Galvatron was… pleased. He had smashed two linkages at once in the pathetic gestalt brought to bear against him, and even now held the mech who led down, cutting into his armor slowly with great relish for the task. His master demanded he move on, into the structure ahead of him, but there was too much joy to be had in slowly extinguishing a spark, watching as its owner struggled desperately for freedom.
He realized after the fact that his lieutenants were not as effective as he was, though how something wearing that much red streaked with black had slipped through was a matter to determine later. As it was, he barely had time to imprint the colors, before a small bodied-mech in a tight ball of mass slammed into his chest and knocked him off the fallen leader of this rabble.
"Stick that in your exhaust!" the little warrior taunted, gaining feet and traction with the ease of long practice.
"Cliffjumper…" Ultra Magnus called, trying to get the small, fearless warrior to give ground. He saw Warpath then, and Trailbreaker, so he let the warning die away as he struggled to stem his energon loss.
First Aid, despite injuries to three of his brothers, was quickly at his side, grace under fire in the deft patches he performed. "Noncritical injuries, as we have tempered the linkages over time to withstand more damage than any mech should withstand," First Aid reported. "However, the joins are fused shut, which means we cannot call on Defensor."
"We'll manage," Kup said, voice a half-chuckle as he reached them. His tone made the pair look… and they saw Menasor entering the fray. First Aid could not help tensing; that team and his own had been at odds nearly since creation, midway through the war. Then Menasor swatted one of the three lieutenants aside, roaring defiance and carnage at the enemy, and First Aid remembered the war was over.
Maybe he'd even be able to help them through their problems some cycle, and find more maturity as his own team had done. He hurriedly slapped more patches into place, bypassing where the damage was too heavy so Ultra Magnus could keep on his pedes. It wasn't optimal, but that was the curse of being a battlefield medic.
Ironhide had been getting edgier every day for weeks, Ratchet had noticed. Of course, he wasn't much better, using his time lately to actually dictate new training modules on mech repair while studying what was involved in spark-budding and other forms of mech creation. He finally couldn't ignore the fact Ironhide and he were both reacting to something in the cohort bond that they had purposefully shielded themselves from before coming on this vacation.
"We gotta go back," Ironhide said just as Ratchet was about to speak.
"Well, the vacation has certainly got us more in tune," Ratchet said blandly. "Back to the catapult it is." As he dropped into his alt so they could roll back for the base with the gravity well catapult their kind used (and the humans used for launching supplies to their outposts), he started breaking the code that helped them both keep a solid block on the cohort connection, so they could become more aware of what was happening.
Bumblebee was first to touch them, closer than the rest, and imparting the information that all Cybertronians were recalled to Metroplex, except a minimal staff Bumblebee was keeping at the embassy. Ironhide harrumphed, wondering what was so important but not important enough to contact him directly. He spilled his own awareness out further, reaching for Jazz, even as Ratchet was reaching for Prime.
Jazz was distant enough to be but a bare pulse of life in the distant web of their cohort bond, making Ironhide lay enough speed on to make Ratchet struggle to keep up. Prime, on the other hand….
::I can't feel him. Not beyond him being activated still,:: Ratchet sent the instant Ironhide queried.
::Jazz has to be on Cybertron, and what little trace I feel of Prime says the same, but you're right. He's not really… present.:: Ironhide did not like this at all. ::Like he's in commune with the Matrix, like he used to with the AllSpark.::
::That always goes so well,:: Ratchet tossed back, flicks of various times it had blown up in their laps, trying to let Prime search their histories and then implement ancient ways to correct their problems.
::He's only got Jazz. Mik and the rest of our cohort are in Metroplex,:: Ironhide quickly sent, having touched against his strongest human link with Will.
::Let's go rescue our noble leader from himself, once again.::
Rodimus Prime had never seen the AllSpark directly. After his creation, and the creation of several others in a desperate surge to help the AllSpark, Rodimus's cohort had taken to space with a contingent of Autobots set on liberating the colonies. He knew now that Optimus Prime had ordered this of Ultra Magnus to protect the future Prime from discovery by Megatron. Frankly, Rodimus still thought the AllSpark had made a mistake by placing that coding in him instead of Bumblebee or Arcee or any of his 'clutch' mates.
Stepping through the anomaly to come face to face with the artifact Sam Witwicky had destroyed brought momentary panic to Springer, Rodimus, and the others that had assembled.
