Author's Note:

Sorry for being late again. GAH. You'd think I could crank it out quicker.

Also, tell me, who are you rooting for? Shockwave? Or Optimus?

And there's a reference to Fifty Shades of Gray. I don't think you'll miss it.

Rochelle held the silver gun lovingly.

It had been a long time. Her fist encounter with the Autobots and Mission City seemed so, so long ago. She felt like she had aged a thousand years. And, she still had Jazz's gun. And since she was an Autobot again, she might as well get back into the complete scheme of it and finally get her weapon of choice reattached.

Skyfire, Flashbeam, and Cyphen all sat watching patiently as Ratchet began to attach Jazz's gun to their mother. Clanker, Clunker, Fenrir, MechaWarp, Steelbolt, Nitrostreak, and Nova romped with the Dinobots beneath the careful watch of Kup. The only other boy, Dirtbreaker, was perched eagerly on Ratchet's shoulder as the medic attached the gun to Rochelle, chattering excitedly. He was fascinated with Ratchet in every way. The medic was annoyed at his incessant chittering, but he seemed pleased that he had clearly inherited a protégé that wanted to fall in the medic's footsteps.

Moonlight had taken a shine to Ultra Magnus of all mechs, and the big Autobot didn't know how to hold himself up around her. She always chirped unhappily when he would walk off without her, and so he would walk back and pick her up gingerly in his hands, both hands, as if afraid he would drop her, and then he would go about his business. It was only when Rochelle said for him to put her on his shoulder, she could hold on, that he was finally able to slip comfortably back into his duties with a little admiring decoration that Ultra Magnus said wanted to get as big and strong and smart as he was.

Now, Bumblebee came back with Sam since the parents were safe from Shockwave. And, Bumblebee and Hope hit it off like no one ever had. Both silent without use of their vocals, Bumblebee and Hope had created their own way to communicate, and he also taught her how to converse with clippings of words from the radio. She picked it up eagerly, enamored with the scout, and scout equally smitten with her. It was very odd if the two WEREN'T together, and whenever they weren't, Hope was always looking around for him. Ratchet noted their affectionate behavior. Knockout was placing bets against Blurr that the two would be spark mates by the time Hope was grown.

Conversely, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were betting with Powerglide and Cliffjumper that Knockout would be bonded to Pebble. Unconsciously, the medic preened over Pebble, the sparkling whose life he had helped save in the field and harassed Ratchet over her constant health. The bet was if he could let go of his vanity for her.

BlackIce and SmokeRunner adored Optimus to no end. And, Optimus loved on them (as well as the other sparklings) equally as much with a charm that captured their sparks in a beat.

In fact, the entire base seemed to perk up with the sparklings around. The Autobots adored them, and the sparklings entertained them, and they, the sparklings, and the cheerful atmosphere was almost a constant for base now. The sparklings also got bolder in their exploring, going down the halls of the base while they were small enough and meeting the humans that they were fascinated with. And, big grumpy military humans or not, the sparklings would weasel their way into anyone's heart.

Still, for all the happiness the sparklings brought into the NEST base, tensions thrummed beneath the surface. Optimus and Shockwave were at constant ends, a kind of hatred that practically crackled in the air every time they were near each other. Sentinel Prime had come and surrendered, was stripped of his weapons and thrown into the brig, and only after heavy debate with Optimus was Shockwave able to persuade him that the Prime was true and get him out. Sentinel was under heavy surveillance, but he seemed all right with how things were turning out because the sparklings were sweet on him too.

Honestly, the only ones the sparklings were wary of was Ratchet with his infallible temper, Sunstreaker because he refused to play and ruin his paint, and Cliffjumper who they found to be a little jumpy. They liked Hound and Grapple more than Blurr because whenever they wanted to talk, the former two graciously listened while the latter tended to try to outtalk them.

Tentative measures were taken for an alliance. Tentative on Optimus's part because he wasn't fully convinced of the Decepticons' trustworthiness, but wholeheartedly by Shockwave because he wanted the war to finally end so he would have a peaceful time in which to raise his sparklings. It was deduced that Dirge had all but taken over the Decepticons, and Shockwave detailed his intents to drag Megatron's brutalized body to the surface and use the Matrix to revive him. Knockout gave his input—forcibly talking over an irritated Ratchet—that it would be impossible with the damage to his processor. To which Ratchet one-upped him by saying that even if they couldn't bring back Megatron with his original personality, they could format him to follow orders and become nearly a simple drone to battle Optimus. Knockout, trying to prove himself, also added that as far as he was concerned, they didn't have an able medic or scientist to pull off a feat like that.

