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This is a (quite old) Transformers fic I wrote, based on the characters from the Generation 1 cartoon/movie and one of the Transformers Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood. I was a hardcore Transformers fangirl back in the 80s, and I *loved* writing stories about them. Actually, most of the stories were simply scenes. But this one, which I wrote maybe 20 years after my love affair with the Autobots and Decepticons had waned, has something closer to a beginning, middle, and end. Why did I write it so many years later? I don’t know. I think it was around the time of the first Michael Bay film, and that movie made me so angry, because in my mind Bay had butchered my beloved ‘bots for the sake of some stupid dick jokes. (I still think this.) I guess I wrote it as a love letter to the bots I wanted to see again.

Transformers have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, thanks to comics and films. I haven’t really followed them since the 80s, though I still hold in my heart lots of love for the versions I remember. My mind has forgotten a lot of lore, and I definitely had character relationships in my head that never panned out in any canon version. Plus, everything after “The Return of Optimus Prime” is pretty much anathema to me. But that’s the great thing about fanfic, right? That we can take what we like, expand on it, build something we want, and forget the rest.

If you like this story, consider dropping me a line at I always like to hear what readers think. Now, on to the past…


“Things Left Unsaid”

It was a time of peace between the Autobots and Decepticons. An uneasy peace, to be sure, and one many among the free and civilized citizens of the galaxy believed to be folly. But the Decepticons had suffered an undeniable defeat in the Battle of Farflung Sparks, sending Galvatron – less half his primary cortex – and many of his heavier hitters to face extensive physical and, in some cases, personality repairs under the watchful gazes of Perceptor and Sky Lynx on Cybertron. Cyclonus, assuming leadership of the Decepticons, had agreed to the terms of the truce brokered by Optimus Prime, renewed to life and leadership, and everyone trusted in Optimus.

At first, Hot Rod had been overjoyed about Optimus’s return: no more bearer of the Matrix, no more pressures to be the savior of the galaxy, no more dealing with Rodimus Prime and his dopey moping over every little decision. Rodimus was still with him, of course, like a sullen angel sitting on one shoulder, a reminder of what he once was and what many expected him to be again. But they weren’t the same. One was touched by the Matrix, while the other was just…touched, as Quint was fond of saying.

As time passed, Hot Rod realized to his dismay that there had been perks to being a Prime. Perks like fewer mundane chores, and taking orders from a Decepticon, of all beings. Yet, that was where life found him now, as one of the guard crew of the rebuilt Autobot City on Earth, recently christened Little Cybertron so as not to ruffle the receptors of the Decepticons who had also been assigned to the city’s reconstruction and protection. His comrades out of arms didn’t exactly relish their placements, either, save possibly Ultra Magnus, the city’s de facto leader, and Shockwave’s head, which functioned as his Operations officer.

“You can’t tell me you’re not bored,” Hot Rod cajoled Magnus as they took their seats at the command table. It was built as an oval structure on Spike’s recommendation to present the impression of fairness between the former factions, with Magnus at one end, Shockwave’s head at the other, and a mix of Autobots and Decepticons along either side.

Magnus gestured to the scrolling data on the screen built into the table at his seat. “With all this work to do?”

“Work schmerk! The city basically runs itself.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“We’re warriors! We should be out there,” Hot Rod said, swinging his arm toward the ceiling. “Fighting the good fight.” He clenched a fist. “Come on! You and me. We can get the band back together.”

Magnus opened his mouth to reply, but it was Blaster who said as he strode into the conference room, “Did somebody say something about a band? Because I am there! I’ve been working on a new composition, and damn! It is good.”

“Ridiculous,” Soundwave said in his modulated monotone as he made his way to the table, too. “My audio arrangements are far superior.”

Rumble hopped out from Soundwave’s chest and onto the table, sneering at Blaster. “Yeah! What he said!”

Blaster waved his fingers at them. “Music needs soul, rhythm, a fantastic beat…!”

“You want beats? I got beats for ya!” Rumble retracted his arms and sent out his pile driver extensions. Before he could get off a single stomp, though, Arcee picked him up by the back of the neck and lifted him from the table.

