Memories of the Future
Could Have

By: Rainynight




Chapter one

Same old

And suddenly there goes the Dark

And suddenly there goes the Light

And you can feel it in your spark -

It’s the beginning of the fight.

And maybe it’s a second chance

But you know nothing anymore

And maybe under false pretence

The same old tragedy’s in store.


“Raw energon! Right trough your twisted spark! Take it! Take it straight to the Pit you sickening piece of slag!”


Then deafening silence.  And a complete lack of light.

“No, it’s not right.” A soft voice whispered.

“You shouldn’t meddle.” Countless more answered as one.

“Says who?”

“Don’t you feel it inside you? The way things should be? The harmony of the universe?”

“There is no ‘inside me’. There’s nothing left of me but my personality and you sound as if that shouldn’t be there either. And yes, I do feel it, the way things should be. That’s exactly why I’m gonna do… this.”

“No, d-“

And that reality melted away.


‘Boss? Ehem… Boss? DEPTH CHARGE!’

The robot dozing off in the chair behind the desk jumped a few inches.

‘Uh? How… What the – ’

‘Sorry to wake you, sir, but someone from the Council wants to talk to you. They called you directly but you didn’t answer so they contacted the security central.’

‘The… Council?’

Depth Charge blinked and looked around. He was having trouble gathering his thoughts. The room was familiar. So was the young bot standing in front of him, wearing… the uniform of a security officer of colony Omicron? What the pit… He couldn’t quite remember why this was wrong. This was… his office? And he was… the chief of security, right?

‘Er… Throttle?’ he remembered the bot’s name.

‘Yes, sir?’

‘What was it about the Council?’

The young officer tried to hide a sigh.

‘They are waiting to speak to you, sir. Just open a link.’

‘Yes. Right. Thank you, Throttle.’

Throttle nodded and started to leave.

‘Don’t get angry at me for saying it but you should really take a break.’ he said before exiting the office.

‘Maybe I really should.’

Depth Charge sighed, rubbed at his forehead, took a breath to clear his head and tapped a button on the computer in front of him. The annoyed face of one of the Maximal Elders appeared.

‘What were you doing, Depth Charge? It took you stellar cycles to answer!’

‘My apologies.’ he said shortly.

He wasn’t particularly keen on the Elders. They had the tendency to call him far too often and meddle in his business. True, Omicron was a new colony and still needed tight government control but he couldn’t help but consider the constant attention an insult to his competence. After all, there had been absolutely no security problems since he had taken the position.

‘What is this about?’

‘The government has started a new top secret experiment.”

Depth Charge had to keep from rolling his optics.

Another one?

“The first stage of it was completed elsewhere but now it will be transferred to Omicron for safety reasons. We expect the transfer to happen in a week. As I said, the experiment is top secret. It’s your job to make sure it stays top secret.’

Something nagged at the back of the security chief’s mind but he ignored it. This wasn’t unusual. A lot of top secret experiments were going on in the research facility, supervised by the government. He didn’t like it but they were the government’s problem.

‘The experiment will occupy all of the lower levels of the Center. You will allow nobody there, not even your officers, and you will not go there yourself.’

Now, this was a bit too much.

‘How in the…’ he started but caught himself on time. ‘Ehem. How am I expected to guard it then?’

‘You are not. We’re sending our own security. They will be in charge of that sector of the facility where the experiment is kept. You will only see to it that no one goes near there.’

Depth Charge gripped the edge of his desk to keep from punching the screen, which would have been bad for his career, not to mention futile.

‘What exactly IS this experiment?’ he gritted out.

‘It’s labeled “Protoform X”. You need not know more. Just be prepared to fulfill you duty.’

The connection was cut the same moment something clicked in Depth Charge’s mind. And suddenly he remembered.


“Mom, can I go out?”

“Starlet, you know I have to go to work.”

“I can go on my own.”

“Darling…” the femme trailed off and just stared at her daughter. The child returned the stare and sighed.

“Mom, I want to say something and I don’t want you to get upset, OK? Now… If I’m going to die anyway, what’s the point in keeping me locked in here?”

“Wha- Who told you that? Don’t you ever say anything like that again!”

The little femme sighed again.

“I knew you’d get upset. I don’t see the point of getting upset over it. Dying can’t be worse than living forever, for instance.”

“Star, that’s enough philosophical conclusions for now. We’ll talk when I get back.”

“No, we won’t.” the child ‘bot murmured when her mother had went out the door. “We never talk about it.”


“I need to stop doing this.” Mind Game told herself firmly, standing from the park bench she had occupied for the last fifteen nano cycles and wiping her optics. She checked the time. She was late for work. Again. This really had to stop. She couldn’t afford losing her job, stupid as it was. No money meant not enough medical attention for Starlet. And she needed that. Until they found a way to heal her spark. And they would find a way, Mind Game was certain of it. Certain like a mother who could not let her child go. She and her daughter would just have to hold on for a little bit longer.  


‘PrimusslagitalltothePit!’ Depth Charge said.

And since he seemed to be unable to say anything else at the moment, he repeated it several times, emphasizing the words by banging his head on his desk.

‘Ehem, s-sir?’

He quickly jerked his head up. A rather strongly built cream and black femme was standing at the doorway, eye ridges raised and a steaming cup in her hand. He stared at her for several moments.

‘Your name was Mind Game, right?’ he finally blurted out.

‘And still is, I believe.’ she nodded with a bit of a smile. ‘Throttle mentioned you seemed quite… tired today. So I fixed you an energon drink.’

‘Yes. Right. Thank you.’

  Oh, slag it, slag it, slag it all! Throttle said I was “tired”? My own people think I’m going nuts ALREADY! And I haven’t even tried to tell them… Well, it’s no wonder they think I’m losing it since this is the second time one of them catches me acting like an imbecile. Gotta get a grip. Now, who was she?

He frantically scanned his memory for data on Mind Game. Oh, yes. Rampage had dismembered her before his eyes… No, no, not this kind of data! No… Before coming to Omicron she had been a psychiatrist but after some kind of trouble with the law she was banned from practicing and was unable to find any kind of employment. Finally, she had ended up here doing all kinds of little jobs in the facility. She also had a small child who wasn’t very healthy…

 ‘Sorry, I really am a bit distracted today.’ He attempted a smile. ‘How’s your daughter, Mind Game?’

She sighed and shrugged.

‘As always. She’s bored out of her mind at home but when I take her out she ends up getting sick.’

He nodded, not knowing what to say. Starlet had… or rather would die before X’s escape. Lucky her... Oh, Primus, what was he thinking!

He felt his spark clench. This was all too much. Seeing all these bots alive and walking around… Each time he looked at them he imagined their broken bodies scattered carelessly, leaking mech fluid. This had to be a dream. Or maybe the other one was a dream like he had wished it so often to be. Either way, Protoform X would be transferred to his colony in a week. He could not, would not let him kill again! Not even in a dream! But what could he do? Running around and screaming ‘He’s gonna break out and you’re all gonna die!’ wouldn’t work very well...  

He realized Mind Game was still there, observing him calmly. Maybe she was trying to determine, as a psychiatrist, weather he was ready for a padded cell.

‘I’ll be going.’ she said when she noticed she had his attention. ‘If you need anything, call. And, by the way,’ she added after a small pause, ‘no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your brain.’

He stared at her in surprise.

‘Was I that obvious?’

‘No. But people always think that because I’m a psychiatrist, I’m always trying to find something amiss in their heads. However I AM a professional, despite earning my energon by carrying cups around here. So I can tell there’s something bothering you. My advice is, tell somebody. It’s an underestimated method but it works.’

‘Wish I could do that.’ he whispered after the door closed in her wake.

But he couldn’t. In fact, he couldn’t do anything right now. He almost slammed his fist on his already dented desk but he restrained himself in case yet another employee showed up and informed the security that their chief was a raging lunatic. Then he would be able to do even less.

He examined options in his head. Protoform X had to be destroyed. Easier said than done. The idea of telling the High Council was simply laughable. He had already tried… would try in the future… whatever… to convince them to destroy the killer. But they always seemed to do the exact opposite of what he told them to. Not to mention he wasn’t even supposed to know about their “top secret experiment”. No, telling anybody who didn’t know the future would be futile. That last thought was ridiculous. Like bots fell trough crazy time anomalies on regular bases. Nobody here could know the future. Nobody but him… Nobody…


His optics widened.

