Author's Note:

I LIIIIIIIIIIIVE! *raises from the dead like Mushu*

I want to apologize for taking horrendously FOREVER to update this, but after battling severe writer's block and real life hitting like a bitch, I have finally got this darned thing ready, and I like the chapter! So forgive me for taking so long, and please enjoy this chapter! :)


Two days. Her peds hurt from aimlessly walking in the hopes of finding where Predaking's trail had led, but since he flew, he left no clues for her to find. Her slightly crumpled wing had resorted to a dull, throbbing ache, and she was running low on energon. She was dirty, tired, and homesick. And still she hadn't found Predaking, and still no one had found her.

She was tired. And grumpy.

Slugging along the next day after another night of her core temperatures dipping into the blue zone, Nightstalker trudged along, tiny heels clicking against the metal surface of a restored Cybertron. She just needed to find a well of some sort with running energon. If the planet was alive, there had to be energon somewhere. Angrily, Nightstalker scowled, knowing that Predaking could have easily traveled all of Cybertron at the rate of his flying which meant that she had lost the runt for good. And now, in the middle of nowhere, she had no idea how to get back to the Autobots or find them.

Nightstalker sighed. She wished Cliffjumper were there. She missed him. And Ratchet. Actually, she thought at the moment she missed Bumblebee the most. It had been too long since she had talked with him. Or played with him. She bet they were worried out of their minds too. Or maybe they thought she was dead. That would certainly be a morbid twist on things.
"Predaking," she said aloud, "I hate you."

Yes. She hated him. She was quite sure of it. He had gotten her into this mess, he had disabled her wing, he had ran off like a little baby when he had said he wanted her with him. Huffing, Nightstalker touched her comm. link again for the umpteenth time.

"Guys? Hi. Hey. I'm here on Cybertron. Where are you all? Did you bridge back to Earth? Did you switch up frequencies? Am I in a dead spot, just like yesterday? Or is my comm. link fragging broken because I had a giant metal dragon throwing me up against the wall!"

With another snarl and stamp of her foot, Nightstalker walked onwards, stewing about her bad luck and that child of a dragon. She was going to teach him a thing or two when she saw him again. Oh yes she was. She didn't care what she had to do, Predaking had it coming to him. He really did. The least he could have done if he was ditching her was to fly her back to the Autobots.

Ped stubbing against something, Nightstalker squeaked and flailed her arms out as she stumbled forward and regained her balance. Looking at the offending shape jutting out of the ground, like an Earth rock, she scowled and turned, walking the rest of the way up the hill. And as she passed the crest of the hill, her sarcastic and angry thoughts slowed to a halt and her crossed arms fell limp at her sides. For a second, her throat was so tight she almost couldn't cycle, and her spark skipped a beat as dread suffused her throat.

What is this?

Her orange optics took in the miles and miles of skeletons. Only, they weren't the shells of dead Cybertronians. No. They were the bones of . . . of . . .

Her vocalizer cracked open. "Predaking!"

She had to be right on top of him. This was where he would stop. At a landscape filled with nothing but bones upon bones upon skeletons upon skeletons of dead Predacons. The dust stirred like the dirt of the Earth, only it was Cybertronian static over decayed metal and rust. Miles upon miles of skeletons, tainted and grim, and her spark beat in her throat only imagining what must have gone through Predaking's processor and spark when he saw the dead remains of what had once been his race.

"Predaking!" she shouted. She craned her head, looking for him as she ran deeper into the forlorn area. How in the world had this happened? These bodies hadn't been here before. She knew that. They were ancient skeletons. How had they moved back up to the surface? She almost skipped a step. Was she actually walking on the Sea of Rust? She hadn't seen the sea . . .

"Predaking! Predaking, where are you?" She ran on, avoiding the skeletons, determined not to disturb their resting place or desecrate it. "Predaking! Preda—AHH!"

She felt the wind gust a second before she felt a giant claw slam into her back and send her crashing face-first into the gritty surface of Cybertron. His transformation sounded above her, and his fist yanked her up to his face to glare into glittering yellow optics.

"LEAVE ME!"

