By Tony THUNDER Klepack
Grid Iron watched Fixit and three of his medical technicians work on
bringing Jazz around. Several of his fellow Autobots had been killed
during the Autobot City Massacre, where his Pretender shell had been
disintegrated by Galvatron himself, creating a brutal neural feedback
that left the Autobot veteran comatose for the rest of the battle and
the Cindras 2 fiasco after it. Miraculously, his body had survived all
that, protected as best he could be by his Autobot brethren.
But others had not been so fortunate. The vast
majority of Autobot City's population—including several Autobots of
renown like Optimus Prime, Kup, Grimlock, and Fortress Maximus—had died
nobly defending their outpost in the spirit of protecting the Humans
Grid Iron turned to look out the medbay's window,
his optics searching the vast concrete flooring far below which
contained dozens of Autobots shuttles and space vessels, a mish-mash of
survivors’ ships and Oberon's own vessels. The battle-scarred old ships
stood out amid the sleek, modem war machines.
He allowed himself a sigh. The ships wouldn't have
been battle-scarred if they hadn’t been allowed to be fired upon. If,
when the slaughter began, a fleet of Autobot vessels and an army of
troops had materialized out of nowhere and attacked the Decepticons—at
the very least forcing them to fight hard for their victory.
But instead, it had been a massacre. The Decepticons
had struck both Autobot City and Cybertron, slaughtering Autobots
unaccustomed to fighting for nearly two decades. Some of whom fought
back viciously, defending what was theirs, while a small minority froze
in fear or hid themselves futilely, being murdered in the end anyway,
regardless of their intent against their ancient enemy.
It would've been just if Oberon’s forces had jumped
from trans dimensional portals and star vessels and struck their enemy
with well-trained forces—forces who had never let their training be
soiled and forgotten by dreams of peace and prosperity, warriors freed
from the illusion of the Decepticons were never coming back.
They always came back, It was only a matter of when.
But justice was not to be. Grid Iron was a good
warrior, who always followed his orders to the letter and this time, in
doing so, he was responsible for the death of thousands of his brethren
Oberon was Optimus Prime’s contingency plan—a fallback for his forces
should they ever lose Cybertron. It had been the prime order of their
now-deceased leader that Oberon's existence never be revealed, no
matter what. Obviously, if they lost Oberon, there was nowhere else for
the Autobots to run to.
And Grid Iron understood that, all too well.
Although they had no direct way of monitoring Earth,
Oberon's Autobots did have several highly advanced and camouflaged spy
satellites directed on their homeworld, for obvious reasons. They'd
seen the fighting as it had broken out on Cybertron, simultaneously in
all four of the main cities. At any time, Grid Iron could have ordered
his forces there go engage the enemy—but he didn't. Because he
understood what it might’ve meant if Oberon were to be discovered by
the Decepticons-and, right now, he never regretted following orders
He was all too familiar with the injured and dying
he'd seen as they came in on the escape shuttles. Their bodies
hideously burned and torn—some well beyond recognition.
Their injuries, their dead loved ones were all his
fault. He'd failed them by observing his orders...failed them
Of course, he'd talked things over with his friend
and confidante, Thunderclash, and his friend had been quick to point
out that if he had acted, he would've diminished Oberon's resources and
Jeopardized his obligation to all the survivors. He had to keep them
alive and motivated, give them hope for tomorrow and the resources to
Grid Iron knew that, of course. In his head,
inaction had been the only tactical option open to him. But in his
heart, he was partially responsible for the loss of Autobot life that
had taken place—and logic or not, he couldn't completely alleviative
his feelings of responsibility.
Grid Iron was aware he was one of the only
command-level Autobots left and the only one currently in charge of
anything—which effectively made him acting-Commander of the Autobots.
It was an obligation he did not feel he observed right now, but like it
or not, there was no one else.
He had to gather himself together. Now was not the
time to show weakness—or to allow it. He had to present the others with
a solid front and inspire confidence in them, give them that hope they
so desperately needed…even if he wasn't sure he felt it himself right
Grid Iron snapped out of his meditations and turned
to the source of the voice. "Yes, Fixit? What is it?"
