Previously in the Dairycon Universe:|
Was it all a fevered dream? An involuntary systems shutdown by Chief Medical Officer Ratchet, as he struggled to repair his fallen comrades after the Underbase debacle?
Or was it something more?
The Leader had been defeated.
Most of the Dairycons had been badly damaged in the fight; Clutterbug had apparently sacrificed herself to help save the team, allowing Uncle Whiskey Breath the chance to use the Stormsword.
It was said, on that day, that the universe reset. A blinding flash of light, the disappearance and apparent destruction of The Leader...and the memory loss of several of the Dairycons.
Washout is still missing(hasn't been seen or heard from since his fight with Flatfoot(way back in issue 12), and of-course Spot has been revealed as The Last Autobot.
A few Dairycons on both sides remain on earth. Most, however, have chosen to return to Cybertron for some much-needed R and R. We join them now.
Central Proccessing Core, Cybertron.
"Cyber-Being Designate 'Clutterbug' sparkcore on-line."
Field-medic Ticker, having patched herself up, now worked at the controls alongside Scoot in the Med Lab assigned to her. With Milwaukee Base gone, most of the remaining Dairycons had used The Leader's ship to return to Cybertron. Ironic, considering that Clutterbug had tried on her own to return previously, only to fail. It was somewhat depresing to think that the only way she *did* make it home was in cryo-stasis, with a full entourage of Dairycons mouring her.
Ticker wondered: Had the Universe really reset? Electrum Beast thought it had, and said as much. He felt it was the only logical explanation. On earth, a damaged Ticker had awoken from stasis-lock only to find that several of the Dairycons had no memory of the battle they'd just endured. However, she remembered it quite clearly, as did Electrum Beast. Others, like Uncle Whiskey Breath, and Heffer, had no recollection at all of what had happened. Their battle-wounds were a mystery to them.
They had never heard of The Leader.
She only had one working theory about that, and it came down to technology. An old-school transformer fits into whatever the universe throws at them, and they change accordingly, just as their enviroment changes. However newer transformers, and those that have been modified in a certain way (herself, Bunny Convoy, and the Transwarpers) seemed to be outside of time itself. Thus, while others forgot, they would remember.
There was also the issue of direct-spark descendents (if I killed Optimus Prime, would all the Autobots and their Maximal descendents fade out of existence), but that theory was more suited to the brain-groups than to her. Right now, Ticker's main focus was on her patient.
Clutterbug was dying.
Or more to the point, already dead. Deactivated. There was no sense in suger-coating it. Her spark was dull, grey, apparently already gone to the matrix. The battle on Earth had cost her dearly. Clutterbug had paid with her life.
So why was she working so furiously to save her?
Because the spark hadn't left. Scoot had pointed out that if it was truly gone, there should be no spark *at all*, and here clearly was a dull grey one.
If Ticker's time with the Dairycons had taught her even one thing, it was that there were always exceptions to death. Bunny Convoy, when he had lived and died as OverDrive, was a good example. So was Flatfoot, when he'd been reformatted into a beast and back again.
And that's what kept Ticker working on Clutterbug, both on the journey to Cybertron in the Leader's confiscated ship, and now within the Medical complex of Cybertron itself. For even though the body was a cold, lifeless husk, and the spark empty and grey, the simple fact of the matter was that the spark was *still* there; dead to all her instruments, to be sure, but still there. Something below emergency stasis-lock, perhaps. Dead, but not dead.
There was a time once when Optimus had 'died'. Yet he was brought back.
Ultimately, if Ticker had an opinion about life or death one way or the other, she never shared it.
She simply continued to work on Clutterbug.
Now this was a town that SunBeam could get used to. Bright lights, big city, and always something going on. He said as much to PinchPinch when they arrived here a few days ago. They'd spent the entire time cruising the stips, though Sunbeam quickly learned that he had to keep his windows rolled up. If he didn't, and he was parked, PinchPinch would hop out and give a little pinch to the ladies along the street. He'd heard more than one feminine squeal of 'Eep!' before he realised what was going on. When questioned PinchBottom's only response was, "because I love the ladies!"
It could have been SunBeam's imagination, but he swore that PinchPinch sounded just like Tatoo from Fantasy Island when he talked like that.
SunBeam shook himself out of his thought process. Ever since The Leader went missing, SunBeam and Pinchpinch were basically at-large. There were no new assignments coming in, and the last transport off of earth, the Leader's ship, had been commandeered by the Dairycons after the battle. So it was better to hang out and let things ride for awhile. And Vegas seemed like a good place to be. Even a medium-size transforming robot wasn't out-of-place here. Though getting around *was* easier in vehicle-mode.
For Pinchpinch's sake, he wished that his human driver facsimilie was of a different gender. Then he would have an easier time 'picking up' a human female for his companion. As it was, a dated 80's female mannequin wearing poofy hair did more to scare people away than anything he could do. Of course, to hear SunBeam's voice coming out of unmoving female lips probably didn't help. These things were all the rage when they were first installed decades ago. Nowadays, it was all about solid-light holograms and such.