He threw her on the ground, and Nightstalker felt every last breath of air gust forcefully from her body as pain flared up her back. He transformed again, and inches from her face, his mandibles extended and an unearthly roar shook her audio receptors.

Nightstalker screamed shrilly, and she cowered in terror. The roar cut off short, and then, as Nightstalker peeked up at him to see what was going on, he roared again, but the tone was different, not as enraged. She screamed and flinched, and her spark rate spiked along with her processing power.

Is he posturing to me?

Nightstalker screamed at him again, sitting up to face him. The great dragon rumbled a low growl in his chassis, and his tail twitched. He placed his claws wider and unleashed a guttural roar in her face, and while she shielded her audio receptors against the volume, she almost laughed.

He's POSTURING at me! Well, if he wants to know who's the dominant animal here . . .

Leaping to her feet, knowing that he wasn't going to hurt her, Nightstalker released the shrillest scream she could manage. A sharp sound jumped from Predaking as he winced at the pitch, and then, she glared at him, daring him to come back at her.

The great dragon hesitated, optics narrowing. Tail raising, he lifted his bulk and slammed both front peds down on the ground in front of her and released another air-shattering roar. Despite feeling her struts vibrating, Nightstalker didn't let herself back away. The instant he let up, she screamed again, fisting her servos and stamping her peds, making him back away again.

He shifted across from her, skittering to the side and back as he grumbled. Then, he surged up once more, wings flaring open wide as he roared so loudly she almost had to mute her audios because of the volume, peds slamming down on the ground. He beat the ground with his tail after that, daring her and using his size to intimidate her.

This is taking too long.

Annoyed and fed up, Nightstalker sucked in a huge vent and released it on a pitch she didn't know she was capable of. The scream split the air like nails on a chalkboard, and she stamped a ped, flaring her wings and arms as big as she could. When she had expelled all she could in one long scream that had Predaking cringing, she fisted her servos at her side and glared at Predaking, chassis heaving in frustration.

However, to her pleasure, Predaking's wings folded back submissively. He grumbled lowly, claws scratching at the surface of Cybertron, and he hesitated, unwilling to be beaten by a femme a fraction of his size for asserting his dominance, but Nightstalker's wingtips twitched when she saw him working up another roar.

"Don't you DARE," she snapped at him, poking a claw in his face. His head reared back. "Now you can either sit your fat dragon aft down and listen to me or you can transform and we'll talk this out like civil sentient beings, got it?" The beast snarled, pawing at the ground petulantly and yellow optics cutting into her. Nightstalker curled a lip at him. She pointed at the ground. "SIT. OR TRANSFORM."

There was hesitation. With an angry whine in the back of his throat, she witnessed his haunches lower fractionally, and then, his transformation snapped angrily as he shrunk back down to a more manageable size and stood leering at her.

For a moment, Nightstalker just stared back, unable to wrap her processor around what had just happened. Then, discounting it for later, she hiked her chin up, saying, "Good. If you'd have sat down like a dog, I'd've REALLY had something to say." Then, the recent days caught up with her, and then, her orange optics popped and she threw up her arms. "And what the frag was that all about? I can't tell if you were fighting for dominance or throwing another temper tantrum! I walked all over Cybertron looking for your sorry aft because you dumped me off in the middle of nowhere! I've almost FROZE to death these past two nights, and all you've got to say for it is nothing. Nothing! You just throw a hissy fit!"

She began to pace, half throwing violent gestures at him and half yelling in his face. "I put myself out on a limb deciding to stick with you, and why? Not for myself! No, if I wanted to stick up for myself, I would have went back to the Autobots and not given two frags about your sorry aft! I went with you because you asked nicely and because I thought you needed a friend! Then you get all sulky and pitch a tantrum and leave me STRANDED with a wound that YOU gave me that left me GROUNDED!" She threw up her arms again, groaning loudly, not noticing that Predaking's angry glare had faded and his servos had unclenched from their fists.

"And after we nicely patch each other up like good friends do, you fragging run off and tear open your wound again, and look at you! Dripping energon all over the place, are you fragging TRYING to offline yourself? I didn't ask for any of this! I'm trying to help you since you're all alone in the fragging world, and you keep pushing me away! Now what have you got to say for yourself?"

