Disclaimer: Transformers and all connected blessings belong to Hasbro. The story is for entertainment purposes only.

Chapter 26: Preceptor

The bright lights from above glittered on his polished red, black, and grey armor. The students muttered eagerly, awaiting the ceremony for one of their favorite teachers. Even some of his rival scientists and teachers were there. He had fought through many a scoffing argument to prove that is far-out theories were just not over-blown scientific jargon, and he had won the fight. Now here he was, accepting the reward for it at last! His faceplate, still a bit soft and dull from Morphing-years, stretched into a happy, proud smile as he walked up on stage to accept yet another award in the science and mathematic fields.

But when he reached for the award and congratulating handshake, the lights went out and the audience disappeared. His reaching hands wrapped around not a doctrine award, but hologram data disks, and quickly pulled them down, tossing them haphazardly into a case. He was no longer a Morphing-yearling, but an adult, and a terrified one at that, too. An occasional flash of light poured through the windows and door-less home entrance, taking the place of artificial lighting whose power had long since been knocked out. A college intern darted into the small private quarters, yelling something incoherent among the banter of battle outside, but clearly begging him to hurry up. He heard a sharp cry from the intern and turned around in time to be caught up in the shadow of some monstrous machine--

"Professor Preceptor, Professor Preceptor!"

Preceptor jerked awake, fully alert one moment, but then sank back down with a groan as pain swept through his body.

"Are you feeling pain? That's good; that can help us fix you up. Are you okay, Professor Preceptor?"

It was one of the college's medical students: Siliconia. She was one of the brightest medical students around. The purple and white femme was kneeling beside Preceptor on the ground. Around them, there were a handful of other students of the college Preceptor had worked at, all hiding in a city back alley. He was the oldest of them. He saw his suitcase lying beside him, thank Primus for that, but he could smell too much smoke and energon for his liking, and it was far too quiet for the city.

"M-My arm," Preceptor said, twitching his pained right arm. He was also aware of a crust of dried energon forming on his helmet; had he been hit on the head?

"Okay, that's a start. Hang in there, professor, and stay still! A Decepticon snuck up on you and we barely got you out of there before he ripped you apart. Big guy, a jet-former, colored dark blue and black, I recall. Looked almost like he was trying to hug ya at first, but he just wanted to crush your Spark, or drag you up into the sky and drop ya. Whew, I never knew I could run so fast!"

Siliconia continued to babble, as she was prone to do when she was working. She kept stumbling over her words, and her hands shook, but Preceptor let her stutter and shake. Their campus had just been over run by Decepticons, of course she was going to stutter and shake.

Preceptor's arm had been snapped, and while Siliconia was able to re-connect some of the cables together, he would need professional medical attention to fully repair it. In the mean time, the damaged limb was bound up in a sling made out of a polishing clothe and wires they found lying around. His head wound was being kept from bleeding out anymore energon by the crust on it, so they didn't clean his helmet off.

"Excellent job, Siliconia," Preceptor commented, examining his arm, "You managed to successfully reconnect the anti-freeze equalizer with the stationary automaton and the primary electronic flow wires with the anti-motion electronics—"

"In Cybertronian, professor," Siliconia sighed.

"You did well," Preceptor stated. "So, what shall we do from here? Our base of operations and home is destroyed by the disastrous Decepticons and if I my visual sensors are not glitching, the city appears to be abandoned."

"We're gonna find the Autobots," one of the male students, freshman year, said.

"And where are they?"

"Beats me," the freshman said, shrugging, "We figured on wandering away from the Decepti-creeps until we find the Autobots."

"We'll have to get moving, then," one of the older students growled, "Before the Decepticons over take us."

"Core!" Siliconia exclaimed, "Professor Preceptor is injured and can't transform!"

"Then leave him behind," was the orange-black mech's rather cruel response, "We can't afford to let him slow us up!"

"Core!" the students exclaimed.

"Fine, fine," Core grumbled, "But if we're attacked, I'm not waiting for the old mech! Come on, let's go."

"I only happen to be seventy point eighty-six years older than you, young mech," Preceptor huffed.

Granted, 70.86 years may sound like a lot, but for Transformers, it was but a slice of time, similar to an Earthling's three years.

The seven-student and one-teacher group ventured from the alley they had been hiding in, coming out to a war-ravaged street. Preceptor noted that there were no bodies and privately thanked Primus. He carried his suitcase in his one good hand and the student group walked along in a tight, terrified huddle with Core, the largest and strongest of them, leading the way. Core, as Preceptor recalled, was a sports-major and was simply drifting through college with his sights on becoming a major sports player. Ah, who was Preceptor to complain if a mech was wasting his intellect by getting his head bashed into the floor by rough sports? He was, after all, one of the smartest mechs on Cybertron; it would be natural for him to be biased against brawn.