At that, Ratchet finally admitted the younger medic had a point.

Shockwave formally announced his surrender to Optimus. He said unless Decepticon aggressors still remained, the war would finally be over. Any Decepticon that surrendered would not be held for his crimes and would be allowed a fresh start after the war, and plans to revive Cybertron were still in motion.

Immediately after that announcement, Thundercracker came in with a squadron of twenty four seekers that wished to lay their arms down.

The NEST bases were overwhelmed. With how many Autobots and Decepticons were rolling in, they had many more bases coming to rise around the continents, and the Autobots were split up with the different seekers. Thundercracker and a group of six others were sent with Ultra Magnus and Grapple to another base—much to Moonlight's depression as she missed Ultra Magnus the instant he left. The Dinobots and TurboBooster (to pacify the restless beasts) took another eight with them in a base in Canada. The last sever were sent with Sideswipe and Sunstreaker and Kim to one in lower California. Kim was happy because she was close to home.

And so, that left Optimus and the other Autobots with Knockout, Sentinel Prime, and Shockwave. Octane too, but he was accompanied by Blurr, Hound and Kup wherever he went as he began to shuttle the space bridge pillars back to different bases. Sentinel was passive and submitted to whatever his fellow Prime told of him, though Rochelle was sure she could see his pride taking a hit whenever he did.

The sparklings grew. A month had passed in which these events transpired, and the sparklings were all taller than Rochelle now. Nitrostreak was tallest, topping a grand seven foot one. It was quite depressing, actually. As the summer rolled in, Ratchet told her that by this fall when they hit one year, they should all be about ten foot tall. He said the first year was always the year in which sparklings grew the quickest. Then, the next four years their growth would seem stunted as they grew especially slowly, filling out, learning. After five years from their birth, they would be full grown while their processors were still young, and this was the usual age for training to start while their minds were still fresh. Still, Shockwave hoped at this point that the war would officially be over and there would be no need to train his children in the arts of war.

As Shockwave watched his children getting their second alt mode, trading the boom box appearance for a motorcycle Lennox had come in driving and the custom plane toy Epps had brought in, his gaze touched Rochelle. She was laughing, happily taking rides from each new sparkling that wanted to show off his or her new alt mode. Steelbolt, Drexel, Skyfire, Flashbeam, Cyphen, BlackIce, and Nova zipped around the top of the room, ecstatic about using their wings for the first time. Only Moonlight and Pebble retained the boom box as Moonlight's bum leg wouldn't snap into place correctly and Pebble was unable to transform at all from her chassis. His spark pained for her. She was already getting bad cases of restlessness, and there was only so much Knockout could do with an agitated sparkling that wanted to move and play.

Sensing someone's gaze on him, Shockwave looked up. The Prime's facial features were displeased. He hated it when Shockwave would look at Rochelle like that, but the former Decepticon couldn't help it. She had awoken the emotions he had so carefully buried during the war. The sparklings had been of serious help in drawing them out further, and they only seemed to get stronger and stronger as the days dragged on. He hated it and loved it both, and his optic drew back to Rochelle again. As the NEST team members opened up the hatch to let the kids go on a joyride, the sun glinted against Rochelle's necklace.

Shockwave vented sharply. He fixed his sights on the jealous and territorial Prime. "Did you honestly believe you could capture her spark?" he muttered lowly.

Optimus nodded firmly as the shrieks and giggles of the sparklings rose up to them. "I love her," he stated just as quietly to his nemesis. "She is my spark mate, and she loves me as I do her."

Shockwave scowled, mandibles flaring dangerously. "You are a fool," he hissed. "Her spark still rests with the one she wears around her neck."

Optimus's optics flickered. "I am not trying to replace him," he said evenly back.

"Then you are even more of a fool than I thought," Shockwave grumbled. "She uses you. She thinks she can bury the other."

"She does not," Optimus said firmly again, optics darkening in warning. "I freely gave my spark to her. And I know Ironhide will forever stay in her heart."

