First Draft: Chapter 1 – Flight of the Ark
Crystal City, once one of the greatest wonders of the planet Cybertron. Now its looming rtowers and slender arcs are the granule for another battle. Smoke billows from the pits and explosions rock the ruins as the Autobot and Decepticon armies clash in the oldest bowels of the city. Swarms of Obsidian drones gravitate through the sky like dark clouds. Legions of Scrapmetal drones flood the ground, mixed with Tankor drones that serve as command hubs for the units to link to. Energy bolts of different hues light up the remains of the city in a brilliant array.
“Autobots, hold your ground!" orders Zeta Prime. “We have to buy enough time for the ship to take off! You must hold the enemy at bay no matter what it takes!" The Autobot leader and his old friend Grandus hold the front line at the main entrance to the launch facility. The two massive Autobots modulate their shield harmonics to maintain their defenses while they blast through the rubble to decimate enemy forces. They keep the main forces at bay while covering the units that already infiltrated from escaping.
Remaining enemy forces focus on the Ark itself, a massive vessel of an unknown age, and the last hope of the Autobots. At the base of the craft, more Autobots scramble to defend the structure.
“Jetfire, assist Sky Garry with Air Support! Prowl and Jazz, take cover on the port-side of the vessel! Bumblebee and Grimlock, cover the starboard side! Draw their fire! I’ll work my way to the rear and flank them!" the commander of the unit, Optronix, barks his orders over the communications network.
“Commander, that’s suicide!" Bumblebee protests and he reloads his blaster. “You can’t do that on your own!"
“Obey your orders, soldier!" Optronix stated. “It’s a risk that I can handle, but I need all four of you to keep the enemy busy to pull it off!"
The Autobots take up their positions. High above, Sky Garry and Jetfire struggle against overwhelming odds. They loop a randomized series of evasive maneuvers while they take pot shots at the enemy. Among the drones, three fighters join the battle.
“Thundercracker, you’re with me! We’ll take the big one!" ordered Aerial General Thunderwing. “Starscream, make sure the traitor is destroyed!"
“It will be my pleasure," Starscream crows. He locks Jetfire in his sights and the two aerial fighters lock into a dog fight.
With Starscream hot on his tail, the reformed Decepticon first tries to outrun his old friend. He loops within the large hangar to get behind his opponent, but the aerial commander’s thrusters prove up with the task. Gunfire rips at Jetfire’s fighter mode as he dives into an exposed area of framework. The Autobot zigs and zags through the superstructure, but his enemy never loses a beat and continues to chip away at Jetfire’s armor. In a final and desperate attempt, the Aerial Autobot makes a sharp ascent and transforms into robot mode. He takes aim with his rifle with hopes to catch Starscream off-guard when he changes course, but the wily Decepticon sees it coming. Rather than turn up, Starscream spins to the outside while he transforms. Before he even regains control, the Decepticon volleys a cluster of energy blasts at his former comrade. The rotation of his attack surprises Jetfire and he is pelted by the attacks. His thruster assembly damaged, the Autobot plummets to the ground and finds himself in the midst of a large portion of enemy drones.
“The aerial commander likes to perform a little too much," Megatron observes from his command bunker in the upper levels of the complex. “Megabolt, finish his job for him."
“As you wish, brother," confirmed Megabolt over the com system as he observed the battle from the front lines. “Time for Jetfire to learn that treachery has its price, yes…" The Decepticon converts to tank mode and blasts straight into the battlefield. His energy pulse burns through several Decepticon drones along the way and hits the Autobot as he struggles against a wave of Scrapmetals. Jetfire is torn to pieces by the blast. His scorched remains rain down on the remaining Autobots.
Jetfire’s charred cranial unit bounces off of Grimlock’s chassis and lands at his feet. The Autobot warrior looks down at the face of a mechanoid he once hated, but gradually learned to respect and came to consider a good friend. Jetfire’s optics were dim, his face twisted in pain. Grimlock’s optics flared as he cursed the Decepticons. A blaster in one hand and a sword in the other, the enraged Autobot cut a swath into the enemy forces. His commander shouts out in vain after him.
“Slaggit, Grimlock! Stay in line! You’re too exposed!" His orders fall on inactive audio receptors. Optronix punches a hole in his cover and revises his orders. “Prowl, recover Jetfire’s core! We may be able to revive him! Bumblebee and Jazz, give him cover fire! I’m going after Grimlock!"