Before the MicroMaster could respond however,
another voice answered.
"Oh, man, have I got a headache!" Jazz replied,
rubbing his temples and sitting up on the medical bed. He looked up and
saw Grid Iron and Fixit watching him—and their emerging smiles. "Did I
miss anything important?"
Matt marched down the corridor of the Dark Glory,
where he been assigned quarters. All of the few remaining Decepticon
Head and TargetMasters were stationed in this section, where quarters
had been reconditioned to allow for Human and Nebulan-sized beings to
live alongside their binary-bonded partners without having to contend
with enormous appliances and beds.
But as impressive as it and, indeed, the Dark Glory
itself were, he had more important concerns on his mind today.
It had been three days since Earth had activated its
doomsday defense against The Decepticons—the EMP bomb—a weapon which
had worked so utterly perfectly that it had also knocked out every last
piece of technology on Earth and killed its HeadMaster defense force. A
team Matt had been so instrumental in creating.
It had been a whirlwind week for him, starting with
commandeering a HeadMaster body, becoming intoxicated by his new found
power and merging minds with the remnants of the dead Whisper to become
Talon. Then being coerced into joining the Decepticons by the unusual
yet forthright Decepticon, Facet, being forced to reveal Camelot's
secrets to Megatron and being shocked by the arrival of some female
TransFormer named Starscream—whom Face assured him had once been a
he—Matt hadn't realized mechanoids were prone to the same desire to
have a sex change as Humans were….
He heard another voice in his mind groan at that,
and he knew Whisper had been monitoring his thoughts.
'Go away I have no time for you right now,' Matt
He waited a moment, hoping Whisper had taken the
hint, and then continued on with his thought. It wasn't that Starscream
had been so surprising—he, she—whatever-meant as much to him as
Soundwave or any other Decepticon did—very little. But seeing his
quiet, meek secretary, Gwen, binary-bonded to Starscream was quite
startling. She'd had such venom in her voice when she spoke to him,
accusing him of being a traitor to their world—as if he'd ever
willingly have given up Earth! Venom, and something else…
She'd assured him that she wasn't crazy and he
didn't doubt that statement. That she'd failed the psyche tests meant
only that she wasn't a good candidate for the bonding program because
the test results meant she either couldn't' handle the transition to
controlling the robotic bodyshell, or the strenuous combats situations
into which she'd be placed.
But he'd sensed something further when she'd
confronted him—a confidence she'd never demonstrated before and almost
crazed…flamboyance, for lack of a better term. She'd worked with him
long enough for him to get to know her on a few levels, and this didn't
strike him as being in her personality type.
Granted, he'd possibly taken a few too many
liberties appreciating her beauty and rounded figure—unfortunately,
letting her catch him at it a few times. But she'd still demonstrated a
forthrightness he'd never seen from her before. Her usual tact and
manner had seem totally supplanted.
If only he'd been more sensitive to her. But it was
just his nature to act that way around good-looking women. He'd had a
harsh life, having lost his family at an early age he'd had to survive
any way he could. He'd learned all he could on the streets and used his
mind to advance himself through both legitimate and less legal
methods—like extortion and black marketing—to get himself into a
prominent position with a respectable company like Blackrock
Industries. In all that time he'd had little time for learning how to
act around women—after all, they had no value in getting him where he'd
wanted to go in life and if he needed anything physical from them, he
could always count on the bars...they catered to all types of amorous
people, including many of the more…pleasurable women he'd had
He wondered if Gwen was just sick of being polite
with him, and giving him hell like he'd probably deserved or if it was
traits of her partner, this Starscream character. After all, the
binary-bonding process was supposed to be a 50/50 merge between organic
and mechanical llfeform, giving the new being the best of each.
Of course, Project Excalibur was supposed to have
changed the rules by mindwiping the cerebral circuitry of the shell,
giving the organic side full control. And in all the subjects he'd
seen, it had been a complete success—save for his own case, of course.
But Phase Mordred had been done in secret, without all the usual
safeguards and procedures of the mainstream Project, thus the anomalies
of his case, while being irritating were not completely surprising in
But had the same fate befallen his former secretary?
He'd like to hope not, but he knew it was most likely the case as well.