Shockwave grunted. "So that is his name . . ." He shook his head. "She deceives you. She does not truly love you, and she never will."

"And if you think she could love a wretch like you, then you are the fool."

Shockwave winced slightly before laughing quietly with a deceptive sneer. "Such a low blow for you, Prime. I didn't know you had it in you."

A dangerous rumble started to rise in Optimus's chassis. "When it comes to my spark mate and you, I find I have a very aggressive streak."

"As you should if you wish to keep her," Shockwave suddenly said with threatening ire. His one optic glared at the Prime. "My feelings are not one to be taken lightly, Prime. I love her just as much as you, and I will not let her slip from my grasp without a fight. And I will not be as passive as you are. I will give her so much love that she will not have the need to cling to the dead."

Optimus's hands clenched tightly at the challenge. "She will never go to someone like you. She is MY spark mate, and I will remind her of that, and I will cherish her with the tenderness she needs that a brute like you could not understand. I will make her fall in love with me all over again, and she will have no need to look to others."

Their gazes crackled a moment before a delighted chirp at their feet drew their helms down. MechaWarp was chattering with excitement, asking them to come ride with them. Let's go drive! I can drive now! We want to drive, come on! Please? And in his excitement, he transformed back down to his motorcycle mode, revving with excitement and weaving in between their feet, a little wobbly as he tried to get used to the new form his body was using and his center of balance.

Rochelle laughed, waving her hands to catch their attention, and she shouted above the shrieks and beeps of the sparklings, "Come on! They're not going to be pacified unless we get them out there!"

Both mechs buried their anger at the same time for the sparklings and Rochelle. Shockwave gave a rather mocking bow to Optimus. "After you."

Optimus eyed him, but he dropped down into his alt mode. MechaWarp blocked the Prime's path, revving his engine as big as he could get it to intimidate him, and Optimus playfully revved his engine back with a much bigger roar. MechaWarp shrieked with laughter and darted out of the Prime's way.

Shockwave transformed down, and he resisted opening his door for Rochelle. True to his thought, the door to the Prime's side opened, but Rochelle just laughed and waved him off. "I'm riding with Nitrostreak!" she proclaimed, and the sparkling, now taller than her, picked her up with happy squeals.

"Mommy ride with me!"

The other sparklings were starting to speak too, but Nitrostreak had already progressed to a level to which he could talk in the style of Dinobots. As they all readied to head out, Optimus pinged on the private communications to Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, and Powerglide:

I want you three to scout ahead. Make sure the way is clear. I do not want to place the sparklings at risk.

The three immediately responded to the order and went on their way. Cyphen chirped after Powerglide, enamored at how much stronger he was.

Optimus then sent to Ratchet, I trust you can handle Knockout and Sentinel?

And Ratchet sent back, Knockout's informed me of collateral on Sentinel. And Knockout . . . if I don't strangle him, Pebble should more than occupy him. I will tend to Moonlight.

Optimus flashed his lights in thanks at the medic before he turned out of the base with a clear way reported by Powerglide. Bumblebee and Cliffjumper split up, spanning the area while Powerglide covered a broader span. The sparklings chirped and yipped in excitement (taught the ways of the road by a disgruntled Epps who realized soon that the kids had already used the internet) and happily peeled out, letting Nitrostreak and Rochelle lead the way.

That kind of outing didn't become a usual thing as Optimus and Shockwave didn't want to risk taking them out into the open so often with the threat of Dirge and his followers, but every so often when the sparklings were unable to be contained they would have to take them out or risk nasty temper tantrums and sulky children that tried to sneak out to see the beautiful blue sky on their own.

Still, things were . . . nice, in a way. Things slowed down, Rochelle saw her parents again, and she got to play with her children day in and day out. She absolutely thrived in the position of being a mother, loving it to death. Even the stress between Autobot and Decepticon faded some. More often than she actually heard, Optimus informed her that tensions between the seekers and the Autobots they were with were dropping. They were regularly on the lookout for the Decepticon aggressors, and many times would come together in skirmishes against them and bonded slowly closer with one unified purpose. The sparklings had brought together the Decepticons and Autobots. A steady trickle of Decepticon turncoats continued to seep in to Shockwave's cause bolstered by Autobots. Shockwave was even allowed his weapons back.