“That’s a negative commander!" Zeta Prime interrupts as he looks back at the carnage as it unfolds. “You must protect the Ark, I will retrieve Grimlock. He will wind up closer to my position!"
“I’m sorry I can’t comply, Prime!" Optronix rejected. “We don’t have time to wait for him to approach your position! I’m going in!" Optronix dives into vehicle mode and roars down the upper walkway he planned to use to flank the enemy.
Zeta Prime swears. “Sky Garry, take up position at the base of the ship and try to help the Commander! I’m on my way!"
“Affirmative, Zeta Prime!" Sky Garry acknowledges. The aerial Autobot ejects a neutron charge from his aft cargo hold before he rockets down to the base of the ship. The charge erupts behind him with an energy pulse that decimates the Obsidian drones that attempt to pursue, and even knocks Thunderwing and Thundercracker for a loop. He converts to robot mode before he hits the ground. Sky Garry draws enemy fire while the remaining Autobots collect what they can of Jetfire and board the ship.
The mad Grimlock plows through the Scrapmetal drones, which are drowned in the flames of his rage. A Tankor takes advantage of the distraction to connect a powerful plasma charge to the Autobot’s shoulder joint, but it only makes the warrior angrier. Grimlock charges the Decepticon drone, plunges his sword deep into its chassis, and fires his blaster point blank at the drone’s cranial unit. With a hub-drone disabled, the drones that surround Grimlock malfunction from the communication disruption and collapse into stasis lock. All the while Grimlock’s true target remains secure in his sights, Megabolt.
The Decepticon Special Forces agent remains in Tank mode and discharges a volley of energy blasts at his target. Each blast ebbs from his cannon and arcs directly into the enraged Grimlock. His thick armor resists the attack more than his ally’s did, but he still feels it. The projectile shreds Grimlock’s armor, but he marches on and gets within striking distance of the Decepticon. Grimlock grabs the barrel of Megabolt’s cannon with his free hand and tears it off the tank. His enemy transforms into robot mode as he struggles to flee but the Autobot shoots out his target’s knees. Megatron’s younger brother doesn’t even get an opportunity to beg for pardon as Grimlock clasps his cranial unit and crushes it between his fingers. The Autobot finishes the Decepticon with a final proton blast through his core, and tosses the remains into the rubble of drones he left behind.
A green tank slams into Grimlock and pins him to the ground. The vehicle shifts into another Decepticon, Brawl. “You’re fighting on the wrong side, Grimlock! The rivalry between the Dyno-bots and the Combaticons was the biggest draw in the Coliseum! We are the same. You should join the Decepticons!"
Grimlock powers out of Brawl’s pin and tosses the Combaticon over his shoulder. “That was before you signed on with Megatron and killed everyone I ever cared about!" he roared. “The last Dyno-bot will never fight alongside the likes of you!" They lock up in a grapple. Grimlock over powers his foe and lifts the mechanoid over his head, but Brawl slips out. The Decepticon hooks the Autobot’s arms and slams him cranium first into the ground.
“As you wish." Brawl growls as he activates an internal signal beacon. Within nano-kliks, the other four Combaticons are summoned. They all transform and combine into the titan known as Bruticus. The combined Decepticon towers over the last Dyno-bot, and seethes with rage. Grimlock scrambles to escape but damage to his legs joints from Megabolt’s barrage causes him to collapse under the weight. Bruticus brings a massive foot to bear on the injured Autobot and begins to crush his armor, when a crimson truck plows through a squad of Scrapmetal drones and crashes into the giant Decepticon.
The impact staggers the giant and releases Grimlock from imminent demise. Optronix converts back to robot mode as he bounces off Bruticus and lands on his feet. The Autobot Commander barrages the Combaticons with a shower of energy bolts, but the Decepticon shrugs the attack off. Optronix strafes as he shoots to avoid a counter attack but underestimates his enemy. He gets scooped up in a massive metal claw. Just as Bruticus begins to crush the commander, he’s pauses from a jolt of pain as Grimlock tears the hydraulic tubes from the giant’s foot.
“Rargh! Bruticus forgot about puny Dyno-bot. Bruticus fix!" The Decepticon puts an array of gun barrels directly in Grimlock’s face. The last Dyno-bot chuckles just before a series of plasma bots tear through his frame and leave him a scorched pile of rubble. Optronix calls out but Bruticus tosses the commander towards a sea of eager Scrapmetal drones.
