Chapter Six: Fate and Luck are Fickle Things

Ryder eased his way, slowly, towards the convulsing woman pinioned to the chair in the center of the cavernous prison. The Quad, too, moved with measured, cautious steps. The chair was affixed to the flooring solidly, but it was shuddering with the force of its occupant's movements.

"Sam?" He whispered, his eyes wide and his chest tightening.

The Matrix, which had been thrumming up against his chest in agitation ever since they'd entered the ship, snapped off of its self-made chain to zoom towards her. The air crackled with energy as a high-pitched whine rent the air around them. The woman's head knocked back, her mouth gaped open, as she keened. Loudly.

As he watched, her already glittering golden skin took on a brighter sheen. He squinted his eyes, taking note of the minute shifts of light across her skin. No – it was her skin. Her dermal layer literally rippled. Plating a fraction of the diameter of an eraser-tip shuddered under his unwavering gaze. The plates connected and moved in a pattern reminiscent of dragon scales, but unnoticeable in the moments of stillness when the Primanar did not express her obvious pain through physical movement.

Beneath that external layer rose vivid blue lines that were reminiscent of veins. Those lines ran across her arms and beneath her clothing. Some he saw creeping up under her hairline. Her body shuddered in the chair as the cables which had previously pinned her down sizzled and dissolved at the points in which they entered her body. They clanked against the metal flooring even as she stood onto her feet.

Her head tipped forward for the barest of moments before she lifted her face to his gaze. He stepped back once in shock. Her eyes were both a bright, shocking lavender hue. Both pupils were opaque, but her own attention on him was unwavering. She could see.

"Sam?" He inquired once more, his feet carrying him very slowly towards her. She was shaking and her skin was still undulating, but she didn't appear to be in pain any longer. That on its own relieved much of his worry. The ghostly sheen to her eyes unnerved him a bit, however.

"Release Optimus," she commanded the stoic sentinel behind him. Her voice brought goosebumps to his own skin. There was another power in her voice. Something other. Infinitely powerful. He had heard it before on occasion when she ordered the alien titans around as though they were unruly children, but it now echoed around her and through her. Every syllable resonated with it. "We must go."

Her eyes met his own and there was a flash of blue and red that spiked through her irises. He was mesmerized.

"Come with me, Ryder. We must release the prisoners on this vessel." Her feet were soundless as she made her way towards him. The Matrix followed her dutifully. As he watched, her 'crown' materialized. The pure Energon crystals were glowing as brightly as her eyes were. A slight smile touched her lips as she neared him and his heart raced fractionally. "You lost this. Let me give it back to you."

The Primanar held her hand aloft and palm upwards. The Matrix buzzed audibly as it lowered itself into the stretch of her palm. Her fingers curled into the tiny slits of metal, her fingernails pressing into the blue warmth of its own power. A hum dribbled from her lips.

Knowing nothing else to do, he reached forward to reclaim the object she offered. It was hot, narrowly scalding, in his hand as he raised it to his neck once more. The 'chain' remade itself without any notable prompting and locked itself to his neck. The woman's smile was disarming.

The finer hairs on the back of his neck began to lift as she stared him down with a regal gaze. He'd never felt so insignificant in his life.


Samantha brought both of her hands up to cup either of Ryder's lightly blushing cheeks. The previous injuries in her hands were gone – in a manner of speaking – and replaced with wells of untamed Energon. Her skin felt different. It was more sensitive now, yet stronger. The platelets that made up her external layer were settling. A translucent set contained the burning, viscous liquid to the center of her palms as well as the veins of it piping up and down her extremities. She could feel dozens of them congregating at the back of her skull and boring down into her brain.

She felt caught in a livewire of sorts. Her body was energized to the brink of pain, but it was dissipating into the realm of nothingness that was subspace. It was there, ready to come at her barest of whims, and fully capable of leveling the entirety of a planet with a singular wave of its magnificent power.

"Ryder," she murmured, pulling him down even as she raised onto the tips of her toes.

His burly frame shuddered under her touch. She breathed him in, relishing in the scent of him. With it, too, came the feelings of oneness. Just as Hunter had been hers all those years ago, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Ryder belonged to her. She knew herself to belong to him. A soul-deep awareness had erupted with the revelations of the Other and the Cybertronian race only minutes before. For all she had understood before, she now had clarity and depth. She knew.

A smirk worked its way onto her face as Ryder groaned.

