A short story, set in the G1 comics, right before issue 80. Definitely not my best; it started off with an idea that didn't really pan out, but I forced it to completion anyway. Kinda grim, but regardless... enjoy! No Getting Away Back to Rob's Pile of Fanfic
We've been traveling for -- I dunno, hours, I guess, but it feels more like days. Warping through space, hundreds of us packed into three tiny little transport ships. I'm about to go crazy from it. Everyone's about to go crazy from it. I swear the tension in the ship is so thick you can see it. It's like... we're too late already, it's like we're sailing to our doom or something. I don't believe in precognition and nonsense like that, but... well, there's just something in the air that doesn't feel right. I _do_ believe in instinct -- my own, at least -- and right now it's telling me that things aren't the way they should be. I guess maybe it's Cybertron. Primus! Cybertron's gone! Or it will be, anyway. We'll never live there again, at any rate. We're homeless. All of us! A whole army -- a whole _race_ with no planet of our own! I've grasped the fact -- but the reality of it hasn't sunk in. Maybe it never will. I still can't believe it. I think no-one can, really. Everyone's still kind of in shell shock from the last few days, fighting Unicron, losing so many friends. Losing Optimus Prime. And now, losing our planet to top it all. I've lived pretty much my whole life there and now it's gone, completely, nothing left but debris, probably. It's just too much to absorb all at once. And as if that's not enough, we can't just go look for a new home... first we've got to stop the Decepticons from trashing this other planet they've headed off to, some little place called Klo. They've got a head start, and even though nobody thinks they'll be expecting us or anything, there's still this feeling like we're running into a trap or something. Like we won't be coming back from this one. It's not a real good way to go into a battle. Maybe it's just me -- I hope it's just me -- but like I said, my instincts are going off like a warning strobe. I envy Silverbolt, up front at the ship's helm. He's got a job to do, he's got something to keep him occupied. I'd give anything to have something to think about besides just waiting, something to focus on! But, till we get to Klo, that's all we can do, just sit here in the cargo holds and polish our guns for the umpteenth time since we left home... well, it's not home anymore. Gotta remember that. No more Cybertron. Maybe it'd be better not to think about it. It'd help if there were conversations going, if everyone was a little more peppy, but hardly anyone's saying a word. Pretty much dead silence. Prowl certainly isn't helping things. He hasn't said anything for a while, but you can tell he's still steamed. He keeps pacing back and forth, with his fists clenched behind his back or waving around in the air in front of him; seems like no matter where you are in the ship he passes by you sooner or later, and it's like this dark little cloud follows behind him. Fearless leader Grimlock isn't making the situation any better; he's just sitting up front like he doesn't have a care in the world, arms folded behind his head. That alone is probably enough to drive Prowl nuts. And, well, I have to admit, I can't altogether blame him. See, I'm not too keen about being stuck under Grimlock's command. The first time I met him, he was itching to beat up on Fortress Maximus, my commander at the time. Max was a damn fine commander, but Grims was so dead-set on picking a fight with him, that he very nearly got the lot of us killed in a 'con sneak attack. Later on Grimster finally ceded command to Optimus Prime, but even that took some persuading. I think he might have changed a bit since then -- something about having the bolts blown out of him by Starscream seems to have done the trick. Since then it's almost like he _grew up_, as the humans would say. But I'm not too sure the process is complete. Yeah, he saved us from being destroyed along with Cybertron with these ships that he scrounged up from somewhere, but he hasn't done slag to let us know he's thinking about strategy or long-term plans or anything. Prowl may be pretty uptight about things, but at least he'll talk to you and let you know what's going on. Grimster sure hasn't done anything like that and it's getting on my nerves. So it's just not the best set-up here. Everybody's nervous, we got a new commander, no-one trusts him too much, we really don't know exactly what we're heading