Episode 7: The Illusion of Control

Okay, so I made a little edit at the end of the episode. All I did was add a fight scene at the very end, showing off some brutality, and all.

Also, since I'm here with a mini update, I would like personally address an issue that has happened to me recently before I leave you to your reading. Apparently, someone thought it was a good idea to try and log into my Ao3 account without my explicit authorization.

So... Here's a word of advice to the wannabe hacker; You want to log into Archive of Our Own, or any account involving writing something? Cool. Make your own goddamn account rather than being a complete dumbass and make your own fucking content.

There, I've said it. Nothing else to be said about this issue, let's move the fuck on.

All Characters belong to Hasbro and Cartoon Network!


One Month Ago... Cybertron... Cybertropolis. 8:05 P.M, Cybertronian Standard Time.

Cybertropolis was one of the various cities to exist frequently in Cybertron. It wasn't unlike Iacon, though it does have its ups and downs.

For starters, the poor Autobot known as Afterburn was seen running in a hurry due to the fact that he was being chased by an unknown assailant.

"Stop! Fer Pete's sakes, stop!"

Afterburn turned to a corner, transforming into his Alt Mode in an attempt to drive out of harm's way when a Grappling Hook pulled right in between the back of a Desk Brake, causing the Transformer to flipside down, making the Orange Autobot fall right on his back.

Opening his Optics upon having closed his Optics from the impact, he saw a shadow loom right over him as he grabbed a big crowbar from the ground, swinging it right at the attacker, only for the one known as Optimus Prime to grab him right at the wrist as Afterburn stood in front of the Fire Truck, making him stare as the Battle Mask withheld his face, only revealing the dark glare that was shown from his Purple Optics.

"Is that any way to treat your fellow Autobots?" A darkened Optimus Prime taunted with Purple Optics as his grip on Afterburn's wrist tightened to a point where he made the hand function impossible at that point. Once broken, Optimus released Afterburn, letting him drop onto the ground once more.

"Optimus, Prime... Why are you..." Afterburn winced as Optimus kicked him on his back, and stomped his foot to pin him by his chest. "...doing this? Why?!"

"What I am doing is all in the name of duty..." Dark Optimus replied before lifting his other Pede to stomp right on top of Afterburn's head, much to his horror as he let out a scream, raising his hands out before the foot dropped down hard...


Iacon... 7:59 A.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.


Optimus opened his Blue Optics and rose up from his slumber, disturbed from such a dream as he felt the sweat coming from his head. He breathed, in and out of his Intake when Linkin Park sang into the background, prompting his head to turn around as What I've Done acted as an alarm.

"In This Farewell... There's No Blood... There's No Alibi..."

Optimus Prime groaned, having woken up at approximately eight in the morning as per his usual morning routine while listening to Linkin Park in the background. Getting up, he walked out of his shared bedroom to walk into Elita One in the kitchen.

"Good morning." Optimus greeted tiredly as he sat on the counter, with his Bondmate turning around to serve him warm Energon with a smile.

"Morning, Handsome... Sleep well last night?" Elita asked as Optimus took the cup in his hand.

"...I had some sleep..." Optimus replied as he sipped on his cup, making Elita lean back with a bummed look.

"Well, that's what you get for working late last night... Again."

"You're one to talk..." Optimus countered with a raised brow. "You work just as hard as I do."

"Least I know when it's a good time to take a nap." Elita talked back with crass. "I work with Percy and Wheeljack at the Lab, and even they're smart enough to sleep."

"Yeah... For at least three Cycles..." Optimus narrowed his Optics while Elita grabbed a cup of her own, sipping it with evidenced joy.

"Mmm... Make that 3.5, at the very least."

"Is that a fact?"

"Babe, do you have any idea how many times I've heard one of them snore in the middle of the day? I think I have a picture of Wheeljack using Perceptor as his personal pillow while the two of them just sat on the same desk together."

Optimus widened his brow, leaning back from his Bondmate. "...Do you actually have that?"


"Has Bumblebee seen it?"


"Can I see it?"

"No," Elita answered before landing a soft kiss on her befuddled Prime's cheek. "Now, would you care to remind me about what exactly is on the Trion Accords?"

Optimus sighed, bowing his head before turning his stool around while Elita walked out of the kitchen to sit on a recliner chair.

"Well... As part of the deal to ensure the Autobot Human Alliance continues on Earth; I've negotiated the option of the Trion Accord, which involves a page from Article Three, which legally prevents the provision of material Cybertronian technology to alien species and Cybertronians providing services to organic races and hopefully makes it harder for any anti-Cybertronian groups like M.E.C.H. or S.T.E.A.M. to getting their hands on any of our technology."

"Oh... And I'm assuming Cade isn't too fond of that idea, is he?"

"He'll have to live with it," Optimus replied as he held his cup in his hand. "We've put him through a lot last year. And the last I checked; he's enrolling in college now, so perhaps it's better if he were to distance himself from the Cybertronian lifestyle for a while."

"Hmm... Now, is that Optimus the Leader talk? Or is it Optimus the Parent speaking?" Elita asked as she drank her morning beverage, making Optimus let out a chuckle.

"Okay... I think this is the part where I get to ask about any work-related events on your side of the conversation."

"Ooh... So it's Optimus the Wisecracker that whom I'm speaking to..." Elita mused as she sat up from her seat, Optimus smiled with a blush.

"Please don't say that Bumblebee gets it from me."

"Why not? Wouldn't it be the truth?"

"Because it would be you turning it into an excuse for you to deflect the question I asked earlier..."

Elita laughed at that, turning to the window as she set her cup down on a cupholder. "Well... Jokes aside, I am working on this incredible side project with Bulkhead so I'll have to go take a trip over to Earth. I'll probably be gone for the whole Solar Cycle."

"Well, that's okay. I'm sure Bumblebee would love to see you."

"Yeah..." Elita nodded her head at that thought. "Can't wait."

"Cliffjumper to Optimus Prime, do you copy, over?" Cliffjumper's voice echoed throughout the apartment as Optimus turned to hear the monitor from his own room.

"Well... I guess that's work calling." Optimus replied, standing up from the stool as Elita turned her head at her Bondmate with a smirk.

"Yeah, you guess..." Elita remarked as she approached Optimus, with the two of them holding their hands tenderly while looking upon each other's Optics. "See you again, same time tomorrow morning? I'll try my best to stay in bed if it's something you're interested in."

Optimus nodded, smiling as well. "I'd like that."

He and Elita had shared a kiss together, closing their Optics before eventually pulling themselves away to their work. Soon after, Optimus walked over to attend to Cliffjumper's call.

"I'm here, Cliffjumper. How can I help?"

"I need you to come over to TransTech to meet up with Sideswipe. There's an investigation going on, and he says he could use your assistance."

"Of course. Any Autobot in need of assistance, I'll be right there to back them up."

As soon as the call ended, Optimus exited his home and drove into TransTech HQ. Once inside, he transformed back into Robot Mode, having greeted Depth Charge on his way inside.

"Greetings, Depth Charge. How goes your day?"

"Optimus Prime, I'll be damned!" Depth Charge's brow widened as he turned around to face the Prime. "What brings a big shot like you around the corners of this precinct?"

"I came upon the request of Sideswipe. I was told to meet him here."

"Oh, so you must be here because of the recent death on the team..." Depth Charge grunted out with a frown.

"A death on the team...?"

"Yeah... One of our own was found Offline late last night by a couple of witnesses. Not one Officer is too happy about the news, so I'm gonna presume that you're the outside perspective that Sunny mentioned, which I most certainly hope is the case because it'd boost morale around here."

"I'm sorry for your loss, Chief. Is Sideswipe here?"

"As a matter of fact, he's sitting right inside of the Forensics office. You can find him, his Twin, and Cheetor in there."

Optimus nodded his head. "Thank you, Chief. You take care now."

"With you around here? Everyone knows well enough that you can always count on Optimus Prime to watch your back!"

Optimus left as Depth Charge went back to resume his work while the Prime entered the Foresenics office, upon finding Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, and Cheetor exactly as promised.

