Disclaimer: I don’t own Transformers.
“When I was a clerk I never had to worry about live,” Optimus Prime admitted as he stood in the Hall of Records in Iacon. He had come seeking answers from one older than him, but he wasn’t sure he would receive the ones he needed.
Alpha Trion chuckled in response, “it was never going to be any other way, Optimus. I knew you were destined – “
“To trade the caste system for Decepticon tyranny?” Optimus demanded but there was no answer for some time.
“It could be, that the war does not end here,” he finally answered.
“I don’t follow your meaning, Archivist,” Optimus Prime admitted, watching the taller mech as he sat behind his desk. Where else would the war end? It had been Decavorns since any Cybertronian had travelled to the stars or contacted the lost colonies and outposts that speckled the cosmos. The last ship to leave had been Sentinel’s and that had not ended well, his ship and the technology it had carried, destroyed, leaving Optimus in sole command of the Autobots, feeling lost with the loss of his mentor.
“I am thinking of the AllSpark,” Alpha Trion clarified. “It does not just give us life. It is the living record of all that has ever happened on Cybertron. It is our past, present and future. I would rather see the planet destroyed utterly than have the AllSpark fall into Megatron’s hands.”
“I will protect it,” Optimus Prime swore, he would not let his brother corrupt it to his purposes.
Alpha Trion sighed and looked right at him, “That is the problem, Optimus. You may not be able to.”
Optimus Prime couldn’t believe what he was hearing, was even Alpha Trion questioning his courage, his qualifications? Optimus stayed silent because he did not trust himself to speak. Then when he had controlled his emotions he said, “I understand.”
“I am not sure you do,” Alpha Trion admitted. “You take my words as censure. In fact, they are what I understand from the Covenant.” He tapped Covenant’s weathered cover. “Herein are the transcribed records of our civilization,” he said. “I make additions here and there, but much is already on these pages. Including the future—but future events are problematic for me to comprehend as they are written. The Covenant does mention an ominous threat to the AllSpark, however. The situation is desperate. I believe we must act.”
“Act how? We could ring the Well of AllSparks with every Autobot, and the Decepticons would overwhelm us. They have numbers. We survive by fighting smarter than they do.” Optimus Prime looked at the Covenant in a new light. He had thought it an archive, or Alpha Trion’s personal journal. To know that it extended into the future…
“Yes,” Alpha Trion agreed. “We must fight smarter. And where one alternative is a certain loss, a reckless gamble can be the smarter alternative.”
Optimus would never have thought to hear Alpha Trion suggesting a reckless gamble as a military strategy. And when he heard what the Archivist was actually proposing, Optimus thought that everything on Cybertron truly must have gone insane. Without the AllSpark there would be no more Sparkling’s, there were far too few Femmes left for them to rebuild that way. The ones that remained were spread out far too thinly, including his own dear Elita-One who had taken a mission that kept them apart.
“I believe we must initiate the AllSpark Failsafe,” Alpha Trion continued. He spoke slowly and carefully, as he always did, but Optimus Prime could hear a disillusionment in his tone as well. This was not easy for the archivist to say. “We must eject the AllSpark from Cybertron to protect it from Megatron.”
“Eject…Archivist,” gasped Optimus, unable to believe he would suggest such a thing, “I can protect it.”
“This is no longer about you, Optimus,” Alpha Trion stated firmly, standing up, forcing the young Prime to look up at him. “It is not a criticism or a judgment. The situation is what it is, and it calls for appropriate action. If the AllSpark is lost, all is lost. You are Prime. You must do what is necessary.”
After a pause, Optimus Prime nodded, “Understood.”
“Know that you are in the right, Optimus,” Alpha Trion said, tone softening some. “Have you not noticed that even as the Well slowed, and fewer and fewer bots emerged, the majority of those Sparkling’s grew to become Autobots? The AllSpark has spoken through this. Your cause—our cause—is just.” That was all the comfort he could give.
“Where will the AllSpark go?” Optimus Prime asked in concern.
