Rated: M for adult themes. Language, violence, mental rape, character death, mech erotica, torture, gore. They vary from chapter to chapter, so read at your own risk. Nothing particular for this chapter.

Important Note: This series of fics were started before Revenge of the Fallen hit the theaters. This is an AU 2007 movie verse fic, NOT a ROTF/DOTM fic.

Disclaimer: The only thing I own in this work of complete fiction is Velocity/Sira and Hardcore. They are mine. Everything else is copy righted and owned by some really rich people. I make no money from this, but wish I could.

XxxX

Opening Move

XxxX

The slick floors and numerous turns kept him from all-out sprinting, and his steps fell behind the longer strides of the Prime. The thunder of their powerful ped-falls sounded painfully in his audios and reverberated in every direction, a loud cacophony with a fast, erratic tempo that bounced off walls, and echoed down the featureless hallways.

Neither of them slowed, and they raced forward. They turned a corner and then another, weaving their way through the maze of the base. A final turn and their objective came into sight, beyond an opening flanked by heavy doors.

Neither of them slowed in their headlong race. They bolted towards the central dais. Prowl's pistons and hypercoils strained from the demand, pumping kinetic energy to his legs, driving him forward.

Optimus reached the lift first, and leapt. His peds rang out harshly, metal striking metal. He turned and reached towards Prowl, offering a hand.

Prowl leapt onto the dais, and the lift beneath him shuddered. The Prime grabbed him, large hands clamped onto his black and white armor, stabilizing him. A harsh tremor shook the floor, the heavy machinery in motion as the dais began its ascent. Above, the blast doors slid open with a loud creak. His commander had activated the lift before they ever reached it.

The tactician turned to face his leader, and the Prime's hands fell away from him. Optimus's armor pressed tightly against his frame, minimizing any gaps or seams, his electrical field swirled unabated and unchecked, cold and hostile. A frozen anger settled around them, and unseen mist that touched Prowl's sensors and seeped past the seams in his armor. Optimus's battle mask snapped tightly in place, a mech heading into battle. His leader stared at the hollow shaft above them, his arms at his side and his hands curled into tight fists. He stood motionless save for a slight sway produced by the movement of the lift.

Prowl carefully crossed his arms over his chest, steeling himself against the chill of the fuming Prime. He hid his own emotions behind a calm exterior, not wanting to amplify his leader's mood. Although renowned for his patience and gentle manner, Optimus had a darker side, a ruthlessness that showed when he stepped onto a battlefield and decimated any mech in his path. Prowl did not want to awaken that part of his leader, sometimes words served better than blades or bullets.

They needed to move faster, precious astroseconds way during this excruciating slow ride to the top.

"Did you order the humans to evacuate the base?"

"Yes, Prime," Prowl responded, keeping his tone neutral. "I have also set up a security perimeter around the complex and sent the order to not fire unless fired upon."

The Prime nodded once, but continued to stare upwards.

He followed Optimus's gaze, a beam of sunlight cut a bright crescent on the tunnel wall above them. The light spread as they neared it. A golden glow pooled around the opening of the elevator and painted them with its radiance as they raised the last few histers to the top. It did nothing to warm the chill coming from the Prime.

The dais stopped with a smooth, flawless motion as the gears settled into place, an odd finish to such a rough start.

Optimus cycled his vents, and stepped off the lift with a calm, fluid grace, the rush of the previous breems evaporated. To anyone watching, the Prime moved as if he commanded the situation and all would wait for him. Just as it should be.

Prowl stepped off the dais, and followed. It took him a couple of hurried steps to catch up, but it offered him time to reign in his own sense of anticipation. He forced his shoulders to relax and his armor plating hang a bit looser, showing confidence and a lack of concern he didn't feel. This meeting would involve tedious posturing and insipid one-upping before anything else occurred, even weapons play.

The SIC looked up at his leader, a dark fury burned behind the Prime's blue optics. Optimus kept his battle mask in place and held his armor tight around him, allowing all see the contained aggression.

A chancy strategy, thought Prowl, especially if viewed it covering up any weaknesses.

The Prime continued forward, and Prowl followed. The stream of light, led them outside the hanger, to the muffled roar of distant jet engines. Around them, Autobot warriors, with weapons drawn, charged and ready, waited their orders.

"You can tell that mother-fucking plane that I enjoy my down time and he's pissing on my day." Epps hollered. The man sat in the driver seat of a nearby Humvee. The vehicle's door hung open and a M249 SAW rested in the soldier's lap. Dressed and ready for battle, Lennox stood next to him, leaning against the side of the tan vehicle, multiple weapons hung of him, secured by straps and holsters. A small arsenal sat on the Humvee's hood.