Despite his bonding with Whisper though, he hadn't
felt himself acting any differently when separated and walking around
in or out of the armor—like he was now. The change in Gwen was near
instant and worrying.
He'd wanted to go to her ever since their encounter
and make sure that she was handling it okay. Now was the first time
he'd had free yet and he was going to her quarters to do Just that. He
needed to make sure she could control and accept Starscream's presence
and also adapt to what had happened to Earth the other day—after all,
neither of them would be returning in the foreseeable future.
He stopped in front of the door to Gwen's quarters
and composed himself for whatever state she'd be in. Exhaling sharply,
he pressed the door chime beside the small Human-sized entry to the
quarters. As he waited for a response, he noted the large,
Transformer-scaled door nearby which would allow the bonded partner
He just hoped Starscream wasn't home.
"Enter," Gwen's voice spoke out of an unseen
Matt waited as the door opened—and revealed near
total darkness inside. He stepped tentatively inside and the door
quickly slid closed behind him.
"Lights," he called out.
"Oh, they won't be necessary." Gwen replied from
somewhere nearby, "I so prefer it this way..."
Matt! looked around in the darkness, trying to
locate the sound of her voice.
A blue light suddenly sprang to life off to his
right, the sudden brilliance playing havoc with his eyes which were
still trying to adjust to the darkness. In it, Gwen knelt atop an
oversized pillow, a robe loosely concealed her body.
"I hope this is better for you," she purred.
"Gwen, what's going on? Is Starscream here—"
She shook her head. "My new partner is undergoing
some maintenance in medbay." She ran both of heir hands through her
hair, the action parting the two halves of her robe and revealing her
"We're all alone right now," she added seductively,
making no attempt to hide or close the robe.
"What's going on?" Matt demanded, forcing himself to
meet her eyes and ignore her other attributes, "Is Starscream making
Gwen smiled. "He doesn't make me do anything. In
fact, I'm more in control than he is." She rose to her feet and walked
over to him, letting the robe slide off her shoulders completely, "I'm
a woman, Matt. I have my own desires…."
"Stop this…" he replied hoarsely.
Gwen ignored him and rubbed against him, her breasts
sending a wave of undesired pleasure throughout his body. She whispered
in his ear, her breath hot against him. "Don't you want me? I saw you
how you used to look at me before...I know you do."
He felt the heat of her breath on his neck once
again as Gwen began kissing him there. Her hand ran over his chest,
searching for the release clip on his tunic.
"No!" Matt snapped, shoving her away. "Stop it Gwen!"
She regarded him amorously—a look of desire in her
eyes, seemingly undeterred by his previous rebuttal. Unexpectedly, she
lunged at him—grasping him tightly in her arms. "Give yourself to me!"
she cried in an unhuman, almost desperate tone. She kissed him
violently on the lips acting as if her life depended on getting her way.
Matt struggled against her HeadMaster strength,
trying not to hurt her in the process with his own augmentation.
Finally, seeing no other way to release himself, he gave in and almost
flung her violently away from him. "I don't know what's wrong with
you!" Matt snapped. He turned and fumbled in the dark for the door
control panel. Finding it, he opened the door to the outside of her
quarters, walking through before she could act further.
Gwen rushed out behind him as he strode down the
corridor—not bothering to cover her nakedness—and stood outside her
quarters looking after him. "You bastard!" she shrieked. "I swear
you'll regret this!"
"Do you hear me?" she continued, as Matt ignored
her, now almost out of earshot, "If you won't love me I'll kill you!"
"Matt!" one final scream chased after him.
Matt stopped, now safely out of sight around a bend
in the corridor. He took a moment to calm himself and gather his
Perhaps he'd been wrong. Gwen was acting insane—the
mood changes, the violent-tendencies, the pattern was there. And he
could see it all clearly now. The shock of merging minds with
Starscream's had been too much for her. If he remembered his
psychology, correctly, she must have been a sexually repressed
personality-type and the merging was too much change—-a new kind of
liberty. Starscream's own mind had presented her with that, her mind
couldn't accept, and thus, she had snapped from the transition. Which
meant, as far as he could tall, that Starscream's own sanity could give
him a distinctive edge in controlling them in bonded situations. When
they were separate, though, Gwen was on her own—left to the vices of
her own shattered psyche.