It made Rochelle excited, really. Finally, after all of these years, Decepticons and Autobots were coming together! It sent a thrill through her heart that could only be combated by the fluttering of her spark for Optimus. Or . . . Shockwave . . .

Rochelle sat above on the platform, watching all her sparklings wrestling violently on the floor, Moonlight sitting happily next to Pebble, both girls cheering on their siblings. But hot damn, if Shockwave couldn't turn on the heat. It seemed, by mutual consent, that Optimus and Shockwave had some sort of agreement where they were both coming on to her (within some sort of set limits she couldn't see) and were letting her decide which Cybertronian she wanted. Still, when she and Optimus spark bonded, she assured him that no matter what, her spark still belonged to him. After all, she hadn't chosen him as her spark mate lightly or frivolously, and she intended to keep her vows to him no matter what.

. . . No matter HOW tempting Shockwave could suddenly make himself.

It wasn't that they weren't fighting anymore. Oh no, that continued with gusto, though Shockwave seemed to keep a much better lid and would withdraw quicker. When Rochelle demanded to know why he was being such a pushover, he got right in her face and practically PURRED in a sexy rumble that he didn't know how Optimus would like it if he suddenly decided to kidnap her for different recreational purposes.

Fifty shades of red, and she didn't press the subject ever again.

After that, Rochelle tried to control her temper Shockwave found so delicious (without much luck) and kept as much distance as she could. Still, that didn't work when Shockwave and she were both in the vicinity of the sparklings at almost all times. But that was what conflicted Rochelle the most. Seeing him with those sparklings!

After almost losing Pebble, he turned into quite the doting father. Rochelle wasn't sure if he was just trying to impress her, but she had caught him in the act of tickling Pebble's peds when she hadn't been there. So it was real. And that was what got her little stomach in knots the most. Sure, he wasn't all happy smiles and laughing and kisses and hugs, but what he could do with one stroke of his fingers over Dirtbreaker's antenna and the purr from the sparkling that ensued was enough to make her heart melt. And when the sparklings fell asleep in a tangled mess in his lap, seeing his one big optic whir softly was such that Rochelle would unwittingly smile up at him before scowling and berating herself a million times over. It certainly didn't help matters that the sparklings called her Mom and him Dad. It made their attraction feel like it was supposed to be mutual since the mom and dad of children were usually married anyways.

Rochelle gave a wave to Lennox as he started his motorcycle and went home early. Rochelle sighed in frustration to herself, rubbing her brows. She couldn't believe she had just used attraction to define Shockwave. This wasn't going to work. She needed to get away from him for a while. He was trying to compromise her feelings with Optimus, and she hated it. She hated him for it. He wanted to tear her away from him! Frustration rose. She groaned to herself and banged her forehead against the metal railing.

This constant tug of war was getting on her nerves. She was going to make it perfectly clear to Shockwave that she was Optimus's and no one else's. But first, she wanted to make that clear to Optimus and that Shockwave held no hold over her.

Rochelle let her communications transform on the side of her head, and she contacted Optimus privately, saying, "Optimus . . ."

"Yes? What is it?"

She sighed quietly. "Um . . . I just wanted to go for a drive. You know, just the two of us . . ."

A soft laugh rumbled in her ears. "That sounds good, but you do not sound that confident."

Rochelle laughed equally as quietly, saying, "Well, I just wanted to talk. I need to get some things off my chest, and I need to get some things clear."

He tutted. "Oh my. I'm not sure if this is sounding good for me. You make it sound like a break up."

Oh, that was subtle. "It's not. In fact, it's the complete opposite." She bit her lip suggestively. "I'll explain a lot more on the trip . . ."

Optimus chuckled softly. "Is that so?"

She smiled, biting her lip harder. "Yeah . . . And . . . Maybe . . . Once we get things cleared up . . . I can finally experience this spark play for myself?"

There was a pause over the line before Optimus gave a low, almost inaudible growl. "Rochelle, I do believe that will not be a maybe, but a promise."

Rochelle grinned at the husky tone of his voice. "Is that so?" she flirted right back. She looked up across the room to Optimus who was leaning against the wall. His optics had lifted from the wrestling sparklings up to Rochelle. "I wonder, how hot can I make you by just talking to you?"

He crossed his arms, leaning a little more, and her eyes immediately caught the sexy and cocky jut of his hips. Ooh, was he toying with her now. "A game of phone sex? Oh, Rochelle, you drabble in taboo subjects . . . With the children so close to you too! If I am not mistaken, I thought you wanted to talk to me first."

