More than meets the eye.
Robots in disguise.
Autobot wage their battle to destroy
The evil forces of the Decepticons
"That concludes my report, Commander".
Ultra Magnus nodded at Cliffjumper, who stopped the media recorder, picked it up and smartly left Ultra Magnus' office. Ultra Magnus and Optimus Prime were left alone, the Autobot Supreme Commander seated on his lofty chair, Optimus standing to attention before him.
"That's quite a report, Optimus Prime", the Magnus said.
"Now that anything we say is off the record, I'm glad you and all of your team made it out safely. And I'm sorry we were unable to provide you with reinforcements".
"Well, you did deploy Omega to watch over Earth while we were gone, sir".
"That would have been cold comfort if your team had not returned", Ultra Magnus lifted the hammer of his office and placed it across his knees, "We've been seeing increased Decepticon activity on the borders of Autobot space. There have been no significant clashes yet, and many believe the situation will not escalate further. Personally, I'm not so optimistic. War's brewing".
Optimus nodded, "Megatron's lost his prize and is no closer to creating new Decepticons than he was before. He's suffered another defeat. But he won't give up so easily".
Ultra Magnus leaned back and sighed, "But there's little we can do for now but prepare and brace ourselves. I thank you for your excellent work once again in thwarting Megatron. Dismissed, Optimus Prime".
They saluted each other and Optimus marched out of the room, the door closing behind him. Sentinel was crouched down next to the door, his head pressed up against the wall. When Optimus appeared he leapt up and did his best to look nonchalant.
Optimus quirked an eyebrow, "Hear anything of interest, Sentinel?"
"I don't know what you're talking about", growled Sentinel indignantly, brushing himself off before glaring at him, "So, you made it back in one piece then. Now we can reassign Omega Supreme to something more useful than babysitting your organic mud ball".
Optimus ignored him and walked past. Sentinel trotted after him, ranting on about how the whole operation had been a waste of resources. It was easy for Optimus to tune him out, but as they walked along he remembered his promise to Sentinel, made back on the day that Jazz and Arcee had officially joined his team.
"Blackarachnia was on Falkon V", he said.
Sentinel stopped in his tracks, "Huh? Are you sure?"
"Positive. I saw her".
"Oh", Sentinel cast his eyes down at the ground, "How is she?" he asked eventually.
Optimus shrugged, "Well, she's still a technorganic Decepticon officer, if that's' what you mean".
"No need to get snippy, Optimus", Sentinel retorted, but he still looked lost in thought, "Does it ever freak you out? It could just as easily have been you or me in her position now".
That thought hadn't occurred to Optimus. It was an unsettling one. How would he have coped in Blackarachnia's position? Out of herself, Optimus and Sentinel, Elita had been the most stable, well-rounded bot of them all. Optimus dreaded to think what effect the experience would have had on him as a young cadet. Would he have joined the Decepticons and served at Megatron's side? Who could say?
"Well anyway, thanks for letting me know", Sentinel turned around and headed for his office, but stopped and looked back over his shoulder, "And erm…glad you pulled through".
In one of the private gardens of Sumdac Tower, hidden from public view, Sari sat on her knees, stooped over a small mound of dirt. She swept up the loose soil around into a little pile. When she was done she reached into her dress pocket and took out a small packet of seeds.
Sari wasn't interested in gardening. But she was planting this bush in memory of Cyclonus. It seemed a silly, even lame gesture to make. But she still felt she had to honour his loss in some way.
She had been shocked by Optimus' account of his death. In the giddy thrill of her daring rescue and escape with her friends, she had forgotten all about Cyclonus. It was too late to do anything about it now. Sari didn't think it was within her power to bring back another Cybertronian's spark so soon after restoring Soundwave, and at any rate, as Ratchet had pointed out, the Decepticons had probably taken Cyclonus' remains with them and destroyed them.
It would have been appropriate if Optimus had managed to salvage one of the turncoat's laser scimitars. Perhaps then Sari could have buried that, or used it to mark his memorial. But Optimus hadn't had time to think about eulogies while fighting for his life against Megatron.
And so Sari had made this rather feeble gesture. Underwhelming certainly, but she hoped that in the Well of AllSparks Cyclonus might at least be satisfied that Sari remembered him.
She hadn't known him for very long, but his devotion to her had been touching. If she could turn back the clock now she'd do everything in her power to convince him to join the Autobots...
Too little, too late. Sari bowed her head in silent respect and regret.