“Oh, no, you don’t.”

“Hey!” Rumble protested, squirming against her hold. “Leggo!”

“Cease this extemporaneous nonsense!”

Everyone around the table froze at Shockwave’s voice. His head, grafted to one of Teletraan’s rollers as a compromise of intelligence sharing, glared at them with its single glowing eye from its place at the other end of the table. “I did not create an agenda,” the Decepticons’ logistician went on, “for you to simply ignore it.”

Magnus sighed. “Soundwave, put Rumble away?”

“No, no!” Rumble cried. “I wanna stay. This is my home, too!”

The stares turned to Rumble, most of them taken off-guard by his words, oddly succinct and heartfelt. Even Arcee relaxed and set him down in a chair, though not without a warning.

“No fighting,” she said.

Rumble made a face at her but retracted his pile drivers and sat.

There was a moment of collective quiet, then Shockwave called for attention with an imperious, “Item one….”

Three hours later, as the Little Cybertron ops team left the conference room, Hot Rod slouched after them, the last in line.

“Ugh,” he said, hanging his head. “Did that meeting really need to be that long, just to tell us to keep on with our standing duties?”

Arcee slowed her pace to let him catch up. “It wasn’t so bad.”

“Are you kidding? By the second hour, I was begging for an emergency. By the third, I wanted somebody to puncture my audio receptors just so I wouldn’t have to listen to Shocky drone on about organization management any longer!”

Arcee raised her hands to the ceiling; if she could have rolled her ocular sensors, Hot Rod was sure she would have done so. She said nothing, though. Rather, Rumble interjected:

“Hey! Don’t knock Shockwave.” For some reason, the short cassette-bot had dallied, too, walking nearly underfoot. “He’s a logickital- lajockey- He’s good with details.”

“He’s also boring,” Hot Rod glared down at the Decepticon. “What are you still doing here, anyway?”

Rumble snickered. “I just like seeing you miserable.”

Hot Rod drew back his foot for a kick, causing Rumble to cackle. The threat, however empty, served its intended purpose, at least; Rumble scampered off, to rejoin his keeper in the comm tower for their regular duties.

Arcee put out her hand, laying it on Hot Rod’s shoulder. “Look,” she said in a conspiratorial voice, “I’d rather be shooting Decepticons in their stupid, smug faces, too. But this treaty is the closest we’ve gotten yet to having a real peace. Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobot leadership are counting on all of us to make it work.”

“The rest of the Autobot leadership,” Hot Rod echoed. “Right.” He used to be part of that. Not that he wanted to be a leader again, responsible for all those lives and decisions, but at least leading meant not taking orders. Dull, everyday orders, at that.

“There’s more to life than battle,” Arcee reminded with one of her pink and perfect smiles.

Hot Rod didn’t answer, instead distracted by a familiar human form approaching from the opposite direction. He increased the glow from his optics and grinned. “Hey, Dan-o!”

Daniel looked up from his portable data tablet. “Oh. Hey, Hot Rod. Arcee.”

“What’cha up to?” Hot Rod asked, half-bending to be closer to his human friend. “We haven’t been out to the old lake in a while. Maybe we can catch a few this afternoon. What do you say?”

Daniel’s gaze flashed to the tablet before meeting Hot Rod’s again. “Uh, maybe some other time. I’m kind of busy.” His tablet pinged with an alert, and a face from a new video feed filled the screen. A girl’s face, dark-eyed, dark-haired, beaming. Daniel beamed, too, even blushing a bit across his cheeks. “Tali, hi!” He put his earbuds in and started walking again, abruptly chatting about some or other human thing.

Hot Rod went straight. Did Daniel just ditch him? For a girl? A girl he didn’t even know? “Who was that?” he asked aloud.

“Tali Delgado,” Arcee answered readily. “She goes to the university on Luna. Daniel’s trying to get transferred there.” She lifted her shoulders and smiled, somewhat dreamily. “Partly to be close to her, I think.”

Hot Rod blanked. “So, what? She’s, like, his girlfriend? When did that happen?”

