The Last Autobot.
That's what he had called Spot, anyways. The unknown stranger, just before he pushed him thru the vortex, and sent him here.
The voices had started again. The group-mind of Defensor, gone since the death of his comrades and his subsequent reactivation, had started again. Whispered to him in the background of his mind. Calling to him.
Why was he here? What was his mission? The stranger had said nothing. And Spot's own memories were fragmented at best. All he remembered was the fight, the terrible heat, the damage...
He remembered his death.
So why was he alive now? What purpose did it serve?
He listened. The whisperings of the group-mind were more insistant now, telling him that in a previous life, a previous universe, he was a leader of men, and that he was greater than the sum of his parts. Other whispers told of a time that he was alone, facing off against his greatest enemy, MegaZarek.
Still other voices told him he was crazy. That he used to be a DairyCon, but that he was dead, and this must simply be some form of The Pit, the place where lost souls, unable to join the Matrix, go to suffer eternally.
So Spot suffered.
Agonized as he sought answers amongst the myriad voices, and their suggested possibilities.
That's when the proximity sensor went off.
Wherever Spot was, he was no longer alone.
But he was still the Last Autobot.
Heffer and Washout had arrived.
Polyhex didn't look the way Heffer remembered it. Bastion of the Decepticon stronghold. Scourge of the great city-states. Iacon's greatest enemy...
Was a giant plant-holder.
At least, that's the way it looked to Heffer. Whatever it had been previously, currently it looked like a large overgrown weed patch.
Heffer didn't understand it. There was no dirt; how could there be plants?
Large-scale operations were trying to clear off the plant life planet-wide. But it seemed that here, they were making no headway; in point of fact, there seemed to be little movement at all.
Polyhex, abandoned? How strange. Were there no old-school Decepticons left on the planet? Had they all gone underground? Downgraded to Predacons?
Just what was the deal here?
Heffer: "OK, so the lights are off. Nobody's home. But someone's been watering the plants."
Washout: "They left the transorganic matter covering this. Not a thought of it being cleared off. Strange."
Heffer: "And we're here why, again?"
Washout: "This is where I was told we should be."
Heffer: "By who?"
Washout: "Not sure, exactly. But they paid in high-grade energon."
Heffer: "And you're sure we used to be partners in this deal?"
Washout: "I've no reason to lie to you. This is where we should be."
A shimmering bolt of lightening was the only warning before the vortex opened up, and illuminated two passengers: a small purple robot, and a larger green and yellow one. Heffer didn't recognise them, but Washout acted as though he knew them.
The vortex closed, but the shimmer remained on the two figures.
Washout: "So this means...?"
The Leader: Yes. Though I exist in other realities, and other times and places in this reality, I'm afraid for all intents and purposes, I'm dead here and now."
Crackup: "Could have fooled me."
The Leader: "And yes, I'm afraid Crackup is all but erased from the timestream completely, existing only in
the memories of others; a shadow in limbo, unable to affect anything outside of it."
Heffer: "Didn't ah see this in a movie once?"
The Leader: "A moment please. Memory upload."
The Leader waved his arm over toward Heffer. A small blue glow decended over the little 'bot's head, as neurons left dormant were brought back online and filled with previously missing memories. The process seemed painful, however. At first, Heffer's eyes registered anger, then pain... and then a curious blankness.
The Leader: "There. That should help you remember."
The Leader: "Indeed, though I'm somewhat less than my former self at the moment. You and Washout have a very important mission."
Heffer: (still a bit slackjawed)"Just name it, boss, and we'll do it."
The Leader: "That's my boy. The mission is simple. There is one who would undo all the careful structuring
I've done with the Universe. His very existence is a mockery to my own. I would ask that you... remove him from the picture." The Leader raises his hand, and an image of a red and blue robot appears before them.
Crackup: "Destroy him."
The Leader: "I believe they get the point."
Heffer: "This 'bot an enemy of yours, boss?"