into, and something in my mind is just screaming "trouble". Okay. Screen all that out. Right. One good bit, at least -- I'm teamed with Nightbeat. My usual two partners are out of action after the Unicron battle, tying up a couple of stasis bays; so are his. We decided to partner up before we left Cybertron. I like him; he's a loner, but he's a cool customer, too, keeps his head. He was the one who finally told Prowl to stop grousing about everything a while back. I think I'll be able to count on him in a fight. That's something to be glad about. Focus on that, instead of all the negatives. Man, this waiting is killing me! I don't mind charging into trouble, but waiting around for it is a killer! Hard to stay focused on positives when all you can think about is how bored you are! "Arriving at Klo," Silverbolt announces. "Coming out of warp." Finally! It's about time. The planet comes up on the monitors and we all take a look. It's not too big, a fair bit smaller than Earth, but pretty similar in appearance, with clouds and oceans and stuff. Peaceful looking, actually. You wouldn't guess there's an invasion going on. "Take us in," Grimlock orders Silverbolt. "Head for where tracer is." "Grimlock, we should reconnoiter from orbit first," Prowl says. "Get a fix on where the enemy is, then set down far enough away to avoid detection --" Grimlock stands up, to his full height. He's a head taller than Prowl, and a lot bigger. Prowl doesn't flinch. "You in charge here?" Grimlock asks him. "That's not the point --" "Point is, _me_ in charge, not you. Me say we go to where tracer is. That where Decepticons be." Prowl looks him straight in the optics, a feat for which he will have my eternal admiration. "Grimlock, this isn't about who's right and who's wrong; it's about sound military strategy," he says. "Still think you so smart," Grimlock says. "Think you know it all, think me know nothing about tactics. Me know tactics. Know that longer we wait, more time Decepticons have to prepare counterattack. You in such big hurry to get here before. Now we here and you want to wait. Waiting time through. Now is fighting time." And that's that. Down we go. We dive straight down through the atmosphere in only a couple of minutes and swoop in low, making a pass over the last place we picked up the tracer coming from. It's pretty desolate terrain down there -- rocky crags and boulders, outcrops and desolate canyons made of this strange green crystal -- and it's been made worse recently. There's blast craters and explosion marks, piles of rubble that used to be houses... and lots of bodies. Dead Klozians. Soft, little pink blobby guys who never had a chance. It's enough to make you see red. One thing's missing, though: Decepticons. Grimlock doesn't like that. "Well? Where Decepticon ship?" he demands of Silverbolt. "Our coordinates are correct. The tracer's originating from this area. If their vessels are here we should be picking them up on --" Then we spot movement down there. More Klozians, a little group of them -- still alive. They're scared bad, running from something. A minute later what looks like a giant muscle-bound human comes charging out after them, swinging a barbed mace. Stranglehold, one of Bludgeon's Pretender buddies, and one mean bastard of a Decepticon. Shoot, if I were one of those little pink guys, I'd be scared, too. Grimlock decides he's seen enough. "This end _now_," he says. "Dinobots, roll out!" Prowl is on him right away, telling him it's too dangerous, but fearless leader is out the door before anyone can stop him. Even then Prowl doesn't give up. He grabs Swoop by the arm. "Please, listen to me! We don't have any idea what's down there! This looks like a trap!" he tells them, one last shot at reason. "C'mon, Prowl, even you can't be scared of just one Decepticon," Swoop says. He and the other Dinobots just laugh at poor Prowl, then tumble out after the boss. Prowl tries to regain his composure, and tells Silverbolt to look for a landing site. Just then somebody mutters a curse, and through the still-open hatch we see a sight which somehow is not too surprising: the Dinobots have landed, and are surrounded by a platoon of Decepticons. And then all hell breaks loose. AA batteries! We're flying so low to the ground that we didn't see them till we were on top of them. The ship rocks -- whoah, make that twice, no, _three_ times. Those were direct hits. Big trouble. "We've lost all engine control!" Silverbolt shouts from the helm. He's trying to get the ship under control, but it looks like a lost cause. Suddenly he