"Optimus Prime, good to have you here," Sideswipe said as he turned to shake hands with Optimus. "I was hoping Cliffjumper would make good on his promise."

"And he has on his part. Depth Charge told me about what's happened." Optimus turned to find Sunstreaker folding her Servos while sitting on a chair. "Good to see you too, Sunstreaker."

"Likewise..." Sunstreaker replied before turning to face the monitor while Cheetor waved a hand in the air.

"Hey, Prime... It's me, Cheetor. You may not remember me from-!"

"The former Decepticon Arena? Back when I had to save everyone from the Stunticon Show? Yeah, of course, I remember you. Your Partner was a part of Bumblebee's team way before he transferred back into TransTech."

Cheetor widened his Green Optics in amazement. "Holy Slag, you remember all that."

"Of course I do," Optimus replied as he turned to the next screen over. "I remember everyone and everything, including-!"

Optimus froze upon a picture, having seen a photo of an Offline Autobot who had lost his head in the most gruesome way possible.


"Good guess," Sunstreaker said, turning to Optimus. "How did you know?"

Optimus stammered, looking quite disturbed at the picture as Sideswipe raised a brow at the way the Red and Blue Prime was behaving.

"...His Protoform... I recognize it from anywhere; it was the rarest design by Ironfist."

"Yeah, and now he's dead." Cheetor clarified as he folded his Servos. "Poor Bot must have made the wrong folks angry enough to have his own head stomped in."


Afterburn's screams echoed in his head as Optimus gave himself a facepalm, rubbing his hand against his Optics while Sideswipe noticed how Prime was acting.

"...Deja-Vu?" Sideswipe questioned as Optimus pulled his hand away from his Faceplate, turning to the cop with wide Optics.


"Your expression tells me that you've been mesmerized by the past, meaning something that's likely traumatic."


"No need to explain, Prime. Everybody here has lost somebody to the Fallen, and Sentinel was just one of them."

Optimus paused when Sideswipe mentioned Sentinel's death. At that moment, he lowered his brow, narrowing his Optics.

"...It just pains me to see another Autobot we have failed to reach in time."

"Yeah, well there's only so much anyone can do," Sunstreaker replied as she pulled up the forensics report. "According to the data we gathered, Afterburn was heard screaming, right after being chased by someone. No one knows who exactly, but by the time the witnesses came outside, there he was; an Afterburn without a head."

"And..." Optimus pointed at the photos. "And this happened last night?"

"Yeah. Right inside of Cybertropolis, found by Skids and Sawtooth." Sideswipe replied as he turned to the monitors, opening up a screen to reveal a Teal Autobot and a Green Autobot with buck teeth sitting in an interrogation room.

"Sawtooth?" Optimus inquired as Cheetor pressed his hands against his own hips.

"That's the alias he uses. Mudflap's his real Designation."

"Why does it look like they're being interrogated?"

"Because most of the Bots here think that Mudflap and Skids were the ones involved in Afterburn's murder," Sideswipe explained as Optimus turned his sights back on the Brother. "See, Mudflap's got a lot of nasty charges to his profile; mainly involving assault, overclocking, possession of Simutronics..."

"And now murder," Sunstreaker added, pulling up both Mudflap and Skids' faces on the screen. "A lot of people are pointing fingers at Mudflap, mostly due to his affiliation with Triple M. Everyone finds it suspicious that a character like Mudflap would be around at the same time of the murder."

"And what does Skids have to do with all this?" Prime asked.

"Well, Skids is Mudflap's associate, who also was around when Afterburn's body was found," Sideswipe answered. "Both of them claim that they didn't have anything to do with the murder, but some people would say otherwise."

"Is there any evidence of them being... Involved, somehow?" Optimus questioned as he folded his Servos, hiding the dread that was building up.

"When Mudflap was found, he was discovered to hold some arsenal that was purchased from Swindle some time ago. And Skids was reported to have fired a shot from one of the blasters as he used one of the Oil Cans as target practice, so that certainly didn't help their odds." Sunstreaker replied. "Of course, there weren't any scorch marks that were found on Afterburn, but there was definitely a weapon that was found at the crime scene, mainly a Crowbar."

Optimus nearly flinched at the mention of the supposed murder weapon, as he has the memory of himself crushing Afterburn's wrist in a futile attempt of defending himself.

"...I don't... Believe that Mudflap and Skids have anything to do with Afterburn's murder."

"How could you possibly be certain of that?" Cheetor questioned as his Optics returned to Optimus, who simply tapped on the tip of his Helm's Cap.

"Just... A feeling in my Circuits."

"Good enough; because Mudflap and Skids are to be sent off for a life-long imprisonment to the Stockades unless there's evidence based on what these two Rust Buckets are claiming within the next twenty-four Cycles," Sideswipe informed as he turned to Optimus. "And that was twelve Cycles ago."

Optimus turned to look at Mudflap and Skids' photos. "Let me go speak to one of them in person. I'd like to get their perspectives before I move on to investigate more."

"Feel free to talk to them both. They haven't left the interrogation room ever since." Cheetor gestured.

Optimus made a nod before relocating himself to Mudflap and Skids' location. Once inside, he saw the duo arguing with each other as they both sat with Stasis Cuffs together.

"This is your fault! I should have never hung out with you!"

"My fault? Who taught you how to hide a gun?"

"Well, at least it isn't my gun!"

"Well, it was sitting in your subspace!"

"You know what? You should change your Designation into Mudslap because I'ma-gonna slap your face so hard, you're gonna look like me at the end of the day!"

"Oh, try it! Please, do try, I can't wait-!"

Prime cleared his throat, causing the two to lose the tension as their gaze turned to Optimus. "Am I interrupting something, fellas?"

Mudflap sighed, leaning back against his seat. "Oh, so the big shots sent you in? Great, maybe we aren't as Fragged as I thought."

"I wouldn't push your luck," Optimus warned as he sat on the chair on the opposite side of the table. "Sideswipe told me about the rest of your charges, and there's nothing I can do about that. But that said..."

"You gotta get us outta here!" Skids shouted while jumping from his seat. "Mudflap and I only found the body! We never killed anybody, at least, not with a blaster!"

"Calm down, just let me finish, please." Skids tensed down a little as he sat back on his chair. "Now, as I was saying; I can't do anything else about the rest of the charges, but I believe I'd like to help you on the murder case."

"Well, that's great, because as Skids said before; we have killed no one, and that's the honest truth." Mudflap declared while Skids nodded his head rapidly.

"Yeah, yeah, that's Primus' honest truth."

"We'll just have to see about that," Optimus replied as he clasped his hands together. "Now... Could you tell me exactly what happened on the night of the murder?"

"Pardon my french, but Skids and I have already given our statement over a dozen times," Mudflap answered bluntly.

"Yeah, more like Four Million times to say the least!" Skids added in the unnecessary addendum.

"Haven't you asked your cop buddies about whether or not they put our confessions on tape?" Mudflap questioned with a raised brow.

"I'd just like to know from your own perspectives, not based on what everyone else is telling me what you've said," Optimus replied, leaning against his seat. "That, and perhaps you'd like to talk to someone who's more than willing to listen to what you have to say."

"Well, then it at least it's you than all the other untrustworthy stooges around here who don't even know a Great War Veteran when they see one!" Skids remarked angrily. "Dumb Fragging Afts, not one of 'em had to go through being stuck in Limbo filled with stinkin' limbo parasites on a stinkin' Brain Slug Planet..."

"Yeah, yeah, everybody's rooting for you, old-timer," Mudflap remarked with such crass as he leaned forward on the table. "Alright, Fire Truck, I'm sold. I'll tell you what you wanna know."


"On the condition that Skids and I will be rewarded with a lighter sentence due to CPDC's misconduct on its treatment of their prisoners..." Mudflap demanded with a smirk while Skids seemed to object.

"Oh hell Nah! I wanna get out now-!" Skids yelped when Mudflap stomped on his foot. "OW, okay! Okay, a lighter sentence will do! That'll do us both justice!"

