Trading Symbols

By Emilou aka Hatashi Kitty

It was a peaceful, calm Sunday everywhere in Oregon, where the residence of a middle-sized town could shop quietly at their local Wal-Mart. But that tranquility was suddenly disrupted when a giant hand tore into a corner of the warehouse sized shopping center, and rolled the metal sheets back to reveal the mechanical torsos of not one or two, but an entire fleet of Robots. Each of the robots carried a violet symbol on their person, one that the shoppers knew by memory from the news reports, but never thought that they would see it with their own eyes.


The front-most Decepticon pulled back more of the sheet metal, and stepped into the store. He had to crouch to go in further into the store, but it didn't seem to bother him. One by one, the other Decepticons followed, bending low to fit into the store.

The first to enter, Megatron, glared angrily at the humans that were running away from him as his giant feet knocked down shelves of goods and crushed cheaply made products.

"Decepticons, spread out. Let's get what we came for and get out," Megatron ordered. "Some of you go to the auto-care isle and grab as much oil and car batteries you can get. You two, go get the batteries in electronics. Don't forget to check out the toy isle; there's bound to be a battery display there. And someone go check to see if they have Boston Legal on DVD."

There was a slight pause.

"Well, just don't stand there. Move it or I'll make scrap out of your cans," Megatron shouted at them, pointing his arm cannon at whoever was the slowest. After his minions had scurried away, Megatron realized he, himself, didn't have anything to do. With his spare time, he flipped through the poster display that was nearby.

"That one's neat. Nope. Ug. What were they thinking? Hana Montana, yesh. Hee hee. That one's cool. Ah. Yuck."

"Uh, Megatron. . ." Dirge interrupted in a soft voice. "They don't have any more Boston Legal."

"What? Are you sure they don't have any?"

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"Did you ask any if they had some in the back?"

"The back?"

"They could have had a new shipment today."

"There's nobody there to help me."

"What? Curse you Wal-Mart employees; you're never around when I need you," Megatron shouted and shook his hand upward as if it was the fault of a higher being.

"Curse yourself, Megatron," a different, bold voice declared. "I think you've shopped enough."

"Prime!" Megatron shouted as he turned around to see a line of hunched-over Autobots. "Decepticons, to me!" Megatron called out to his troops for battle.

One by one, they came to his aid, each one carrying more than what Megatron asked them to find. Rumble and Frenzy, the only two Decepticons who didn't have to waddle like ducks to stop their heads from hitting the ceiling, were decked out in the swankiest coats and bling-bling they could find. Skywarp and Thundercracker had under each arm the largest plasma TV they could find. Starscream had apparently been in the sports section since he had decorated himself with as much ammo belts and weapons as the gun section had. Primitive as the human's artillery was, who knew what he could do with it in a pinch. Soundwave seemed to be the only one who had followed Megatron's direct orders; his arms so full with the supplies that he could do nothing else but walk.

"Give up, Megatron. We have you surrounded," Optimus Prime said gallantly.

"Never, Prime. The Wal-Mart is mine!" Megatron shouted back, and shot at the Autobot leader.

Chaos broke out as bots and cons moved as best they could for any kind of cover. The smaller Autobots were able to scurry around for the best places, but the larger mechs had to lie completely flat on the ground.

"Megatron," Dirge said as crawled toward his leader to avoid the cross fire. "I found Boston Legal in the back."

"Excellent," Megatron said, and took the DVDs and rubbed them again his chrome face. "You have done well, Dirge."

"Hey, cool," Jazz said after spotting a large sign. "All CDs are 50% off. I'm shopping at this store from now on."

"No, you don't. The CDs are all mine. Mine, I tell you," Megatron shouted, firing at anything that moved.

"Jeez, what's the big deal about CDs?" Ironhide muttered as he crawled behind the cash registers.

Blaster and Jazz glared at him, and then moved further away from the red bot.

"There's an even more bigger question than that one, Ironhide," Optimus Prime mulled over it. "What's the big deal with this entire place? Hmmm."

Prowl, who was systematically giving his comrades cover fire while they find their own place to hide, said, "Through my observations of the Internet, this store carries the most popular products for humans at cheap prices. However, I have not found a single item that could be even remotely useful to Megatron."

"Curious," Optimus Prime said as he rubbed his chin. He then moved his head so he could see Megatron. "What are you up to, Megatron?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Megatron gloated without even stopping his fire. "With the use of these human energy stores, I will make enough energon to defeat you."

Optimus turned back to his second-in-command.

"The items in question do store up energy, but, to say the least, with all those batteries combined, they wouldn't be able to power the Decepticons for more than a day. They're probably wasting more energy than gaining."

Optimus looked at Megatron. "Okay, seriously. What are you up to?"

Megatron stopped his wild shooting. "Isn't that enough for you, Prime? Not all my plans can be gold, you know."

"Yeah. . . but this. . .I mean, come on. I expected more from you."

Megatron looked extremely offended. "Oh, and I suppose you can do better, Prime."

"I bet I could. How hard could it be to point at something and say, 'Go destroy that'?" Optimus Prime said, standing up the best he could.

"There's a lot more to being the Decepticon leader than that. It's much more difficult," Megatron argued.

"Psh, yeah right. You only want it to look hard so nobody wants the job. Let's face it, Megatron. You're a horrible leader," Optimus Prime insulted.

"You're no legendary general yourself, Prime," Megatron countered. "You out-number us easily, yet you're too much of a pansy to do anything about it."

"I think you're too much afraid to let Starscream be the leader because you're afraid he might actually be better than you," Optimus shouted back.

"Optimus Prime has a point, Megatron," Starscream shouted at his leader from somewhere in the back.

"Shut up," Megatron yelled and slapped the seeker. "Okay, Prime. Then let's settle this. We'll see who's the worse leader, by switching places."

Everyone but Megatron and Optimus Prime shouted as one big crowd, "WHAT?"

"Fine, Megatron. We'll switch places for a week, then we'll see who has the last laugh."

There was a pause.

"So. . . do you want to do this now or. . .next week?" Optimus question, his hands looking like he was weighing something.

"Nah, right now is good. I've got nothing better to do," Megatron said with a shrug. "But first, I want to talk to my troops."

Optimus Prime narrowed his optics suspiciously. "Then I shall do the same."

Optimus Prime waddled back to his team, his head scrapping at the Wal-Mart ceiling with an irritating sound.

"Don't go, Prime."

"What's gotten into you?"

"You can't be serious."

"Being a Decepticon for a week. It must be a trick."

Optimus Prime shrugged. "It can't be too bad. I'll be able to see their base, and observe them. It'll be a chance to see how they think."

Ironhide frowned. "Sounds risky, Prime. I don't like it."

"Nonetheless, I'm going. So here is my last order before I go. You will follow Megatron's orders. Since he is attempting to be the best Autobot leader, he is bound to do only good."

There were snickers among the Autobot leaders.

"I know it sounds strange, but that's the way it should be. I order you all to follow him just as you would me. But keep an eye on him. If for even a moment he takes advantage of this situation, this deal is over. But from this point on, I will be your enemy for an entire week. Treat me as thus."

"Prime. . ."

There was silence as the Autobots watched their leader walk away, and knew for a time that they must see him as one to be feared.

Megatron ushered his fellow Decepticons close to him.

"Listen to me, you slaggin' pieces of scrap metal. I want you to give Prime the same honor and respect you've given me," Megatron said with a smile, his optics riveted especially on Starscream.

For the first time in their lives, Starscream knew exactly what Megatron wanted him to do, and, the surprising thing about it was, he was actually going to do what his leader wanted him to do.

"Of course, mighty Megatron," the seeker said knowingly.

The others, only half catching the secret message between Starscream and their leader, nodded or shrugged. This change in leadership made little difference for them, as long as it didn't affect them too much.

The two leaders, leaving their respective army behind, met in the middle of the Wal-Mart.

"So, uh, shall we call it a draw today, Prime?" Megatron asked.

"Whatever," Optimus Prime shrugged.

The two leaders then passed each other on their way to stand in what had been their enemy a moment ago. At that moment when each leader felt their new army starring at them, they both felt that maybe, just maybe, this wasn't such a good idea.

Optimus Prime rubbed his chin. "Let's see. . .What would a Decepticon leader do now?" he asked himself. Then he pointed to the hole in the store's roof. "Decepticons retreat!" he screeched.

"Oh that's real mature, Prime!" Megatron shouted back.

Optimus chuckled at his joke, and then lead his new team out the hole. However, the Decepticons took to the air right away, heading for their base.

"Hey, wait for me," Optimus Prime shouted, running after them. He transformed into his vehicle mode to try and keep up with them.

"Heh heh heh," Megatron laughed at his nemesis' discomfort. Then he remembered where he was, and cleared his throat. "Um. . .okay. . .Autobots. Good job. Let's. . .go."

A few of them cleared their throats.

"What?" Megatron asked them with a confused look. "I'm your leader."

"Yer an Autobot now," Ironhide said to him. "An' tha' means we don' steal."

Megatron frowned as if he were challenging the red bot. Then he gave in. "Okay, fine." The ex-Decepticon leader relented, and tossed down the DVDs. "Party poopers."

Optimus Prime tiptoed around the underwater base, feeling like a little sparkling behind enemy lines. His systems were working over time, half of them trying to convince the other half that he was perfectly safe. He wasn't sure if he could live like this for a whole week. Or if he could live for a whole week. The way the Decepticons eyed him made him believe he wasn't going to walk out at the end of his term as leader without a scratch.

And speaking of leading, he would have to do some soon or this whole charade would be for not.

"Hey, um. . .Thundercracker?" Prime inquired tentatively.

The blue seeker turned around. "Yeah?"

"Um. . .So, what does Megatron usually have you guys do?"

Thundercracker shrugs. "Whatever," he answered nonchalantly. "You know, get this, get that. The usual."

"Really? You're just a grunt."

"Meh," Thundercracker shrugged and then walked away.

"Then I guess I'd have to talk to someone else. One who matters," Optimus told himself, and then went off to find another seeker.

After asking around, Optimus Prime was able to find Starscream's location. Once he spotted the red and white robot, who was talking to Soundwave, he called out to him.

Starscream turned around with a look of surprise on his face. "Optimus Prime?"

"Hey, I need to talk to you a min. . ."

"You're not fit to lead the Decepticons," Starscream shouted and pointed his null ray at the Autobot.


Starscream shot at the Autobot, who dodged quickly. The Decepticon continued to attack his "superior," shouted for him to hold still.