Prowl stepped between the men and Prime. "You were instructed to evacuate your men, and remain below ground until we ascertain the Decepticon's intentions."

Epps shifted the weapon, and hopped out of the vehicle. He looked around. "Yeah, well. You aren't my commanding officer." The human looked at Lennox.

Prowl looked towards Lennox, hoping from some rational support. The commanding officer shrugged and continued checking his weapons.

A hand clamped on Prowl's shoulder. The Prime stepped around him, and lowered himself to one knee, crouching eye level with the humans. "I would prefer it..."

The muffled roar of the seekers engines reminded them all what awaited in the distance.

Lennox interrupted, stepping towards Optimus, "I know you would, and thanks for trying to protect us, but this is my planet, and as senior officer here, it is my duty to represent my species, and shove my foot up some 'con aft if necessary." He holstered the weapon in his hand.

Epps chimed in, "Let's double tap that bastard plane." He patted the stock of his SAW.

Human and Prime stared at each other for several long seconds, before Optimus spoke. "It is my intention to attempt to conduct this meeting without physical conflict. If we can negotiate Velocity's safe return then the Decepticon will leave this area functioning and whole."

The men exchanged a look that Prowl could not decipher.

Lennox shrugged. "Then let's get your girl. Standing here, pissing in the wind isn't going to get it done."

Optimus blinked, his masked face unreadable, but the sharp sting of anger in his electrical field dulled. "I would prefer to keep my relationships private," he almost whispered the words.

Lennox smiled slyly and nodded. "Understood, sir."

Optimus nodded and stood. He turned, looking towards the stretch of black tarmac.

Prowl looked down at the humans. "Remain with Ratchet. I am keeping some of our forces in reserve." He pointed to where the medic waited in the shadows between two buildings.

Epps glared at him while Lennox relayed the orders into the mike of his radio. Several distant vehicles started up and moved towards Ratchet's position. The two men quickly stowed their weapons and crawled back into their Humvee. As they drove off, Prowl heard Epps grumble about respect.

Hurting the human's feelings didn't bother him, they would be safer in the distance and he wouldn't have to worry about them getting under ped. Regardless of what Optimus stated about avoiding violence during this meeting, the tactician worried about winning a potential fight with as few casualties as possible.

Optimus walked towards the black ribbon that cut into the desert sands, a smooth length of concrete, perfect place for a jet to land.

Over the communication links, Prowl quietly repositioned the other mechs, as he trailed behind his leader. He moved pawns and knights into position, just like in a human game of chess, but this was no game. Hound and Warpath, he told to remain in their altforms, hidden among the Earth vehicles, unseen, but ready. Ratchet, he reminded to stay out of the line of fire, the medic's primary function was to ensure that everyone lived to fight another day, not to engage the enemy. The rest, he distributed here and there, based on abilities and weapons systems. He noted that the twins had climbed to the top of the human barracks, the tallest building on the base, a perfect place to launch one of their infamous attacks. He left them there, hoping that their reputation for permanently grounding seekers would keep this one in line, and also hoping that the twins didn't take it upon themselves to make the first moves. Their prowess in battle was almost over shadowed by their recklessness and unpredictability… almost.

Finally, Prowl called in Ironhide, an extra show of muscle to accompany he and the Prime. The black mech trotted towards them, a formidable mass of strong hypercoils, reinforced gears, thick armor and devastating weapons. When the ancient warrior reached them, they exchanged silent nods and moved towards the Prime. Without an exchange of words, they flanked their leader, standing as sentries, bodyguards and backup firepower.

Optimus tilted he head back, his masked face skyward, optic shutters narrowed against the sun's glare. He tracked the distant jet circling the base, turning to keep it in his sights.

"I am here!" he bellowed aloud and across all Cybertronian comm frequencies.

The jet banked and shot skyward, climbing through the atmosphere, a dot lost among a wash of endless blue, fading in the haze.

They all stared at the cloudless sky. Prowl searched the heavens, scanning rapidly. The fingers on his primary weapon arm twitched.

They all waited.

The high pitched whine of an object slicing through the air, barely reached their audios. The sound grew louder, deeper.

A dark shadow formed above them. It spread rapidly eating up the blue sky.

Prime stepped back, clearing a place for the fast falling plane.

