Winry wasn't sure how long she had been running. She just knew that when she couldn't run anymore, she was a good distance away and on a rather high summit.
"Adrenaline rules," she gasped as she leaned down to grasp her knees.
Breathing deeply, she tried to figure out what her next move would be. It was a decision made much, much easier than it should have been when an explosion erupted behind her, and she found herself yet again defying all logic and self preservation.
She ran toward the flames, no doubt draining the last of her adrenaline reserves.
When she arrived at the burning remains of the base, she stood in silence. Watching. Waiting.
She was soon rewarded with movement. A figure began to stumble out of the inferno. A figure whose silhouette Winry recongized almost instantly.
"Oh no," she whispered, hoping she had the strength to run yet again.
"Hey cutie," the figure said as it stepped into the light. "What do you say we get out of here?"
"Bumblebee," Winry sighed in obvious relief. "Thank God."
A Classic Story
Epilogue: The Seeds Of The Future
Winry wasn't 100 sure of the sequence of events after that. She could vaguely recall being introduced to Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus, two Autobots who looked identical aside from their color schemes, but the next thing that was really clear was waking up in Bumblebee's driver's seat back in the desert. Just in time for sunset.
"Beautiful," she said sleepily as she got out of the car.
"Yeah," Bumblebee agreed as he and the other Autobots transformed back into robot mode. "Earth's not Cybertron, but it has its own little charm to it."
"Not even Cliffy can argue with that," Hot Rod nodded.
"Only because I'm too tired to argue," Cliffjumper muttered. "I need to get in and use the CR chamber."
"That reminds me," Wiry said, looking up at Bumblebee. "You said your base is here, but I don't see anything but sand for miles. Is it invisible or something?"
Bumblebee chuckled. "No, nothing like that. Like I said, we've only been online for about a year..."
Just then the ground began to tremble and Winry watched as large square section of the sand retracted, revealing a metallic entry ramp into the ground below.
"...and a good potion of that was spent digging a way out."
"Oh wow," Wiry whispered, looking down the ramp as it slowly became illuminated. "So you ship...is buried under all this sand?"
Bumblebee nodded. "I told you we've been here a while."
Winry took in the information silently as Bumblebee gave her an impromptu tour of the Ark 15. Her eyes as big as hubcaps, she followed her Autobot friend, and nearly jumped out of her skin when Mirage seemed to just...appear in front of the group. She then recalled something about him and Jetfire being sent on ahead. Something about a new friend...
"Prime," Jetfire greeted, taking the Autobot leader's hand in a firm shake. "It is good to see you're functional. However, there are some matters I must bring to you attention..."
"Dreadwind," Prime nodded. "Magnus informed me of the situation."
"Yes," Jetfire confirmed. "Tell me...what do you plan on doing with him?"
"Scrap 'im," Cliffjumper growled.
"What?!" Bumblebee exclaimed. "We can't do that!"
"Well we can't exactly let him go!" Cliffjumper shot back. "He'd lead the 'Cons right back to us!"
"If they even survived!"
"That kind of luck we haven't been having," Ultra Magnus said glumly. "You said it yourself, Prime. We can't afford to take prisoners this time."
"He's one of us," Jetfire said quietly. "Doesn't that count for something?"
"He's no friend of mine," Cliffjumper spat. "He's one of them."
"I hate to say it," Hot Rod sighed. "But we tried rehabilitating him before. Fix-It was never the same again. It's up to you, big guy."
Winry watched the Autobot leader, who had been silently staring at a computer terminal during the whole exchange. (She assumed it was some kind of security display, but it was far too high for her to see.)
"During battle with the Decepticons," Optimus said finally, "the order still stands. No prisoners. However, for the time being, Dreadwind is to remain here. Online."
"What?!" Cliffjumper shouted. "You can't be serious!"
"Dreadwind is my responsibility," Optimus retorted. "We will either find a way to return him to his former operational status, or use him for information regarding Megatron. Objections?"
"You have no idea," Cliffjumper snarled before storming off.
"No offense, sir," Bumblebee interjected, jerking a thumb toward Cliffjumper's back. "But is there a reason why he's on our squad? I mean, he doesn't seem exactly...sane."
"Very good reasons," Prime nodded. He then looked to a chamber in the corner of the room as it started to open. "Reasons which have just doubled."
