Taking a break from my "TFA: Glimpses" fic, this is a seguel to my previous Robots in Disguise fic "Autobot No More" which centred on my favourite dark Prime, Scourge. I've been wanting to explore a little more of Scourge's pre-Earth past which we only got a brief look at in "Autobot No More", so this sequel fic is something I've been rather keen to get written for a while. This story's set not too long after the events of "Autobot No More", after the end of the RID series, and it's written from the first-person perspective of Scourge (except for the last section of the next part). I'll be posting this up in two parts.

Synopsis: Facing an impending cryogenic sentence by the Autobot High Council, Scourge finds himself haunted by strange memories of a ghost that he had thought long buried.

Notes: 'Solar cycle' is equivalent to a day here. Italic text indicates memories.

Reviews are always appreciated!

Reflection of a Ghost - Part 1

It is like seeing someone else's memories.

The final dreams of a slumbering Autobot leader play in my mind. His entombing sleep was restless.

For over sixty stellar cycles, Nova Prime lay in stasis on Earth, dreaming.

He dreamt of his comrades, his home and his mission...

A half-masked face looks up at him. Above the silver-white face-plates, a set of intensely blue optic sensors glow, and shading them, the ridge of a black helmet, a silver-white crest adorning the top and long silver-white antennae pieces protruding from either side of the head. It is a strong and noble face.

Nova Prime silently observes his reflection on the metal surface of a table below him as he listens to several voices speaking around him.

"The Predacon threat grows larger. There are reports of a new Predacon leader going by the name of 'Megatron'. He is said to be highly dangerous and power-mad."

"It may not be long now before the Predacon forces are strong and organised enough to make a move on Cybertron. We need to be prepared for an attack."

"Cybertron has not seen battle for centuries. Our defences are insufficient to ward off a full-scale Predacon assault."

Nova Prime looks up. He is surrounded by members of the Autobot High Council, lining the sides of a long table located in the centre of a great hall.

"Then we will need help," he says in a clear voice.

All optics shift toward Nova.

"What do you propose, Nova Prime?" a blue and white Council bot asks.

Nova pauses and turns his head slightly. He looks out one of the hall's long windows at the grand structures of Iacon.

"Fortress Maximus," he answers simply.

Incredulous, surprised and questioning looks rise amongst the Council members.

"The legendary fortress guardian?" says a black and yellow Council bot. "But...records state that he disappeared after the end of the Great War. He's been gone for centuries, nothing more than a historical story now."

"Not gone, Councillor Sigil, hidden," Nova replies, returning his blue gaze to his company. "On planet Earth. Waiting to be found again."

"How do you know this?" a copper Council bot with a visor questions.

Nova's gaze drifts down.

"From Vector Sigma. I have been in communication with it."

The Council members glance at one another briefly.

"Vector Sigma prophesised the return of Fortress Maximus to Cybertron and his role in the defeat of the Predacon leader, Megatron," Nova continues distantly. "It showed me how to find Maximus on Earth. I think...it meant for me to search for him."

"Nova, the words and visions of Vector Sigma are often subject to interpretation and are not always certain...," a grey and purple Council bot with a single large optic sensor cautions.

"I know what I heard and saw, Councillor Halogen," Nova replies firmly. "Vector Sigma revealed to me that Fortress Maximus will be a turning point in our battle against the Predacons. We need to find him. I need to find him."

A gold and red Council bot speaks up.

"Nova, I must re-emphasise, there is no way of knowing for sure whether Fortress Maximus really still exists, and if he does, what operational state he is in. It is risky to put too much faith in a prophecy, even one from Vector Sigma."

Nova looks at him.

"Regardless of prophecies, Councillor Levitacus, we do not have many other options available for combating the rising Predacon armies. Seeking out Fortress Maximus may be our best bet." His gaze runs across the company of Council members. "So I will travel to Earth to do that. If all goes well, I will reactivate Fortress Maximus and bring him back to Cybertron."

"Nova, it would not be wise for you to leave," Levitacus advises severely. "You are needed here on Cybertron. Send someone else to..."

"I am the only one that knows how to locate and activate Fortress Maximus," Nova insists. "Vector Sigma gave me the knowledge and tools. I must do this. I will not be swayed otherwise. And during my absence, Cybertron will be in your good hands, Council members."

Momentarily, the Autobot Council members fall mute.

"You can't go alone, Prime," Sigil states finally.

"I won't," I agree. "I can take Jhiaxus' new combiner soldiers with me for assistance."