As the day wore on, they continued to wander through the city in search of protection and other survivors. Whenever they heard a sound, or thought they heard it, they would scramble for a hiding place. If they saw someone else moving a distance off, the other person would flee, as if wanting to protect whatever supplies they had looted. Preceptor, not being of a sports-y type mech, and injured, had to take several rests. It was on one of these rests that they stopped at a transport bus stop. An actual hover bus was on its side in the street intersection just to their right.

"For the love of Primus!" Core exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. In one hand he gripped a bar he had pulled from the debris of a ruined building, making it his defense weapon. "That's it, we're leaving him behind!"

"Core," Siliconia snapped as Core began to move on, "We can't just leave him behind!"

"Watch me," Core called over his shoulders.

"Children, hush," Preceptor cautioned, "The Decepticons—"

"He's slowing us down! That's the fifth rest this hour!"

"You're counting?"

"My point is that if we want to live, we should leave the worthless lens unit behind."

"I happen to be able to turn into a microscope!" Preceptor exclaimed.

"Core, he's injured and he lost a lot of energon."

"It's just an arm!"

"And his processing unit! He could be suffering a concussion and broken logic chips!"

"Guys, shut up!" one of the freshmen whispered.

"I'm ready, I'm ready," Preceptor said, standing, "Let's silence our vocal units and move on, quickly!"

"It's the survival of the fittest now, Siliconia," Core snapped, "Watch out for yourself or you're going to get held back and killed!"

"Children," Preceptor hissed, "Shut up!"

Laser shots suddenly rang out, striking the over-turned bus and causing molten blobs of metal flying through the air. The students didn't even shout in fear; they simply transformed and scattered, every one of them. Preceptor, injured and alone, spun around, clenching his suitcase in his good hand as he looked for the source of the shot. Laser fire bit at the concrete in front of him, making him jump back and fall hard on his back end. He scrambled back and got to his feet even as he heard clomping metal boots approach him from up the smoke-strewn street. Preceptor saw a shape coming from the smoke and spun around, ready to run down another street. But he came face-to-chest with a Decepticon-insignia branded Transformer, instead.

Turning around and around, Preceptor realized, with a sinking feeling in his energon processing chamber, that he was surrounded and alone. Injured, weak, alone, no military training, and carrying a suitcase of his published scientific works and some private controversial ones, it looked like a hopeless formula of doom to the professor.

"Well, will you look at that?" one of the mech snickered, "Looks like our target came to us instead of us coming to him, boys!"

"Yeah, I recognize him now," another said, "Professor Preceptor, one of Cybertron's best master minds. He made the improved transforming sequence, right?"

"Yeah, and he also revolutionized the design of Cassetticon handlers."

"Don't look so scared, Preceptor," one of the mechs snickered, approaching. "Our boss just wants to have a little chat with ya."

- - - -

Not Megatron, not Megatron, not Megatron, not Megatron, not Megatron, not Megatron, Preceptor prayed. Please, let it be anyone by Megatron, anyone but Megatron, please, let it be anyone but Megatron!

Preceptor had been locked in the back of an abandoned cargo hauler trailer, left behind in a traffic jam where the vehicles' drivers and passengers had long since abandoned them. Outside, Decepticons were looting from the vehicles and generally hanging out; sitting on the vehicles and drinking energon, swapping loot, and bragging out tall tales of battle. A couple of mechs guarded the trailer's one and only door, but the doors were locked to Preceptor. Preceptor's only company in the trailer was a sort of tiny, buggy-like vehicle parked in the corner and a strange contraption in the center of the floor. Preceptor believed it to be a gun of some sort, but the ammo had been removed from it.

Now, he could only clutch his case to his chest with his good arm and beg Primus for him not to meet Megatron. He just couldn't handle that sort of shock and after all, he had just been thrust into war yesterday! He had also learned to be terrified of the war lord after hearing of his feats of villainy.

The doors opened, briefly pouring light into the trailer. His optics were blinded by the light, and as sudden as it was there, someone entered and the doors shut again, leaving him in the dark with a single electric lantern on the floor to see by. His silver optics strained against the darkness, but when they finally adjusted, his terror turned to surprise.

"Shockwave??" he exclaimed, setting his suitcase on a box beside the gun contraption.

"You sound surprised to see me, Preceptor," the lavender mech replied.

"I haven't seen you sense the day before you killed Headmaster Peppermetal! Blasted, what happened to your arm?"

"I upgraded it," Shockwave replied, "And you know about Peppermetal?"

"Who doesn't? Everyone knew how much you hated the Headmaster for always rejecting your experiments. The other teachers were actually betting on when you would strike back, but I never partook in such embarrassing betting. We shared several students, you know. It was such a tragedy that we lost such a good upgrades teacher like you. But I'm getting off track: Are you apart of the Decepticons now? Your optic is still yellow, and the communication systems the Autobots and Decepticons use change one's optic color to blue or red, depending on what style of the system and faction one is using."

"I do have the Decepticon communication link uploaded, as I am apart of them, now, but I was able to by pass that annoying little fashion statement. But I am not here to socialize, but do business."