Winry watched as steam flowed from the chamber, soon clearing to reveal...
"Grimlock?" Bumblebee whispered. "No way..."
Optimus Prime stepped in front of the chamber, Hot Rod and Ultra Magnus at his sides. Grimlock simply stared back at them, his expression blank.
"Can you speak?" Prime asked.
"Yes," the former-Decepticon growled.
Prime nodded. "We used parts from our fallen comrade Cosmos to repair you. However, it is simply beyond our resources to fully repair your brain module. I'm glad to see your still able to function."
Grimlock said nothing.
"I want to thank you for what you did," Prime continued. "You saved my life."
Grimlock scoffed. "Let make one thing clear. Me, Grimlock not save you because suddenly see light. Me, Grimlock do it to send message to Megatron."
"And what's that?" Ultra Magnus asked.
"That me, Grimlock, will do whatever it take. That he will stop. That he will pay. That he will be destroyed."
"I see," Prime said. "Can we count on you?"
"For now. But breem Megatron is slag, me Grimlock turn sights on you."
"Well," Prime said. "That'll be an interesting day, won't it?"
"Yes," Grimlock nodded. "It will."
For entirely different reasons, Winry's eyes remained wide as she watched the exchange. She found herself backing away slowly, jumping slightly when she felt something gently touch her shoulder. She looked up and saw Bumblebee kneeling down and looking concerned.
"Here," he said softly, "let me show you something."
"How is it you conveniently have a computer terminal in my size?" Winry asked as she sat down in front of the screen. She was still in the main room of the ship (what she assumed at one point had been the bridge), but she noted the station was far enough away from the rest of the Autobots she couldn't hear what they were discussing.
"It's a long story," Bumblebee replied. "But it's a communications station. You should be able to use the Internet, watch TV, even make phone calls. Anybody you need to call? Maybe arrange for a place to stay while your shop is being re-built?"
Winry seemed to grow sad as she considered this. "Actually, I was thinking...maybe I could stay with you guys. At least for a while."
"Huh? Are...are you sure?"
She nodded. "All I've got to go back to is burning rubble, and that was going to be taken away from me in a few days anyway."
"Don't you have that...insurance thing?"
She let out a small laugh. "After everything was set up and I was open, I had just enough money to decide between that, or food. Besides, even if I did have it, what would I tell the insurance company?"
"Point made," Bumblebee nodded. "I'll talk to Prime and Magnus, see if we can work something out. For now though, promise me you'll call your family and friends and tell them you're okay. We don't need someone filing a missing persons report and snooping around."
Winry smiled brightly. "Thank you!" she exclaimed, glomping his foot.
"My pleasure," Bumblebee smiled. He tapped her gently on the back before walking off to talk to his superiors.
Winry was still grinning when she turned back to the computer. However, it slowly started to fall as she went about figuring out how the various functions worked. She brought up the Tele-communications program and was about to dial when she simply froze.
She sat, staring at the screen for several long seconds before closing the program and finding the web browser.
She then began a search...
The yellow Autobot stopped and looked to see Hot Rod walking up to him.
"Hey," Bumblebee greeted. "I'm sorry, but I need to talk to Prime about something..."
"He's kinda busy," Hot Rod said. "Besides, this will only take a breem. There's something I wanted to tell you."
"All right," Bumblebee said, hesitating slightly. "What's up?"
Hot Rod hesitated himself before continuing. "I was thinking about what you said earlier. About before the war."
"Oh, jeez, I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by it--"
"No, it's okay, I understand. Trust me. And you weren't wrong. The rest of us do know things besides the war. But...you aren't the only kid here, kid."
Bumblebee titled his head slightly in confusion.
"I have a few vorns on you, I know, but I'm hardly an old timer myself. I remember the day I came online very clearly. It was beautiful. No fire, but the real reason I remember it so clearly is because of what happened on the next day..."
"You don't mean..."
Hot Rod nodded. "I came online exactly one solar-cycle before the First Devastation. I watched the original broadcast of Megatron's Revelation."
Hot Rod shook his head. "Don't be. It's like you said, I use my memories on my first day to get me through the darker days. I use it to help me remember why I'm still fighting this war. I want to help you remember your reasons too, 'Bee. I want to make sure you get some good memories in your life-cycle."
Bumblebee was silent.