Alpha Trion shook his head, “We must not know that. If we know, Megatron—or Soundwave—can find out. But if we do not know, if we rely on the AllSpark to signal you and call to you, then we have a chance to find it once this war is over and it is safe to return the AllSpark to Cybertron.”
“So, we’re just going to fling it out into space. Somewhere. And hope we can find it again,” Optimus Prime said slowly, and Alpha Trion nodded. “The Covenant talks about this?” Alpha Trion nodded again. “I do not like it,” Optimus Prime said. “But I will do it. Tell me how.”
Optimus Prime called in a meeting of his most trusted lieutenants once he had returned to the base, Spark heavy with what he had to tell them but there was truly no other way. Prowl as chief strategist was present as was Jazz as chief of special operations. Ratchet, his chief medical officer, Ironhide his weapons specialist and and the valorous Ultra Magnus, who had also apprenticed for a time under Sentinel Prime.
Last there was Bumblebee, one of his best Scouts, despite his youth. He had become a fiery warrior and had made a name for himself in recent battles, distinguishing himself particularly in the Tagan Heights stalemate and the victory at Kalis. Bumblebee had risen through the ranks quickly. He was capable but raw, with the youngster’s tendency to get himself in over his head—but he also had the unteachable ability to see unexpected solutions to seemingly intractable problems. A can-do attitude went a long way toward keeping Autobot morale up when things looked bleak. And Optimus hated having him there, he had been forced to grow up far too quickly thanks to the war. He still remembered the day Bumblebee had been pulled from the rubble as a mere Sparkling, his Creators dead. With no other option he had been raised among them, Ironhide and Chromia stepping up to act as his Guardians. There wasn’t an Autobot that had met the Sparkling that hadn’t been cheered up by his presence. After the Decepticons had begun slaughtering every Sparkling and Youngling they came across, they had become rare…so rare that Bumblebee was likely the last of his generation.
The seven Autobots gathered around a map display of the area stretching from the Well of AllSparks north almost as far as the pole, where the ruins of Six Lasers Over Cybertron lay, and east to encompass Iacon and the contested territories toward Nova Cronum. Autobot holdings were represented in blue; surrounding them, a sea of Decepticon red spread in every direction. “We’re down to our most secure bases,” Optimus Prime said. “You all know that. Megatron fights as if he would destroy Cybertron in order to control it, while we are fighting to preserve our home,” he paused, considering how best to frame what he had to say next. “In the battle for the Tagan Heights,” Optimus Prime went on, “we destroyed what we were fighting over. Factories can be rebuilt. Cities, too. But there are some things that cannot be replaced. These we must protect at all costs.” Optimus rested a finger on the lower left corner of the map, over the Well of AllSparks, “The AllSpark itself is in danger. Megatron will try to seize and control it. If he does…”
“We know,” Ultra Magnus finished for him. “What is the plan?”
“There are not enough Autobots to hold the Well itself if Megatron focuses all of his strength on it,” Optimus Prime said. “We are stronger bot to bot than they are, but there are too many of them. So, I have consulted with Alpha Trion, and we agree. The AllSpark must be saved, and the only way to save it is to get it off Cybertron.”
“No!” Bumblebee yelped and Ironhide clamped a heavy hand down on his shoulder and Bumblebee held back whatever it was he had been about to say next, blue optics wide. He didn’t want to be the last Sparkling!
“Listen to Prime,” Ironhide chided gently. Bumblebee may no longer be a Youngling but as far as he was concerned the young Autobot would always be his charge. He looked to Optimus Prime, and Optimus was overcome for a moment. Ironhide had been one of the most sceptical of the older generation of Autobots. For the first cycles of the war, he had openly questioned whether Optimus Prime had what it took to lead Cybertron. That had changed over the Vorns and he was now one of the most loyal to Optimus.
Optimus inclined his head in Ironhide’s direction. “My thanks,” he said. “And Bumblebee, my thanks to you as well. You are a valued addition to our ranks,” he praised the little Scout, “But yes. We must preserve the AllSpark.”
“What do we do?” Jazz asked. “Whatever it is, let’s get to it.”