Optimus narrowed his Optics, seeing Sideswipe and Cheetor peeking through the door as Sideswipe waved with his backhand, signaling the Prime as Optimus sighed, turning his Optics back on Mudflap and Skids.

"...You have my word that I'll speak with my contacts on what we can do for you. How's that sound?"

"Sounds like a deal," Mudflap spoke with a smile and raised Servos that rested behind his neck. "Now ask and ye shall receiveth."

"Alright." Optimus leaned forward, taking attention to Mudflap. "Now can you answer the question that I've asked you?"

"Oh my god, if I had a coin for every Autobot that's ever asked us that question..." Skids muttered under his breath as Mudflap began to recite his lines to Optimus.

"Skids and I were minding our business at Cybertropolis. We just got out of Blaster's DJ performance from one of Tracks' condos when we heard some kind of commotion around the corner. By the time Skids and I got there, the Bot was just lying on the ground with the remains of his head scattered all over the pavement."

"And it was an ugly sight, I'll tell ya." Skids factored in the added detail. "And I ain't talking about one of those moments where a Decepticon had Blurr crushed with two walls closing in on him, I'm talking like somebody's head getting bashed in like a pumpkin!"

"And everyone is assuming that you killed Afterburn?" Optimus questioned, which made the duo react angrily.

"No, we didn't. And we know this because none of us has laid a finger on Afterburn!"

"Not one!"

"Skids, shut up."

"No, you shut up!" Skids yelled at Mudflap while turning his Optics to the Teal Autobot. "I'm being labeled an accessory to murder, all because you wanted to check out that AllSpark-forbidden alleyway! I'm in here because of you!"

"Well, I never heard you complaining about it the first time we did it."

"Shut up! Don't talk to me, don't talk to me, criminal!"

"You know, the longer you two keep arguing like this, the chances of CPDC throwing the book at you is becoming more and more likely every second," Optimus warned with folded Servos while both Mudflap and Skids turned around and stopped bickering among themselves instantly.

"...Look, we're guilty of a lot of things, but we ain't guilty of committing murder because none of us has ever committed murder, especially not on an Autobot!" Skids reaffirmed his honesty, with Mudflap nodding as a sign of agreement.

"Then one of you has to give me something that I can work with because the two of you are going to be put away in the Stockades for a long time, perhaps longer than I can imagine you two have intended it to be," Optimus informed. "So unless you want to remain in a cell for the rest of your lives..."

"Wait, stop, stop..." Mudflap raised a hand at Optimus. "I think... I think we got something for you. I mean, it ain't a photo, but it might be something you'd want to look into."

Optimus leaned against the table, narrowing his Optics to Mudflap. "I'm listening..."

Mudflap and Skids both looked at each other, giving each other a nod before turning back to face Prime.

"Well... When we found the body, Skids and I kind of... Saw someone."


"We dunno!" Skids replied with a shrug. "We didn't see a face, or any of their colors, just their Optics. Everything else was hiding in the dark."

"...What color were their Optics?" Optimus questioned normally, even though his brave act did not hide the feeling of dread that was about to come swelling up.

"Uh... Blue, obviously?" Skids answered. "I mean, every Autobot Optic is Blue, except unless you're either Jetfire or Cheetor. Those two are special cases..."

"No..." Mudflap interrupted Skids as his Optics narrowed downward. "No, this Bot... This Bot's Optics were nowhere near being Blue, or Green, or Yellow..."

"So what were they?" Prime asked as he leaned forward, staring right at Mudflap as they both exchanged a gaze at one another.


Optimus had blinked, leaning back as his lips opened to expose some clean teeth while Mudflap stared at the Prime.

"...You're not thinking a Decepticon could have done this, are you?" Mudflap asked as Optimus had lost his train of focus thanks to this brief interruption to his shock.

"...I don't know," Optimus muttered, stepping out of his chair. "Thank you for your time. I'll find a way to prove your innocence."

Prime left the room, leaving Mudflap and Skids cuffed while he turned to meet with the officers.

"Sideswipe, I'm going to need the coordinates to the Crime Scene where you picked Afterburn up from."

"Just sent them to your HUD. Mind if I ask how long you'll be helping us with the case?"

"Consider me as working overtime..." Optimus replied before Transforming off to confront his Phantom.

Cybertropolis... 9:42 A.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Optimus was approaching the area where the crime took place, walking past the yellow tape as he walked along with Sideswipe. His Optics narrowed around the alley, having mesmerized the whole area, exactly how it was in his dream.

"Stop! Fer Pete's sakes, stop!"

Optimus groaned as he rubbed on his Optics, shaking his head while Sideswipe turned to the Prime.

"You okay?"

Optimus nodded, though that was merely a lie to Sideswipe, and to himself. "Yeah, I'm just having some trouble with... Sleep."

"Well, don't go into Stasis just yet, we've got work to do." Sideswipe walked over to the bloodstain where Afterburn's head was stomped on. "This was where the body was found late last night, precisely around the time that Mudflap and Skids were found wandering into the area. Based on what they said to you; they were at the wrong place at the wrong time, while the real murder suspect managed to slip away."

"So you believe them as well?" Optimus asked while Sideswipe knelt down before the white paint outline of where Afterburn's corpse used to be lying.

"I've known Mudflap to be a lot of things, but a murderer ain't one of them," Sideswipe replied, pressing his hand on his chin. "But don't get me wrong; Mudflap is far from a saint. He's a Fixer, tends to move black market equipment whenever it was required of him, but the fact that he has refused to take a contract that involved a Kill order makes this case somewhat personal to me. There's no motive in Mudflap killing Afterburn, it's just doesn't sound plausible to me."

"So it's not just Afterburn that you're attempting to find justice for." Optimus assumed as Sideswipe stood up.

"I'm here to seek justice for them both, even if one of them is dirty." Sideswipe turned to glance at Optimus. "I don't need your Kid to inform me everything about how Longarm manipulated a Boot Camp Cadet into framing one of his own into being labeled as a Decepticon Spy. It's my job to make sure that we get all the facts straight, not to point fingers at whoever's considered the most unlikable Bot around Cybertron."

Optimus hummed at Sideswipe's words before looking around with his Optics. "...Well, there's no sign of any tire tracks other than Afterburn's, so it looks like we'll have to look into any cameras that may be located in this area."

"Funny, that's exactly what I thought."

"So you found it?"

"Yeah... What's left of it."

Sideswipe pointed a finger up at the sky, leading Prime to turn his Optics up to find a dismantled surveillance camera that was purposely sabotaged.

"Whoever the Killer is, they don't want to be found." Sideswipe shared his thought with Optimus. "My bet is that our Suspect must be smart, cunning, and elusive. And if the Suspect wants to stay that way, they'll wanna do whatever it takes, even if it means harming an Autobot."

"Is that any way to treat your fellow Autobots?"


Optimus' fingers flinched at another memory of the dream, making them clench together to hold some stability as Prime looked down on the ground, feeling some form of shame that was building inside of him in some way.

"Right, well hopefully the camera snagged some footage of the murder before the Murder Suspect smashed it, and it may prove Mudflap and Skids' innocence. Maybe we'll even get a good look at the Killer at the same time."

Optimus narrowed his Optics over to Sideswipe as the Copperbot folded his Servos, bowing his head in a brief moment of silence for Afterburn. Then as he did so, Optimus' fingers released, as the Prime sighed, closing his Optics.

"...Sideswipe..." Optimus called out, and Sideswipe turned around to glance at him. "...I don't know how, or why, but... I think there's something I need you to k-!"

"Sideswipe, it's Sunstreaker, pick up!"

Sideswipe turned to raise two fingers at Optimus. "Two minutes." Then he used those fingers to press on his Helm. "What's up, Sunny?"

"Something's happened at the Archives. All the Servers within the Metroplex Mainframe have been set on fire!"

"What?!" Sideswipe widened his Optics at the news. "How did that happen?"

"Nobody knows. A few Autotroopers found Mainframe on the floor by the time they reached the Servers. Someone somehow just knocked the wind out of him."