jumps back from his console and there's all kinds of sparks and electric crackles. It stops after a couple of seconds and the console is melted. That tears it; this old bucket is going down. The only question now is how fast. Oh, this is _really_ not good. "The controls are slagged!" Silverbolt shouts. Somehow he's leveled us out at a few hundred feet, a miracle for which I will forever admire him. "Everyone clear out!" No choice -- we literally jump ship, fling ourselves out the cargo doors. It's pandemonium -- dozens of us trying to get out before the ship crashes or is blown completely apart -- but I manage to stick with Nightbeat all the way to the door. You don't want to lose your fire team partner in a mess like this. The wind is howling in, and the drop below doesn't look too fun. I glance at Nightbeat. "Long way down," he says stoically. I nod to him, and together we step out of the ship into thin air. I get a quick look around as I fall. It's a bad mess. There's a whole nest of 'cons down there on the ground, and every one of them is laying down fire. Autobots are falling out of the sky and getting taken out left and right, and no wonder: there's tons of us jumping out of the ships. The other two ships are in worse shape than ours and going down even faster. A burst of AA misses me by inches. Nightbeat is right behind me -- AHHH! He took it full on! No time to scream, even! The shot took him apart. Dammit! I grab my gun and start blasting away at the 'cons down there as the ground rushes up to meet me -- UGG! Damn that landing hurt! For a moment I think I've torn a knee strut, but it recovers after a few seconds. Oh man, I'm seeing sparks I hit so hard -- I just start shooting at the last place I remember seeing 'cons. Then I realize I'm surrounded by a big pile of Nightbeat parts. I've lost my fire team partner. Not good. Not good at all... My brain finally starts working again and I think to take stock of my surroundings. I'm in the middle of a rocky desert kind of field, not much cover anywhere. There's a few dozen Decepticons scattered here and there; they're picking us off as we land. Bludgeon himself is a ways off, near a little crystal formation, slicing a path through our troops with that sword of his. Most of them don't even have time to stand up before he lays into them. Primus, what a way to go. I gotta find cover before I get blasted -- only luck that I haven't been hit yet. Look around... Prowl, Sideswipe, and Kup are back to back to back and blasting at any 'con that comes too close. I won't do much better for help than that. I head their way. "We have to fall back and regroup!" Prowl is saying when I get there. "You figure that one out all on your own?" Kup shouts at him. "Hey! Think you can break us out of this mess?" he asks me as I jog up. "I'll jolly well try," I answer. I have another fast look around, and the only way out is pretty obvious... but not easy. "We're going to have to break through the line there," I point at a weak spot in the 'con lines -- well, a _relatively_ weak spot. "Then make a run for those hills." At least, I _hope_ they're hills. They look like it from this distance. Near as I can tell, we're at one end of an arc of mountain terrain. Unfortunately, most of the 'cons are between us and the near end of the arc, so we've got to run for the other end of it. "Running away's cowardly!" Sideswipe shouts. "Don't think of it as running away, think of it as strategic regrouping," I tell him. "Besides, I bet there's other places on this planet more worth fighting for than this one. I'll cover our backs. You guys lead." There's no shortage of targets, at least. Darkwing - wind - Dreadwind -- whatever they're called when they're combined -- goes tearing by overhead, chasing after the Aerialbots; Snapdragon and Flywheels and Battletrap and Mindwipe and a bunch of others I don't even recognize are helping out. They take out Air Raid before he can even react, then go after Silverbolt. The other three Aerialbots get away, but scatter in doing so. Dreadwhatever pulls up, while Silverbolt falls -- they got him, too. His engines are hit and on fire. He dives for a landing, and tries to take Bludgeon out with a suicide run, but good Primus, he gets taken out instead: ol' Blood sidesteps and turns and whacks off his nose cone as he passes by. Silverbolt crashes and doesn't get up. Bludgeon doesn't even bother to watch. He _knows_. Scary. As if that creepy organic skull wasn't scary enough. Poor Silverbolt. We're backing out of the battlefield, led by Prowl. We've covered some distance, but