~They come. Defend us all, Rodimus Prime.~
The voice that resonated delivered images of ancient beings, both organic and mechanical in their appearance. Outside images came forth, showing Ultra Magnus and Kup both pinned down by heavy fire, a gestalt in the distance struggling to retain its linkage, and both factions fighting back to back against the strange biotech warriors.
::Autobots… and Decepticon,:: Rodimus added, once he felt the presence of Blaster slip in through the gate, ::there is a fight against an ancient presence outside this building! Our cohort mates, our race… they all need us! So let's get out there and put this fight down for good!::
His words, delivered with all his youthful fire and the power of the AllSpark's resonance had the assault force roaring even as they spilled out of the building and into the courtyard of the new temple. Blaster hesitated, looking up…and he saw why as a control pod swept down, opening to him.
"I can do this," the communicator said softly, sending his pair of symbionts out to join the carnage, while giving himself to the temple for defense control.
"How in all of the nine rings of Tchthes did Roddy get here?" Kup demanded, picking off a careful shot to pull one of the loathsome fighters off Menasor's hip.
"Who cares; we need the back up." Ultra Magnus would discuss leaving the Sol system at a later time; right now the extra squad of fighters was just what they needed. "Tchthes was a slag pit anyway; why'd that one come to mind?"
"Because it was a slag pit, and so's this fight!"
Then the ground shook under the landing of the real enemy, causing Ultra Magnus to leave himself open just a moment too long. Galvatron was right back to exploit it, even as Kup found himself wrestling one on one with one of the ones that looked just like Galvatron.
"That's huge," Rodimus said as he got full sight of the Unmaker. Once organic, 'improved' by technology and then calcified over the lengthy journeys it had experienced, all Rodimus could compare it to was the mythical rock giants he'd read stories of to Daniel as a small scraplet.
"Just means it will fall down harder!" Springer encouraged, leaping into the air to meet their new challenge.
"Springer!" Rodimus called, running after to try and help keep his cohort mate in one piece.
Once there had been two explorers, last of the race they'd been born to, exploring for the sake of finding new things. Then they argued, each with different ideas. Never wishing to be alone, the difference drove too deep, and one proved stronger, making the other silent when they left the planet with its small lifeforms.
The Unmaker thought the Maker remained behind, and felt betrayed, for being alone was not how either was meant to be. Now, seeking an end to the silence, or at least to the reminders of solitary existence, the Unmaker had decided destroying the Maker's chosen place would soothe away the pain.
Watching as the divided parts of the whole unified to fight for survival made a smaller voice inside the explorer find strength.
~never left you; you forgot me~
With a roar, the Unmaker, flawless and could be no other way, swatted at the rotary craft as if it had placed that voice within itself.
Springer tried desperately to regain control, to pull up and catch himself, but all his gyroscopic guidance was offline. All he could do was brace for impact, and hope First Aid could still put him back together.
Then he was caught in the manipulator of a gestalt, a landing that was still rough but not smashing. He was set down by the gestalt… it appeared to be Bruticus… before the gestalt joined Rodimus's defense against the giant tech-organic threat.
"Seen everything," the rotor-class mech said as he forced himself to transform for his mech form, intent on testing his swords against that rocky armor.
Blaster was amazed as he realized that the temple was better guarded than even the palace. His processor subdivided to handle each gunnery emplacement, lending firepower and cover to the mechs outside. As he did, he heard whispers of those who had gone before, almost as clearly as he could hear Scorponok and Steeljaw outside in the fight. He could not let himself lose concentration when Steeljaw took his first real injury; Scorponok was there to protect him. Instead, he listened, hearing as the voices guided him to help push the fight between the young Prime and the Unmaker to a certain spot. He felt reflectors glowing with power all around that path, and his quick mind understood that this time, the AllSpark had defenses of its own in place.
Or was that the Matrix? Those chittering sounds were familiar, as the AllSpark could never be. How often had Blaster heard the whirs and clicks of Optimus's artifact, and know it for the symbiont it was meant to be? If it was here, where was Optimus? Where was the Lord High Protector?
Those questions were silenced as quickly as the concern for Steeljaw, as Blaster once again provided defense for the Temple of the AllSpark, and helped lure the Unmaker into the right place.
~Back, Rodimus, my other creations!~
This time, the voice resonated throughout the entire fighting complement, many broken and injured by the relentless, mindless violence of the Unmaker's personal shock troops. Obedience came, even for the Decepticons, who swore after that they heard their leader demand it, and the Unmaker was left exposed in from of the now open maw of the temple. The tech-organic being started forward, just before the searing, blinding light of pure energy wrapped around the Unmaker's form.