Sky Garry intercepts and catches Optronix in the passenger compartment of his vehicle mode. “No! We must go back for Grimlock!" the commander protests. “We may be able to recover him!"
“Relax, kid!" Sky Garry activates a series of titanium cords to restrain the anxious Autobot. “Zeta Prime will take care of it, we need to cover the Ark!" he shuttles Optronix back to the ship where he’s dragged reluctantly onboard by Jazz and Prowl. “Prepare ignition sequence, dust off will commence shortly!"
“Division three, status," Megatron inquired over his internal com system.
“Artillery placements are secure, Megatron," Rumbled the gravelly voice of General Straxus. “We’re ready when you are."
“Excellent. Fire at will, General!" Suddenly an explosion rocks the bunker. “Straxus, report! What was that?!"
“Grrr, the tunnels have collapsed and pulled the platforms down. Those explosives, it must be them”
“Them? Them Who?!"
“Wreckers! Attack!" Grindcore’s verbal commands echo through the caverns that Straxus’ forces have been trapped in. Landquake bursts in first, his armored front end tears through the rubble. He transforms into vehicle mode, turns his rear section into a weapon platform, and cuts down a platoon of Tankor drones. Longrack comes from the eastern section of the tunnel network and engages the Decepticon General in close combat. Sparks ignite the air as shovel and pick-axe clash repeatedly. Roadblock remains concealed in the upper tunnels and snipes drones one-by-one with his rifle.
“I’ve been waiting for this, you sorry excuse for a pile of scrap!" Grindcore sneers as he squares off with Demolishor. “You perverted all of our work!"
The Decepticon scientist chuckles. “Hah! I used your resources while you were convenient. I never believed in that scrap you were preaching!" Demolishor taunts as he fires a volley of bullets from his finger-tips at his former colleague. Grindcore tanks the damage and fires back with his own rifle. His aim is dead-on and Demolishor reels from the shot, but collapses into artillery mode and fires a series of rockets at the ceiling of the cave. Stalactites rain down on Grindcore, who dives to the side to avoid the impact.
Back in the main hangar, Zeta Prime and his team mobilize. He activates his container which drops in from a higher level. It then automatically converts into a gunnery station, which Grandus transforms and links up with. Prime mans the merged weaponry and fires the main cannons. A set of dual energy blasts burn through the Scrapmetal and Tankor drones, directly into the base of the Decepticon command bunker. The raised platform collapses and buries Megatron under a massive pile of rubble.
The titanic Bruticus targets the Autobot leader and charges before Grandus can recharge. Zeta Prime squares off with the twisted monstrosity and summons up the power of the matrix. He channels the energy into his hands and claps them together. The energy cascades into a wave of light and vibrates the Combaticons out of their combined form. Additional blaster fire from Prime’s weapon platform’s secondary systems scatters the stunned Combaticons before they can regroup.
With the heavy hitters out of the way, Zeta scoops up the remains of Grimlock’s core and stores it in his container. Prime and Grandus then convert to vehicle mode and charge through the battle wreckage to reunite with Sky Garry at the base of the massive ship. Back in robot mode, the Autobot leader sends his container into the ship and seals the hatch behind it. He then signals the Autobots on the bridge. “Take off! We’ll keep the enemy forces at bay and follow behind!"
“Roger that, Zeta Prime!" affirmed Prowl. The engines blaze and orange flames raise the golden vessel skyward. Prime, Grandus, and Sky Garry fire on full automatic and scatter the enemy drones with a barrage of laser fire and missiles. The drones close rank as their numbers dwindle.
Megatron blasts himself free of the rubble that pinned him. His optics make a rapid scan of the current situation. “Thunderwing, take what’s left of your forces and pursue the ship from the flank. Meet up with Galvatron’s fleet in orbit and coordinate your attacks there! All other units focus all fire on Zeta Prime and his team!" the General commands as he quietly observes. He deactivates his comlink as the battle continues. “The Autobots have the advantage, our forces are decimated. So far, all goes according to plan. And all it cost me was an incompetent brother." All the drones focus their firepower on the group and the pressure strains the Autobots.
“The Decepticons are rallying!" Grandus notes.