we're still in the thick of it. It's painfully slow going. I glance over my shoulder -- hill terrain off in the distance, full of rocky cliffs and crevasses and canyons -- just what we need. We could hold out there till we run out of ammo, maybe longer if we're creative and lucky. We've got to get off this flatland -- we're getting murdered. The 'cons have all the advantages -- numbers, firepower, positions. "We gotta run for it," I say. "Only chance to break through that line. Sideswipe, Prowl, you're going to give us some cover fire." I hand Prowl my gun and transform to my auto mode. "Climb on top, and watch the skies. Kup, give Sideswipe your gun and come on! Let's roll!" Prowl, fortunately, saves whatever remarks about logic he might have had in mind, and does what I tell him. Kup and I take off for the hills at a couple hundred miles per hour, with Prowl and Sideswipe riding on top, blasting away at the line of Decepticons in front of us. They don't have enough time to figure out what we're doing before we barrel right through them. Me, I'm not looking back. This stuff sure isn't an interstate highway. On all this loose rock and gravel, all sorts of rocks and other hard stuff bounces up and hits your undercarriage. We won't be able to keep this up for very long before critical systems start to give out... but it's better for us than getting shot full of holes. Speaking of which! Sideswipe and Prowl blast away at something with both guns, and then laser shots churn up the dirt all around us. Dreadwhoever races past us and circles around for a head-on pass. Damn, so much for a clean escape. Our guys shoot at him like mad. They miss but throw his aim off. His shots whiz past us. We get about thirty seconds of easy driving. We're almost to the hills, but before we're in the clear Dreadwing attacks again from behind. Kup's in the lead, so I see it when Sideswipe gets it in the chest and legs. He tumbles off of Kup and rolls. Kup slams on the brakes and fishtails around to pick him up. "Keep going!" Sideswipe screams. "Don't wait, I'll cover you and catch up later! Go!" Before there's any further time for debate, Dreadwing is firing on us again. Kup swings around again -- it's the only way he can go without running into laser fire -- and we keep going, swerving left and right and all over to keep from getting hit. Sideswipe lets out this long scream and I hear both his guns cutting loose. Dreadwing turns around and goes after him. A minute later, we're in the clear. We disappear into a crevice at the edge of all sorts of strange mountainous territory. "Thanks, Sideswipe," Kup mutters. "Damn," Prowl says, shaking his head. "Yeah," I add. What else is there to say? It's a maze in here. Crevices snake off in all different directions, separated by hills and ridges and wierd buttes -- I couldn't come up with a better covering terrain myself. "Transform," I tell Kup. "Tires leave really obvious tracks, and raise dust, too." We switch to our robot forms and jog into the wilderness for a while. At first we run in the open, just trying to put some distance between ourselves and the last place we left tracks. After a while, though, I start pulling us into cover, under trees and overhanging rocks and so forth. It pays: peeking out from a small cave entrance, I see Snapdragon circling far overhead, searching the canyons and hills. That's bad news -- it means the main battle's over with and now they're mopping up. Snapdragon misses us and moves on. We dash for the next bit of cover, and take a break beneath the lip of an overhanging ledge. "We need a plan," I comment. "We can't keep running forever. Prowl, any ideas?" It's not a ribbing or anything; Prowl's _good_ at this kind of stuff. If anyone can get us out of this disaster, he's probably it. But he doesn't sound too optimistic. "We've got to regroup. As long as we're scattered like this, they can hunt us down one group at a time." "Most of the others were headed for the closer hills," Kup says. "We gotta circle back to where we started from if we want to find anybody." "Yeah," I mutter. Looks like my brilliant plan backfired -- by taking the less obvious route, I've cut us off from the rest of our allies. "Let's get moving... we've got a lot of hiking to do." Lot of hiking indeed. Winding our way through the curve of the mountains takes about an hour. It's an hour spent on edge, listening to every sensor pulse, measuring every step, calculating every risk. Not much talk, mostly just hand signals, nods and waves. Alone with my thoughts, trying to figure out if the next