As the silhouette plummeted towards them, Prowl dropped to one knee, and locked his stabilizers. His arm transformed into the barrel of a rifle and glowed as his weapon charged. Next to him, Ironhide brought his cannons forward, and crouched to lower his center of gravity, anchoring himself to the ground. They followed the Decepticon's decent, the sights of their weapons trailing the seeker.

Optimus backed away, moved to stand between them, tall and proud, his electrical field snapping and crackling. The Prime kept his arms crossed over his chest, his stance wide.

The Decepticon streaked towards them, nose first. Then, in midair, he transformed, and with an acrobatic flip, landed peds first. His weight and velocity shattered the concrete, chunks bounced and skittered in all directions. Some of them pinged against Prowl's armor.

The Seeker rose to his full height, a smile slowly spread along his facial plates, as his optics shifted from one Autobot to another. He turned in a tight circle, observing his surroundings, and all those around him.

"I am impressed. You have brought out everyone to greet me... Oh, wait. Not quite everyone."

XxxX

A frozen, seething rage swirled from the depths of his spark. It crept along his lines, and chilled his energon. It filled his processor, an arctic whisper promising vengeance and violence. He despised that inner voice. When it spoke, it reminded him of battlefield atrocities and unimaginable cruelties. Dark and rasping, the voice had also kept him alive during so many vorns of war. He knew that the voice served a purpose, even though he hated it, the voice had taught him ruthlessness. He allowed the voice whisper to him and the burning cold seep into his energy field. He wanted his enemies to know that they faced an enraged Prime with a wrath harsher than the blackness of space.

Right now, Velocity's terror and her suffering fueled his anger. The torment she endured still lingered within his spark, ghostly tendrils that brushed along his thoughts and laid a slimy, film over his entire being. Even through their blocked bond, he could still sense her. Bits of her emotions slipped past the barrier and made him volatile, irrational.

He wanted to charge the Decepticon standing before him; he wanted to engage his hooks and sink them deep into the mech and pry him apart. He wanted to make someone pay for what they had done to Velocity. He wanted vengeance.

His hands curled into tight fists, finger pads denting the metal of his palms. Tremors raced along his hypercoils as they tensed involuntary, ready to propel him into battle. Systems clicked on and programs routed power to his weapons, charging them before he ever thought to activate them. Battle protocols onlined, sharpening his focus and shortening his reaction time, turning him into a creation of righteous hate.

But battle would not be.

Attacking Thundercracker served no purpose and would jeopardize any chance of getting Velocity back alive. If they could locate the femme's whereabouts, then the possibility of extraction could be evaluated, but right now, violence would only ensure her death.

He knew this. He understood this, yet the desire to take on the Seeker raced along his circuits. They had hurt her.

Optimus pulled air over his intakes, but his frame didn't relax. Underneath the alien sun, he reminded himself that he was the Prime of Cybertron, the first and the best, the example to be followed, above the pettiness of insults and slights. He was a ruler and leader, even if he didn't want to act like it. He had to remain calm, passive, and hear out this enemy, but he held onto his anger. Anger the Decepticon would understand, any other emotion would be viewed as a weakness, something to take advantage of.

Behind him, Ironhide's cannons hummed in continuous threat. Optimus knew that his oldest friend would back him, and encage the Decepticon without hesitation or mercy. He took cold comfort that neither Prowl nor any of the other Autobots here today would pause if he sounded the command to attack. Around him gathered some of the toughest and most resilient, the survivors of a long war. They had survived by being cold and ruthless, resourceful and resolute; they had survived by killing quickly and efficiently. An endless conflict had honed these Autobots, taught them brutal skills, and forged common mechs into lethal weapons. They would slaughter the Seeker with little concern or thought, but right now, Thundercracker acted as a messenger. Only Megatron and his followers butchered messengers, and Autobots were nothing like the Decepticons.

"Why are you here?" growled Optimus.

The Decepticon smiled at him, the expression lacked all warmth and sincerity. "Lord Soundwave is interested in a possible negotiation, but first you must prove your honest willingness to cooperate." Thundercracker gestured casually, his arrogant confidence radiating his contempt for all of them.

"A Decepticon worried about honesty? Now I have heard everything," shouted Sideswipe.

Optimus shot a quick, stern glare towards the melee warrior crouched on the barrack roof. A metal gargoyle with murder burning in his optics, all of the humor and smarmy charm gone, replaced by a hungry, predatory countenance.

He turned back to the Seeker. "What does Soundwave want?"

"Lord Soundwave requires the coordinates to where you hid the High Lord's remains."