I really, really hope I’m wrong.


A week later he was standing with a few of his men at the back entrance of the research facility, waiting.

How suitable. How very suitable. The cold foggy night, the heavy damp air, the mud under is feet. Right out of a human horror movie. And it was the best possible time for Protoform X to arrive.

A spaceship had just landed on the planet in the dead of night. According to the crew, it was delayed due to “technical difficulties”. On his part, he was sure their timing was carefully chosen. It was a secret project after all; they had to keep it hidden. And dark things were best hidden in the dark.

He shifted nervously and moved his hand to rest on his gun. Though he kept reminding himself that the thing he feared wouldn’t happen tonight, he seemed unable to relax. Even his people had noticed how edgy their chief had been the last few days and they had been trying to stay out of his way. That was fine with him since he was avoiding everyone too. Especially bots he was more familiar with. He didn’t like the little voice at the back of his mind constantly telling him the person in front of him was dead and providing images to illustrate it…

Suddenly a sharp beep pierced the air. Depth Charged jumped in panic along with his companions before realizing it had come from his own computer.

“Protoform X detected!”

“What?!” he scanned his surroundings frantically.

“Chief? Everything all right? What was that?”

Depth Charge stared at the bot in shock for a moment then shook his head.

“Everything is all right.” he managed, quickly silencing the special radar he hadn’t realized he still had. Going trough the vortex/time hole/whatever had brought him back here had changed him back to his original structure so why was the radar still there? Whatever the reason, he was glad for it. It made him feel a little less uncertain.

Which was good. But he was vaguely aware of his men staring at him, which wasn’t good. “It’s just a radar that’s malfunctioning. It startled me, that’s all.” He stated.

But it wasn’t malfunctioning, was it?

Something in the distance caught his attention. He squinted to see through the thick fog. For several moments there were only shadows. Then when they came closer they turned out to be a large group of about thirty bots. Ten scientists and twenty special security officers as far as he remembered. The ones at the back were dragging some kind of metal container on wheels. It looked relatively large but Depth Charge knew it was just big enough for the robot inside. He felt a chill run trough his spine. There he was. X. And the question popped in his mind again.

Does he really know too?

That question had been tormenting him all week and there was only one way to answer it.

But not now, he reminded himself. He would have to be very careful not to get in trouble. Because if he did, there would be no one to stop X.

He tore his gaze from the container when one of the bots stepped forward.

“I assume you’re Depth Charge. I am Stunner, Chief of the Special Security. And this is doctor Chillcold and doctor Clearcut. They lead the scientific team.”

He indicated a thin purple transformer and a small femme in crimson and gold. Depth Charge remembered he had found her attractive the previous time he had… well… met her for the first time… but that was about all he had noticed about her. He hadn’t paid much attention to any of the others either. But now his senses were painfully sharp and he noticed some rather unnerving details.

Stunner had a very unpleasant smile. It was somehow… obscene. On second look all of the special security officers wore similar expressions. Then he realized that what he was really seeing was X’s smile on every face he looked at.

Was that it? It had to be. Everything seemed creepy tonight.

Dr. Chillcold’s piercing blue optics seemed too indifferent. As if they didn’t see but always observed.  

And Dr. Clearcut’s beautiful golden ones were studying him with mild interest, as if he was some curious artifact.

It was all paranoia. He would have never seen these things if it weren’t for that sense of foreboding.

He suddenly realized he had been checking the new arrivals’ documents without being aware of it. It was pointless anyway. He knew there was nothing wrong with the documents, which didn’t change his desire to personally stuff the bots back in their ship along with the monster they had brought with them and send them to the other end of the Universe.

He let them in instead. He had no choice. He watched as they dragged the metal container inside and barely restrained himself from opening fire on it.

Why did it have to happen on his colony?


Pain, confusion, despair. He was locked in darkness and he couldn’t move. He wouldn’t have been able to even without the heavy restraints. He was stuffed in a place that was so small he couldn’t even turn his head properly. Like some toy in a box. He tried to scream but no sound came out. There was no air in here. Transformers didn’t necessarily need oxygen but breathing would have calmed him a little if he could have managed it. In the absolute darkness he couldn’t tell if his optics were opened or closed. Every comforting gesture, every possible way to block what was happening was denied to him.

He couldn’t make sense of the scrambled thoughts running through his head like a blizzard. He knew he was a scientific project, created in a lab, but there was something else. Like a whisper, like a dream… But he couldn’t focus on it.

Then suddenly a forgotten feeling was trying to creep into him and although he fought it desperately, the memory still emerged to the surface of his mind.

His body melting, turning to liquid… Nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to feel for such a long time… only emptiness.

He tugged at his restraints violently but they were so strong they only dug into his metal causing pain but not allowing his body to even shift. At least now he was sure he had a body.

But the stillness was unbearable and he strained again with no result. He continued trying until he had no energy left. He stayed motionless but inside he was writhing and thrashing, wanting desperately to get free. He could vaguely feel the sparks of other bots around him but he couldn’t focus on any of them. It was all so blurry. 

And then he felt it. This one was strong. A familiar presence. It was something outside of his small world of darkness and pain and he reached for it eagerly. Something… someone he knew.

Then the memories came flooding back.


Chapter two

The change

How can I ever do the rights

If I can’t tell them from the wrongs?

How can I put my life in place

If I don’t know where it belongs?

Well, I could try a thing or two

But it would be a guessing game.

And in the end the world may change

Or it may just remain the same.


A week after the “top secret experiment’s” arrival Depth Charge was sitting in his office, trying to come up with a plan, an idea, anything. He was quickly beginning to realize just how important self-control was in this case.

And how little he had of it.

He was so frustrated he couldn’t think. Which led to him becoming more frustrated and eventually starting to panic which was not an option. And he was furious at himself. In the past… or in this case the future… Slag, this was driving him crazy! On other occasions he had managed to stay calm when dealing with X. Otherwise he would have never caught him.

Then why couldn’t he do it now?

Because, unlike then, now he had everything to lose…

There was a polite knock on the door. Actually, it was the third polite knock, he realized. He hadn’t paid attention to the first two. He sighed and called for the person to enter. He looked up to see Mind Game.

“May I have a word with you?” the femme asked carefully, noticing how worn out he looked.

“Does it have to be now?”

“Not necessarily. But it would be best if it’s now.”

Well, he wasn’t getting anywhere with his plan anyway…

“All right.” He motioned for her to sit. “What is it?”

The tall femme knitted her fingers in front of her and studied them for a moment, obviously deciding how to begin.

“Your officers have been… a little concerned about you lately. Especially after you spent half of yesterday yelling at them to double the security for no apparent reason which freaked out some civil citizens as well.”

“Holy Primus…”

He instantly knew where this was going.

“So, as you might have guessed, they sent me here to check if you were okay.”


“Yes.” She confessed. 

No, I’m not okay! A psychopathic mass murderer is going to break loose and kill everyone I know, leaving only me to torment me for the rest of my life and I just don’t know how to prevent that! I can’t sleep because I dream of him every night and I see his face everywhere! I DO feel like I’m losing my mind and I’m afraid they’ll lock me up in a white room and I’ll be able to do nothing but scream while the colony is being leveled!

“I’m fine.”

She looked at him exasperatedly.

“Depth Charge, your men won’t be satisfied unless I stay here for at least another twenty minutes. Why not make good use of this time? It’s obvious that something’s bothering you. Don’t you want to tell me?”

Of course he WANTED to tell her. But where would that lead? ‘Well, darlin’, there’s a maniac locked up right underneath our feet and when he breaks loose we’re all gonna die.’ Sure, that would convince her he wasn’t crazy.

“There’s nothing to tell.” He said irritably. “But if you insist on turning this into a psychiatric session, go ahead. Are you going to ask me about my childhood?”

She leaned back in her chair.

“No but I’m going to ask you something else. Why do you think the colony’s in danger?”

Oh, slag! What do I say now? Play stupid.

“Because anything might happen. Our security is very loose and it needs tightening. I’m just doing my job. I want to get a promotion.”

She blinked at him.