“There is a failsafe process. We must go down into the Well of AllSparks and set it in motion.” Optimus Prime looked again at the map. “We will go subsurface to Kalis, and from there straight across to the eastern edge of the Well. Then down. No complications. We don’t stop to engage any Decepticon forces.”
“Seems like a big hurry,” Ironhide frowned as he studied the map.
Optimus Prime nodded, “It is. Alpha Trion hinted to me that Megatron would be moving to capture the AllSpark soon. That means we move now. Ultra Magnus take your forces and clear the road.”
“We’re gone,” Ultra Magnus saluted and left to gather his troops.
“Bumblebee, you will lead defence at Tyger Pax.” The city was just south of the Well of AllSparks and was one of the few areas they held comfortably but there was still a chance the Decepticons would attempt to attack through there, though it was a slim chance. “The rest shall approach from the west, through Simfur, openly as a diversion. I shall enter the Well and activate the Failsafe.” He ordered, and the group nodded. “Roll out.”
Bumblebee was not a Warrior or Enforcer, he was a scout, he was not made for pure combat and yet here he was, in command of the forces at Tyger Pax. That would have been fine, if Megatron had fallen for Optimus Prime’s plan but instead of attacking Simfur where the army awaited, he had come here where Bumblebee commanded only a small force. He had nowhere near the numbers needed to face Megatron himself, but they would die to protect the AllSpark and see it launched safely! He sent the signal and three buildings collapsed, burying Decepticons in the debris. As the first wave approached they opened fire. “Close that gap!” he yelled as Springer went down, opening a gap in their line that the Decepticons were quick to make use of. His desperate messages to Optimus or any of the other Commanders weren’t getting through, their communications were being jammed.
They would not fail! The AllSpark could not fall into Decepticon hands, there were a lot of rumours about what Megatron planned to do if he had it and they were all sickening. Every Autobot here would give their lives to ensure that didn’t happen but would it be enough? Their only hope was that the others realised communications were being jammed and came to see what was happening.
As the Decepticons came into range Bumblebee abandoned his cover, attacking the closest one. It was a lot bigger than him, but he was faster and more agile, landing hits and taking shots as he moved, finally taking it down. It felt like they had been fighting for Orns when according to his internal chronometer it had only been a few Breems. Even if the others had realised something was wrong it would take them close to a Joor to get there. He didn’t think they could hold out that long.
He rolled to his feet and glared as Barricade moved in, Cliffjumper moving in to help him even as he unleashed a barrage from his hand cannons.
The initial salvo knocked Barricade backward, but the Con hadn’t survived the war by being vulnerable to anyone’s first shot; he rallied and blew Bumblebee away with a brace of missiles. Bumblebee crashed hard into the side of a building and barely rolled away from the second volley that collapsed it on top of him. Then, while Barricade was reloading, Cliffjumper was on him. Close combat wasn’t Cliffjumper’s strong suit, but he knew what was at stake, and he bravely withstood Barricade’s counterattack until Bumblebee dug himself out and closed in on the battling pair. “Watch this!” he sang out, cocking one fist back as he planted both feet and Cliffjumper ducked back out of the way. “See it?”
Barricade looked up from Cliffjumper just in time to take Bumblebee’s first punch square in his optics. The second punch drove him to his knees. Countering blindly as his optics reset, Barricade threw Bumblebee off and fired a missile salvo that detonated along the road behind the two Autobots.
“Whoa!” Bumblebee mocked the other Scout. “Mighty tough! What else you got?” He taunted Barricade with hand-cannon blasts that kept the ’Con on the defensive while he could get to arm’s length again. “I thought we were going to dance!”
Barricade levelled him with a kick that Bumblebee never saw coming. Then the ’Con was on him, grappling with a squeal and crunch of metal on metal. Bumblebee spun inside Barricade’s rush, driving a knee into the Con’s midsection. He felt something crunch and hit Barricade again. The Con tried to get his hands up in Bumblebee’s face, but Cliffjumper locked Barricade’s arms and Bumblebee shoved his hand under Barricade’s jaw. “Sorry about this,” he said, while Barricade thrashed in Cliffjumper’s hold, “but on second thought, I don’t have time to dance with you. Someone else is trying to cut in.”
