~*Chapter Two: Surprise Mission*~

Megatron stood impatiently in the main room of the Decepticons' hideout; it had been hours since he'd sent Starscream into Detroit to find the Autobots' headquarters, and he was getting tired of waiting. He'd generously given the traitorous Seeker a second chance after he'd tried to assassinate Megatron, and this was how he repaid his merciful leader? The roar of jet engines finally sounded outside the cave, followed shortly by the magenta Decepticon entering the room.

"Starscream," Megatron addressed, not quite keeping the anger out of his voice, "did you find the location of the Autobots' headquarters?"

"No, my liege," Starscream shook his head with a hint of sarcasm in his voice, "however..."

"Aw, Screamer," the voice of a teenage girl entered Starscream's audio receptors. Flinching angrily, his red optics traveled up to find Rina sitting on top of a slab of rock near the cave's ceiling, "Dad asked you to do one little thing, and you can't seem to do it." A satisfied smirk spread across Rina's face when Starscream began to twitch with agitation; he was just so fun to mess with.

"Watch your vocal processor, filthy organic," he shot back, pointing threateningly at the girl, "or I'll..."

"That's techno-organic to you!"

"Techno or not, you can still be crushed under my pede as easily as the rest of them! It would be so easy to make it look like an accident, as well."

"Why you...!"

"Enough," Megatron thundered, silencing both of the quarreling Cybertronians. The Decepticon warlord heaved a sigh and rested his face in his servo as he tried to calm himself down. When he succeeded, Megatron turned back to Starscream.

"Starscream, did you have anything to report aside from your miserable failure?"

The magenta mech glared at his leader before answering. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I did, my liege." Reaching into the cockpit on his chest, Starscream pulled out a small shard. It was difficult to know if the object was white or light blue, as its glow was almost blinding in the dark room.

Both Megatron and his daughter gasped in utter shock. The silver tyrant approached his second in command and plucked the shard from his digits. As he examined it, a wicked grin slowly graced his faceplates.

"This is perfect," Megatron purred maliciously, "this is a fragment of the Allspark! If we can assemble the rest of the shards, we can destroy the Autobots once and for all – and Cybertron shall be ours once more!"

~.~.~.~.~

Optimus sighed quietly to himself as he watched Bulkhead, Sari, and Professor Sumdac work on the space bridge. Most of the other Autobots were out patrolling the city, and Elena had been asleep in Sari's room for some time, so it was very quiet around Sumdac Tower. For the moment, at least. Bulkhead and Professor Sumdac had spent at least half the time bickering instead of working. Optimus hadn't understood any of it, making it that much more irritating when they were arguing.

"I want to commend you both on building this space bridge in record time," he praised, "so, how long until we're operational?"

"We would already be operational if someone had bothered to recalibrate the transwarp field sequences," Professor Sumdac replied loudly and glared at Bulkhead, who was deliberately busying himself.

Optimus inwardly groaned.

"We wouldn't have to recalibrate if someone could accept the fact that his calculations for the transwarp field sequences are wrong!"

"Well, if two someones had let me help like I offered, we could have got it right the first time," Sari cried in frustration.

"Optimus, what's going on? What's everybody arguing about?"

The Autobot leader looked down in surprise at the voice's owner.

"Oh Elena, you're awake. We're trying to build a space bridge but seems like this is getting us nowhere." Optimus sighed as he stood and watched the trio bicker.

"Uh no offense Sari but uh I don't think there's that much you can do to help without your key." Bulkhead retorted.

"Even if you had it, you don't even have a background in astrophysics and quantum-electrodynamics." Mr. Sumdac added as he turned to look at Sari.

"Yeah, even I didn't pick out my space bridge savvy over night." Bulkhead agreed.

Elena watched with curiosity as the trio conversed.

"Let's put that savvy to work. There's only a matter of time before the Decepticons infiltrate the Autobot council on Cybertron," Optimus enlightened seriously. "We need to find them before that happens."

Mr. Sumdac sighed. "Fine. I'll just recalibrate the sequences myself." He gave Bulkhead a glare.

"Not before I do the calculations myself." Bulkhead retorted.

