A/N: this is a prequel to my adopted fic, 'Open-minded.' They can be read alone, or together, but would make much more sense if read together. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I wish. I wish very much.

------ indicates scene break.

To say the battle was going badly for the Decepticons was an understatement.

It was going horribly.

First, the Nemesis, through a very coincidental coincidence, has lost all power for exactly two breems, causing the backup generators to online. Unfortunately, the energy needed for the security shields and electromagnetic disruptors were too great for the generators, and said backup generators were used for lighting.

No Decepticon knew that the shields were un-operational.

The time it had taken for the Constructicons to reboot the main power had been just long enough for the Autobots to walk right in.

As a result, Starscream's private quarters had several rather large leaks.

The Autobots had carefully drilled holes into the metal plating, replaced them with temporary patches, walked right in, and began shooting.

Only one more minute, only one more minute…

Blaster dodged the concussion blast aimed at him courtesy of his Decepticon counterpart. Blaster's own cassettes remained on the Ark, but Soundwave's creations were nowhere in sight. Unless they had some ambush set up, they weren't here.

All the better for Blaster.

Out of the corner of his optic, the Autobot saw Wheeljack taking aim. He dodged another blast and charged at the Decepticon, knocking Soundwave over. The Decepticon rolled over, causing Blaster to ram into Skywarp, who teleported in surprise.

The Autobot met Wheeljack's optics. The scientist nodded and Blaster shoved an incoming Soundwave down. The slagging Decepticon wasn't going to ruin their plan…

And then Devastator charged.

The Combiner Decepticon had probably been looking for the Ariellabots, and, having found none, kicked Blaster over. Wheeljack, seeing Soundwave stand, took off running. The telepath had heard the plan, and that sent them to plan B.

Wheeljack and Blaster had run through the probabilities, and found only one concrete obstacle. As loyal as most Decepticons were, only one would be loyal enough to take a shot for him.

And Blaster hadn't exactly done an excellent job of distracting him.

He was almost to the throne room.

And he could hear Soundwave Soundwave behind him, abandoning stealth in favor of speed. If the Decepticon caught up, it would be endgame for Wheeljack.

And he was there.

Optimus and Megatron were engaged in their traditional battle; threats, banter, melee.

Wheeljack checked the power gauge of the weapon. It was almost empty; field tests earlier that day had taken their toll. He would only get one shot…

He heard the whirr of a shoulder cannon before he turned to meet the visor of the Decepticon Communications officer.

"Desist and surrender."

Behind Soundwave, Wheeljack saw Blaster creeping up on the Decpticon. He set the weapon down and put his hands up.

"I surrender," he said, letting fear into his CPU. Hopefully, it would distract Soundwave from the Autobot behind him. The whirr of the cannon increased, and for an astro-second, he knew, knew as well as he knew his existence would end here.

It fooled Soundwave, and it sure as Pit fooled Wheeljack.

"Oh no ya don't, Soundie!" Blaster fired, and Wheeljack dove to pick up his weapon. The two Communications Officers began fighting again.

Wheeljack raised the weapon. He had the Decepticon overlord in his sights. Both Autobot and Decpticon leaders were unaware; Megatron had thrown Prime down, he was standing over him, ready to deliever the famed last blow—

Three things happened nearly at once.

Wheeljack fired, the silver laser going in slow motion, headed dead center for the overlord's chest.

And the fight had gotten out of hand. Completely forgetting the mission, Blaster had shoved Soundwave right at the blast. It slammed into his chest, and a bright yellow light erupted.

Third, the weapon exploded, sending shrapnel into the joints of every Autobot and Decepticon around.

When the Autobots Wheeljack, Blaster, and Optimus Prime woke, it was quiet.

Deadly quiet.

Megatron and Soundwave were still offline; Soundwave looking smaller already.

Wheeljack looked at the charred remains of the weapon in his hand. It was ruined beyond repair.

Blaster was staring at the body of Soundwave.

"I, I never…"

Prime laid a hand on his shoulder reassuringly. "We should go."

Wheeljack nodded in agreement.

As the Autobots made their way out of the Nemesis, Wheeljack regretted for just a moment, he hadn't taken the Third with him.

No, it had been a real victory, but not the kind they had wanted.

A/N: part one of three. Thanks for reading!