She turned around. Her father was hovering gingerly by the glass door that led back into the tower. She stood up and walked over to him, smiling, and hugged him.
"Sari, it is such a relief to have you back safe and sound", the scientist said, "I feel as if I could hold you and never let go".
Sari rolled her eyes good-naturedly, "Dad, I've already been back for nearly two days".
"I know, and a lot has happened since you've been gone. Come with me, Sari. I've got something to show you. It's a surprise".
"A surprise?" Sari raised an eyebrow.
But Sumdac would say no more. He led her outside, to where Bumblebee was waiting in his car mode. They both hopped into the front seats and Bumblebee pulled away into traffic.
"I don't get it. Where are we going?" Sari asked. Neither Bumblebee nor her father answered.
After a few minutes Bumblebee stopped, and Sari looked out of the window. She was looking at Youngberg High School, her school. She had forgotten all about it over the past few days.
The school was still badly damaged from Starscream's and then Megatron's attacks, but already there were numerous automated construction vehicles and workers busy with the labour of rebuilding the damaged auditorium. As Sari stepped out with her father she stared in astonishment.
A large crowd of students and teachers had assembled in the parking lot, apparently waiting for her. When she stepped out of the car door they cheered. She blushed profusely.
"Wow, I wasn't expecting this", Sari said aside to her Dad, "I kinda figured everyone would be mad. I mean, if it wasn't for me the Decepticons would never have come here".
"Oh no, everyone was very worried about you when they saw you were abducted. Isn't that right, Principal Rosemarie?"
Principal Rosemarie stepped forward and shook Sari's hand warmly, "Quite right. And you're welcome to start back here – well, today if you like. We're happy to have you, Miss Sumdac".
Sumdac whispered into her ear, "And I thought getting straight back into class would be the best thing for you, to help you get over this Megatron business. Maybe you can finally get that normal life you wanted".
A normal life. That's right, that had been exactly what she said she wanted. A chance to fit in, to take it easy.
She looked over the crowd of students, searching for one in particular. There he was; standing at the back, trying to look over the shoulders of his peers. Koji. He looked as though he was trying to get her attention. It dawned on Sari that right before she was captured she had been about to give Koji her phone number – they were going to start 'dating'.
This was her chance. A chance for her to do the things that normal teenagers did. Have friends, have boyfriends, go shopping, learn to drive, fall in love.
She looked over her shoulder. Bumblebee was still parked there in silence. Her first real friend. He and the other Autobots had travelled across the galaxy to rescue her. And here he was, assisting her in moving on from her old life – the life that he was part of.
What had to be done had to be done.
She looked at the Principal, "Thank you Principal Rosemarie, but I don't think I want to come back to school".
"Oh? Why ever not?"
Sari stepped towards the crowd of students, "Thank you, all of you. I'm sorry I brought this on your school, and I really appreciate you all welcoming me back. But you see, I started at this school because I thought I wanted to live like a normal kid. But I don't, not anymore. I'm not a normal kid. And I realize now fitting in isn't important compared to some things".
The students murmured, and she could hear them asking each other what she was talking about.
"To start with, I've got some very cool but some very different friends".
Sensing her mood, Bumblebee transformed and walked over, beaming. The crowd gasped in astonishment.
"And second…well, let's just put it this way".
Sari transformed. Her helmet clicked into place over her head, her back-mounted wings extended and servos swept out in place of hands and feet.
If the crowd had been amazed before, now they were positively stunned. Sari could see Koji gaping at her wordlessly.
Sari giggled, "Thanks guys. It's been fun", she turned back to her best friend, "Come on Bumblebee, race ya back to the plant!"
"You're on!" Bumblebee grinned and transformed into his speedster mode, pausing only to scoop up the startled Professor Sumdac, and disappeared in a cloud of dust.
"Hey! No fair, I wasn't ready!" Sari yelled playfully, activating her jetpack and boosting after him, leaving behind the normal teenage life of fun and romance for her bizarre life of adventure and friendship.
"How're you feeling, Prime?" asked Ratchet.
Optimus, lying on the stretcher in Ratchet's room, propped himself up, "Better, thanks to you".
Ratchet had performed preliminary repairs on him as soon as they had returned to Earth, but when Optimus announced that he had to go to Cybertron to update Ultra Magnus on the situation, he had had to wait to conduct the final repairs.
Optimus had been surprised to discover that not only had the Decepticons not made a move against Detroit in his team's absence, deterred by the presence of Omega Supreme, but that the remaining Decepticons on Earth had left. No doubt they had been summoned away by Megatron but Optimus didn't know why. Perhaps Megatron was unwilling to leave important troops in close proximity with Optimus' team, although it was more likely he had some other, sinisiter purpose.