"Frag, I'm on my way!" Sideswipe disconnected himself from the call as he turned to face Optimus. "Well, just our luck. Our only lead of tracking down the Murder Suspect's identity was just set aflame!"

Optimus widened his Optics. "In the Metroplex? How could that be?"

"I don't know, but this just narrowed our suspect list down a notch. I have a feeling whoever it is; It may be someone with some high ranks, maybe someone enlisted in the Elite Guard. We'll talk more once the fire gets put out."

"Let me come with you. I'd like to see if I can help."

"No, no, I'd like for you to stick around, see whether or not there's something we missed," Sideswipe said as he Transformed into his Alt Mode. "And don't worry about my end, it's likely a lot of Bots have beaten you to playing the Hero Act."

Sideswipe drove right off, leaving Optimus behind as he remained at the Crime Scene.

"...The Archives... How could somebody...?"

"Sounds like you've reached a dead end."

"Huh?" Optimus turned around, hearing a voice around the corner. "Who's there?"

"ME!" Rattletrap jumped up from the dumpster, appearing from behind Optimus. "Rattletrap, at your service, sir!"

"Rattletrap?" Optimus turned around, facing the Rat-Faced Autobot. "What are you doing here? This is a crime scene."

"Well, I was just scrounging around to see if I can find any collectibles that are worth a lot of value when I overheard your conversation with that Copperbot." Rattletrap explained while he hopped out of the dumpster. "Oh, and I'd like to offer my sincere condolences to, uh, Afterburn, by the way. A real shame, he was my drinking buddy at Mac's Oil House, a very likable guy. I'm honestly gonna miss him, truly."

"I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm going to need you to exit the crime scene now..."

"Hey, hey, hey, no need to rush things yet!" Rattletrap said as he waved his hands in the air. "I haven't gotten to the good part, you know; the part where I offer my services to you."

Optimus raised a brow, pressing his hands on his waist. "And exactly just what kind of services you could possibly have to offer me?"

"Well, I ain't no tech genius like Ironfist or Wheeljack, but I do keep a lot of stock footage downloaded just for occasions like these. You know that Camera that went down? What if I told ya that I have the very last recorded copy of what went down around this very corner?"

Optimus tilted his head. "And... How did you manage that overnight?"

"You live on the streets long enough, you tend to know a trick or two that you'll wanna keep under your Servos." Rattletrap folded his Servos with a toothy grin. "You have your Military Smarts, I have my Street Smarts. Sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime if you ask me."

"Okay..." Optimus folded his Servos. "I'm going to need you to authenticate your copies if what you're telling me actually does pan out."

"Well, my customers always like it when I show off a Sample, so um... Here's one!"

A hologram suddenly appeared, and Optimus watched as old footage of Jackpot showing off his dance moves to fellow Autobots Blaster and Siren, both of whom have shown to be greatly impressed by his performance.

"...This is the footage from last week." Optimus pointed out, and which Rattletrap smiled at his Prime observation.

"Bingo! Now do I have your attention?"

Optimus turned to Rattletrap. "Color me impressed. And if you have evidence stored in your hard drives..."

"Whoa, hang on a second, Hero! We ain't discussing the terms of product payment here."

Prime raised a brow. "Payment?"

"Yeah, Payment. Why act so surprised?"

"I was led to believe that Afterburn was your drinking buddy. I was led to believe that you of all Bots would have wanted to seek justice for his murder."

"Yeah, well as much as I'll miss having a drinking buddy around, I still need the Credits to afford to have another drinking buddy, if you know what I mean," Rattletrap affirmed without any guilt in mind. "Now, let's talk about how much you're willing to pay for this Evidence. I'm thinkin' around Five K, especially if it's you that's paying the bill."

"Alright, then... Make that Ten thousand if you can speed up the process."

"Deal. Now, you payin' this by Upload or Card?"

Optimus sighed, shaking his head. "Give me a moment."

Rattletrap folded his Servos while Optimus turned to press on something on his wrist. Then in a matter of seconds, a soft ding was rung, leading Rattletrap to look at his wrist to see a noticeable green color added with the unmistakable dollar sign.

"Done. But I'll warn ya; it'll take me a while to get the specific type of file, especially now that the Archives are down, the Elite Guard is going to be pushing every network into overdrive just to keep whatever's left of the databanks."

"Can you find it within the next ten Cycles?"

"You kiddin' me? I'll probably get this done in two."

"That's the spirit." Optimus started to walk away while dragging Rattletrap by the Servo. "Now, I have to go, so if you don't mind; I'm going to escort you off the premises."

"Ow! Hey, come on, watch it!"

The Metroplex... 10:09 A.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Optimus Prime was seen arriving on the scene as the Red and Blue Autobot walked inside of the facility, seeing the smoke coming fresh out of the building.

Inside the interior, the main entrance was crowded with emergency services while the medics were seen pulling out a sleeping Mainframe in their Servos...

TransTech... 10:36 A.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Optimus talked with Sideswipe as Sunstreaker had been seen with Cheetor and Stungun, talking to a list of suspects responsible for the fire as the lineup consists of Scrounge, Beachcomber, Volks, Ransack, and Crumplezone.

Iacon... 11:12 A.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Optimus and Sideswipe watched as the suspect lineup had walked away, with no sign of any evidence that could be mounted against them.

Fortress Maximus... 11:51 A.M, Cybertronian Standard Time

Optimus was seen standing by with folded Servos while staring out into the window as Mainframe was seen being treated by the likes of First Aid while the rest of Autobot forces were assessing the damage that occurred at the Metroplex.

"How is he doing?" Optimus asked as First Aid turned around, seeing the Prime has yet to turn his head to face him.

"Well, he's okay for the most part. No physical injuries need to be patched, though apparently his Processor was hit by some kind of scrambler. Knocked him out cold in Nano-Clicks, whatever it was; someone's pretty good with tech."

"Her voice..." Mainframe muttered as Optimus and First Aid turned to the incapacitated Autobot. "...She had the smoothest voice I have ever heard..."

"And on a side note; He appears to be delirious, probably just a side effect from the Processor Scrambler." First Aid theorized as he turned back to Optimus. "Whoever developed such a device must have robbed Ironfist or something because this shouldn't be possible on any level, not unless you're Soundwave."

Optimus hummed, narrowing his Optics. "I should speak with Perceptor and Wheeljack about this. Maybe they'll have an idea what happened to Mainframe."

"Well, in that case, I'd best be going as well. The CMO wants me to send in the forensics report to him personally." First Aid turned around, facing Optimus. "Would you like me to send a word to him?"

"Just send Ratchet a greeting from me whenever you get the chance, thank you."

First Aid nodded and left the scene while Optimus was approached by Cliffjumper.

"Any news on that Autobot Killer yet?" Cliffjumper asked as Optimus stared into the window. "I've been told by Sideswipe that you have an outside source."

"I do." Optimus turned to face Cliffjumper. "He should be coming by with the evidence that will hopefully bring to light Afterburn's Murder."

"For your sakes', I truly hope so; because whatever broke into the Archives done a good enough job to put a mean screw into the investigation," Cliffjumper informed with pressed fists against his hips. "Maybe the same Bot who Slagged Afterburn is the same Bot who burnt the Archives. And it feels way too sudden for something like this to happen."

"I'm afraid that you may be right about this, Cliffjumper." Optimus agreed, turning his Optics back to the window. "Something about this case just feels... Off, to me. I can't explain how or why, but somehow in some way, I just have a feeling that Afterburn's death is just a sign of something worse coming in..."

"Optimus Prime!" Cosmos called out, gaining Optimus' attention. "Hey, Rattletrap's downstairs in the lobby, saying that he wants to speak to you."

Cliffjumper raised a brow, turning to Optimus. "...Seriously? Rattletrap?"

"Yeah... Wouldn't have been my first pick of the litter." Optimus admitted before turning away from the Red Minibot. "See you around, Cliff."

Optimus made his way downstairs, meeting Rattletrap in the lobby as he was seen getting tossed from across the floor by Greenlight as several bystanders bore witness, including Prime.

