The Long Road Home

Alone on an empty world, an Autobot searches for his friends.

by Fred's Workshop

I am alone.

At least, as alone as a person can get on this planet. My Cybertonian name is a seemingly random series of letters and numbers representing what sector I came from and what my original function was. Like the rest of my friends, I instead go by my earthen name, Sideswipe.

I have been gone a long time. After the defeat of the Decepticons so many years ago, Cybertron entered a second golden age, an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. All those who had fought for so long could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Well, most of them, anyways. Like myself, there were those who were not satisfied with the end of the fighting. I personally never knew any other life. With the war over, I was at a loss as to what to do. Just sitting around Cybertron doing research didnít suit me. So a number of us got together into small commando units, and planet-hopped, looking for the few Decepticons that didnít go along with the peace plan.

Well, we found them, all right. Or at least, we thought we did. Turns out there was a whole second group of Cybertonians knocking around the galaxy, creating a bunch of mini-Cybertrons on inhabited organic planets, killing off the locals in the process. What a mess that was! In the end we had to team up with the Decepticons to defeat this Ďsecond generationí of transformers.

Things were pretty quiet after that. A few border skirmishes here and there, but nothing we couldnít handle. Which was a good thing; after the swarm, even I had to admit I was a bit tired out. Eventually, a number of us settled on the mini-Cybertrons, working with the remaining organic life there to develop a peaceful coexistence. I acted as one of the Autobot liasons, a representative from the home planet to aid in research and interaction. I enjoyed the work. What little there was. There was a team of us at first, but over the years the others left, until finally I was the last Transformer on the planet. And I was bored. I missed my friends, but most of all, I missed home.

I asked Cybertron to send a replacement to my planet, so that I could leave. After a number of months, a ship carrying a ĎMaximalí (donít ask me, I donít know either) arrived. A tiny transformer called Botanica was here to take over for me. Man, did she have some fancy stuff! A protoform chip to allow her to blend into native life...that was the bomb. Kids these days. They get all the cool new toys. I asked her where I could get one, but she told me I was too-old to be equipped with one, that I would have to be downsized and rebuilt. Too old! The nerve of that woman! Well, after she settled in, I took my shuttle and headed back home.

I couldnít wait to see the others. As well as catch up on the latest and greatest. Judging from what that Botanica had in terms of technology, things must have really advanced. Still, Iím sure the old gang was still the same. I looked forward to seeing them again.

Imagine my surprise when, upon entering Cybertonian space, I was shot at! I know Iíd been gone a long time, but this was ridiculous! I dodged and weaved as best I could, and managed to land the shuttle in one piece. Unfortunately, I was halfway across the planet from where I wanted to be. But with all the shooting going on, I thought it best to approach Iacon from a safe distance. And on the ground, where those planetary defense lasers couldnít pop me off.

So I grabbed my gun, transformed to vehicle-mode, and drove out of the shuttleport and into the streets. Strange; the traffic isnít just light, itís non-existant. Where IS everybody? I figured my best bet was to check in with Prime or the others, and find out what was going on. Maybe they made a mistake; after all, my shuttle was using an older ID system. Maybe it wasnít on the books anymore.

I rolled up to the nearest comm-port, changed to robot-mode, and tried to place a call to Prime. Nothing. Static on all channels. Nobody is answering. Now this is very odd. So I try to bring up one of the newsfeeds, see whatís been going on. Again, nothing. I donít understand this. Thereís no information at all. Itís like the entire database was wiped.

Now Iím getting worried. None of this makes any sense. As Iím digging further into an empty database, I hear a rumbling behind me. Off in the distance, a number of similar-looking little tank-vehicles are approaching me. Thank primus! And here I thought I was all alone. I face forward as they approach, waiting. As they get closer, a number of them transform to robot mode. In unison. Which strikes me as really odd; why would they be that disciplined in their approach? Is this a military unit? Is there a war going on? Before I even get a chance to ask any questions, the front group of robots opens fire on me, catching me completely off-guard. I take a direct hit to the chest, and go down. Man, whatever those weapons are, they sure pack a punch! Not waiting to ask why they fired on me, I return fire, strafing the entire front line. The whole row goes down, only to be replaced by another. Itís obvious Iím outnumbered, but I continue firing, raking the second and third row down to molten metal. Finally, my ammo spent, I transform back to vehicle mode, and take off from the scene of battle. I had no particular direction, just away from these guys. A row of them managed to get behind me, but I just plowed thru them like tinfoil. Didnít even dent my fender. These guys sure break easily.