The Leader: "In a matter of speaking. Truth be told, we have similar goals; however, if left unchecked, he
could very easily undo everything I've accomplished. Eons of work lost in a fateful instant. Normally, with a threat of this magnitude, I could deal with him myself, but as you can see (points to insubstantial form) I am afraid I'm somewhat powerless at the moment. With me leaving him unchecked, the scales will tip too-far, and the careful re-weaving of the universe will tear apart again. That's why I need you two to go to Earth."
Crackup: "Yes, earth! Is there a problem with your audio sensors?"
The Leader: "Crackup, please. Given your and Washout's previous run-ins, I should think that you would try a little harder to get-along, hmmm?"
Crackup: "Yes, of course you are correct, my Leader."
The Leader: "Then it's settled. Oh, and you'll need this."
A shimmer, and before the assembled party a golden disk appeared. The writing was unfamiliar to most of those present.
The Leader: "This artifact is the only way you will be able to destroy him. He will see it, and hesitate; at that
point you must strike." The disk stops hovering and settles into Washout's hand.
Crackup: "And don't let us down."
A new vortex opens; The Leader beckons Heffer and Washout to enter. Without hesitation, Heffer steps thru. Washout pauses a moment, eying the Golden Disk he'd been given. He was sure he'd seen it before, but for some reason he just couldn't remember where.
The Leader: "Have no worries, Washout, the memory you're struggling to remember is of no import. The mission is vital. Go."
Shrugging his shoulders, Washot clanks thru the portal as well.
Hidden amongst the greenery of the former PolyHex sat Flatfoot, Cybertronian Enforcement. His current mission: assertain the wherabouts of his old partner Washout, and report back on his findings.
This was not a mission he wanted to accept. Ever since that disasterous mission to earth, he'd had little interest in continuing his partnership with Washout. They'd lost their leader, OverDrive. Flatfoot had nearly lost his spark. And Washout there had walked out on the lot of them. He still didn't know why, but he suspected that it was his fault. He's said some harsh words to Washout before he walked out, and if that in any way led to his disappearance and eventual turn toward a darker way of life, well...it was something he would learn to live with. Flatfoot still had to enforce the Cybertonian Codex, even if that meant bringing down a friend. A former friend.
A former friend that he himself drove into the dark and seamy side of Cybertron.
Though at the moment, Washout was the least of his concerns. Flatfoot had heard the conversation; saw what
the humans would describe as ghosts, and wondered about the person they were being sent to kill.
What concerend him most was what he saw when the portal opened, and the two bots he was tailing were sent thru. There could be no mistake about it.
Heffer and Washout were headed back to Earth.
Ever since Defensis had revealed himself to The Leader, the fool had become obsessed with removing him from the picture. This latest venture, sending those two lackeys to do him in, was all the proof he needed that the Leader wasn't playing with a full deck.
Crackup intended to take advantage of that.
Crackup: "You know, my Leader, sending those two isn't a guarantee that the job will get done. What happens if they fail?"
The Leader: "They will not fail. I have already seen how things will play out once they arrive. But of course, that won't stop you from asking me to be sent in their place."
Crackup: "It's a vital mission. I should go and make sure the job is done properly. Otherwise, you'll just continue to obsess over this guy."
The Leader: "Much like you're obsessed with trying to gain power in this situation? No, I think not. You're better off by my side, where I can keep an eye on you. You've caased me enough problems in the past as it is. It's taken me decades to undo the damage you did to the timestream with your ill-gotten knowledge. Better that the universe thinks you're dead."
Crackup: 'Yea, my damaged, empty body that you left on that ship. Not very nice. And if it was supposed to be such a secret, how come you let me be seen by those two?"
The Leader: "Because it suited my purposes. You need not continue to question them."
Crackup: "And them thinking we're some kind of ghosts? Is that supposed to be funny?"
The Leader: "All in due time...."
Things weren't looking good.
Barry kept at it, however. The burgers at Stogie's Pizza were famous throughout the tri-county area; this particular batch would be no exception.
Except they refused to come up off the grill at the moment.
'Barry' wasn't an actual person. Barry was a holographic construct; a hard-light projection created to infiltrate where Transformers couldn't, or wouldn't go.
