retr0scum · 15 hours ago
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three for the price of one
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aleksgivanov · 2 days ago
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Congrats on the 1.5k/2.5k followers @kusakichan15 ! Your art is amazing, I’m looking forward to seeing what you make in the future ❤️
This dtiys was a great excuse to draw Op and Megs again, they’re always such a delight
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stargems · 14 hours ago
(August 2022) John Boyega posts about Oscar Isaac
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(August 2022) Oscar Isaac says he’d like keep playing Poe Dameron if there was a good storyline and director
Oscar Isaac thinks Finn and Poe getting together is a good storyline
(2023) Taika Waititi (who incapable of making anything hetero) is directing the next Star Wars film
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adhdanni · 2 days ago
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i blacked out drawing this
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whosafraidofthedjd · 2 days ago
HI WOOF!!!! Perhaps Blurr for the catformers request?
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blue and more blue and more blue
(refrenced his tfa design because it’s very shapes! i tried to incorporate his funny wheel feet into a Coil Tail all the arrow stripes are like representing speed yknow)
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kusakichan15 · 2 days ago
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Mischief gremlins 🥺🥺🥺
inspired from this doodle I made last year
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bts-trans · 2 days ago
[ENG] 211002 The Fact Music Awards - BTS Wins Artist of The Year
Link to the video
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arceespinkgun · 2 days ago
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Every TFA fic be like
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salmonpiffy · a day ago
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College work
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speedfreak01 · a day ago
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hey, remember when i used to do digibashes?
from the animated universe, it's legacy longarm prime! what a nice autobot, so dependable and trustworth-
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soapbubble-pbb · 2 days ago
Wow, that's something on paper.... To be honest, I'm bad with paints, but I tried. I love you all. 7>7💕💕💕💕💕💕
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zoomzooml · 15 hours ago
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He ✨
I need more chaotic pictures of Bumblebee
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copyrittenbones · a day ago
i am once again drawing @blitzy-blitzwing 's hazformers, thiss time its good ol' shockers ehhe
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i swear i'll do an actual render once im out of my rendering-related burnout stage. (i personally consider this a half-baked render bc i didnt get rid of my sketch/linework. normally my usual renders take a minimum of 6 hours, this was pumped out in an hour)
i'll admit that i wasnt expecting to make another work bc generally i dont make more than one fandom related pieces! normally its a one and done deal :)c
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blueshirezz-2 · 2 days ago
Random, Hothead and Icy on their way to kick lugnut's Aft, after being fed up with "Glorious Megatron" BS
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adhdanni · 2 days ago
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thewiglesswonder · 2 days ago
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In spite of her psychological studies, Maelstrom always manages to pick the most unsettling holoforms.
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justawannabearchaeologist · 17 hours ago
Little Things
Optimus woke up on Christmas morning and almost immediately screamed.
Then, he dropped out of his suddenly oversized berth and onto the floor—where he saw his face in a reflective panel on the wall.
Sari had told the team that Christmas was a time when “dreams come true”.
So, what was this nightmare?!
Apparently, most of the others felt the same way—given that Bumblebee and Bulkhead both ran into the hallway screaming while Ratchet staggered out of his room with wide eyes.
It took Optimus a moment to recognize his teammates. Their “clothes” were thankfully in the same colors as their armor and their voices hadn’t changed, making that much simple—but other than that? There was very little left in their bodies that helped Optimus see his Autobots.
Somehow, they had all become human.
Ratchet scanned Optimus, but he could find no rational answer for what had happened.
They were just… people.
Prowl wasn’t in his room or in the hall, so the next priority was to locate the cyber-ninja.
He stood outside the Plant, allowing snowflakes to fall into his hands with a look of pure wonder—yet also small traces of skepticism.
Once they had found him and started to get their bearings, Bumblebee blinked before glancing around. “Wait… Where’s Wheeljack?”
“Wheeljack?” Optimus suddenly realized that the Wrecker was absent, whatever the form he could have been taking—and the Prime looked around with wide eyes. “Wheeljack!”
There was no sign of their teammate—not around the Plant or by the road—and Optimus quickly put it together in his mind that, if the Wrecker was around, he should have been the very first to respond to any screaming.
He should have been there, but he wasn’t.
“He wasn’t in his room, either,” Ratchet noted, then he looked at Prowl. “Have you-?”
“Seen him? No,” the cyber-ninja replied, growing worried. “But he can’t have gone far. He wouldn’t have.” He blinked. “Unless… he’s somehow retained his body, and he went to pick up Sari without waking us.”
“It’s possible,” Optimus decided. “I tried to contact Sari at the monitor, but there’s no answer—but she might just be distracted, spending time with her father.”
“Should we try Wheeljack?” Bumblebee asked, gesturing back towards the Plant.
Optimus glanced at it, then he looked at Bumblebee with a sigh. “Probably.”
Wheeljack was not going to like this.
No answer.
When he was within range, Wheeljack always answered his comm.
Optimus tried three times, then he opened up the scanner to check for Wheeljack’s location.
There was no sign of him.
“That’s… not good,” Bulkhead said, his eyes wide as he gazed at the screen. “Like, really not good.”
“Yeah,” Optimus agreed, frowning. “… We should make our way towards Sumdac Tower, and keep an eye out for Wheeljack as we go—just in case he comes back to the city. With the resources at the tower, the professor will be able to help us find Wheeljack—and then, the two of them will be able to help us sort this out.”
“What if they can’t?” Bumblebee asked warily.
Optimus looked at him again. “It’s Wheeljack. He won’t stop until he finds a way.” He looked towards the door and raised a fist. “Auto- Men. Transf- Roll- Ugh.” He closed his eyes, thanking the universe that Wheeljack wasn’t there to see this. “Let’s, uh… Let’s just go.”
“Wow, that sounded painful,” Prowl mused, and the Prime shot a glare at him.
So much for a ‘Merry’ Christmas.
The walk into the city was long.
Bumblebee hugged himself, shivering a bit as a frigid wind blew past him. It was really, really cold—more than he’d ever noticed.
Wheeljack was the one who always got cold.
“… Where is Wheeljack?” He murmured, leaning into Bulkhead and trying to get warmer.
Bulkhead glanced down at him in confusion, then he blinked and quickly wrapped an arm around Bumblebee. That helped a little bit.
“I don’t know,” Ratchet admitted. “I checked the loading dock before we left, and the shuttle was still there.” He looked down. “It’s not like him to just… go missing. He likes his drives and he can be reckless, but wouldn’t leave.”
Optimus glanced at the field-tech, wrapping his jacket around himself a bit more. “That’s what I’ve been thinking. Could whoever did this to us have taken him when they took our bodies?”
“Wheeljack wouldn’t have gone without a fight,” Ratchet reminded him. “There should’ve been signs of a struggle, something.”
