Transformers Prime – The Prime Factor

Prologue

Location: Nevada

Time: 4 months after the destruction of the Autobot base.

System user: Arcee

Designation: Autobot

"Smoke, give me an update, now!" Arcee yelled, desperately trying to make herself heard above the multitude of explosions on the other side of the large rock.

To her side, Smokescreen could barely bite back a pained grunt before complying. "Left leg is critically damaged, I can't stand on it. Blaster down to thirty-nine percent power. Right side still functional."

Stepping out of cover for a second, Arcee fired blindly at the army of Decepticons pinning them down, but it was useless. Before she got three shots off, she was forced to duck behind cover again.

"JACKIE!" despite the roar of the explosions, Bulkhead's sudden shout – filled with a primal fear – could clearly be heard. Turning to look Arcee was just in time to see Wheeljack drop back, a large black mark indicating where he had been hit. The Wrecker went out like a light.

"Bee, get him into cover!" She quickly ordered. Even before she had given the order, the yellow-and-black scout had moved over and was pulling the war-veteran to the center of their cover, laying him next to Smokescreen.

"Damage report!" she barked again.

"Beep-beep-bee. Beep." The sounds were unintelligible to humans, but any Cybertronian could understand it just fine. He's in stasis lock, systems critical.

Turning around the cover of her rock again, Arcee opened fire again. This time she got off four shots and even a blink of Knockout's red armor. With Smokescreen too injured to help and Wheeljack in stasis that left just Bulkhead, Bumblebee and herself in fighting condition. And even they were damaged, though it was mostly cosmetic.

But there were over forty Decepticons on the other side of that rock, a mix of Vehicle-based Cons (Miko had dubbed them Vehicons) and flying ones (Skycons). Knockout was in command of this small army and seemed intent on destroying them, once and for all.

'Primus, I wish Optimus were here.'

Arcee couldn't even begin to count just how often the thought had crept up on her since that day. But there was no helping it. instead, she reached for her radio.

"Arcee to base, come in!"

The base she was contacting was pitiful, but it was only a lousy two days old. The Autobots had barely been re-united, before they were sent out to fight this army of 'Cons. Hopefully, they had completed their objective.

"Arcee, Raf here. What's up?"

"We need a Groundbridge on our coordinates, now! The cons have us pinned down and outnumbered."

"Hold on." Another voice entered the com. A voice she knew all to well, but the one voice that had changed more then any other since the day the missile-silo base was destroyed.

Jack

"I have a better idea. Hold your ground for just a few more seconds."

XxX

Location: Nevada

Time: 4 months after the successful destruction of the Autobot base.

System user: Knockout

Designation: Decepticon

'This day is fabulous!' Knockout almost wanted to pat himself on the shoulder, but didn't waste that kind of time on a battlefield. It really was a most successful day. And it was only going to turn better and better. The Autobots had appeared – all but their medic – and were pinned down. With his army of combat-drones behind him, Knockout's victory was assured. He had seen the Wrecker, Wheeljack, drop from a well-aimed missile a minute before and he had personally injured Smokescreen to the point he couldn't fight any more.

"Press the attack! Destroy the Autobots. For the glory of Lord Megatron!" Really, without Prime around to lead them, the Autobots were laughable. They had lost their spirit the day their leader died and had never been able to regain it. Now, with the Autobots pinned down and only Ratchet available to provide them with backup, the end of the war was in sight.

And he, Knockout, was the one to finish of the last of the Autobots on Earth. The Glory that Lord Megatron would bestow upon his would be without equal.

A shame Breakdown wasn't around anymore, Knockout would have loved to share this spotlight, this moment of history with his old friend.

With another command, he ordered the drones to keep attack as they circled around the wall of stone that was protecting the Autobots. In just a few more microcycles, it would be over! The War would be won.

Just as Knockout readied his Electro-rod to join his troops in the attack, a familiar sound appeared behind him. Millennia of battle experience had left Knockout with the desire to always check out unexpected factors, so he quickly turned around to face the familiar Groundbridge portal.

