The tone was a somber one after Optimus told them what happened. It took about two days, but Optimus and Blackarachnia were cleared for duty. Optimus confined himself to his workshop to keep himself busy with a project. Blackarachnia was walking to Ultra Magnus’ office with a pad in her hands. She rang the chime. “Enter,” bid Ultra Magnus. The door opened, and she stepped in. “Ah, 1st Lieutenant,” he greeted. “What can I do for you?”
“I have a name change form for you,” reported Blackarachnia. “I’ve enjoyed my identity as Blackarachnia so much that I don’t want to give it up to being Elita-1 again.”
“Let me see,” directed Ultra Magnus. She handed him the pad. He looked it over. “Good, everything seems in order. Name change: approved.” He signed it and filed it.
“Thank you, Sir,” replied Blackarachnia.
“Does Optimus know?” asked Ultra Magnus.
“He was the first to know,” answered Blackarachnia.
“Good to know,” replied Ultra Magnus. There was an awkward silence, something Ultra Magnus didn’t like. “Is there something else?” he asked.
“Guilt, actually,” sighed Blackarachnia. “I feel like I should have been there for Optimus.”
“What could you have done in the condition you were in?” countered Ultra Magnus.
“I don’t know, but it would have been SOMETHING!” protested Blackarachnia
“Look, it isn’t getting defeated that’s bothering him,” answered Ultra Magnus, “it’s the fact that it’s our brother that beat him and betrayed us to the Decepticons.”
“True,” replied Blackarachnia. “I’m gonna see if I can comfort him.”
“Good luck,” bid Ultra Magnus. Blackarachnia headed out and made her way to Optimus’ workshop. Her hand reached the chime, then hesitated. She wasn’t sure if she should. She then shook her head of that doubt and rang the chime.
“Come,” said a sullen voice. It stung Blackarachnia’s Spark to hear Optimus so sad. She went in to see Optimus at a workbench with the battery Megatron had damaged. He was using special tools to get into the crack to fix the damaged circuits. After a bit of work, he put his tools aside and put his head in his hands. He then saw Blackarachnia. “Hey,” he mumbled.
“What are you doing?” asked Blackarachnia softly.
“I’ve been trying to fix the Gabutyra Zyudenchi,” answered Optimus. “Look what Megatron did to it.”
“I’m sure you can fix it,” assured Blackarachnia as she put her hand to his shoulder.
“Yeah,” sighed Optimus as he put his hand on hers. “Maybe.” They sat there in silence for a bit. “…He almost killed me,” mumbled Optimus. Blackarachnia didn’t ask who, she didn’t need to. “My own brother tried to kill me. He didn’t hesitate, I don’t think anything he did required any effort on his part. I looked up to him and he joined the Decepticons! I don’t understand why a decorated war hero like him would do this!”
“Well, you still have the relics I gathered,” answered Blackarachnia.
“Yeah, but I don’t think they’re gonna do any good in stopping him,” muttered Optimus. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do!”
“Well, if he’s the new Decepticon Leader,” offered Blackarachnia, “maybe you two could work something out that would bring peace to both parties.”
“He didn’t exactly act like he wanted to work WITH Autobots, much less FOR them,” countered Optimus. “Besides, he said he went through the Dead-end of Polyhex and concluded that the Autobot cause was the problem. Megatron’s been fighting in the Pits of Kaon, enhancing his own concentration on the nature of magic spells! The reason most mages say the spell’s name is so they can remember the nature of how magic works for that specific spell. What would teaming up with an amateur Wizard like me accomplish?! He just sees me as an obstacle to his endgame, whatever it is! He’s got a grip on power now, and he has no intention of letting go until, like an orange, he squeezes it so hard, it pulverizes! That’s all we are to him, just runoff.”
“And nothing stood out?” asked Blackarachnia.
“Not to me,” sighed Optimus. “I mean, if he has so much power…,” he then got an idea, “…if he has so much power, why didn’t he kill me?” He then stood up. “There was nothing I could do. He aimed an arm-mounted, nucleon grade fusion cannon at my face! I saw light inside the barrel! But, instead, he asked Soundwave for a Ground Bridge! Why did he run?!”