Rochelle blushed slightly, and she shook her head, looking over at Pebble and Moonlight that weren't paying her a lick of attention. "I think talking or interfacing first can be interchangeable. And, the kids are fine," she said quietly. She waggled her brows. "They're not worried about what I'm talking about. Or is the great Prime afraid to get caught?"

That quiet growl was a little more prominent. "Absolutely not. I just find it a pity you're too small for me to pin up against the wall."

Rochelle flushed, ducking her head at the sudden imagery, heart beginning to sputter a mile a minute—she couldn't believe they were doing this. "Is that so? Sorry, Optimus, that's weak." Her lip curled up. "Just wait until I get my hands under that chassis of yours. Can you imagine what these hands are going to do?"

He chuckled hotly. "I do believe I can, considering the other times you strung me along. Only this time it's going to be more than a tease," and his voice dipped another octave, "I'm going to make you scream my name."

Oh shit, that was hot—! This wasn't going to work. No, no, this wasn't going to work. Rochelle stood up, murmuring, "Screw this, phone sex sucks. I'm going to screw you instead." As she did, she heard Optimus's low chuckle in her ears again, and she patted Pebble and Moonlight as she passed, calling down to her wrestling sparklings, "Hey kiddos, Optimus and I are—"

The words died in her throat. She had eighteen sparklings, two were with her, and fifteen were down romping below. "Where's Nitrostreak?"

Shockwave looked up from across the room.

With one sweeping glance Rochelle knew who wasn't there. The other sparklings stopped, and they looked around, chirping curiously. They didn't know.

Rochelle turned around to the other bots that were frowning as they immediately began to duck and look in lower places. "Has ANYONE seen Nitrostreak?" Rochelle asked loudly. The bots and humans in the room mumbled, but no one spoke up. No one knew.

Shockwave snarled, stalking forward, and Rochelle witnessed him calling on his communications for Nitrostreak. The former Decepticon leader scowled. "He's not within a mile radius," the one-eyed bot grumbled.

Rochelle's eyes popped. "What? What do you mean? How do you know that?"

"His communications aren't that strong yet," Ratchet supplied helpfully with a frown. "As a sparkling, they don't have as strong a signal. He's already over a mile away? Where in the All Spark . . ."

One of the soldiers shifted, asking his superior, "Should we call Lennox back?"

He shook his head. "No, he asked for leave and got it. We can handle this." He moved behind Rochelle, firing up the computers in an instant as he said, "We'll run a sweep of D.C. I doubt he could get that far that fast. The energon detectors will pick him up."

After several tense minutes, the energon sweepers picked him up. Heading west. Very much away from Washington.

"Where the hell does he think he's going?" Rochelle snapped. Ooh, she was hot—not from Optimus's words anymore, but hot under the collar with worried rage. "He knows he's not supposed to go out alone! He knows he's not supposed to—GAH! Alone!"

"Not alone." Rochelle looked up sharply when Sentinel came forward with a proffered motorcycle.

Rochelle blanched. She called Lennox, but he didn't pick up. She groaned. There was no way to hear the ring above the wind, and with both hands on the handlebars . . .

"I'm gonna kill him," Rochelle hissed to herself. She began to walk down the platform steps as Optimus and Shockwave both transformed down. "I'm gonna kill him, by God, I'll wring his neck—!" and Rochelle wasn't sure whether she was talking about Lennox or Nitrostreak at this point. All she could picture was squished sparkling and human crushed by a vengeful 'Con that wanted to kill the sparklings for some God forsaken reason she couldn't understand—!

"Cliffjumper, Bumblebee," Optimus ordered, "you're with us. Powerglide, scout ahead and see if you can find Major Lennox and Nitrostreak. Roll out!"

Rochelle jumped in Optimus's passenger seat as Powerglide ran out and transformed with a yip. They rolled out, Sentinel watching pensively. He turned to talk to Ratchet even before they were out of sight.

They hit the interstate out to where Lennox and Nitrostreak were. It was only a couple minutes later that Powerglide cheerfully proclaimed, "Found them! Lennox is pulling over, Rochelle, he's going to call you."

Rochelle gave a big sigh. "Good. Any Decepticons?"