"I don't give a damn who you're here to see; If I ever see your sorry Aft again, I swear I will drag your carcass to the Decepticons, and feed you to Megatron myself!" Greenlight shouted at a whimpering Rattletrap before turning around to face Optimus with a calm voice. "Oh, hi, Optimus."

Optimus waved a hand, though his Optics were set on Rattletrap. "Is everything okay?"

"Oh... Yeah, it's fine." Greenlight said as she turned around, glaring at Rattletrap. "You know, one minute I'm forced to endure Rattletrap's attempts to flirt with me up until he crossed the line, saying somewhere around the lines of, "Hey, since Sentinel's not around anymore..."

"I only meant that with no disrespect to you at all!"

"Shut the Frag up!" Greenlight shouted while kicking Rattletrap in the face, turning back to Optimus. "Anyways, I'm just about to bounce out of here anyway... I need to check on Wheeljack, see if he has something for me."

"Right..." Optimus nodded, tipping his Cap. "Well, I guess I'll take Rattletrap off your hands now."

"Please do."

Greenlight left storming off as Optimus picked Rattletrap back on his Pedes.

"Are you alright?" Optimus asked as Rattletrap rubbed on his Faceplate.

"...You're uh... You're not gonna hurt me as she did, are you?" Rattletrap asked as his Optics turned to Optimus.

"Why? Because you insulted Greenlight by pointing out Sentinel's death as an excuse to flirt with her?"

"AHH!" Rattletrap flinched, raising his hands to cover his face in cowardice, much to Optimus' confusion before the Rat-like Autobot lowered his Servos, seeing no harm coming his way. "Oh... Oh, was... Was that a joke? Were you kidding? Of course, you were kidding... Were you kidding?"

"...Did you find the footage I asked for?" Optimus questioned directly, and Rattletrap's brow darkened at the question.

"Oh... I found your footage alright..." Rattletrap answered with a scoff. "But you're gonna have to pay me a lot of extra cash for this."

"Extra...? Don't you already have enough Credits? I believe ten thousand is sufficient enough."

"Not sufficient enough for what's hiding inside my files."

"I don't get it; what did you find exactly?"

"Wow... You're really going to play this game with me?"

"What game?"

Rattletrap narrowed his Optics, seeing dozens of Autobots walking past him and Optimus.

"...Okay, I'll bite. Let's head outside, somewhere quiet." Rattletrap walked out of the lobby, waving his hand at Optimus. "Follow me."

Optimus raised a brow, following Rattletrap out of Fortress Maximus and into Iacon's streets where they turned to a narrow corner that no one would have bothered to frequent the area.

"Alright, enough of this. Did you find the evidence that proves Mudflap and Skids' innocence or not?" Optimus questioned as Rattletrap turned to the Prime.

"Not so fast, boy scout. You and I need to reaffirm the terms of our arrangement." Rattletrap declared as his Optics lowered at Optimus.

"What are you talking about?"

"Oh... Bot, you know exactly what I'm talking about, you filthy animal!"

Rattletrap started to display a hologram of the event as Optimus turned to the footage. In the recording, Afterburn was seen being attacked... By Optimus himself.

"...What?" Optimus widened his Optics, seeing himself crushing Afterburn's wrist. "...No... No, that's... That can't be..."

"Evidence to the contrary..." Rattletrap remarked as he activated the audio on the video, letting Optimus hear everything that was based on his own personal nightmare.

"Why are you-Augh! Doing this? Why?!"

"What I am doing is all in the name of duty..." A Darkened Optimus answered before raising his foot on Afterburn's head.



Optimus stepped back, horrified at the act as he saw himself turn to the camera, seeing Purple Optics reflected on the hologram before Prime was seen swinging the Star Saber at the lens, effectively ending the video.

"...That..." Optimus spoke slowly, startled by the troubling news. "...That wasn't me."

"Oh yeah, tell that to the Holovid, buddy." Rattletrap remarked sarcastically. "Now look; I dunno what kinda game you're playin', but I for one do not like to be played with here, especially when I could get paid more than what I'd usually charge! So either you give me some extras, then I have a feelin' that Uplink is gonna have something really wild to post at the upcoming TFNation event!"

"Rattletrap, listen to me; that footage... It's not what it looks like, I didn't kill Afterburn!"

"Ya know; you ain't the first Bot to ever say those kinda lines before, and I'm already starting to be gettin' bored here."

"Optimus, it's Sideswipe. Did you find a lead on that source of yours?" Sideswipe asked as Optimus and Rattletrap have both heard his voice blaring out in the background.

"So... You want me to answer that? Because I think that Bot may pay a lot more than what you have to offer-!"

"Wait..." Optimus raised a hand, turning to Rattletrap. "Alright, I don't know what's going on here, but... If I don't find an answer by the end of the Solar Cycle, then..."

"Then what?"

"...Then you may go ahead and do whatever you want with the file," Optimus replied, raising his Servo up. "I'll even pay an extra five grand to keep you motivated, do we have a deal?"

Rattletrap tilted his head, humming to himself before giving a thumbs up. "Deal... But you try to kill me in any way, I'll be sure to post the file instantly, in the event of anything ever happening to me."

"It won't come to that. I'm..." Optimus slowed down, looking down at the ground. "...I'm not that kind of Bot."

"Yeah, well people change... It's a part of life." Rattletrap turned around, making his leave. "Right, well you have until midnight tonight. Once that clock strikes twelve, it's game over for you."

As Rattletrap left, chanting tick-tock, Optimus turned around, seeing himself in a reflection of glass as he looked into his Blue Optics, observing himself as his mind drifted back into the memory of his dream, and the evidence that incriminated himself.

Giving no more time to waste on thinking about it more, he turned to Transform into his Vehicle Mode, driving right back into Fortress Maximus.

"This is Optimus... I need to speak with Perceptor and Wheeljack, immediately."

Fortress Maximus... 12:09 P.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Optimus was seen walking into Pereceptor and Wheeljack's lab as he approached the two Autobot scientists waiting for him on their desks.

"Thanks for seeing me, both of you."

"Anytime. We owe you a lot." Wheeljack answered while Perceptor looked at Optimus with curiosity.

"What would you have need of us for? We were told that it was urgent that you had to meet us." Preceptor said as Optimus turned to the door.

"I need to activate a protocol."

"Which one?" Perceptor asked as Optimus closed the door, keeping their conversation private.


Both Wheeljack and Perceptor's Optics rose with dread as the name of the protocol was specified directly.

"...And on whom does this concern, exactly?" Wheeljack asked while raising his hand up like a student as Optimus turned around with a heavy sigh.


Wheeljack leaned back on his chair, letting a disturbed grunt.

"...Primus. This conversation just turned dark." Wheeljack added with a hand pressed against his head while Optimus sat down on a chair.

"Look... You remember what I've told you about how I've lost five months of my own memory, don't you? And about how I assaulted my own rescuers right after they pulled me from the vacuum of space?" Optimus asked as Perceptor turned to the Prime.

"Do I have reason to believe this has something to do with your request to implement the Megatronus Protocol on yourself?"

"You'd be right to believe it," Optimus replied, confirming Perceptor's suspicion.

"Hang on, let's just slow down here for a minute!" Wheeljack said as he stood up from his seat. "Before we do something drastic, let's all just take a deep breath and talk about what's going on. The Megatronus Protocol, last time I checked, is supposed to be a last-ditch effort to contain the threat by inducing a Cybertronian into a comatose state much similar to Arcee's fate should an Autobot be discovered to contain Decepticon Programming hidden in their Processors, much like Rosanna and Ultra Magnus himself. Are you telling us right now that you have some killer Decepticon hiding inside your noggin?"

"I-I don't know," Optimus replied, shaking his head. "But last night, I had this bizarre dream about how I killed someone with my own foot, and today, I discovered that I'm incriminatingly tied to Afterburn's Murder."

"Wait, you're suggesting that you killed Afterburn?" Wheeljack questioned with raised brows.

"I am."