“I may have a theory,” offered Blackarachnia.
“Hit me with it,” directed Optimus.
“I’d say it’s overconfidence,” explained Blackarachnia. “Before I was stabbed, Thundercracker said that, with my death and his betrayal, Megatron would have no resistance.”
“He tried to break me emotionally!” realized Optimus. “He wanted a smooth conquest! Well, he ain’t gonna get it!” He activated his comms. “All Autobots, this is Optimus. Gather in the briefing room. I have a plan to beat the Decepticons.”
After Optimus briefed everyone on how they were going to beat Megatron, they set to work on the tasks assigned to them. Ultra Magnus coordinated with Alexis to get materials. Optimus was talking with Commander Topaz in getting G.U.N troops involved. “Look, I’m sorry,” he argued, “but this isn’t something I can negotiate on! Without the assistance of G.U.N, the Autobots have no hope of succeeding!”
“And how do we know,” countered Topaz, “that the intel Blackarachnia gave you will help?”
“She’s just as scared of the Decepticons as the rest of us,” answered Optimus. “Look, if it turns out to not help, you can call off your forces. But, for now, I NEED your support!” Topaz considered what he said.
“…All right, Prime,” she finally decided. “But, this is gonna be a risky operation. Many brave soldiers’ lives are on the line. If this goes fubar, you’re going to regret it!”
“If Megatron succeeds,” replied Optimus, “he won’t give us the luxury of regretting it. Prime out.” As the transmission ended, the Ground Bridge opened to let Blackarachnia, Bumblebee, and Cliffjumper return with the relics she had obtained while undercover. Bumblebee was holding the Apex Armor and grinning wildly.
“Sir, I will pay you to let me use this in the fight!” pleaded Bumblebee.
“No; you, the armor, and Cliffjumper are staying in reserve until you’re needed,” directed Optimus.
“Sir, you’re a buzzkill, you know that?” sighed Cliffjumper.
“I’ve been called worse,” replied Optimus. “Are there any more?”
“Let’s see, we’ve got a shield rod,” reported Cliffjumper as he looked into the hover sled, “a couple of doses of Red Energon, a Spark Extractor,” he held it at arm’s length, “an Immobilizer, a Resonance Blaster, Soundwave would have loved that, and a Phase Shifter.”
“Nice toys!” cheered Optimus. “Good work, you guys, especially you, Lieutenant!”
“Just doing my job,” assured Blackarachnia, happier that her boyfriend’s in better spirits. Ratchet and Perceptor came up.
“What’s your status on the First Weapon?” asked Optimus.
“Done and done,” answered Ratchet. “But, if you ask me, we should keep it in reserve. Give Bumblebee and Cliffjumper something to play with.”
“Bee’s already got a toy, supplied by Blackarachnia,” countered Optimus. “Besides, the weapon was only designed to throw him off. We need to keep up the melee attacks and hold him off until G.U.N has made progress. In the meantime, Ironhide needs help cleaning the rest of our weapons. Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, you two are helping, so try not to shoot up the walls this time!”
“No promises, Sir,” called Cliffjumper. As they headed off, Optimus used his own Scrying Orb to contact Amy.
“Amy, how goes the vote?” quizzed Optimus.
“Unfortunately, given that I’m Sira’s apprentice,” muttered Amy, “a Replacement Coven was called, one without Sira.”
“I hate those,” grumbled Optimus.
“The vote’s leaning towards yes, but it’s still too early to tell,” continued Amy “They’re aware of the deadline. Final vote’s this evening. I’ll let you know then.”
“Much appreciated,” thanked Optimus. Her image faded and Optimus switched to Trema. “Trema, how’s…?” he was interrupted by a startled Nebulan’s curses.
“Do NOT call me without warning!” roared Trema. “Especially when I’m meditating for the fight tomorrow!”
“Okay then, you just answered my question,” replied Optimus. “See you tomorrow.” The call ended.
“So, what are WE going to do?” asked Blackarachnia.
“We’re sparring,” directed Optimus. “We need to keep our skills honed. Let’s go.”
