This is the first chapter of my new Transformers Animated fanfiction. It picks up where Season 3 left off and continues the story. Hope you enjoy!
The city of New Detroit was choked with smoke. A dark cloud hung over the ruined shapes of burnt-out buildings and the crumbling remains of towers, and yet more smoke twisted up in billowing columns from recently extinguished fires. The streets buzzed with activity, mostly emergency services crew.
From atop Sumdac tower, which has remained relatively unscathed during the Decepticon clone attack on the city, Autobot Ratchet surveyed the scene and shook his head sadly, his old joints creaking audibly.
"We'll have to come back", the ancient mech mumbled. Stout and broad, yet ill-kept and borderline decrepit, the twenty foot tall, white and red plated Autobot looked grizzled and cheerless as ever, but there was a more sorrowful tinge to his expression than usual.
By his side, Ratchet's commander and friend turned to look at him. He was taller than Ratchet, and to a trained eye it would have been obvious that he was a far younger 'bot, but the excessive battle damage inflicted on Optimus Prime made it difficult to tell at that moment.
"You're right, we will", Optimus said, "The humans will need our help rebuilding this city. As soon as we deliver the Decepticons to Cybertron I think we should come back here. Sour relations with the humans is the last thing we need right now. Besides, we owe them a huge debt".
"I can't imagine how else they're gonna feel about us right now", Ratchet sneered, suddenly his usual cynical self again as he turned to look at Optimus, "You know, Prime, you really ought to let me take a look at you before we leave. You might have taken extensive circuitry damage".
Optimus shrugged, "It's fine. Mostly just superficial shell damage. Even the jetpack's still working. I may not look pretty but I'm functioning fine".
Ratchet suddenly threw his head back and laughed, "Hah! Listen to you! 'Superficial shell damage'! That's more than most 'bots can say after going servo-to-servo against Megatron".
Optimus surpassed a shudder. Megatron may have been laid low, defeated and imprisoned, but that name still provoked a jolt of fear to course through Optimus' circuitry. Idly, he passed the Magnus hammer from one hand to the other, examining its crafted handle and the enormous, blocky head.
It was hard to believe that he had really wielded this legendary weapon in battle. Not only wielded it, but mastered it. The very artefact that had turned the tide at the battle of Crystal City in the Great Wars, the very weapon that had slain the ancient Decepticon leader Liege Maximo, the very tool that had been used to forge the housing case for the AllSpark itself…
The events of the last few mega cycles were a struggle for Optimus to comprehend. He didn't want to spend too much time thinking about it. Right now they had a duty, a duty to get back to Cybertron and hand the Decepticons over to the Autobot High Council.
Ratchet nudged Optimus, and gestured in the direction of a third Autobot. It was the cyber ninja Jazz who had recently deserted his Elite Guard posting and joined their team. He was stooped over the sparkless body of Prowl.
"The ninja bot's taking it pretty hard", Ratchet mumbled quietly, "I know we all are, but perhaps you should have a word with him".
Optimus nodded and walked over to where Jazz was sitting, "Hey. How're you holding up?"
Jazz looked up at him, the usual cheerful glint to his shining blue optics absent, "I'm cool, Prime. I'm cool", he did his best to smile.
Optimus tilted his head and gazed down at the body of Prowl, drained of colour, lifeless and solemn. Prowl's death originally didn't have time to sink in for Prime due to Megatron's final desperate attack, but now it was beginning to hurt. To Optimus, it had seemed as if their five 'bot team would always be there, always there for one another.
It was clear to Optimus that Prowl and Jazz had become close during the short time they had come to know each other. As Prowl had gone from strength to strength with his cyber ninja training, Jazz had marvelled at his skill and encouraged him and helped train him. He had seen something great in Prowl, and it must have been hard for him to see such a kindred spirit slip away so soon.
"You know", Optimus began, "It wasn't your fault. There was nothing you could have done".
Jazz paused, then replied, "I could have talked him out of it. Or maybe if I'd trained a little more I would have been able to pull in enough AllSpark fragments to complete the shield".