The Prime blinked, his processor choked on the unlikeliness of the request. Trading Velocity for fuel, or using her to negotiate an Autobot withdrawal he understood and expected. But this, this was too simple. This information would not cost the Autobots anything, there had to be a catch.

Optimus's processor whirred frantically, trying to see through the simplicity of the obvious ruse. He glanced at his tactician; Prowl's frown mirrored his own. The Prime hoped that by the time this meeting adjourned his SIC will have formulated several legitimate reason why Soundwave would want such data. Optimus bet that sentimentality had nothing to do with it.

"And then you will release Velocity?" the Prime asked, a tiny breath of hope whispered in his spark, hiding among all the doubt, suspicion and anger.

The Decepticon laughed. "No. this is only to see if you will cooperate."

The hammer strike of disappointment shattered the hope in Optimus's spark. The Prime hid the crushing weight of his emotions behind narrowed optic shutters and let anger wash over him once more.

Soundwave wanted to play a games, and dangle Velocity's life in from of him, using her to make him heel. Optimus silently promised his mate that eventually, the Decepticons would regret ever choosing this path.

"And how can we know that the femme even still functions, or that she will not be harmed?" Prowl's question brought up a legitimate point.

Thundercracker shrugged. "You'll just have to trust me." He spread his arms into a gesture of welcome and mock friendship.

"Wow! First the slagger talks about honesty and now, trust. Are we in Bizzaro World?"

"Mute it you slag heap." Sunstreaker snapped at his brother. "And stop watching so much TV."

The Decepticon whipped his head towards the arguing brothers; a sneer turned his facial plates into a hate-filled vestige.

"TV? I prefer graphic novels. Much more intellectual." Sideswipe retorted with audible indignation.

Optimus ignored the twins, at this moment their inane ramblings meant little to him. Tension flared around the Seeker, and he stared at Thundercracker, watching for any signs that the Seeker had activated his weapons.

He hadn't.

Thundercracker slowly he turned his attention back to the Prime. "I was told that one of you would be able to tell if the femme was terminated or not." Thundercracker's words settled over the assemblage of Autobots.

Optimus didn't respond to the taunt. He held his features in a hard, angry frown. He didn't uncurl his fists or draw back the ire in his energy field. He wants to see who reacts; he is suspicious and is trying to figure it out, the Prime thought to himself.

A full human minute passed, and the Seeker shrugged when no one took his bait. "If you do not cooperate, the little femme will suffer."

One of you has already made my mate to suffer, I can feel her soul wilt and cry for mercy, Optimus growled within his processor. Outwardly, he responded differently, "We do not have those coordinates, and it may take some time to acquire them."

He spoke the truth. None of the Autobots knew where the humans had entombed Megatron. No, amount of persuasion could convince government that the High Lord wouldn't simple reactivate and attack again. Optimus though the argument naive and ridiculous, so he relented. Ultimately, he didn't care what the humans did with Megatron, for he never intended to visit his brother's grave.

"Fine," growled Optimus. "Tell Soundwave that we will comply, but need time."

"Time is something the femme doesn't have much of. If I were you, I'd hurry up." Thundercracker winked.

The Prime squeezed his fists tighter and gears squealed in protest. He had endured the presence of the Decepticon long enough, his circuits buzzed with anger, irritating him. They were using Velocity to manipulate him, and he couldn't do a fragging thing about it... yet.

He seethed as he waited for the Decepticon to shoot skyward in an explosion of afterburners and downdraft.

The astroseconds ticked by, and Thundercracker remained where he stood. The Seeker folded his arms over his chest. A tight smile lifted his facial plates upward, and mischief sparkled in his optics.

Optimus refused to turn his back on the enemy. This small base belonged to him, it was his domain, and the intruder could retreat first.

The Prime waited.

The Decepticon didn't move.

The wait turned awkward.

Thundercracker stared expectantly at him, tapping his ped impatiently. He cocked his head to the side and raised his brow arches in silent question.

From behind, Optimus heard whirs and clicks as Prowl stowed his weapon.

Optimus's hand fiddled with the tires on his leg.

"Why the Pit, are you still here?" snarled Ironhide at the Seeker. His cannons hummed dangerously, the old mech almost never backed down.

The Decepticon shrugged his shoulders. "I am waiting for the coordinates."

"Here?" asked the Prime, his tone high with astonishment.

Thundercracker rolled his optics in their sockets, a shockingly human gesture. Then, the turned his back to the Prime and stared at the desert.