XxX

Location: Nevada

Time: 4 months after the destruction of the Autobot base.

System user: Arcee

Designation: Autobot

"What idea, Jack? We're pinned down, Smokescreen and Wheeljack are down. We can not continue this fight!"

"Just hold on for a few seconds!" Jack's breathing changed, as if he was running. "We're opening the ground bridge on the other side of the Deceptions."

"WHAT?" Arcee felt despair like nothing since she saw the Omega Lock explode. "We can't make it across this battlefield!"

"We're not pulling you out." Jack replied, "We're sending in reinforcements."

"What kind of reinforcements?" More terror was creeping up in her. He couldn't be considering sending in human soldiers, right?

"Just open fire on the Cons with everything you have when I give the order!"

XxX

Location: Nevada

Time: 4 months after the successful destruction of the Autobot base.

System user: Knockout

Designation: Decepticon

'Does Soundwave think I need more backup?'

An instant after the green portal opened, just as Knockout was thinking that maybe Megatron would be present for this moment of glory himself, three cars jumped out and proved him wrong. Before the combat drones could react, the cars had reached them, mowing down several, before racing off, then turning around for a second run.

The center car was obviously the most powerful and armored; a large, black pick-up truck, a size and a half larger then most used, even in this country. The car on the right, just behind it was a muscle car, larger then bumblebee, colored black, with a heavy flame-motive on the front. The third car, on the left of the pick-up, stood out the most, by far. What humans called a supercar (Honestly, why would that give it a name like that? It couldn't do anything special, just drive fast) in a simply blue-and-grey paintjob. Knockout instantly recognized it. After all, it had put some serious scratches on his paint just a few microcycles ago!

As the trio of cars came by for another round, they suddenly split up, each going in a direction to the side. And nothing too soon, apparently: both Knockout and the drones had recovered enough and were starting to open fire on the new arrival. As they turned though, Knockout got a good, horrifying view of the pickup's back section opening up and a massive weapon appearing.

"Is that… a Gatling gun?" Knockout barely voiced the question before it was answered. The muscle car and supercar drove right by the separated group of Decepticons, herding them into more-or-less a straight line… when the pick-up's gun came to live with a roar. The heavy weapon tore through the group in seconds.

"Separate! Do not stick in groups!" Knockout ordered the small group, now cut off from the main force. The supercar and muscle car kept driving circles around the stragglers, preventing them from rejoining the main force. Cut of like that, they were easy pickings. Their armor plaiting and shielding devices were built to withstand Energon Blasters, not high-velocity shells. And when the rear-guard would fall, the new arrivals would start shooting the main force to shreds.

"You lot, open fire on those cars!"

Roughly a third of the main attacking force turned around, opening fire on the three cars as well, while the rest would keep up the suppressive fire on the Autobots. At least, that was the intent.

Knockout saw the missiles an instant before they made contact, but it was far too late to react, or even think, before they exploded, right in the middle of his main force. The explosions that followed were powerful, loud and blinding. He could feel the explosion burn his paint off, feel the concussive power of the blast knock him off. But he couldn't hear the screams of the combat drones that were in the center of the blast.

'Small mercies, I suppose.'

Fortunately, his optics had only been blinded for an instant. As he tried to get back on his feet, Knockout quickly located the source of the sudden missile attack. There, in the sky above them and closing in quick, was a jet. An awfully familiar jet.

"Dreadwing?" even as the name escaped his mouth, the doctor knew it wasn't so. He had been present when Megatron had killed the loyal warrior. He knew where the body was. That only left a far more mundane option. A jet of the same design as the one Dreadwing had taken as his vehicle mode.

"Autobots! Open fire, hold nothing back!" the voice made Knockout, now standing on his feet along with his still functional Drones – a little over half the force he had had mere moments ago! – turn around in shock. It sounded so much like… But that was impossible!