Optimus Prime kept dodging until he was close enough to jump onto Starscream, sending him crashing while Optimus Prime disarmed him.

"Is this Megatron's idea of a joke? You're supposed to treat me as if I was your leader," Optimus Prime growled at Starscream.

"He is," Soundwave voiced, everything about him deadpan.


"Starscream always attacks Megatron," Soundwave explained further.


Soundwave shrugged.

"Because he's unfit to lead the Decepticons. I would be a much better leader," Starscream shouted. "Get off of me."

"No," Prime told him, and pushed his face down. "Why would Megatron have such a traitorous bot such as yourself be his second-in-command."

"Because nobody else is fit to be second-in-command except me. Except when I'm leader, then someone else will be fit to be. . ."

"Alright. I get it. For that, you're to be punished," Optimus Prime told the seeker.

"What are you going to do, Autobot? Slap me on the wrist?" Starscream snickered.

"No, you're going to do chores. Soundwave, what sort of repairs does the base need?" Optimus Prime asked the monotone robot.

"Several. Leek prevention, rust prevention, dislodging vents, and various other repairs both to base and Decepticons," Soundwave listed off.

"Good. Set him to work. And make sure he does a good enough job," Optimus Prime said with satisfaction.

"Wait, I have to do all of it," Starscream protested.

"Until I tell you to stop," Optimus Prime said, and finally let the seeker up. "And tell the Decepticons to gather in the war chamber. I have some announcements I'd like to make."

"As you command, mighty Optimus Prime," Soundwave said with a salute.

"Please, just Optimus Prime."

"As you command, Optimus Prime."

The red and blue robot started to leave, but then stopped. "No, wait. Keep the 'mighty'. I like it."

"You there. Who are you?"

"I am Mirage," the blue bot said with more than enough contempt.

"And who is that?"

"That's Hound."

"And that one over there?"


"Egad, how did Prime remember all your names? There so many of you," Megatron said in frustration.

"Maybe because we all don't look the same," Mirage said with little humor, and walked off.

"Don't walk away from me. Hey, I'm your leader," Megatron shouted.

Mirage stopped. "For now, at least. What else do you want?"

"Where's the Autobot second-in-command?" Megatron asked.

Mirage sighed. "Prowl is usually around Teletran-1," he said and then walked off with disgust.

"Hey, thanks," Megatron said with sincerity, and turned to follow those instructions when something else struck him. "Hey, where's Teletran-1?"

But the blue Autobot was out of sight.

"You there, where's Teletran-1?" Megatron asked gruffly as a yellow and olive-green smaller Autobot walked by.

"At the bridge?" Brawn said matter-of-factly.

"I know that. But where is the bridge? Show it to me," Megatron ordered.

Brawn growled something under his breath, but did as he was told.

Once on the Bridge, Megatron spotted the black and white Autobot at Teletran-1's keyboard, typing away steadily.

"Hey, you're not the Autobot second-in-command," Megatron accused with surprise.

Prowl turned around. "Yes, I am," he said in a voice of indifference.

"No, you aren't. Where's the other one? The one that's always playing loud music and stuff."

"That's Jazz. He's the other second-in-command. He's not here right now, but I can help you," Prowl said, his voice still even.

"But I need Prime's second-in-command," Megatron said to him with a frown.

"I am also a second-in-command," Prowl insisted

"No, I would know if you were second-in-command," Megatron said knowingly.

"I assure you, that is what I am."

"No, you're not in that many episodes. I'm pretty sure Jazz is the one," Megatron said with a nod of his head.

Prowl's demeanor suddenly fell into that of irritation. "Fine, I'll go get him."

"That's the spirit!" Megatron said with a pat on Prowl's door.

Soon Jazz walked in, walking in a lazy manner. "What's up, Megs?" Jazz asked, folding his arms comfortably.

Megatron frowned at Jazz's new nickname for him, but he went on.

"I need the stats and training exercise results of all the Autobots," Megatron told the Autobot.

"I don't have those. That's Prowl's area," Jazz report.

"What about the Arc's defense grid? Do you have that?"

"That's Prowl again."

"Okay, then, I need a list of the shifts and who's on duty."


"Then what you do?" Megatron shouted in frustration.

"Affirmative action quota."

If Megatron had eyebrows, one would have been lifted. "Where's Prowl? I want him in here. Go get him."

"Right-O," Jazz said just as happily, saluted and left.

"You're probably wondering why I called you all here," Optimus Prime said in a small voice as all the Decepticons' eyes were on his.

There was the sound of some of the robots shifting around, and a cough.

"Well. . .as you may know, you're. . .ah hem. . .we're dangerously low on power. In a few days, we'll be entirely powerless," Optimus Prime went on. "The obvious thing to do would be to go out and steal some more."

"Yeah, that's so original, Prime."

Optimus Prime's voice changed to a bellow, and he pointed at the offending seeker as quick as a whip. "Hey, I didn't say you could stop. Keep working."

Starscream, surprised by Optimus Prime's forcefulness, continued to rust proof the room with double the effort.

"Ah hem, as I was saying, that's the obvious plan, but one that has failed time and time again," Optimus Prime continued his speech. "Not only does it waste energy trying to attain more energon, but most likely the Autobots will stop us. So I propose we try a new approach."

For the first time, Optimus had caught the interest of the Decepticons, not entirely won over but they were willing to listen.

"Are any of you acquainted with the Internet?" Optimus Prime asked.

The Decepticon's intrigue grew and grew as Optimus Prime laid out more and more of his plan. After he had finished talking, the war room was filled with murmurs and muttering, red eyes giving the Autobot looks of approval. Only one had something to say against it.

"That plan is so stupid. You're stupid. I should be the leader. I would lead the Decepticons to victory!"

Optimus Prime didn't have to discipline Starscream for his outburst, for the rest of the Decepticons glared at him until he shied away.

Skywarp smiled deviously at his temporary leader. "So, what do we do first, Optimus?"

Optimus Prime seemed to be smiling. "Where's Swindle?"

Megatron, now with the correct second-in-command in front of him, started getting the information he required.

"What is this column here? Why are there so many Autobots assigned to this duty?" Megatron asked. He had been asking a lot of questions, trying to understand Prowl's organized charts and schedules.

The Autobot leaned over to see what Megatron was pointing at. "Those are the Autobots assigned to help out the humans."

"With what?" Megatron said, not trying to hide his contempt.

"Well, most of them request that we help guard and transport items or fuel that they believe the Decepticons will try to take from them. In exchange, they give us the energy we need to run the Ark," Prowl rattled off.

"How much energy?" Megatron asked, his interest peeked.

Prowl showed him another chart with the information. "Optimus Prime is very generous, and only asks for enough to power us and a little bit more. We don't protect the weak to make a profit," Prowl said evenly.

"But in the process, you have to eke out a living. By these charts you have shown me, you barely attain enough energy to survive," Megatron almost mocked. "From now on, any requests brought in will only be taken if they will pay more."

Prowl glared at the Decepticon. "Autobots don't work like that."

"I'm not saying that we ask for an unfair price. For putting your lives in danger, you should get more than you are originally asking for. Just raise the price."

"The deal was that you act like an Autobot," Prowl protested, his voice becoming threatening.

"And I am. As an Autobot, I'm just preparing for the future. What happens when there is an unexpected attack, and you don't have the energon to fight back. Do the humans pay you energon when you help them then? Or during a natural disaster, which seems to happen a lot on this wretched planet? It's only fair that you ask a little more; a tax if you will for these kind of circumstances," Megatron said persuasively.

For a while, Prowl stood there, his logic circuits going over Megatron's words syllable by syllable. Even though he hated to admit it, what Megatron said sounded logical. The humans never complained before on their prices and always were so surprised with how low it was. If they only asked a little more, it wouldn't hurt. And it would let them store up energy for emergencies.

"I will change the policy right now," Prowl said, and started typing away on Teletran-1.

"Excellent," Megatron said with an evil laugh.

Prowl looked up at his new leader with "the look."

Megatron scratched his helmet. "Sorry. Habit."

"Hold it steady, Rumble!"

"I'm trying. Geez, don't get your thrusters in a knot."

"What are you doing? Don't drop me."

"I'm not gonna do that, stupid Reflector."

"Just take the stupid picture already!"

"You look so ridiculous."

"Starscream, did I say you could stop. Now shut up, or you're next."

"I want to see your drills."


"Your drills. I want to see how well the soldiers train," Megatron repeated impatiently.

"But we're not scheduled to have any until tomorrow," Prowl said, looking at his planner.

"Did I ask you if they were scheduled? I want to see them now," Megatron almost howled at the Autobot.

"Yes, sir," Prowl said, and went to call on a handful of Autobots to participate in the drills.

There was an obstacle course on the other side of the volcano that the Autobots had made for their training exercises. It wasn't much compared to the ones on Cybertron, but they had to make due with what they had. One by one, Prowl ordered each on through the course, timing each one as they went through.

"This is pitiful," Megatron said with disgust.

"They're doing the best they can," Prowl defended the Autobots.

Megatron guffawed. "How did Prime ever beat my troops with this sad bunch of amateurs?" he sneered.

"Why ay atta. . .," Ironhide growled as some of his comrades stopped him from decking the Decepticon.

"Tell me, Prowl," Megatron noticed Ironhide's temper, and narrowed his eyes at the Autobot second. "You must know the strength of your team mates. Do you think they are adequately prepared for any emergency?"

Prowl didn't like to criticize Optimus Prime for the decisions he made. He believed that the Autobot leader had to make certain decisions because he believed that path was best, even if Prowl didn't agree or even see why Optimus Prime chose that way. But he had always been honest with Prime, and so he had to be honest with Megatron. "No, I don't. But Optimus had his reasons for that. There are much more important. . ."

"And what's more important than keeping yourselves in fighting condition?" Megatron countered. "If you aren't fit, you can't protect the humans. You can't protect yourselves. Prime's priorities may be somewhere else, but I am in charge right now. And I say that if they aren't on patrol, on a mission or recharging or something else equally important, every available Autobot is participating in these drills. And I want to see at least a 25% improvement by each individual in the next forty-eight hours."

The Autobots who had participated in the drills looked shocked at the new order. Prowl was the only one who didn't react emotionally.