There was a piece of herself in him. She felt that now. She felt it through the ultra-sensitive pores of her platelets. She could feel the difference of him in the air. When she had saved Hunter and given him a transfusion of her own nanites, those microscopic entities had changed him as they had changed her own ancestor all of those years ago. They then passed down through his genetic line to Ryder.

And his presence around she and the Allspark was altering him as surely as it had altered her.

"We don't have much time. Come." She released him then, turning her eyes to the mechs. She could see them with both of her eyes now, though the eye she'd previously been blind in saw an abstract spectrum that made her feel a little off-kilter. Unable to verbalize the difference in any other way, she amounted the two to putting a set of lenses up to her eyes – one lens was 'normal' and the other was a kaleidoscope.

"Hurry." Inwardly she opened a wide channel with the comms. :: Now isn't the time for questions. Release the dropship. We'll meet you outside of the city. ::

She gave no opportunity for questioning or disobedience. Sam hurried past Ryder and down the next corridor. The male was hot on her heels. She was compass-North to him now. She empathized and sympathized with what he would be facing as his life from this day forward, his existence longer and grander than he ever could have dreamed possible. A part of her, the remembered parts of her own youth, pitied the woes he would face. He had no family left – not like she had – to mourn over losing to the ages, but his simply 'human' life would be no more. She knew loss very keenly indeed and deep down hated that she was the reason that he was the way he was. She'd altered Hunter – infected him with her vitality – and in doing so she'd condemned the blood of his kin to suffer her same fate.

Best not think on it now, she chided herself tersely. She satisfied herself with the knowledge that she would help Ryder in any way that she could. Just as the Cybertronians never allowed her to face her future alone, she would offer the man no less than she had been granted.

The imprisoned creatures, known and unknown to mankind, rattled unceasingly in their cages. Those of Cybertronian descent she latched onto with the Allspark ruthlessly, demanding obedience and loyalty. A few struggled against the waves, the ones that had forsaken honor and faith centuries ago, but she was ruthless in her pursuit. With audible groans she heard them succumb to the bonds. Those that didn't fight cheered loudly, stretching their struts and servos through in an effort to touch her.

"Quiet," she hissed verbally as well as through the comms. "Lockdown doesn't know we've escaped yet and I'd prefer to keep it that way."

"How are you planning to free the prisoners? How do we know that they should be let loose, anyway?" Ryder skirted away from a muddy brown colored alien with wrinkled, scaly skin, four eyes, and tentacles for fingers. The thing belched in their direction, the gas escaping from its mouth vomit-green. It made both of their eyes water. A protective film slid down over her eyes beneath her eyelids. She could see perfectly through it, but it kept her eyes safe and clean from irritants.

What else would this final transformation do to her?

Forced entry. Data breach: initiated. Her eyes closed as she sifted through the logs of Justice's Wing. While Lockdown had been its Captain for close to a millennium, the ship was eons old. It was one of the ships the Dynasty had used. Its databanks were expansive, intricate, and old. The ship didn't need its captains to enter data for it to infer a wealth of information on its own. As heralded as the Ark or Nemesis was, this ship was simply more than any other.

Long may She reign.

Beyond the initial breach, the ship readily supplied the data she required. The creatures carried within were captives of the previous Captain, a High Lord Fortress Maximus, before he'd been captured by the Creator that had put Lockdown into their service. The Lord – last catalogued by the ship as still being functioning – had trapped the prisoners in a time-loop to meet with justice on their own worlds. None of the biological creatures were long-lived enough for their crimes to have maintained through a thousand years of political intrigue on their planets, but their records were damning.

She couldn't allow them free on Earth.

The Cybertronians were 'easy' enough. Those detained by Fortress Maximus would answer to the Primes for their crimes and face due-punishment. The ones that resisted Lockdown and were imprisoned by the traitor automaton were, on the whole, innocent.

:: Prepare for capture. :: The order she sent on a broad-spectrum comm to the three ships' Captains and the aerial 'Bots and 'Cons circling Justice's Wing. Even further, she touched her awareness across the Grid. Cybertron was livid. She soothed it in much the same way that a mother would soothe its babe. She cooed and smothered it with warm, peaceful feelings. Even through the hull of the ship she could hear the great beams shifting and shuddering. It reluctantly fell into submission of her desires, acknowledging her greater reasoning.

Eject Arkor-Level cells. Encapsulation mode. Anchors: release.

There were wails of objection across the ship as the cells containing the Cybertronians she'd bonded closed tight, metal sarcophagi, and ejected from the ship. The anchors were a distraction against Lockdown noting the vibration of the ship as the cells were released.