corner holds a battle that could be our last. It really comes down on me what's just happened to us. We're not part of an army, but just survivors now. Who knows how many friends dead. In the battle you don't have time to think about it; if you do you're dead. You're just acting and reacting. That's ingrained into anyone who's lasted this long in the war. Now's down time, though, and my mind keeps showing me re-runs of all the hits I saw our guys take in those ten or fifteen minutes, from Nightbeat all the way up to Sideswipe. God oh god what a day. I do my best to put it away. Can't deal with that now... gotta keep on living. We pass several wrecked Autobots along the way, guys who made it into the hills but didn't lose their pursuers. I want to try and help them, but Prowl says there's nothing we can do, and I know he's right. Same as the images, you just shove it aside and try to ignore it. We're not medics and without a medic we'd probably just make things worse, assuming there's anything that can be done at all. We're walking away from the fourth one, wounds still smoking, when we hear jet engines. They're low, near by. I peak out from behind a rock wall corner -- one lone jet, circling around. It had to be him, the bastard! I suddenly realize that I've drawn my gun and fired. "What are you doing?!" Prowl says, and it hits me what a dumb thing I've just let my instincts do. Somehow, I don't care. I step out into the open. Come here you slag sucker! Face me! The jet turns and heads for me, both guns blazing. I don't care about that. I aim real careful -- yes! There he goes, head first into the dirt! Now you're gonna get yours! I grab him by the shoulders and slam him hard. Punch him. Again! And again! I kinda hear him shouting or something but not really, I throttle him so he'll shut up for good, the bastard! Everything's red. I just want to choke the life out of this scrap. Nothing else matters. Nothing except -- Kup's there in front of me, and Prowl... calm down, calm down, they're telling me... the red starts to drain away, oh Primus, what the hell did I just do? The 'con -- Windsweeper's his name, I've seen him before -- he's mangled -- Great Cybertron, I beat the hell out of him, nearly tore his head off. Literally. "Let it go, pal," Kup says to me. My pumps are surging. For a second I'm a little blown away by what I just did -- but then I remember that wreck we passed, and it makes sense again. "Come on," Prowl says, quiet-like. I don't think to disagree. We stumble away from the little clearing, and leave Windsweeper lying stretched on his back across a rock, head hanging on by only a few wires. Little punk bastard. I'm still too angry to feel very sorry for him. But I feel a tiny bit better now. Maybe on another day I'd be a little bothered by it, but not today. Right now I'd be happy to do that to any Decepticon who walked up. Kup wishes aloud that we'd find more of 'em so they could turn me loose on them, too. "You may get your wish," Prowl says. "Signals ahead, over the ridge. Two of them at least." I shift my gun to a more ready position -- I'm still steamed, but my brain's working again. "Your call, Prowl," I say. "Do we check it out or let them come to us?" "Wait for them. We're too close to the last known Decepticon position to risk rushing in." We pull back behind crevices and boulders, weapons ready, listening to the wind, the sound of the rocks, everything, nothing. We wait. And we wait. And wait. And wait. "What are they _doing_?" I wonder aloud. I hate cooling my heels like this! "Waiting for _us_ to make a move," Kup ventures. "Then logically they must be Autobots," Prowl says. "Decepticons would most likely have attacked by now -- particularly in light of their strategic advantage." "All right, then, who wants to go first?" I say with a smirk. Prowl shrugs. "I called the tune..." He edges out from his cubby hole, and scoots to the nearest crag. Kup and I dart along behind him. We carefully work our way up the ridge, stealthy but ready. Finally I peak over the top. I see a faint glint of metal down below. Hey, that's -- AHHHHH!!! Holy shocking Primus!!! The ground friggin' _erupts_ in front of us and something huge bursts out of it! A sword slices down right for our heads! We're dead -- "Kup?" We all kinda gape for a second. Kup finds his voice first. "Grimlock?!" "You lucky me Grimlock have fast reflexes. Otherwise you be ready to become Headmasters now," Grimster says, lowering his sword. Oh man! I'm ready to die! I thought we were this close to dead! Oh man! "We were hoping to net a few