SunBeam sighed. The things Transformers went thru to disguise themselves on this planet were sometimes laughable. Like now, for instance. He'd seen something on the human television called a 'bunny ranch' where they actually provided human females for a small fee. And since SunBeam still had an active Blackrock creditcard from this time period, he thought he may as well use it. Maybe Pinchpinch would calm down if they went to a place where you could pay to pinch.
Driving down the main stip, heading out of town, SunBeam passed a blue Landcruiser-style jeep, and an odd-looking taxicab parked across from the Palace. He didn't really even consciously register them. Just two more vehicles on a busy Sin City stip. And he had places to be.
He might have thought differently, had he taken a closer look at the taxicab.
"Now look, meathead, I'm tellin' youse the infrackable truth here, alright?
Just because we fight the Decepticons don't mean we gotta watch out fer every bleedin' one of these humans too. Now, mankind as a whole is just fine, but I gotta tell ya, from my experience, it's people you can't trust. Look what happened to, whaddya call him, Skuds, when he tried to protect that human. Sure, she polished his hubcaps and all, but he got a missle to the back from no less that Ravage himself! I tell ya DM, those lousy humans, they'll get ya if you give them half a chance...."
Checkers continued to drone on with his opinion on humans, decepticons, energon, the War.... Blah, blah, blah all the time over the inter-autobot radio. He'd heard it all before. Defensis Maximus had learned, over time, to simply tune it out. If there ever were a negative opinion to have about something, then Checkers would have it. It's no wonder that the other Autobots didn't want to be assigned with him. It could get tiresome. And if you would make a point that contradicted what he was saying... well, then he'd just insult you. 'Meathead', was one of his favorite insults, and Defensis got called it often. He supposed it was meant to be derogatory, the assumption that just because he firmly believed in the sanctity of life, even biological life, that Checkers would compare his upper processing core to that of a human.
Defensis sighed, and continued to only half-listen, interrupting occasionally, giving the impression that he was actually paying attention.
"... and another thing, why are we just sitting here at the curb, watching SunBeam go by, not even asking him what he's doing here, when for all we know he's on a mission to blow up some of those precious humans you always like to coddle, and another thing..."
"Wait!", Defensis Maximus replied. "What did you say?"
Checkers: "I said, you're a meat-headed-human-coddler, who would give away Cybertron and Earth to those pinko-Decepticons if you had half-a-chance..."
Defensis: "No, no, not that part, the other part, about SunBeam!"
Checkers: "Oh, yea? You actually were paying attention? Sure, I saw him. I was scanning him going past Ceaser's over there while we was talking. Why?"
Defensis: "Because, Checkers, he's on the list!"
Checkers: "List, schmisht. Why, when we was in the War, we just shot a Decepticon when we saw him, we didn't have no shindel-bot's list. We had a gun. And we used it."
Defensis: "Not now, darn-it! We have to detain him for questioning."
Checkers: "Sure, sure. Fine. Rolling out. Now listen, when we catch him, you let me do the talking, and..."
Defensis: "If I let you do the talking, we'll never get started. Come on!"
Defensis Maximus and Checkers roll out. Checkers startles a few on-lookers, as there appears to be no-one driving him.
Defensis: "Checkers, activate your human facsimilie when you drive!"
Checkers: "Why? You afraid of scaring some of your precious humans?"
Defensis: "Just do it, ok? I swear, sometimes, I wonder why you're even an Autobot."
Checkers: "Yea? Me too, meathead. Me, too."
SunBeam looked in his rearview sensors.
"Oh-oh," he said aloud.
"What is it?" asked Pinchpinch.
SunBeam: "looks like we picked up a couple of tails. Dunno about the Landcruiser, but the Taxi is definately Cybertonian in-nature. Probably Dairycons."
PinchPinch: "How do you know?"
SunBeam: "Well, aside from the large cow-symbol on his hood, there doesn't appear to be a human driving. I swear, what part of 'robots in disguise' doesn't that guy get? I can see him a mile away."
PinchPinch: "You want I should pinch him?"
SunBeam: "No, no, no sense in doing that yet. I could cut and run, but let's just see what they want first. With all these humans around, I suspect we'll be well-protected."
SunBeam pulled over and parked. Defensis Maximus pulls up a non-threatening distance behind him. Checkers, however, speeds up and slams into Sunbeam's driverside door, denting it. He then transforms and, picking up the surprised Decepticon by his left tires, swings him bolo-ball style into the side of the building they were parked next to.
SunBeam: "Aargh! You stupid 'bot! What the frack did you do that for?! I pulled over!"
Checkers: "The only good Decepticon is a deactivated one, if you ask me!"
SunBeam: "But you could have hit one of the humans! Aren't you supposed to be protecting them?"
Defensis Maximus (transforms to robot mode as well, and pulls Checkers' hands off of Sunbeam and sets SunBeam, gently, on the sidewalk) : "Yes, we are, and on behalf of my partner here, I am sorry for your being assulted like this. Would you like to press charges?"
