Chapter 9

Restart the Machine


Ratchet worked furiously at his station, fingers a blur, as they danced over the computer keys.

Raf, working from a smaller unit beside him, was much the same. Watching the two was dizzying, as they talked back and forth in geeky computer speak. Ratchet would shout something, after each new input, and Raf would confirm or deny. It went on like this for several minutes.

"There, we're ready now. I hope this plan of yours works, Rafael." Ratchet told him.

"I don't see anyway we could make it worse, but we have to try." Raf stated earnestly. The others were listening in.

"So how's this gonna work?" Fowler wondered.

"We're going to use Megatron's own arrogance against him." The medic bot turned to them with a bit of excitement.

"And we'll need everyone." He informed them seriously. June stared at him with a determined look, her will was resolved.

"What do we need to do?"


Bumblebee ducked and twisted busy smashing up some Eradicons.

He raised his foot for a roundhouse kick and pounded an enemy into the floor. Then swiveled to fire at a couple sneaking up behind him. When the area cleared, he looked to see seven downed cons, all scrapped. He turned to the two fighting leaders behind him, to give Optimus assistance, when his comm. crackled to life.

"Bumblebee," Ratchet spoke urgently, "We need you to transmit everything Megatron says to the base."

"Why?" The yellow scout tweeted.

"Raf has a plan to help Jack, but we need your input to make it work." The Autobot medic explained.

"Roger, roger." Bumblebee chirped, and focused on the two occupied enemies, transmitting Megatron's speech, and keeping an optic open for trouble. Everything the old rivals said to each other was recorded at Autobot headquarters.

"There is one I have now, Optimus Prime, and he will not disobey me." They heard the Decepticon leader say.

"Soundwave, bring my pet to me."


Jack could not allow Arcee to be off lined.

He had watched her battle Knockout, inwardly cheering the Autobot on, as he stayed his distance. It never ceased to amaze him how fast Cybertronians could be and his partner was definitely one of the best. Then Knockout smacked her into a wall, and Jack tensed. There was no way he would let that Decepticon kill his favorite Autobot.

So he did something reckless.

Jack rushed towards the two activating one of his commands on purpose. He grabbed Arcee with his telekinesis, and flung her down the hall, just as Knockout struck. The Decepticon missed and hit the floor with his staff, in surprise. He turned to the human incensed.

"Little fragger, I'll make you pay for that!" Knockout shouted outraged and swung at Jack.

Big mistake.

The teen threw enough fire into the Decepticon's chassis to engulf him and throw him back. The heat and force made the vain medic fall to the ground unconscious, his new paint job nice and charred, and his frame smoking.

"Stupid con." Jack panted.

That had taken a lot out of him. On top of his early morning practice, his brief battle with Soundwave, and fighting the Autobots, no wonder he was tired. Had he really used his abilities that much in one day? Jack felt exhausted.

"Well, I did ask for barbecued Decepticon." Arcee said in amusement, as she walked over, she looked at her partner.

"Thanks Jack." She said gratefully.

The boy nodded, still panting a little, and she frowned noting how worked up he was. When was the last time he'd eaten, or rested? She wondered. Something else she'd be repaying Megatron for, the slagger.

"Come on, let's see if we can find-" She stopped and whirled suddenly, blasters up, as she searched the hallway for the disturbance she detected.

Nothing.

Arcee turned back around.

A fist was all she saw before she blacked out.


Jack could only watch helplessly, as his Autobot partner fell bonelessly to the floor. Soundwave straightened up, and he stared at the Decepticon spy's visor, as he scooped him into his hand.

"Wh-where are we going?" The teen couldn't help the nervous stutter as he asked.

"Soundwave, bring my pet to me." Megatron's recorded voice played from the con's helm.

Which could only mean one thing, Jack gulped as he thought.

He was going to fight his friends again.


Arcee groaned as she came to, and opened her optics, to see a blaster in her face.

Two Decepticons stood above her their weapons primed to fire. Where was Jack? She thought, last she recalled was getting knocked out.

"On your feet, Autobot, and no funny business." One con said waving his gun.

"I would almost say the same to you." She said trying to goad them into making a mistake. The one to her left smacked her with his blaster, and she fell to the floor again.