Bumblebee shook his head. This was getting worse and worse. “I don’t like this, Prime.”
“Me neither,” Optimus admitted, frowning. “But it’s okay. We’ll find him.”
“… He’ll probably make some jokes,” Bumblebee decided, cracking a small smile as he tried to picture it. “When he sees us, y’know? But… he’ll really be worried. You know how he gets.”
He saw Optimus give a little smile.
“Whatever happened to us probably didn’t happen to him because he’s not the same kind of mech,” Ratchet decided. “Being from a different reality and all, whoever our enemy is wouldn’t know how to affect him in the same way.”
“Hm.” Prowl glanced around. “I do feel a little bad. I wonder if he’s ever been curious about what it’s like to be human.”
“He might have, Prowl, but he likes everything to be on his terms,” Optimus told the cyber-ninja, his expression grim. “Losing control of a situation like this probably wouldn’t do him any good.”
Prowl blinked, then he nodded. “Fair enough.”
“… Do you think he’s worried about us, wherever he is?” Bulkhead asked uneasily.
Optimus nodded. “I’m sure he is.”
“We gotta find him,” Bumblebee insisted.
“We will,” the Prime pressed, and Bumblebee could hear the effort he put into trying to fill his tone with the utmost certainty.
But honestly?
No one was sure of anything, anymore.
Optimus kept his eyes on the window when the team stopped for ‘refueling’ at the Burger ‘Bot restaurant. It had always been Sari’s favorite.
He was trying to see if there was any sign of their missing Wrecker, either driving back towards the Plant or speeding around in a frantic search.
He didn’t know how they would explain this to Wheeljack, or how whatever had happened could be fixed so that the team would return to normal.
He just hoped that Wheeljack was safe.
Everyone on the team was taking this differently.
Ratchet was acting like his usual grouchy self, but Optimus could see how unsettled he was by the tiny human form he had been trapped in.
Bulkhead was frustrated, but he was also taking the time to experience human activities such as ‘chowing down’—which he seemed to genuinely enjoy, right up until he suddenly fell ill.
Bumblebee was anxious, tapping his foot under the table as he also watched the window. He wanted this fixed, to be himself again—and he wanted their team to be whole, above all else.
Prowl was enjoying the little things—the snow on his hands, the plants on his plate, and the baby laughing at his antics. He told his team, “I’m thankful for just being alive in any form.”
Personally, Optimus didn’t know how he felt. He just knew that he wanted his body back and that he wanted his whole team to be safe, and he wanted to find whoever was responsible for this.
Unfortunately, nothing could ever be simple.
The whole city shook, and the Auto… Men… rushed outside to see Starscream leading Lugnut, Blitzwing, and three clones through the air.
“Decepticons, ATTACK!” The once(?) second-in-command of the Decepticons ordered, and all of them launched volleys of missiles which detonated across the unprepared city of Detroit.
A bridge blew up and sent a train crashing down onto the pavement, and screaming humans scattered in the streets as even Optimus and his team took cover—at least, until the Prime saw Shockwave of all ‘Cons set a nearby building ablaze and ordered his team into action.
Bulkhead and Bumblebee suppressed the fire long enough for Ratchet and Optimus to help a woman escape while Prowl went after her son.
When the building began to collapse, the cyber-ninja leapt out of a high window and landed gracefully with the boy in his arms, returning her to his mother before coming to face his team.
No one knew how he did it.
As a human, it should have been impossible.
However, before they could question it further, Bumblebee’s eyes widened and he pointed to something. “Look! It’s Wheeljack!”
Optimus’s eyes snapped to follow the indication.
Over a nearby rooftop, he could see a battle taking place across the skyline: Shockwave, his massive cannon raised, blasting at a familiar white and gray figure who deflected the blasts with a pair of spinning twin swords.
“Wheeljack.” The Prime first felt a rush of relief, then his eyes widened. “He needs help!”
“Yeah, but-” Ratchet grabbed his shoulder and pointed. “We’ve got our own problems!”
A familiar purple, gray, and orange jet was coming in for a landing—and Optimus braced himself.
His teammates didn’t need to be Autobots to help humans, but how could they help themselves?
The encounter with Starscream ended with complete and utter failure.
Bulkhead’s hand was bruised. Bumblebee, Prowl, and Ratchet were battered with Prowl’s arm even being placed in a sling. And Optimus? He had actually received a broken leg.
To make matters worse, Starscream managed to recognize them by their voices—and their saving grace was that he cared so little about humans that he lost them in a crowd.
That ‘saving grace’ was marred by the fact that he blasted randomly into the crowd before he flew away again, promising more “Decepticon fun” would be imminent.
A human medic patched and splinted Optimus’s leg, and… despite the absolutely deplorable morale… the Prime insisted that the team keep moving, that they get to Sumdac Tower and at the very least arm themselves.
With his leg wounded, they had little choice but to get in line for a human public transport: a bus.
“… Where’s Wheeljack?” Bulkhead finally asked, looking around.
“I don’t know,” Prowl admitted, his expression grim. “The city’s gone quiet, now… too quiet.”
Bumblebee frowned. “Is he gonna be okay?”
“Of course,” Optimus assured his teammates, nodding. “He’s-… He’s gonna be just fine.”
Ratchet just kept his hand on the Prime’s shoulder, not saying a word.
No one wanted to think about the idea of only one Autobot standing against a Decepticon attack.
No one wanted to imagine Wheeljack out there, all by himself… on Christmas.
One long bus ride later, the team stood beneath Sumdac Tower—but the city was once more filled with screams as a brand new terror entered the atmosphere: Cybertron itself, with its weapons primed and aimed at Detroit.
The rogue planet started blasting, eradicating a building instantly before wiping-out a city block—and a fleet of Decepticons emerged from the Cybertronian surface, led by Megatron.
“A full-scale Decepticon invasion!” Optimus realized, horrified, as Megatron and his lackeys transformed and landed on the street ahead.
“We are so scrapped!” Bumblebee decided.
“Bow before Megatron!” The Decepticon warlord commanded the fleeing humans with a smirk. “Now that I am lord of Cybertron, I return to Earth to exterminate organics once and for all!”
And there was nothing Optimus or his teammate could do about it, was there? Not like this.
Not like anything.
Sumdac Tower itself had been blasted apart.
The professor, Sari… Were they just gone?
Starscream pointed the Autobots-turned-human to Megatron and the rest of his compatriots, and Blitzwing—after questioning them with his Icy face, insulting them with his Random face, and donning his Hothead face—declared that he would crush them into “human meat pies”.
In spite of the pain in his broken leg, Optimus stepped between the rest of the team and the Decepticons—bracing himself for the worst.
Strangely enough, as he found himself focusing more on the Decepticons, his leg hurt less.