“Humans age faster than we do; you know that.”

“Yeah, but…! He’s just a kid.”

She laughed. “He’s seventeen years old! For humans, that’s close to maturity.” She bent close, her optics shining with sympathy and something like sadness. “Did you think he was going to be a little boy forever?”

“No,” Hot Rod said, then corrected himself. “Maybe.”

Arcee paused, then bumped his arm with her fist. “I know what you need.”

“A transfer to Luna?” Hot Rod suggested drily, but she shook her head.

“To burn some rubber,” she replied with a wicked grin.

His spark perked. “Oh, you want to race?”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” she said, but he could tell from her tone that that was more challenge than jibe.

He glanced back toward the conference room, even though no one was there. “What about our prescribed duties?”

Arcee shrugged. “We’ve got to do a perimeter patrol anyway. Might as well have some fun with it. Right?”

That was all Hot Rod needed to hear. “Revving is my love language,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Let’s go!”

So, after the typical check-out routine for external excursions and coordinating their route with Teletraan’s systems, they took off for the city’s easterly edge. Not in biped mode but in vehicle form, their sleek, aerodynamic chassis cutting through the air and their thick, heavy-gauge tires tearing over the terrain.

Hot Rod felt a sweetly freeing excitement rush through his circuits. This was living: the road, the wind, and a fellow ‘bot by his side. Almost by his side, anyway. Arcee had a decent set of pistons, but like most female Autobots, she was built for speed and efficiency, not necessarily power. Hot Rod, on the other hand, had a massive engine humming under his hood.

They were nearly at the city limits when Arcee pinged his comm console. “Hang on. I’m picking up an intruder.” She rattled off a series of coordinates.

Hot Rod adjusted his own sensors until his radar pinpointed it, too: a small electric vehicle cresting the perimeter close to the memorial garden. “I see him,” he sent back to Arcee. “Moving to intercept.” He braked into a drift and headed toward the southeastern city line.

“Wait, Hot Rod, let’s get some backup—”

“You get backup,” he told her as he pushed his cylinders. “I’ll run interference.” Then he was off and racing, leaving Arcee in his dust. He cut his comm to silence her protests and sped toward the memorial garden. At its threshold he transformed, bumping his front wheels into the air and flipping exhaust over hood to land on his feet.

He threw his arms out in front of him, fender guns primed, but there was no one there. Then he saw some subtle movement near one of the memorial spires. It was a human female, small, slim, and grayed. He’d startled her, apparently, because she stepped back from the spire with a look of surprise on her lined face.

“Hot Rod?” she said, and he stiffened.

A fast scan through his memory files produced a potential identity match, but to a human much younger, one he’d met at least twenty-five Earth years ago, before Unicron, Rodimus, or Optimus’s return. “Doctor Sanders?”

She smiled, and that confirmed it for him. She’d been a scientist, a physicist of some kind, whose device created a light refraction field around its target, rendering it essentially invisible. There’d been excitement in the ranks about it; a way for the Autobots to get a servo up on the Decepticons in the war on Earth. She’d protested its use in conflict at first, until she’d witnessed firsthand the pain and destruction that the Decepticons, and Galvatron in particular, were willing to inflict in their quest to conquer. “You remember me,” she said, and Hot Rod lowered his arms, feeling sheepish for having drawn his weapons on a human.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize you at first.”

Sanders chuckled, creating more lines on her face. She was only a few years ahead of Daniel’s father Spike, though she seemed much older, somehow. “That’s all right. I understand. I’m an old woman, now.”

“No.” Hot Rod rubbed a hand over his helmet. “Humans change faster than we do, that’s all.”

She turned to the spire in front of her. “And some of us don’t change at all anymore.”

He shuffled closer. Each of the spires in the memorial garden was dedicated to an Autobot who’d fallen in defense of Earth. This one bore Prowl’s name.