"Sam, where are we goin'?" Ryder pulled her behind himself even as he tucked them both into a shadowed corner. One of Lockdown's drones was running towards the control-deck, its peds crunching loudly against fallen plates and beams. The ship was in massive disrepair and the ejecting cells were shaking loose all of the poorly maintained bits of walkways, walls, and hull. "What the fuck is yer plan here? I thought we were freeing the prisoners."

"Already taken care of." She gritted her teeth as she forced the Other from her voice. She could feel it simmering around her and in her. What Primus had finished in her made being 'just' her so much harder than it ever had been. "I need my Wing."

"Your Wing? What are you talkin' 'bout?"

"This ship is older than it appears." She hopped agilely over a fallen bit of scaffolding, her legs not hurting in the least from the barbs and cable Savoy had forced through her calves. "There are ancient tools and weapons on this ship. One of them belongs to me."

"Ancient?" Ryder was swift beside her, his physique impressive. He surveyed their surroundings almost as much as she did. His eyes, she noted, were beginning to glow. His transition was moving along much quicker than hers ever had. Perhaps it was because she'd already been through so much of the transformation herself when she'd infused her nanites into Hunter? Or maybe it was his close proximity to her as well as the Matrix thrumming around his neck? She would take time to research the matter once this latest travesty was handled. "If you're meanin' what I think I'm hearin', I don't know how tah take it. You tryin' tah tell me that whoever manned this ship before knew you were gonna come along? A human?"

"Not just manned it, Ryder. Built it." She hurried around another corner, urging the big man to follow in her footsteps. Her skin faintly prickled the closer she got to the disguised weapons' room. "I was a known entity before the Allspark was even created."

"That makes no Goddamned sense!" He was growling in frustration now.

"I know." She shook her own head on a sardonic laugh at the whole mess. "I don't fully understand it myself, but I think I'm beginning to. There! That's the room we need."

They closed in on a room designed in much the same way that the elevated cell-chamber had been where Optimus and she were dragged. Several corridors dropped into the slightly depressed chamber, the long halls like spokes in an old-fashioned wagon wheel. The chamber was a room of worship and meditation. There were twelve statues, as tall as the beings they were mirrored after, braced against the walls. Some were 'holding' up the ceiling while others were poised with ceremonial staffs in servo. In the center of the chamber kneeled a replica of the Cybertronian she now knew as Primus, though his appearance wasn't entirely accurate to what he had shown her of himself.

"Sam, this looks like a place of prayer. You sure you got the right place?" Ryder arched his neck to look up at the fabricated optics of the centermost figure. The gems gleamed in the fractures of light peaking through the damaged hull. "This don't look like a weapons' room."

"It's not supposed to." She raised her hands and touched the blade of the broad-sword that Primus clenched between his servos. The blade thrummed and eventually sparked light as she pushed Allspark power into it.

"Ah shit!" Ryder backpedaled from the kneeling statue and performed a quick about-face as the floors shook and air hissed out at the juncture between the metal beneath them and the walls surrounding them. Weapons of every size and make lifted from gaps in the flooring, a retrograde electro-magnetic field the only thing keeping the artifacts aloft.

She gestured vaguely towards a weapon that Ryder would be able to use. "Take the blaster that looks like a split-sword with a crescent hilt. It shouldn't be too heavy. Projectile weapons such as that one were designed for the minicons to use."

"How do I fire it?" He asked even as he hefted the cybertronian metal. The blaster fit perfectly in his large hands as opposed to if he had been a smaller man. He pressed the curved hilt to his shoulder, sighting down the bladed 'scope'.

"You will it to fire." She tapped her chest in a representation of where the Matrix hung from his neck. "The Matrix will help you. That blaster responds to electronic pulses, not mechanical force. There is not trigger to release. Think strongly of firing it and it will do so."

Ryder looked to her for a moment before passing his gaze along the walls. A frown touched his lips. "There isn't another one for you."

"I have my Wing."

"You said that before. Where is it?"

"Hidden in plain sight." She smirked in a semi-evil manner even as she used another spike of energy to shatter the blade she'd touched before. The shards erupted outwards as though to tear them to pieces, but were halted in the next instant by a containment field that shuddered to life as soon as she willed the destruction of the blade.