"Yes, sir," Prowl said in a blank voice. While he didn't like getting orders from a Decepticon, he liked even less that Prowl had to agree with Megatron. For years, he had been telling Prime that they needed to increase their drills and skills because the fact was that the average Decepticon was much more deadly than the average Autobot. The reason they were doing so well in this war was because of strategy, teamwork, and the fact that they out numbered the Decepticons. "I'll set up the schedule right now," Prowl told the Decepticon, feeling like he was betraying his own team by feeling this way.

A long way from either of the robotic factions, a young man sat himself down at his computer and switched it on. It took him only a few minutes to log onto the Internet, and continue his favorite hobby: looking up information on the alien robots that were on Earth. He didn't live near any major cities, so he'd never seen one in person before, but as soon as he heard about them he looked up any and all information as he could. He was constantly looking around new web pages, seeing if there was any new video footage on youtube, and even checked the news sites for updates. He knew everything there was to know on the Autobots, since they were willing to talk to humans, but the Decepticons were still a mystery.

Today, however, as this young man looked at his usual haunts he found a strange page, which was, even stranger, dedicated to the Decepticons. Skeptical that it was nothing but a joke or someone's sick idea of one, he looked just for the sake of killing time. To his surprise, the web counter at the top told him he was the first one ever to visit, so it must still be being worked on since it didn't look too impressive. The only thing on the page was as a link to video footage with the words next to it that said, "Check this out. Real life Decepticon footage." That was enough to peek the young man's footage, so he clicked on it.

The video footage began with what the young man could identify as one of the Decepticon seekers, the type that people on the web dubbed as "coneheads." This one was black and red.

"Hey, Thrust," a deep voice from off camera shouted to the seeker.

The seeker turned to see who was calling his name.

"Think fast."

A giant robot sized pie flew at the seeker, and hit him directly in his face. The seeker, red eyes glowing through the cream, looked around it complete surprise.

In the background, there was some laughter, and then a voice off screen shouted,

"Starscream, clean that up."

And then the video ended.

The young man, while watching, was in the process of putting a potato chip into his mouth, but it never reached his tongue. The video had shocked him in complete immobility. It took him a while to shake out of it before he watched the video again, this time trying to see if the video had been doctored or just computer animated in any way, but to his eyes it looked completely real.

Within seconds, he was on at least three message boards discussing the authenticity of the video with a dozen of other people.

"What's going on in here?"

The only Autobot in the room turned around once he heard the loud question.

"Who are you, and what is all this junk?" Megatron demanded, pointing at the scientist.

"I'm Wheeljack, and this is my workshop," was the reply.

Megatron looked around the "workshop" in disgust. "What are you making right now?"

"Well, currently I working on an invention that will increase the volume of quai particles to twice their capacity and decrease the cellular structure to allow me to rearrange the electrons of matter," Wheeljack explained.

Megatron looked expectant of something. "And this will do what?"

"I don't know," Wheeljack said excitedly. "But I'm going to find out. Stand back."

Many of the Autobots, who were watching, suddenly moved out of the way most energetically, some were even finding objects or larger Autobots to hide behind. However, the warning wasn't needed as Megatron stopped him.

"This is time and energy wasted on needless matters," Megatron told Wheeljack as he stopped the Autobot from throwing the switch. "Stop it."

"But it Science!" Wheeljack protested dramatically.

"It's useless," Megatron told him. "So unless you're doing something more productive than 'science' like helping Ratchet in the medical bay, I want you on the course doing drills. Now!"

Usually, Megatron barking orders caused robots to quickly do as they were told, but not the indignant Wheeljack, who kept yelling at the Decepticon's backside.

"You can't quell my creative thinking. Science is much bigger than you and me. Science is unstoppable. The progression of Science will never be stopped. Blah blah blah Science."

Then something in his lab exploded, causing smoke to billow out of the doorway in large puffs. Through it, they could still hear Wheeljack shouting on his proverbial soapbox.

"Science has spoken!"

Carlie was once again working at her computer. She had just finished writing a few reports for work, and decided to take a break and check her email. As soon as she logged on, she saw that she received a message from a friend. When she opened it, this is what she read:

Hey Carlie,

You're friends w/ the Autobots right? There's some pics and movies floating around the net, and I thought you could tell if they were real or not. Here's the link.

She clicked on the link and a page opened up. It looked very unprofessional, but according to the counter and date that the page had been put up, it had already gotten a million hits in only two days. The page consisted of three links labeled "pics," "movies" and "store."

Somewhat intrigued, she clicked on "movies," which brought her to another list of links. Randomly, she clicked on one called "puppet show."

To her surprise, the video started with the Decepticon that she knew to be Thundercracker. The video only showed his upper torso, cutting him off at the neck. On his hands were a pair of crudely made puppets. The puppets somewhat resembled the other seeker, Starscream, and the Decepticon leader, Megatron.

"Hi, everyone. I'm Megatron, the terrible, horrible Decepticon. I'm really scary," Thundercracker said in a deep voice as he wiggled the Megatron puppet.

"You mean the terrible, horrible leader," the seeker said in a high almost feminine voice as he wiggled the Starscream puppet.

"Starscream! Rrrrrrrr!" the Megatron voice said.

"Tee hee," the Starscream voice laughed.

Off screen, there was some giggling.

"I don't sound like that," a voice off screen shouted that resembled the "Starscream voice."

"Quit messing around, Starscream, because I have a great plan. An awesome plan," the Megatron said with exaggeration.

The Starscream puppet folded over onto itself. "I bet your plan sucks. I should be the leader."

"I'd like to see you try," the Megatron puppet challenged.

Thundercracker then caused the two puppets to clash together as he voiced their war calls, shouts of pain and epic sound effects. After a while, the Megatron puppet held up its tiny arm cannon.

"Pew pew," Thundercracker voiced, and the Starscream puppet fell backwards with an "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

"Take that, Starscream," the Megatron puppet shouted, and then laughed evilly.

The Starscream puppet twitched, and then lifted its tiny puppet head. "No more, Megatron. I'm sorry. Don't kill me."

"I won't, if you do one thing for me," Megatron puppet said menacingly.

"What is it?"

The screen grew dark around the Megatron puppet, and it zoomed on his puppet face. "Dance for me."

"As you wish, mighty Megatron."

Suddenly, some upbeat techno music started to play. Colorful lights flashed all around as the Starscream puppet stood upright, and started to dance to the music. After a while, the Megatron puppet joined in. After a few beats, the Megatron puppet moved closer to the camera.

"Now, everybody join in," the puppet commanded.

From all directions, robotic arms popped out, each one holding a puppet of a different Decepticon, and started to dance to the music. At the end of the song, the credits began to roll, and ended the movie.

Carlie was shocked, feeling numb as her sense of reality seemed to be flushed down the toilet in the last few minutes of her life.

The week was halfway over, and Megatron was just reading the latest performance report. The Autobot's drills were faster. But any leader would know that those scores didn't mean anything in an emergency. But the next page that Megatron read was the latest report of their response time to the few emergencies that had happened during the time Megatron was in charge. It was up too, which could only account for the drills. And when Megatron watched the drills, he learned that the soldier's aim was getting better.

Not only that, but he had squelched the use of unnecessary usage of energy. That inventor, Wheeljack, was only the first. Many Autobots protested when Megatron said that there was no more joy riding or pleasure trips or any leaving of the base except when necessary.

Because of this, there were a many disgruntled Autobots. Hound was sulking in the corner, wishing he could go outside. Jazz, who's audio equipment was banned, went around the base with a dull look on his face. The Arielbots were grounded, which meant they gave more lip than usual. And though it was difficult, the Dinobots were no longer allowed to wander free-range with the threat of having their energon cut off. And Sunstreaker and Tracks were especially vengeful once they were limited on how many tune-up, paint jobs, and layers of wax they were allowed to have.

Even though this made everyone on edge, it saved a lot of energon. Along with the increase of their prices on their "services," their storage of energy had increase dramatically. Megatron was pleased with himself despite the bad aura that was directed toward him. He didn't seem to mind since he was used to working with the most vile, traitorous, violent group of robots on Cybertron. The Autobot's gloom was a walk in the park compared to just Starscream.

He was a so much better Prime than Optimus.

"Megatron," Prowl said as he walked in on the Decepticon. "I'm here to report that Daniel has arrived."

"Huh, who's that?" Megatron asked, looking as if he didn't want to be disturbed.

"The human, Daniel."

"Uh, oh him," Megatron said, remembering the tiny organic. "Yeah, what does he want? I'm busy."

"But Optimus Prime promised to spend some time with him today," Prowl said as he looked up his leader's schedule. "He does this regularly."

"What? Tell him to go away. I can't be bothered with such frivolities," Megatron growled, and flicked his hand at Prowl.

"But Prime promised the boy," Prowl said. "And an Autobot doesn't break their promises. And since you are Prime for now."

Megatron scowled as he realized there was no going around this. "Fine. Bring in the little. . .thing."

Prowl did as he was told, and following the large robot came the small human.

"Wow, so it is true. Megatron's an Autobot," Daniel shouted as he saw it for his own eyes.

"For the time, human," Megatron grumbled, and then leaned closer to the human child. "Now, what is it that Prime usually does with you?"

"He said he would take me to the beach, but you can't do that cause you're not a truck," Daniel said in a smart voice.

"I see," Megatron said rubbing his chin. "Well, I have an idea of what we could do instead. Follow me, human."

Daniel had to dash to keep up with Megatron.

Thrust was carrying the sound equipment to the next place they were going to film the next footage. He didn't quite understand why Optimus Prime was having all the Decepticons do such ridiculous things. Maybe Prime had a glitch, or he just wanted to humiliate them for his own amusement. But they had been given orders to follow Optimus for a week, and they must be obedient soldiers.

As Thrust continued to think about all that's been happening, when he ran into a large blue and red robot. He immediately lost his balance, and all the equipment fell onto the floor with a crash. Thrust started to swear at the bot, when he realized who he had ran into.

"Oh, Optimus. . .I mean, mighty Optimus. I didn't see you there. I'm really sorry," Thrust stuttered, and cringed from his temporary leader. "I'll pick this up right now. Ah, that was already broken. It's not my fault."

Optimus Prime helped pick up the equipment, taking a careful look at one of the speakers that had dropped. The cord had been pulled out along with some wires. "It's no problem. Just have Soundwave fix it. Keep up the good work," the Autobot said, and patted the seeker on the back jovially.

Thrust looked surprised at how he was treated, and then brightened up. "Yes, sir," he said enthusiastically, and went about his chore much faster. Once he had started setting up the equipment for the next video they were going to shoot, he turned to some of the other Decepticons.