Standing legs akimbo and arms crossed, Nightstalker narrowed her orange optics up at the giant mech. He seemed to shift marginally under her gaze, and he wouldn't look at her, face tilted away as he avoided her scorching look. The second he opened his mouth, however, she cut him off.

"If you're not telling me you're sorry, you better rethink what you're about to say."

He shifted again, a brief scowl touching his face before it faded. Finally, he looked back down at her. He took a measured breath. "Why did you come back?"

"Tell me you're sorry first, and maybe I'll answer."

He hissed. His servos clenched up as he bit down on the words, refusing to let them pass from his lips, believing it too demeaning a level for him to stoop to. His lip curled as he fought it, but Nightstalker didn't budge, waiting expectantly for the words. When he hesitated too long, she pointedly tapped her ped impatiently, and she watched his mouth move as an almost inaudible sound came out.

"Sorry."

Nodding in satisfaction, Nightstalker replied, "I came back because you were alone and miserable. And when I saw . . ." she hesitating, casting her servos out around them, "THIS, I knew more than ever that you needed someone that cared about you. So I chose to care."

"You can't just choose that."

"Of course I can. Now kneel down, I need to patch you up again."

He grumbled again for taking her order, but he knelt down on a knee, and when he was still too much taller than her, sat down so she could reach. Taking the welder from her subspace, the only thing she had on her person, Nightstalker wrinkled her olfactory system as she tended the wound Megatron had given him. It was old, stiffening around the edges but bleeding at the center where he had ripped the weld open with his transforming. Her own wound on her chest was healing, if stiffly, from the wound Starscream had given her.

Once she had finished, she put away the welder again, and she curled a finger to Predaking. "Now. Lean down."

He leaned back, as if affronted by the very idea. "Why? You've finished."

"Just trust me and lean down."

Haltingly, Predaking listened, and when he did, Nightstalker stepped up on his thigh, reached her arms up, and wrapped them around his neck, boldly giving him his first hug even though her spark sputtered uncertainly. He froze at the foreign feeling, and when a pregnant pause had passed, said, "What are you doing?"

"It's called a hug," she said. She squeezed him tighter, feeling a heavy stone sit in her chassis because he didn't even know. "We do it to express affection. You wrap your arms around someone and squeeze them."

For a second, he awkwardly took her hug, and then, she felt him move and arms rest around her loosely, as if he was afraid his strength would crush her if he put any pressure on her. After a moment, he said, "I don't see the point."

"The point is to show affection. There's no other point. People hug each other to show that they care for each other."

There was a pause. "You care about me?"

"Yep."

He stopped again. "Why?"

Her wings tipped downwards. "Because everyone needs someone to care about them."

They sat like that for a moment, and then, he asked, "How long does one hug?"

Nightstalker sputtered out a laugh, and she let go which made him let go. Stepping down, she answered, "Well, it depends on how bad someone needs a hug, I guess. And you really needed one."

His brows cinched. "How could you tell?"

She grinned then, shaking her head. "You can't really explain that. But don't worry. You'll figure it out someday." When his face remained pinched in thought, Nightstalker frowned. "What's wrong?"

Predaking cycled carefully, and he looked at her. "Why did Shockwave never hug me?"

Her jaw popped open and then shut promptly. "Ah—Um, he cared about you?"

"Yes," he said without hesitation, frowning right back at her. "He is my creator. He cares about me."

Hesitating, Nightstalker bit her lip. Shockwave. Care. Carefully choosing her words, Nightstalker said, "Well, not everyone hugs and is super emotional. Most Decepticons don't hug. My half brother never hugged me even though he cared about me." The words choked out as a strange half lie and half truth, but Predaking nodded, seemingly satisfied.

"I understand. I don't think I hug either."

Nightstalker almost laughed at that. Instead, she glanced up at Predaking uncertainly, wanting to know for herself, but worried she might overstep a line. "So, uh, how could you tell he cared about you?"

Predaking thought about it, and then answered. "I could sense it. Is that like how you can sense if people need hugs?"