"Not that I can see from here!"

"Good. Thanks, Powerglide."

After nervously tapping her toes together, Rochelle picked up to Lennox on the first ring. "Lennox? Are you guys okay?"

He laughed at her worry, saying, "Easy, we're all right. Nitrostreak is having a blast though and I'm trying to keep him from transforming in a gas station. We can rendezvous back with you guys on the road at—"

"Red hot! Red hot!" Powerglide's voice interrupted with a yell. "Decepticons sighted! Red hot, screaming in, I'm engaging, Major Lennox, get out of there!"

The phone clicked dead before Rochelle could say anything more, and her heart leapt to her throat. "Lennox? Powerglide! How many are there?"

"A whole helluva lot! I can see Ramjet and Dirge and Ransack, but I don't see Tailwind—to hell with it, he-ee-ere I go!"

"Powerglide!" Rochelle cursed when he had terminated his comm. for the upcoming battle. Shockwave darted ahead, shamelessly weaving in between the traffic, and Optimus followed, flooring it as well with Bumblebee and Cliffjumper zipping past.

Rochelle winced when she could see the Decepticons ahead in the air swooping to the ground. Hardly a second later, her comm. rang again, and she picked up to hear a massively panicked Nitrostreak crying out, "Mama! Mama, I'm scared!"

"Shh, shh, shh," she hushed him quickly, trying to control the fluttering in her chest. Rochelle transformed in her seat, unbuckling as they drew closer. "It's all right, baby, it's all right. We're coming. We're almost there. Lennox is going to take good care of you, it's all right—"

A loud crash and a sparkling scream interrupted Rochelle's words to Nitrostreak, and his comm. link suddenly cut off. Rochelle's heart jumped to her throat. Shockwave transformed ahead with a guttural roar, his gun's shot tearing a seeker out of the sky.

Cliffjumper and Bumblebee threw themselves into the fray. Crouching, Rochelle felt the familiar feeling of getting jettisoned from Optimus's seats as he transformed, and with a cry, transformed both hands into swords just in time to attack the Decepticon he had shot her at. Both her blades dug into the seeker, anchoring herself, and she yelped when she was wrenched as the 'Con moved. She stabbed again, nearly falling off in the process, and the 'Con shouted, hand scrabbling and yanking her off. With a grunt, Rochelle felt herself thrown. She crashed into someone and pitched to the ground with a heavy groan.

God-damn, she needed to practice!

A shrill squeal from Nitrostreak brought her head up, and Rochelle bolted for him, ducking under and between massive feet as Lennox quite literally shot a 'Con's optic out with just his pistol, taking only the best shot as Nitrostreak wiggled away from a hand that swiped at him. With a hiss, Nitrostreak let the last of his missiles rocket out to that hand, and the 'Con reared with a shriek, holding his busted optic and glaring down at them.

Rochelle yelled mightily and lunged up the 'Con's leg. He shouted, snarling, "You little cretin!" and clawed hands raked close to her. Rochelle ducked beneath, crawling up with familiarity for her move when her fingers locked in his hip and she pulled herself up to the small of his back. She lunged up again and out of the way of another swipe, situating herself between his shoulder blades. Again the Decepticon tried to reach behind his back to reach her, and he gave a frustrated roar when he was not flexible to reach her. Gritting her teeth and flipping up, Rochelle shot off a volley of blaster fire down the 'Con's back, ripping him open from the base of the neck to his waist. The Decepticon fell with an unearthly shriek, collapsing on his back and scrabbling at the dirt in the effort to rise. A couple heavy shots fired close above, and Rochelle winced but darted up to the 'Con's neck, jammed the barrel of Jazz's gun into his throat and blew up into his processor. The body slacked.

Without missing a beat, Rochelle darted back across to Nitrostreak and Lennox and grabbed both their wrists to drag them back to use the fallen body as cover. The jets screamed overhead, dive-bombing and bullets peppering all around, and Rochelle winced when a blast rocked close and scared Nitrostreak into quailing into her with a scared cry.

As Rochelle shushed Nitrostreak again, taking helpful shots at the 'Con's whenever there was an opening, Lennox scowled when he used up his last clip and ducked back down under the cover. "I swear, I would have never left the base if I knew that was him!" Lennox hollered above the crack of weaponry.