“All right, you must think I’m a real idiot. Depth Charge, I’ve been working here for three years. You may not notice me most of the time but I’m here. Carrying cups, fixing the drinks-machine, delivering messages… Those may be stupid jobs but this doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I see you every day. I know you. I know how you normally act. What you’re telling me right now is total slag. If something’s wrong, don’t you think we all have the right to know? Because I can see something IS wrong!”

He gaped at her sudden outburst. He tried to say something but the words just wouldn’t come. She was right, of course. He had known her for three years and the explanation he had just given her was an insult to her intelligence. But what could he say to her?

“All right, then.” She said after he had been silent for a while. “Then at least let me help. Without asking questions.”

He raised his head slightly.

“Help with… what?”

“Whatever you’re doing.”

“But why?”

She hesitated. Why indeed? Oh, yes, there was a reason, only she didn’t want to admit it. But she preferred being honest when it was possible, so…

“I need something to do. My daughter is really ill. I need to get my mind off things. My job doesn’t provide that. That’s why I agreed to come here today. It was a distraction. And unlike others I can see what you’re worried about is something big and important which might affect the whole colony and therefore me. And I prefer to at least have a hand in my own destiny. If you allow me to help you I promise to do what you say without demanding explanation.”

And maybe I want to get your attention. It’s horrible but it’s true. A lonely mother of a sick child, not particularly pretty… I need a bot and you’re cute.

Depth Charge considered this. It would be such a relief to have an ally, even if she didn’t know everything. Of course, it wouldn’t be easy using her help without revealing information. Still…

“All right.” He said finally. “But you’ll have to do as I say and keep quiet about it.”

She nodded.

“So, hmm… Convincing my charges I’m not a psycho would be a good way to help me for a start.”

She smirked.

“You’ve got it.”

After a brief explanation of the situation which was as truthful as Depth Charge could manage under the circumstances, she exited the office and he returned to his plotting with a little more ease.

X was being kept at the lower levels of the facility. He didn’t know where exactly but this wasn’t a problem. He would use his radar, thank Primus for it. But passing the special security would be a challenge. In the last few days he had confirmed his suspicion that Stunner was an arrogant bastard but a professional nonetheless. His guards were well trained. Depth Charge smirked humorlessly. He certainly couldn’t count on guards leaving their posts to get a drink or snoozing during working hours. This wasn’t an action movie.

They were everywhere, working around the clock and their chief had made sure they knew Depth Charge was NOT allowed down there…

And even if he managed to reach X, what good would that be? The only way of controlling him that had ever existed was the spark box Megatron had created and it didn’t exist in this reality.

He suddenly straightened in his chair.



Mind Game came to her senses and removed the cup just before it overfilled and the energon spilled from it. She was unusually absent today. She couldn’t help but smirk inwardly at the obvious psychological reason for that. Depression instantly made bots sexier. No femme could resist the “dark hero”. At the same time the fact that there might actually be a need for a hero bothered her…

Just then her radio beeped. Mind Game opened a link and dropped the cup at the sound of her daughter’s voice.

“Mom, I think I died today.”


He listened to the voices coming from the corridor.

“Look now, madam, Captain Stunner sent me to tell you that if you want us to guard this thing you must devise a better way to control it. It attacked two of us guards today and one is severely damaged. The chains didn’t hold. Now we’ve put twice as many restraints but we’re still not sure it will be enough.”

The bot in the cell felt the other one’s fear and sighed with pleasure. It was a small and rare treat and he savored it.

“Yes, it also tried to attack one of our doctors during the procedures. Something must be done.” Said another voice.

Unfortunately, this voice was rather dispassionate.

“I wouldn’t worry about that.” a female cut in. “ Simply nail it to the wall and the operating table. Every time. I suggest using wedges.”

Rampage clenched his fists. He really hated that femme more than anything in the world. She was more sadistic than he was, which was a really great achievement in that field.

“Nail it? Wouldn’t that be a little…” the first voice hesitated. “Well, slag it, why not!”

“Hmm, yes, that might be a solution,” the second voice said thoughtfully. “Due to the spark’s healing abilities, using wedges won’t damage the experiment permanently. Of course, there’s the interesting possibility of the spark healing the wedges into the body. That will make them hard to remove but I believe we can bear with that if it allows us to work undisturbed. Yes, I think we should try it.”

Rampage gritted his teeth in both rage and desperation. For now the rage won out and that was what sustained him but he didn’t know for how long he would have the energy to stay angry. There was the hope of escaping soon but he couldn’t rely on that. He and Depth Charge had been together when… whatever happened happened, so it made sense that the Guardian also remembered the future. In that case he would try to make sure that Rampage never escaped. The former crab could only hope his efforts would prove futile.

But until then…He closed his optics and tried to prepare himself for what awaited him. The worst part was that he remembered the pain very clearly. Wedges. There was no end to that femme’s inventiveness. And that was only when he wasn’t spread on a lab table. He HAD to escape.


Walking home from the facility two nights later Depth Charge had to remind himself to walk slowly. He didn’t want to miss the meeting he knew would happen. He had racked his memory that morning for something that would help him put his little plan into action and that just might be it. If he remembered the day correctly. It had seemed an insignificant event at the time so he couldn’t be sure.

Meanwhile he was trying to find out just what had gotten him and Rampage transported to that particular time and place. He had left that task to Mind Game. All he had told her was that a very dangerous criminal he had known at a time was now being kept in the restricted section of the labs. The High Council didn’t realize just how dangerous he was so he had to break some orders to protect the colony. She had accepted his explanation easily, especially since she didn’t hold much regard for the Elders. What he hadn’t explained was why he needed to know everything she could find about time travel. She wasn’t asking for now.

A low hiss from the dark alleyway to his right brought him out of his reverie.

“Depth Charge!”

He smiled triumphantly and tried to see in the dark.

“Who the slag are you?” he growled repeating his reactions as he remembered them.

The robot inched closer to a street lamp and stood just at the edge of the light. Depth Charge recognized one of the scientists working on the Protoform X project.

“What do you want?”

The bot twitched nervously.

“I have some information for you. About the government’s secret project! he whispered.

“I’m not supposed to know anything about that!” Depth Charge snapped.

“B-but it’s important!”

He hadn’t listened to the bot the previous time. He had been a disciplined and obedient Guardian who didn’t poke his nose in things that weren’t his business. So he had reported the scientist the very next day for trying to disclose secret information… only to find out that the same scientist had been killed in an accident during an experiment the night before. At the time he had shrugged it off. Later he had believed that Protoform X had taken his first victim on Omicron. Because, of course, the Maximal Government didn’t allow death sentences, at least officially. That was the reason they had given him for not destroying X. They didn’t just kill people in the shadows, did they? Did they? With the experience he had now, he wouldn’t deem anything impossible. In any case he had every intention to listen to the scientist this time and, more importantly, give some information of his own. 

He stepped closer to the bot.

“Let’s go somewhere where we won’t be that easily heard.” he said.


“But it’s full of people!” the scientist hissed, looking around the pub Depth Charge had chosen to lead him to.

“It’s full of people that aren’t listening, unlike the dark alleyways. Now speak!” he insisted, leaning over the table.

He had to listen through the whole explanation of what the experiment actually was and pretend he didn’t know a thing. Half an hour later he finally ran out of patience.

“And why are you telling me this?”

“Y-you have to destroy this thing! Stunner, Chillcold and Clearcut refuse to listen to me so I had to come to you! It tried to kill me while I was running tests on its spark! They increased the, err, security measures after that but I’m afraid if it breaks free, we, scientists will be the first ones to die!”

This was the moment he had been waiting for. He leaned forward, pretending to be thoughtful.

“You say his spark is immortal?”

“As far as we know, yes. With everything we’ve done to it, it should have died a thousand times.”

Depth Charge thought of asking what exactly had they done to X but he dismissed the question as unimportant at the moment.

“Have you tried to split his spark?”

“Split it? Why would we do that?”

Depth Charge smiled.

“Because it might be a good way to control him.”

The scientist’s optics suddenly shone with understanding.

“Oh. That… That’s a very good idea! I’ll suggest it tonight!”

And here I am, changing the future. 


Mind Game burst into the apartment looking frantic.

“Starlet? Starlet?”

“I’m here.” She heard from the kitchen.