Hot Rod hadn’t known Prowl particularly well. He’d been part of the old guard. Not quite Kup’s generation, which was ancient, but one of the original Earthbound who’d crashed in the Ark and slept for four Myr while the war continued to rage on Cybertron. When the Ark was reawakened by a geological accident, it rebuilt its passengers to blend in on Earth. That was the story, anyway. Even shared by The Matrix, Hot Rod wasn’t sure how much of it was truth and how much was legend fabricated to restore faith and generate loyalty to the cause. He’d been created and come up through the ranks during those war-torn years while the Ark and its passengers had slept, so the Ark story always felt a little too coincidental to be completely true. But that was grim Rodimus-type thinking.

He faced the spire for a solemn moment, then said, “He was a good ‘bot.”

“He was my friend.” Sanders’s voice cracked as she added, “I loved him.”

Hot Rod turned his head to her. She looked up and, despite the tears in her eyes, she laughed.

“That’s the same expression Prowl had on his face when I told him!”

Hot Rod worried at his helmet again. “It’s not something we talk about very often.”

Sanders nodded. “He said that, too. That love was a sentiment that shouldn’t need to be expressed aloud.” She lowered her head. “But just because we shouldn’t need to say it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said at all.”

She stepped up to the spire and laid her palm upon it. Her small, fleshy hand with its wrinkles and tendons looked very frail against the memorial’s smooth, silvery surface. “He stayed in touch with me, you know,” she said suddenly, “after I returned to my lab. He was curious to understand my research.” She chuckled under her breath. “I was flattered. He was so advanced, yet his soul seemed so young. In some ways, he was even innocent.” Her chuckle became another laugh. “It was years before he felt comfortable enough to call me Sarah!” The laugh died to a sigh, and she leaned close to the memorial, silent once more.

She stood like that for a few minutes, during which Hot Rod wondered if she were all right, and if he should ask. Then she spoke again, her head still bowed to the spire.

“When he left for Cybertron, to help with the fight there, he asked me to come to Autobot City. To say goodbye, he said. But I couldn’t do it. I wanted to believe he’d be fine, that the Autobots would win the day like they’d always done. Then, he’d come back and show me where Cybertron sat in the sky, and we’d celebrate the end of war. Maybe he’d even say that he loved me, too.” She paused, then offered in a hushed voice, “But that didn’t happen.”

Hot Rod’s body didn’t have the capacity to make tears, but Sanders’s sorrow and regret were emotions he knew well. They’d been constant companions since the battle with Unicron. No words seemed sufficient, except a low and mumbled, “I’m sorry.”

She raised her head but stayed looking at the memorial, as though Prowl were really there, and turning her eyes away would be too much. “When Doctor Witwicky told me what happened, I was so ashamed. She said he died bravely, but brave or not, death is death.” She pulled her fingers into a fist. “I should have come when he asked. I should have at least said goodbye, like he’d wanted me to.”

Hot Rod started to reach for her, afraid she’d punch the spire and wreck her hand. But she unclenched her fist and again laid her palm flat to the surface.

“I didn’t come then,” she said. “But I had to come now.” She drew her fingers across the silver in a stroke. “My dear friend. I loved you then and I love you still. I hope we’ll meet again, on the other side.”

Her words flicked a switch in him. “You’re dying,” he blurted, and immediately regretted such impropriety.

But Sarah only looked up at him again, her mouth skewed in a sad half-smile. “Yes.”

“Maybe we can help! The Quint restored Optimus Prime, and Perceptor is a genius—”

“No.” She shook her head. “No, this is too far gone. And I’ve already come to accept it,” she said with a deep and cleansing sigh that brought a more peaceful smile to her face. “I like to think Prowl would be happy with that: the power of logic overcoming all.”

“That sounds like him.” Hot Rod smiled sadly. “You know, we have a saying: ’Til all are one.” He tilted one shoulder up. “It’s kind of like good luck and farewell and a prayer rolled together. Mostly, we say it before or after battle, but I think it’s supposed to mean that all our lifesparks are part of a whole greater than any one of us. And even when we die, we’re not really gone, we just become part of that one-ness.”

“The eternal energy of the universe.” She nodded. “I like that.”

Her praise buoyed his confidence, and he opened his hand. “Would you like to come to the city? See anyone else?”

“Thank you, but I should get home. My daughters are waiting for me.”