And hey, now:
How did Lugnut, Blitzwing, and Starscream get to Cybertron to meet-up with Megatron for this second attack so quickly?
They were just a part of the first attack on Earth, led by Starscream!
Optimus supposed that Megatron could have been using a space-bridge to move them around the cosmos or they could have just flown to the moving world, but…
How did they take Cybertron so quickly and quietly, even with Omega Supreme?
Sentinel should have called!
None of this made sense…
However, before anyone could move, a white and gray blur appeared in Optimus’s field of vision and slammed a foot into Blitzwing’s chest.
The triple-changer flew back and crashed into Lugnut, resulting in both of them ending-up sprawled on the ground, as Wheeljack spun his blades before gripping them at his sides.
“Not on my watch,” the Wrecker announced, standing between his team and the Decepticons.
Bumblebee’s face lit up. “Wheeljack!”
The effect was instant.
Bumblebee and Bulkhead were beaming as Prowl and Ratchet started to smile, and Optimus found himself sighing in relief.
Of course, there was still worry.
The last time Wheeljack had faced Megatron, it hadn’t gone well for him—and now, he was facing a whole Decepticon invasion. But he had been battling alone against Shockwave in the previous attack, and the Wrecker seemed to have walked away from that fight unscathed.
Somehow, it no longer seemed so hopeless.
“Hm.” Wheeljack glanced back over his shoulder at the group of ‘Auto-Men’. “I hope you fellas have an explanation for this.”
Optimus gave a weary smile. “We’re narrowing it down to our top five theories.”
“Heh.” Wheeljack grinned, nodding. “Sounds about right.” He suddenly had to look forward and deflect an attack from Starscream’s blasters with his blades, his optics narrowing as his battle-mask quickly slid into place. “Now would be a good time for you to run!”
Bulkhead’s eyes widened. “But-“
“I’m not askin’!” Wheeljack looked back at them again with a glare. “Look around! I can’t do this by myself, but I can buy you some time!” He stabbed a blade into the ground so that he could activate a cannon and blast one of Lugnut’s missiles apart before it got too close. “Find Sari and the prof, take the shuttle, and get the frag outta here! Go!”
Optimus blinked. “But-”
Wheeljack suddenly had to shift his servo back and grab his blade again, just barely managing to block both of Megatron’s swords.
“Ah, the little Wrecker.” The warlord grinned down at the lone Autobot. “Still determined to protect these pitiful creatures to the bitter end.”
“Oh, really?” Wheeljack raised an optic-brow, then the Wrecker suddenly rammed his knee into Megatron’s torso just as he slammed his forehead into the Decepticon’s chin. Megatron staggered back, and Wheeljack glowered as he pointed a sword at him. “How could ya tell?”
“Hm.” Megatron looked up at the Wrecker with a glare. “Then, meet that bitter end. Decepticons, take aim!” Lugnut, Blitzwing, and Starscream obeyed, and Wheeljack readied his blades—looking unconcerned. “… Not at him.”
“What?” Wheeljack blinked, and Optimus saw him look back at the team with wide optics just as the Decepticons shifted their aim. “No!”
It all happened so fast.
Starscream and Blitzwing’s cannons lit up pink as Lugnut unleashed a volley of missiles, and all of those attacks flew at Optimus and his team.
But then, there was that white and gray blur.
And a horrible sound: explosions mixed with the shattering, splintering, and shredding of metal.
Two large blades fell to the ground with clatters.
And Wheeljack dropped down onto the street on his back—his chest blown open, sparking, and bleeding blue. All of the white on the front of his body had been scorched black, and he groaned in pain as his battle-mask slid out of place.
“Wheeljack!” Bulkhead shouted, and the team started running towards their Wrecker.
Wheeljack, for his part, was actually trying to get up—but Megatron put his foot on the Wrecker’s right shoulder and pinned him down.
“Mmph.” Wheeljack cringed, then he looked up with wide optics as the warlord raised a blade over him—gripped in two servos. “H-Hey-” The blade fell. “Agh!” And twisted. “Ah…”
Wheeljack stopped moving. The blue biolights on his body stopped glowing as his optics slid shut, and his green, orange, and red faded to gray.
Everyone knew what that meant.
Optimus just didn’t want to believe it.
How could he believe it?
How could this happen?
Megatron tore his blade free and held it up to examine it, and it was stained blue.
“Wh-..? Wheeljack?” Bumblebee managed, his eyes wide as he stared at their fallen teammate.
“What a waste,” Megatron muttered as he turned away from the body to look at his lackeys, flicking the blade and sending blue scattering across the demolished pavement. “Oh, well. I’m certain Shockwave will still be able to make do.”
Prowl immediately moved to stand beside Wheeljack’s body, the cyber-ninja looking more furious than Optimus had ever seen him as fist shook at his side. “Don’t you dare touch him!”
Megatron glanced at the horrified Autobots-turned-humans with a raised optic-brow, the he smirked again. “… Destroy them last, so they can watch their pitiful adopted world perish before their eyes—just like their guardian.”
“This-…” Bulkhead managed as he and Ratchet helped Optimus make his way over to Wheeljack, all of them just… numb, with the shock of what they had seen. “This can’t be happening.”
“Wheeljack?” Bumblebee rested his hands on the Wrecker’s arm, his eyes doing that human leaking thing—crying—as he shook his head. “Come on, man—d-don’t do this to us. Wake up!”
“Kid.” Ratchet looked devastated. “He can’t-”
“He always comes back, Ratchet! That’s the rule, right?!” Bumblebee demanded. “So, he has to come back!” He closed his eyes and hugged the Wrecker’s shoulder as well as he could, tears racing down his face. “He-… He has to…”
Optimus felt a strange rushing in his ears as he watched all of this. It was hard to breathe.
Wheeljack was… dead?
It couldn’t be, but… Optimus couldn’t get those last moments out of his mind, the sight of his sparking frame and his fading colors, just-
Optimus blinked.
Different reality. Different rules.
“… You’re right, Bulkhead,” the Prime announced, and he removed the splint on his leg and stood up straight. “This can’t be happening.”
Bumblebee opened his eyes and looked at his leader, and he blinked. “I-Isn’t your leg broken?”
“No.” Prowl understood. He removed his sling and cast it aside. “His leg was never broken, because his leg isn’t real. None of this is real!”
“Is this real enough for you?“ Megatron asked, walking over and picking Prowl up.
The Decepticon attempted to crush Prowl in his servo, but the cyber-ninja broke free and sliced the warlord’s arm off with his bare servo.
Suddenly, the game changed.
In their human forms, the Autobots found that they still retained their strength and durability—and they quickly defeated the Decepticons.
And after the battle had ended, everything vanished in a cloud of smoke: the Decepticon remains, even the Wrecker’s body.