The voice had come from the supercar and the next instant, Knockout's suspicions were confirmed. All three of the new arrivals transformed. He couldn't recognize any of them. A familiar sound from above indicated that the jet had also transformed.

The muscle car had transformed into a robot form with some impressive chest-armor. The flame motive added a certain allure, Knockout had to admit, but it also distracted from a more important detail; the robot was missing a left hand. Instead of a hand, there was a small opening there. Before knockout could even question it, flames burst from the opening.

'A flamethrower… that's bad.'

The pick-up transformed into the largest of the three Autobots, probably reaching nearly the height of Bulkhead. But it was the multitude of weapons that drew Knockout's attention. The Gatling Gun that had previously torn through his combat drones was now mounted on it's shoulder – just like Breakdown, Knockout thought for a second – while both it's arms held a multitude of gun-barrels. This Autobot could punch and shoot at the same time.

'Heavily armed and armored. Also bad'

The looking above, Knockout was again reminded of Dreadwing. The flying Autobot (A Flybot? It's not part of the Aerialbots, those are gone. Starscream saw to that.) was an almost perfect replica of the former second-in-command. Only his coloration – grey, combined with bits of yellow – and weapon of choice were different. Where Dreadwing had wielded a sword and a large canon, this Autobot opted for two handheld machine guns. The remaining missiles were transferred to the flyer's shoulders; where he could no-doubt shoot them off again.

'Flying, powerful weapons and missiles. That's very bad.'

The supercar's robot form seemed almost boring by comparison. He didn't have any impressive weaponry on display, no impressive paintjob or flying capabilities. He was almost a typical Autobot. Only his chest plate was significantly more armored then any standard Autobot. All four wheels were on his legs, an oddity amongst most Autobots, who had at least two wheels on their back, for added protection.

'Somewhat disappointing, isn't it?'

The drones were now on their feet, their blasters drawn. At Knockout's order, they opened fire at the four new arrivals, using their superior numbers and wide dispersion to their advantage.

Only for them to be attacked from behind again. The Autobots that had been pinned down mere moments ago had jumped out of cover and where shooting at Knockout's army with everything they had. Even Smokescreen, so weak he could barley raise his arm, was taking shots.

"AARGH! THIS ISN'T HAPPENING! SO CLOSE! I WAS SO CLOSE!" Knockout shouted in frustration as he dropped to the ground. His hasty dodge left him with a few bullet holes from the Gatling gun (They'll take forever to properly restore!) but that was still preferable to being torn to shreds, like the drone behind him.

Mere moments ago, he had the Autobots pinned down, victory assured! Now, all of a sudden his forces were being shot at from all directions, unable to fight back before they were mowed down.

"Why is this happening?" He shouted, opening fire on the most dangerous Autobot; the pick-up with the Gatling gun. "WHO ARE YOU!?"

The robot saw him coming, and raised an arm to great him. Bullets came flying his way from several guns – two rapid fire guns and two slower guns that had a significantly stronger impact Knockout quickly noted – but the doctor was an experienced fighter. Transforming into vehicle mode mid-charge he prevented himself from getting torn to shreds.

Using the same tactic that the Autobots had just employed against the Decepticons, Knockout raced past the pick-up truck and knocked on of it's legs out from under it.

"Name's Heavyarms." The Pick-up replied as Knockout sped past. The voice was definitely female and sounded significantly younger then Arcee's. Also, it sounded far more excited then the two-wheeler ever had.

"Hotrod." Knockout heard the voice an instant before the flame-motive muscle car – now turned back into vehicle mode – slammed into him, knocking him over. Transforming mid-spin, Knockout lashed out with his rod and managed to prevent Hotrod from following up. Before he could do more though, the flying Autobot opened fire at him.

"Jetfire! Focus on the drones." The supercar spoke up. The jet – apparently called Jetfire – stopped his assault on Knockout and returned to picking off drones, forcing them into a straight line. With terror Knockout realized what was going to happen. With the drones all lined up, Heavyarms could easily destroy them with his Gatling Gun. But she wasn't in the right position.