Her lips twitched. "Yeah. Same thing."

They sat in silence for some time, the wind howling faintly through the bleak valley. He turned his helm, casting his yellow optics across the way. With a soft clearing of her throat, Nightstalker caught his attention.

"So, um . . . What are you thinking?" When he fixed her with an intense look, she gave a small shrug. "I . . . don't like the idea of you sitting around mourning endlessly over those who died a long time ago. Even if it wasn't by typical means, you were given the gift of life, so you need to do something with it."

She watched his lips press and his olfactory system crease on one side with a suppressed snarl. "We must go."

When the great Cybertronian stood, Nightstalker popped to her peds as well, exclaiming, "Wait—where? What's going on?"

His olfactory system contracted again, visibly taking a breath of something unpleasant. "Darkness is brewing on this planet. I feel it." His infallible gaze cut past the horizon as if searching for something. Finally, he said, "An Autobot informed me that more of my kind live here on this planet."

"An Autobot?" Nightstalker felt her wings perk up immediately, latching to his words with a leap of her spark. "Who was it? Did they ask about me? Did you tell them I was okay?"

He cast a glance down at her. "I told them it was no concern of mine where you were." Predaking's claw fisted, then relaxed. "But . . . The yellow one was adamant in finding you."

Warmth spilled into her spark. "Bumblebee . . . Was he the only one?"

Predaking shook his head. "There was a green one, and two blue ones with him. One was a femme."

"Bulkhead, Smokescreen, and Arcee," she murmured to herself. Where was Cliffjumper? She smiled up at Predaking. "Thank you. I have my family . . . now let's go find yours."

With a guttural sound of approval, Predaking transformed, and his wings spread, but his massive bulk didn't take off. When he waited expectantly, Nightstalker gestured to her wing. "I can't fly, remember? My wing's all bust—AH!"

She nearly bolted when his mouth opened and grabbed her, but instead he picked her up with gentle ease by the arm and planted her on his back. Squeaking uncertainly, Nightstalker hitched her legs up and stuck them on the armor of his back. She stuttered out some words, but when she felt his bulk collecting beneath her, her spark lodged in her throat and she immediately leaned down to grab his back. With a tremendous force, Nightstalker screamed shortly when Predaking took off with a jolting start, and after the first violent pumps of his wings, Nightstalker felt the erratic ride smoothen out to a rather relaxing cruise.

So . . . I'm riding a dragon. Won't Fli-Ni be surprised.


Nothing?

No. Nothing.

. . .

I'm sorry. She won't let me in. I . . . really fragged things up with her. To the point that . . . I don't think she'll ever let me back in.

. . .

At least you know she's alive somewhere. And she doesn't seem to be in distress.

. . . Yeah. Thanks, Knockout.

"Chief! Hey, where's your head at?"

Yanked out of his musings, Nightfall blinked the world back into focus and looked at Wheeljack who had a brow quirked at him. Smiling sheepishly, Nightfall rubbed the nape of his neck.

"Ah, I was just thinking about my sister."

Wheeljack flashed a brief grin before returning his optics to the avenue of space. "Yeah? Don't kid yourself, Nightfall. She's doing just fine wherever she is, I guarantee it."

Nightfall felt his lips play against a smile. "Yeah?"

"Yeah I'm sure," Wheeljack said, acting affronted as he maneuvered the starship closer to Theta Scorpii that loomed in the distance. "That femme's got some cogs in her like I haven't seen. If she wasn't so scrawny, I wouldn't put it past her to have the cogs needed to be a Wrecker."

Before he could stop it, Nightfall laughed. "My sister? A Wrecker? Ha! Wheeljack, you're blowing smoke out your exhaust. She couldn't hurt a person if she tried, and we all know that even if she was a medic for the Wreckers, she'd have to be armed."

There was a pregnant pause. "Not to bust your bubble, Prime," Wheeljack said gruffly, "but she WAS Megatron's lead torturer for a span of time. Ask Cliff, he's got some stories to tell ya."

Nightfall winced. "Yeah . . . Yeah, that's right." He wrinkled up his olfactory system and crossed his legs in his seat, jiggling them thoughtfully. "I kinda forgot, y'know? She just . . . She seems so different anymore, to the point that I have a hard time envisioning her as a torturer."