"You know, Optimus Prime is a really nice guy. Who'd of thought?" he said to them.

"I know. He really liked my part in the last video. He said it was awesome," Astrotrain said looking pleased with himself.

"Yeah, and he doesn't get really angry and hit us like Megatron used to do. It's really helped with my self-esteem," Breakdown added. "He's a swell guy."

"Hey, let's work really hard on this next video," Thrust suggested excitedly. "I think they're fun to do."

"Yeah. And I didn't think there was anything more fun than destroying," Skywarp noted with a grin. "Let's all do our best."


"A little higher. Higher. Now I pull to the right a little, so aim just left of the target," Megatron instructed.

"Okay!" Daniel said as he followed Megatron's instructions.

"Now fire!"

Daniel squeezed Megatron's trigger, and a blast of energy shot out toward the aluminum cans Daniel was aiming at. The blast hit one can and decimated it, causing an explosion that caused the rest of the cans to go flying. The strength of the blast cause Daniel to fall backward, and letting go of Megatron's alt mode.

Megatron quickly transformed before he fell to the ground. "Excellent shot, human. We'll make a soldier out of you yet."

At the sound of the explosion, a small yellow Autobot came running out of the Arc. "What the heck is going on?" Bumblebee shouted.

Daniel stood up quickly, and ran to the Autobot. "Bumblebee, Megatron is teaching me how to shoot him," he said happily.

"What?" Bumblebee exclaimed, and pulled Daniel away. "But he's just a boy. He shouldn't be doing such dangerous stuff."

"I'm teaching him how to be a man," Megatron explained.

"Ah, I'm fine," Daniel told Bumblebee and pushed away from the yellow Autobot. "Megatron said that I'm a great shot."

"But his mother and father won't like it," Bumblebee protested.

"Are you going to tattle on me?" Daniel asked looking fearful.

"Yeah, Bumblebee, don't be a tattle-teller," Megatron mocked. "Now, stop questioning your leader and get back to work."

"But. . ."

"I said go," Megatron said firmly, pointing back at the Arc.

Bumblebee hung his head, and shuffled away.

Daniel smiled brightly up at the Decepticon. "Thanks, Megatron. You're the best. Prime never lets me do anything." Then he hugged the Decepticon's giant foot.

Megatron looked down at the human with disgust. "Don't touch me kid."

Prime walked down the halls of the Nemesis with a skip in his step and a song in his spark. The week was almost up, and he was pretty sure that he had this bet in the bag. The Decepticons trusted him and were willing to do what he said, their web site was successful, and as for energon. . .well. . .he was going to check up on that now.

Prime reached his destination, and waited for the Decepticon he had come to see to turn around and look at him.

"Swindle, report," he ordered the Combaticon.

Swindle smiled broadly. "Our DVD sale is through the roof, Prime. We're getting thousands of orders each day, and our web site count is more than a million."

"Good. That's exactly what I wanted to hear," Prime said happily. "How are the negotiations going?"

"Exactly as you said, Prime," Swindle told the Autobot. "These Earthlings are pushovers. I was able to buy everything at least at half price. Those people had no idea who they were dealing with."

"Excellent," Prime said as he stippled his fingers maniacally. "And how does that energon compare to the amount Megatron usually collects."

"Doesn't even come close," Swindle said with a huge smile, one he reserved for customers. "And that's even without my cut. Fifteen percent, right?"

"Yeah, yeah," Optimus said, letting the Combaticon have his greedy reward. But it was worth it. "And did you use a fake name? We wouldn't want the humans to think that they're dealing with Decepticons."

"Not a problem, Prime," Swindle said friendly. "With our superior technology, there's no way they can track anything back to us."

"Good," Prime said with a sigh. And once this week was over, he'd also make sure that the Decepticons wouldn't be able to repeat this same thing, which was why Swindle got such a big cut of the energon.

Swindle was about to ask Prime a question, when a dark shadow came up from behind the Autobot. The Combaticon didn't say anything or kept his optics on the Decepticon, so that he gave no clue to Prime that Starscream held his null ray up to the Autobot's head. However, just as the seeker shot at the Prime, the Autobot tilted his head enough to avoid the shot.

In anger, Starscream attacked Optimus physically, throwing punches and swiping at him with yells. Optimus Prime treated the attacks with nonchalance, dodging them with as little effort as was required, sometimes only simply stepping aside or bending back a little. Never did he fight back. After a while, Starscream slowed down, his breath coming out labored.

"Is that it?" Optimus Prime asked hands on his hips.

Starscream looked like he was about to say something or try once more, but collapsed instead.

Optimus Prime regarded Starscream with smugness, and then ordered through a com link for Astrotrain and Ramjet to retrieve the seeker and give him more chores to do, which they obeyed directly, dragging the exhausted jet away with snickers.

Swindle looked Optimus Prime with an impressed look, but he also shook his head. "I'd have to say, Prime, you've really turned this place around. But it ain't going to be enough to persuade Megatron that you're a better Decepticon leader."

Optimus Prime gave him a look of inquiry.

"It's true that the Decepticons are willingly following you, and your plan to gather energon has worked. But you haven't done anything really. . . .well. . . evil," Swindle explained with a shrug.

Optimus Prime rubbed his battle mask. "I see your point. Well, I guess I'll have to change that."

Swindle looked interested suddenly. He was curious to see what the great Autobot leader is willing to do to win this bet.

Optimus Prime, for a second time, used the computer com link. "Soundwave. I want you to send Lazerbeak to the Autobot base for reconnaissance. And gather five or six troops who aren't doing anything right now. We're going out."

"We are very appreciative for your quick response to our request for help, Autobots," the general said with a salute.

Prowl saluted back. "You're very welcome, general. Please excuse me. There are things I must attend to," the Autobot second said.

"Before you go, I just have to say that this was the quickest and most effective rescue I've had from you yet," the general said with praise. "I can tell that your troops are more disciplined and trained than I've ever seen. Whatever you're doing, keep it up."

"Thank you," Prowl said uncertainly. Next to him, Ironhide grumbled something inaudible. And he wasn't the only one who looked displeased with the compliment. And while Prowl's loyalty to Prime was locked in his spark, he couldn't help but admit that Megatron's influence on the Autobots have been positive. Injuries are down, response time is down, energy use is down, and target accuracy is up. They're more organized and prepared for disasters. The only thing they lacked was their leader on missions, but it was best that Megatron not be seen with the Autobots. It was bad for morale, which was very down.

"Back to base, Autobots," Prowl ordered, and gave the go ahead to transform.

"Hey, where's Optimus Prime?" a group of young children shouted as they ran up to the giant robots.

"Tarnation. Fraggin' slag. . ." Ironhide started cursing. It was the nth time they've been asked that question.

To prevent the small children from hear more bad words from the older Autobot, Bumblebee jumped in front of the kids, hands spread out and a huge smile on his face. "Hey, kids. It's Bumblebee," he shouted happily. "Who wants a ride?"

As the kids climbed in the small robot's alt form, Jazz whispered to him, "Don't let our 'gracious leader' find out. He'll burn a circuit seeing you waste energon."

"Tell Megatron to blow it up his cannon." Bumblebee drove off in a huff. He was still really mad that Megatron had chewed him out in front of Daniel.

Jazz laughed, and transformed.

The group traveled together, slowly at first until Bumblebee caught up, and then at a quick pace back to base. However, just outside of the Arc, Carlie and Spike were waiting.

"Hey, what's up you two?" Jazz greeted, happy to have company. "Come to see our new wonder, Autobot Megatron?"

"Well, it's something like that," Spike said, and held up what looked like a DVD case. "I have something to show you. . .And I'm not sure of what to make of it."

Spike's vague explanation was enough to peek the Autobot's interest. They took the two humans into Teletran-1, and put in the DVD.

To the Autobot's surprise, the first image they saw on the screen was Shockwave's, and from the border around the image it was obvious the camera was filming the Decepticon's communication computer.

Shockwave looked up. "This is Decepticon Shockwave speaking. Adjust your screen. Your image isn't being received."

"Hey, Shockwave," a voice off screen spoke. "Is your space bridge running?"

Shockwave, even with his strange face, looked confused. "Hold on, I'll check. Yeah, it's running."

"Then you better go catch it," the off screen voice shouted with a laugh. Soon after, other voices joined in.

Shockwave's shoulders jumped in shock, and then he waved his gun/hand at the screen. "Whoever you are, stop these prank calls. This is an official Decepticon communication line. You are not authorized to have access."

Shockwave's image dissolved, and reappeared.

"This is Decepticon Shockwave speaking. Please adjust your optical transmitter," the Decepticon said.

"We're looking for a certain Decepticon. He should be there," the disembodied voice said.

"A Decepticon? Who, and I'll find him for you?" Shockwave asked.

"Yeah, his name is Ima Weenerbot."

"Ima Weinerbot?" Shockwave repeated innocently. "Hmmm. That names doesn't sound familiar." Shockwave turned away from the screen. "Hey, you guys over there. Do you know Ima Weinerbot?"

"We do now," a voice shouted off screen followed by laughter.

Shockwave looked surprised at first, and then became angry. "Hey, stop making these prank calls, whoever you are. This is a secure line. If Megatron were to find out, he'll slag you all."

The prankster laughed hysterically.

The rest of the video contained more prank phone calls to the Decepticon guardian on Cybertron, and each time the gullible Shockwave fell for them, and sometimes yelled at the caller angrily and with increasingly more curses.

Half of the Autobots watched the video with silent expressions of surprise and disbelief while the other half were laughing.

"I remember we used some of those back in the day of our sparkhood," Sideswipe said with a chuckle as he elbowed his twin. Sunstreaker looked just as proud at their younger mischievous days as well.

"Where did you get this?" Ironhide asked, one of the few bots who wasn't laughing. He seemed skeptical that his evil enemies were actually the ones in the footage.

"On the Internet. There's tons of stuff that came up over the week," Carlie said, looking up at her friend. "There's no way they could be fake. There's no way any human knows this much about the Decepticons to create it."

That made the Autobots quiet down. The video they saw was surreal, but the fact that it could possibly be real was even more so.

"Hmmm. Maybe," Jazz mulled it over. "Is there anything else on that disk?"

"Yeah. Let me show you my favorite one," Spike said with a big grin, and click on the title he wanted.