They were just left standing in the ruins of Detroit.
“Where’d Wheeljack go?!” Bumblebee asked as soon as the smoke cleared, his eyes wide.
“He was never here.” Optimus took a shaking breath, trying to convince himself just as much as his teammates. “He was never here.”
Bulkhead looked at the Prime. “So, he’s-..?”
“Wheeljack wouldn’t go without a fight,” the Prime insisted, then he blinked as Bumblebee sniffled. “… Hey.” He walked over and pulled the younger Autobot into a hug. “Come here. It’s okay. It’s okay… He’s fine.” He rested a hand on the back of Bumblebee’s head. “He’s probably trying to help us escape, right now.”
“What tipped you off?” Prowl asked quietly.
Optimus looked away from Bumblebee to glance up at Prowl. “A few things were off about the invasion, and my leg. But really, in the end? It was Wheeljack.” He shook his head. “He doesn’t spark when he’s hurt, he bleeds. And his colors faded.”
“Of course,” Ratchet realized, his eyes wide as he nodded. “Wheeljack told us that he can scan colors, but they wouldn’t rapidly fade away like that when he died—not unless he was suffering from a plague. He’d keep them.” He took a shaking breath. “And his optics. Wheeljack, he told me-… Their optics don’t typically close when they die. They just lose their light.”
“Our enemy must not understand Wheeljack’s unique biology,” Prowl concluded. “So, they made it too similar to our own.”
“He-…” Bumblebee shifted in Optimus’s arms to look up at his teammates through teary eyes. “He was pretty convincing, don’t you think?”
“He told us to take the shuttle,” Optimus noted, and everyone blinked. “But we can’t, not without the sparkplug I gave him.”
“And he was way too direct. It was like he was reading off of a script, unnatural.” Prowl raised a hand to his chin. “Looking back now, it was clearly part of the simulation.”
“An AI, since Soundwave couldn’t get ahold of the real deal,” Ratchet decided.
“Scary,” Bulkhead said, then he frowned. “Until he disappeared, a-and you explained it-”
“You bought it,” Optimus said, then he nodded. “I did too, until he d-… died.”
“It wasn’t real,” Prowl insisted, then he crossed his arms and hugged himself. “It wasn’t real.”
As much as they were now assured that what they had seen was false, Optimus could tell that his whole team was still shaken.
He was shaken.
Their enemy had just given them a horrifying glimpse of how they would react if the worst happened to one of their friends.
If it happened to Wheeljack.
And biological inaccuracies aside, Optimus knew he wouldn’t get the image of the Wrecker’s body out of his mind for a long time.
If ever.
Bumblebee sniffled again, then he pulled away from Optimus and wiped his eyes with his arm. “I don’t think we’re in Detroit anymore…”
“Well then, where are we?” Ratchet asked, glancing around warily.
Prowl steadied himself before replying. “Our bodies aren’t here, but our minds are here.”
“In some kind of virtual reality,” Optimus concluded, his optics wide.
The whole world suddenly shook.
All around the ‘Auto-Men’, the streets rippled like waves and the surrounding buildings rapidly flashed in different and brighter colors as any visual humans blinked into and out of existence.
When it was over, they looked around with wide eyes as the world briefly appeared as a blue and black pixelated landscape before returning to its ‘normal’ state—as if nothing had happened.
“Whoa!” Bumblebee was still holding onto Optimus for support. “What just happened?”
“Did all of you see-?” Ratchet looked around at all of their faces, making sure that they had all seen the same thing, then his eyes narrowed. “Hm. It wasn't part of any simulation, that’s for sure.”
“A glitch?” Bulkhead asked, confused.
Optimus shook his head. “No. That was a whole lot more than just a glitch.”
Prowl nodded in agreement. “There must have been outside interference.”
“Heh.” Optimus found himself smiling as he glanced up at the sky. “Wheeljack.”
The others blinked, then Bulkhead’s eyes widened. “You think-..?”
“It definitely sounded like an explosion,” Optimus stated. “And only Wheeljack would decide that it was a good idea to drop a bomb on the place where we’re being held captive just to make life just that much more difficult for our ‘host’.” He smiled, shaking his head. “And as ridiculous as it is, he’d only ever do it if he knew we wouldn’t get hurt… He’s still fighting.”
Bumblebee’s face lit up. “He's okay!”
“For now,” Ratchet reminded him. “Whatever’s happening to us, he’s up against it alone.”
“Well, he’s apparently kicking its aft!” Bumblebee insisted, and the others blinked.
Then, they smiled.
They couldn’t be sure of anything while trapped in a simulation, but that was a nice image.
Escape was the top priority.
Prowl had a theory that, now that the team was aware of their minds being held in a simulation, everything was a matter of willpower.
They could will themselves out.
The first step was wiling themselves back into their Autobot bodies, which they all managed.
However, before they could go any further, a massive white and purple servo burst from the ground—and the Autobots found themselves trapped in the palm of a massive Soundwave.
“Escape is impossible. Autobots inferior. Soundwave superior.”
Soundwave proceeded to zap all of them, and Optimus could only wonder what that meant for their bodies outside of the simulation as the pain he felt from the shock was all too real—then, they all started to sink into the palm of Soundwave’s servo as of it was made of tar.
Suddenly, something else seemed to go awry in the program. The giant Soundwave flickered and vanished, sending the Autobots dropping back down into the virtual Detroit.
Ratchet theorized that there was a weakness in the program, possibly caused by whatever was going on outside—whether it was Wheeljack or someone else interfering.
Prowl suggested that he could exploit the error in the system to get himself out, and he took up a meditative pose and hummed.
“Not that processor-over-matter garbage again,” Bumblebee groaned. “That trick never-” He blinked as the cyber-ninja vanished. “… Works?”
“Evidently, it does,” Optimus marveled, then he looked up at the sky with a frown.
He just hoped it worked well enough.
Prowl didn’t know where he was, when he woke up. Wherever it was, it was dark—likely under the ground—and it was one of the eeriest places he had ever been in.
Optimus, Bulkhead, Bumblebee, and Ratchet laid upon cogs much like the one Prowl found himself laying upon, their optics wide open and flashing between red and blue.
That part of that dark, twisted laboratory was unscathed. The same could not be said for where the Autobots’ captor stood.
It was Soundwave, his back to Prowl as he faced a cracked and dusty monitor and worked furiously at a charred control panel. From the looks of things, an actual explosion had gone off in the confined space—disrupting the Decepticon’s systems and delaying his plans.
There was some sort of bird-like mini-‘con laying uselessly on the floor and letting out pained little squawks as a device leaning against the side of the control panel, reminiscent of an Earth musical instrument, chirped back at it.
If Wheeljack had hit this place, he had certainly hit it hard. Prowl would never fail to be amazed, or concerned, by the Wrecker’s tactics.