“Understood! Cybertron Defense Force, unite!" Zeta Prime commands. The three Autobots transform and combine into a new, massive form. At full power, Zeta Prime ascends on his massive thrusters and unleashes two huge beams of energy that envelope the Decepticon ground forces. He takes off after the ship and covers the rear as the Decepticon air forces close in. Prime would be happy to have made it this far, but he knows the worst lies ahead. Dealing with Straxus, Megatron, and Thunderwing was the easy part. The most enigmatic and unpredictable danger is yet to come, Galvatron.
All the while, Megatron smiles.
The Ark enters orbit over the planet Cybertron, and is met by a fleet of Sweeps. The space-born drones cluster around a pair of space stations, each anchored to one of the planet’s dual moons. No movement is detected for nearly a megacycle as the ship rises from the surface, while fireworks follow from below. In his combined form, Zeta Prime is a formidable aerial fighter and the extra firepower he gets from Grandus makes him neigh unstoppable. The two fleets wait until the ship is directly between them to launch their attack.
“We’re being flanked from port and starboard sides!" Prowl reports from the Tactical console. “Shields are down by twenty percent! We can’t take much more of this!"
“What about forward?" Optronix questions.
“Nothing on forward sensors," Bumblebee reports from Operations. “Wide open space along our plotted course."
“Bumblebee, reroute power from the weapons to the shields, Angle shielding to the port and starboard sides. Preserving the ship is more vital than damaging the enemy. Zeta Prime will cover our rear. Jazz, maintain a steady course. We’ll lose them when we get far enough to open a warp gate. Send a communique to Prime to update him on our status."
“Understood Commander!" answered Jazz from the helm. “Plotting course for target destination. We’ll be clear for the warp gate in five cycles."
At the rear of the vessel, Zeta Prime swats down aerial drones left and right. Just as he cuts down a large margin of enemy forces, three Cybertronian aerial fighters arrive. Thundercracker and Starscream transform and engage the Autobot Leader in a display of aerial acrobatics while each side exchanges fire. Thunderwing jets straight by the Prime and the Ark. He heads to the second moon and makes landfall in robot mode. The aerial General stands before a monolithic orbital canon, a new design engineered by the space division of the Decepticon forces. He enters the structure and meets up the fourth Decepticon General, Galvatron.
The leader of the Decepticon fleet makes adjustments on a control panel at the base of the giant cannon. He pays no heed to his visitor. “Galvatron, this contraption of yours had better be operational," Thunderwing grumbles. “We’re gambling a lot on this super weapon of yours."
“I never gamble," Galvatron clarified. “The device will work exactly as I have designed. All of my projects work to perfection."
“Is that what you say about you’re ‘sweeps’, General?" Thunderwing mocks.
“I suppose I should have let that tool, Soundwave, design my slaves?" Galvatron jeers. “Those pitiful labor drones you repurposed don’t even make a good distraction."
“Megatron’s pet is as incompetent as Straxus’ psychotic scientist. We would’ve all been better with clones."
“Ah yes," Galvatron groans. “Bludgeon’s project. As if he was even capable of designing a stable artificial intelligence to govern even a single clone, nonetheless an army."
“If we had support, the project would’ve been completed successfully," Thunderwing argued. “But Megatron had to…take charge."
“Megatron will be dealt with in his own time, as will we all."
“Cryptic as always," Thunderwing scans the internal mechanisms of the device with his optics, and puzzles over its function. “What in the Pit is this thing, anyway? It looks like it uses some kind of organic fuel. I’ve never heard of that."
Galvatron scowls at the observation. He finally turns to face his visitor. “Do not waste energy in a feeble attempt to understand that which exceeds your limited programming, Aerial General," he growled. “If I explained it with enough time for you to process, we would miss our opportunity of attack."
“If you say so," Thunderwing leers at his fellow general before he turns his attention back to the battle. “Are you going to help, or should I stop the Autobots on my own."
“The fleets have been deployed." Galvatron answered as he turns his attention back to the interface. “My men will hold the line until the target is in position."
Back in the battle, Zeta Prime has the two seekers on the ropes. He fires in simultaneous directions while he avoids their attacks, and closes them together. With each finally in direct line of fire for a micro-klik, he prepares to fire his main weapons when laser fire from his rear staggers him. Prime turns to see Cyclonus and Scourge rapidly close on his location in vehicle mode. They each transform and coordinate an assault with the aerial seekers.
Instantly the Decepticons surround the Prime in a blur of speed and barrage the Autobot. Zeta reacts with uncanny speed and falls back from his enemy, and breaks their formation. The Decepticons press their attack and force the Autobot Leader into a defensive position. Their private battle flickers hither and to as they dodge fire, break formations, and loop in aerial acrobatics.