Optimus Prime led the small band of Decepticons stealthily through the crags and boulders that were near the volcano, his knowledge of the terrain helping to keep them hidden. He ushered them into the safety of a large crack in the side of the volcano, one that he knew was out of range of all of the Arc's sensors.

"We'll wait here for a while. Soundwave, call back Lazerbeak," Optimus ordered the Decepticon.

"What are we going to do? Are we going to slag some Autobots?" Dirge said anxiously, getting caught up in the moment. But one look at Optimus made his rethink his words, and he moved away a little.

Optimus tried not to show his irritation for the seeker's words; even for a chance to prove Megatron wrong he wouldn't want to see any of his Autobots hurt. "No. There will be no violence," he said.

The looks he received made Optimus think that he couldn't stop the Decepticons from disobeying him. So he gave them a little more information about his plan.

"I need some Autobot prisoners," Prime told them, his optics narrowed deviously. "And I want them alive. Do you hear me?"

Those words sounded better, and the Decepticons smiled at each other at the thought of what they would do with Autobot prisoners.

About that time, Lazerbeak returned, transforming and being inserted into Soundwave's chest cavity.

"Okay, there should be a few groups of Autobots stationed around the Arc. Lazerbeak should have recorded what those groups were saying," Optimus Prime told Soundwave.

Soundwave nodded. "Affirmative. First recording," he said and pressed a button on his shoulder to start the sound bite.

"-like it one bit. He's such a tyrant. If Prime wasn't with those Decepticreeps, I'd shove his cannon up his . . ." one voice growled.

"Shhhh. If Spike and Carlie hear any more bad words, they'll lecture us again about what Daniel is learning," a second voice said.

"Hmph," the first voice grunted. "We'll, when this is all over, I'm going to personally tell Megatron what I think of him. . . with my fist."

"You aren't going to be the only one. Take away my waxings. Do you know how hard it is to stay this good looking while driving in this dirt and dust," a third voice added. "I'll never forgive him for. . ."

"Okay, stop it," Optimus said, holding up his hand to Soundwave. "That sounds like Brawn, Mirage and Sunstreaker."

"We can take them," Skywarp said, pounding one fist into his other open palm.

"Yes, we could, but it'll make too much noise. Brawn would never surrender so easily, and if we make a mistake, Mirage will disappear and alert the others. No, let's listen to the other group before we move in," Optimus told them all.

Soundwave pressed the same button as before. "Second recording."

There was some static before the voices came through.

"-there was so much pudding all over that we couldn't tell Daniel from the rest of the room. And then we cleaned him up before Carlie picked him up. It's weird how humans have to eat all the time. I mean, it's not weird that they have to eat for fuel, because we do it too, but it's weird how they have this whole digestive system, and I really don't get it. Spike tried to explain it to me, but it just seems really messy. But I can see how they might think that we're strange since we consume energon or we can just recharge ourselves. Do you think we're kind of the same?" This was all from the first voice that talked in a congenial manner.

"Quite frankly, I don't care," a second voice said irately. "I stopped listening to you halfway while you were talking."

A third voice laughed. "Don't pay attention to him. He's not used to being around humans yet. But I think that we're not that much different from humans. We have a lot of things. . ."

"That's enough," Optimus Prime cut Lazorbeak's recording short. He didn't like the idea of spying on his fellow Autobots, even if he had to pretend to be a Decepticon. "Those three sound like Bluestreak, Tracks and Hound. That'll be perfect. Okay, here's the plan."

By the time the entire DVD had been played over completely, there was a large crowd of Autobots around Teletran-1, laughing and analyzing the possibility of the authenticity of the movies. Soon, those who weren't around during the beginning of the footages wanted to see the movies they hadn't seen before. And the DVD started up again.

It was during a scene where Soundwave was dancing to some music when Jazz spotted something.

"Hey, what's that?"

"What's what?" Spike asked, looking up at the black and white robot.

"Rewind it. I saw something," Jazz said. Instead of waiting for it to be done, he did it himself so he could find the right spot. When he did, he paused it. "There. Look at that."

Jazz was pointing to a corner of the screen, where the camera tilted a bit due to poor camera skills and showed a familiar blue helmet.

"Optimus?" Spike voiced first.

"By Primus," Ironhide whispered, a hint of a smile on his metal lips. "He did it. He got them Decepticruds t' do all of this."

"It was all Optimus," Sideswipe said in amazement. "But how? What did he do?"

"Well, we'll be able to ask him once he comes back," Perceptor said. "And that should be tomorrow. The bet is almost over."

"But why would Optimus have the Decepticons do this?" Carlie asked. "It seems ludicrous. Optimus is going to lose the bet."

"If ah know Optimus, he's got somethin up his transisters that'll win this thang," Ironhide said with satisfaction. "Ah can't wait t' see ol' Megatron's face when he finds out what his Decepticons have been doin'."

"Well, here's your chance," Wheeljack said. "Cause here comes our own 'leader'."

"What's going on here? What are you all doing lolly-gagging here like a bunch of adolescent sparks? Don't you have work to do?" Megatron shouted, his cannon waving around with his hand which upset many of the smaller bots.

Spike, even though he agreed with Ironhide, didn't want to see Megatron's face so close. He tried to quickly close down the DVD screen from Teletran-1, but not close enough.

"What is that?" Megatron demanded, pointing at the screen once he saw some of his old troops. "I demand you show it to me."

"Well, if you insist," Spike said, and selected one of the different video clips.

All the Autobot's optics were on Megatron as a clip of Rumble and Frenzy doing an Abbot and Costello bit (Who's on Cybertron, What's on Earth, I don't know's on the moon base) played. However, each bot slowly inched away as they saw Megatron's countenance grow darker and darker after each word.

"Help! Help!" shouted a voice from outside. "Someone help. The Decepticons have just attacked."

"Now!" Optimus shouted, and waved his hand to the four Decepticons to attack.

The three Autobots were stunned to suddenly see a platoon of their enemies spring out from behind the volcano's features. They had little time to react, when from behind them, another popped out of thin air.

Skywarp, using his unique technology, warped in from behind the Autobots, grabbed Hound as the Jeep was raising his gun, and warped out again.

The surprise attack and the disappearance of their companion made the two remaining Autobots hesitate even more that they could hardly react as two Decepticons for each Autobot grabbed them, held them down at suppressed their mouths.

"Don't even think of sending an S.O.S. Autobot. Soundwave is blocking everything," Astrotrain growled with a sadistic smile.

"Bind them, and be quick about it. Skywarp should be back soon, and I want to move out as soon as he does," Optimus ordered, and supervised as they restrained the two Autobots.

"Hey, you guys. Where did you go?" a voice close by called out.

Optimus Prime turned around, and his optics widened as a small red Autobot came into view not too far away from where they stood. "Oh no," Optimus whispered to himself. This wasn't how it was suppose to go. This couldn't end well.

The small Autobot was quick, and pulled out a large gun from subspace. He would have quickly shot the Decepticons that were sitting on Tracks and Bluestreak, but Optimus Prime was directly in between. He stared at his leader, knowing that he had been ordered to treat Prime as an enemy, but couldn't get himself to do it.

Optimus Prime, quick as lightning, pulled out his own gun, and shot twice. Once to hit his opponent's gun out of his hands, and a second time in the bot's leg. As the Autobot fell to the ground, unable to run, Prime walked to him. "I told you, Cliffjumper. You were to treat me as an enemy," he said sadly, and punched the small bot unconscious.

"Quickly, move them out," Optimus Prime told the Decepticons as he picked up the red minibot. "They'll have heard the gun shots and alert the others."

Just at that time, Skywarp fazed in once again. Without a word but according to Optimus's pre-given instructions, he picked up Bluestreak, and warped out again. The other four Decepticons picked up Tracks and started running away with him. Soon, Skywarp would be back again to take the remaining prisoner so the others could fly back to base.

Optimus Prime ran off into a different direction than the others. He was to meet Skywarp at a selected position so the Decepticon could transport him back as well. Once there, Prime only had to wait for a few minutes before the seeker warped in.

"It worked," the seeker said with a wide smile. "We've capture three Autobots, and without a single injury to our men. That was an amazing plan."

Normally, Optimus would have been proud of his plan, and it was his intent that nobody on either side would have been harmed. But he looked sadly down at Cliffjumper who was still in his arms. It shouldn't have happened.

"Why you caring that load of junk still? Dump him," Skywarp said, his optics narrowed at the unconscious Autobot.

"No!" Optimus shouted angrily, causing the seeker to step back. "No, he's coming with us. I still have use of him. Now, take us back," he ordered more calmly.

Skywarp grabbed Optimus, and transported the two of them into the Nemesis.

There, the rest of the Decepticons, save for those still flying back from the Arc, were there to greet him with cheers and shouts of success. However, Optimus Prime looked less happier. Quickly, he ordered one of the Constructicons to take Cliffjumper away.

"Do what you can to repair him. Once Soundwave returns, it is his main objective to get that Autobot back into working order," Optimus ordered sternly. "And he isn't to be harmed."

The Decepticons, although please with Optimus' plan, didn't seem too happy about his concern for the Autobot. Prime noticed this, and changed his mood quickly.

"Where are the prisoners?" he shouted. A few of the cons pointed at an energon prison in the middle of the room, and Optimus Prime went over to look over them with his hands behind his back.

The three Autobots didn't say anything, but looked to their ex-leader with a look that said they didn't know what to do or to expect.

"Good job, my Decepticons," Optimus Prime shouted as he turned his back on the prison to the troops. They all shouted ecstatically, waving their arms around. "We have much to be happy about. We have energon. And now we have prisoners. What do you all say about throwing a party?"

The Decepticons' cheers grew louder, and they whooped and jumped around like a moshpit at a concert.

The three Autobots looked at each other with depressed looks. Not only did they not know what this meant for them, but they were sorely disappointed in their leader. Optimus never let them have any parties.

"What happened?" Prowl was the quickest to react. "Where are they?"

"They attacked one of our survey parties," Mirage said as he ran it. "They came out of nowhere and took them away."

"Why?" Megatron boomed angrily. "Why would my Decepticons make such ridiculous nonsense?"

The Autobots all gave him a withering look.

"What? Oh, right. They've been captured," Megatron muttered without embarrassment. "Why didn't you go after them?"

"They took to the air. We couldn't follow them," Mirage explained.

"Why couldn't yo. . .oh, yeah. You guys can't fly, can you?" Megatron started to shout, but then corrected himself. "Well, um. . . who was taken?"