Wheeljack chuffed a grunt. "I know what you mean. She's a lot different than the cowering little Decepticon she was when I first saw her." After a moment, Wheeljack gave a short snort of a laugh and situated his palms around the wheel again. "She's certainly grown up well, eh? Some medic must've done a good job setting an example to her."

"Eh?" Nightfall leaned over in exaggeration, cupping his servo to his audio. "What was that? I might have to get you to repeat that praise for Ratchet so I can get it on tape for the poor mech."

"Aw, shaddap," Wheeljack drawled, waving a disinterested hand at Nightfall, restraining himself from actually pushing his Prime's face away like he would have any other mech. "What the Doc don't know can't hurt him."

"Yeah, and it won't ever earn him a drop of respect from you either, will it?"

"Pit no. The Doc would hold it over my head until I got rust in my undercarriage."

They shared another laugh before things settled down again, and Nightfall relaxed back in the passenger seat, content to know that even though he was Prime he wasn't losing touch with his soldiers. He had talked to Bumblebee some about that since he was worried about how much contact with them would be too much for his station, but Bumblebee loved the fact that Nightfall related to them all so well. Overall, from what Bumblebee had gathered in the barracks, it seemed the entire crew liked his sociability. Apparently they had all wanted to have a touch of a more personal relationship with their Prime, and Optimus had grown more and more frosty over the years. Ratchet speculated it was because the Prime was afraid of getting too attached lest he was unable to order his soldiers into life threatening situations; either that, or the loss of so many under his command had already made his spark more callous despite his obvious compassion.

"Can you believe it?" Nightfall asked Wheeljack. "Bumblebee's a warrior now."

Wheeljack chuckled. "Kid's finally growing up."

"I know. He's gotten a lot more confident since he's gotten his voice back."

"And he's turning into a killer of femmes, too."

They chuckled again, and Nightfall felt a wistfulness grow in his spark. Whenever they found Nightstalker, she was going to be so surprised to hear Bumblebee speaking. He couldn't wait to see the look on her face . . .

"Do you think they'll find her?"

Wheeljack gave a barking laugh then, to the point that the Wrecker had to slap his own thigh in amusement. "Pit, if they DON'T find that femme, the sun'll freeze over. You've got the Protectobots all split up looking for her both on Earth and Cybertron, and I can promise you that you're not gonna be able to get Cliffjumper to take a breem for a stasis nap until he's found her. So quite your worrying, she'll be fine."

Nightfall cracked a rueful grin, and he rubbed the back of his helm sheepishly. "Yeah . . . You've made your point. Just wish I was as optimistic as you were."

Wheeljack chuckled. "Well, when you've been alive as long as I have and you've been through the things I've been through, you learn to get optimistic about everything or you'll be pessimistic about everything."

The young Prime glanced over at him. "Yeah? I heard we Protectobots just got the fumes of the kind of things you Wreckers walked into. And we got into some pretty heated things . . . Was that rumor true?"

His lip curled. "You've got no idea kid." Nightfall took those grim words as they were, and then, Wheeljack glanced over at him. He studied him a moment, and then he looked back out the front windshield. "Though, I'm kinda glad you don't. Might not've become Prime if you'd seen or done some of the stuff I have."

The silence sat heavily between them as the two mechs, each a member of a different unit now fused into the same group, contemplated their own thoughts. Nightfall felt his thoughts turn to the Protectobots, and he felt his lips turn up. He honestly couldn't wait to get back from this expedition. While they might have a lot of work to do to restore Cybertron, there was going to be plenty of time to hang out and catch up . . . and he had a LOT of catching up to do with them.

Then, after indulging in his own thoughts, his mind drifted back to the age of peace they were about to instigate with the retrieval of the All Spark. For the count, they had two rogue Decepticons, Starscream and Shockwave, Megatron was dead, and hopefully they could manage to get more of the Vehicons and Knockout to choose to defect and join them. Nightfall knew he would rather keep things as simple as peaceful as possible.