Her daughter was poking at something she had obviously just fashioned up out of every type of food they had in the house.

“If this is your idea of a joke young lady… What did you mean when you called me today?”

“I told you. I think I died.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! You’re very much alive right now.”

“Yes. But I wasn’t before. You remember when you once told me about the Matrix? I think I saw it. Or… felt it more like. And for a while I didn’t remember who I was but then I remembered. And it was like I could see absolutely anything anywhere anytime but I didn’t really because it was too much and…”


Mind Game was making a great effort to calm her nerves. She wasn’t a superstitious person. Really, she wasn’t. She didn’t believe in signs or visions or… whatever.

“You probably just dreamed something, sweetheart.” She said finally and purposefully busied herself with the task of making something edible for dinner.

Or maybe it wasn’t a dream, Mind Game thought while she was preparing to recharge later that night. Once, a long time ago as it seemed, she had been very interested in what the mere consciousness was capable of. She had known all along that her daughter was special. Starlet’s spark was weak and unstable but it was also very unusual in its qualities. She had shown on more than one occasion that she knew things she couldn’t possibly know. Was it possible that she had really somehow visited the Matrix? That she was able to see anything, anywhere any… time?



“The operation was successful! We split its spark! You do realize that this opens a whole new world of possibilities.”

“Indeed. Such a wonderful idea from such a simple bot. I wonder how he came up with it. Or perhaps I’m underestimating him.”

“He knows about the project. Don’t we need to dispose of him?”

“Maybe we do. But unlike poor treacherous doctor Static, Depth Charge is Chief of security. There will be an investigation if he suddenly disappears. Besides, we might find another use for him.”

“No. We do not experiment on real robots.”

“Protoform X IS a real robot Chillcold.”

“No, my dear, it’s not. Otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this to it, now would we?”

“Still, Depth Charge could serve other purposes. Trust me on this one. I’m a far better strategist than you.”

“Your choice. But Stunner won’t be pleased if you let him live.”

“Stunner is simply far too arrogant. He thinks he can deal with any situation by using either brutal force or his given status. I prefer not to depend on such things.”

As for the possibilities the Protoform’s split spark opens, I’d like to explore one of them as soon as possible. The only problem is, you wouldn’t allow it, would you Chillcold. But I can work past that. Still, I don’t have a test subject. Hmm… Either a bot who would not be missed or a bot whose disappearance could be easily explained…


Chapter three


Great power comes at greater prize

Not sure if I can pay the bill.

I’ve cried for things I haven’t done

And just as much for those I will.

I never thought I’d be afraid

Of acting when I got the chance

But I am now because I know

I’ll play at everyone’s expense.


Lost in his own plans, Depth Charge had at first failed to notice that Mind Game was becoming increasingly frustrated the last few days. And when he finally did notice all he could do was constantly ask if she was all right while he knew very well that she wasn’t and he also knew the reason. He truly felt like a clumsy idiot, not knowing what to say or do.

“No, I’m not all right!” she had finally burst out the previous day. “My daughter is dying and I can’t help her!”

For a moment he had thought that she would burst in tears but she quickly regained her self-control, which made it even harder for him to think of anything to say.

“I’m sorry.” He had whispered lamely, knowing that it sounded pathetic.

He knew the child would die. He even knew the date and it was close. He HATED being helpless!

But the femme seemed a bit more cheerful today.

“Is Starlet better?” he asked carefully.

“She might be soon.” the psychiatrist answered with a hesitant smile. “A doctor contacted me and said they might have found a way to help her. It’s risky but she doesn’t have anything to loose by trying. I know I shouldn’t hope but...”

Depth Charge frowned. He didn’t remember such a thing happening. But then again, he might have missed it. He really hadn’t paid that much attention to Mind Game in the old past.

“Oh and by the way,” she continued, “I’ve been thinking about talking to you about something. You know when you were asking me about time travel and possible ways to do it, well, this is far fetched but…”

“Wait, wait, forget that for a second.” He waved his hand, a suspicion suddenly creeping in his mind. “That doctor that contacted you… Who was he?”

“Actually, it was a ‘she.” Mind Game shrugged. “She said that they have developed a new operation that might save Starlet’s life. They led her down to the labs this morning.”

Depth Charge’s spark gave a painful jolt and he felt like all of his insides were freezing.

“To the labs?”


I hate you, Depth Charge, I hate you so much! I never hated you like this before! I only just got the rest of my spark back to have it split again.

The pain was bad but even worse was the understanding that his original escape could not occur under these circumstances.

Screaming was humiliating but he didn’t care anymore. What dignity did he have in front of these bots anyway? They regarded him as a mindless freak at best.

And Depth Charge? He truly hadn’t expected such a move from him. The Maximal hated him beyond measure, yes, but… His old friend While he had toyed with the bot calling him that had seemed amusing but now he realized he had unconsciously given some meaning to it, in his own sick way. His relationship with Depth Charge was based on hatred but at least it was some relationship.

He had been foolish enough to believe that the hunter would realize the similarities between them, one day, and maybe even join him. Now it had backfired. Depth Charge obviously could be that cruel…

Well, he had underestimated him and the Guardian had gained a small victory. He had altered the course of events and there was no telling what could happen now. And Rampage had a feeling that whatever happened would cause him more suffering. Still, he wasn’t about to give up the idea of escaping. He would find a way.


“The labs?!” Depth Charge repeated slowly.

“Well… yes. Why?”

“Which labs?”

“Those on the third level. Will you tell me why you’re asking all this?”

Third level. Not the lowest ones. Third level. Then everything is all right. And yet…

“That doctor who contacted you. What did she look like?”

The femme shrugged.

“Smaller than me. Crimson and gold, quite attractive too. She showed me an ID that identified her as class one spark surgeon. Otherwise I wouldn’t have trusted her with my daughter. She was really nice to the child too. I don’t quite remember her name. It was something like…


“Yes! Do you know her? Depth Charge, what’s wrong?”

Primus…He didn’t like this. He didn’t trust these scientists. Anyone who was capable of creating or working on something like Protoform X could not be trusted. There was something very wrong here. Why would they want the child?

It was possible that they had somehow found a way to cure her illness but… these scientists’ only focus was the Protoform X project. So… If such a cure existed, it had something to do with X!

“Depth Charge, what’s wrong with Dr. Clearcut?” she repeated more demandingly.

“No… Nothing. I just though she didn’t work on such things. I must have been mistaken.”

He tried to look nonchalant. Which was stupid. Mind Game was a very intelligent robot.

“Listen now, you hard-headed… Argh!” she slammed her hand on his desk. “This is the second time you try to do this and you are the worst liar I’ve ever met in my life! This is my daughter we’re talking about! And you’re gonna tell me everything you know! NOW!”

Her eyes flashed in fury and he almost recoiled. She was shorter than he but she was by no means small and she did look dangerous. Not half as dangerous as most of the robots he’d faced in battle but still. She had a hot temper for a psychiatrist.

He sighed.

“Mind Game… I’m a bit paranoid and I might be overreacting…”


“I don’t believe your daughter has been taken to level three.”

“What? Where then?” he sensed panic in her voice.

“The lowest levels.”

“But why would they take her there? Wait! Didn’t you say that’s where they kept that criminal of yours? Depth Charge, what’s going on here?”

He closed his optics.

“I… I don’t know anymore.”

There was a knock on the door and before he could respond no other than Dr. Clearcut stepped into his office.

“Could I please have a word with you, Guardian? In private.”

Mind Game stared hard at the doctor.

“What have you…” she started.

“Leave us alone, Miss.” Depth Charge said loudly, hoping that she would take the hint. He had gotten her in this mess. The less attention she drew to herself, the better.

The psychiatrist hesitated.

Please, Mind Game, please get out! Don’t show them you know me at all!

She slowly picked up two empty cups and left. He stood up and locked the door after her. Then he turned to face the scientist.

“What do you want?”

She smiled at him and seated herself comfortably in one of the chairs before answering.

“One of our doctors had a drink with you a few days ago.” She pierced him with beautiful golden optics, lips stretched in a pleasant smile.

Slag. I’m dead.

“We have ways to monitor everyone who might betray our secrets.” She continued. “Unfortunately, that particular doctor is not among the living anymore. He died in a… lab accident. However, you had an interesting conversation with him. And you gave an even more interesting idea. That’s the only reason you’re still alive.” She added lowly.