Her sanity was beyond the medicine of Humanity to be
able to cure—even when theyfd had their technology operating—but,
perhaps not beyond the Decepticons’ technology. He decided that he'd
have to inquire discretely into the Decepticons’ medical database and
find out. Because what ever her current state, he was responsible for
And after what had happened to Earth, he had enough
to live with...
Bluewind drew her gun and turned in the direction of
the sound she’d just heard. Waiting a moment, her optics searched about
the area in question. She was in one of the Dark Glory's many
maintenance sections—a vast collection of pipes, dingy corridors, and
other unimportant consoles and equipment storage rooms.
After another moment, she heard nothing further and
wondered if it had just been one of the ship's sub-systems making
background noise, or, in fact, an intruder.
Of course, she'd been searching the area for twenty
minutes and it seemed that if the alarm system problem on the
compartment down here had been sabotage and not just a malfunction,
that she would have seen some evidence of tampering or another
Transformer down here. Instead, she had nothing but a sound and her own
Letting out a sigh, she tapped her comlink, "Unit
145-A to Security Control."
"Go ahead, Bluewind," a voice replied.
"All clear in section 122028," Bluewind continued.
"It must've been a system malfunction we detected earlier."
"I wouldn't be surprised. The larger they build
them, the more bugs they seem to develop." A pause, then: "All right.
Return to your regular post."
"Affirmative. 145-A out." Bluewind tapped the link
again, shutting it off. She gave the area one final glance, then turned
and proceeded down the corridor, noting where the pipes swung low here
and there and preparing to duck when necessary.
It was always possible there were intruders in these
cases, and protocol dictated checking them out—but more often than not,
it was just a system malfunction either in the section itself, or in
Security Control's scanners. This was an acceptable distraction at any
rate, as her normal sentry duties were usually quite dull—-after all,
nobody was likely to ever make it past the Dark Glory's defenses."
She ducked under two pipes and continued on her way.
Who'd want to break into a maintenance section,
anyway? she wondered. It's not like there’s anything down here worth
stealing or sabotaging!
A pair of hands shot down from the webwork of piping
above her, hoisting the surprised security officer into the air.
Before she had time to scream or even acknowledge
it, her circuits were scrambled by a charge of energy. The world
darkened about her and Bluewind felt herself being dropped to the
It took a moment for her optics to clear to normal.
When they did, she saw a blue Decepticon standing over her, a bemused
look on his face.
"Who...?" she asked, her voice hoarse.
"You mean you haven't heard of me?" he sounded
genuinely indignant. "I am chaos, child! I am a force of nature like
all things around me...haven't you heard of Lightning?"
She shook her head weakly, coughing from the
exertion. "Why...did you attack m-me?"
"You came to investigate a malfunctioning system—I
caused it," He looked around at the drab solitude. "These maintenance
areas are wondrous—no one would think to suspect a legitimate break-in
down here. But—he held up a utility case which Bluewind immediately
recognized as a technical kit. "They are excellent places to shop for
the mech who has everything."
"I'd already reported in," she stated as her
strength slowly seeped back into her body, "Why attack me? You could've
gotten away without any hassle..."
"True," Lightning admitted. "But this way is so much
He regarded the kit in his hand, "These tools are a
small component of my master plan…I will bring chaos to my Decepticon
brethren! Free their minds of the mundane constraints that shackle them
down—morality, honor, love—allowing them to experience the true freedom
I experience!" He looked at her sinisterly. "You will all thank me for
"Not likely," Bluewind answered bravely, knowing
this wasn't going to and well for her.
"Well, as much as I'd love to rant all day, I've got
places to be, things to do," he regarded her coldly, "people to kill."
"I hope you don't expect me to beg," Bluewind
Lightening raised his hand and small bolts
transferred between his fingertips, "No, but you will scream…and then,
you will die!"
Electricity surged forth from his hand and tore into
her. The last thing she remembered—would ever remember—was intense pain
shooting all over her body and the sound of her own voice as she
screamed one final scream.
"What is our next order of business?"