"Tracks, Bluestreak, Hound and Cliffjumper," Mirage said concerned. "Skywarp was with them, and took our bots one by one to only Primus knows where."

"I bet they took them to that undersea base of theirs," Sunstreaker growled.

"Drat, that Prime. Using Skywarp to take captives. Why didn't I think of that?" Megatron said mainly to himself. But then he looked back at the Autobots who were looking at him expectantly. "Oh yes. The Autobots. Smacks, Blackmeet, what's his face and the other one. Right. Do we really need them?"

"Yes," the Arc's occupants shouted at their leader.

"Okay," Megatron relented as if he were dealing with spoiled brats. "Now, here's the plan. We're going to need the help of those smart-alicky jets of yours."

"Cliffjumper, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I am, Bluestreak."

"I don't think Prime really wanted to hurt you."

"I know. I know. But it doesn't make me feel any better."

"Maybe if you shot at him, we wouldn't be in this mess."

"Don't blame him, Tracks. I don't think there's an Autobot alive who could have shot at Prime. Although, I'm sorry that you came when you did. I wish you weren't capture too."

"Thanks, Hound. But I'm not going to let my teammates down."

There was a slight pause.

"Hey, Tracks."

"What is it, Bluestreak?"

"Does the color of this apron go well with my paint job?"

"Oh for the love of Primus!" growled Cliffjumper and he slapped his free hand over his optics.

The four of them were chained to a wall in the Nemesis. There, they were forced into frilly aprons and given a tray of high-grade energon to pass around to the Decepticons as they mingled and danced to music.

Bluestreak pulled at his apron as he looked down his front to see how well he looked while still balancing the energon tray.

Tracks stood back, and looked at him. "It brings out the color in your optics, but it's really not your color."

"You wanna trade?" Bluestreak asked, his eyes getting big.

Tracks thought about it for a while. "Okay," he said after envisioning the colors on him.

The two went through a dance to get the aprons off and on without dropping their trays, and exchanged the aprons.

"Ah, much better," Tracks said as he smoothed out the cloth.

"I changed my mind," Cliffjumper growled. "Slags to my teammates."

Hound laughed until a scrap of metal flew across the room and hit him in the head.

"Hey, green Autobot. Turn the dancing girls back on!" a voice shouted, and a couple of protests resounded afterward.

Hound sighed, and used his hologram program to project the image of a couple of fembots dancing erotically in the middle of the dance floor. A cacophony of whoops and catcalls rose up, and the party grew wilder. While it wasn't the best work Hound had done, he could see many errors in the projection, it was enough for the couple dozen drunk Decepticons.

One particularly drunk seeker stumbled to the four Autobots, grabbed some energon from Bluestreak and chugged it. In a woozy way, he looked at Tracks and smiled. "Hey, baby. What's a party like you doing in a fem like this?"

Tracks gave him a look of disgust, and scooted away from the Decepticon.

"Hey, don't go away. I just wanted to say how pretty you are," the Decepticon said, as he stumbled toward the Autobot. He started to wrap his arms around Tracks, when the Autobot struck.

"Watch where you put your hands!" he shouted as he punched him in the face with full power. The seeker flew through the air, and landed somewhere in the wild party. Nobody else seemed to notice the violent attack. Track dusted off his hands, picked up the dropped tray, and turned to his companions. "Am I really that pretty?" he asked, innocently posing.

Cliffjumper moaned. "I've been cast in the Inferno, haven't I?" he asked the ceiling.

Skyfire flew as slowly as he could over where Megatron had said was the location of the Decepticon base. As he circled, he opened his side door and three Autobots poked their heads out and looked over the dark sea.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Mirage asked his sensors picking up vibrations and heat from under the waves.

"Megatron said that the Decepticons never monitor the sky," Jazz said with a shrug. "Said he didn't need to since most of us don't even fly, so why need to."

Sideswipe looked down with a smile. "This is going to be neat!" he said in a soft but an anxious voice. "Let's go."

"Wait until Skyfire gets closer," Mirage warned, pulling the excited Autobot back.

"Ahhhh, but then it won't be as much fun," Sideswipe whined, but didn't protest anymore.

Soon, the large jet made another pass over the underwater base, and three figures jumped out into the air. They didn't make any noise except for an almost distinct "Wheeeeeeee" that the wind carried away, and then three splashes as they hit the water.

The dark liquid was broken through by Jazz's headlights on his chest, and guided the Autobots to the ominous spaceship below them as they sank closer to their target. They latched onto one of the spires of the spaceship, and started climbing down, making as little contact with the ship as possible.

Mirage was given the specs of the hull, and knew the best way to enter the ship. With gestures, he led the other two Autobots to the nearest entrance, and punched in the code that would get them in. A door opened, and they flooded in with the seawater. The doors closed, and immediately the water started to drain out.

"Okay, guys," Mirage whispered. "Stay behind, and don't move forward until I say if it's clear." With that, the blue and white robot disappeared. In his invisible state, Mirage carefully moved down one hall at a time, and checked to see if everything was clear. Then he would radio to his companions, and they would creep up to the next hall. Even though Megatron gave them directions to the prison cells, they could tell where the capture Autobots were by their signatures. And they weren't where Megatron said they would be.

The three made it to a door, and they could hear loud, rowdy music behind it.

"Are they haven't a party?" Sideswipe asked with a jealous tone.

Jazz bobbed his head with the music, and snapped his fingers. "Sounds like it. Man, that's kickin'."

"Stand back. I'm going to open the door, and I don't want you guys to be seen. I'll just peek in to see if our missing guys are in there," Mirage instructed. When the other two did as he said, he opened the door.

And the music tripled its noise level mixed with sounds of partying Decepticons. Mirage sighed as he caught sight of the faces of the missing Autobots in the back.

"Who's in there? How many of them?" Bluestreak asked, knowing that his accurate aim might be critical in this situation.

"All of them."

"All of them?"

"Yep, along with our guys. But I don't think we can get them out, even with my invisibility," he said in a resigned voice. "Any ideas?"

Jazz peered in careful not to be seen, and chuckled. "Those Decepticons are so smashed Grimlock could walk in wearing a tutu and dance for them, and they wouldn't notice," Jazz said with a grin. "Sideswipe, do what I do, and Mirage followed close by." Then Jazz straightened up and walked into the room full of Decepticons, moving his hips half walking half-dancing. If a Decepticon looked at him, he would smile, nod his head, and say "Hey," which the Decepticon would do the same.

Sideswipe, after a few awkward steps, followed behind in much the same way. However, a Decepticon passed by him, and handed him a full energon cube. After that, he was no longer following Jazz.

Mirage, invisible, had a harder time moving through the room. The Decepticons treated him like empty space, pushing and knocking into him so much, he just removed his invisibility to move around easier. By this time, he had lost both Jazz and Sideswipe. But he kept moving to the back.

Jazz made it to the Autobots first, quite enjoying himself dancing to the music. Decepticons have good taste. However, he stopped dancing immediately once he got an eyeful of his captured companions.

"Jazz!" Bluestreak saw him first, his huge eyes full of surprise. "You came to rescue us!"

"It's about time," Tracks griped, and dumped his tray of energon on the nearest drunk Decepticon. "You wouldn't believe the way these jerks have been treating us. It's horrible!"

"I can see. . .pfff. . .The fiends!" Jazz tried to say with a straight face, but he was soon shaking with suppressed laughter.

"Oh, good, I found you," Mirage said as he grabbed Jazz's shoulder and pulled himself from the crowd. "Are you guys al. . .right?" Immediately, his optics moved to the red Cliffjumper.

"I don't want to hear anything about this, you hear?" Cliffjumper growled at the two larger bots.

"Yes, Ma'am," the two said together, their faces broke into large grins.

Cliffjumper looked ready to give both of them a good beating, even if one was his superior officer, but Hound broke in.

"Perhaps we can talk later. But I wouldn't mind getting these chains off, please," he said, lifting up the metal links that kept him a prisoner.

"Good idea," Mirage said, and he and Jazz went to work.

"Wait, where's Sideswipe?" Jazz asked, suddenly remembering they had a third member in their rescue party.

Mirage straightened up from his work of freeing Bluestreak, and looked above the crowd. "Oh no."

"What is it?" Jazz asked, not liking the tone Mirage used.

"I found him," Mirage said, his voice sinking. "He's dancing on a table with what appears to be one of Hound's hologram fembots."

"Lucky bot," Jazz commented.

"Not the way he's dancing," Tracks critiqued.

Jazz mulled over what to do next. "Mirage, take Hound and Bluestreak and get him out of there. Quietly if possible," he ordered. "I'll free Tracks and Cliffjumper, and then we'll go."

"On it," Mirage said, and the three waded into the moshpit of Decepticons.

"Whooo! Shake it, girl!" Sideswipe whooped while shaking his can like nobody's business.

"Sideswipe, get down from there," Mirage shouted as he reached the table.

"Not now, Mirage," Sideswipe said in a slurred voice, pushing away Mirage's attempts to help him down. "She's just about to give me her number."

Mirage sighed. "Hound, help me out here a little," he requested.

Hound turned off the hologram.

Sideswipe, in his drunkenness, didn't seem to notice how the fembot dissolved. "Hey, baby. Where dja go?" he called out. At that time, Bluestreak and Mirage started to pull him off the table, but he didn't resist this time.

"Hey, guys. I just have something to say," Sideswipe said as he leaned against the Bluestreak. "Best. . . rescue mission. . .EVER."

Bluestreak leaned away, appalled at the lamborgini's behavior.

Hound looked around. "There's Jazz. He's done. Let's get out of here."

The three bots half-led, half-carried Sideswipe to the exit.

"Hey guys. Nice apron, Cliffjumper," Sideswipe said with a goofy grin.

Cliffjumper looked down and realized he was still wearing the cloth, and ripped it off with a feral growl. "Get me out of here before I kill someone. And it may not be a Decepticon," he told Jazz.

The black and white robot turned to Mirage, who started to lead them back the way they came. However, if they thought that every Decepticon was at the party, they were mistaken as they ran into the only sober seeker in the ship.

"Going somewhere Autobots?"

"Yes, out. And if you think you can win against all seven of us, you're sadly mistaken Starscream," Jazz told the lone seeker.

"I think I can, especially since I know four of you are unarmed, and . . .is that one drunk?" Starscream asked with a pout, a little jealous since he wasn't allowed at the party.

"No," Bluestreak said quickly, hoping to cover up his companion's weakness.