Buried within the blade was a staff designed proceeding the conception of the Allspark. It was a long staff with an obsidian-sentio-metalicon – what humans called Transformium – core and veins of pure Energon crystals weaving through the long shaft. Upon each end of the staff rested a four-inch wide blade, the smooth sides embellished with more crystals in the shape of ancient Cybertronian texts. The blades themselves were made up of the same obsidian-sentio-metalicon. While the traditional protomatter was resilient and able to shift through phases, its obsidian counterpart was the single hardest natural or unnatural element in the known Universe. It had been shaped and sharpened over eons with the infinite energy of the Allspark. A chain of threaded protomatter and Energon crystals enabled Samantha to drape the staff across her back, the core shifting into itself and locking down so that blades wouldn't be cumbersome knocking or dragging against the ground or ceiling – provided either scenario was possible.

"That was made for you, wasn't it?"

"Yes." She shook her head at any further questions he desired to ask. She could see the curiosity brimming in his still glowing eyes. "Not now. We have to get off this ship."

"An' how do ya suggest we do that?"

A smirk tugged at her lips. "The path has already been made, good sir."

Ryder followed after her dutifully as she lead their way back out of the room. The corridors had become saturated with a sulfurous musk, a weight of dread settling along the dank metal floors. Sam felt the shift of the fine platelets on the back of her neck and arms – her new reality of once-fine hairs rising – and squinted her eyes as though that would enable her to see through walls. While her eyesight had sharpened considerably, her one blinded eye returned to functioning order, it wasn't enough to see through walls. She was reformed, but she wasn't invincible and omnipotent.

"What?" Ryder looked on over her head, one large hand slipping around to her front to brace against her stomach. It was a shielding and protective gesture. One that wouldn't help them now.

"Run," she ordered both he and herself firmly. The syllable had scarcely passed her lips when there came a distant shudder of metal striking metal. There was an echoed chorus of snarling growls. She could all but smell their rancid, acidic spittle in the air mingling nauseatingly with the sulfuric aroma of the sputtering ship. "Now!"

The kitten heels she'd donned when she'd first endeavored to sneak into KSI were kicked off in her rapid flight. One clanked over a gangway and plummeted well over a hundred feet into a hanging cage, its criminal inhabitant getting struck across its titanium-strong skull. Its alien war cry was lost behind them and buried beneath the pounding of blood in her ears.

Ryder kept up with her easily, his long legs eating up the ground at a breakneck pace. Her own speed was attributed to her so recent change, the cybernetic evolution of sorts that her body had been destined to undergo since before the human race existed. The man beside and slightly behind her would undergo his own change in time, but his human frailty was not as shocking or hindering as most. He was already altered by the nanites he shared with her. Time would see him as she was.

If they survived.

The sounds of the cyberwolves were gaining on them swiftly even as they rounded the furthest corner of the starboard side of Justice's Wing was a little more than disheartening. Sam yanked hard enough on Ryder's arm to dislodge it – though she was grateful that it didn't – and ushered him between slats of a turbine. It was a tight squeeze for the larger-than-life human and she knew it would take the wolves a little extra time to claw their way through.

They were both panting when the sun's rays caressed against their skin once more. The anchors that had been released when the cells containing Cybertronians were ejected were tangled up in one of the newer, sturdier buildings of Chicago. All those years ago they'd remodeled Chicago, a total rebuild to make up for the annihilation brought upon it by Vector Prime and his Hoard, and it looked as though reparations would need to be made again.

"Come on."

"Ain't we goin' back to the others?" The male beside her surveyed the quintupled anchor cables dubiously. The stretch of them was long between the ship and where they were securely wrapped several times over around the building. Sam could see people inside on the upper floors still, gaping at the enemy Cybertronian ship tethered to their workplace. They undoubtedly had a means to leave the building, but were too stupid and curious to get their fleshy asses to safety.

"No time." She looked to the Grid thrumming ominously above them and the three allied ships awaiting detention. She hopped up onto one of the cables and began a brisk walk down the swinging line. Decades, no…centuries of dance lent her nimble grace that even her new body wouldn't have granted her. She stopped to look back over her shoulder at her partner. He'd turned decidedly green around the gills. A snarky inner part of her snickered at his obvious aversion to heights.

Or at least to his fear of falling from the unstable ground.

"It's either progress forward or face what's behind, Ryder. I can say with confidence that you don't want to be in a one-on-one encounter with what's coming."