"Then may Primus guide you and your crew, Nova Prime," Halogen declares. "We will be awaiting your return home."

I awaken suddenly. My optic sensors snap online. Bright, flooding lights from above force me to re-focus my vision. The haze clears to reveal curved, dull blue walls in a room that is taller than it is wide. My gaze shifts down slightly to make out several figures standing some distance away. Autobots. Amongst them, I recognise a gold and red-plated member of the Autobot High Council and next to him, my adversary, Optimus Prime. I then bring my gaze down upon myself. I find that my servos are strapped down to an open containment unit. I know what it is that I lie in: a cryo-chamber. I am being prepared for my sentence of cryogenic imprisonment. My final fate is to be frozen dormancy. Looking to my right, I see three of my Decepticon soldiers lying offline in open cryo-chambers too. I look to my left. My other two soldiers lie in the same state. A short, insignificant Autobot at a control station to one side notices me. He looks to the Council member and Optimus Prime.

"Sirs, the sedative charge seems to have worn off Prisoner D-012. He's reactivated," he reports promptly.

The gold and red Council member turns his gold gaze upon me and begins to approach. I have seen him before...

Levitacus speaks severely.

"Nova, it would not be wise for you to leave. You are needed here on Cybertron..."

His face is grim.

His face is grim as he looms over me.

"Impressive," he mutters, seemingly more to himself than to me. "Still a piece of work."

"Are you going to stand there gawking at me all solar cycle, Autobot Councillor?" I sneer. "Less procrastination would be prudent."

He narrows his gold glare at me then turns to address the short, insignificant Autobot that had noticed my awakening earlier.

"Administer another sedative charge," he orders.

The Autobot produces a charge pack from a storage compartment in his waist.

"Don't bother," I growl. "I am capable of handling a little 'frostbite' whilst online."

Levitacus scrutinizes me for a moment.

"Croyogenic freezing can be a little...unpleasant on active systems. We had hoped to spare you the discomfort. But very well, Scourge. Have it your way."

He raises a hand back at the Autobot holding the charge pack. The Autobot wordlessly slips the pack back into the storage compartment in his waist. Levitacus returns his attention to me.

"Before we carry out your sentence of indefinite cryogenic imprisonment," he says quietly, "do you have any final words or requests you wish to express, Scourge?"

I glare at him coldly.

"Just get on with it," I utter.

He frowns ever so slightly then turns his back to me. He proceeds back toward Optimus Prime, stopping beside him and leaning over to his audio sensor. I manage to catch his lowered words.

"There's nothing left of him."

Optimus Prime regards me. I regard him back.

"Councillor Levitacus," Optimus says slowly, "allow me a moment to speak one last time with him."

Levitacus nods and steps back. Optimus Prime approaches me. My glare hardens at him. He stops before me.

"This is the fate you've chosen, Scourge," he says calmly. "I wished otherwise for you. I wanted to help you."

"Spare me your mercy, Prime," I snarl. "I did not want to be 'helped'."

He looks at me sternly.

"Scourge, answer me this," he asks, "for your own sake if nothing else, do you have any memory of who you were prior to awakening on Earth? Any at all?"

A waking dream flickers fragilely but clearly in my mind.

Nova Prime walks down a launch site passageway toward a beautiful white interstellar ship. Her name is 'the Epsilon'. By Nova's sides are the members of Jhiaxus' successfully-reformatted Autobot combiner team: Dolrailer, Shuttler, Hepter, Dangar and Greejeeber. They talk excitedly amongst themselves.

"Finally! We're going on a real mission to another planet!" declares Shuttler.

"Wonder what the organic inhabitants of Earth are like?" Dangar comments.

"I hear they're fragile creatures," remarks Greejeeber. "We'll have to be mindful with them."

"Pipe down, guys," Dolrailer orders. "Would you at least try to act like disciplined soldiers in Nova Prime's presence?"

Nova lets out a light chuckle. He rarely chuckles. Dolrailer looks at his commander in slight surprise.

"Sir?" he queries.

"Leave them be, Dolrailer," Nova tells him heartily. "It's not every solar cycle that they get to leave Cybertron and travel to another world. Let them enjoy the moment."

"None," I reply dispassionately. "I remember nothing."

Optimus Prime's gold optics darken. He shakes his head heavily.

"Regrettable." He turns. "May your spark know some measure of peace in cryogenic stasis, Scourge."

To be concluded.