My mind is reeling with questions as I take the super-highway toward Iacon. Who are these guys? Why did they attack me? And where IS everyone? Since a standard comm-port didnít get me anywhere, I tried my old inter-autobot radio. Still no response. Hours pass, and I am still the only one on this highway. For the first time in a long time, I feel...alone.

It took me the better part of a day, even at top speed, to reach Iacon. What greeted me was...chaos.

It was horrible. Bodies everywhere. Millions of them. The entire city was dead! Dead! All these people piled everywhere, on the sidewalks, the streets, hanging out of buildings. Dead. They werenít in stasis-lock; I checked. Thereís no way to revive them. Itís..itís horrible. I know, I already said that, but I have no words to describe what Iím feeling right now. Iím not sure what caused this. Panic sets in. There are large holes in all of them, in their chest. I wonder how that happened. It was about the same area on them that those little tank guys shot me. But Iím not damaged. And these donít look like blaster burns; itís more like something was ripped out of them.

I canít stay to think about it; I hear the rumbling behind me again. How did those tank guys find me again? I donít stay to find out. I transform, and drive deeper into the city, around the corpses as best as I can. I try not to look and see if I recognize any of them. Iím barely hanging on to my sanity as it is. I head to the center of the city, to the Council Chamber. The center building looks different; almost fortified. I transform...a little more slowly this time. In fact, it was downright difficult. I donít know why; I wasnít damaged in the fight. I decide I can worry about that later, as I punch in the code to let me into the main part of the...citadel? Thatís an odd word to flash on the screen. Since when was this called...ah, what does it matter. Maybe they renamed it. Hoping to find answers inside, I step in, and attempt to transform back to vehicle mode, and much to my surprise...I canít. I strain with effort, but itís useless. For some reason, my conversion circuitry is off-line. Iím stuck in robot mode. Oh, well, better that than as a car. At least Iím somewhat mobile. But walking is slow-going.

After what seems like hours, I come to the central chamber. And to a dead-end. There isnít a walkway to be found. But, in the distance, I can see a small figure hanging from a bundle of wires coming from the ceiling. Before I can call to him, he speaks:

ďAhh yeesss, Sideswipe. Welcome home. Youíve had a long journey. Allow me to relieve you of your burden...your SPARK!Ē Before I can reply, a coil shoots out from his bundle straight at me. Vicious-looking thing; serrated teeth, and some kind of port in the center. No WAY am I allowing that thing to come near me! I reach out, grab it with my right hand, and pile-drive it with my left, snapping the cord off from the bundle. A noticeable spark erupts from the other end. The small figure cries out in pain. ďFilthy Autobot! You shall PAY for that!Ē This time, several of those serrated-coils shoot out. I try my best, but I am unable to stop them all. I rip out one, two, three of them. But there are just too-many. Two of them encircle my arms; two more my legs, and one around my torso. I am physically lifted up off the ground, dangling over a deep pit in between my walkway and the bearer of the coils. I yank and tug at them, but to no avail. The figure speaks again:

ďStruggle all you like, Autobot. It will do you no good. Billions of your people have fallen before me; you will be no different. Prepare yourself.Ē Yet another coil heads toward me, this one approaching my chest. The blades start spinning. My surface sensors cry out in pain as the blades touch, then bore into me at a high rate of speed. I scream; whether in my head or out loud I canít tell. Just as suddenly, the blades stop, and the coil clamps on to something inside of me, and pulls.

I canít possibly describe the pain. I donít know what was being ripped out; probably my power core. All I know is, it felt like I was literally being torn from my body. My senses split; I saw a glowing blue orb being pulled away from my body. At the same time, as though I was seeing it from that orb, I looked directly at my body. A huge gaping hole in my chest. Like the others I saw in the city. My optics were flickering, dimming. I watched the coils let loose of my body just as the eyes went completely dim. My last sense from my body was that of falling down that deep pit in the chamber. I wonder if I hit bottom. As it is now, all I can sense seems to be from this orb. My power core. Perhaps this was what the figure referred to as a Ďsparkí. I am rapidly losing cohesion. My thought process are fading as a stasis-tube opens up, and the coil deposits me. My last thought before I go comepletely off-line is why. Why is this happening? I thought we were at peace. It was such a long road home. To end up like this...

I am alone.

The End.