XxxX

"Madam Secretary, I am asking for your help in this matter…"

"Optimus Prime, this is not a small favor. The information you want is considered potentially dangerous, and has been concealed from the Autobots for a very valid reason. Furthermore, as part of the conditions you agreed to so that you and your Autobots can reside here, on Earth." The voice of Defense Secretary Hernandez echoed around the room, thick with irritation and hostility.

Optimus stared, unblinking, at Teletraan-1. A single white line split the A.I.'s primary display screen, and pulsed every couple of astroseconds. The Prime ground his dental plates together, but kept his stance rigid, and crossed his arms over his chest.

He struggled to keep his vocal fluctuations calm and reasonable, but he could hear the strain lacing his words. "We understand your concern, but when we agreed to allow the United States to dispose of Megatron's remains, I didn't foresee any reason that we would ever need to retrieve him. Now, the situation has changed and I am asking your help."

The pale line on Teletraan's screen spiked and strobed into a multicolored audiograph, fluctuating with the woman's voice. "You want me to tell you where Megatron's grave is located? Why, Optimus? Why is this so important now?"

Optimus glanced to where Prowl and Ratchet stood, their expressions mirrored his, dark, clouded and frustrated.

He didn't want to stand here and haggle with this woman; he just wanted Velocity back before the Decepticons…

Exhaustion almost overcame him; his optics flickered off and his systems attempted to shut down. He listed slightly to one side before forcing a rapid reboot. Optimus reached out and grabbed the edge of Teletraan's control panel, catching himself as the hyper coils in his legs lost tension.

Hands scraped against his armor and roughly gripped at him. He turned his head to look over his shoulder; a dark form stood behind him, held him around the waist, supporting him. He nodded his thanks, and slowly regained his footing. Ironhide's arms remained firmly wrapped around him.

The past few days had weakened him, his systems were worn down by endless anger, worry and frustration. Eventually, he would have to shut down and rest, but not right now. Not while they had to play the Decepticons' games.

A quick glance at Ratchet, the medic's expression informed the Prime that a stern aft chewing would follow this meeting. He didn't really care, he was simply thankful that his friends and inner circle stood beside him. Right now, he needed their insight and support, for his emotions ruled over his processor and he didn't completely trust himself.

The Prime cycled his vents, squaring himself for the impending haggling and negotiating. Patting Ironhide's hands, he let his friend know that his assistance was no longer needed. The battle scared hands carefully slid away, leaving the ghostly sensation of a familiar, and always welcome, electrical field behind.

Optimus addressed the SecDef, "Madam, I agreed to let your government dispose of Megaton, and withhold the knowledge of the location from me as an expression of trust and good will. We do not honor our dead with the same sentimental customs as humans, and he had lost the right to any memorialization long ago.

"Also, your government feared that another Cybertronian could simply revive the High Lord Protector, and no amount of explanation to the contrary has eased your fears. I have argued that such an event was beyond our abilities, yet, no one believes me, and therefore I have ceased attempting to sway your beliefs, because ultimately it is a waste of my time." Optimus let his anger seep into his voice, perhaps he had presented himself as calm and mild-mannered for far too long.

Beside him, Ratchet's engine grumbled in annoyance. "Are we back to this ridiculousness? I have told everyone that asks, 'sparks cannot be revived once extinguished. We are dead at that point.' I am weary of trying to beat this fact into the numerous boney, cranial cavities of your leaders."

"What does it matter? Let the 'cons have Megatron, maybe they can remove a few tons of pollution from this world," Ironhide grumbled as he paced the limited area of Central Ops.

Optimus glared at both the CMO and weapons specialist. Ironhide had stated his opinion and settled himself into a comfortable corner, while Ratchet crossed his arms, his expression unapologetic.

"You told me that this was a secured line," snapped Hernandez. The audiograph jumped to life in sharp spikes of a violent, red hue.

Prime cycled his vents and blinked slowly. His optic shutters threatened to stay shut; they weighed as much as a planet, but he couldn't rest, not right now. He had to push forward and fight for Velocity, for the mechs that followed him, and that meant, ultimately, he fought for himself.

He opened his shutters, and addressed Hernandez, "You asked if this line is secure. It is. No human, and probably no Decepticon can hack it, but I never said that we were alone in our conversation. I have chosen to include my senior officers, much as you have the right to involve your senior staff, if you choose to do so. Now, may we return to the topic at hand?"

"What discussion?" The audiograph bounced in brilliant yellows. "You are requesting information that the United States feels is in its best interest to keep from you."