"Before we get to that," another figure interrupted,
"I would like to ask about our plans?"
The Council Head looked at him with an expression of
surprise. "Very well K'ronei," he replied, "What is it you wish to
The other nine councilors looked at K'ronei
expectantly, some impatiently, while others hoped he would express
their questions of their leader's recent actions.
"I fully understand the importance and logic of our
actions with Megatron," he replied. "But what of the other realms?" He
looked at the others. "Some of my fellow councilors, as wall as myself,
do not understand the logic of sending someone so inexperienced as
Jonara to disrupt the TransFormers in that realm. Surely, one of his
elders would have been more suited to such an operation?"
The other nodded in understanding, "I agree that
Jonara is inexperienced, being the newest member of the Cores. But he
does have ample battle and tactical experience in the field."
One of the other councilors looked as if he was
going to interrupt with one of his own thoughts, but the Head Councilor
cut him off.
"And," he added, "Jonara must learn. As all of you,
as I myself, and all of our forebearers did. He can never assume
command of such a large group of our forces without being able to
command such an assignment as this by himself. All of us here have
commanded operations in other universes—it: is essential to our
ultimate Goal that our forces can be divided up and attack on several
fronts. Otherwise our Goal will take infinity to accomplish." He
smiled. "Forever is a long time."
"And if Jonara fails?" another asked.
The Head shrugged. "Then Jonara dies because he was
not worthy. That is our way in case you have forgotten."
"Don't lecture me! I was one with the Core long
before you ever came along."
"Ah, yes," their leader replied as he walked over,
closer to the speaker. "The great Dii'eusis. I seem to recall you were
the one who lead our people to brutal defeat at Sigma Draconis in
Universe 547-V eighty-seven years ago. Very impressive...obviously a
decorated veteran such as yourself learned our way well."
Dii'eusis appeared angered over the reminder of his
own failure but said nothing.
"Victory is our way." their leader addressed them
all. "I have never led any of you to defeat—or worse, destruction.
There is no need to start questioning my strategy now. If Jonara fails
us—if he does—then we will move into that universe when we are done
here and destroy its Transformers ourselves! Is that clear enough for
all of you?"
The others said nothing and their leader returned to
his seat. After a moment, he shuffled his documents in front of him
once more. "If that is all," he began, "then let us continue on—"
"It is not all!" another councilor interrupted. "You
have spoken up for Jonara, but you have said nothing of one other
important thing. What about the Syntara?"
"They will be dealt with, K'ronei, if any further
interference arises from them," He looked down at the silver ring on
his finger appreciatively. "I will see to it myself...."
This statement left the others quiet. Their Head
looked at them, knowing he had put them on edge referring to his alien
acquisition. He permitted himself a smile at that. They did not know
what it was capable of, and they feared it's power.
But he didn't. Nor did he entirely understand its
full potential—but he knew enough to deal with their ethereal
enemy...and he would, when the time was right.
"Is that all, than?" he asked. His question was
answered with silence. "If so, it is time to continue onward with
meeting. We have plenty of work ahead of us.…"
Grid Iron, Thunderclash, and several others stood in
his office and watched a camera displaying the medbay as Sonimus Prime
was scanned and checked over by Fixit.
"So, what do you think?" Grid Iron asked. "Is she
really Sunfire reborn?"
"She seems to be," Tornado replied. "She recognizes
Airlift, Warhawk, Firestorm and myself. More than that, she has
specific memories of our time together—if she isn't Sunfire, then
somebody sure did their homework!"
"I’m just glad she survived," Airlift said. Her
optics met the screen image. "She's always been like a sister to me."
Warhawk punched her shoulder affectionately. "Don’t
tell me you're going soft on us!" he teased.
Airlift smiled at that, but Grid Iron could tell she
had been affected deeply by the losses they'd endured and was grateful
her comrade was safe from oblivion.
Jetfire looked at Grid Iron. "Ifm sure that's her
too. She saved us all from that...thing! When she didn’t return, we
just assumed the worst..." He looked off, lost in recollection. "I'm
just grateful we were wrong."