"Ah Jesus!" On a snarl, the big man hefted himself onto the cable strung a little lower and beside hers. That one gave him another set of cables to use as stabilizers for a large stretch of the 'walk'. He began to grumble loudly even as he steadfastly refused to look down. "Don't know why I can't just shoot the damned things. Fuckin' alien gun ain't worth shit if I can't shoot nothin' with it."

Sam chuckled softly despite the dire situation and called out to Ryder to be swift. Her own footsteps were light, but quick. They needed to move faster.

About halfway across their impromptu bridge, the cable she was standing on jolted violently. A screech poured from her mouth as the cable lurched and snapped upward sending her body sailing into the air. She felt a moment of weightlessness between her abrupt ascent and the equally sudden and unavoidable fall. Gravity sucked her down mercilessly, pulling at her unerringly. Her arms flailed as she scrabbled for another one of the cables. Her fingers sunk home between two of the bonded pieces making up each link and the jolt of her body wrenching against her shoulders was agonizing.

The cabled shook and flailed fitfully, the jarring making her teeth rattle.

"What in the world are those ugly things?!" Ryder shouted over the clang of metal, one hand firmly grasping the cable to his side while the other he fired off shots into the oncoming wolves.

"Cyberwolves," she hissed as she pulled herself belly-up onto the cable.

Cyberwolves were indeed ugly, nasty creatures. They were a practice in cyberevolution gone terribly wrong. A scientist before Shockwave's own putrid involvement in horrific experimentation had thought it to be a brilliant idea to cyberform a world with a parasitic cybernetic organism mimicked off of sentio-metalica. It had been fortunate that the most 'evolved' lifeforms on that singular planet had been a derivative of Earthen wolves. Of course, those wolves resembled a bastardized version of a canine spliced with a komodo dragon with a rippling spinal column fanned with vibrant 'fins'. The Cybertronian-made parasite had imbedded itself into the creature's very core and mutated it, turning it into a festering, rotted version of what had once been a fearsome, powerful beast.

They were still organic in nature, the alien armaments more like cybernetic add-ons than total assimilations, and thus couldn't be influenced by the Allspark. Nothing beyond calling the metal off of their bodies, which would mutilate the creatures to their cores and leave a bloody mess, could stop them. Well, nothing beyond the call to heel by their 'master' or being shot dead through the skull cavity.

Ryder fired off another shot, nailing one wolf in the hindquarters. It wasn't a kill shot, but it barreled backwards into one of the other wolves and sending it careening down off of the cables. Its yelping howl of rage as it plummeted reverberated between the tethered building and its neighbors.

"Smart bastards," she groused as the wolves remaining on the ship leapt onto the tension wires and began to chew through them. She pushed hurriedly to her feet. "Get to the building. These cables are going to drop like limp noodles."

His support cable forgotten, Ryder began to run full-bar towards the carefully manicured garden their cables hung only a few feet above. Sam leapt nimbly from the cable she'd been on as it went abruptly slack and began to swing into the reflective windows. Offhandedly she hoped that the idiots in the building still knew enough to back away from the falling debris before it struck. Ryder's knees shook a little in front of her as she landed behind him, but he maintained balance and kept moving.

Shouts of terror were ripped from both of them as their cable snapped loudly behind them. That weightless feeling was back and was just as putridly momentary as it was before. She was reaching for Ryder even before they had completely begun their fall.

Behind them, the Justice's Wing took off into the distance, an ancient hyper-pulsion unit lending to a nearly faster-than-light source of travel that would see it across the world in the blink of an eye. She was certain, however, that Lockdown would have missed the dropship disengaging in the midst of the unit powering up. Lockdown wouldn't fight the three ships surrounding him and the Grid wouldn't let him leave in one piece so the hyper-pulsion was his only viable option to evade capture.

She flailed her arms reaching for Ryder and scarcely managed to snatch onto his belt loops as she pulled them into a Warp.

Two second of all-consuming nothingness, of total blackout and cold, and they reemerged.

Ryder grunted, cursed, and went limp as he fell face-first into the gunman's control seat of the Aerial Scutter they'd dropped into. She reached for the pulse point in his neck frantically, her stomach not lifting from its bottomed-out state until she felt its steady beat. She caressed his cheek as she stood above him, her legs bracketed wide over his trim waist. Two overlarge pivoting blaster controls beckoned her.

"Welcome aboard, Primanar!" Crosshairs called to her from the front of the Scutter, flipping them expertly to dodge a volley of photonic pellets steered their way. Bumblebee whooped above her and gave her a cheeky thumbs up.