The Prime's optic shutters narrowed to slits. "To any Cybertronian, Megatron's remains are inconsequential. If can use them to keep Velocity alive and functioning, then I am willing to negotiate a trade and give the Decepticons what they want."

The Secretary remained silent for several long astroseconds before she continued. "I doubt that the National Security Council will see things as you do. What if the Decepticons wish to salvage Megatron's weapon systems? We have seen the destruction that they can cause"

Ratchet scoffed. "Madam, we cannot always interchange parts. Megatron's weapons were uniquely designed for him; his entire frame was dedicated to them. He was more weapon than mech. I highly doubt that another, even Optimus, with extensive retro fitting, could carry that pulse cannon much less activate it and use it in battle without completely draining their own spark."

Optimus waited, this discussion wasn't going well, but it annoyed him how Secretary Hernandez skirted around his questions. She neither denied his request, nor accepted it. All the while he attempted to answer her questions without giving up too much information of his own. They played this idiotic game, and time ticked down on Velocity's life.

The Prime turned and faced his inner circle, placing a finger on his lip components. A human gesture, but one they all knew. ::Any ideas?:: he asked over their internal comm links.

"So, what you are saying is that you just can't pick up any weapon and use it?" Hernandez asked through Teletraan's speakers.

::Optimus, you need to rest, leave this negotiation to Prowl and go shut down, before you fry your primary boards.:: Ratchet interjected.

They all ignored the medic.

::It would be simpler to hack their data base and take what we need.:: commented Prowl.

Optimus responded the Secretary aloud, deciding the keep her engaged until they came up with a better alternative, "Some of our weapons are interchangeable and some are created specifically for a mech." He couldn't afford to burn any bridges just yet.

Over the comm link, the Prime responded to Prowl's comment, ::We cannot hack their mainframe. The humans might view our actions as aggression::

::Also, Wheeljack created a responsive firewall, and anyone attempting to break through it will receive a nasty surprise,:: added Ratchet.

Defeated silence gathered around them. Prowl leaned his weight against Teletraan's console, and crossed one ankle over the other, his head bowed in thought.

Optimus turned his attention back to Hernandez, deciding to "pin her in a corner", to use another human expression. "Madam, time is wasting. Are you going to help us or not?"

A long silence corresponded with a stagnant line on the audiograph.

He knew that Secretary of Defense was weighing her options, as he weighed his.

Optimus waited, even though time was of the utmost importance, the Decepticons worked in a Cybertronian time frame, not the human one. Right now, he had to use that difference to his advantage. Also, he needed a way around the Hernandez. He needed someone who knew about Megatron, the Battle at Mission city and had access to top level intelligence - someone he could convince to help them - someone willing to risk everything; anyone helping them, faced the very real possibility of being labeled a traitor or spy.

A very short list of names popped into his processor. He analyzed the collection, and quickly removed a couple. These people had young families and he could not justify sacrificing their careers, reputations and livelihoods; they were needed to raise their offspring, regardless of how willing they would be to help. Without William Lennox and Robert Epps, the list grew even shorter. Only two names remained, one he couldn't access at the moment and the other he hadn't talked to in months. But these two would most likely assist him, if only to protect Earth. Optimus could accept that, if helping him ultimately helped the humans and stalled out a Decepticon plot, then it was a win win for everyone. Why couldn't Hernandez understand that?

It had taken him only a few astroseconds to formulate a new plan, and now he wanted to be rid of Secretary.

The Prime lifted his face towards Teletraan; he had other options if this woman refused. "I will ask you one last time, do are you willing to help?"

Hernandez answered almost immediately. "The United States has a strict policy of non-negotiation with terrorists and the Decepticons are classified as terrorists."

Optimus expected this. The policy made sense on some levels and enacting it allowed the humans a way out, yet still maintain an alliance with the Autobots. His anger flared anyways, sometimes logic and protocol needed to be ignored to do what needed to be done. A long, costly war had taught him much.

"Then you should reevaluate which governments your country deems allies." With that parting shot, Optimus punched a single button and severed to communications link with Secretary Hernandez. Teletraan's screen went dark for an astroseconds, and then pale glyphs scrolled across the display.

"Now what?" asked Ironhide.

"We contact Sam," answered Prowl.

Optimus nodded. It didn't surprise him that his tactician already figured out the next mode of recourse. Prowl had probably figured it out long before he had.

XxxX

Sam's fingers curled tightly around his cell phone as he walked quickly down the hallway. With his other hand he used his knuckle to rub the sleep from his eye.