"Of course you are," Preceptor sighed. "You never were one for social events. Primus, the New Years Part of '67 said that much…"

"I know that you are as smart, or more so, than I am, Preceptor," Shockwave said. "Everyone knows that. For the sake of old comrades helping each other out, I am personally inviting you to join the Decepticons. We could use your intellect, Preceptor. Primus knows how we have enough fools running things, like that annoying, pompous Starscream…"

Preceptor thought he heard a note of bitterness with the last sentence.

"Shockwave," he said, "I am flattered that you are doing this for me, considering that we were only mild acquaintances, but…"

"But what?" Shockwave asked.

"I… I can't do it," Preceptor said quietly. "I love science and everything one can do with it, but I do not wish to use it for war or the enslavement of the universe. I am sorry, but I can not agree to your proposition."

"I see," Shockwave said coolly, "Then at least give me your suitcase. I at least know you enough to know that the only thing you would grab in an emergency is your precious data disks, including unpublished works. Allow me to have your suitcase and all its contents and I will personally escort you to the Autobot border and leave you to your own devices."

"No!" Preceptor exclaimed, placing a protective hand on the case, "There are blue prints and formulae for revolutionary weaponry in this case! Handing them over to you would be the equivalent of joining the Decepticons!"

"I present your options to you one last time, Preceptor," Shockwave growled, "Option one: Join the Decepticons and apply your genius processor to our cause. Option two: Should option one be denied, hand your suitcase and its contents over to me and I will personally ensure your safe passage to the Autobot territory. Option three: Should options one and two be denied…" He pointed his gun-hand at Preceptor. "I kill you."

Preceptor swallowed hard, feeling his cooling systems jittering nervously and heating him up in fear. In spite of this, he forced himself to answer.

"Option three," he stated. "But before you kill me," he added hastily, "Tell me this: Why? Why join the Decepticons?"

"Because, Preceptor, old friend," Shockwave sighed, "Megatron has the strength, the gall, and genius to rule the Transformer race, to expand it into the farthest reaches of space and become the superior race over all beings, as it should be. I got tired of teaching energon-drunken Morphing-yearlings, Preceptor, and I desired a more, shall we say, worthy pursuit in which to dedicate my life.

"I have answered your question, foolish Preceptor, and now I bid you good bye."

Shockwave shot at Preceptor. Preceptor cried out and threw himself to the side, accidentally knocking over his suitcase in the process. Case and scientist hit the floor, with the case falling open and scattering data disks everywhere. Shockwave shot at Preceptor and he rolled to the side, leaving the laser shot to fry the floor.

"Autobots," someone suddenly bellowed, "Attack!"

"Autobots??" Shockwave exclaimed, looking around.

The trailer ceiling and walls fell open at that moment, letting sun light pour on them. The buggy in the corner activated, rolling over to the gun contraption. With long, spindly arms it collected up data disks as it rolled and pressed a button on the gun contraption. The gun swung up and around, shooting at the Decepticons. Shockwave hit the floor to avoid the spray of rapid laser fire. All around, supposedly non-sentient, abandoned vehicles transformed into Autobots and fought the Decepticons, knocking them off of their backs if they were thus burdened.

Caught off guard by the surprise attack, the Decepticons quickly fled. Shockwave looked at Preceptor one last time before flying off after his mechs. The triumphant Autobots cheered and a black and white police mech came up onto the raised trailer floor and shook Preceptor's good hand.

"Professor Preceptor, I'm Prowl, leader of the Third Division of the Autobot Army," the mech said, "We were sent her e to rescue you when we received news of your campus being attacked and your disappearance. Sorry we stalled, but we wanted to make sure that you were a friend and not foe."

See? It pays to be the biggest know-it-all on the planet when you're sent an entire division to rescue you.

"T-Thank you," Preceptor stuttered, "Better late than never, right? By the way, who is the operator of these machines? They are quite skilled."

He gestured to the gun on the trailer floor and the buggy, which was currently collecting up Preceptor's data disks.

"An inventor called Wheeljack created them, but their operator is Optimus over there; the big red and blue guy."

"Oh, my, what a specimen. What planet breeds such mechs?"

"Not quite sure, but rumor has it that he maimed Megatron himself before joining the Autobots. Who ever he is truly, he is proving to be a loyal Autobot and a grand fighter. Stay here, I'm going to go get Ratchet, our medic, to fix that arm of yours…"

The buggy rolled over to Preceptor and held up a stack of neatly ordered data disks as Prowl went off. Preceptor took them in hand, thanking the buggy, and carefully counted the pads. His tired look of relief turned to fearful confusion in a split second.

"Wait a minute," he whispered, "I'm missing a file!"

- - - -

Meanwhile, Shockwave was flying with his Decepticons to their main base. As he flew, he reached into a compartment in his chest and pulled out a data disk. On the flat block of black plastic, along the white space reserved for titling, was Preceptor's scrawled handwriting.

The title of the disk was: Robo-Smasher.