"Get us the Hell out of here!" Grunting, she pulled back on the controls to load with her whole bodyweight before punching them back forward. She couldn't give a controlled shot, but she figured that a steady stream of supercharged pellets, each powerful enough to blow up a five-bedroom brick house, would eventually strike one of their tails.

The heat from the kickback was intense and she knew if she had had any unaltered facial hair before, had she been entirely human, she would have singed it off. Her hair whipped around and behind her like a billowing cape.

Her bare feet slid and skidded on the flooring as Crosshairs swung them left and right, Ryder's unconscious, heavy body jarring her periodically as it was jerked around beneath her. One of Lockdown's drones was stupid enough to grow too close to them in his own Scutter and 'Bee took the initiative to hoist a tugboat up and over the ship to catapult into the enemy. Sam blanked out the explosion, the lenses under her primary eyelids flashing closed for a moment to protect her pupils from the bright flash of erupting light.

"'Bee! Take the controls." Crosshairs tugged the Scout by his dorsal wings to urge him into the driver's seat. The green Saboteur spared her the briefest of glances before dropping his goggled visor over his optics. "I'll meet you with the others."

Showboating, she thought with a mirthful chuckle in her head. A part of her knew that she'd become somewhat jaded in her centuries of life, but to laugh at war and destruction was so…vile of her. She hated how she was some days. She despised what she had become. Fighting was a necessary evil to maintain peace and to ensure a peaceful future for the civilians of both of their worlds, but she knew she shouldn't get a rise out of it as she did.

I need to sleep. I need to turn all of it off for a while. She thought this to herself privately even as she continued to fire on their pursuers. She stuck another one sending it careening into a commemorative statue of a long-dead senator that had fought for – and won – the legal use of marijuana in the continental US. The statue and its base were reduced to miniscule granules of marble and concrete. I need to get myself back. I need to find me again.

Ryder was groaning back into consciousness when Bumblebee ducked them down into an underground byway, the single remaining Scutter trapping itself right in her line of fire. Four point-blank shots sent the drone's eviscerated frame in every direction around the forward nose of the Scutter. The fighter ship itself bounced twice against the asphalt before spinning over the retaining wall and into the open drainage system.

"What's goin' on?" Ryder's head peeked up from below, his body rising under her. She yelped uncontrollably as his considerable bulk pushed up against her thighs and sent her pin wheeling backwards. Her yellow Guardian performed his own pinwheel by raising their Scutter up and out of the ground by plowing through the street above. The front of the Scutter took the brunt of the hit, but their tail end was dislodged and sent rolling topsy-turvy down the busy street.

Sam used her legs to lock onto Ryder while her arms twined into hydraulic piping beside the enormous seat. Together they grunted as their relatively fragile bodies crashed around in the confines of the gunman's control seat. When it came to a shuddering end, Sam felt her body go boneless as she slunk against the tilted sidewall.

"Remind me to never come with you again on one of these adventures," the man grumbled as he attempted to untangle himself from disrupted wires nearby. She noted that he had a small cut on his forehead that was already bruising nicely. His lips were pursed in displeasure, but his gaze was sharp and assessing as he looked her over visually. "You okay? Hurt?"

"I'm fine," she assured him lamely.

At that moment, Bumblebee peeked up over the lip of the cockpit. He whirred in distress, his anxious chirping and clicking telling her how shaky he was over this latest episode. She didn't doubt that it was primarily caused by her abduction and brief torture by her own kind on that ship.

His blunted digits reached inward and carefully scooped her up so that he could cradle her against his chassis. She was limp as he did as he wished with her body. His helm was bent over her studiously, his internal comms banging against her mind in an effort to communicate without threat of being heard. She ignored his inquiries and instead luxuriated in the warmth he radiated.

Offhandedly he helped Ryder down to the battered ground before transforming around her. The seat she found herself nestled into was one she dreaded, but adored at the same time. It was her 'Allspark-carseat' as she had affectionately dubbed it. It resembled a baby's carseat in that it had little padded buffers on both sides and a total over-the-chest harness that would keep her comfortably in place. The seat made her feel like a baby whenever she thought about it too much, but the comfort and warmth it provided was unparalleled. All of the mechs and femmes capable of an appropriately sized alt knew and mimicked this exact configuration if she wasn't feeling entirely well and traveling within one of them.

Ryder slid in on the passenger side, his eyes widening at first in surprise before a gentle smile touched his lips to see her snuggled up so soundly in the seat. 'Bee forcefully buckled the man into his own seat when he didn't reach for the belt, but his eyes remained trained onto her.