He was glad to hear she had a family, someone who cared about her. “Can I give you an escort anywhere?” he offered, cracking a more playful grin. “Chaperoned in style?”

She laughed. “No, thank you. I’ll be fine. You should get back to your friend, as well.”

Hot Rod followed the line of her gaze over his shoulder. On the outlook above the memorial garden, Arcee stood watching them. He didn’t know she’d been there or for how long. Knowing she was, though, made him smile softly.

“It was nice to see you again, Hot Rod.”

He looked round again and nodded. “It was nice to see you, too. Sarah.”

She gave a little bow, then smiled up at him and said, “’Til all are one.”

He repeated the mantra, waved, then watched in silence as she climbed into her transport. It took off in a hover and passed out of the perimeter and up the long road to the human city beyond the mountains.

The hum of rolling tires reached him, then that telltale mechanical sound of moving gears and realigning parts. Hot Rod didn’t look but told Arcee, “You didn’t have to stay away.”

“I didn’t want to interrupt.” She moved over to Prowl’s spire. “She knew him?”

“Yeah.” He did look, now, and said, “She loved him.”

Arcee turned about, her optics wide and her mouth pulled into an O of surprise. “She said that?”

Hot Rod nodded. “Humans, right?”

Arcee looked at Prowl’s spire, then laid her hand on Wheeljack’s. After a moment, she said, “Sometimes, I think they understand the universe better than we do.”

“Their lives are shorter than ours, like you said. They need to understand things faster.”

She turned back to him, showing one of her pretty pink playful smiles. “Maybe there’s hope for you yet.”

He snickered and was about to counter with something equally bantering when he heard the high-pitched hiss of a rocket board approaching. He about-faced with Arcee to see Daniel coming to a hover and stop a few meters away.

“Hey,” Daniel said as he tucked his board under his arm. “Eject said I’d find you out here.”

Arcee tensed. “Has something happened?”

“No,” Daniel said, waving at her. “I just…” He pressed his lips together, paused a second, then said, “I wanted to apologize. I didn’t mean to blow you off before,” he told Hot Rod. “But Tali’s my friend, and I don’t get to talk to her very often, and—”

Hot Rod held up his hand. “I get it. Life’s short; you want to live it your way.”

Daniel shrugged, as if to say yes without actually doing so. “But you’re still my friend, too! So…we can go to the lake this weekend.”


“Yeah. But, maybe something a little more exciting than fishing?”

Hot Rod snapped his fingers. “Body surfing! I can make the waves, and you can hit the water. How does that sound?”

Daniel broke into a beam. “That sounds awesome!”

“Take a recorder along,” Arcee suggested with a smirk, “and send the footage to Tali. Just to show her what Little Cybertron is like,” she amended.

Daniel’s face flushed red, but he didn’t lose his smile. “Uh, yeah, maybe.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I really need to finish my homework, but I wanted to make sure we were cool. We’re cool, right?”

“Absolutely,” Hot Rod agreed.

“OK.” Daniel put down his board, tapped its ignition, and stepped aboard. “Lake,” he said with a point of his finger, then pointed again. “Saturday. Be there.”

“You got it.” Hot Rod just about let him go, then called after, “Dan-o!”

Daniel paused, half-crouched in riding stance. “Yeah?”

“I love you,” Hot Rod said, feeling foolish and vulnerable and accomplished all in the same moment.

Daniel smiled. “I love you, too.” Then he waved and took off.

The ease with which his human friend had been able to say those words back to him struck Hot Rod with a fierce and sudden rush of happiness.

Arcee planted a light punch to his arm. “You still up for that race?” she asked when he looked her way.

Hot Rod grinned. “Like I said, revving is my love language.”

“Mine, too,” she said with a gentle smile. Then she leapt up, flipped in the air, and transformed to her vehicle mode with her wheels already spinning. “Catch me if you can!” she called as her tires kicked up dust and she tore away toward the perimeter line.

Hot Rod was after her in a second with wheels a-squeal. This new life of brokered peace might not be as exciting as the old life of battle, but it had its moments.