Chapter 16: The End of the Battle

Willie checked his repairs, moving as fast as he could. The three Decepticons ships blocked any escape, by sitting just out of range, and firing warning shots whenever the Scout tried to move. He had just finished checking his repairs when Sparkplug came on line. "Done yet?"

"It's as fixed as it's going to get, "Willie admitted. "I'm going to seal myself in the engine room so I can deal with whatever else comes up. Any idea yet what's going on?"

"None" the small captain admitted. "I thought we were goners when they ganged up on us. Then they just sat. So, since we have a moment, you want to tell me what it was Prime wanted to talk to you about? He said I could ask you when we had time."

Rodimus passed in the warning-and a reprimand that made Willie want to climb into his engines and hide for about a vorn. "He was standing on the desk while we had the three-way connection, and he was signing most of the transmission. Megatron had no idea that he was talking," the Prime told Willie once he got the engineer on the line.

"Sam said he never wanted Megatron to know he could communicate outside some very simple signs." Sam told Willie that if Megatron ever showed the least sign of caring about Sam as a person, he would have showed the mech he could write.

"He said something once about being underestimated," Rodimus agreed. "Sam also said that a spy hacked the Population Control computer and found that he had a living child and while he is unsure what Megatron might try, he wanted you warned. Now that Megatron is aware that his 'pet' holds part of the All-Spark, Sam is being well-treated. It seems that instead of hurting Sam, he is confining him more closely."

"How? From what Sam said, he was either in a cage or with Megatron." Willie checked his air supply. I'll need more air and some other supplies if I'm staying in here much longer, he thought.

"He was chained. His wrists were attached to his waist, restricting hand movement, and his waist was attached to a chain that hooked into the desk. He was able to sign without trouble, but he could not do much else. It was meant as a display, not with any goodwill."

Willie was quiet for a time. "He just has to keep proving to Sam that he's a pet, doesn't he?" the engineer finally said. "It's like by humiliating Sam, Megs can prove it to himself."

"Maybe so. Now tell me, when did you find out that Sam was your father?" Willie did not enjoy the rest of the conversation. In the end, Rodimus told him that he would not pursue the matter further, as the hacking was some time ago, but he hoped never to hear of such an episode again. Willie signed off feeling like a spanked child.

To Sparkplug, Willie said, "Sam said that one of the spies got into the Population Control computer and found out that Sam's genetic material was used to conceive me. He was afraid that I might be endangered and oh my god."

From the swearing on the other end of the line, the idea occurred to Sparkplug too. "You think Megatron might be using a threat to you to get Sam to do something," Sparkplug finally said.

"The All-Spark," Willie said in anguish. "Sam told Rodimus and Ratchet and me that Optimus Prime talked to him when he got the Matrix and the Prime said the All-Spark has to be united to work, that the two halves must meet to be made whole. Sam always said he would stall any way he could. They can't take a chance he'll suicide on them."

"Would he?" Sparkplug never understood why humans would end an already short life.

"Yes. He comes back, remember? He knows Megatron will use the All-Spark against us, so he'll stall any way he can. Megatron's not stupid, he knows Sam will suicide if he gets the chance. That's why the chains, probably why they're taking care of him. They'll want him in good condition."

"We're going to move," Sparkplug said, and behind him Willie heard others talking. "It'll take a bit for us to get everything set up. Get air and water and whatever else you need and get back to the engines. I'll give you a warning."

Willie got moving, trying to focus, but one thought kept running through his head. After Sam loses the All-Spark power after holding it so long, how can he survive?

Rodimus Prime wished he insisted on Willie staying with him and not going with the Scout. Oliver was a good engineer, but he was not Willie. Reports flowed past his screens as the other ships wove in and out of the defenses, firing and disabling as fast as they could. The minor damage on the Primal affected performance. Repairs were not happening fast enough.

"Ironhide, pick a team and clean up some of those smaller satellites. Get the information on which from Blaster." Rodimus thanked Primus that Soundwave off-lined in the last space battle; so far there were no totaled ships. With Soundwave the damages would have been tripled. He wondered how much time they had before Megatron fed Sam to the shard.

Across Earth, the supervisors everywhere waited for orders. Megatron gave clear instructions. In space, the battle raged. Most soldiers fought in space. Half the soldiers on Earth manned defenses. He orders those with humans to keep them confined to buildings and await orders.

Some supervisors planned to disobey those orders.

Shrapnel went over his lists again. As it rained hard, the slaves worked at cleaning and repair work that they often did at such times. When ordered to chose his best to the front lines, he sent the supervisors most likely to obey an order to kill the slaves. Razorclaw came over in the dead of night and talked some scrap about visiting the site of the old still. Shrapnel knew something was up. Razorclaw played a hologram of his conversation with Sam. The two looked at each other, and they both knew what they would do.

When Shrapnel got the assignment to go to space, he believed there was a glitch. When he arrived at the spaceport, he almost glitched when he saw Razorclaw. There was a supervisor from a factory, and two from the construction assignments. The lecture they got from Megatron threw his processor into more confusion. Oh, everyone heard about the feral human, and how the Master was keeping him, carried him almost everywhere, and treated him like something precious. Shrapnel shrugged it off; he knew all of them got fond of a human every once in a while. They got over it when they lost the human, the way he lost Mute. The Master showed a hologram of his pet, and Shrapnel was surprised to find that he did look like Mute.

It turned out that everyone knew the hologram as some slave they knew and liked at some time. Like the others, he started getting uneasy. He knew that there could not be that many white-haired mute male slaves, all about the same age as Mute was when he was with Shrapnel and then Razorclaw. Shrapnel needed an emergency reboot when he found out that Mute-or Noisy, or White, or Quiet- was the same person as the master's pet, rebooted due to carrying a piece of the All-Spark.