A blue grass twang singing, "I'm looking at the world through a windshield..." had rocketed him from the dead of slumber to fully awake, though somewhat stunned and slightly confused and. He had fumbled for his cell phone and muttered a soft, "Hello," into the receiver.

Optimus had asked a favor of him, and now, he had a mission to help save a life.

His bare feet padded softly on the frigid linoleum, and Sam wished that he had taken the time to at least pull on his socks. The cold made his feet hurt, and the muscles in his arches threatened to cramp. Goosebumps raised the hairs on his arms, but he couldn't say if the chill or the strain in the Prime's that caused them.

He slipped down the hallway and his pants legs slapped at his shins. Haste hurried him onward. He turned a corner, and didn't bother to wave at the guard on duty as he trotted to Simmons's room.

He ran a hand through his rumpled, oily hair, vaguely remembering that he needed a shower.

Placing his free hand on the door knob, and turned it, wincing against the impending high squeak. The door announced his presence to all within earshot. Stepping inside the room, he noticed that a different nurse sat at the desk in the corner. A petite blonde, with severely short hair, glared at him as he entered. Her lips pressed into a thin line.

"What are you doing in here?" she hissed quietly, standing as she spoke.

Sam ignored her and moved to the side of the Simmons's bed. The bright lights cast a deathly pallor over the agent's skin. His bruises and scrapes stood out, purple-red and swollen. To Sam, he looked worse than they had just a few hours ago.

A steel-hard hand grabbed Sam's arm at the elbow, dull nails dug into his flesh. He turned to see the woman standing beside him, her hand wrapped around him in a vice-like grip. Peevish annoyance glittered in her eyes.

"I asked you a question."

Sam yanked his arm free and quickly looked her over. He struggled between the respect he immediately felt for the uniform she wore and exasperation with the attitude she gave him. Tired, stressed and worn thin, he was not in a mood to play games. The muscle in his jaw twitched, and he wanted to scream, but he didn't. "I know this man," he stated calmly, "and he might be able to help a friend."

The nurse was a good head shorter than him, and he stepped into her space, glaring down at her. "I have been directed by Optimus Prime to ask Simmons a simple question. That is it. If you have issues with that take them up with someone else. I'm tired. I'm pissed, and I'm trying to help. Now back off and give me a second." His words held a tone and strength that surprised even him.

The woman didn't move, she returned his angry glare with one of her own, and hooked her hands on her hips. "Right now, this patient is under my watch and if you so much as increase his heart rate, I will personally see to it that you are confined to your wife's room and not allowed to wonder around."

Sam rolled his eyes, so she knew who he was. Then she should know that he had saved the world, killed Megatron and hung out with alien robots. He had met scarier things than her. "Fine. Whatever. You don't have to be such a bitch," he snapped.

The nurse's pale skin flushed red, then purple. Fire flashed in her pale eyes, and Sam reevaluated his opinion of what constituted "scary".

He held up his hands as a gesture of platitude, but also to defend himself if need be. "I shouldn't have said that, but right now things aren't going well. The Decepticons have attacked and taken one of the other Autobots, Mickey and I have been shoved off here for our own safety, I'm not sure if my son will be born healthy or even live. I'm stressed, and I need to try and talk to Simmons. This'll only be a minute. Two questions, tops. I promise. Then I won't bother either of you again..." He made a crossing motion over his chest.

The nurse didn't say anything, but the color in her face remained a violent scarlet.

Sam took that as a cue to proceed. He turned back to Simmons, and leaned over the battered and busted man. Carefully he tapped the agent's shoulder, and prayed that there wasn't an injury there. "Hey. Hey can you hear me?"

Simmons didn't respond. The agent lay unresponsive, only the soft beeps of the machines surrounding them suggested that he might even be alive.

Sam patted him again. "Come on. The Big Bot has a question for you. He needs some information and thinks you are the only one who can help." Sam wanted to appeal to the man's enormous ego, hoping that would cut through the miasma of unconsciousness. "Come on Reggie, the 'bots need you. Only you can help them."

Simmons's stiffened; eyelids fluttered, and then opened, briefly the white sciera showed. Then, the agent sank back into the mattress.

"Awe, shit." breathed Sam. He patted the Special Agent's shoulder again, trying to pull him back.

Nothing.

Simmons didn't stir.

"He isn't going to respond." the woman snapped tersely. "The most he does is mumble when the pain meds start wearing off. Then, he is incoherent at best."