"No one told you to speak!" He hissed.

"Hey," A voice called out behind them. The Decepticons turned and were smashed together by Bulkhead's wrecking cannons.

"You should be nicer to femmes." He told them, they groaned piteously, but didn't get back up.

"Thanks." Arcee said, as the green mech helped her up.

"I thought you were still busy with Breakdown?" She asked.

"I was, but you know me, I took care of him." Bulkhead said, thinking back to his opponent, who had his head stuck in a door, when last he saw him.

"So, where's Jack?" Bulkhead wondered.

"Take one guess." The femme bot said darkly.

"Megatron."


Optimus continued to trade blows with his enemy.

His blue optics scrutinized the Decepticon leader for weaknesses as he parried. It had felt like hours since they'd started, the silver mech had a habit of throwing as much strength into his swings as possible, trying to wear out his opponent. The Autobot leader could feel his arms waver every time he locked blades with his rival.

Megatron's years of fighting in the Kaon arena, and then millenia of warfare, were serving him well, but Optimus was no light weight. For every strike, the Prime matched his enemy blow for blow, their speed was almost equal. The Autobot leader was tiring, however.

"You can't hold out against me forever, Prime." Megatron's red optics gleamed, as he forced the Autobot back with a particularly vicious swipe.

The red and blue mech knew the Decepticon was right. Of the two of them, the war lord had always been strongest, he'd simply been fighting longer, and though Optimus could handle him, he could not keep it up indefinitely.

He glanced over at Bumblebee, who stood a ways back, still recording, and dealing with the occasional enemy. If Raf's plan worked he wouldn't have to keep this up much longer. The Prime just hoped the others could finish before Soundwave showed up with Jack.

"If defeat by your hands is what it takes to stop you, Megatron," Optimus refocused on his rival, "Then I happily give my spark to the cause."

"Good, then you can start by giving me your head." The Decepticon lord leered darkly at him.

"I'm afraid it doesn't work that way." Prime shook his head.

The two went at it again. Megatron came in low, but Optimus deflected and moved for a jab at his enemy's left side. If it weren't for the blaster, hidden behind his opponent's sword, he might have succeeded. The silver mech fired, hitting the Autobot leader in his shoulder, dangerously close to his spark chamber, and Optimus fell back in pain with a cry.

As he stood gingerly to his feet, servo trying to stave the energon leaking from the wound, Soundwave arrived carrying Jack in his hand. The boy looked at him with worry, as Megatron turned to his communications officer, grinning widely.

"Excellent, Soundwave." He said, as the teen was brought to him. The silver mech's smile became sadistic, as he set the human down in front of his most hated enemy.

"It's only too fitting, to have the great Optimus Prime, felled by his own sympathies for these flesh creatures." His red optics flashed.

"Attack, and finish him, boy!" Megatron ordered.

Jack closed his eyes, with a sorrowful look, before racing forward. Lightning arced around him, leaving a trail of electrified air, as he threw a large bolt at the red and blue mech. The Autobot leader lurched to the side and was still hit by the energy wake as it passed by. Behind him, Bumblebee dived out of the way, with a bleeping that could only be Cybertronian curses.

Optimus slipped, when the floor became covered in ice, his feet flying out from under him. He landed on his bad shoulder with a hiss, and Jack directed more ice to creep up his frame, holding the Autobot leader down.

Bumblebee decided he'd had enough and ran to protect the fallen Prime. The speedy bot carefully fired at the boy, hitting the floor just in front of him, to force the teen back. Jack jumped away, with his hands over his head to protect himself, and quickly summoned a condensed ball of fire, launching it at the scout.

It sailed close to the yellow Autobot, before exploding in a bright flash and loud boom. Bumblebee clutched his audios, optics shut tight, screeching as they were overwhelmed, when he was picked up and flung into a wall. He landed on his helm with a groan as his comm. came to life.

"Base to Bumblebee, come in." Fowler called worried. The yellow scout whirred in reply, still getting over Jack's little flash bang.

"Every thing's almost ready just hold out for a bit longer." Behind the agent, Miko and June were preparing the medical area, and Ratchet and Raf were a pair of tornadoes at their consoles.