Defensis: "Would you like to press charges? Pax Cybertonia Article 12 clearly stipulates that..."
Checkers (slapping D-Max's hands off of him) let go of me, human-lover! You wanted him stopped for questioning, so I stopped him!"
Defensis: "For the record, he was already stopped. We're here to ask questions, not to get into a fight."
Checkers: "Why, because of the humans around?"
Defensis: "Yes, precisely because the humans are around!" (turns to SunBeam) now look, we only want to ask you a few questions. Now, if you do endanger the humans, we'll be forced to restrain you, so..."
SunBeam: "Nah, man, it's cool. I'm not looking to hurt the humans. Humans are fine by me."
Checkers: "Ah geez, look at this, I'm surrounded by fleshling-lovers."
SunBeam: "I said, I don't have a problem with humans. In fact, I was just looking for one for my friend right now."
Defensis: "Why would your friend be looking for a human?"
SunBeam: "Um.... well, that's complicated..."
PinchPinch (from inside SunBeam): "Because I like to pinch them!"
Defensis: "Er, ahem. Yes. Well then. As I said, we'd just like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind, about the wherabouts of the Dairycon contingent on earth."
SunBeam: "Seriously? You don't know?"
Checkers: "If we knew, why would we be asking you?"
Defensis: "Shut UP, Checkers!"
SunBeam: "Oh. Well, that's easy. They're gone."
SunBeam: "Well yes, gone. They took my former employer's ship and headed back to Cybertron, if I had to guess."
Defensis: "Do you have proof of this?"
SunBeam: "No, I don't. I'm only guessing where they went, truthfully."
Defensis: "Speaking of your 'former' employer, can you tell me what exactly he's having you do here in Vegas?"
SunBeam: "Nothing. He's gone, for the moment, and I'm on vacation."
Checkers: "You expect me to believe that Decepticons take vacations?"
SunBeam: "No, I expect you to believe that *I'm* taking a vacation. It's cold where I was stationed, and I'm built for a warmer climate. Look man, what's your problem with me? Just because I wear this badge doesn't make me one of the bad guys. I was simply descended from the military hardware line. You, I expect, were descended from the pain in the ass line. I didn't even know there were any bigoted Autobots."
Checkers (balls fist): "Why I outta..."
Defensis: "You'll do nothing. Thank you for your time, SunBeam. You're free to go. Of course, if you do engage in any obvious illegal activities, or threaten to harm any humans, we will be forced to take you into custody..."
SunBeam: "Yea, yea, I know the drill. Geez. To think, I went from a position in the Transwarpers to being hassled by low-level frontline troops."
Defensis (watches SunBeam drive off): "Have a nice day."
Checkers (looks cross at DP): " 'have a nice day'? You make me sick. You know, when we was at war..."
Defensis sighed, and transformed. Checkers transformed and followed him, talking the entire time back to their stakeout about a human called Rush Lambeau, or somesuch, and how there was a human he could get behind...
Cybertron Central Processing Core:
"Spark-designate 'Clutterbug' recovered. Beginning memory rebuild. Time to completion: 1 pico-breem."
Ticker sighed. Her work was far from done. She managed to recover the spark of her friend (it had finally started glowing again, after being grey and lifeless for so long), and was in the process of rebuilding the personality component. The body chassis was still damaged, and might require replacement, but for now it would have to do. One needed at least a scrap of the old to work from. Contrary to popular belief, you couldn't just copy the personality onto a floppydisk and transfer it to a new body. You had to 'rehab' the spark and personality core from the old body, and rebuild from there. At least, you did if you wanted the same 'bot to return. The computer continued to compile as Ticker watched.
Scoot was in the middle of explaining to Ticker why the 'Universe Reset' theory of Electrum Beast was wrong ('I think perhaps certain people forgetting what happened was *part* of the Leader's plan'), when suddenly:
"Memory error. Memory error. Spark-core designate 'Clutterbug' shell program being over-ridden by previous core programming. Initialising."
What?! How is this possible, thought Ticker. Her fingers flew over the controls, trying to stem the flow of data, but to no avail. Whatever personality Clutterbug had posessed previously was now asserting control, pouring out of her spark and rewriting her personality core. No matter what Ticker did, she couldn't seem to stop it. She could only watch as the download completed.
A breathless moment passed in silence. Suddenly, a groan, and Clutterbug's eyes sparked back to life. She turned her head toward Ticker and said, "I've been trying to tell you from the beginning. I'm not Clutterbug. I'm really called ....."
TO BE CONTINUED.
Presenting Dairycon 2007: Dairycon Redux.
-Starring PinchPinch, SunBeam, Checkers, Nachos BelGrande, and Spot as The Last Autobot. Special Cameo appearance by Defensis Maximus and the rest of the Dairycon crew! An epic Saga that you do not want to miss! Part two available in 60 days. Read On, True Believiers!