"You think that I cannot isolate the transwarp frequency barrier?!"

As Bulkhead and Mr. Sumdac bickered, Sari leaned against the railing, her arms folded across her chest with a frown lacing her lips and her nose scrunched up in dismay.

"I'm just saying..." Bulkhead intercepted. "You don't have the same experience as me."

Sari hatched an idea and jumped down from the elevator and rushed over to the mega computer. Elena saw this and decided to walk up to Sari, curious to know what she was up to.

"Hey Sari, what are you doing," She asked curiously.

Sari heard Elena and smiled. "Check this out."

Elena leaned in to have a closer look as she saw Sari's fingers rapidly moving around the keyboard. Her electric blue eyes closed as she concentrated and before she knew it, her eyes reopened and her fingers stretched out, moving on their own. The mega computer screen lit up and was ready for use.

Elena seemed quite shocked as Sari was able to get the computer up and ready. Sari turned to the bickering duo. "Guys," she called, "I fixed it!" But the two didn't seem to hear.

"I was under great stress." Sumdac countered.

"Guys! It's done!" Sari called again, louder.

"Well that's my point!" Bulkhead snapped.

"Guys!" Sari yelled out, finally getting their attention.

"What?!"

Sari rolled her eyes. "Now that I have your attention..." Sari pressed a button and Optimus's head turned in the direction of the space bridge which sparked and was a blue ball. Elena looked up as well and was impressed.

"Wow, that's a space bridge?" She asked in awe.

Optimus then turned to Sari and asked, "Sari how did you know what to do?"

"I dunno," was Sari's reply. "I just kind of...did." She shrugged. As the Autobots exchanged skeptical looks with Sumdac, Elena turned to Sari.

"That was so cool, what you did with your fingers!"

"It was nothing, really," Sari smiled, a little amused at her fellow cyborg's enthusiasm. "Want me to show you?"

~.~.~.~.~

Meanwhile, in the far corners of the galaxy, a large blue spaceship traveled through the darkness of outer space.

"It's a very simple question," a male voice sneered impatiently inside the ship, "something even your limited circuits should be able to compute."

Striding down the ship's brig, Sentinel Prime glared at the numerous Decepticon prisoners aboard the ship. Pointing his bright blue sword at the nearest hostage, he shouted again, "where are the Decepticon coordinates to detect the space bridges? I want names, I want locations!"

A series of shouts tried to escape the Decepticon's vocal processor, but all were strangled by the metallic mask over his face.

"Got something to say, Lug-nit," Sentinel smirked, raising an odd-looking remote. A distinct beep was heard and Lugnut's mask was lowered from his mouth.

"Tell this Autobot scum nothing," he barked to his fellow Decepticon captives, "Megatron cannot be stopped! Megatron will rise again!" Before he could shout anymore praise to his master, Lugnut's face mask readjusted itself when Sentinel pressed the button again.

"Oh, just give it up, already," the blue Autobot sighed.

"Dig it, S.P.," Jazz's voice rang through the comm. system, "Big wigs from the home turf on the hold for ya!"

Without wasting a second, Sentinel entered the cockpit of the ship and sat down, flicking a switch on his armrest. The monitors above his head flickered to life.

"Greetings, Sentinel Prime," the monotone voice of a red Autobot was heard, "we are contacting you because the council has decided to break the news of the attack on Ultra Magnus to all of Cybertron."

"Bad idea, Perceptor," Sentinel disagreed, sounding a little worried, "just, uh...keep it quiet until I get back there and take control."

"These are decisions that must be made by the entire council," Perceptor replied.

"And your 'taking control' is especially premature, since Ultra Magnus is still online." Sentinel's attention was drawn to the older mech beside Perceptor. "Albeit...on spark support," he finished with a sorrowful tone.

"With all due respect, Alpha Trion," the younger Prime retorted, "the council should concern itself with more important matters, like beefing up security for the Decepticon prisoners that – ahem – I captured."

"I thought that was Prowl," Cliffjumper said with a smirk from the smaller monitor. Sentinel ignored the crimson horned mech and continued.

"Not to mention, Shockwave is still at large and running around with Ultra Magnus's hammer. What exactly is the council doing about that?"