He let loose with a hand cannon shot, blasting pieces away from Barricade’s face and toppling him straight over backward. Barricade hit the ground with a boom, tried to get up, and went down for good when Bumblebee finalized things with a kick of his own, square to the side of Barricade’s smoking head.
“Take it easy for a while,” he said to the downed Decepticon. “Maybe I’ll be back in a while and we can go again.”
He looked around, worried despite his chatter. The fighting had turned into close quarters combat, their line slowly breaking down as the Decepticons greater numbers took their toll. Hearing the scream of Seeker engines, he looked up and his optics widened in despair at seeing them approach. They had no fliers of their own to counter them. “Cover!”
Optimus Prime stood before the beating heart of Cybertronian identity, he beheld the AllSpark and wished there was any other option, but they were out of time, Megatron was on the move. With him on a ledge cut into the side of the Well was Arcee. Ironhide and Jazz were on lookout up at the Well’s rim.
“Let’s get it done,” Arcee stated.
With a nod, Optimus approached the portal to the chamber of the AllSpark itself. No bot could enter it, and Primes were specifically prevented from executing the failsafe. This was another kind of failsafe, to prevent a corrupt Prime from ejecting the AllSpark for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t power that could control the AllSpark, but belief. That was what Megatron would never understand. “Start the code,” Optimus said. “Alpha Trion told it to me, and I’ll tell it to you. But if you have any reservations about this, tell me now, Arcee. It won’t work if you don’t believe it’s right.”
“No problem here,” Arcee said firmly as she moved into place. At the edge of the portal was a keypad inscribed with symbols in the original language of the Thirteen. Optimus had never learned it but looking at the symbols he felt their meaning. He was Prime. It was up to him to carry on the legacy, and to do what was necessary to preserve the AllSpark. As he watched, Arcee reached out and touched a key. A hum started up deep in the walls of the Well. It grew in intensity, a vibration Optimus Prime could feel in his legs as he called out the sequence Alpha Trion had taught him, the failsafe code that would eject the AllSpark from Cybertron into the limitless reaches of space. Arcee faithfully touched each symbol as Optimus Prime recited them, and around them the vibrations grew stronger.
“Prime, we can’t raise Bumblebee,”Ironhide called over comms, worried.
“Run, Autobots!” Megatron roared. Victory was at hand. The Autobots were pressed to the very edge of the Well, hunkered down with the bottomless canyon at their backs and no backup in sight thanks to their jammed communications. Megatron raised his arms. “The AllSpark will be mine! Where are you now, Orion Pax? You have failed for the last time!” Soon he would have the AllSpark and his plans could begin, he would conquer all of Cybertron for his Master, the Fallen. They had lost the Space Bridge technology thanks to Starscream destroying Sentinel’s ship but with the Cube they wouldn’t need that technology.
At that moment, the surface of Cybertron trembled as the AllSpark itself, so bright no bot’s optics could focus on it, burst out of the Well and rose into the sky. It seemed to falter for the briefest moment, as Autobot and Decepticon alike stared dumbfounded—and then it sped up and out into space, leaving only a fading trail of ionized atmosphere. As it grew too small to distinguish, the deafening boom of its passage reverberated across the surface, from Nova Cronum all the way down to Polyhex and the shivered remnants of Crystal City. The shock wave blew like an explosion across Autobot and Decepticon alike, overloading sensors and blasting them off their feet. In the skies the Seekers tumbled out of control, crashing to the surface stunned and damaged.
As the echoes faded, silence fell over the battle site, broken only by one sound… Bumblebee, laughing.
The valiant Autobot got slowly to his feet—foot, rather, since Starscream had landed a strike which had badly damaged his left leg, destroying the knee. Lubricants spilled from the shattered joint down Bumblebee’s lower leg. “Sorry to ruin your plans there, Megatron,” Bumblebee said before he stumbled, dropping to one knee, he had to keep Megatron distracted until the AllSpark was beyond being tracked easily. “And if you’re looking for the AllSpark, you’re going to have to go find it,” he added. “Arcee fired it off, bam! Gone! Maybe it’s you that failed for the last time. Well, no. Probably not. We’ll set you up, so you can fail once more, at least.” He was babbling, saying whatever came to him, he’d never been in so much pain before and he was losing Energon faster than was healthy.