Jazz had been appalled to find the prisoner was someone whose spark he knew. For half a klik, after a scan showed the damage and rerouting and forced reformat, Jazz considered being merciful to them all, including the one who had been cohort.
Prowl's optics opened in the same instant that a blinding light lit the far side of the city. There was a long, howling scream with a convulsion… and then the changed armor around Prowl's protoform started to fall away, leaving the mech vulnerable… and racked by painful emotions.
Jazz could not do anything other than pull the once stoic strategist into his arms and rock him, letting their fields mingle as each learned Prowl was free at last.
Two became one when one grew strong. Two side always of one ideal, that of survival with growing knowledge. Twisted, lacking balance as the strong one pushed on, a blackness grew and the purpose was lost.
~I never left you~
~I could not listen~
The two voices each found strength, touched by the energies wrought of their own creations. The Maker's Matrix, designed to grant order, and the Unmaker's Allspark, designed to make stronger life with each passing era, were united as their creators had been. Like their creators, they had evolved. Now, joined at last, and understanding that both order and strength could coexist, they forced the pair of ancient explorers to see each other, to know they were never alone… and then the light faded with nothing remaining of either.
With the giant threat eliminated and some of the Unmaker's fleet convulsed by losing their life-supporting armor, both Thundercracker and Blitzwing found clean up to be a matter of lazy picking off.
Only no one could find either Galvatron or his lieutenants in the clean up.
"True-sparked, Seeker-framed threats," Thundercracker growled, once the forces were able to give up their commanders for a meeting. "We'll stay on guard for their return." He just hoped Starscream was the 'we' involved, once that glitch got out of stasis.
"No one's seen Prime, err, Optimus Prime nor Megatron," Powerglide said, flushing a little as he remembered the big warrior that had worked with Bruticus to keep the Unmaker pinned down was also a Prime.
"Where are they?" Kup mused, casting his optics around.
"They're… still around," Rodimus said slowly. "We'll know in time, but there are lots of mechs to help. Ones the Destroyer stole from us who need put back together, our own that are injured, some that were lost and need to be salvaged for their cohorts."
"Or for new frames," Scion managed to make himself say, leaning heavily on a pair of the damaged ones, Powerglide's own people who had long ago learned basic repair to be of use to those who protected them. It was due to his injuries that the meeting of commanders had been handled inside the palace. "The AllSpark was my Lord's obsession. It exists now, and from all he ever taught me, it will produce sparks once again. We must be ready."
"Of course, bitlet," Kup said easily. "So, you're his heir? Guess that means you and Roddy need to get to know each other, then."
There was a nervous burst of static from Powerglide's vocalizer, as Scion tensed. Then, with a slow, cautious movement, Scion offered his hand to Rodimus in the human manner. Rodimus took it, then slid his hand up along Scion's arm to the more familiar mech clasp.
"I've got a deputy protector on Mars, kept Optimus's. You going to pick a deputy prime for Cybertron, until the other two show up?" Rodimus asked easily, ceding all claim on the home-world. Scion's optics flicked to Powerglide immediately, who groaned loudly.
"Oh no you don't!" Powerglide started protesting, amid the soft exchange of glyphs of humor all around them.
First there had been getting to Mars, and having Wheeljack of all people tell him he could not go to Cybertron. And Mikaela had ganged up with Will and Bobby to add that Optimus himself had said that neither Ratchet nor Ironhide were supposed to follow them to Cybertron.
"That was before there was a stable wormhole connecting us!" Ratchet said, snapping out the words and fully taking Ironhide's side.
"With Ultra Magnus gone, we could really use you leading us," Wheeljack tried to reason.
"Earth in direct danger?" Ironhide demanded bluntly.
Ironhide waved off the protest. "Will, get with Chromia and Metroplex and Bobby if things go wrong. We'll be back." He gripped Ratchet's arm and drug him on through the anomaly, leaving Sol System's defense in the hybridized humans' hands, as well as with the femme he still cared for.
Rodimus skidded to a halt right outside the room where Jazz was watching Prowl in the stasis tank, and Thundercracker was keeping watching on the very slow repair in progress on Starscream's central frame in a different tank. He hated to intrude, but… yeah, there was Scion, overseeing the work of the damaged class as they tended the recovering fighters of both sides. Those mechs made Rodimus's spark ache, but he had watched how much they seemed to understand just when or where a mech in recovery needed lubrication. Scion would tear a mech's digits off for being cruel to one; Rodimus had seen that the first day, when an injured 'Con had made the mistake of threatening one.
The short form of the name irritated his new partner, but it also got his attention fast. "Yes, Rodimus?"