"Tread carefully, Sentinel Prime," Alpha Trion warned, glaring dangerously at the younger mech, "the Autobots will not take kindly to your muscling in on the council!"

The monitors fizzled offline seconds later.

"Those bureaucratobots couldn't find their own diodes with a bitmap and a homing beacon! I gotta get back there before it all falls apart." Sentinel rose from his chair and looked directly at Jazz. "Bring the ship to full power!"

The silver Autobot whirled around from the controls. "You jivin' me?! We'll burn through all our energon!"

"Just do as you're told, Autobot!" Sentinel glared angrily at Jazz, leaning close to his face. "And the next time you fail to address me as 'sir' or 'commander', you will find yourself in the brig with the Decepticons! Is that clear?!" Before Jazz had time to answer, Sentinel pressed the button on his comm. link. "Jetfire, Jetstorm! To the bridge!"

In seconds, the brightly colored twins rushed into the room.

"Bot your posts," Sentinel barked, "Jetfire, maintain this heading! Jetstorm, watch the energon levels!"

"Through that mess," Jazz asked with disbelief, pointing out the window at a giant energy cloud, earning an exasperated glare from the blue-and-orange mech, "uh, commander sir?"

"It's the fastest way to Cybertron," Sentinel replied, sitting down once more. Within minutes, the ship was violently shaking and sparking.

"This is a bad scene," Jazz cried, "there's got to be a better way home...sir!"

"Full energon ahead," Sentinel insisted in a strained voice. As the speed was increased, the ship rocked harder and the sparks became much more powerful.

Back in the brig, one of the Decepticons was struck by a bolt of energy. As the energy flowed through his system, Swindle morphed into bipedal mode, glancing happily at his fellow prisoners. He stretched his arms and said merrily, "I needed that. Oh my, my what a golden opportunity."

He turned to Lugnut and with a few twists of his wrist, he was able to get the metallic mask off his faceplates.

"The Autobot fools will pay for their insolence," was the first thing that came out of Lugnut's vocal processor. "Remove these stacious cuffs at once," he ordered Swindle.

"All in good time," Swindle mused. "First we need to discuss compensation. You get freedom, but what do I get?" He came face-to-face with Lugnut with a smug smirk on his faceplates. "See where I'm going here?"

"The honor of serving Megatron should be reward enough," Lugnut growled.

Swindle's grape-colored optics widened and rejoiced. "Megatron?! Why didn't you say so? He's my number one customer!"

He began scrounging around his middle section and found the requested item needed. He took it out and with a press of the button, the cuffs that were tightly gripping the Decepticon's wrists became unlocked and free from it's bind.

"Now let's see about you getting re-armed." Swindle said. "It's been stellar cycles but I never forget a weapon."

He handed each a Decepticon a weapon.

"Now naturally everything comes with a million solar cycle warranty including battle damage of course."

"May I just say what an admirer I am of the noble arms dealing profession," Sunstorm gushed as Hothead Blitzwing took a stance.

"Enough talk," Blitzwing chimed in angrily. "Let's kick some Autobot skin plate! Yeah!"

"Oh, I would never do that," Ramjet sneered innocently.

"In the glorious name of Megatron, revenge shall be ours!" Lugnut exclaimed.

~.~.~.~.~

"Great! Now this time, try stretching your hand as much as you can."

Elena obeyed Sari's command and her optics widened at the sight; the Cybertronian circuitry under her fingers had been exposed, though the flesh was still visible. Her hand had grown larger and her fingers were a lot longer in this form.

"That is so cool," she laughed as her hand returned to normal.

Bulkhead, Optimus, and Sumdac watched the two cyborgs and smiled at Elena's reaction. She was like a child with a brand new toy. Sari had loaned her a set of her own clothes (that were remarkably similar to Elena's ruined outfit) until Elena could return home and shop for more herself. But the lighthearted scene was abruptly ended when Optimus heard something through his comm. link.

"Odd," he mused, pressing a digit to his audio receptor," I'm getting an embedded message on the emergency subfrequency."

"Run it through the filter, boss bot," Bulkhead instructed. A cable shot out of Optimus's wrist and latched itself to a port.