"It'll be easy to dispatch with the likes of you," Starscream shouted as he pointed a finger at them.

"With a bucket and a rag?" Tracks asked as he looked at what was in the seekers hands.

Starscream looked down. "No. And it's a shammie," he shouted indignantly, casting aside the cleaning supplies. "The floors were dirty," he explained angrily.

But despite their brave disposition, the Autobots knew that with just Mirage and Jazz armed, they might overpower Starscream, but not without injuries that would make escape even harder, and the fight might alert the other Decepticons.

"Ha ha ha. Don't feel bad, Autobots. At least you'll have the pleasure of being destroyed by the greatest Decepticon to ever have lived," Starscream said without modesty.

But as he raised his nullray at the Autobots, a shadow from behind him crept up, and hit him in the back of his head with both fists. The seeker grunted painfully, and fell, unconscious even before he hit the ground.

The Autobots looked up to their savior, and shouted as one, "Prime!"

Optimus put a finger up to his battle mask, a gesture for silence.

"But Prime, what about your bet?" Bluestreak asked, not knowing what else to say.

Prime looked like he was smiling. "Let's keep this between us. But for now, don't you have a flight to catch?" he asked, sounding like their old leader.

All seven Autobots looked up at Prime with glowing admiration, filled with complete joy that they were able to be in the presence of their leader again. At least, six felt like that. Sideswipe grinned up at him with a glazed look.

"Pretty," the red Autobot said and tried to grab his leader's face, but his depth perception was a bit off.

"Hurry," Optimus told him, and pointed down the hall.

The Autobots moved quickly, but Jazz lagged behind. "Prime, come back with us now. Please."

"No, I made a promise. I'll finish this thing to the end," Optimus told Jazz. "Tomorrow, I'll be back."

Jazz took a few steps back before saluting his leader, and then ran to join his troops. Deep down, he could feel that Optimus had been watching over them a lot longer that night than just helping them with Starscream. But he also had a bad feeling that this whole thing might not be over by tomorrow.

Optimus Prime waited for the Autobots to be out of sight before he turned around. He looked down at the unconscious Starscream. In an hour or two, the seeker would wake, and alert the others about the Autobots breaking in. No doubt that would ruin the party for sure.

In that case, Optimus better get in there and enjoy the party while he can, before it comes to an end.

"Hey, everybody. Who wants to Mambo!" Optimus shouted as he burst into the party.

Every drunk Decepticon cheered and joined together to form a mambo line with Optimus at the front.

The six Autobots ran through the Decepticon base while carrying the seventh member in his drunken stupor. They no longer tried to silence their footsteps or worry about being discovered, they had faith that their leader would cover for them until they had reached safety. They went the same way they came in, going into the airlock before opening the hatch to the ocean. They swam to the surface quickly, towing Sideswipe. As soon as they breached, Jazz flashed a signal to the jets that were hiding in the clouds.

Silverbolt, the diligent leader of the Arielbots, spotted the signal first, and radioed his flight and Powerglide. Skyfire had returned to the base since he was too big of a target in case the Decepticons found them out. In a line, they dove down near the waves, steel cables with hooks at the end lowered from their hulls into the water. One by one, the Arielbots, faster than Powerglide, flew by the Autobots in the water. Mirage, Cliffjumper, Hound, Tracks and Bluestreak grabbed hold of one of the cables as it passed by, and were lifted in the air by the Arielbots.

"Okay, buddy, let's take that jet pack off of you," Jazz said, as he helped Sideswipe stay above the waves while removing the black metal jet pack. It was their intent for Sideswipe to fly back to land, where the Autobot flyers would drop off the others. However, their plans had changed.

"Nah, I can do it. I'm not as think as you drunk I am," Sideswipe told Jazz in a slurred voice.

"I know buddy, but it's better this way. You'll be safer," Jazz told the Lamborgini as he attached the jet pack to his own back. He readied himself as Powerglide came nearer.

"You're such a great guy," Sideswipe said, putting an arm around the Autobot second. "All of you guys are great. I love you, guys." He splashed and pointed around them as if the others were still there.

"There's only me here," Jazz said, and watched as the cable made its way to them. "Hang on, Sides."

"I love you too, JaAAAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZ." As Sideswipe tried to finish his sentence, Jazz grabbed the cable and quickly attached the hook to the back of the red Autobot's torso before letting go. Sideswipe rose into the air as Powerglide pulled up.

Jazz then activated the jet pack, and flew after the red plane.

"I love you, Powerglide!" Sideswipe shouted, his arms spread eagle as if he were flying by himself.

Powerglide radioed to Jazz. "Is he okay?" he asked skeptically.

"He will be after he shuts down for a while, although he'll have a headache. You'll have to fly him all the way back to base," Jazz said apologetically.

"Swell," Powerglide grumbled.

The party ended when the last Decepticon collapsed in pure drunken ecstacy, with Soundwave unconsciously playing the music dimmer and dimmer until he too shut down for a while. The wild lights still flashes to a silent beat, dancing on the different robots who lay remote where they were. Only one being still moved, Optimus Prime. He sat in a corner of the room with a chilled cube of energon. He didn't drink any throughout the whole party. He believed everything in moderation, and refused to take any into his system while the group of Decepticons wildly celebrated. But now that he was alone and without the urging to drink more than he should, he could finally sit back and enjoy his drink. He enjoyed the silence while it was there, glad he could be by himself for a while, reflecting back on the week he had been on the opposite side for a change.

However, the silence couldn't last forever.

"Ahhhhhhhh, Autobots!" Starscream cried out as he burst into the room and turned on the lights. "We've been attacked! Ahhhhhhhh!"

Decepticons everywhere moaned, both at the exposure of bright light and at the sound of Starscream's voice.

"Keep it down!" Astrotrain shouted, and threw a partially empty energon cube at Starscream's head.

"Hey, where did the fembots go?" Thundercracker asked, groping around for said fembots.

"Ow, this is serious. We've been invaded!" Starscream shouted, and kicked at one Decepticon that managed to stay asleep. "And the prisoners are gone." He pointed at the broken chains near the wall.

"Whoa, they are gone," Rumble said in amazement. He tried to stand up, but fell back down.

"You're all a bunch of slag-heads for this. If they wanted to, they could have killed us all," Starscream told them in a proud voice. "Except for me, I was prepared."

"Then where were you when the Autobots came?" Optimus asked, his eyes smiling knowingly.

"Uh. . .that's not important. What's important is that this is all your fault, Prime," Starscream accused dramatically.

"You're just sore that you didn't finish your chores in time to come to the party," Optimus said.

"I didn't want to come to your stupid party," Starscream pouted. "And besides, someone had to be the responsible one. This wouldn't have happened if I were the leader. Sure, I'd love to be like you guys, and throw caution in the wind and party until my transistors are sore. I'd to take it easy and not have to worry about anything else but just taking orders. But someone has to say, 'This wouldn't have happened if I were in charge'."

"Someone shut his up," Blitzwing shouted.

"So, you'd like to be like everyone else, would you? To be accepted?" Optimus asked, wondering if Starscream was revealing a new side of him.

Starscream looked surprised by these words. "I. . .I guess so. Yeah."

"Wish granted," Optimus told him angrily, and back slapped Starscream in the face.

It was the second time the seeker was hit in the head that night, and he fell to he ground with a pounding headache. "Ow, my head," he moaned, not trying to get up.

A few of the Decepticons clapped or laughed.

"There, now you're just like everyone else," Optimus said happily, and patted the seeker's head.

"Ow. But I didn't get to do anything fun," Starscream whined.

"I did," Optimus told the seeker. "Now I know why Megatron hits you all the time." But while Optimus did enjoy it, he suddenly realized what living with the Decepticons were doing to him. Yes, he was still an Autobot in spark, but if he stayed with the Decepticons any longer, he might change.

He sat down next to Starscream, turned the lights back off to the joy of those who haven't already conked out, and picked up two energon cubes. He placed one on top of Starscream's face. "Here you go, Starscream. You've earned it. Cheers."

"What's wrong with Sideswipe?" Sunstreaker asked as Jazz handed him his brother when they arrived back at the Ark.

"He's drunk," Jazz answered with a smile. "The Decepticons threw a party, and we sort of crashed it."

"Drunk? Without me?" Sunstreaker half-shouted at his brother appalled.

"Hey, bro, you were there in spirit. I drank enough for the both of us," Sideswipe slurred, his head moving around as if he couldn't keep it straight. He looked at his brother with unfocused eyes. "Did I ever tell you that you were the prettier one?"

"Okay, buddy. Let's get you into an energy chamber and let you rest," Sunstreaker said, and supported his brother as they left.

"I love you too, Sunstreaker. And I love you, Ironhide, but not in that way. And I love you, Ratchet and Bumblebee and Prowl. I don't love you though, Megatron, but perhaps when we get to know each other better. . ." Sideswipe rambled on before he passed out.

Megatron looked down at the Autobot with half-disgust. "Is this how the Autobots perform a rescue?"

Jazz chuckled. "He was our only casualty, Megatron sir. The others should arrive soon. We got them all out. Your plan worked perfectly."

"You didn't run into any Decepticons?" Megatron asked skeptically.

"None, Megatron. Well, except for Starscream, but we took him out," Jazz lied.

Megatron looked worried. "Just Starscream? Hmmm. It looks like Prime is making my Decepticons soft. I guess this bet is in the bag." He smiled to himself, then frowned. "Did Starscream give you any trouble?"

Jazz grinned. "Nope. He was easy peasy, Megatron. We didn't even have to shoot at him," Jazz said honestly.

Megatron frowned even more. The others he could see falling behind Prime easily, even slacking off at the first sign of weakness, but Starscream? It was a good thing he'd be back tomorrow.

The two factions of robot warriors met on middle ground the next day, two lines facing each other close enough to talk.

"Well, Megatron. Let's hear it. How were you a better leader than I was?" Optimus Prime began, letting Megatron go first to argue his case.

Megatron nodded, and then turn to the black and white robot that stood next to him. "Prowl, tell your Prime the statistics."

Prowl didn't hesitate, but rattled off a bunch of numbers and statistics, first stating how they were before Megatron came, and then after. He quoted target accuracy, reaction time, practice scores, use of energy, conservation of energy, acquirement of energy, and many others. He then quoted a list of disasters the Autobots had gone to the rescue, the reaction time and efficiency of the team during the mission and then some of the comments that the community leaders had said about the improvement of the Autobot's services.