But . . . what to do about the politics? Nightfall didn't know the first thing about politics. They definitely weren't putting the caste system back in, but it couldn't be a dictatorship like Megatron had wished. Nightfall gave a small, perturbed vent. He didn't like the idea of himself as Prime being in charge, not only because he was a bit brain about politics, but also because the ruling of Primes in days past had got them in trouble. All that power couldn't rest with one person. The age of Primes had to change.

Did they dare handle the system more like a democracy? Nightfall's processor began to percolate. It seemed like a good idea. It had worked for some of the humans. A sort of plan with checks and balances, as the humans called it? Though he was Prime, other people could potentially veto an order of his if it wasn't in the best interests of Cybertron and its people . . . It would certainly keep things away from a dictatorship. But he couldn't just stack the government with Autobots. That would be one-sided and clearly manipulative. He'd have to get Neutrals to help lead. Preferably, he felt like it would be best because it would give more power to the people and less on the war factions, which had been slandered by the end of the war. Neither Autobots or Decepticons were liked at this point.

Nightfall paused. Decepticons. They had two rogue 'Cons and Knockout. Knockout wasn't his best option as the mech didn't seem like any position in power would suit him . . . but Shockwave or Starscream? His wings stiffened at the thought of Starscream. No. Starscream he would rather put out of his misery. That 'Con was nothing but traitorous, and his scheming would hurt the peace and he would try to usurp all the authority. Shockwave? Nightfall felt static prickle beneath his armor plating. He couldn't trust Shockwave at all. Something seemed manipulative beneath that mech's surface . . .

But, Shockwave HAD been a senator before the war. He would know politics best, wouldn't he? His wings twitched. If he could keep the Decepticon out of science, he might be more inclined to let the Decepticon have a role in the peace . . . Then again, he probably would have to chalk it up to the fact that no matter what Decepticon he let onto a new council he wouldn't be able to fully trust. That would be a bullet he would have to bite.

Well, that was, if he could even persuade a Decepticon to be a part of the peace.

"So . . . Not to pry into any Prime business . . . But why would Optimus shoot the All Spark all the way out into Theta Scorpii? One of the most hazardous star systems in the galaxy?"Nightfall blinked, looking over at Wheeljack. The Wrecker shrugged. "Just saying. Seems like a pointless trip we made. The All Spark's most likely blown to bits right now with all the asteroids, gamma bursts, planetoid collisions, and plasma storms that pummel this area."

Nightfall shrugged. "Why not? It'll deter people from searching here. Besides, if Optimus was shooting the future of our race out here, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't leave it in a breakable box."

"Seriously?" Wheeljack looked over at him with a dubious, arched brow. He returned his sights to the way ahead. "You're basing this all on a hunch?"

"No no no!" Nightfall shook his head, and he knocked on his chassis. "Matrix, remember? I can commune with the Primes of old. Optimus told me where to search, and I trust his judgment." He paused. "Besides, since the All Spark is pure energy, he must've had to make something to hold it all. Or something."

"Or something," Wheeljack muttered with a snort. "That's got to be the dumbest line of thinking I've ever heard, Prime."

Face pinching because Wheeljack obviously lacked the faith that he himself held, Nightfall protested, "Well—those relics you all found were in nigh indestructible canisters! What's to say it's any different for something as important as the All Spark?"

Wheeljack snickered again, and Nightfall felt his wings perk up in annoyance. "Yeah. Hopefully its little container didn't break open between planet collisions . . ."

"All right, Wheeljack, enough with your sarcastic comments. Just get us out there, will you?"

The Wrecker waved a hand of dismissal. "All right, all right. I'll try not to scratch the paint on this tub. But no promises."

The ships engines gave a deep rumbling whirr as Wheeljack prepared to move them forward, and then, Nightfall reached a hand out, putting it in front of Wheeljack. "Wait." He frowned, optics roving over the clusters of asteroids ahead, and he wrinkled his olfactory system. He shook his head. "I better head out there. I'd rather not risk damaging the ship, and besides, at my size, I can fit through there easily."

Wheeljack shrugged as Nightfall stood up, saying, "You the boss."