Decepticons," a new voice says -- Blaster. I look up and see him and Slag jogging up. Jeez, I'd forgotten about seeing them a second ago. Grimlock's attack almost froze up my fuel pumps, not to mention my brain. "Guess this is even better, though." "It's damn good to see you... even like this," I nod at Grimlock. Oh. I'm feeling a little weak-kneed! "You're the first Autobots we've found alive." "That bad, huh." Blaster doesn't sound surprised. "And we nearly chopped your heads off. Sorry 'bout that." "It was a very effective ambush," Prowl comments. He's as rattled as I am. "Me glad you like _something_ that me think of," Grimlock mutters. "We can analyze tactics later," Prowl says. "Right now our primary concern should be survival. I've been thinking about that... there might be only one way to do it." "Prowl, I hate to break it to you, but it's not turning out to be a surviving kind of day," Blaster says. Then Prowl drops a little bombshell on us. "Well hear me out. Perhaps if we surrender to them, we--" "Surrender?!" "You gotta be --" "NO!" Grimlock's voice booms out over it all. "Never surrender! We Autobots! Not know meaning of word surrender!" "Grimlock, do you really think we have any other chance to get off this planet alive?" "Survival all you think about? What about cause? What about fight? Stopping Decepticons more important than us surviving!" "What would you have us do?!" Prowl shouts. "We don't have--" He's really starting to lose it, and now ain't the time. This group needs a reality check pronto. "Um, excuse me? Guys?" I cut off Prowl. "We should get back under cover. Standing around in the open like this, on top of a hill, is bound to --" Ahh! As if I needed a more dramatic demonstration of my point! Lasers, from the east! Instinct kicks right in and all the arguments are forgotten. We run, skid and slide down the hill; I'm looking for a target as I dash down like a madman. OOOF! Oww! Ow! Gah! Must've been hit -- hang on to the gun -- ahhhhh -- OUCH!! I shake my head to clear it. Took a hit to the chest and rolled all the way down the hill, then whacked my head on a rock. Still under attack -- there, buncha 'cons. Octopunch and maybe half a dozen others. Still have my gun -- good. I put it to work and kneel behind a little boulder that I whacked my head on a second ago. The others got some shelter too, but we've only got three guns between us. I'm firing like there's no tomorrow. Prowl and Blaster seem to be holding back. After a second I find out why. "Outta ammo, dudes!" "I am, too," Prowl adds. I duck down behind my little rock; Octopunch and his pals are laying down some murderous fire. "Set the energy cells to feed back on themselves," I tell Prowl and Blaster. "Then... allyoop!" Blaster grins at that. Prowl doesn't like it. But they both do it, and toss their weapons at the Decepticons. Battletrap looks confused for a second; then both the guns blow up in his face. After that he doesn't look anything but unconscious. Ditto for Squeezeplay and Snapdragon-- not bad. But Octopunch and a couple of others ducked the explosions and are still blasting away at us, not to mention the two jets, Dreadwind and Darkwing. And now I've got the only gun left in the group. And the 'cons know it -- here they come! We've _got_ to get away; we don't stand a chance against this crowd without more weapons. "Transform and make a run for it," I tell the others. "I'll lead these guys away and buy you some time. I'll meet you three clicks north of here in about two hours. Go!" "Are you crazy?" Kup says. "Splitting up's a lot more dangerous than --" "Facing these guys?" I say, blasting at the approaching Decepticons. "I don't think so. I can work this crowd just fine. Get moving!" "This bad place for fight -- we do what he say," Grimlock says and waves an arm. "This way!" Dreadwind and Darkwing dive from the air and make a strafing pass -- toldja, Kup! We break from cover and run. Grimlock's group takes off back the way we came. I run in the opposite direction, still shooting and making as easy a target of myself as I can. But Octopunch and his pals follow them, not me. I shoot at them as long as they're in sight -- it slows them up enough to give Prowl and company some time, but the 'cons are still hot on their trail. Only the two jets came after me. Damn, I screwed _that_ up. Well, I'm in good company today. They're on their own now... and so am I. I dash for the hills. The jets strafe me, but I do a tuck and roll and come up shooting as they're circling. Bingo! That's for Silverbolt, you slag-sucker! Ha ha! Darkwing