Ratchet was squinting at him, "Every time you go up against Megatron you come back with less dents for me to pound out of you. Maybe next time you'll come back with his head".
Optimus smiled grimly, "I hope not. I think I'd better say a few words to the others, as soon as Bumblebee gets back here".
From outside the room there came the screech of tires and a loud crash followed immediately by a frenzied argument over 'who had won'.
"Now's as good a time as any", Ratchet grunted.
The two Autobots strode into the central room of the Autobot base. Bumblebee and Sari stood near the door, next to a pile of toppled cargo crates, engaged in a mock argument. A dazed Isaac Sumdac staggered away, evidently having just been an unwitting passenger in Bumblebee.
Bulkhead and Jazz watched the argument with amused grins from the couch. Arcee walked swiftly up to Optimus and saluted.
"Sir, the Dinobots have returned to Dinobot Island safe and sound".
Optimus couldn't help but notice the hint of relief in her voice.
He looked around the room, at Bumblebee and Sari teasing each other mercilessly, Jazz and Bulkhead flicking through the TV channels, Arcee and Ratchet walking off together to talk quietly in a corner. Everything was beginning to return to normal, and Optimus was glad.
But he knew that this peace was going to be short-lived. The Decepticons may have made the decision to leave Earth, but Optimus was positive that Megatron wasn't about to concede defeat. Megatron would return, and when he did they might find themselves powerless to stop him.
None of this however diminished the achievements of his team. They had gone behind enemy lines, taken the Decepticon leadership and elite by surprise, destroyed their facility and retrieved a most precious prize from Megatron's grasp. If they hadn't then who knows what horrors Megatron might have been able to unleash on the galaxy.
But what mattered most to Optimus was not the strategic victory. Every last one of his team – whether a trusted old friend like Bulkhead, a newcomer like Arcee or a loose affiliate like Grimlock had been willing to undertake this mission to rescue a friend from torment and destruction.
Optimus swelled with pride. Prowl had often disapproved of his speeches, but he felt he couldn't hold this one back.
"Autobots, can I have your attention for a moment?"
They all looked up from what they were doing, recognising his tone, and assembled in a loose semi-circle around him. Sari and her father lined up as well.
Optimus put his hands on his hips, "Autobots, this most recent mission asked a lot of us, but you all gave more than was required of you. And all of you have gone beyond the call of duty in keeping myself and others out of the stockades.
"We always have been and always will be a close-knit team, but right now we're in the eye of the storm. We're the most highly valued unit of fighters in the Autobot arsenal and of great use to Cybertron Command. And we're priority targets for elimination by the Decepticons too. But I know we'll stick together through these and greater challenges".
He looked at his faithful band, once a mere washed-up repair crew with histories to hide, now the envy of Cybertron. They were solemn and attentive as they listened to his speech. Embarrassed but determined to finish, he went on.
"We've triumphed for now. We've driven the enemy back and won a respite. But we shouldn't relax too soon. The battle's over…"
"…but the war has just begun", Megatron declared, "Our mission may have been a failure, but one thing we have learned from the history of the Decepticons: we are tenacious".
He scanned the small crowd assembled before him. This was no public address to the masses: only his small crew of elite soldiers and the recently withdrawn Earth-based operatives were present in his private quarters on New Kaon.
Starscream, Lugnut, Blitzwing, Blackarachnia, Shockwave, Strika, Soundwave, Slipstream, Ramjet, Thundercracker, Sunstorm, Skywarp, Spittor, Blackout, Oil Slick, Waspinator, Dirt Boss, Mixmaster, Scrapper: all stood to attention in the dimly-lit room as he addressed them from his throne.
"We shall avenge our defeat tenfold, a thousand fold, in due time", Megatron said, raising a clenched fist, "Let the Autobots revel in their supposed victory. Let them become complacent. Soon I shall unleash war upon the galaxy unlike anything seen for over four million stellar cycles".
Starscream listened to Megatron with only a passing interest. He had no idea how Megatron thought he was going to engage in open warfare with the Autobots, let alone win. But he'd bide his time: if Megatron had a method to assure victory then so much the better, he'd benefit from it in the long run. If not and he was merely trying to stamp out disillusionment or, as Starscream had begun to suspect, he was beginning to lose his grip on reality, then that was fine too. A weak leader of the Decepticons wouldn't last long. Well, not with Starscream around, certainly.