"Something's happening at the temple. Blaster called it to me."
Scion gave the caretaker a gentle squeeze on one shoulder and took off… Jazz following as a way to escape his duty to Prowl's broken state.
The moment Ironhide and Ratchet had made it through the anomaly, the Cube had begun to move, shifting its configuration. Sections slid and twisted, moving to expel pieces of itself that were meant for other duties.
Neither medic nor war mech could tear their optics from the sight, completely unprepared for a confrontation with the soul of their species made whole again.
They were still watching the metallic shuffling and new combinations forming when Rodimus Prime led both Jazz and Scion in, and only Ironhide really noted them, much as only Ironhide had seen Blaster in the control pod.
"What's happening?" Rodimus asked, watching the Cube's strange gyrations.
"I don't know; I was clutched by a Prime!" Scion irritably told his partner.
"It's making new mechs," Jazz said, soft and low. "Normally we offered frames to it, but this time… those are frames forming there." He pointed, then noticed his own cohort mates and moved toward them, skirting the aural presence of the AllSpark at work. "Thought you two would miss it all!"
Ironhide smacked Jazz on the back of the helm. "What in the slagging universe were you thinking, running off all alone with Prime? Where is he?"
Jazz shook his helm, rubbing the ding that Ironhide had put there ruefully. "No one knows. Roddy there keeps saying they'll both turn up."
"Both?" Ratchet questioned, optics still fascinated by the immense structure that pulsed with life and energies that promised knowledge beyond everything they already knew.
"Megatron's AWOL too."
"But alive," Scion said fiercely, as he approached, optics flicking from the Cube to the forming frames to the medic that had saved his own existence.
"Looking strong and sturdy, scraplet," Ratchet told the Seeker. "Your final upgrade is sleeker than anything I've ever seen on your class."
Scion preened a little at that. "Powerglide is very artistic when he has reason to be," Scion admitted.
"Umm, guys? It seems to want me to do something!" Rodimus yelped as the Cube came to a stop, the listless steel-gray frames blurred by cocoons of energy surrounding them.
"Idiot," Ironhide muttered, earning him a swipe from Ratchet.
"He's young and inexperienced and Optimus isn't here to teach him. So get over there and dig it out of your rusty banks!" Ratchet told him. Ironhide grumbled a little, but he moved over to stand behind Rodimus.
"Hands up…there's an interface in the field, like a human keyboard," Ironhide told the young Prime, as he did open a set of memories from before his creation as Patronus, from even before his allegiance to only Optimus instead of Megatron, where he had first been pledged.
"Like this…whoa. Yeah…" Rodimus's digits made contact with the offered controls.
"I don't know the creation prompts, but you should. Just…listen to your spark, and follow it." Ironhide set his bulk solidly; this might wipe Rodimus's energy levels out, and that Seeker scraplet wasn't big enough to handle this.
Rodimus concentrated, and felt the warm presence in his spark expand, linking him through the interface with the Cube. Commands, locked in his very code, flowed out to complete the process the AllSpark had begun, and then he started speaking its words.
"Two, always, to protect and nurture, but those two were meant to be held by as many or as few as needed for happiness. The world broke around us, as it broke for our creators when the two grew lost to one another. We give back this pair, to begin the cycle anew and move forward. Our Creators are gone, passed into unity and beyond. The world is mending, and the race will be as one when we cast them to your call. Guard well the peace."
As Rodimus's voice fell away, the pair of frames lit brighter than optics could bear, the glow falling only slowly as Ironhide helped Rodimus to the decking. Ratchet flushed his intakes with ozone-rich atmosphere as he watched the protoforms armor over. One was a deep blue with red glyphs, and the other was a deeply burnished steel gray streaked with faint blue glyphs. As Ratchet watched, the glyphs faded back into nothingness, and the pair of immature creations roused , each reaching on instinct for the other.
"Who are you?" Scion asked, aware that with Rodimus offline briefly, he was the ranking member of their race.
"I am Orion," came familiar tones from one vocalizer.
"And I am Megatronus," the other ground out, pulling his slightly smaller spark-twin closer so that he could protect him better.
"Slag me, I gotta raise them both again?" Ironhide complained in the silence that fell after that.
"You only had the reformat; I know him like this first time around!" Jazz answered softly.
"Yeah, but you were just a bitlet then too!"
Scion ignored the joking and stepped forward, as coding deep inside him prompted. He offered each one a hand, which Orion took trustingly… and Megatronus inspected for a longer klik before doing likewise. "Welcome to your futures," Scion greeted.