That and it will be hard to cover up my death. But I’m sure you’ll find a way.

“You shouldn’t have poked your nose in things that weren’t your business. We’re not sure what to do with you. But we can’t let you tell anyone what you know, can we? So for now I suggest you take a nice walk with me to the restricted levels. It might satisfy your curiosity. But before that you’ll inform your people that you’re going away so nobody comes to search for you. Questions?”

“Only one. As I understand it, you took down a small femme. Why?”

“It doesn’t matter. She didn’t survive the procedure.”

His spark dropped. Depth Charge swallowed with difficulty.

Two dead people already.

One child.

He was a Guardian.

He was supposed to protect her.

He had failed.

It was his fault.

Something he had done had caused that. Starlet would have died anyway, but at least she would have been home with her mother, they would have had a chance to say goodbye. Now Primus knew what her death had been like on the lab table.

Matrix, what would he tell Mind Game?

“In fact,” Clearcut said, as if reading his mind, “I think you should break the news to her mother. Let her know that the child simply didn’t survive the operation. She better hear it from someone she knows, right? It’s sad that we had to destroy the little one’s body but after the procedures it was contagious.”

He flinched.

He already hated her deceptively compassionate smile.

“Now I will leave. I’ll be back tonight with Captain Stunner and two of his guards. In the meantime you will inform the mother of her daughter’s death and tell your people of your departure. And I wouldn’t reveal any information or try anything else if I were you. Do as I say and you just might live. As well as everyone around you. Because if we suspect they know anything, they might not be that lucky.”

She unlocked the door and exited the room. He only had several brief seconds to prepare before Mind Game came in. She looked him directly in the face. It was obvious that she was struggling for control. She was expecting him to say something. He looked away, for the first time in stellar cycles feeling tears forming at the corners of his optics. He willed them away and forced himself to look at her.

“Mind Game…” He began quietly. “Dr. Clearcut has just informed me that… your daughter… Starlet did not survive the operation.”

Mind Game stood there, a shaking hand covering her mouth, tears running silently down her face.

“It’s your fault.” She whispered. “I know it has something to do with you. It’s your fault!”


It’s your fault…

He had thought so himself but now that she had said it, it hurt beyond measure. How could he mess up again? He had been given a second chance and he’d blown it! Now they would take him away and probably kill him and there would be no one left with the knowledge of what could happen. Clearcut had hinted that they had acted on his idea to cut a piece of X’s spark. Or at least they were considering it. But even so the killer might still find a way to escape. He had to be destroyed!

The Guardian’s work wasn’t finished. He would fail again.

The thought of failure was what brought him to his senses. It was time for desperate measures. He had to tell someone, in case he didn’t survive.

Mind Game was at the door when Depth Charge caught her hand.

“Let me go!”

“I have to tell you something.”

“Leave me alone, I don’t want to hear!”

“Mind Game, please, listen to me!”

“NO! I want nothing to do with you!”

I have to make her listen…

“I think your daughter might still be alive!”

She froze.

Forgive me.

He hated himself for saying that. He had only said it to make the psychiatrist hear him out. It was a lie. Starlet was dead, if not from the operation then from her weak spark. But he forced himself to continue.

“Mind Game, these people who took you daughter… They might be lying. It’s possible that they want you to think she’s dead so you don’t go looking for her.”

She was staring up at him, eyes filled with tears but her look steady. She really had some strength, that one, and it took all of his not to look away.

I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten you into this in the first place.

He was endangering her further by trying to share information with her. But then again, she was already into this. They had seen her with him. They would probably try to kill her anyway.

He should have known! There were rules when dealing with X. It had caused him dearly to learn them. How could he break them now? Allowing himself emotions other than anger and hatred, letting people get close to him… As if all his time as a hunter had taught him nothing!

But the mistakes were already made. He didn’t want to use the femme like this but he had no choice now.

“Why would they need her?” she asked.

“I’m not sure. But I’m going down there tonight and if she’s there I’ll find her. But there’s a chance I won’t be back. And there’s something I have to tell you but knowing it will put you in danger. So it’s… It’s your choice.”

There was a pause during which she simply looked at him. Then…

“I’m listening.” Came the soft reply.


Rampage could only guess at what Dr. Clearcut and Dr. Chillcold were up to now. The pain had returned while he was alone in his cell so he concluded they must be doing something to the part of his spark they had cut out.

It had been unbearable at first but now it had started to ease. Very slowly. For quite some time he was unable to focus on anything but the pain but when it finally reached a more manageable level he felt something else too.

The experience resembled something he had gone trough before and it brought back very unpleasant memories.

But it wasn’t quite the same, mostly because it wasn’t entirely unpleasant.

Like someone was holding his spark but without squeezing. The presence was weak but it was drawing strength from him. He could feel the drain.

There were sounds in the corridor outside. The door of the cell next to his opened and closed but he was too distracted to pay attention for the moment. 

Rampage’s empathic sense was mostly attuned to anger, fear and pain. Out of these three he could only feel a dull constant pain in the unknown creature. But even that was gradually fading.

His own pain faded with it until he could only feel the wedges piercing his arms, legs and middle section to keep him immobile. He tried to ignore that. At least now he could say for sure that the creature was another robot. And…

That felt strange. What he sensed was… calmness. It was something he had never felt until he was forced to join the Predacons and even then they had rarely been calm around him. Never to that extent.  The person was probably asleep.

Well, he was curious by nature. He reached for the emotion, cautiously at first. Then he let himself sink into it. The other spark was touching his and the feeling enveloped him.

Rampage closed his eyes with a sigh. It wasn’t fear or pain but somehow he enjoyed it. It helped dull his own pain and… well… loneliness. After he had started thinking of Depth Charge only as his enemy he had finally had to face the fact that he was lonely. And, especially in this place, having company was a relief. Even if the company didn’t know he was there.

Well, he better enjoy while he could. No one stayed that calm and innocent for long. Especially not around him.


“Colleagues, I think we’ve done a brilliant job!”

“Indeed. I believe we are getting as close to Primus as anyone could ever get. Just how did you manage to convince Chillcold?”

“She didn’t have to try very hard, although I did have some objections, yes.”

“Well, it WAS for her benefit. It was more a necessary medical procedure than an experiment.”

“I never thought a spark could survive being split into three pieces!”

“Yes, well, we still needed one at hand in order to control the experiment more effectively.”

“Dr. Clearcut, do we actually know how this is going to affect her?”

“Oh, well, we’ll find out, won’t we?”

“She won’t be immortal, will she?’

“Of course not! But the piece of an immortal spark she carries will heal her injuries to some extent. It already fixed her spark problem. It was the main reason for the experiment. If one day one of us needs fixing…”

“Do you think it’s possible that Protoform X might… I don’t know, get attached to her? If they will share a spark…”

“They have some things in common, yes, but she’s still a real robot while it is merely an experiment. Even if I believed the Protoform had feelings I wouldn’t advise it to get attached. I’m certain she will hate it.” 


He felt a small stab in his spark that had nothing to do with the experiments performed on it. At least not the physical ones.

He was sure they always had these conversations in front of his cell on purpose. Though they would never admit he had a mind of his own they seemed to enjoy trying to upset him. Either by describing their plans for him in detail or leading loud dialogues such as this one, emphasizing that he was a thing and no one would ever accept the way he was.

Suddenly he wanted to withdraw as far from the other spark as possible. Which wasn’t much, considering their proximity. Great, he couldn’t get away. He didn’t usually mind sensing others’ emotions but not having a choice was a different thing.

The feeling of calmness seeped away to be replaced by the all too familiar loathing. This new robot was just the next torture device. Like TM2 Dinobot had been.

Except that the schizophrenic artificially created raptor had only had room for three or so emotions while this one was capable of much more as he discovered when she started to wake. But at that point something distracted him.

He was here!

Rampage felt him immediately. He closed his optics and concentrated.

Anger. That was hardly surprising. And also fear but not the kind of fear the killer would have enjoyed. This was just the usual fear of failure he often sensed in Depth Charge but this time it was more prominent.