"You sure you're okay?"

"Just tired." She stretched her limbs a little and winced. "And achy, too."

"How long until we reach the others?"

She smiled faintly at the carefully phrased question. "Not long enough to take a nap." She turned her head and reached out for him, pleased when her Guardian lowered that side's buffer so that she could see him and speak to him clearly. His larger hands pinned and engulfed herself. "There's something we need to talk about, Ryder. Something important."

"I'm changing, aren't I?"

She was startled into silence by his astute assessment and gaped like a fish out of water. It wasn't often that she was struck speechless anymore. The man smiled at her with kindness and released one of his hands to knock her chin back up with a crooked finger. Once she'd snapped her jaw back closed he returned his hand to where it had been, though it slowly began to meander up and down her arm to rub soothingly across her new skin.

"Ole Grandpa Hunter told all of his kids 'bout you. 'Bout how you saved him. That's one of the stories that was never forgotten in my family." His calloused fingers caressing her skin made her shiver in a good way. He saw her involuntary reaction and smiled brighter, a twinkle coming into his iceberg eyes. "Then you told me a bit about what happened to you. I don' know all of it, a'course, but I can infer enough. What happened to you from those nanites is happenin' to me."

"I'm sorry, Ryder." She reached across her body with her free hand to stop the petting. Her expression was earnest as she locked eyes with him. Lavender against blue. "I didn't mean for it to happen. I never thought it would. If I had…"

"You still woulda saved him." He shook his head when the denial was on the tip of her tongue. "You believe in destiny, sweetheart? Fate? Seems to me you're all wound up in it; wound up for the Cybertronians an' all us humans. And maybe we're all wound up in it. I reckon maybe I'm wound up in it for you. Your somethin'-great grandpa wasn't meant to be totally immersed in this war himself, but I think he was meant to hand it all down to you. My somethin'-great grandpa Hunter had a piece of it – and you – but maybe he was meant to hand it down to me, too."

She pursed her lips tightly together, unwilling to lessen Hunter's role in her life. It was also in an effort to keep the words of affirmation from bubbling up. It wasn't as if she hadn't thought about the very same thing Ryder was expressing to her verbally now, but speaking it aloud made it too real.

Was Fate real?

"I ain't sayin' I'm not gonna be spittin' mad at times. I ain't sayin' that this is goin' to be easy for me, but what choice do I have? I don' think I have much more of one than you did, sweetheart." He leaned forward to peck a tender kiss to her lips. "The difference is, I'm hopin', that I have you right here with me."

Tears stung her eyes as she looked up at the handsome man beside her, unable to believe all that had happened. All that life had brought them both to.

"Will ya be with me, Samantha Witwicky? Cuz I don't think I can do this, whatever it is, without you."

She nodded her head slowly, but with surety. She squeezed his hands firmly.

"I'm with you, Ryder Mason. Come what may, I'm with you."

She just hoped that they both weren't destined to be sucked further into whatever Fate had in store for them…not so far as to where they would never be able to pull themselves out again.


Fifteen minutes later…

The train yard was abandoned and overgrown with daisies and forget-me-nots. Sam sat in a particularly thick growth of them, the wind clean and caressing her cheeks as she looked down at Brains in her lap.

The defecto-drone was lay sprawled out on his back, his head cushioned by her hip. She kept her palm flat against his chassis and sent miniscule pulses of Allspark energy into his spark. The little mech was mostly drained of power, the virus he'd attained from the technician who'd commandeered him having wiped out his pour mainframe. She hummed lightly as she utilized the neural pathways in her mind, the ones made so much clearer from her transformation at the hands of Primus, to clear away the fractured and damaged data that he'd been unable to see to himself. She'd have him remain at the yard for a short time after they left before sending him off to meet Jetfire at a pickup location. The grump old jet would bring Brains to any one of the medics for care, though he'd probably be brought to Jolt since Wheelie liked to pal around with the electro-whip-happy 'bot more often than not.

The dropship they'd snatched from Justice's Wing had had its tracker disabled immediately and they were in the midst of making their final decision on how to proceed and when they were doing to roll out.

It would need to be soon. Cemetery Wind was getting closer along with a contingent of local troopers.

"Are you saying that Galvatron has control of all those new guys? And he's planning to what?" Ryder kneeled behind her and alternated between rubbing her shoulders and scraping his meaty hands through his hair. His tone was abundantly stressed.