Bumblebee blipped in confirmation, as he stood back up, with new energy to confront Jack. He saw that Optimus had broken out of the ice and was forced to avoid another electric discharge. The Prime was beginning to notice the attacks, while seemingly dangerous, were loosing strength behind them. They both noted Jack was panting and building up a sweat.

"Megatron, you're working him too hard, call him back!" The Autobot leader implored his rival, who could also see the boy's exhaustion, but didn't care.

"The child has yet to finish you, Prime, and I won't tell him to stop, until he has run himself into the ground to do so." The silver mech smirked.

Optimus's blue optics narrowed, if this continued for much longer, Jack would kill himself from overexertion. Arcee and Bulkhead arrived, just then, and began firing at the two Decepticons. Megatron and Soundwave dived out of line of fire, and traded shots, with the new arrivals, who gathered around their leader.

"Quickly, we must defeat the Autobots before they can raise a sufficient defense." Megatron told the slim mech beside him.

"Stand with me, boy!" He commanded Jack.

The teen rejoined his captor, and they tag-teamed Prime and the others, Soundwave not far behind them.

Arcee and Bumblebee faced off with the Decepticon spy, the yellow scout distracting him with his blaster, while the femme maneuvered for attack. The dark mech was not the most feared of Megatron's soldiers for nothing though, and fired back, while using his tentacles to defend himself.

The two Autobots danced around Soundwave's strikes, and Arcee slammed her fist into his helm before he tossed her back into Bumblebee, and the two went sprawling on the floor. They got up again, not yet out of the fight, not by a long shot.

Bulkhead and Optimus were having a time of it fighting Jack and Megatron. They didn't want to harm their friend, and tried focusing on the silver mech, but Jack was protecting his enforcer. Each time an Autobot moved in, the boy distracted them and the Decepticon lord followed it up with his own attack.

To counter this, Bulkhead tried drawing Jack's attention so Optimus could strike, but the teen froze the Prime's feet to the floor. Megatron took advantage and swung his blade, cutting the Autobot leader across one of his arms, as he was thrown off balance. Bulkhead leaped at the Decepticon, and smashed his right cannon into the mech's chassis, then got electrocuted by Jack for his trouble.

Neither battle was going well, the Autobots were obtaining more wounds than they were doling out, and Jack was looking more haggard each time he used his powers. The boy was doing his best to avoid using his more flexible techniques, aiming for widespread attacks, but the more the fight dragged on the more the Impulse Disrupter pushed him to use those skills.

Small balls of condensed lightning floated around him, and as he cut off Prime's approach to Megatron with a wave of fire, he flung one of the spheres in between the two Autobots. It's energy exploded out in a wave shocking the two. Jack was breathing heavily now, and sweat rolled off his face, as the band on his head forced him to keep concentration.

It wouldn't be long before he keeled over.


Back at base.

Ratchet worked furiously, on the program before him, with Raf beside him shifting through various recordings. Miko and June had finished setting up the medical space, as much as they could, and joined Fowler to watch the readings, and man the ground bridge.

"Come on, come on," The medic bot muttered impatiently, information flowing across his monitor.

"It's almost ready, Ratchet." Raf exclaimed excitedly.

"Good, how much longer?" Fowler asked for him.

"Two minutes." The child genius replied.

"Okay," The red and white Autobot said turning to face them.

"If we're going to do this we have to work fast. Miko, wait by the ground bridge for my signal. June, stand by the medical area. Fowler, contact Optimus and get them ready." He directed, setting up what looked like a giant projector in front of the bridge, it was connected to the main computer.

"It's done, Ratchet!" Raf shouted.

"Miko, open the bridge!" The medic bot ordered, turning on the machine, as the gate sprung up in front of him.

"Hit it, Rafael!"


On the Nemesis.

Bulkhead shot his fist into Megatron's faceplate and the two rolled across the deck. The Decepticon's eyes glowed with fury, and with a snarl he seized the green mech by the helm and threw him into Arcee and Bumblebee. The three Autobots landed in a heap struggling to untangle themselves and stand up.

Jack and Optimus knelt on the floor, the boy breathing hard from exhaustion, and the red and blue mech from low energon due to his shoulder.