Interesting. How had the former ray managed to enter the restricted labs? And why was he so afraid now that he knew Rampage was more restrained than ever with all the security measures and the core of his spark cut out? Cut out and transplanted to another being, but Depth Charge probably didn’t know that. If he knew, he would have been outraged at the scientists, experimenting on an innocent femme. Although they did give her painkillers and they did treat her as a person.  Experimenting on Rampage however was another thing.

Yes, why not carve our names on his spark and see if it heals? The scientists just loved to torment him and there was one of them who was especially inventive about it. Now it had become evident Depth Charge was just the same. He had given Dr. Clearcut the one idea she still hadn’t come up with.

So maybe the Guardian was allowed here to enjoy his good work. Except if he had come to kill him.

Well, that would be a relief, wouldn’t it…?

No. He couldn’t give up yet. Not before he got his revenge on the universe. He couldn’t die and let everyone who had tortured him live.



The unoccupied cell to his right locked. Rampage reopened his optics abruptly.

Now, that was unexpected. Looks like I just got a second neighbor.


Depth Charge sat on the only bench in his cell and leaned on the wall.

All right. Let’s assess the situation. Rampage is still contained. That’s a plus.

And Dr. Clearcut had made sure to inform him that the killer was in the cell next to his on the left. Maybe she had thought that would scare him. He looked at the left wall. Bah. He had seen scarier things than a cell wall. Even if there was a mass murdered behind it. Actually, the fact that he was behind it was what made it even less scary. Being so close to X he could keep an eye on what was happening to him. The down side of it was that that creep could sense his emotions. He would have to stay very calm…

Yeah, good luck with that.

Well, at least he had managed to talk to Mind Game…


…and put her in danger.


He had told her to try and contact Optimus Primal simply because, as much as Depth Charge hated to admit it, he was the only person he could think of who might be willing to help. Whether he would do it was another matter entirely. Would he believe some strange femme? Would he go against the Government?

To be honest, based on his experience, Depth Charge doubted it but it was out of his hands now.

He punched the wall.

Slag. I was supposed to stay calm.

In the next cell Rampage smirked.


The third cell looked less like a cell and more like a real room. It had a bed in it and even a small table with an untouched tray of food. A young femme was sitting on the bed and staring at the ceiling. She felt really miserable but she wasn’t crying because she had learned not to do that long ago. It upset her mother to see her cry and though her mother wasn’t there now, the habit remained.

She was so tired…

Until very recently she had known she would die and she had more or less come to terms with the thought. Now she was alive but she wasn’t sure that was an improvement. Everything was so very wrong here!

The doctors were being nice to her, especially the red and gold lady, but she was terrified every time they put her to sleep because she had no idea what they were doing to her. She felt strange and she knew for sure there was something alien in her body. Like the presence of another person. She didn’t like that presence. It was dark, bitter and scary. She was almost sure it was the robot in the room next to hers. He was either insane or they were doing something horrible to him because he often screamed. Then she would block her audios with her hands and do her best not to listen.   

But now he was silent. And she was feeling a bit dizzy. That worried her somehow but she didn’t have the energy to think about it.

She wanted to see her Mom badly but she had quickly realized there was no hope for that.

The dizziness was getting worse. She lay down on the bed.

They had told her that her mother had abandoned her, which she hadn’t believed even for a moment. She was probably looking for her. With that thought she felt herself drift to sleep.


She’s sad. SHE’S SAD! What right does she have to be sad? She has no idea what real pain is! They… They spoil her rotten! They talk to her, they’re nice to her, and they used my spark to heal her. What’s the big difference between us?

I hate her!

He suddenly realized she was starting to lose consciousness and her spark was growing weaker. That immediately made him feel weaker too. The piece of his spark in her body was drawing from his own strength. This time he cared for more than one reason. He didn’t want to be the means to repair her. He wanted to hurt her.

Of course, nobody asked him. But if they didn’t discover the problem soon she would die



Chapter four

Bless the child

Amongst the chaos, war and pain

There’s hope, illogical and wild

That beauty can be born again

In the emotions of a child.

They’re not as simple as we think,

Those many things our children feel

But in their souls they find a link

To something vital, something real.


There are many unpleasant ways to be woken up. Fluid-freezing screams from next door is certainly one of the worst. Depth Charge jerked awake abruptly and instinctively reached for his gun. Which, of course, wasn’t there. It took the former ray a few moments to gather his wits and remember where he was. The screams fitted perfectly with the dream he had been having about Rampage the crab slaughtering everyone on ancient Earth during the Beast Wars. Funny. While on Earth he had had nightmares about Omicron. Now when he was back on Omicron he dreamed of Earth. Not much of a difference really since there was always X, tearing his screaming victims apart.

But now the screams themselves belonged to X, he realized. He listened more carefully.

“Hurry up you two and get him to the lab! We’re loosing her! She needs the transfusion NOW!” Dr. Clearcut’s voice shouted.

Depth Charge’s optics narrowed. Did they mean mech fluid transfusion? Were they trying to save someone? But why would they use X for that? No, wait, that made sense. He would regain the lost fluid rather quickly and survive a loss no other bot could. But if they needed THAT much of a transfusion, whomever they were saving was practically a goner.

But who WAS it… she? There weren’t supposed to be any other experiments here.

A small suspicion crept into his mind.

No… It can’t be.     

But Dr. Clearcut was the only femme around and she clearly wasn’t the one in danger. So what if…

Starlet? Can she have really survived?

A short spark of joy coursed trough him.

But it could also be someone else, someone I just don’t know of… And even if it is her…

He just prayed the bot in question made it.


Starlet cautiously opened her optics and immediately closed them again as the bright light hit her. So, she was in the lab again. What had happened? She remembered feeling weak and falling asleep. She still felt rather tired and her whole body was stiff. She opened her optics again just slightly to let them adjust to the brightness of the room. When the light stopped hurting her, she carefully moved her head to look around. When she glanced to her right she froze in horror at the huge form lying on the next table. He was partially covered in dried mech fluid as was the table itself and the floor underneath. There were metal sticks sticking out of his limbs and midsection and a narrow tube attached to his arm transferred another portion of mech fluid to her body. It was like a disgusting scene from a horror movie. Starlet felt the urge to scream and run away but she was paralyzed by fear… And by some restraints as well, which were gentle but firm. She started shaking, tears running down her cheeks and she quickly averted her gaze, praying that the image would disappear. She had to get out of this place! She looked at the other robot again. His head was turned towards her now. Then his optics suddenly lit up.  

A small, horrified scream escaped her mouth and she strained to get free.

He smiled.

“You’re afraid.”

She jerked again.

After struggling wildly for about a cycle, she noticed that he wasn’t actually doing anything to her. And probably couldn’t, pinned as he was to the table. She stopped tugging at the restraints and simply stared at him, panting.

Ok, calm down! What you see is just a huge robot, some mech fluid and some medical equipment. You’ve seen huge robots before. You’ve seen mech fluid and medical equipment since you spent a big portion of your life in hospitals. It’s not that scary.

In fact, the only really horrifying thing was the way this bot was kept in place and the way he was smiling. And smiles, unpleasant as they could be, didn’t kill.

But she was still shaking in fear.

Then she remembered something her mother had thought her when she had been smaller. When you see something scary put it in a trivial situation. Whenever she was afraid of the monster under the bed her mother had made her offer it some energon candies. Do something unexpected and the monster will be more startled than you. Well, she didn’t have any candies but…

She took a deep breath.


He blinked, surprise registering on his face for a brief moment.


She felt encouraged.

“My name’s Starlet. Pleased to meet you.”

“You’re not.” came his reply. “You’re afraid of me and you’re disgusted. You don’t like meeting me one bit.”

Never lie to a monster. In movies bots who lie to it end up eaten.

“You’re right. But maybe that’s because I don’t know you yet.”

“You’d hate me if you knew me.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“Why would I hate you?”

“Because I have ki- ” he paused as realization hit him.

I haven’t yet. Not in this timeline anyway.

“Because I want to kill you and everyone else.”

She twitched. She really didn’t find his company very pleasant. But she was growing more confident talking to him and anyway, dying was not the most scary thing for her. Besides, he couldn’t do anything right now.

“Why would you want to do that?”

“Because I hate you. You, the scientists, everyone!”


He was starting to get angry.