"But how could you be sure?" Perceptor asked. "Many victims don't usually remember having done anything that would have been beyond their control, and you're only speculating this because of a dream you have had..."

"A dream that I found out came true because Rattletrap has footage of myself stomping on Afterburn's head like there was nothing wrong with it!"

"I'm sorry... Rattletrap?" Wheeljack questioned. "Isn't that the same Bot who tried to sell a replica of your Axe once?"

"True... Perhaps the file that Rattletrap showed you may have been doctored. It's possible he's attempting to scam you." Perceptor theorized though Optimus shook his head at that.

"No, no, this feels too connected to be a fake." Optimus rubbed his face before turning back to the Scientists. "Look, there has been an Autobot that was killed, and if I am the one that killed Afterburn..."

"Then, technically, it wouldn't have been you, it would have been someone else that killed Afterburn," Wheeljack informed while clapping his hands together once. "And worst-case scenario, we can just find the microchip, and then we'll turn that sucker right off."

"Nevertheless, it doesn't change the fact that I let this happen!"

"Optimus, even so, you would not have controlled the outcome," Perceptor spoke. "Perhaps, if we do find something that matches your concern, then we shall do everything in the best of our power to help you."

"That's right because you know what? You have come to us for help because there's a problem to be solved." Wheeljack added with cheer in his voice. "So let's stop speaking words, and start taking action. Now sit down on a Berth and let's take care of the problem before the problem becomes too complicated for anyone to fix."

With nothing else left to be said, Optimus was then laying on a Berth with restraints keeping him firmly still as the two Science Bots have gotten to work on the Prime.

"Optimus, we're running the diagnostic scan right now. You realize that if there are Decepticon Coding inside..." Perceptor reminded, which Optimus remained determined to the answer.

"All I want is to make sure no one else gets hurt. Whatever happens next, I am willing to accept the terms."

Perceptor nodded as he stood back, with Wheeljack operating the machine while Optimus began to get scanned. Once the process was complete, a beep was heard from the monitor, causing both scientists to turn themselves around and saw the results based on their scan.

"...Well? What does my diagnostic say?" Optimus asked as he turned to the scientists, both of whom turned around, glancing at each other before Perceptor turned to push a button.

And without a word, the restraints were deactivated, and Optimus Prime's Servos were free to move independently while he got off of the Berth, meeting with them both.

"...No Chip," Wheeljack answered, folding his Servos. "You're clear of any Decepticon Shenanigans messing around in your Body."

Optimus sighed, rubbing on the top of his Helm. "Then... I don't get it, the dream I had..."

"Is disturbingly strange, given how it pertains to Afterburn's demise," Perceptor said as he raised a hand on his chin. "Though, I have found something that you may be interested in hearing."

"I'm listening," Optimus said dutifully as he stood up from the Berth, with Perceptor displaying a holographic projection on the Monitor's Screen.

"The last time we were on Earth together, I noticed some irregularities that came off from your Heat Signature. When I came back, I discovered that somehow, there were traces of Dark Energon that lingered from within you."

"Dark Energon? That substance is poison, even Omega Supreme would not have handled it as well as some others." Optimus stated, turning back to Perceptor. "How did I get Dark Energon inside of me?"

"That remains unclear to me, though going through my systems now; your Energon readings appear relatively stable for right now." Perceptor rubbed on his chin. "This makes me wonder if whether or not this anomaly has anything to do with your missing Lunar Cycles."

"Well, what about Rattletrap? I saw the footage he had, and it was exactly how my Dream was."

"That's another strange thing too because neither of us has detected any implant inside of your Processor," Wheeljack answered. "The only clue we have are Rattletrap's footage and the dream you had..."

Before the conversation could be pondered more, the door was opened, letting Cliffjumper in as the Autobots turned to face the Minibot.

"I apologize if I'm interrupting anything, but I need to speak with Optimus about the Afterburn Case," Cliff explained as Optimus walked over to the Intelligence Bot.

"Listen, Cliffjumper, tell Sideswipe that something's come up, something that may involve..." Optimus rubbed on the nape of his neck. "Another potential suspect..."

"Don't worry, we found the Killer."

Everything froze at that moment as Optimus widened his Optics at the words that were uttered out loud.

"...Cliffjumper, I don't know what is happening, but I promise you; I will explain everything once I find some answers-!"

"What? What are you on about? I'm talking about the Killer, we've caught him. As a matter of fact, he's in Stasis Cuffs even as we speak."

Optimus blinked at the response Cliffjumper as Perceptor and Wheeljack became stunned at the answer.

"...Come again?"

The Stockades... 1:21 P.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

"You Autobots will have your heads mounted on my wall for what you did to New Kaon when I'm through with all of you!"

The Decepticon known as General Obsidian was seen banging against his cell as Optimus, Cliffjumper, Sideswipe, Perceptor, and Wheeljack watched while the Decepticon bashed in defiance.

"Apparently, TransTech has received an anonymous tip that the Killer was planning to bomb a civilian sector. Once we found General Obsidian, he was found with several Forestonite crates big enough to nuke Iacon if anybody wanted to." Sideswipe explained. "As a matter of fact, this scumbag was found with a manifesto, claiming that he was the one who killed Afterburn himself."

"And... Did he confess?" Optimus asked with a raised brow.

"I've killed thousands of you Autobots in the Decepticon Name, and I shall do so ever again!" Obsidian shouted while Optimus tilted his brow.

"He seems to say agree otherwise." Cliffjumper pointed out.

"Well, in this case; this may be enough to take the heat off of Mudflap and Skids. Of course, they're still going to be serving a sentence for holding a Blaster, but at least they're lucky they ain't having murder charges added to their records anymore." Sideswipe remarked. "There's no footage of the event, but given Obsidian's confession; I guess we can wrap up this small chapter of our lives. Thanks for your help, Optimus."

Both Sideswipe and Cliffjumper left while Optimus remained with Wheeljack and Perceptor.

"...This feels off..." He turned to face the scientists. "How does Obsidian tie directly into my dream? I don't remember him being anywhere in it."

"I do not know about that," Perceptor said as he tilted his glasses. "But given Rattletrap's reputation, the chances of the file he possesses being related to your dream appears... Slim at best."

"Could have been that you were somehow hooked into a Simutronic, and that Rat's been trying to scam you ever since," Wheeljack mentioned. "A lot of Bots tend to get scammed that way, unfortunately."

Optimus hummed, rubbing on his Optics. "Alright, well... In that case, I may want to speak with Rattletrap again. I think-!"

Something blinked off of Optimus' wrist as he turned to his Servo, seeing a familiar Elite Guard symbol shining on screen as his Optics widened.

"...On second thought; I have to go back to the Fortress," Optimus replied, deactivating his blinker. "I have to go see someone. Thank you for your time, Doctors."

Fortress Maximus... 6:16 P.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Optimus returned to the Fortress, meeting with no one other than Ultra Magnus himself as he met him inside of his Quarters.

"Ultra Magnus... You've asked for me?"

"I have... Please, sit."

Optimus obliged, taking a seat while Ultra Magnus took the seat opposite of Prime.

"...How have you been doing so far?" Optimus asked, clasping his hands together while Ultra shared his gaze.

"I've been... Coping okay. But that's not why I have asked you here."

Optimus nodded, returning to his professional stance. "Of course not, sir. Perhaps, we're here to discuss your return to duty?"

"On the contrary... We're here to discuss myself stepping down from duty."

Optimus widened his Optics at the reply as Ultra Magnus sighed, closing his own Optics.

"...I've been thinking a lot during my time with the support group, and... I realize that things will never be the same for me, not when I have all these Autobot lives spilled in my hands..." Ultra Magnus said as Optimus stared at him with shock.

"F... S-Sir, what happened wasn't your fault."

"Nevertheless, I let it happen so carelessly, and I hold myself responsible for the Fallen's actions every day for it." Ultra Magnus said as he leaned back against his chair. "I realize now that, even if I kept it hidden long enough; people will never accept me as a leader, not for much longer, and I accept that fact. I only ask you here now because there will be calls for a new Magnus." Ultra stood up from his chair, walking over to Optimus. "And that is why I believe I can entrust Cybertron's future into your hands, Optimus Magnus."