"You're a great Cybertron 'Bee," Hot Rod continued. "I don't want to see this conflict to crush your spark."
"...Thanks," Bumblebee said finally. Sincerely. "But, it's over, right? I mean, not even Megatron could've survived that..."
"I don't know," Hot Rod replied grimly. "I've seen plenty of impossible things in my time. But even if the Decepticons finally are scrap-metal, I got a feeling this ain't over."
Megatron arose from the gleaming vat of liquid energy as if he was fresh off of the assembly line. Looking himself over, he smiled.
"You have done well, Thrust. I'm impressed."
"Thank you, my Lord," the rust-colored Decepticon replied gratefully as he kneeled before his commander."
"What is the status?"
"Most of the weapons can be repaired, but I'm afraid she's not likely to ever fly again. However, aside from that, the Darkseid appears to be fully functional."
"Excellent," Megatron said as he stepped down from the vat. "The CR tanks are working at 100 efficiency. We will need them for the coming conflict."
"Conflict, my Lord?" Thrust said, looking up in confusion. "Do you expect trouble from the local inhabitants?"
"A lowly bacterium was able to take complete control of the most powerful war machines in the universe," Megatron growled. "If nothing else, this experience has taught me these creatures cannot be underestimated. There's also the Autobots to consider. No. We wait. We plan. Think of it as a...revised Phase 1."
"Yes, my Lord. Also, with the scanners and CR tank working, we can find you another alternate form. One better suited to your majesty!"
Megatron looked himself over once again, and a cruel smile formed on his metallic lips. "No."
"My mass-shifting and anti-gravitational circuitry will be adjusted, but I will keep this transformation. It will serve a reminder.
"A reminder to the bacteria of what their arrogance has unleashed upon their world."
Thrust smiled as well. "And the human that...unleashed us. May be so bold as to ask what became of him?"
Megatron's grin grew. "Bug Bite is giving him a lesson in what they call 'karma.' "
Lazarus struggled against his chains, trying desperately to break free of the metal slab he was bound to. He tried to scream, but it was muffled by the adhesive covering his mouth. Tears began to stream from his eyes as the Demon loomed over him, violet eyes glowing hungrily.
"Sorry Fido," the Demon jeered as a needle extended from one of its index fingers. "But you've been a bad boy. You need to be fixed. But don't worry...
"I'll make sure it hurts!"
The adhesive suddenly dissolved, and Lazarus was sure to let everyone know the Demon was as good as his word.
"We still cannot return life to our planet, but the war may not yet be over. A new world to call home has become the battleground. We live among its people now, hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret. Waiting. Protecting. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there is more to them than meets the eye.
"I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to any surviving Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here...we are waiting."
Winry watched as the Autobot commander finished sending his message, solemnly walking away from the larger communications station. She considered trying to say something encouraging, but was at a loss.
Not sure what else to do, she turned back to her own screen, and activated the newly downloaded MP3...
Holiday quiet on these streets, except for some stubborn leaves
That didn't fall with the fall, and now they clatter in vain
Holiday sky, midnight clear
Wind is high, hard to steer
Old muffler rumbles like an old fighter plane
In search of some rest, in search of a break
From a life of tests where something's always at stake
Where something's always so far
What about my broken car?
What about my life so far?
What about my dream?
What about...–Carbon Leaf
What about everything?
What about aeroplanes?
And what about ships that drank the sea?
What about...What about the moon and stars?
What about soldier battle scars
And all the anger that they eat?
I am not in need
And thus concludes my latest venture into Transformers fan-fiction. I would like to thank my roommate, who enjoyed the first, three-page chapter (that I just wrote for the sake of writing) so much he threatened to physically harm me unless I finished it. Thanks also go to Carbon Leaf, for what may be my most favorite song ever.
And of course, I thank you, the reader, and Ri2, for the reviews. :)
As for weather or not I continue, I'm not sure what to say. I want to, very much so. I'm having a great deal of fun playing with the toys, both literally and metaphorically. However, while I have a few "big" stories in mind (including a crossover with another of my stories I'm trying to convince myself not to do), I can't think of any of the "filler" ones I would need for better pacing. Though to be honest, every time a new Classics toy is rumored or revealed, my wheels start spinning, thinking of ways to work them in, so I doubt I'll be able to stay away from this world forever. Even now, Prowl calls to me...
In any case, thanks again. Stay safe everybody.