“Because of all the slagging things you’ve done to me!”

“I haven’t done anything to you.”

“They used me to save your pathetic worthless life!”

She cringed back from him.

“This wasn’t my fault!”

“Do you think I care?! Do you think I did anything to deserve- Argh!”

In his anger he had forgotten about the wedges and the sudden movement of his hand had caused the half-healed wound to reopen.

Silence followed. Rampage stayed still, waiting for the pain to subside. He knew he shouldn’t have lost it like that. He should have been collected. He should have played with her mind, not the other way around. He was doing this the wrong way. Even her fear had decreased a little.

“I’m sorry.” she said quietly.

He gave her a blank look.


“For this.” she nodded vaguely towards him. “I guess I’d want to kill someone too if I were you.”

He stared at her, not knowing how to reply.

“No.” he finally said harshly. “I’d want to kill you even without this. I like killing. I like torturing. I like it! And I’m gonna do it no matter what!”

She surveyed him, her optics wide. Then she frowned and looked away. She said nothing more. And he fell silent too.    


“Well, I have to say, Miss Mind Game, that you are very lucky to have found me here on Cybertron. I’m just back from an expedition and I’m soon leaving for another one.” The large robot across the table said, giving her a small smile. “What is this so important thing that you had to tell me in private in my quarters? The last time I got such a proposal, I had to ask the lady very politely to put her armor back on as quickly as possible. But you don’t look like your information is of that type.”

In fact, the femme in front of him looked positively shaken, though she was doing her best to cover it.

“Optimus Primal, what I’m going to tell you is going to be very hard to believe. I didn’t believe it at first either. But you have to! I was sent here by someone who believes that you are the only person who could possibly believe and help us!”

“Mind Game, calm down! You make it sound as if this is some kind of Government conspiracy!”

He frowned at the silence that followed.

“All right, what is this about?”


Listening to the screams that morning, Depth Charge had discovered another thing. The walls of the cells were very thick and strong but that didn’t include those between one cell and the next. Judging from how clear he could hear the screams, they were very thin and made of a much weaker material. Apparently, nobody cared if the prisoners broke down the walls and got to each other as long as they stayed contained. He wasn’t sure how that helped him, if at all. He didn’t really have the means to kill Rampage right now, even if he got to him. On the other hand, Rampage was obviously restrained even inside the cell. So he could see what was being done to him without risking that much. Not doing anything was driving him crazy. He had to try something even if it was only to occupy his time. But breaking the wall of the cell wasn’t really possible. First, he wasn’t that heavy, he’d break his shoulder at the most. And second, it would be far too noisy. So, what else could he do?

Hmm… Contrary to what some people though, Depth Charge was a rather inventive robot.

If anyone sees this, they’ll think I’ve gone nuts. Again.

He took the remains of his energon dinner and put some of it on the wall. Then winced as he tore one end of a small wire from his arm and touched it to the stain in the wall. A few sparks flied. On theory, the one-way electricity flow would eventually corrode the metal in time. In a long time. But he didn’t have anything else to do. He was desperate for some task to accomplish and he was steadily becoming frantic as the date when Rampage…

Wait a nano. When had he started calling him Rampage? He had very rarely used that name before, accidentally slipping it in between all the Xs. Well, he supposed it was simply much more descriptive than “Protoform X”…

But whatever he called him, the day when he was supposed to escape was drawing closer. The night before it Depth Charge didn’t get a minute’s sleep and morning found him kneeling in the corner of the cell, the ends of the severed wires from his arm disappearing in a narrow but deep gap. He was horrified that things might not have changed at all despite his best efforts and he was horrified of being horrified because he knew Rampage could feel it. The psychopath was probably laughing with delight at the Guardian’s fear.

Some of the time this really was the case. Rampage did laugh. When he wasn’t preoccupied with more urgent things like the excruciating pain in his limbs. Sometimes he did find the presence of his old playmate amusing and somewhat comforting. It reminded him that his life and his freedom had not been a dream. 

As for the former ray, some illogical subconscious part of him insisted that if he managed to make the hole on time and look into the killer’s cell that would somehow prevent the murders. Like a child, convinced that if you jumped over the cracks in the pavement instead of stepping on them, nothing bad would happen to you.

But before he could make a break-through several guards took Rampage somewhere. Depth Charge’s panic rose to a tremendous level. He didn’t even stop to wonder what all of Rampage’s screaming was for like he would have some other day. He simply sat there, frozen, numb, and waited for the commotion to start.  


Rampage also knew very well what day it was and as the guards were taking him to the lab he was every bit as nervous as his enemy. He couldn’t take this any longer, he just couldn’t bear it; he had to get away. And for some reason it just seemed important that it happened today. Today was the date. If he managed today he would prove that nothing had changed, that history could not really be altered. He would be able to scatter the corpses of those wretched scientists around the whole cursed facility. He would kill Dr. Clearcut with exclusive delight. And then he would wipe away the whole slagging colony. This time he would leave NO survivors. He would kill the little witch and take the piece of his spark right out of her chest. And he would kill Depth Charge and there would be no one to hunt him down and catch him and get him sealed in a stupid pod. Although… There was something out of place in this idea, like a false note on a symphony. He certainly didn’t feel any remorse or pity. He wouldn’t hesitate to tear the bot limb from limb, especially now when the Guardian had done everything to make his living hell all the more horrible.

But he had gotten so used to his playmate constantly chasing him. He felt less lonely when he knew someone would come after him, even if the reason was to kill him. Depth Charge was the constant in his life, something stable and predictable. It would be… different without him. Still, he’d better kill him. Things had gone too far.

The previous time he had managed to escape because of two things. One was the fact that the guards had kept him under control for quite a while now and were growing careless and the other was a rather ridiculous accident. Captain Stunner, by the kind request of Dr. Clearcut who claimed that he was utterly useless, had decided to inspect the locks of Rampage’s cell and had successfully managed to lock himself in.

Except for the bot on the table there were only two guards in the lab since the doctors hadn’t arrived yet. As he had eagerly anticipated, at one moment they received through their comm. links an angry massage from their captain for all slagging units to come and get him out of the slagging cell, slag it. All units had obliged, he knew. All guards were gathering in front of his cell. Unable to resist the amusement of seeing their captain rescued from this situation the two who were supposed to stay with him shortly debated and decided they could afford to leave the experiment on the table. He couldn’t go anywhere with those wedges in him, could he?

Once they were out of the room Rampage sighed a small sigh of relief. So far everything was according to plan. And to think that the first time he had done this he hadn’t had a plan.


“How dare you leave your post, you idiots! Do you know what could…”

Everyone froze in horror at the sight of the huge robot. The experiment labeled Protoform X got up from the table dripping mech fluid and slowly advanced on them. The impossibly wicked smile on his face spoke clearly of his intention to smash and tear apart everything and everyone. He would have fulfilled that intention too if Dr. Chillcold with his usual calm indifference hadn’t used the time while everyone shrieked in terror to take the third piece of Rampage’s spark out of his subspace compartment and crush it.

The former crab dropped to the floor with a howl of anger, pain and despair. He had hoped against all hope that everyone would be too scared to think of using the spark box before he managed to get to it. And he had hoped in vain. He hadn’t made it. He felt like he had missed his only chance and he would stay here forever. Depth Charge had altered history after all.

I hate you, Guardian.


That strange feeling in her spark again. Starlet didn’t like it one bit because she knew it had to do with him. She hated the fact that a part of him lived in her. Otherwise the sensation wasn’t exactly painful to her. Just unpleasant. But she had the vague feeling that it was rather painful for him.

She wasn’t aware of the fact that that was the understatement of the stellar cycle.


Depth Charge spent the whole day staring numbly through the hole into the next cell, straining his audios to hear the screams. Anticipation drove him to the brim of insanity as he waited for some sign that the massacre had begun and when there was none he simply imagined what was probably happening out of his range of hearing.

When Rampage was dragged back to his cell it took the Maximal no less than two minutes to fully register that nothing had really happened. It was like a block of ice melted around him. He felt ready to scream with relief. He had made it! He had changed things! Maybe the possibility of the killer escaping hadn’t disappeared but somehow it was vital to get through this day. The fact that no disaster had struck colony Omicron today was a proof that the course of history could be altered. What he did mattered! Unable to calm down just yet he stayed glued to the small gap to make sure Rampage was really there, coming to terms with the idea that he would see no horrors today.