Megatron chose them all for the same reasons. They all knew Sam in various situations, they all treated him well while he was in their care, and all of them understood that he held part of the All-Spark. For that reason, he had to be retaken, he was not to be killed, and he was to be treated well once he was taken. All agreed. Most felt a strong attachment to their version of Sam. If the Autobots had not killed CyKill for what he did to Sam, Shrapnel would have. Even after two weeks of healing, poor Sam/Mute was still covered in marks from his frantic struggle to keep his freedom. From watching the colonists, all of them saw that humans were perfectly capable of governing themselves, and given opportunity, took care of themselves quite well. The belief that humans needed to be cared for was one big fat lie. He tried to shrug that off. They were still small, soft, and inferior.

Shrapnel looked over at the barracks where the majority of the slaves slept. He got the males just getting into their maturity, and generally they stayed until they were in the beginning of their second decade. Oh, they were trouble, of course, always getting into fights, stealing food, playing tricks on each other and sometimes a supervisor if they thought they could get away with it. They had to be trained in all the jobs. But they were young, and so very defenseless. He made his decision , and all of the supervisors with him concurred. They would not kill their charges; they would do their best to keep them alive until this matter settled out in one way or another. Killing Autobots and armed Alliance humans was one thing. Killing their own helpless charges was another.

Razorclaw went from breeding farm to breeding farm, and gave his orders. Keep the children in the most protected areas, tended by the pregnant females. Send the males to the outer rooms, and the supervisors were to keep an optic out for any activity. No one was going to kill his females or the young children. He would protect them all if he could. In this he was lucky. The supervisors here tended to see the young human children as sparklings. He sent the ones who might have followed the order to the front lines.

In factories all over Earth, on farms all over Earth, others made the same decisions. Scrapper and a few other supervisors gathered all of the slaves they ever worked with, gathered all the food he or they could find, and melted into the wilderness. Supervisors at factories scouted out safe spots for their workers. They found areas one supervisor could stand in front of and defend. Some of the supervisors at the mines passed the word to what slaves they could. Bonecrusher was one the first called to the front lines, but he left orders, and those supervisors knew they were not likely to survive the insubordination.

And they all waited.

The day started with Sam numb. Megatron must have put something in his last meal, Sam thought as he bathed and dressed. The Decepticon leader brought him a bowl of warm water to bath in. The clothes were new, as were the chains- appropriate for a sacrifice.

Until Megatron informed him that he was holding Willie hostage, Sam intended to go limp. If his 'protector' was going to force the meld onto him, let him put some effort into it; Sam was not going to just walk to his death. That threat resigned him to the inevitable. Megatron picked him up and held him for a time. When Megatron put him down, Sam did not look back as he walked away. He felt the pull more strongly than ever. This time he let it take him. The door at the end of the hallway opened, and he did not have to make it to the shard. It came to him.

Like his trip to visit the Primes, he was elsewhere, not in body, but in mind. This presence radiated light and warmth- and exasperation. As the power in the shard joined its other half, the All-Spark personality revealed itself to Sam, communicating directly into his mind much as Mulah did.

Sam's first impression was exasperation at how long it took these foolish mortals to figure out it needed to be complete!

Second? Displeasure with the Decepticons. Then Sam revised that impression. The All-Spark felt totally, royally, and completely pissed off.

For most of Sam's lives, it grew in strength. When the All-Spark created new sparks, it took time to regenerate. Considering that it had not been used for thousands of years except in Sector Seven experiments, the power built back in the time Sam held it. Despite the shard reviving Decepticons and regenerating Sam, the power of the All-Spark part in Sam recovered by his last revival.

It sought the Lord Protector in the absence of a Prime, in addition to seeking its other part. Finding the Lord Protector, it did its best to reach to him. It could not get past his Pits-damned ego. Sam understood now that Megatron sensed the All-Spark in him, and this faint stirring of his oath-binding nudged him to protect Sam. The All-Spark assured Sam that some of Megatron's attachment to him was genuine.

Unfortunately, both the binding of the Decepticon leader's oath and his ability to care for anyone at all was skewed by his megalomania, his prejudice against other sentient races and his twisted ambition. The All-Spark tested any being trying to touch Sam's mind by throwing up the painful memories; Soundwave could not endure them because he did not have Sam- and therefore the All-Spark's- best interests in mind. Mulah did, and he got through.

When Sam took the Matrix to Rodimus, the All-Spark recognized the Prime as worthy and gave the power to bind him to the Matrix. With the Prime, the All-Spark felt secure. Rodimus protected Sam, and therefore the All-Spark in him while working toward the goal of reuniting it with its other part. The contact with Mulah awakened it further. When Sam returned to Megatron, the All-Spark knew that the Lord Protector understood the All-Spark resided in Sam. Instead of respecting Sam as the holder of the All-Spark and treating him accordingly, Megatron insisted that Sam submit to him, even knowing that Sam was the All-Spark's host. Despite being fond of Sam, as a pet if nothing else, the Decepticon leader was still willing to sacrifice Sam, unwilling, to get the All-Spark. He was then going to use the All-Spark as a weapon against the Prime and his forces.

The All-Spark gave life, sparks begin new lives. This was its purpose, given from Primus. Never a weapon, never a tool for war! It had every intention of remaking a Cube at some point. However, it owed Sam, and it owed the human race. It offered Sam a bargain, and he accepted with no hesitation.

So it was that the All-Spark, using Sam's body as more than simply a host for the first time, turned to the Lord Protector who failed it, and smiled.

The merge reached out. Megatron was the first to freeze. Then the Decepticons in the hall began to fall like bowling pins, and the merge cursed in four different languages as it crawled over the stilled bodies on to get out.

"So much for dignity," the merge grumbled. "At least no one will ever know."

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