Optimus remained speechless when Ultra Magnus had unveiled the news as he sat on his seat, being in a state of shock. Eventually, he pulled himself out of it as he began to ask the next question that sprang to mind.

"...So, when do we begin transition?"

"By my estimation; a good month." Ultra rested his hand on Optimus' shoulder. "You should go home and rest. You have a lot to think about, as do I. And we both deserve our moments of privacy for the time being."

Optimus and Elita's Residence... 9:42 P.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Optimus sat in his room, staring out into the open distance as he remained alone in his home. He's been sitting on the Berth ever since he came back, and he has been sitting there, thinking about his future.

Eventually, he got up to sit right in front of a computer screen, starting up a recording of himself.

"...So today is... Was, overwhelming... I just got the news that I am to be declared Magnus soon. Of course, it'll take about a month to get things in order, but once they do... Everything changes."

Optimus paused, lowering his Optics briefly while the camera kept filming his every move.

"...Yet, somehow... I don't think I'm ready for it." Optimus raised his Optics back at the camera. "Because lately; I've been losing track of where I am. Recently, I've had been accused of murdering Afterburn in cold blood, something I couldn't even fathom doing. And I don't even know why I did it, or how I could have done it, but somehow... It just felt so hauntingly real.."

He sighed, pressing his hand around his Optics.

"Something about this doesn't feel right... None of this feels right, and I don't like it." Prime lowered his hand down off of his Optics. "So... Tomorrow, I'm going to move back to the Headmaster Jrs, and ask them for their help. I can't be Magnus yet, not until I've gotten to the bottom of whatever's happening to me... Because somehow, in some way, I believe this may be indirectly tied to... The missing five Lunar Cycles that I've forgotten about after Trypticon. And once I've found the one responsible, I'll be sure to come right for them... End log."

The vidscreen was turned off, and Prime began to type in a safe file under the name of ORION. After a few clicks on the keyboard, he pressed Enter... And then the message began to read on display...


"...Existing file... What?"

Prime began to turn to the existing file, and then to his profound shock, he began to display a video of himself... From two months ago...

"This is Optimus Prime speaking... Afterburn believes that there's something off with my heat signature readings, and turns out, he was correct, because I just found out there are traces of Dark Energon inside of my systems... I don't know how or why that got there, but I believe this may be related to the missing Five Lunar Cycles that have been haunting me ever since I was brought back."

Optimus leaned back against his chair, having been taken back by this discovery, as well as having no memory of having filmed this back then.

"And now lately, I haven't been getting enough sleep. I've noticed it, Kup's noticed it, even though our Bond, Elita has noticed as well. And if they're both concerned, then they are right to be. Elita claims that every day when I wake up, I wake up having a splitting headache, and I say that like it is the first time that I have experienced it. So whatever it is, I'm coming back to the Headmaster Jrs, and I intend to find out the cause of all these strange occurrences..."

"...This can't be..."

"But it is."

Optimus turned around with a startled shout, seeing Quintessa lurking behind him in midair.

"...Find what you are looking for amongst the Archives?" Quintessa asked as though she were taunting prey while Optimus just stared at her, standing up from his chair.

"...You... I... I've seen you before, have I?"

"You could say that we're well accustomed to each other, more than you'd like to remember."

Optimus stepped away from his computer, slowly and cautiously as he attempted to reach his Weapon just sitting comfortably against the wall.

"...How many times have we been through this?"

"Far too many, I'm afraid," Quintessa replied truthfully as Optimus attempted to reach the Star Saber. "Far too many to know just how many times you've tried to reach your weapon."

With a flick of her wrist, a wave of energy was unleashed, preventing Optimus from grabbing the Star Saber as he stepped away, confronting Quintessa with no weapon in his hands.


As if something inside of him clicked, Optimus felt something freeze as any control over his movements have been taken away from him instantly. And even though he could not move of his own free will, he proved to have some fight against Quintessa's control as his body had shaken over a battle of sheer will over the body.


Quintessa's voice hissed as her Optics glowed, her hand bowed to point a finger onto the floor. And with such applied force with her voice, Optimus' fight have proved to be in vain as his knees had given out and he had suddenly pressed his hands against the ground. His Optics looking down while bowing before the Quintesson.

"What... Are you?!" Optimus questioned as Quintessa hovered close enough to get in front of Prime's head.

"I must thank you again for your performance last night." Quintessa said as Prime's Optics widened. "Your strength, your resillence, is all the more reason why I chosen you."

"Last night... Afterburn... The dream..." Prime's Optics glared at Quintessa. "So it was real... You made me kill Afterburn!"

"I am your Maker... And you are my Knight." Quintessa answered with authority as her hand reached the bottom of Optimus' chin, raising it up to have his gaze dead set into her Optics. "With your help... I will finally reclaim Cybertron as my rightful place to rule, as it is meant to be..."

"Not if the Autobots have anything to say about it..." Optimus retorted with defiance as Quintessa's fingers rubbed against his Faceplate.

"Perhaps... But I will not be of their primary concern..." Quintessa said as her fingers reached to the top of Optimus Prime's forehead. "For in their eyes... The greatest enemy that they will face in battle is you."

Her finger fingers began to glow in Green as Optimus' Optics widen as if something terrible was going to happen.


Soon, with just one touch to his forehead, the green light brightened, and Optimus' expression had become dead the second it had ignited, making his head bow while the rest of his body kneels. Once Quintessa removes her hand, the light had faded, and the rest of the Prime's room turns dark as everything else from the window had kept some semblance of sight.

"...Optimus Prime..." Quintessa calls out as she backed away from the Autobot, who remained motionless until his voice began to raise itself.

"...What is thy bidding, my Queen?" A Darkened Optimus asked dutifully as he rose his head up, revealing his glowing Purple Optics to Quintessa.

"Rise, my Knight..." Quintessa commanded with a raised hand, and Optimus obeyed without any sign of resistance. "The time for my return to ascension is almost at hand... Once you have been officially been declared as Magnus, we can finally move forward with my long-awaited return. But first, you must answer for your treachery by conspiring against me with a Rat... Do you seek Redemption?"

Optimus said nothing as he turned around, removing the Star Saber from the inventory as he held it firmly in his hand.

"My Maker... I do..."

Iacon... 10:01 P.M. Cybertronian Standard Time.

Rattletrap folded his Servos together, waiting in the safe house that Optimus has previously instructed him to go to as he waited so impatiently, waiting for someone that was promised to have come for him. Then as soon as he began to feel discouraged, a door was knocked on, and Rattletrap stood up, perking his Audios up high.

"oh... Finally!" Rattletrap said as he walked over to the door, hearing someone outside. "I was waiting for hours for you to show up! Okay, so what are we gonna-ACK!"

A hand burst right through the door, grabbing Rattletrap by the neck as Optimus came right through, bursting himself in while holding the Rat midair by the throat.

"You... You...!" Rattletrap choked out as he grabbed at Optimus' wrist, staring into his Purple Optics.

The Darkened Optimus said nothing as he hissed through his Battle Mask before throwing Rattletrap against the wall, knocking out some of the furniture on the ground while doing so.

"...You can't kill me... You won't!" Rattletrap assumed as he turned his Optics to Dark Optimus. "I still have the tapes! If anything were to happen to me, all yer' dirty little secrets get lit up into the spotlight, even Uplink wouldn't resist broadcasting it all over from Cybertron to Veliocitron!"

"You mean your deleted tapes?" Optimus referred to while raising his hand to an open monitor, seeing how every act that Prime had made started to blackout in front of Rattletrap, much to the Rat's panicked dismay.

"AHH!" The Rat shouted, crawling back as he turned his frightful gaze back on Optimus' cold glare. "You... But... How?!"

"You're not the only one who's determined to take certain measures to make certain ends meet." Optimus enunciated as he marched over Rattletrap with such violent intent.