is out of control the last I see of him. Dreadwind gets distracted by it, and blam! He's next! Yeah! Looks like I got him in the wing; he'll have to set down to fix it. That might not keep 'em down for good, but it'll definitely buy me some time. I run deeper into the canyons while Dreadwind disappears over the horizon, trailing smoke. It's about time _something_ went right for me! Then I run. For maybe twenty minutes I run. I avoid I don't know how many jets patrolling -- they must be everywhere, not just the Dreadful Duo but a whole bunch of others. I'm trying to work my way back around to meet up with Grimlock, but without bumping into Octopunch -- no mean feat. But it ain't gonna happen this way. Cliffs. A couple hundred feet's worth of cliffs in front of me, running both ways as far as I can see. Oh man. That's a serious problem. Means I can't outflank the Decepticons. Octopunch's group to the east, now unavoidably between me and the others. Bludgeon and company west. Cliffs to the north. Jets patrolling all over. Something's starting to buzz in my mind. A kind of nervous feeling I've never really known before. I backtrack a little ways, pull myself up flat under a ledge. Stop a second, think my options through again. And it hits me: none of them are really options. If I leave the hills I'll be dead before I know it. I could hide in the mountains a while, maybe, but they'll find me eventually. Simple numerical odds. There's nowhere to get away to. I could evade them for a long time, but they've got all the time in the world to search for me. Surrender? Yeah, right. Prowl's fooling himself. The die's cast. Oh man. There's gotta be another way out. There's gotta. There's always a way out. But I don't know what it is. I just don't know. This isn't Cybertron, with an Autobot base here and there to take shelter in and a terrain I've done a million times before. This is a completely alien world. There's no 'bots except the ones I've just seen get killed en masse. No ships. No way to escape. This time, I'm really stuck. There's too many of them -- they will find me sooner or later. I know it. My only hope is to stay alive until they're sure they've won, and hope they let their guard down somehow... then what? Escape? How-- of course! Their ships! Take one of their ships! And just ditch anyone else who's managed to survive to that point? I don't know if that's really an option. Maybe not. Well, I guess I can try going guerrilla, lay low, kill any 'con I bump into -- no, then they'll know someone's still out there, and they'll still have tight security. No way I could get into their ship when they're on wartime alert. So I can't kill anyone. Not much good, then, am I? And if I wait that long, probably nobody else will be left. And then when I get off planet... where do I _go_? All the Autobots I know about are right here. I'd need a whole _army_ to come back to this place! So that's not really an option either. Well, it's an option to _live_, maybe, but even that's pretty iffy. And somehow, I feel it in my frame... it ain't gonna happen. This piddly mountain range won't hide me from Decepticon scanners for very long. There's really only one way out. My fuel pumps turn to lead for a moment as it really hits me. Dizzy... head spinning. Whoa. Gotta sit down for a second. Alright. Alright. If I... if I gotta go... I can run, or I can meet it head on. Which is it gonna be. Well... guess I'd rather be in charge of my fate than have chance decide it for me. That's about all there is to it, really. And if I gotta go, I want it to matter. Grimlock's got the right idea -- choose the time and place, then go down fighting. So someone's coming with me. Yeah. No... not just someone. Bludgeon was in that group back there. Head of the snake. Yeah! That much I can do. That'll hurt 'em. That'll count for something. Yeah. Bludgeon. Oh man. This is heavy, real heavy. For a minute I sit there, just trying to accept the reality of the decision I just made, turning it around and around. Back up, double check the options. Mountains -- slow death. No mountains -- quick death. Ships -- not bloody likely. This is resignment. Accepting of something I'm not ready to accept. But I really don't have much choice. Accepted or not, it's out there. Difference is how I use the time I've got left. Okay. Suck it up, as the humans say. On your feet. Let's get to work. Where... away from the cliffs, south. I retrace my steps for a bit, then turn down another creek branch, dashing as fast as I can without being obvious about it. Gun ready, same as before, but