“Picking up a foreign power source on long-range sensors, Commander," Bumblebee reports back on the bridge of the Ark. “It’s coming from the second moon base."
“Boost the sensor array. Can you pinpoint the source?" Optronix asks.
“Boosting…readings aren’t making much sense. I’ll cross-reference it with Teletraan-1’s database…This, this can’t be!"
“What is it?!" Prowl’s anxiety is blatant.
“It looks like, Dark Energon!"
“That’s impossible!" Jazz protests. “There aren’t any sources of Dark Energon on Cybertron or either of the moon bases! And even if they got some, it is far too unstable to control! What do they plan to do, blow up the moon?"
“Anything else you can tell us, Bumblebee?" Optronix inquires.
“I’m also picking up some kind of superstructure. A foreign alloy, there’s nothing in the database. Configuration appears to be an orbital gun, Mega Class."
“Mega Class?" Optronix puzzles. “Those are for bombarding space stations and planets, but none of them were ever made!"
“Apparently one was," Bumblebee corrected the commander. “And the power readings are off the scale! Commander if that thing hits us, shields or no shields, there’s no way this ship will take it!"
“Galvatron," Optronix mutters. “By Primus, what have you done?"
Bumblebee breaks the eerie silence that follows. “Commander, what do we do? Abandon ship?"
“Negative, Bumblebee." The commander answers. “If we fail here then the war is lost. Update Zeta Prime. If there’s one more miracle we can pull off, he’ll be the one to think of it."
Outside the ship Zeta Prime hesitates in his flurry of exchanges with the Decepticons when he gets the internal message. The fliers take advantage of the opening. They form up and fire all weapons on full charge. Unable to dodge, Zeta does the only thing he can; he splits back up into three components. He uses one of Sky Garry’s thruster assemblies attached to his back to maintain his maneuverability in space and converts to robot mode with his aerial partner. The bizarre tactic catches the Decepticons off guard. Before they can regroup Zeta blasts Starscream and Thundercracker into reentry. Sky Garry grabs Cyclonus and throws him into Scourge. The impact throws both space fighters into range of Grandus’ main guns. The Autobot takes the shot and sends both Decepticons hurtling through space.
“A little help here?" Grandus requests, still locked in artillery mode. “Some of us aren’t designed for space flight!"
“We’re on our way," Zeta Prime reassures his ally. Sky Garry catches up to the leader and the two recombine. With thrusters on maximum burn they reunite with Grandus and their full form is restored. The colossal Autobot targets the orbital cannon on the second moon base and rockets straight toward it at full speed.
“Bah, you’ve taken too long, as usual." Thunderwing complains when he sees the Prime approach. “You’d better get this pile of slag up and running soon, Galvatron. I can only hold off the Prime for so long, and the target is nearly out of range." Rather than wait for a response, the Aerial General takes flight in vehicle mode and intercepts Zeta Prime. Galvatron turns to look after his departure, and then returns back to his machinations.
“Lost in a fog of rage, even as you were back when we fought The Swarm," Galvatron reminisced. “Things were the same even back then. The bureaucrats patted us on the back and handed out commendations, then proceeded as if nothing happened. Meanwhile all of our fellow soldiers died in that final battle against the mother ship. We were all that was left, and nobody cared. Perhaps that is when your logic processors failed."
Circuitry throughout the chamber spark to life as the weapon reaches full power. Processing tubes radiate with the dim black light of Dark Energon and power condensers roar to life. The Ark centers in the targeting scanners, but rather than lock it in, Galvatron aims it at the dueling Zeta Prime and Thunderwing.
“Megatron is a fool but his plan suits my purposes for now. The Ark will be free to leave. The real target will be destroyed. However, Megatron will be disappointed." He locks the target, and a smirk cracks his face.
“The Matrix will not be Megaton’s, this or any other day!"
Despite his disadvantage, Thunderwing fights to a standstill with Zeta Prime. A bolt of unstable energy arcs between the warriors and interrupts the fight before it can run its course. Both fighters scan the source of the disturbance, the orbital cannon. Black lightning rips at the space around the facility, and threatens all those who come near. Thunderwing curses Galvatron as he converts back to vehicle mode and flees the scene. Zeta Prime looks behind him to see the tail end of the ship is still in firing range. He knows he must buy the precious nano-kliks the ship needs to escape, and he knows only one way to do it.