"He's been biding his time until those dummies at KSI could get that seed Lockdown promised them." Brains shook his head in sheer disgust, the glowing blue fiber optics of his 'hair' sparking in his ire. He shook a servo in the air aggressively. "Dumbass squishies! Humans can't leave well enough alone. They had what they needed to make their own robots, but they couldn't stop there. Had to take control. Had to make their own version of Cybertronians sayin' they was doin' it for the good of mankind. Oil splatter!"

"Joyce is self-serving, but he's still an engineer. He would have gotten funding from the government, but he'd hate to see his creations used for war. He's a sellout, but he hasn't gone that far." Sam petted Brains' helm, her palm unscathed by the burning fibers.

Brains dismissed her words with a hurrumph, popping himself onto his peds so that he could pace. "They found pieces of Megatron, parts of him that were still tainted by the Fallen. None of those things has a spark like us, a soul, but that Galvatron got a dark bit a 'Con programming in him. With the sun harvester long destroyed that thing is gonna make use of Earth in another way."

"The seed."

"What is a seed exactly?" Ryder glanced at her over her shoulder and then up to the mechs as they took to the podium.

"Back at the beginning of our race, there was a device known as a seed. It was a bomb that altered all biological and non within a ten mile radius of its detonation into sentio-metalica – what humans have called Transformium." Drift sneered at the word. "Our Creators, according to what little archives we have of such long-ago times, initially used the seeds to cyberform worlds to make the protomatter necessary in our construction. When the Creators disappeared, our own Primes used them on the planets which were left barren after harvesting their suns."

Samantha didn't know how much to tell the Cybertronians about their history. She didn't know what would be safe to tell them…or what would be safe for her. Could she tell them that Primus was indeed the first of them, but that he had first been a Creator? Could she tell them that they, in all likelihood, were the reincarnated souls of the fallen Creators?

No. No, she couldn't tell them these things. Not now. Possibly not ever.

She cleared her throat, picking up the story. "Earth was different. Maybe sixty-million years ago the seeds were used while our sun was still intact. From what the Allspark tells me, Earth was just a happy coincidence that the Primes stumbled upon while they were travelling the universe. Our sun wasn't ready for harvesting yet, but Earth was teeming with biological life that they could cyberform for immediate repairs on their vessels. They came back with the intention of harvesting our sun some eons later, but by that point the first evolved homosapiens had begun to skulk around."

"KSI has all of its prototype fleet past ninety percent completion in China." Brains continued on in the most recent events, the cause for their current troubles. "Joyce thinks they're under his control. Attinger thinks they're his guns. What those hairless apes don't see is that Galvatron has command of them all. Once he gets the seed, he's going to detonate it in Beijing where it'll cause the most casualties and devastation. He'll use those things to scrape up all the protomatter and make more soldiers. Systematic downfall of Earth."

"Joshua Joyce is already on his way to his factory in China." Optimus looked down at them with bright optics, his anger a living thing beneath the calm surface he maintained. She could feel it. "Galvatron and Stinger are being transported as well."

"We need to get there before Galvatron takes possession of the seed." Inwardly, she was rattling off orders to have several battalions on standby in the Asian continent. Regardless of what they did now, she knew that they would need all the help that they could get in the coming hours.

"How fast can that dingy get us there?" Ryder gestured with a hooked thumb over his shoulder at the dropship.

Hound guffawed in his scratchy deep voice, his servos coming to rest on his 'pudgy' abdomen. His muffler rattled from one side to the other in his oral cavity as though he were chewing on it.

"Kid, it's a spaceship. You ain't gonna get much faster than that."

"There hyper-pulsion in it?" She inquired curiously, brushing off her stained white slacks as she stood. The sound of sirens blaring in the distance keyed her in to the fact that now was the time to leave.

"Nah. That big momma had one because of its sheer size and age." Crosshairs swept his servos across his audios in a fidgety gesture. His expression, more readable like a human's due to the number and intricacies of the plates on his face, was wistful as he looked up at the hovering dropship. "Old fashioned space travel is all this is. Although Lockdown's gonna be hobbled for a few hours. Those units are handy, but they drain power like a hummertic to a zekle bloom. Even a dark matter drive will take time to recharge it for another go. With any luck we won't have to worry about that fraggin' glitch until after we deal with Galvatron."

As she walked up the ramp into the ship, Sam couldn't help but think that luck had been anything but on their side since this whole farce began.

She was a fickle bitch after all.