"You see, Prime?" Megatron stood behind his pet his shadow looming over the teen.

"This is what your faith in these creatures costs you. Death for you and all your Autobots, and victory for me." He said, raising his hand and clenching it in a fist in triumph.

Optimus stared at Jack, the human was on hands and knees, pushed almost to the point of collapse. The boy wearily looked up at him, trying to say his name, his face pleading, and the Prime felt his spark clench. He could not fail the child again.

He stood back on his feet, just as the ground bridge opened behind him. All action ceased as the combatants stared. From out of the swirling vortex a massive figure appeared, the silver chassis, red optics, and fusion cannon. It was Megatron.

A stunned silence fell over the fighters.

Jack, in his tired state, gazed up at the apparition before him in confusion.

'What? Does Megatron have a clone now?

It looked so real, from the way the Decepticon observed everything with a sneer, to the way his armor gleamed in the poor lighting. It even cast a shadow, and made noise when it walked, as it stared down at him, its voice exactly the same as the mech's behind him when it spoke.

"You will disobey my commands."

And that was all it took.

Every order Jack had been given came undone as he felt them slip away. Anger burned in his gut, and he turned, and with the last ounce of his strength, blasted the real Megatron with an electric wave that sent him flying. He then blacked out in sweet oblivion.


Arcee ran to her partner and picked him up, cradling him in one arm, as she kept her blaster raised. She retreated to her team as the Decepticon leader sat up with a snarl.

"What? No, my pet!" He fired in anger at his mirror image, still standing in front of the open ground bridge. The shots passed through and soon after the double disappeared.

"He's not yours anymore, Megatron!" Arcee stated with a triumphant grin.

"Yeah, he's loyal to us!" Bulkhead cried, beside them Bumblebee chirped in agreement.

"No, stop them!" Soundwave and his leader opened fire as more Decepticons began to show up.

"Autobots, let's go." Optimus ordered, and they all quickly raced through the portal behind them.

Megatron was incensed, all his careful planning, how could this happen? He smashed one of his soldiers as they drew near. Then raised his head to the heavens with a roar.

"PRIIIIIIIIIMMMMMME!"


Bonus:

"Hey!" Breakdown shouted hammering at the sides of the door his head was trapped in.

*Flashback*

He'd been fighting that Autobot, Bulkhead, their battle taking them up and down the Nemesis corridors. The blue and silver mech was making good on his threat, against his enemy, to do damage leaving some nice dents in the green mech's armor. Then they'd come to this area.

Breakdown swung his hammer down at the Autobot's helm, but Bulkhead rolled out of the way. He then tackled the Decepticon, and the two rolled over the floor, trading punches. Finally they flung themselves away from each other with a fist to the faceplate. They both stood up rubbing their jaws.

"My respect for you as a warrior goes up every time we do battle, Autobot." Breakdown said.

"Uh, thanks, I think. You're not too bad yourself." Bulkhead replied warily.

"You're still gonna lose this match." The Decepticon raised his weapon and charged.

Bulkhead looked around for an escape. He had to finish this quickly and get back to his team, he could feel they needed him. He spotted a door a little behind him and to his left. Just then, Breakdown rammed into him and the green mech felt his feet begin to slide.

When they were level to the doorway Bulkhead got an idea.

The Autobot planted his feet, reached over to the entrance switch, then muscled Breakdown, until his head was in position, and punched the controls. The doors slammed onto the Decepticon's neck, getting stuck, and trapping him. Breakdown yelled in discomfort and humiliation as he got stuck bent over.

"What's that, Breakdown?" Bulkhead pretended to listen to the other mech's grunts as he tried pulling himself free.

"Open this door, Autobot, and maybe I won't use you for spare parts!" He screamed.

"You freely admit I won and can leave now?" Bulkhead continued to joke kicking the Decepticon in the aft.

"Aaaauuugh!"

"Okay then, bye. Hope you have that looked at!" He took off to find Arcee.

"When I get out of here, you're dead, Autobot!"

*End Flashback*

"Hey!" Breakdown shouted again.

"Someone get me out of heeeeeeeerrrrrree!"