Zeta summons the power of the matrix to enhance his shielding. Now protected from the violent energy discharges, he rockets towards the facility. The Autobot leader presses his body against the end of the barrel and grasps so tightly that his fingers dig into the device. At full thruster power, amplified by the Matrix, Zeta Prime pushes the canon to the side, but the giant weapon is stubborn and slow to move. Time runs shorter.
Galvatron’s grin spreads wider as he sees the Autobot pulling at the gun. With the press of a button, the weapon is activated. A chain reaction churns in the belly of the facility. Black energy cascades through the barrel and slams into the Autobot Leader. Zeta Prime can feel the Matrix ebb with power from the strain on his shields but he holds firm and keeps up the pressure.
“Defense Force disengage! I will handle this!" Zeta commands. Only his body does not react. “You must detach from me or you won’t survive!"
“You still need us," affirmed Grandus. “You can’t handle this alone."
“We must part ways, old friends," Zeta insisted. “I won’t sentence you to my death."
“We are all Prime, Zeta." Sky Garry added. “If we fall, we fall together."
“No!" Zeta howls as he feels the shield fluctuate and bolts of radiation rip at his armor. “Don’t be stupid! We’ll all die! Like fools!" More radiation breaks through and triggers memory patterns in Zeta Prime’s databanks.
“No, they’ve taken the Omega bridge?" Zeta gasped as he looked over the report. “Then there’s really no choice. To defeat the Decepticons, we must abandon Cybertron."
“It’s called the Ark," Alpha Trion explained. “It was built in a lost age by foreign beings. Within its databanks, there is the location of a living planet, a source of Natural Energon."
A jolt of pain restores Zeta’s awareness as more of his shields give way and his joints buckle under the extreme pressure. More of his armor peels off and exposes his endoskeleton. Another memory piece activates from the radiation.
“Are you sure?" Zeta ponders as he looks on at the data streaming across the monitor.
“There’s no doubt." Vector Prime states. “When he passed I tagged his spark so that I would be alerted should it ever come online again. There is no doubt about it. Optronix is the reincarnation of Prima, the first Cybertronian."
Back in reality, Zeta’s shield finally gives way. His body is torn apart. His helmet and facemask disintegrate to expose a face he’s kept hidden for as long as he can remember. It summons another memory file from his databanks.
“It is believed that all Cybertronians are designed in the image of Primus. It was once considered heretical to hide or rearrange your face. Is that why you wear that mask, Zeta? Do you doubt the existence of the Creator?"
Zeta Prime hesitated to answer, but pours over the fatality report as it came in. “How can I, Vector Prime? How can I believe in a God that would allow something as horrible as this war to happen?"
The corrupt energy scorches the interior of Zeta’s frame and crystals erupt from his body including his optics and vocalizer. Blinded, the dying Autobot imagines the scene behind him. He pictures the blast as it rips into the hull of the Ark. He imagines the reactor overloads and an electromagnetic pulls tears the ship and everyone in it apart. From the planet side, the golden hull of the ship would rain down like a gleaming meteor shower. In his death, Zeta Prime imagines the end of hope to be a beautiful sight.
Cast adrift in darkness, Zeta Prime recognizes his surroundings. It was a swirling eddy of data streams and clusters of data cores. He had accessed the memories within the Matrix of Leadership before. He was in the Matrix, like all Primes who passed before him that housed it. His avatar coasts amidst a sea of data as a pale, transparent reflection of himself.
“Zeta Prime," a powerful voice calls to him. The disembodied transformer twists his head to find another Autobot. The newcomer is planted firmly on his feet and his avatar clear and bright.
“Eh, I expected a Decepticon would claim the matrix. Who are you?"
“I am Optimus Prime, your successor," declared the visitor.
“A new Prime," Zeta muttered. “Strange, you seem familiar."
“In life, you knew me as Optronix." Optimus answered.
“Optronix," Zeta muddled over the name. “So you survived the destruction of the Ark. I’m sorry I left things in such a bad state for you, Optronix. I failed to stop the Decepticons and end the war. I failed to save the Ark. All hope died because of me."
Optimus pauses for a moment before he responds. “I came to thank you, Zeta Prime."
“Thank me?" Zeta puzzled. “For what?"