"You and Prowl did everything you could. There's not a trace of any other AllSpark energy within one hundred miles. Plus", Optimus smiled slightly, "Nobody could ever talk Prowl out of anything when he'd made his mind up about something. He was as stubborn as they come".
"Wherever he is now, I'm sure he still is", from behind his back Jazz produced the accumulated AllSpark fragments; a jagged sphere of small blue crystals. He peered at it. Initially when he and Prowl had formed it had been larger, but as it neared completion it had condensed to the point where it could fit into Jazz's clenched servo.
It was the first time Optimus had seen the collection of fragments, "Is that…the AllSpark?"
Jazz nodded, "The real deal. Well, almost. It's still missing some fragments. But I think this is a close as we're gonna get to having the genuine article in our lifecycles".
He stood and reached out to hand it to Optimus, "You're the commander, O.P. This belongs to you".
Optimus took it, "Until we get back to Cybertron. You know, sometimes I wish we hadn't found this thing all those stellar cycles ago. If we hadn't…"
A mighty shadow fell over them suddenly. The giant visage of Omega Supreme suddenly came into view, peering over the top of Sumdac Tower with brilliantly bright optics. The mighty Autobot, the size of a human skyscraper, hovered there a moment.
"Man", Jazz said after a moment, "That's a sight I ain't gonna get used to for some time".
"Ratchet", the behemoth boomed, "She wants to talk to you".
He reached out with one massive servo. Standing there amongst the stunted digits was the petite form of Arcee. She daintily hopped off Omega's servo and patted it affectionately.
Omega Supreme smiled slowly, then readjusted the jets that kept him hovering there and sank out of sight. Arcee approached Ratchet, looking anxious.
"Ratchet, Omega's absorbed a lot of transwarp energy. And I mean dangerous levels of it".
"I know", Ratchet said quietly, "The 'Cons had him transwarping across the galaxy for quite some time. I don't know how many jumps they made before they regained control of him but I'm guessing it was a lot".
Optimus and Jazz stepped forward, "Is the big 'bot in any danger?" Jazz asked.
Ratchet shook his head, "Not in any immediate danger, but he's going to require some pretty thorough decontamination when we get back to Cybertron. He'll be fine for the last jump".
"Are you sure, Ratchet?" Optimus looked over his shoulder at the towering twin spires of the recently constructed space bridge perched on top of Sumdac tower, "Perhaps we can just use the space bridge?"
"Doubt it", Jazz said, "Last I heard Sentinel shut down the space bridge nexus. Who knows when that malfunction'll fire 'em up again".
Optimus nodded, "I guess you're right", he looked at Arcee, "Is Omega ready to transwarp?"
Arcee straightened and saluted, "Yes sir, just say the word!"
Optimus blinked. Arcee addressed him with absolute respect and military professionalism. Of course she had been in stasis for one million stellar cycles, and had no idea who anyone around her really was, except for Ratchet and Omega Supreme.
"There's really no need to be so formal, Arcee", Optimus said gently, "Are the 'Cons secure?"
"Stasis cuffed and locked in the cargo room, all three of 'em" Ratchet grunted, "Didn't even so much as struggle".
"Has there been any sign of Starscream?" Optimus wondered, "We know he was with Megatron when they hijacked Omega Supreme, and he planted the override programming and those explosives inside the clones, so he must have been around".
"I…I could have sworn I heard his voice, when me and Prowl were meditating", Jazz ventured, "But we were too deep in it to really pay much attention to old 'Screamer".
"So Starscream could well be hiding somewhere on earth", Optimus mused, "And there may be other Decepticons lying low here too".
"Then we really can't stay long", Ratchet shrugged, "Oh well. I was hoping to take a look and see if they reopened Maccadam's Old Oil House…"
"Are you absolutely certain it is safe to come out now?" they heard a voice say.
The large cargo elevator arrived at the top level of the tower and off stepped the remaining two members of the Autobot team. First came Bumblebee, a yellow 'bot half the size of Optimus Prime, and behind stomped Bulkhead, a large 'bot of enormous girth, wide and powerful.
The two 'bots were normally playful, cheerful, always optimistic and goading one another on. But Prowl's death had cut them both deep, rocked them to their core and utterly devastated them. Even Bumblebee couldn't force himself to smile.
