured Elita-One." He said casually. "My congratulations."

"I have captured a great prize for Lord Gigatron." Magmatron answered smugly, his tone carrying a message with it. Megatron's face soured, knowing full well what Magmatron had left unsaid - 'And you didn't.'

"Yes," Megatron answered, turning back toward the warehouse. "If you don't mind me asking, what, pray-tell, is going on in there?"

"You don't know?" Magmatron feigned surprise. "I sent my messengers to tell you-"

"Your messengers seem to have a problem finding me." Megatron snapped. "What is it?"

Magmatron turned back and smiled. "This, my dear Megatron," He said, motioning grandly at the warehouse, "is nothing less than the end of the War."

--