"...you..." Rattletrap whimpered, backing away as he saw no sign of remorse from Prime's Purple Optics. "This isn't you..." The Rat yelped, having backed against a corner as he looked up, seeing Optimus overshadow him. "You don't do this! You're Optimus Prime, you're the good guy!"

A hand reached out over to Rattletrap's neck, lifting the Autobot against the wall as well as pinning him right there as Optimus just stared through his Mask, without emotion to show for it.

"People change... It's a part of life." Optimus replied with a voice that was so hauntingly calm as the Star Saber was activated in his hand, and Rattletrap's Optics widened as the tip of the blade had been pressed against his rapidly beating Chestplate.

"No... No, please, PLEASE-!"


Optimus and Elita's Residence... 8:00 A.M Cybertronian Standard Time.

"In This Farewell... There's No Blood... There's Alibi..."

Optimus Prime groaned, waking up at approximately eight in the morning as per his usual morning routine while listening to Linkin Park in the background. Getting up, he walked out of his shared bedroom to walk into Elita One in the kitchen.

As she was approached, Elita was pouring a cup of warm Energon when Optimus walked right behind her and wrapped his broad Servos around her waist, leaning his chin against her slim shoulder.

"Care to explain just what exactly is my Conjunx is doing out of bed?" Optimus purred, blissfully forgetful of memories of the night while Elita giggled from his sudden positive energy.

"Optimus! Since when did you get this bold at flirting at this hour?"

"When you didn't keep up with your promise to stay in bed this morning like you said you would..."

"I didn't promise anything. I said I'd try to."

"Then allow me to try to pull you out of the kitchen for a Nano-Click."

And so Prime did just that, leading Elita away as she allowed him to guide her into the living room.

"Wow, you are proactive this morning. How well did you sleep last night?" Elita asked as she turned herself to face Optimus' gaze.

"Funny you should ask... I've actually never felt that great of a sleep in..." Prime paused, narrowing his Optics. "...Well, in ages, really."

"So I guess that means you're excited about your promotion, then."

"My promotion-?" Optimus' brow raised before remembering something about yesterday. "Oh... I guess Dad told you about it?"

"Yeah, in text." Elita pulled herself out of Optimus Prime's grasp, letting her Servos rest around his neck. "Would you like to talk about it?"

Optimus sighed, calmly holding Elita's hand as he started to rest against the counter.

"...It feels so sudden, but yet... It makes sense." Optimus turned to Elita. "I mean, how will everyone react when they learn the Fallen's revival was based on a chip inside of Ultra Magnus? There's no guarantee that trust will be reestablished, perhaps not in a long time."

"Yeah, but what about you?" Elita asked. "How do you feel about this?"

"...I don't what to feel," Optimus replied, turning away from Elita's gaze. "I have... I'm probably very much suited for the job, but... Who knows what will happen when I become Magnus."

"Well, people trust you, as I do," Elita said as she leaned her head against Optimus' shoulder. "And knowing you... You're probably going to make a great Magnus soon."

Optimus nodded, leaning his head against Elita's. "...I hope so."

The two of them sat there as Optimus stared out with Blue Optics, hoping for the future.

One Month Later... Cybertron... The Present Day.

Kup's group arrived as the hidden refuge for any Autobot survivors was full of injured as the group turned to look around at everyone around them.

"...This looks so depressin'," Ironhide muttered as Elita and Canopy held him together.

"You made it!" Red Alert said as she walked over to their group. "How many injured?"

"Just one," Kup answered as Greenlight passed by him. "Hey, thank Greenlight for that."

"No, thank Rodimus for this. If he hadn't sent out the signal, I'd never would have come back here so soon." Greenlight replied as she walked past Elita, seeing Ironhide lying on the Berth."

"How's everyone doing?" Elita asked as Red Alert worked on Ironhide's wounds.

"Medical supplies have been running low ever since the Quintessons showed up. I've been having the Aerialbots flying out to get those supplies, but more and more Bots show up here every day, much like you."

"This is all Optimus Magnus' fault." One of the survivors shouted bitterly, pointing at Elita. "Your Bondmate did this to us!"

"Optimus Magnus is at no fault in any of this; he's been bewitched by Quintessa, in case you have forgotten!"

"Hey, everybody settle down," Kup said as he raised his hands up. "No need to get hostile, we're on the same side." A blinker was activated, making everyone turn to the alarm. "What's that?"

"Oh no... We've been exposed." Red Alert said, turning to the Aerialbots. "Were any of you followed?!"

"No, we covered our tracks, top to bottom!" Jetfire replied.

"How did Quintessa find us?" Kup asked, turning to Red Alert.

"We had a jammer set up by Ironfist. But they wouldn't have found us, not unless it was turned off!"

Kup said nothing, only turning to Ironfist as he sat on a chair, looking so full of guilt with himself.

"...What did you do?"

Ironfist lowered his head in shame while the Autobots turned to him. "I'm sorry... I'm so sorry, I had to..."

"What the Frag did you do?"

Ironfist raised his head. "They had my Conjunx, they were gonna kill him, I had to do it, I had to!"

"Had. To. What?!"


An explosion broke the wall they stood next to, causing Kup to fall right down along with Ironfist as they dropped to the floor. As the dust cleared, and the fires burned out, Kup got up, raising his Servo up, seeing two Purple Optics glowing from the Darkness.

And within that Darkness, came a face that once brought hope and morale, now brought intimidation and fear as Optimus walked out of the wall, glaring at Kup through his own Mask.

Jetfire screamed as he launched himself at Optimus with fire pulsing all over his body, seeking to put the corrupted Autobot down. But having his own rage being taken advantage of, Optimus fired off a foam that extinguished the Jet Twin's Fire, blinding him momentarily enough for Prime to elbow Jetfire by the Faceplate and knock him down by swinging a roundhouse kick.

The rest of the Aerialbots came in and attempted to contain Optimus, but Prime dealt with them each as Air Raid moved to attack with his Sabres, having his own attacks getting blocked by Optimus' Star Saber. Kicking him by the knees, Air Raid knelt to the floor as Fireflight jumped in the air to assist, just in time for Prime to grab him by the tip of his Wings while kneeing Air Raid's face in.

Another Aerialbot down, Optimus grabbed Fireflight and fired a rocket out of his own Servo, hitting Skydive, Red Alert, Canopy, Greenlight, and Slingshot. After they were down, Prime grabbed Fireflight's head and slammed his face to the wall only once before dropping him to the ground to join the rest. The only remaining Aerialbot left was Silverbolt as he raised his Cannons at Prime, only for Optimus to deploy his Grappling Hook around his Pedes and make him drop to the ground.

Once down, Silverbolt raised his spare Servo up, as if almost giving Optimus an offer to grab his Servo and rip it right off just to take one of his Cannons and use it as his own personal firearm. Once the rest were dealt with, and everyone else was too injured to fight, Optimus finally turned around, seeing Kup lying on the ground still as his own pupil towered over the teacher.

"...Where are the Codes?" Optimus asked darkly as Kup coughed.

"...You don't want to know... Not really." Kup told the Prime but was replied through violence as the Pede was shoved right on top of his Chestplate.

"Optimus, don't-!" Elita ran up to Optimus, only for his hand to reach her neck as he held him up in the air, his attention still focused on Kup.

"I won't ask twice, Commander..." Prime spoke with no remorse as Kup held his Pede with his own hands.

"...If you're gonna kill me... Then you may as well get it over with because I ain't sayin' nothing!"

"...No." Optimus lifted the Pede, freeing Kup and Elita as Prime merely stepped back, away from the hole in the wall. "Death is too good for Slaves like you."

Without any further warning, Knights came pouring right out of the hole, swarming the survivors inside as many of them were still wounded or overwhelmed by the sheer might they possessed. Not even Ironhide could have fought back, as desperately as he'd try without both his Servos while he was dragged right out without much of a struggle. The Autobots have suffered, destined to be enslaved by a cruel witch...

...All while Optimus turned his back on them and walked away without as much as blinking an eye.

...Cybertron will Fall in this upcoming Two-Parter.