Walking alongside them came two humans. Professor Isaac Sumdac, the world renowned roboticist, short and dumpy and looking incredibly nervous. Next to him was his teenage daughter, Sari, tall and slender with red hair tied in bunches and piercing blue eyes. Normally as upbeat and hyperactive, she was also subdued; having wept for some time after she discovered Prowl had perished.
"Everything's fine Dad", she was saying quietly, "The panic's over".
"But…but…" Professor Sumdac was stuttering, "Prowl said to remain in the bomb shelter! I heard explosions! Is everyone…"
He stopped short as he caught sight of Prowl's body, lying peacefully in an empty protoform case.
"No. Everyone's not alright", Sari answered quietly.
"Oh. Oh my…." Sumdac whispered in shock, "I…I am so sorry, Optimus Prime. To all of you, my dear Autobot friends".
Optimus inclined his head slightly, "Thank you Professor. If you'll forgive us we have to return to Cybertron immediately. We have three Decepticon prisoners to turn over to Cybertron Security".
Sumdac looked up at him, "Decepticon prisoners? Which ones?"
Bumblebee managed to grin, "Guess".
"Those beastly Constructicons?"
"Nope. Think way bigger. And meaner".
Sumdac screwed his face up with concentration, then sudden realization took him, "Not…Megatron?"
"Third time's a charm, prof!" Bumblebee said.
"Mega…" Sumdac almost swooned. Sari had to support him to stop him from falling over.
"Boss-bot, we got bad news", Bulkhead said aside to Optimus, "We went back to the plant to get everything we needed for the visit to Cybertron like you said. But when we got there we found the AllSpark's case and…well…"
He opened a storage compartment in his stomach region and produced what had once been the AllSpark's protective casing. All that remained of the golden, angled box was a mangled shell, crushed and distorted.
"Ah, for spark's sake!" Ratchet snapped, "You're supposed to be careful when transporting sacred relics, you malfunctioning moron!"
"Hey, it wasn't my fault!" Bulkhead said defensively as he placed the remains at Optimus' feet, "See, one of Omega's Decepticon clones must have shot a hole through our base. The roof and caved it all in, and this thing just…well, got kinda…smushed".
Optimus sighed, "Well, there's nothing we can do about it now. We'll just have to hand over the AllSpark as it is. What's left of this thing too".
"There is…another option, sir", Arcee ventured, stepping forward shyly, "The AllSpark's origin is unknown, but its casing isn't. That was forged 500 million stellar cycles ago, by Nova Magnus…"
"Using the Magnus Hammer!" Ratchet exclaimed, "We can reforge the AllSpark's casing using the Magnus Hammer, Prime!"
Optimus looked at the giant weapon in his servos, "Are…are you sure that's a good idea?"
"Well, why don't you tell me, young-bot", Ratchet grunted, "Feeling adventurous?"
Optimus glanced back and forth at the Magnus Hammer and the ruined AllSpark casing. Suddenly an idea came to him, he didn't know where from. An image. A shape, forming in his processor…
Evidently, Sari felt it as well, "Whoa…you feeling that too, big guy?" she asked. Her connection with the AllSpark was uncanny and Optimus had learnt to trust it.
"I am", Optimus said firmly as he lifted the hammer above his head, "Everyone stand back".
He set to work, bringing the hammer down hard. The tool glowed white with unexpected heat as Optimus beat upon the wrecked form, and within a few nanoclicks the image that he had seen in his processor began to take shape. The other Autobots looked on in reverence as their commander hammered away silently, an intense expression on his face.
After a few minutes he was done. There was not a trace of the old AllSpark container. It had been compressed into a bronzen sphere, not much bigger than Optimus' fist. Twin silver handles projected from the sides, and in the centre of the sphere was an opening.
Optimus found himself picking up the AllSpark fragments and placing them in the opening. It fit perfectly. He examined his handiwork carefully, then held it up and turned to face Sari.
"Is this what you saw too?"
She nodded, "Yup".
The other Autobot peered at it. Eventually Bulkhead shrugged.