sacrificing a lot of caution for speed. I know I'm leaving bit of a trail, but it shouldn't matter in a few minutes. Gotta hurry -- the jets could be back any minute, and when that happens... The walls get higher, then several branches snake off. Finally, I come to the one I need. Almost there. I ignore the steep slopes, turning into a narrow, twisting canyon. With any luck, the canyon should shallow out to the top of the ridge, and I'll be looking down into the little clearing where the 'cons had kinda set up camp... then I make a mad dash into the middle of them, take out the target at point blank range. Good Primus, that's it. Another five minutes, and I could be dead. No. I _will_ be dead. My god. I'm about to charge into the middle of a camp full of Decepticons, including the most deadly one of the lot, guns blazing. It'll be over before I know it. I probably won't even live long enough to know if I accomplished my goal. I freeze up. I really don't want to die. Not like this. Not this soon, not this fast. Oh god. It's one thing to march into a fight, knowing you've got like a 50/50 chance of live or die. But there, there's skill and luck. You've got a chance at least. I don't even have a chance. If I do this I _know_ it will get me killed. Why in the universe is this the one thing I've got to do? I could do a million other things! I could go for a drive -- take a nap -- why can't us and the 'cons just leave each other alone? There's nothing that says I _have_ to kill them, or they have to kill me -- How did this happen?! A couple of hours ago I was sitting in a spaceship, perfectly safe, surrounded by buddies. Now they're all dead and I'm on a planet with a bunch of killers who want to tear me apart, now I'm facing certain death one way or another. Why! Why'd this have to happen like this! We could have gone anywhere in the universe, been fine and safe -- we _were_ fine and safe! But we came to this one spot, and because we did most of us are dead-- Enough! I'm a warrior, dammit! I'm an Autobot! I won't go out like this. I won't! We all gotta go sooner or later, and... and... like it or not... it looks like this could be the day. If it's gotta happen, I'm going to look it right in the eye and stare it down and make it count for something! Yes! Let's go, you're wasting time... Alright. Job at hand. Just stay focused. Start down the canyon. With any luck it'll shallow out and put me almost where I need to be. Two hundred yards later, I round a corner. Up ahead, the canyon just ends -- a box canyon. A dead end. Slag! I hustle all the way to the end, where it's shallowest, to study the walls. They're not that high; there's gotta be a way I can climb up. Or maybe I'll have to double back -- Turbine engines! I spin around. Dreadwing! Coming down the canyon right toward me. I waited! I waited too long and they found me! Tricurse me, I blew it! "Nice try, Autobot -- we enjoyed the exercise!" I raise my gun, ready to blow them out of the sky. But before I can acquire them I see motion at the edge of my viewfinder, and realize -- "But this time, Getaway --" They already fired. I failed. I recognize a missile right before it kills me. I _knew_ this mission was gonna be trouble -- "-- you've been got!" Fire - pain - darkness - shutdow--*********************The End*************************AUTHOR NOTES: This story is inspired, of course, by the very first panel of issue #80, which shows Getaway being blown to bits by Dreadwing. Poor guy never really got any character development in the series, so I figured maybe I'd give him a little bit here, and show how the supposedly most elusive of Autobots managed to get trapped in a box canyon. I hoped the first person present-tense perspective worked okay... I labored hard over it -- too hard, in fact, which generally means things aren't going well. Anyway, Getaway was wrong on two counts: first, Cybertron wasn't being destroyed, but was actually re-created by forces that were seemingly tearing it apart; second, presumably, Getaway wasn't dead for good, but was revived along with all his comrades by the Last Autobot later on in this issue. We never saw him again, though, so you can't be 100% sure... Hmm, it just occurred to me that Getaway has a Powermaster partner -- Rev or Lube or Filter or Oil Change or something like that -- who I totally negelected. Ummm... !! Ahhh, for the purposes of this story the Powermaster engine components are not conscious when attached to their partners. Yeah, that's the ticket!
No Getting Away
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