As Megatron went on into an angry rhetoric about Autobot ideas of self-entitlement, Starscream let his eyes drift around the room, taking in all the old sights. The Autobots helmets lined up on the walls were impressive trophies, but what drew Starscream's attention was a blank space on the wall, between the helms of the two defeated Magnuses. A reserved space?
Starscream sneered. It didn't take a genius to work out who it was for.
Slipstream sat on the rough ground of New Kaon, a pensive expression on her features. Her legs dangled over the edge of a great pit that stretched out before her, emanating a strange glow that was reflected off her armour plating.
She heard footsteps behind her. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Soundwave approach. Laserbeak and Ratbat hovered overhead. Slipstream arched an eyebrow at Soundwave as he stood awkwardly next to her.
"Sit down, for spark's sake", she said.
He nodded and sat: Slipstream noted that he didn't say 'affirmative'.
"I figured you'd have waited around for the post-speech oil and energon cookies", she smirked.
"I wished to find you", he replied.
He peered into the pit before them. It was deep and wide and black, like most of the pits on New Kaon. But at the bottom of it was an enormous cluster of radiant crystals: it was difficult to tell what colour they were as light constantly filtered in and out of them, changing the hue in constant shimmering ripples.
"Pretty huh?" said Slipstream, "Korlonium crystals. Nice to look at, but I wouldn't get any closer. They emit lethal levels of radiation. Blow a bot in half if you got close enough to touch it".
"Beautiful but deadly", Soundwave murmured.
Slipstream grinned, "What, they remind you of somebody?"
Soundwave said nothing. He seemed embarrassed. In truth Slipstream was too, although she did her best to put a brave face on it. They had confessed their feelings for one another in the midst of emotion-fraught drama: it had seemed appropriate at the time. Now that things had calmed down again it was difficult to know what to do or say. Neither had any experience in matters of love.
But they knew each other well, and they knew their feelings were genuine. That gave them a measure of confidence. And as he felt that confidence build up, Soundwave stood up suddenly. Slipstream looked up at him.
Soundwave almost appeared to take a deep breath.
"I have composed a melody for you".
Slipstream laughed, "I knew you were developing a sense of humour, boom box. That's a good one".
Soundwave made no answer.
Realization began to dawn slowly on Slipstream, "Um, you were joking, weren't you?"
Soundwave summoned Laserbeak to him. Slipstream's jaw dropped. If she could have blushed she would have.
"Laserbeak: transform. Operation: serenade".
Slipstream laughed again, "Alright, now that was a joke".
As Soundwave's fingers began to strum the guitar strings, his optics sparkled and his seemingly fixed expression softened.
As Soundwave played and Slipstream listened, the korlonium crystals glittered and glowed below them. If the thought had occurred to either of them, they might have said how the beautiful crystals, isolated in the dark craggy wastes of New Kaon, reflected their love that shone alone against the twisted brutality of Decepticon society.
But they were Decepticons themselves, merciless war machines not programmed for such thoughts. They would learn, in time. Together they had taken the first steps in the right direction.
The six Autobots stepped out of their base and into the streets of Detroit as the sun was setting. It was a sight they had seen hundreds of times before, but after their ordeal on Falkon V the red glow of the setting sun on steel rooftops was especially inspiring.
Inspiring enough for Optimus Prime to give an impromptu order, "Autobots, transform and roll out!"
As one the companions transformed and drove off to patrol and guard their domain, their haven. Their home.
To be continued.
Author's note: Well, that it folks. Volume 1, aka Cybertronian Genesis, completed. I'd like to thank you all sincerely for reading my fanfiction, whether you've followed it from the beginning (almost a year ago now, scarily enough) or picked it up more recently. To all of you who took the time to review and leave feedback, thank to you too, it's really been very much appreciated and I don't think I'd have motivated myself to keep going if I didn't have such an enthusiastic audience.
Anyway. This isn't the end of my Transformers Animated fanfiction or this storyline. It will return, in a new fic. I've got some ideas for it but I've yet to decide on a title, and there's still a great deal I need to figure out before I start posting new chapters. I daresay the 2nd AllSpark Almanac will help me think of something. In the meantime I'll probably be running a few polls on my author's page asking for feedback on ideas etc, so if you're interested in contributing check it out once in a while. Oh, and obviously, keep looking at my page to check for the new fic.
So again, thank you very much. Writing this story has been difficult at times but overall I'm very happy with it and have enjoyed it very much. I hope you all stick around for the second installment!