The supercar was.

With the familiar sound of transformation, the supercar did something Knockout had never seen before; he pulled off the extra-armored part of his chest plate, which combined with his arms into a large shield with a spike, covering most of his body. At the same time, the wheels on his legs sled down and lifted him up. Instead of standing on his feet, the supercar was standing on his wheels, like a human skater.

That's when he accelerated with the kind of power that proved why humans called his model a supercar.

In a nanosecond he was off, gaining more speed with every inch he traveled, his spiked shield pointed straight at the line of drones. His hardened armor, combined with his speed and the gleaming spike, tore straight through the first drone, practically obliterating it's torso and sending the limbs flying everywhere. The others fared just as well.

"Knockout to base. Soundwave, I need a Groundbridge. NOW!"

Never one to ask question (Thank Primus for that) Soundwave instantly obliged. Before any of the new Autobots could respond, Knockout was rushing through. Before he was transported though, he did hear one last statement by the supercar.

"I am Sentinel Prime."

Dread filled Knockout as he arrived in New Kaon.

XxX

Location: Nevada

Time: 4 months after the destruction of the Autobot base.

System user: Arcee

Designation: Autobot

Arcee heard the Groundbridge open, less then sixty feet away, but it might as well have been on Cybertron for all the good it did. She was still surprised by Jack's order. Wait till he gave the command, then open fire?

At her side, Bumblebee was helping Smokescreen up, dragging him to a position from where he could also fire. Obviously, the two were intending to follow Jack's command. Arcee was just about to say something when she heard the sound of a massive gun being fired.

Turning around the corner of her cover, Arcee could see three new arrivals. All three were cars, though they didn't look anything alike. She thought she remembered one, but couldn't quite place it. But that wasn't important. What was important was that they were attacking the Decepticons! And, even more important, the gun on that pick-up was tearing through the Cons as if they were made of wet tissue paper.

It wasn't enough though; Knockout was already recovering from the shock and was organizing his offensive on the other side. Eight cons were down – all of the Skycons, she noted – but that still left over thirty standing. And generally speaking, the Vehicons were tougher to take down then the Skycons.

Just as the thought entered her mind – along with the realization that these new arrivals had first attacked all the flyers – she spotted a third arrival. 'Dreadwing!' then she took a closer look and saw the off colors and, more importantly, the Autobot shield placed on it's wing. With a single attack from above, the Dreadwing-look-a-like destroyed or disabled half the Cons remaining.

"Autobots! Open fire, hold nothing back!"

It was the command they had been waiting for, though it didn't come from where she was expecting. Instead of Jack's voice, this was an unknown voice that still sounded familiar. It had come from that blue-and-grey car…

But eons of habit kicked in and the soldier in Arcee took over. Following commands granted victory, disobeying them cost a war. In one movement, Arcee jumped out of cover, turned both her hands into blasters and opened fire, Bee only a microcycle behind her. On the other side, Bulkhead also escaped cover and opened fire, while Smokescreen was using their cover as much needed support to stabilize his arms while he shot.

The Decepticon forces where decimated in seconds. A Groundbridge opened up, allowing Knockout to escape – the new 'Bot named Hotrod tried to go after him but was too late – just as the blue-and-grey battle commander turned to her.

"I am Sentinel Prime." Was all he said; It was all that he needed to say. All of Team Prime fell silent. There was another Prime? But how? Optimus had been the last one.

Seeing their faces, Sentinel raised a hand for further silence – not that it was needed – before turning around and blasting a combat drone that was trying to get to it's feet.

"I will explain everything back at the base. Ratchet, open the Groundbridge."

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Preview for future chapters:

"Knockout knows about Siera?" Arcee yelled in shock at her partner's statement.

"Arise," Ratchet said, his voice echoing through the chamber. Other voices could be heard, echoing from the very Matrix. Optimus' most prominent of all " Sentinel Prime."