"I know!" Rochelle shouted back. She winced when a stray bullet bit her side, gasping and hunching over Nitrostreak before popping the 'Con in the same place he had her. "But I'm still going to fucking tear your head off!"

All hell had broken loose. Optimus tore into a Decepticon with his energon axe before swinging right around to combat the next. NEST soldiers were busy evacuating the civilians in the small town and barring the interstate so no others could get to the site of the battle. Thundercracker and his battalion of reinforcements were over ten minutes away, and they were pummeled hard—too hard. Cliffjumper shouted that he was pinned in the rear flank, and Bumblebee squealed, jerking out of the way as Ramjet nearly nailed him, so close that his tailfin grazed the top of his helm.

Shockwave snarled and ducked behind his shield when another barrage of bullets rained from above. Optimus grunted and gritted through it, his trailer left at base in his haste to save Nitrostreak and Lennox. The bullets bit across his hunched shoulder and into his back before he whirled and blocked a costly blow from one that had landed to try to land the killing blow. Twisting the Decepticon's arm brutally, Optimus felt more bullets biting up his arm before he managed to gut up the 'Con, push him back, and give a back-handed swing of his axe that cleaved him in half.

There were too many to fight alone. With so many fliers in the sky and not enough ground units with a long-shot radius, there was no way they could hold out for Thundercracker's reinforcements, t minus seven minutes. There was no way to tuck tail and run because the seekers would merely peck at their tailpipes the whole way and make easy prey—


Optimus jerked his head in Shockwave's direction. That one, heinous red eye was dilated tight in almost uncontrolled rage as he warded off another barrage of bullets with his shield. His gaze left no room for argument. "The Matrix!"

Optimus's gaze flattened, and he steadfastly refused, falling into the fray and helping Cliffjumper who was receiving a royal beating. Shockwave clicked and snarled audibly. A few seconds more of warding off the enemy, and they roundabout faced again.

"Give me the Matrix! Or do you have a death wish!"

Optimus seethed, knowing exactly what the 'Con wanted the Matrix for. But did he dare let Shockwave use it again, let him have that kind of power again? Did he dare let him defile something so sacred as life giving into something that was life taking? He gritted his teeth, beheading another Decepticon only to have it replaced with another. A fleeting glance at the skies revealed a multitude of airborne enemies they didn't have the firepower to contend again.

This time, with the half-second opening, Shockwave whirled and stuck out his hand, booming, "THE MATRIX!"

With an equally frustrated growl, Optimus let his chassis open for a perilous second on the battlefield to withdraw the Matrix of Leadership, and he tossed it across the field of battle. Shockwave's hand closed around it, and he turned, slamming it into the correct compartment of his gun. A threatening whir split the air, and the power gathered like a thunderstorm inside the barrel of his gun. Shockwave lifted and aimed, and shot.

The blast of pure energy was like a rocket of blue that jerked Shockwave's arm back, and Shockwave watched as the Insecticon banked at the last second, but it was too late. The blast of energy ripped through his wings with ease, and Ransack fell with unearthly screeches before hitting the ground and blasting into oblivion.

Shockwave hissed in triumph before locking on to the bots flying above, mainly Dirge. Optimus covered Shockwave's back as the former Decepticon did him, and Cliffjumper and Bumblebee moved back, covering Rochelle, Lennox, and Nitrostreak.

Thundercracker, t minus four minutes.

And the seeker's reinforcements wouldn't come soon enough. As both former Decepticon leader and Autobot leader fought back to back, the seekers above pelted them, wore them down, and stressed them thin. Dirge banked across as he eyed the two leaders, and then, one made a fatal error, stepping out just a hair too far.

He didn't care which went down—Optimus or Shockwave. But if he could, he would take them both down if the opportunity presented itself. He fixated his missiles on the one who had exposed his back. The missiles prepped—

For the glory of Megatron—

And shot.

The other looked up just in time to see where Dirge had fired. In an act of selflessness he did not expect himself to give to the other, he lunged and rammed into the mech's back. He fell out of the way with a shout.

He looked up just in time to lock his gaze with Rochelle before fiery pain exploded across his back, and he fell to the ground in a darkness thick as death.

Rochelle screamed his name.

Author's Note:

OMG who was shot? Optimus or Shockwave? Tell me!

And tell me who you want paired with Rochelle! (not that it's going to effect the end of the story)