"Broken lance! Repeat, broken lance!"

"'Broken lance'," Sari asked in confusion.

"It's an old code from our academy days," Optimus explained, "Sentinel only used it when he was about to get caught doing something he shouldn't."

"Like what, exactly," Elena asked with an eyebrow arched. Optimus shot her an amused smirk for a split second before he turned serious again.

"Sentinel called you for help? He must really be in trouble." It was hard to miss the surprise and concern in Bulkhead's voice.

"We've gotta get me on that Elite Guard flagship," Optimus stated grimly.

"We could try the space bridge," Sumdac began, "but we don't know how to link the transwarp to the ship's location."

"Wait a minute," Bulkhead cut in, "I'm picking up traces of a transwarp field on the ship. A kind I've never seen before."

"Can you lock our space bridge on to it?" Hope rose within Optimus.

"I can," Sari smiled confidentally.

"But Sari, you've never done this before," Sumdac cried.

"You can only get lucky once, kiddo," Bulkhead admitted. Sari shook her head.

"It wasn't luck before. It was...something else." Grinning as she extended her fingers, everyone watched in awe as Sari's fingers danced across the keyboard as though she had been working on space bridges for stellar cycles. "I'm locked on the transwarp, it's active!"

"Can you get me through," Optimus asked.

"I think so," Bulkhead nodded, with worry in his voice, "I'm just not sure we can bring you back."

"Do it," the red-and-blue Prime ordered without hesitation. He started towards the giant elevator when he was stopped by a voice.

"Hey, Optimus," Elena called, running up to him, "can I come along? It'd be really interesting to meet some new Autobots and you might need some backup."

The Autobot leader almost chuckled at the request. "Sorry, Elena, but you'd better stay here. You're still recovering from surgery and this could get really dangerous; you've never faced Decepticons before." When the teen shot him a look, Optimus corrected himself. "I mean in real battle. Besides, Ratchet would have my processor if I let you come with me." It stung a little to see the disappoinment in her optics, but Elena quickly shook it off.

"That's okay, I understand. Good luck!"

Optimus smiled and nodded at the girl before running into the elevator as Elena eyed him with determination and followed. The elevator ascended to a giant glowing blue orb. Walking up to the ball of light, Optimus leapt into it, completely oblivious to his passenger's presence.

~.~.~.~.~

"What on the fifth moon of Pz-Zazz?!"

Swindle looked down at his abdomen in shock as it began to pulsate. Within seconds, a blue arm reached out and pressed against his faceplates. Everyone could only watch as Optimus Prime exited Swindle's chestplates and launched himself across the room, axe at the ready. Knocking over Blitzwing and Sunstorm, Optimus took in his opponents.

"Traitor," Lugnut screamed, hauling Swindle to his pedes, "how dare you collaborate with Autobots!"

"Collaborate, my actuator," the brown mech scoffed in reply, pointing to his stomach," this is a private transwarp to my own personal storage dimension, mister!"

"Optimus, attack," Sentinel shouted from his cell, "what are you waiting for?!"

"Better odds," Optimus replied, transforming into a fire truck. As Sentinel shouted after the red Prime, three Decepticons gave chase. Lugnut sighed in frustration.

"Stay here and guard the prisoners," he barked, "I shall deal with this myself." Hurrying down the hallway after his comrades, Lugnut caught up just in time to see Optimus enter an elevator, his trailer lying a few feet away.

"He went up here!"

Icy Blitzwing approached the elevator and rested his servo on the doors. "Schematics show zhat zhis elevator leads only the the energon storage chamber."

"The fool! He's trapped himself!" Lugnut's single crimson optic glowed with excitement, when a muffled voice, rang through the room.

"Optimus, no!"

"Hm?" The Decepticons scanned the room thoroughly as Blitzwing's optics fell on Optimus's abandoned trailer. "I zhought I heard somezhing." Blitzwing calmly strode over to the trailer and tore the ceiling off. Icy was instantly shoved aside by Random as he reached inside.

"Ooh, lookie here! A stowaway!" Random cackled happily as he snatched the fearful Elena into his servo.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~

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