The original Barry (from which he was copied) controlled a Transector; an autonomous body based off of a popular G1 frame. Jazz had Steppper, Nightbeat Had Minerva. Barry was known more often by the name of his frame, which went by the monicker Defensis.
Defensis, however, had gone missing from this place some time ago, leaving his hard-light projector behind.
With 'Barry' trapped inside.
Barry didn't know how long he was left dormant; by the time he'd been reactivated, the safehouse had been converted to a resturant, and Domino had forced him to work in it.
Domino. Now there was a slaggin' piece of work.
He'd tried torturing Barry for information at first; tried to find out where his owner had disappeared to, and what his overall plans in the sector were.
But Barry had known nothing; all he had were memories from the last few months, but not much else. As a heurestics-based program, he could extrapolate, but without hard data to back it up, these were no more than guesses.
Domino decided to keep him. Reasoning that Defensis would come back at some point, he decided to camp out for the duration. Using Barry, he'd set the safehouse up to function as a working human fuel establishment.
He'd even let Barry keep his memories; what few he had.
So Barry worked the resturant, growing in time, memories, and emotions.
The emotion he'd felt most often was resentment.
And what kind of name was Barry, anyways? Surely his creator could have done better.
Barry turned that resentment into action, by making the best burgers and pizzas he could.
Now, if only these stubborn charred-meat patties would come up off the grill. Deploying his tongs and spatula, he began his work.
Monitoring Barry from outside, Domino could only chuckle.
Cleaning up Vegas was no easy task.
Although the building reconstruction was easy enough; human dwellings tended to be rather straightforward in their design. It was getting the humans to vacate a particular area that usually posed a problem. Unlike other sub-teams, Dairycons had no human allies they could call upon. Most of their interaction was done via computers, or at times artificial constructs. Initially, these were physical mannequins with limited movement. Nowadays, most had upgraded to holographic hard-light projectors.
Most of the buildings had been evacuated; the only one that remained occupied was the one that Mexicon's, 'Montezuma's Revenge' disk had lodged itself into. With people still there, Defensis didn't think it wise to transform into robot mode and remove it. After the battle with SunBeam, He and Checkers had revealed themselves enough for one day.
Defensis decided that this particular job required a human presense. Using one of his internal grappler arms, he reached into his back compartment to find his hard-light projector. 'Barry' could go into the building unnoticed and evacuate the humans within, either by pulling a fire alarm, or making an all-call announcement on the phone system. Defensis had scanned the building previously and found that most systems inside were too-old for him to take control of remotely. But with Barry, he could do the job, and still remain (relatively) unnoticed.
But rummaging around in his compartment, Defensis couldn't find his old avatar, 'Barry'. He found only an empty space where the hard-light projector should have been stored.
"That makes no sense," thought Defensis. The projector should have been there. The last time he'd used it, after all, would have been....
With a start, Defensis realised where he'd left the projector.
And although he'd wiped the avatar's memory before going on this extended mission, the projector still had sentimental value.
No say nothing of information a potential enemy could gather from it.
Defensis was getting old; eons ago, he would have never made such an amateur mistake. Nowadays, they seemed to come with more and more frequency. This latest mistake, having MexiCon front out as one of his identities from decades previous (the hero, Defensis Prime, when he'd worked hard to establish his Maximus persona in this era), only made the job harder. As an Ancient, he shouldn't have these kinds of problems. Unlike his brother, Vector Prime, the ancient of Time, Defensis was subject to aging in this universe. Being the ancient of Space didn't exactly hold many perks. He could go anywhere, be almost anyone, but his days ticked by at the same rate as those of the Universe.
And his time was running out.
And to top it all off, now Barry was missing.
Defensis was, unfortunately, in for another shock. The Golden Disk he was going to secure from the side of the building began to hum, and shimmer; finally, before stunned optics, the Disk simply disappeared.
And that was tat.
'Clutterbug' made one more insistance that she was someone else, and served a higher purpose. Ticker and Scoot responded by locking her in her quarters.