Sam straitened, his mouth pressed into a grim frown. Glancing at the nurse standing next to him, shame overcame him, chagrined that he called the woman a bitch and took his frustrations out on her.

He swallowed what little pride he had left. "Is there any way that the doctors might let him wake up so I can talk to him?"

The woman shook her head to the negative. "He is typically combative when he starts coming to, so they keep him heavily sedated." She checked a couple of the tubes trailing from the patient to a machine. Without looking at Sam, she snarled, "Are you done now?"

Silently, Sam turned and exited the room, his cell phone still gripped in his hand. Failure sank his heart to the pit of his stomach.

He walked along the hallway until he found a quiet alcove and leaned against the wall. He stared at the ceiling, his thumb on the redial, afraid to push the button. He squeezed his eyes shut, and took two long breaths.

He made the call.

Almost instantly, the Prime responded. "Sam." The deep voice flowed from the phone.

Sam opened his eyes, and shifted, curling his body into the alcove, turning away from the empty hall. His jaw working, but he couldn't say the words. He inhaled and exhaled sharply, then rubbed his eyebrows with his free hand.

"Optimus, I... I couldn't get the information. Simmons isn't..." He couldn't go on.

A long, heavy silence consumed any conversation.

Finally, the Prime spoke. "Thank you, Sam. I know you tried." The disappointment echoed over the connection.

He wanted to say something, tell the Autobot leader that he would try again. He choked out a weak, "I'm sorry."

The hallow nothing of a dead line echoed back at him. Optimus had ended the connection.

Sam thumped his head against the wall, and the last few days crashed down on him. A strangled sob lodged in his throat. Hot tears burned his eyes, and a few spilled onto his cheeks. He had let Optimus down. He couldn't help his friend. He couldn't help the Autobots, he couldn't help Mikaela and he couldn't help his baby son. He couldn't help anyone.

Nothing he did mattered.

For a few fleeting moments, he thought he would be of some good; he thought he could do more than just sit back and watch. So many things had been taken out of his hands and thrown to chance, he just wanted to be able to assist... aid... he just wanted to do more than watch helplessly as those he loved suffered.

XxxX

A/N: OMG! It has been 8 months since I updated! I am sorry. My only excuse is a class with 24 research papers due, I was all written out. Passed, it's over. Now I have more time to tinker with HOTF. Woot. I have been carrying around this chapter for most of that time and I doubt it will be any better than it is now. I have looked at this for so long I can't see the trees for the forest… so to speak. This is posted as is, I need to move forward with the story.

To LuckySock: You know I can't give any spoilers. You will just have to wait and see. To Sayomi178: Yes, there are spelling and grammar mistakes. Sadly, I can kill a beta with the work load. I am glad you like the stories though. To Riah Riddle: I am glad you love the stories. I know I haven't written much. Long story short, I am juggling work, family and getting my master's degree. Sometimes I barely have time to bathe. I do re read for grammar and spelling, but they do slip by me. I wish I was as good as my friends in this department, but both those have always been my weak areas. Feel free to point any major issues out, I always welcome concrit. To Prime Deception: Thank you so much for saying that. I am a firm believer that OCs don't have to be Sues, self inserts or boring. To FORD B: Thank you. I promise, Velocity will have her revenge. To bRamble Girl: Thank you so much. Your words made me giggle like a little girl. To KaiH: Thank you. I totally agree. If humans could experience the raw unfiltered emotions of others, things would be vastly different. As it is we are stuck in our bodies and can only hazard a poor guess at what others feel and think. To Femme Fatality: Thank you. Here is the update. Optimus wants e and Velocity to have a telepathic communication (he did so with Elita) The issue is Velocity, being first of flesh she has issues with their closeness and can't accept him in her head. Without realizing it, she blocks him out. This will be touched on later in the story, so that is all makes sense. To phoebe turner: Thank you again. To Starfire201: Oh there will be gobs of backstabbing and intrigue in the future. Decepticons can't function any other way. To Femme4jack: *glomp* Oh, OP is the Prime for more than his deep voice and calm wisdom. He is a bada$$, when he needs to be. To Animelover1993. Germany! What are you doing there? I am flattered that you keep reading this over and over. I have started rewriting FS, I want it to match HOTF a bit closer, and that was my first fanfic in decades. Here is an update, I am sorry it took so long to get it here. Please enjoy. To all the other readers, thank you for hanging in there. The Favs and watches mean tons to me and make me smile as much as the comments. Thank you from the depth of my little twisted heart. VB