“Systems operational,” Soundwave decided in that monotone voice of his, though Prowl almost thought he detected frustration. “Necessary repairs underway. No further disruptions to the reprogramming process will occur.”
The Decepticon seemed to regain control of the monitor, and Prowl blinked as he saw the image of his teammates standing on the streets of Detroit. Soundwave was watching them as they tried to make sense of the simulation.
Then, Soundwave adjusted the feed—leaving the image from the virtual reality up while he also brought up surveillance footage.
:Seriously, though: that thing with the bird was so messed-up!: That was Sari.
Prowl’s optics widened as he saw the young techno-organic smirking up at a familiar Wrecker, who regarded her in surprise.
:It’ll buy us some time, okay?: Wheeljack replied, putting on a little grin for the girl, then he grew serious. :Now, let’s get movin’.: He transformed into his vehicle-mode. :We’ll check in with your dad first, then call in a few favors.:
:You think we can save them?: Sari asked as the Wrecker opened a door for her, walking over and looking at him warily.
:’Course.: Wheeljack sounded like he had every confidence in that statement. :And we will. We just gotta hurry it up, before they figure out how to save themselves. Gotta get those braggin’ rights, don’t we?:
:Wheeljack!: Sari laughed, clambering into the car and shutting the door, then they drove off.
Prowl was just left staring at the monitor, frozen.
After seeing Sumdac Tower destroyed in the virtual world, after seeing his friend die… to see his little grin, to hear her laughter…
It hadn’t been real.
That fact, unfortunately, did not remove those graphic images from Prowl’s mind.
His servos shook, and he quickly had to refocus and steady himself before he got to work.
Quietly, the cyber-ninja reached up and removed the neural interfaces at either side of his helmet, then he slipped off of his berth and went first to Optimus—reaching up to free him as well.
“The Wrecker’s insolence will be his downfall,” Soundwave decided, reaching over to grab the chirping instrument. “Resistance is futile. Interference will not be tolerated.”
Prowl’s mind went blank. All he could see was spilled blue Energon on the pavement.
He immediately grimaced, realizing his mistake—but it was too late, the damage was done.
Soundwave spun to face the cyber-ninja, and a sonic blast from the instrument knocked Prowl back and into a wall—leaving him dazed.
“Foolish Autobot!” Soundwave marched over and grabbed Prowl by his helmet, dragging the Autobot back to his abandoned berth. “There is no escape from Soundwave!”
Soundwave three Prowl back onto the berth, and the last thing he knew was that the Decepticon was grabbing the neural interfaces and lowering them down towards his head…
He wondered if Wheeljack had felt a similar fear when he was given the cortical psychic patch.
Prowl reappeared in the virtual reality, and he immediately dropped onto one knee with a grimace of pain.
“Prowl?!” Optimus ran over and got down on one knee to check on his teammate, his optics wide. “What happened?!”
“I-… I underestimated Soundwave,” Prowl confessed, then his optics narrowed as he stood up. “A mistake I won’t- can’t make twice. He’s after Wheeljack.”
“After him? So, wait: is Wheeljack still okay?” Bumblebee asked as the cyber-ninja took up his meditative pose once more.
Before anything could happen—an answer, another escape attempt—there was a bright white flash that consumed the world.
When it faded and Optimus could see again, he looked down at his servos.
And once more, they were hands.
“Not again!” Bumblebee complained.
Optimus’s optics narrowed. “He’s regaining control over the virtual world!”
“Come on! Transform, already!” Ratchet ordered his human form, his whole body stiff. “Don’t leave me stuck in this flesh-bag!”
Unsure of what else to do, Optimus looked to one of his teammates. “Prowl.” The cyber-ninja glanced at him. “… Wheeljack’s okay?”
“Yes,” Prowl replied, and the others were briefly distracted from their discomfort. “He’s with Sari. They’re trying to work out a plan to save us.”
“Alone?” Bulkhead asked, frowning.
Prowl looked at him, then he returned his gaze to Optimus. “… So it seems.”
Optimus blinked, then his eyes narrowed as he nodded in understanding.
If Soundwave was watching them, they couldn’t afford open speculation.
Wheeljack and Sari needed every advantage they could get to pull a rescue off.
With Soundwave barring Prowl from escaping on his own, the Auto-Men were left in a predicament.
As they tried to think of new ways to try and escape or at least help Wheeljack and Sari with their rescue, Bulkhead resorted to grabbing a broken streetlight by the severed cable and swinging it around like his wrecking ball.
The city was empty, so the only thing the Auto-Men had to worry about him hitting was them.
Or, that was what they thought.
“Guys!” Someone ran out of an alleyway and turned towards them, and Bulkhead reacted on instinct by swinging his streetlight at the new arrival. “Whoa, whoa!” The man stepped back, holding his hands up in surrender as he looked at Bulkhead with wide eyes, then he noticed the others raising their guard. Optimus even picked-up the human axe he had used to kill the virtual Megatron. “Easy, fellas! Friendly fire!”
Optimus blinked, his brow furrowing in confusion.
He knew that voice.
And slowly, he started to recognize other details as well—the colors of the man’s clothes, the way his gray hair was styled, even the vibrant shade of blue in his eyes that seemed to almost glow.
There were two swords at his back, and scars on his face and what could be seen of his neck and chest—and one of the larger scars seemed to go under his clothes, possibly to his right shoulder.
His right shoulder.
“… Wheeljack?” Optimus realized, his eyes wide as he lowered his axe.
“Yeah, uh…” The man put on an awkward smile, one that Optimus knew all too well. “Rescue op didn’t go so well, kid.”
“What about your plan to go with Sari to acquire backup?” Prowl cut in, his optics narrowed.
“That really didn’t go well,” Wheeljack said, huffing out a laugh before sighing and shaking his head. “Guys, I’ll tell it to us straight: we have no backup. Soundwave’s controllin’ every organic in the city with his drones, I bought time so Sari could run for it, and now: we’re all stuck in here. Scientifically speakin’, we are royally fragged.”
Prowl blinked, then he frowned. “But I was just outside, only a short while ago. Your plan cannot have gone awry so quickly.”
“Uh, simulation?” Wheeljack pointed up at the sky, deadpanning. “Time works differently when your processor’s in a program, especially when it’s bein’ rewritten.” He lowered his hand and crosssed his arms. “He’s hackin’ into millennia of hard-drives to pull this weird science off. I’d be impressed if it wasn’t a fraggin’ nightmare.”
“You have no idea,” Bulkhead told him, not seeming to pick up on Optimus’s confusion or how tense Prowl had become.
Ratchet had noticed, and he seemed to be just as confused as Optimus felt.