Rolling his optics, Nightfall cast his optics about. "Hey, you got some sort of tow cabling?"

"Locker on your right."

Opening and finding the tow cabling exactly where Wheeljack had said it was, Nightfall saluted to the Wrecker, looped the heavy cables around his shoulder, and hopped out the back. For a second, he floated, and then, transforming so the cabling was looped around the nose of his alt mode, Nightfall's engines kicked hot as he delved into the asteroid field.

Zipping along, Nightfall weaved himself in between the giant rock formations with ease, no real trouble hampering his way, even though the sun in the distance hurt his optics. Being careful not to dislodge the cabling, Nightfall fixated his optics in the distance. He didn't see the All Spark.

He squeaked when a rolling asteroid actually grazed his wing, but then he laughed at how jumpy he had become and skimmed over the surface of the next. Flying in space was . . . different, than on Earth. Out here, there were no pleasurable drafts of air, or the feel of the wind sliding over the aerodynamics of his alt mode. Earth's atmosphere had definitely made flying more fun than simply propelling yourself along with your engine. It made tricks easier too.

Aha! Nightfall's spark leapt in its casing when he spotted it—a casing, much like an elaborate vase, and its container glowed mightily with the distinct energies of the All Spark. Squinting against the bright lights in the distance that had gotten closer over the span of time it had taken him to get out there, Nightfall was about to gun it for the precious artifact when he heard Wheeljack contact him over the comm. link.

"Nightfall. Plasma storm, incoming."

Looking up at the offending lights again, Nightfall studied it, and then, he felt his energon tanks hit his peds. A PLASMA STORM? For a klik, he wavered in indecision, and when, when his sights grazed the All Spark waiting just ahead, he gunned it.

It took Wheeljack just a short moment to realize that Nightfall was getting further away from the ship. "Get outta there! That All Spark container may be indestructible, but you aren't!"

"I know!" Nightfall said back, adrenaline beginning to pulse in his systems. "I'm too close, Wheeljack! It's right there, and I can outrun it! I'm most definitely fast enough!"

The cabling laid flat against his belly as he zoomed along, this time with great fervor as he outran a ticking clock. He could hear it now, as he drew closer to the storm and the storm rolled his way. He could hear its ominous rumbling and the cracking of lightning bouncing about in the electricity.

But the All Spark . . . it was right there! And—wait. With just a dose of trepidation as Nightfall came within attacking distance, he realized that the All Spark container was far bigger than he had originally thought.

I am so dead. I am going to die, dear Primus I am sorry. Frag me flying, WHY is the casing so big!

Transforming and landing on the giant container, Nightfall hurriedly unraveled the tow cabling and lashed it securely around the All Spark, cursing under his breath as he did so. The fragging container had to be taller than he was and as wide as Bulkhead! His audios began to ring a little at the pressure he could feel emanating from the plasma storm, and the cracks of electricity whipped like lightning, devouring all in its path. Rubble began to fly his way as the storm overtook the asteroid field, destroying the great floating rocks and anything in its way.

Tying the cabling to himself as well, Nightfall transformed and jetted. The tow cabling drew slack almost immediately and Nightfall grunted when it tightened around him. Straining against the weight, they began to move too slowly for the Prime's taste as he slowly gained the velocity needed to get moving. His spark rate rocketed into the roof when he could feel the outer layer of the storm overtaking him, prickles of powerful static clinging to his wingspan and short-circuiting his inner mechanisms. His spark reacted violently, twisting in pain while his engines roared and thrusters burned in the effort to put some space between the danger.

There was a crackle in his comm. link again. ". . . don't . . . between us . . . right now . . ." He was gaining speed. Nightfall strained himself, burning his thrusters to a threatening point, half scared of blowing an engine but more afraid of the roaring beast behind him that spat electricity and plasma and a shower of rubble and dust, all that was left of the asteroids it eviscerated. He had to turn his comm. link all the way up just to be able to hear Wheeljack's distorted voice above the roaring storm. "Nightfall . . . ! Keep the . . . detach . . . we need to . . . can be another . . . out while . . . !"

"Wheeljack!" He shouted back, trying to get a hold of the Wrecker. "I'm fine! I'm coming! Turn the ship around, get ready to jet! Wheeljack? Wheeljack!"