"Well, Prime. Beat that," Megatron mocked, hands on hips.

Optimus narrowed his eyes. Megatron was pretty clever in his presentation. He used Prowl to show his good deeds to make himself look humble and admired by the second in command.

Optimus shrugged. "Impressive, Megatron. But that doesn't change the fact that I've acquired within the week, ten times the amount of energon you usually get in a month," Optimus threw in Megatron's face. "Due to that, morale among the troops has increased and everyone's feeling great. Isn't that right, guys?"

The Decepticons cheered and shouted like a bunch of frat boys at a football game, their early morning hangover worn off. The only one who still had a headache was Starscream, which made him passive enough not to say anything for a change.

"And better yet, none of my guys were captured and taken prisoners," Optimus added snidely.

"That's a cheap shot, Prime. Especially since you made a mockery of the Decepticon name by selling out to the DVD business like some lowly human. You've made idiots of my men," Megatron shouted.

"Well, these idiots were able to take four Autobots right under your nose," Optimus said, and the Decepticons cheered him on

"And we easily retrieved them, while you all were in a drunken stupor," Megatron argued.

"Oh, like you've never let that happen before," Optimus countered childishly. "Face it, Megatron. I won. I always win."

Megatron frowned, not even wanting to admit defeat on even this small of a scale. But he relented. He hated being with the Autobots, so he'd do anything just to go home. "Fine, Prime. You win. You would make a better Decepticon leader than I would an Autobot leader. Now take your pathetic Autobots and go."

"Yee haa. Owt with the new an' in with the old," Ironhide shouted, and shoved Megatron away from the line of Autobots.

Optimus started moving away, but a couple of hands stopped him. "Huh?"

"Wait a minute. Maybe we don't want to trade back," Skywarp said, moving in front of Optimus Prime. "Maybe we like having Prime as our leader."

"What?" Megatron, Optimus and the whole line of Autobots asked in disbelief.

"You even said it yourself, Megatron. Optimus is a better leader than you are. Why should we go back to second place?" Rumble said from Optimus' shoulder. "We're keeping him."

"Wait. But I don't want to stay," Optimus protested, but was raised on the shoulders of the Decepticons. "Let me go."

"Like slag we're going to let you take him," Ratchet growled, and pulled out his gun.

"No, wait. You could hit Optimus," Jazz said, and pushed the medic's gun down. "We'll take him back by force."

The Autobots started to swarm around the Decepticons, but they took to the air while carrying their leader.

"Noooooo. Optimus!" Many of them shouted.

Thinking on his feet, Prowl looked around. None of the Arielbots had come, and Powerglide was the only one who could fly. If Sideswipe was fit enough to come, he could have flown up to them. But even one or two Autobots would be no match for all those Decepticons. It was their worst fear come to life. Optimus had been captured by the Decepticons.

"Nooooooo! My army!" Megatron shouted, his hand reached up into the sky, much like some of the Autobots. He was standing in the middle of the group, and they all turned to look at him. "What?"

Back at the Ark, the Autobots wondered what they should do. Most of them wanted to rush to the nemesis and rescue their leader, while some said they needed a plan. Prowl, Jazz, Wheeljack and a few others put their heads together to come up with the best way to go about it; the rest either cleaned their guns or watched Megatron to make sure he didn't try anything.

"I'm not going to do anything," Megatron shouted, and chased Huffer away from him. "I'm just as eager to get Optimus Prime away from those traitorous morons and get back to my place."

At that time, Teletran-1 turned as a live message came through.

"Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?" a voice whispered through the speakers.

"It's Optimus!" Bumblebee shouted and ran to Teletran-1

"Shhhhhhh," Optimus shushed them quietly as more bots gathered around. "Not so loud, or they'll hear you."

"Prime, are you okay? What are they doing to you?" Wheeljack asked, pushing his face close to the screen.

Optimus looked scared. "They're waiting on me hand and foot. You have to get me out of here!"

"Don't worry, Prime. We're coming up with a plan right now," Prowl told his leader.

"It won't work."

Optimus frowned. "What is he still doing there?"

Everyone looked back to see Megatron had joined the Autobots at Teletran-1.

"Ironhide, throw him out," Optimus ordered.

"Righ' away, Prime," Ironhide said happily, and started hauling away the Decepticon.

"Wait a minute. I know how to help you," Megatron protested, fighting Ironhide. "You may have earned their love, Prime, but you don't know them like I do."

"Hold, Ironhide," Optimus told the sturdy Autobot. "Okay, Megatron. I'm listening."

"Okay, here's what you're going to do," Megatron began.

Optimus Prime nervously joined the Decepticons, worried about the plan that Megatron had given him. He wasn't too sure about it since it didn't sound like a sure thing, but Optimus couldn't deny Megatron's confidence. And he did have to admit that his old enemy did know the Decepticons better than he could ever could.

As he entered the room, every Decepticon's optics turned to him expectantly. For a moment, Optimus thought that the Autobots had never given him such ready obedience. But he shook his head, sending away the temptation to have the power of the Decepticons at his hand.

"What do you want us to do next, Prime?" Ramjet asked readily.

"Yeah, what's our next plan?" Blitzwing's words were excited.

"Uh, well, I had something new planned. Something nobody would ever expect, and the Autobots would never guess we would ever do. Something. . .evil," Optimus Prime told them all mysteriously.

They leaned it with anticipation.

"I'm going to let Starscream lead for a while," Prime announced, and thumped the seeker on the back.

Nobody looked more surprised than Starscream. "Me?" he asked incredulously. "I. . .I don't know what to say, Prime. I'm touched that you would give me this kind of opportunity," Starscream said, his voice full of more emotion than anyone thought was possible for the hard-spark seeker. "I promise you Optimus that you've made the right decision. Everyone is right, you are a better leader than Megatron."

Five hours and one severely botched mission later, Skywarp transported Optimus Prime twenty feet above land and kicked him out of his teleport hole.

"And stay out. The Decepticons don't need you or your radical ideas," the purple seeker shouted angrily.

It wasn't long until the Decepticons located their old leader, and, like a pack of dogs that ran away for one night, begged and buttered up Megatron with apologetic looks. And Megatron responded in kind, with insults and physical abuse. The only one who seemed to have gotten off easy was Starscream, who was the only one who didn't welcome back Megatron with opened arms.

"We don't need either one of them. I was doing just as good as leader," Starscream protested.

"Shut up, Starscream. You're lucky that you've won my good graces today. For once, you are the most loyal to me right now," Megatron glared at the seeker.

Starscream was about to go on about that, but stopped when he wasn't quite sure what he had done to receive such high praise.

"And get rid of all these blasted DVDs," Megatron shouted, feeling proud that he still caused his troops to quake in fear at his shouting. "The Decepticon name has been tainted by such slop. We are to be feared, not entertain these organics. And where's Swindle?. That little slime is particularly responsible for this mess, I know it. He must have been more involved than the rest of you. I want him found and brought here immediately. Soundwave, I want the Internet hacked into. Destroy any data on this discrepancy immediately. I don't care if you have to destroy to do it, get it done. And get your Cassetticons to hunt down every copy and destroy them. No evidence should be left behind. And if any copies are left, I'll slag every last one of you so much, it'll make the Inferno look like a vacation resort."

The Decepticons were sent into a frenzy to follow all of Megatron's order, running around like a bunch of ants with their home destroyed.

Megatron sat back in his chair, and relaxed. It was good to be feared once again.


Every Autobot in the ark ran to their leader the moment they caught sight of him or heard someone shout his name. They gathered around him, asking him questions or telling him how much they missed him. Optimus finally got them settled down after a couple of minutes.

"Alright. Alright. I'm sure you all want me to tell you about my exploits with the Decepticons," Optimus told them, and found a place to settle down to tell the story. He told everything that happened, including how Megatron's plan to use Starscream to kick Optimus out of the Nemesis. When it was finished, the Autobots still had many questions.

"I'm sure you all have questions about how Megatron changed your schedule," Optimus stopped them. He felt tired and wanted to rest after the week with the Decepticons "I've had a long week, so I'll only be answering the questions that need to be answered immediately so I can recharge a bit."

"Oh. Oh. Me first! Me first!" Wheeljack shouted raising his hand and jumping around.

"Yes Wheeljack?"

"Can I go back to inventing stuff?"

"Yes, you may."

Many Autobots groaned. They missed the lack of explosions lately.

"Yepppiiiiiii!" Wheeljack cried out. He then went skipping and leaping down the hall, singing, "Science, I missed you! I'm coming home, baby"

Many more Autobots went up to Prime for questions who, like Wheeljack, had their main job changed when Megatron was in charge. Most of the Autobots, however, went back to doing what they should. But the one who hung back was Prowl, which made Optimus curious since Prowl's job was usually a big priority. Soon it was only Prowl, Jazz and Optimus.

"I don't know if I should tell you this or how to tell ya, Prime," Jazz whispered to his leader while taking a glance at Prowl, "but it was kind of weird with Prowl and Megatron. They weren't buddies, but it was like Prowl approved of the stuff Megatron was doing with the Autobots."

Optimus rubbed his chin. "I see. Thank you, Jazz. That will be all."

Jazz saluted, and then went back to his post.

"You might as well give it to me, Prowl," Optimus said, turning to his second in command.

"Optimus, sir," Prowl acknowledged, and stepped up to Prime. "I just wanted to know how you wanted security, routines and protocols to be now that you're back."

"They should be just as I left it, Prowl," Optimus told him.

Prowl nodded, and looked as if he were going to obey, but then spoke again. "Not to disapprove, but the changes Megatron had made did improve us as a unit and as an army."

"I know, Prowl. I heard what you said today. It was pretty impressive," Optimus said without any ire. "But it pulled time away from our other priorities, and those priorities come first. There are things we should protect and take care of, and we have a duty to Earth since it is not our home. There are reasons I do things in that way. Do you understand?"

Prowl hesitated as if he were running Prime's words through his system. "Affirmative," he said, and saluted smartly. He turned around and started to walk away to set Prime's orders to work. But he stopped, and looked back. "It's good to have you back, sir," he said, and then walked away.

"It's good to be back," Optimus said. With nothing immediately needing his attention, he retired to his quarters. He was planning to spend time in a recharging chamber, but before he did, he pulled out a DVD from subspace. He smiled down at it as he put it in a small space of his quarters where he kept a few personal possessions. If he knew Megatron at all, then this DVD would be the last of its kind in the entire world. And he would treasure it forever.