Bumblebee seemed a little confused, but he still smiled at the Wrecker. “Yeah, dude—Soundwave’s been playing all kinds of head-games while we’ve been stuck in here. You’re not gonna believe what we’ve been through, today.”
“No kiddin’?” Wheeljack raised an eyebrow. “Well, we’ve got time. Wanna fill me in?”
Bumblebee went to step forward and reply, but Prowl suddenly held an arm out in front of the younger Auto-Man—keeping him in place and separating him from Wheeljack.
The cyber-ninja glowered at the Wrecker. “… You’re not Wheeljack.”
“What?” Optimus blinked. He was confused, but he wasn’t ready to go that far. “Prowl-”
“He’s not Wheeljack,” Prowl insisted. “While I was outside, Soundwave brought up a live camera feed next to his view of our simulation. The time and weather conditions were identical. We are living in real-time.” He pointed to Wheeljack, his shoulders raising as he grew defensive. “So, there was no time for Wheeljack to go through with any plan to help us—and certainly no time for him to fail. He wouldn’t go down without a fight.”
Ratchet frowned at him, seeming hesitant. “We’re in real-time? Are you sure?”
“I am,” Prowl insisted. “And even if the timing did make sense…” He glowered at the Wrecker. “You got his vocal mannerisms, but you’ve hardly nailed his personality.” The cyber-ninja’s fists clenched. “You’re a knockoff, a shadow—the product of data and programming, just like the rest of this world.” He gestured to the man, who looked confused and hurt by what Prowl was insinuating. “What are you, then? Surveillance footage given shape through programming?”
The Wrecker frowned. “Prowl-“
“Wheeljack wouldn’t say ‘organics’,” Prowl went on. “He doesn’t like that term. He would always say humans, people, folks, citizens. He wouldn’t say ‘organics’, especially not when they’re in trouble.” The cyber-ninja bristled. “And if Sari Sumdac had been scared enough by whatever was going on out there to run away, he’d hardly be acting so casual about it. He would be worried sick.” He gestured to their surroundings. “This situation in itself would terrify him… because Wheeljack has experience with a Decepticon being inside of his head.” He pointed at Wheeljack again. “He would be worried sick for us, but we’d have to calm him down.” His hand shook. “He’d be scared… Wheeljack would be scared.”
That struck a chord in Optimus, and he stepped back and held an arm up to coax Bulkhead and Ratchet to do the same. They looked at him with wide eyes, and he looked at them and shook his head—at a loss for what to do.
Those little things, they were wrong—just like in the last Wheeljack they’d seen.
“Prowl, listen-” ‘Wheeljack’ tried.
“And he never calls Optimus ‘kid’,” the cyber-ninja cut him off. “I don’t know why since he uses it with everyone else who is relatively younger than him, but he avoids it with Optimus.” He held a finger up. “But you know what really did it? How you spoke of our minds like hard-drives, as being capable of being overwritten and programmed.” He shook his head. “Wheeljack wouldn’t believe for a second that we didn’t have the willpower to overrule this, because we’re not machines or computers to be filled with programming. We’re alive, and we choose who we are for ourselves.”
Prowl was sure of himself. Optimus, Ratchet, and Bulkhead didn’t know what to believe.
And Bumblebee? Bumblebee just looked between Prowl and ‘Wheeljack’, at a loss—then he looked at Optimus, Ratchetx and Bulkhead.
He blinked as he seemed to focus on Bulkhead for a moment, then his optics narrowed as he looked at ‘Wheeljack’ again. “Hm.”
“Bumblebee?” Bulkhead asked in a worried voice as the young man stepped forward.
“Wheeljack,” Bumblebee spoke up, and the Wrecker looked at him. “… How do I see you?”
‘Wheeljack’ blinked. “Kid?”
“How do I see you?” Bumblebee asked again, his hands curling into fists.
“… I dunno.” ‘Wheeljack’ shrugged. “Maybe like-”
Bumblebee stepped back. “Prowl’s right. This isn’t Wheeljack.”
“What?” Optimus looked at him, alarmed.
“Wheeljack and I planned for this,” Bumblebee revealed, his shoulders raising as he glared at the false Wrecker. “After Wasp took my place. It was a joke, but he’d remember… I told him I’d ask him that question. I told him I knew, if it was really him, he’d be too awkward to respond. I told him that if he said that I see him as a best friend, a big brother, maybe even a dad… I’d shoot him in the face.” He took a deep breath. “He wouldn’t be able to say that. He wouldn’t get the words out.”
‘Wheeljack’ reached out. “Kid-”
Bumblebee stepped back again. “You’re just a cheap imitation. I know my friend.”
“… Do ya, now?” The false Wrecker asked quietly, his look of confusion and hurt falling into a smirk.
And those bright blue eyes of his turned red.
“Oh, slag.” Bumblebee’s eyes widened as a red glow surrounded the man and he started to grow. “Is Soundwave making Wheeljack the bad guy?!”
“It’s starting to look that way!” Optimus shouted as ‘Wheeljack’ the Autobot drew a massive pair of blades, his optics still shining crimson. “Move!”
The Auto-Men scattered just before a sword slashed across the place where they had just been standing.
“Soundwave is trying to distract us from finding a way out!” Prowl theorized as the Auto-Men regrouped and looked up at the computer-generated Wrecker with wide eyes. “What better way than to have our friend attack us?!”
“It’s definitely working!” Bulkhead decided as the false Wrecker turned and glowered at them.
“Well, if we want out—I suggest we find Soundwave’s interface!” Ratchet told them.
“Right!” Optimus nodded shakily as ‘Wheeljack’ started walking towards them, spinning one of his blades as he approached. “His visual icon! Something that suggests Soundwave!”
“You mean, like that?!” Bumblebee pointed.
Behind Wheeljack, a car was speeding through the city—dark with crimson windows and music-player-like decals decorating the exterior.
“Exactly!” Optimus nodded, pointing towards the vehicle. “We need to go after him!”
The Prime then barely managed to avoid getting stepped-on, and his axe bounced off of the false Wrecker’s leg. He froze for a second, his eyes wide as his mind immediately flashed with ‘I just attacked Wheeljack’—then he shook his head, scolding himself for forgetting so easily.
This wasn’t his friend.
“While Wheeljack’s after us?!” Bulkhead asked as the Auto-Men turned and started running to avoid their new adversary—which Optimus soon realized was counterproductive, as they were heading away from Soundwave’s interface.
“That’s what it looks like,” Prowl replied.
“That’s not Wheeljack!” Optimus insisted, then he noticed an alleyway. “Come on!”
The Prime led his team into the alleyway, trying to use it as a route to go around the false Wheeljack and head back in the direction of the car.
They went between the buildings and onto the opposite side of the block, then Bumblebee looked back with wide eyes as they heard a shifting sound and the roar of an engine.