Megatron, seething, turned away from the fading arc of the AllSpark’s passage. He strode up to Bumblebee, who raised one arm, but too slowly. Megatron slapped it aside and kicked Bumblebee’s good leg out from under him. “You?” Megatron said. “This barely formed mecha, animated by the dregs of the Well? You kept the AllSpark out of my reach?” he stepped on the Autobot’s chassis, pressing down painfully, barely stopping short of crushing his Spark Chamber.
Bumblebee grunted in pain, refusing to scream. “Yeah,” Bumblebee he wheezed out. “Me.” He raised his head defiantly, staring into crimson optics.
Megatron seized Bumblebee around the neck and dragged him upright, ignoring the fluids flowing down his arm from the injured bot. “You talk too much, Autobot.”
“Everybody says that,” Bumblebee said. He tried to raise his arms but could not; the damage from Starscream’s airstrike and then Megatron’s crushing foot was too severe. “Coming from you, I’ll take it. Hey, did you see that AllSpark? That was something, the way it flew out into space completely out of your reach—”
Megatron squeezed, cutting off Bumblebee’s voice. “You mock me, mech?” He squeezed. Something snapped in Bumblebee’s throat. “That is the last time you mock anyone.” Slowly, slowly Megatron’s fingers tightened. A series of crackles escaped Bumblebee’s mouth. He held Megatron’s gaze, never looking away. “You could die here, but the last thing your pitiful librarian leader needs is another martyr,” Megatron said. “You live as a reminder that I can kill when I please, and grant mercy when I please. But there is a cost. And for you, the cost is that voice of yours that you love so much.” He shifted his grip to the front of Bumblebee’s throat and crushed the vocoder inside. Sparks shot from his fist and Bumblebee spasmed. Megatron shoved him away and he collapsed, Energon and other vital fluids leaking from his throat and the rest of his wounds. “Let that be your story,” Megatron said. “Tell it how you may.” With that he turned, assuming alt-form and leaving the mangled Bumblebee there trying to get to his feet.
Bumblebee’s comm crackled with Ironhide’s voice. “Bumblebee. Report. Come in. Engagement over here. Decepticons have retreated. Please advise your location.”
Bumblebee made static noises, trying to respond even as the surviving members of his team began moving, tending to their wounds, Cliffjumper and Springer rushing to Bumblebee’s side.
“Getting some interference here,” Ironhide called out, worry growing the longer Bumblebee was taking to report in. He and Prowl locked optics as Optimus Prime, Arcee, and Jazz emerged from the Well of AllSparks, flush with their triumph. Ironhide tried again. “Bumblebee. Report.”
“Cliffjumper Sir. Megatron and the Decepticons have retreated. Urgent medical aide requested.”
Ironhide frowned at the answer, looking at Ratchet who began calling in his medics. “Where is Bumblebee?”
“Down. Megatron…”Cliffjumper trailed off, unable to say it. “Send medics now.” He wasn’t a medic, but he would do his best to keep Bumblebee online until help arrived.
Outside the doors to Ratchet’s domain a large group of Autobots awaited news. Optimus Prime was guilt ridden, he should have given command to Ironhide or Prowl. He was the reason Bumblebee was in that room, three medics working to keep him online. He had caught a glimpse of the young Scout as he was carried in…covered in Energon, an arm hanging almost unconnected to his frame. He should have sent more troops to back him up, but he had been so sure that Tyger Pax was safe, instead they had ended up facing Megatron himself. Most of those assigned to Tyger Pax had fallen, buying time while they launched the AllSpark. Soon he would have to send some of his people out into the Galaxy to track the AllSpark and keep it safe but for now all he could do was wait for word on Bumblebee and the three others undergoing surgery in an attempt to save their lives.