“Of all the ludicrous things I’ve heard, this takes the cake!!” shouted a female Mobian Badger, Senator Josie “Sticks” Beller. The Queen’s Congress was in session. “Your Majesty, you’re actually considering joining the fight with the machines against their own!”
“The Decepticons,” corrected Aleena. “I will thank you to make the distinction in future.”
“Your Majesty, we’re talking about robots!” protested Senator Beller. “You never stopped to consider slicing off the heads of Eggman’s robots!”
“These particular alien robots you seem to have an unwarranted hatred of,” muttered the Queen, “have benefited us with their technology. They have done no harm to us.”
“Lies!” shouted Senator Beller. “Ever since they’ve arrived, we’ve had skirmishes with Shockwave, Commander Tower betrayed us for MECH, a Wizard attacks us, and, on top of that, we’ve had Eggman-shaped Transformers. All of this would never have happened if the Transformers actually obeyed whatever peace treaty was in place!”
“All of those events,” countered a businessman, a male human by the name of G.B. Blackrock, “would have happened anyway. From what I could tell, they were simply lying in wait.”
“From what YOU could tell?!” snapped Senator Beller. “Well, if the head of Blackrock Enterprises says they’re all right, they’re all right! Mr. Blackrock, who’s to say that they won’t attack one of your solar towers?! Your defenses won’t hold out!”
“I’ve worked with Ratchet; they can hold out now!” assured Mr. Blackrock.
“I don’t believe this!” wailed Senator Beller. “Mr. Blackrock, you’ve allowed soulless machines to infect your company and…!”
“JOSIE BELLER!” thundered Aleena as she slammed her hand onto the armrest of the throne. “You will cease this vilification of the Autobots or I will have you relieved of your duties as Senator!” Senator Beller glared at the Queen, then slowly sat back down. “The decision has been made. I’m joining my son and the Autobots in their plan.”
“Overreacting?!” protested Starscream to his trine-mates. “I am most certainly NOT overreacting! I AM justifiably angry that the social order here has been disrupted by a former stuttering Autobot idiot who fought in Kaon, claimed to have mastered the Badge’s dark powers, and struts around as if he’s been a Decepticon his entire life!”
“See, that’s your problem,” mused Skywarp, “you let everything get to you. You being whiny about the situation is only going to give Megatron more spots to pick on and give more credibility to the bots loyal to him.”
“I am NOT being whiny!” grumbled Starscream.
“Yes, you are,” countered Thundercracker. “And, over whom? Megatron, of all bots! If this whole thing turns out to be a snafu, then he’s the one getting the fall.”
“Even so,” muttered Starscream, “he’s got the D.J.D on his side. No way would they leave Jhiaxus alive.”
“I don’t know, it’s not them I need to be worried about with a half-done job,” argued Skywarp. “He needed YOU to kill that spider-femme.”
“True,” conceded Starscream, his smirk returning. “He probably doesn’t have the Spark to kill! It’s amazing how he survived the war as an Autobot!”
“I heard his major was in Mathematics!” giggled Skywarp.
“Maybe he should have stayed in the classroom!” laughed Thundercracker. As they laughed, Starscream felt talons on his wing. He was then flung causally over Megatron’s shoulder! He was wearing Cybertronian glasses and holding a pad.
“Let’s see, if I calculated the trajectory right,” he mused, “Starscream should hit the ground in 3, 2, 1.” Starscream landed, none too gracefully. “Perfect, as always,” boasted Megatron. “Would anyone else care to test Peel-out’s trajectory formula?”
“No, thank you!” yelped Thundercracker.
“Are you sure?” offered Megatron. “It will help to see if the formula needs editing.”
“We’re good!” assured Skywarp. Megatron’s glasses folded and retracted into his helmet.
“Perhaps, next time, you’ll think twice about your words against me,” he rasped. He then stormed off to the bridge.
“Skywarp, Thundercracker, I’m making a new rule!” announced Starscream. “We DON’T make fun of mathematicians!”
“Agreed!” called Skywarp.
“Never again!” confirmed Thundercracker.