“Hide!” He shrieked, and the five Auto-Men swiftly ducked into an empty store. They caught their breath as they watched a familiar car drive by, and Bumblebee leaned against a wall and stared at the floor. “… I think this my fault.”
Ratchet glanced at him, perplexed. “What?”
“Prowl said that Soundwave could’ve based the fake Wheeljack off of surveillance,” the young man reminded them, then he closed his eyes. “… I’m one of the ones who spends the most time with Wheeljack, a-and I’ve been really scared lately that something’s gonna happen to him.”
Bulkhead frowned. “So, why’s this your fault?”
Bumblebee opened his eyes and looked up at his friend. “The first thing we saw was him dying! Then, it was him being in here with us! It’s like-”
“Our worst fears,” Prowl murmured, and everyone looked at him. “Soundwave’s trying to simulate something terrible happening to the one of us he couldn’t catch—death, then imprisonment.” He shook his head. “He didn���t get it right, but-…”
“I don’t think any of us were ever scared of Wheeljack hunting us!” Bulkhead protested.
“That’s what makes it so scary.” Bumblebee crossed his arms. “The guy who would take a hit for any of us is the one swinging.”
“That’s not Wheeljack,” Optimus stated, his eyes narrowing. “Wheeljack would never.” He looked at his teammates. “It’s not just about our fears. It’s like Prowl said, this is how Soundwave’s been distracting us. We first saw Wheeljack after Prowl defied the simulation. It was a decoy, to throw us off the scent and keep us in the game by making us worry about him.” The Prime felt anger start to rise in him as he put more together. “Soundwave killed him when things started to get beyond belief, hoping our grief would ground us in this world. And when we started trying to break out, he sent in another decoy that had been turned human to make us feel hopeless.” He glanced towards the shop windows. “Now, we’re being hunted—and he’s hoping that our pain and our fear will stop us from thinking. He’s using what he thinks makes us weak to hurt us.”
“It’s a decent plan,” Ratchet said as he and the rest of the team gazed at Optimus.
They looked scared.
Bulkhead crossed his arms and looked at the floor sadly. “I don’t wanna be scared of Wheeljack.”
“It’s not him,” Prowl reminded him quietly.
“… It’s ‘dad’, by the way,” Bumblebee said, his voice soft. Everyone looked at him in surprise, and they saw that the young man was looking out the window. “How I see him. That’s the answer, the honest one.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “I think he used to be like a big brother, and he still is a lot, but-… But he’s more like a dad, now—at least, how they seem to be… or should be… on Earth.” He opened his eyes and looked at the team with a weak smile. “I’ve never told him that, though—not directly, at least. It’d freak him out.”
“Heh.” Optimus found himself smiling, and he nodded. “Yeah. It probably would… but I don’t think that would be a bad thing.”
“You don’t have to be scared of him, the real him,” Prowl agreed. “You can tell him anything.”
“Hm.” Bumblebee looked down, then he took a deep breath before looking at Prowl. “Then, when we get outta here… you tell him first.”
“Huh?” Prowl blinked, confused, then his eyes widened. “I-… Well, I-”
“Heh.” Bumblebee grinned. “You don’t have to be scared, right? Not of him.”
Prowl’s expression softened. “… No. We don’t.”
“Hey, kids? Doc-‘Bot?” Something transformed outside, and they all went still as they heard steps approaching. “Where are ya?” Something was scraping against the pavement. “Come on, it’s Christmas! Quality time and all that.” A massive figure passed the window, dragging a sword along the pavement. “Where are ya..?”
“So scary,” Bumblebee whispered, and Prowl glanced at him. “SO scary!”
Optimus waited for the footsteps to recede, then he went to the door and opened it—and he held it open as he glanced at his teammates. “Come on, run.” They just stared at him. “Run!”
“Slag, slag, slag!” Bumblebee shouted as the five of them left the shop and started running down the sidewalk. The footsteps started to return, and he shrieked. “He’s after us! He’s after us!”
“This is actually a nightmare!” Bulkhead agreed.
“It’s not the real Wheeljack!” Optimus insisted, not daring to paused and look back. “Once we take Soundwave down, he’ll disappear!”
“There!” Prowl gestured ahead, where the dark car was passing their street.
Soundwave must have been circling the area, keeping tabs on the horror show.
“Auto-Men, after that vehicle!” Optimus ordered.
“How?!” Bulkhead asked as they arrived at the end of the street.
Optimus glanced around for an answer, then he pointed. “In those!”
There, left behind even though the digital humans had vanished, were emergency response vehicles.
Including their vehicle-modes.
Prowl looked back, then he grabbed Optimus’s shoulder. “He’s coming!”
“Move it!” Ratchet snapped, and Bulkhead and Bumblebee quickly ran to their vehicles.
“Hurry!” Optimus shouted as he ran to his own vehicle and opened the door. “Hurry!”
The Prime looked back, his eyes wide, as the false Wheeljack arrived at the end of the street and looked at him with those red optics and a scowl.
Not even on the day the team fought Omega Supreme, the day Optimus made the worst call of his life, had Wheeljack looked so angry…
“Optimus!” It was Prowl’s voice that snapped him out of his daze, and Optimus quickly got into the truck and looked down at the controls.
His hands shook.
“Loosen up.”
Optimus frowned. “How? I'm about to fight a highly-experienced warrior. l'm-...”
“Scared?” Wheeljack asked, and Optimus cringed before nodding. “What was that?”
“Another proof that I'm a screw-up,” Optimus told him, sighing.
“What? You think you're a failure ‘cause you're scared?” Wheeljack raised an optic-brow again, frowning. “Uh, no.
You're alive, so yeah: you get scared, ‘cause you don't wanna be un-alive and you take serious threats -well- seriously.
That's a good thing.”
Optimus got a weird fried-processor feeling. “Wait, what?”
“It's alright to be scared,” Wheeljack said, and Optimus blinked. “Pit, I'm scared—I got dropped into a universe where the Autobots are tiny, inexperienced 'cause the war's been 'over' for ages, and lookin' to me like I actually know what I'm doin’.
That's fraggin' terrifyin', and I'll be the first to admit that every time.” The Wrecker’s optics narrowed as he gazed at the Prime. “It's okay to be scared, and anyone who pretends like they don't get scared is an idiot and not someone to follow.
What's important is that you don't let your fear control ya, Prime—you acknowledge it, let it prepare you, then get a move on 'cause the day still needs savin'. There's no such thing as fearless, but that actin' even when you're scared? That's what brave is."
Optimus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then he opened his eyes as he found his hands steadying even as those heavy steps approached.
Time to get a move on.
As it turns out, Autobots are bad drivers when they’re not the vehicle.
That would have been stressful on the best day.