“For two things, first I must thank you for all that you taught Optronix. I was a stubborn youth, always charging head first into danger to prove myself to my comrades. I was ignorant to the greater scheme of life. You taught me the importance of deliberation, to consider the consequences of my actions. I didn’t want to risk the safety of my team mates, so I always ran solo. As a result I put myself in more danger then I needed. You taught me the value of teamwork. You and your team pulled off quite a few miracles through coordination."
“Yes, you were a difficult Autobot to command." Zeta recalls. He can feel his avatar start to solidify as he rights himself. “But you overestimate me. Miracles were not my specialty."
“No?" Optimus responded as he tilted his head. “Then you should know that the Ark wasn’t destroyed. Thanks to your efforts, we were able to clear the blast and proceed on our mission. The Decepticons were too busy fighting each other to follow us."
“I…I did? But I looked back. I saw the Ark still in range!"
“You put out a tremendous amount of energy, Zeta. I can’t really explain it myself, but somehow you changed the direction of the blast. We made it to the living planet, a place called Earth. But there’s something else, I must thank you as Prima as well."
“Prima?" Zeta puzzled for a moment. “That’s right, Vector Prime told me. You were the reincarnation of Prima. I told him we should have given you the Matrix of Leadership then and there. I knew you would’ve made a better leader then I was. What would you have to thank me for?"
“When I inherited the Matrix, all of my memories as Prima were restored," Optimus explained. “My final moment was a duel to the death with one of my own brothers. We were so close once, but greed and hate turned us all against each other. So many pointless deaths, when I died my spirit was broken. I was certain that there was no hope and that our race was doomed to destroy itself in an endless loop of civil conflict.
“But when the Matrix restored that part of my spark, I could remember all the lessons you taught a young upstart Autobot. Your words echoed with ones I spoke long ago to my youngest brother. A3 was considered the weakest of the thirteen for a long time. He was the only one who had not yet learned to harness the power of his Matrix and become a true Prime, but I saw the strength of his spirit. No matter how desperate the struggle was, A3 remained determined that brighter times lie ahead. I knew that as long as he was true to himself, that there was hope for the future. So I tutored A3 as best I could.
“I was so proud of my little brother when he awoke his Matrix of Wisdom and became Alpha Prime. He was a beacon of light among our people. No matter how much devastation we caused, he was determined to set things right. When I died, I had forgotten about Alpha, and the future he represented. I didn’t think light could survive in our world. But when I heard your voice as it spoke to Optronix, I could hear Alpha Prime. That seed of hope that I planted and forgotten about had survived all this time, despite the terrible things we did."
“Alpha Prime…" the name struck a chord with Zeta, as he had forgotten it as well. “It was a long time ago. Sincos and I were no more than thieves. The Cybertronian Civil Duties Committee had determined that our defective personalities made us useless, so we were cast out of society. We had to steal Energon and goods to trade just to survive. Alpha Prime caught us. Instead of turning us in to a Correctional Facility, he took us under his wing. We learned how to make ourselves useful, to find purpose in our lives. I learned everything I know from Alpha Prime. He retired his Matrix but I still frequently consulted him for advice."
“As do I," Optimus added. “Alpha Trion is one of my closest advisers. Thanks to you, I know our will has persevered over all this time. You renewed my faith in our people, and restored my conviction. It’s thanks to the lessons you taught me as Optronix, and the determination you renewed in Prima, that I am the leader I am today. You’re legacy is not a failure, Zeta Prime."
“I guess you’re right, Optronix." Zeta Prime’s avatar now stands on his feet, his luminosity fully restored. He could feel a strength he had never known before. “In my own way, I was able to help."
“And I’m hoping you will still help, old friend. Things have gotten bad on Earth and the Autobot need all the support we can get."
“Then you shall have it, Optimus Prime!" Zeta proclaims, his confidence restored. “I will always be here if you need me, ready to help! What’s the situation?"
“To be honest, I’m not entirely sure," Optimus stated. “I just came online again…"
“Scrapped again, Optronix!?" Zeta shakes his head. “I guess you haven’t changed that much after all."
Optimus chuckles as he reminisces. “Well, I try. I’ve got to get to work. I’ll return when I need you."
“Understood, Optronix. I’ll be waiting." Zeta watches Optimus Prime fade from the interface as he returns to the real world. The former Prime feels a heavy hand rest on his shoulder.
“Seems we left our people in good hands, eh Zatron?" the manifestation of Sentinel Prime states, as he looks on from just behind Zeta Prime.
“Without a doubt, Sincos," Zeta adds. “Without a doubt."