"Huh. Well at least it's travel-size. Easier to carry around. It was a pain lugging that thing about".
"Well, we won't have to for much longer", Optimus replied, then looked at Ratchet, "It's time".
Ratchet leaned over the edge of Sumdac Tower, "Omega! Are you ready for one last journey, old buddy? Then you can rest."
"Yes Ratchet", the great voice boomed, rattling the tower itself. There was the roar of whirring and shifting machinery as Omega Supreme transformed. Within a moment he hovered up until he was level with the waiting Autobots. Now in his gigantic Autobot cruiser mode, he extended an entry ramp towards them.
Sari turned and hugged her father, "Try not to worry, Daddy. I'll be back soon".
Sumdac stared, uncomprehending. Eventually it struck him.
"You are going with them?!"
"Sorry Daddy, but I have to".
"While I was on the moon, I saw protoforms – the very thing that I was formed from. I have to know more. I have to know where I come from. And I know the answers will be on Cybertron".
"Relax, Professor", Ratchet said as he started up the entry ramp, "Cybertron's perfectly safe for organics. If Captain Fanzone can make it outta there in one piece, it ought to be a piece of oil cake for Sari".
"We'll take good care of her", Bumblebee promised, "And we won't be long".
"We will respect your wishes, Professor", Optimus said with a sidelong look at Ratchet and Bumblebee, "If you'd rather Sari not accompany us, then she won't".
"What?" Sari demanded, incredulous, "You said I could go with you guys! You said…"
Sumdac sighed, "Sari, it is okay. You should go with them. If you feel strongly that the answers you seek can be found on Cybertron, then I will not stop you".
Sari grinned and hugged her father again, "Thanks Daddy. And tell Captain Fanzone not to worry – we'll be back to clean up the mess".
With that the Autobots and Sari boarded Omega Supreme. After a moment the giant starship began to radiate with blue energy, then as Sumdac watched, it vanished.
Not far from Sumdac tower, but several stories below, on one of the city's many winding roads, lay a great shape. At the centre of cracked and ruined concrete lay an offline Cybertronian body.
In life, it had been proud and mighty, over thirty feet tall. Slight but strong, with broad shoulders framed by a pair of angular wings. But now the 'bot was humbled, lying motionless on the empty road, drained of colour and with an almost pitiful expression on its face.
It was the sparkless shell of Starscream, the former second-in-command of the Decepticons. The notorious traitor, infamous for his egotistical ambitions and two-faced nature. He had prided himself on what he had called 'a knack for surviving anything'.
But now, at long last, he was offline, his spark extinguished and the precious AllSpark fragment that had prolonged his existence removed. His demise had been unnoticed by all as he had perished unexpectedly in the recent battle; his fate sealed the moment he had arrived in Detroit to gloat over Megatron's seeming destruction.
But while the Autobots had failed to discover his body so far, someone else had. The high-pitched whine of a jet engine suddenly rattled the elevated road. A pointed, cyan and purple fighter plane with wings that thrust forward loomed over Starscream's remains. Parts shifted and detached, rotated, whirled, and extended. In the blink of an eye the jet had transformed into a robot that landed with grace next to the lifeless Decepticon.
The 'bot looked almost identical to Starscream, but with a more gracile, feminine build and a somewhat more rounded face with pouted lips. In fact, it was Starscream's clone, one of several copies Starscream had created in an ill-fated attempt to overthrow Megatron. However, this particular clone was the only one who emerged from the process a femme-bot.
She stood over her progenitor for a moment in silence, then sneered.
"Well, well Starscream", her optics narrowed, "So you finally bit the dust, huh? I could sense something had happened. Took you long enough. Just a shame I didn't get the chance to slag you myself".
She glanced around briefly, "Still…doesn't seem right to leave you lying around like this. We wouldn't want the Autobots or the organics keeping you as a trophy, would we?"
She levelled the keen twin blasters attached to her arms at Starscream's shell, then thought better of it, "Then again, you'd make a decent trophy for me".
With that she seized Starscream by the forearm. The thrusters on her heels roared to life and she blasted into the air, carrying the limp form of her template with her.