Thunderclash interjected then: "I hate to rain on
your fortune, but given that you were all saved by Sunfire’s actions,
are you really the best the judges of whether or not this is really
Grid Iron looked at the attending Cindras 2
survivors: Jetfire, Sludge, and Seaspray were present. Arcee had
suffered some psychological trauma on the planetoid and had been
ordered to rest in her quarters she had been all to happy to oblige.
Beachcomber was off investigating the base's
geological technology, not wanting too badly to revisit his experiences
on Cindras 2 yet either—or so Grid Iron suspected at any rate. And, of
course, there was Jazz who had been unconscious the entire time and
thus wasn't qualified to determine Sonimus Prime's identity.
"Look at it from perspective as Security Chief,"
Thunderclash continued. "We’ve lost both Cybertron and Autobot City,
and now, we have a Transformer claiming to be one of our own—and for
all intents and purposes, she does seem to be what she says she is.
But, she's vague on details of her transformation and keeps talking of
prophecy fulfillment. Can we tust her? I don't know. But I'm sure as
hell not going to take her word on it alone!"
"You didn't seem to be concerned about this
Mainframe character," Firestorm retorted. "It seems to me that he'd be
as much of a threat to security—if not more so!"
"Believe me," Thunderclash told him, "I haven't
cleared him of that potential— we're still watching him closely."
"I know we're all here because we’re either her
team-mates or fellow survivors from Cindras 2," Seaspray said, speaking
for the first time this meeting. "Does that pepper our opinions?
Absolutely! But Sunfire saved our lives back there—you have to
understand our loyalty! Besides, logically, if we found her on Cindras
2 near where she was thought to have gone, then she must be Sunfire!"
Thunderclash seemed unconvinced.
"All right," Grid Iron admitted. "You have a point.
Despite several yet unexplained factors, this probably is Sunfire. I'll
allow her free reign while she's here…"
Peelings of joy and relief passed over her gathered
"But," Grid Iron continued, "I want answers! I fully
expect some sort of specific explanation from…Sonimus as to her missing
time and her transformation. If she won't give us those answers, in the
name of security, she'll be thrown into the brig. The same goes for her
if we catch her going near any of the sensitive systems or areas," He
looked at her team-mattes, "Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir," Tornado answered.
"One last thing. This get-together is classified.
None of you are to reveal any details of this discussion to her," Grid
Iron exhaled. "This meeting is over. Dismissed!"
Grid Iron noticed on the monitor that Sonimus has
left medbay. He had a feeling she'd want to find him. Reaching over, he
tapped a button his desk's control panel, severing the link to the
The Air Defense force piled out first, followed by
Seaspray and Sludge. Both Jetfire and Thunderclash hung back.
"I just wanted to say Sunfire's a true hero,"
Jetfire told the acting-Commander of the Autobots. "She upheld our
purest ideals back there—putting her life on the line for our
well-being. She should be commended for her heroism, not crucified!"
"Don't worry, there won't be any witch hunts while
I'm in charge," Grid Iron replied. "You have my word on that."
Jetfire nodded his contentment with that and turned
to leave. After he was gone, Thunderclash turned to his friend. "We're
not seriously going to let Sonimus have free reign of Oberoa, area we?"
he asked, "We're Just asking for trouble!"
Grid Iron shook his head. "No, but I wanted them to
believe that—we don't need anymore infighting around here. We need to
keep our side together—otherwise we have no chance of successfully
rallying against the Decepticons," He exhaled sharply. "Same drill as
with Mainframe—keep her under discreet surveillance any time she leaves
"You got it." Thunderclash turned to the door to
leave. As it opened, Sonimus Prime was standing behind it. "I hope I'm
not intruding," she asked.
"No, Thunderclash was just leaving."
She nodded and entered, waiting as Thunderclash
departed before she spoke.
"What can I do for you?"
"It's about destiny," she told him. "And the future.
As you may have noticed, we are leaderless in the wake of Optimus
Prime's passing—" she seemed saddened as she spoke his namr, but Grid
Iron couldn't quite connect why his death would’ve had more impact on
her than anyone else. "—and someone must take his place, assume the
mantle of Autobot leadership," she paused and looked Grid Iron directly
in the optics.
"That Autobot is myself!"