Ignoring the panic, Nightfall dug in deep, and ignoring the warning signals flashing before his optics, Nightfall drove onwards. The All Spark smashed against an asteroid, sending it careening off course, and Nightfall's engines screamed and jerked to keep them on course towards the ship. The hyper watts of static electricity clung to him like a shroud, and he felt his systems give an uncomfortable hiccup. The shockwaves of exploding stone rocked his straight-shot course, and the All Spark banged around behind him, dragging him back slower.

His spark leapt in his chassis. The ship! Either Wheeljack had somehow gotten his message or had taken the initiative to turn the ship around, ready to flee, and the hatch was already dropped, still waiting on him.

A thunderous bang and explosion rocked behind him. The shockwaves hit him with force, and Nightfall shouted when he was literally blown upwards and off course. Then, the cabling slacked, and with a breathless gasp, Nightfall felt the cabling snap taunt and yank him, sending him flying in the opposite direction.

Engine grumbling as the world slowly oriented itself again, Nightfall's optics snapped open wide at the brilliance of the storm on top of him. The plasma was volatile, streaks of flames rippling through the fluctuating waves. Sprays of energon blue slashed against palpitating pockets of plasma, pink and purple oscillating at different intensities while bright white flashes of lightning seared his optics. The dust glittered like silver it was so fine and the rubble rained down like hail. The voltage of static was powerful, clinging to his metal and suffusing in his throat, and his optics flickered at the terrifying resplendence before him.

Breaking himself away from the paralyzing stupor, Nightfall veered himself around, and a streak of wild hope filled him when he saw how close the All Spark had been knocked towards the ship. Soaring forward, Nightfall transformed and landed on the open hatch. Digging the tips of his peds down, Nightfall dragged the All Spark to the ship, vents opened futilely as he had no cool air in the vacuum of space to cool his overheating systems. The hot static filled the air, filled the ship, and he could hear the engines hiccupping and puttering. His limbs were locking, freezing up as he dragged the All Spark close, body seizing in spasms as the force of the electricity slowly began to overwhelm his body.

Gritting his dentures and ignoring the burning sensation his body was feeling, Nightfall yanked the All Spark close and grabbed it, and his servo slapped the button to close the hatch. Choking and coughing on the sheer amount of dust and static overwhelming his system, the second the hatch closed with a fine clang, an asteroid smashed against the back of the ship. The force made Nightfall hit the floor and the All Spark container to slide forward in response. Nightfall lifted his helm, optics glitching and vocalizer fritzing.

"Cutting it a bit close, eh Prime?"

The ship creaked and groaned under stress. "Wheeljack," his patchy, ragged voice managed to make out, "get us out of here!"

The Wrecker whirled around and grabbed the controls. "Hang on to your hubcaps!"

With a loud rattle, the engines revved up and the thrusters kicked on mightily as they took off into deep space again. Since he wasn't strapped down, Nightfall skidded against the floor when they took off, but he felt the pressure of the storm easing. Thinly coughing with a deep want for some sort of air to clean his systems, Nightfall looked down on his servos that were literally coated in sparking static. Shaking, Nightfall stood up shakily, ankles wobbling weakly at his brush with death, and he staggered to the side and braced himself on the wall. He swore under his breath when a painful electrostatic discharge emitted from the touch of metal against metal.

The toll being a bit too much, Nightfall sank back down to the ground, flinching when static shock erupted everywhere he touched. With a grunt and fumbling fingers, Nightfall untied the tow cabling and tossed it to the side, struggling to get his wind back.

"You okay back there, Prime?"

He nodded. "Yeah." Grimacing, he shifted positions and coughed deeply again. "Yeah, I'm good."

"Hmph. You're glowing a bit, chief."

Wincing again and looking down at his legs where the static electricity clung like a blanket, Nightfall closed his optics and leaned back, systems recalibrating and some things even rebooting. "Yeah. Just a little."

There was a pause in the silence as the faint thunder of the plasma storm rolled away. Finally, Wheeljack had to say,

"I thought it'd be bigger."