“I see a frightened little girl, in a world of hurt and pain!”

Date of Publication: March 2006

Written by: Simon Furman | Art by: EJ Su | Colours by: John Rauch | Letters by: Tom B. Long | Edits by: Chris Ryall and Dan Taylor

The cast list is nearly complete this issue, with Decepticon leader Megatron joining, leaving only Optimus Prime, and one other Decepticon unrevealed.

The issue begins with a flashback to Verity’s past, where three years ago she is being told by a social worker that despite being so smart, all she is is a frightened little girl. In the present, she is being lowered down into the depths of the abandoned Decepticon command bunker, while Hunter, Jimmy, and the holomatter avatars of Ratchet and Bumblebee discuss how wise this may or may not be after all. Once Hunter and Jimmy join Verity in down in the bunker, Bumblebee remarks to Ratchet that, in the grand scheme of things, the three humans are acceptable losses. Splitting up to explore the bunker faster, Verity finds a storage pod containing a human corpse. Despite being scared, Verity insists to the boys that she can continue.

In Dallas, Texas, at Epsilon Holdings, a group of people meet under the mysterious M logo seen earlier. Mister Dante, Miss Svenson, and Mister Jolly introduce themselves to someone named Drake. The group reviews footage of Skywarp and Blitzwing’s attacks as seen last issue, and over the course of the conversation, reveal that the M stands for The Machination, the name of their group, and also that they are on the trail of the original owner of Verity’s palm-top computer.

Back on the surface at the command bunker, a bored Bumblebee and Ratchet come under attack from Skywarp and Blitzwing as they continue their mission to mop up any leads about Decepticon activity. Ratchet orders the humans to evacuate the bunker immediately, but Verity insists on checking one more room. While the Autobots try and hold off the Decepticon, Verity walks in on Megatron.

Su’s art and Rauch’s colours come very much into their own in this issue. From the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons, to the eerie lighting and strange machinery of the command bunker, everything comes together very well to create a tense atmosphere.

The story progresses well, with some key ideas that will come back in future issues and series beginning to crop up, namely, the idea of “acceptable losses”, something that will be seen again, and soon. The Machination, meanwhile, is revealed as another player in the game of Cybertronians on Earth, but their goals, for the time being, remain obscure.