What he saw next however chilled him to the very core of his spark. Even he, with all his hatred towards the robot enduring it, could not call it anything but a torture session. He quickly gathered that Rampage had at least tried to escape and neither the guards nor the scientists were too happy about that.

Halfway through it Depth Charge turned away and tried to pretend he was temporarily deaf.


Starlet was crying. She had promised herself not to cry and she had gone through a lot keeping that promise. But now she broke it. And it wasn’t out of self-pity; the tears she shed weren’t caused by her own misery. The little robot was crying for the sake of someone else. Something horrible was happening in the cell next to her. She could feel it as well as hear it and her compassionate spark continued to cringe in sympathy even after it was finally over.

True, he wasn’t very pleasant but he hadn’t really done anything to her. Well, he hadn’t had the chance to but the fact remained.

He had actually done something for her. He had saved her life. Twice.

Unwillingly, yes, but the fact still remained.

And her mother had taught her that no one became bad on purpose. People generally became bad when they were frightened, sad or in pain. Due to her illness she could never play outside like a normal child and she remembered how that had made her shout at her mother and break anything she could in the house. And she was intelligent enough to realize that being sick and knowing you would die but having someone to love and care for you could not even be compared to what he was going trough. Even Dr. Clearcut, scary as she was, was being very nice to her and especially cold and cruel to him.

I wonder if he has a family. I wonder if anybody is looking for him like my mother is looking for me. There has to be someone… But what if there isn’t?

Suddenly determined, she wiped away her tears. She didn’t like being near him but she wanted to do something to help him. That decision pulled her out of the lethargic state she had been in since they had taken her here and helped her focus her thoughts.

She gingerly touched her chest plate.

If a piece of his spark is beating inside me, then maybe…

She concentrated.


His hands balled into fists, his optics shut tight in a futile attempt to block away the whole world. His whole body shuddered from both the after-effect of what had been done to him and his mental struggle against desperation. Why couldn’t they just go away and leave him alone? He wanted his mind to stop working. He wanted to go really insane, the kind of insane when you don’t know who you are or what you are or what world you’re in. He just wanted to disappear.

Then suddenly he felt it. An intense emotion brushed his spark.

It didn’t have a name and it couldn’t be clearly identified but it was strong. Like it was directed at him on purpose.

The little one.

The emotion was nudging him to pay attention to it. He didn’t have the strength to ignore it right now and it was a distraction so he submitted to it almost eagerly.

It was overwhelming at first. It was something a lot more complicated than anything he had sensed in a bot so far, more complicated than anything he himself had felt. The emotions he was used to being surrounded by – hatred, anger, fear, pain, – they were all simple and clear. This one though… It was only one thing but it was both reluctant and determined. It almost seemed that she wanted him to feel her emotions. Of course, that couldn’t be true. She didn’t even know he was an empath. Unless she had come to the conclusion that if a piece of his spark was in her, they could somehow connect. A child’s logic. Not that it wasn’t true… But even if she wasn’t doing it on purpose… he didn’t exactly dislike it.



Chapter five

The finish line

Sometimes you cross the finish line

Exhausted from the miles you’ve run

To find that while this race has ended

Another one has just begun.

And there is no time to be tired

And there is no time to rejoice

The prize is all that you believe in

So you will race – you have no choice.


Depth Charge had fallen into exhausted sleep, his mind needing time to comprehend everything that had happened. When he awoke in the middle of the night his head still hurt. He rubbed tiredly at his forehead and he automatically moved to look trough the gap in the wall. All seemed quiet. His paranoia instantly made him worry if the killer hadn’t somehow slipped away and the cell wasn’t empty. But no. He could just make out Rampage’s form.

He flinched as the memory of what had occurred in that cell earlier tried to resurface. Depth Charge pushed it back down. He didn’t even want to go near that thought.

Primus, I hope Mind Game has found Optimus and some kind of help is on the way because I just don’t know how to handle this situation.


  Mind Game stared at Optimus, her eyes wide.

“But I warned you! I warned you not to tell the Elders! You… You’ve just put us all in danger, including yourself! Why did you do it? WHY, Optimus? Was it so hard to imagine for at least a cycle that the government was corrupt? Have they brainwashed everyone? The same government that helped in kidnapping my daughter! WHY DID YOU TELL THEM?”

Optimus gazed at her, taken aback.

“Mind Game, calm down! The government promised that they would address the matter!”

She laughed hollowly. It was a horrible sound.

“It’s all over now. We’re all over.”


The pink-lavender dawn rose above colony Omicron on the day of its supposed destruction. The sidewalks slowly started to fill with bots, the streets and air-passages with vehicles. Shops opened, children went to school and parents went to work, unaware that the fabric of time and history was changing around them, dissipating and rearranging into uncertain ghostly shapes. For better or worse, colony Omicron lived on, at least for the time being.

The little femme was asleep, curled up in her bed and dreaming of her mother. She had been nervous at first at the other’s presence but she hadn’t cut the connection. Gradually, she had grown more comfortable. And she had gotten a strange feeling of control. Yes, he was so much more powerful than her that the sole comparison was ridiculous. But his power was somewhat pleasant to have around if you managed to convince yourself that it could do you no harm. So she had eventually fallen asleep.

Morning, felt but not seen in the small space of the underground cell, found Rampage staring at the wall the small femme was behind. How could she sleep so peacefully? There was still hope in her. How could she still believe that someone would find her?

What could it be to feel like this?


Mind Game had been wise in her decision to disappear that same night after her last conversation with Optimus. The very next day it was all over the front-pages. Optimus Primal had been arrested for helping a Predacon criminal, namely her. They had dug up her old criminal record and sent it to the media. Well, the desperate mother didn’t give a slag about her reputation right now but the fact that the Maximal police was officially searching for her was another thing. Although it was probably for the better that they were searching officially instead of non-officially. The Elders had obviously decided that keeping too many things secret would get suspicious and hard to explain if, by some unfortunate accident, the citizens of Cybertron got wind of it. So they had obviously come up with a story that would answer all uncomfortable questions. The general mood concerning Predacons on Cybertron was bad as it was; no one needed much explanation once the name of the faction was mentioned. She’d have to get herself repainted. And she’d be better off with her own at least until she came up with a plan. Because she was determined not to give up.

As she was carefully walking in the gray morning light trough the narrow streets of the Predacon ghetto, she vowed that she would get her little girl back if she was alive and make those responsible for her death pay dearly if she wasn’t.

If Rampage could have felt her spark right now even he would have probably taken a step back. It radiated not the hot, blind, consuming rage and grief Depth Charge often displayed but a deep, overwhelming, sheer power, strong enough to conquer the world. The power of a mother’s love.


Depth Charge had spent the remainder of the night beside the gap, exhausted but unable to fall asleep. When the first dull lights flickered on he was finally able to clearly see the huge form outlined in the dimly lit cell next to his. He breathed a sigh. That faithful day when his life had been destroyed had passed and the colony was still there. What was more, Rampage had tried to escape and failed which made it less likely that he would succeed the next time. The former Security Chief knew that he would probably die in that cell but at least his mind was more at peace than it had been for what felt like eternity.

“It’s morning.” He said out loud as if to convince himself. “It’s morning and he’s still here. He’s not going anywhere this time.”

“Are you happy now, Guardian?”

He jumped a whole meter upon hearing the quiet, painfully harsh voice.

“It’s your merit, you know. They wouldn’t have thought of splitting my spark. In the end, you’re more like me than even I had thought, despite all the times I’ve told you so. Did you enjoy my pain like I enjoyed yours?”

Depth Charge’s fist balled but he refused to be baited so easily now that he had won a victory.

“The only thing I enjoy is the fact that I somehow managed to go one step closer to fulfilling my duty. And despite your claims, I haven’t forgotten what it is. My duty is to protect every bot on this colony.”

For a while there was silence on the other side of the wall. Then Rampage’s next words came in a whisper so low, barely audible, that Depth Charge was sure they weren’t directed at him. But he did hear them. 

“I was a bot on this colony. And I hadn’t done anything wrong for a time. Where were you when you were supposed to protect me?”

End of part one