Given that the ‘Auto-Men’ were spending their Christmas trapped in a virtual reality, confined to the bodies of humans, and chasing after a digital Soundwave as a digital Wheeljack hunted them… it was not the best day.
In fact, Optimus was ready to place it in his personal top five worst.
Eventually, they seemed to lose ‘Wheeljack’ with their horrible maneuvering—but they stayed with Soundwave, and they eventually cornered him in the lot of an abandoned drive-in theatre.
“Now, we’ve got him!” Ratchet proclaimed as he leaned out of the window of his ambulance. As soon as he had said that, dozens of the same Soundwave car surrounded the lot and trapped them. “… Right where he wants us!”
Before Optimus could order an attempt at retreat, the sound of a loud engine roaring distracted him—and the seat-belt in his truck suddenly flew up and bound him in place. From what he could see, the others were in a similar situation.
They had been caught.
“You fellas sure are gullible,” a voice spoke, and there was a shifting sound followed by familiar footsteps. “Heh. That thing shows up right when you’re wonderin’ about the interface, and you don’t question for a second that it might be a trap.” The red-opticed Wheeljack strode past and paused in front of the stage, turning to look back at the trapped Auto-Men with a dark smirk. “Of course, I helped with that—gave you a reason to run and all… But still.” He shook his head. “This is why I don’t think you’re ready.”
Bulkhead shook his head. “You’re not real!”
“But I am realistic,” the false Wrecker insisted, taking his grenade from his belt. He tossed it up into the air and caught it as he paced, much like Optimus had seen the real Wheeljack do. “I’m supposed to be. I mean, an AI modeled after hundreds of hours of video surveillance and comm chatter is gonna be somethin’ else. I’m the most advanced thing in this little digital bubble of ours.” He shrugged. “But eh, new program. Bound to be some bugs, especially when the boss takes the wheel instead of lettin’ things run-” He chuckled. “Organically.” He gestured around at the Soundwave vehicles. “Sorry, it’s just: he hates that word. But yeah… The ‘be the bad guy’ plot-twist deal kinda fragged-up the whole look.” He looked at the Auto-Men and wagged a finger, seeming far too entertained. “But I had you goin’ for a bit, didn’t I? Yeah, that was fun.” He glanced at the screen. “Heh. But just look at this. The real Wheeljack leaves you morons alone for less than a day, and you’re about to flip the script and change teams on him. How ‘bout that?” He rested his free servo on his hip and shook his head as he caught the grenade. “So sad.”
“We’re not computers that can be programmed,” Prowl insisted, though Optimus could hear the shakiness in his voice. “We’re alive.”
“Aw.” The false Wrecker chuckled again. “See, that’s cute. You actually bought that feel-good line, even knowing that your friend got hacked himself.” He raised an optic-brow. “‘Cause he did, didn’t he? Why do you think he’s so determined to believe he’s more than a set of ones and zeroes?”
Bumblebee bristled. “Shut up!”
“Any machine can get hacked, reprogrammed, and repurposed. You’re no different. He’s no different,” ‘Wheeljack’ assured them. “Once we catch him, it won’t be long until the ‘Cons crack his code.” He grinned as a massive Soundwave appeared on the screen behind him. “So really, kids: don’t worry! The real Wheeljack’ll be along to see ya soon enough.” He tossed his grenade up and caught it again. “Probably not too long after we squish your little techno-organic pet.”
Optimus didn’t know that he could feel so angry.
The idea of the Decepticons hunting his friend and the girl they swore to always protect had him grinding his teeth and clenching his fists to the point where his knuckles turned white. His vision went red, just like something out of one of the real Wheeljack’s stories.
The AI was just fanning the flame. How dare Soundwave create something that looked and sounded like Wheeljack but said and did all of these terrible things?
The real Wheeljack would never.
“Oh, for- Heh.” The false Wrecker rested a servo on his helmet, then he looked at Optimus with a smirk. “Thanks for correctin’ me. All this time, I’ve been sayin’ ‘we’—haven’t I? Good catch.”
Ratchet’s eyes narrowed. “What are you talking about now, you little-?”
“Heh.” ‘Wheeljack’ shook his head. “No offense, fellas, but you’re not exactly top o’ the line war-frames. So, what exactly do you think your first mission’s gonna be?” He looked back at the Auto-Men with a frown. “… With certain targets, it ain’t about bein’ bigger or stronger or smarter.” He tapped his chest twice. “It’s about this. And like you said earlier…” His optics turned blue again, and he sighed. “I would never.”
Optimus was confused for a moment, trying to figure out what the AI was insinuating.
Then, his eyes widened.
“No.” He shook his head. “No, no, no!”
“Now, you get it.” The false Wrecker put on a grim smile, almost seeming sad. “Took you long enough, Prime.” His optics turned red again, and he snorted. “But things are about to become a lot more straightforward for ya, so no worries.”
“Silence!” The Soundwave on the screen ordered him, and ‘Wheeljack’ glanced back at him with a raised optic-brow. “Enough time has been wasted. You have ceased to be of use.”
“Ah.” ‘Wheeljack’ nodded in understanding, then he merely shrugged. “Oh, well.” He looked back at the Auto-Men and grinned. “Hey, now—don’t feel too bad, fellas! It’s like the old sayin’ goes: if you can’t beat ‘em-” He blinked as his optics turned blue again, and he didn’t seem to notice as the grenade clutched in his servo started flashing red, orange, and green. “… Guys?”
Optimus closed his eyes.
When Optimus opened his eyes again, all he could see was a last wisp of smoke disappearing.
There was no other trace of the false Wrecker.
“Wh-… Wheeljack!” Bulkhead shouted.
“It wasn’t real!” Prowl insisted, gripping the handles of his motorcycle. “It-… It wasn’t real.”
It wasn’t real.
None of it was real.
Optimus closed his optics again, doing his best to try and will himself out of the horrible simulation like Prowl had told them they could—but with his eyes closed, all he could see was smoke and spilled Energon… and glaring crimson optics…
The sound of a sword scraping against the ground with heavy footsteps rang in his ears.
Soundwave’s decoys had done their job.
“Resume Operation: Autobot Reprogramming,” the Soundwave on the screen announced. “All will obey Soundwave!”
Bumblebee shrank back in his seat and gulped, his eyes wide. “Something tells me I’m gonna hate this movie…”
As Soundwave started playing his mesmerizing music, insisting that the Autobots would obey and that he was their master, Optimus tried to tell his teammates to fight.
Detroit was on the line.
Wheeljack and Sari were on the line.
He thought about how that Wheeljack with red optics had chased them through the streets, and he tried to imagine Wheeljack trying to escape from a whole red-opticed team while trying to protect Sari as well. He couldn’t let that happen!
But he was tired, and his mind was getting foggy.
And eventually, he couldn’t fight anymore.
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