She sighed. 'Clutterbug' hoped that Ticker would have helped her, sister to sister, but the story was simply too-fantastic for anyone to believe. And Scoot flat-out refused to contact anyone in the higher echelons of the Autobot ranks, saying that her timeframe was supremely out-of-date.
Apparently, quite a bit of time had passed.
But how much?
'Clutterbug' intended to find out. Looking at the wall in-front of her, she waved her hand; a vortex formed, and a silver wind of particles emerged, battering the wall with a gale-force, until it was bent and torn asunder. The wind dissipated; 'Clutterbug' stepped thru the hole she created, transformed, and scuttled off into the Cybertronian night.
She was determined to find Prime.
Or maybe.... Defensis.
"Oh, this day is just gettin better and better," thought Defensis. Barry was missing, the Golden Disk had disappeared... and now, to top it all off, Checkers had just decided to come rolling up behind him.
Defensis: "What are you doing here? You were supposed to work on the broken sign down the block."
Checkers: "Eh, i finished, so I thought I'd come help you. I see ya got the disk down, 'Prime'. heheheh."
Defensis: "I told you, stop calling me that. My designation is Defensis Maximus."
Checkers: "Yea, well guess you got a promotion, huh? And the paintjob, well that's just spectacular. Here you was, yelling at me for not blending in, and now you're the biggest eyesore here. My optics are bleedin' fer cryin out loud. Wait till I tell the guys back at base."
Defensis: "You can't do that."
Checkers: "Do what?"
Defensis: "You can't tell anyone at base about this."
Checkers: "What, now I can't turn in a mission report?"
Defensis: "I don't mean the mission, that's fine. I'm telling you, you can't talk about what you saw here today. About that... MexiCon character. And me."
Checkers: "Eh, don't you think it's gonna be all over the human news channels? How do you expect to hide it?
There's probably going to be someone who caught the fight, and your color-change there on a camera. I don't need to say anything. You'll be outed by your precious humans."
Checkers was right. There was no way he could keep the others in the dark about the fight, or his altered appearance. Even if the scattering humans hadn't recored him, there was no way Checkers could be trusted to keep his mouth shut about it.
And he couldn't take Checkers into his confidence, either. He'd made that mistake once, and it had cost him dearly.
Defensis needed to disappear, to sort all this out. He'd head back to his safehouse, retrieve Barry, and lay low for awhile while he tried to sort this out. It was obvious to him that someone was pulling strings; the random altercation with Nachos, the fronting out of his persona, and now that Golden Disk disappearing right in front of him.... yes, something was going on, and it would be best if he tried to figure out what that was.
But what to do about Checkers?
Defensis sighed. This wasn't in his nature. He hated to do this, but he could see no other choice. Transforming into robot mode, he reached into his compartment, and pulled out a small crystal, holding it in front of Checkers. Startled, Checkers transformed as well, but Defensis was already speaking into the crystal.
"Stasis-lock, temporary, New York."
Checkers: "Hey, whattya doin'?"
Defensis: "I'm sorry. But I have to send you away for awhile, in order to complete my task. You will wake up in New York, with a rather fuzzy memory of what's happened here. Again, I'm very sorry. But this is the way it has to be."
Checkers: "Lousy fleshling loverrrrr.......!!!!!" The sentence dragged on as Checkers shimmered, glowed, and fianlly faded from view. Defensis placed the small crystal back into his compartment, transformed, and drove off, heading for his safehouse.
Hopefully, he could find peace there.
Spot turned to face the unknown intruder. Before he could even ask, the newcomer spoke:
"You've changed since we last met."
It was true; although Spot had maintained some version of this form thru several generations of Transformers, he'd always stuck to a similar color scheme and altmode chassis. So he, at least, always felt recognisable.
The person Spot faced, however, was unfamiliar. Yet he spoke as though he knew Spot....
Spot: "Do I know you?"
Intruder: "You don't remember?"
Spot: "You didn't answer the question."
Intruder: "Didn't I?"
Spot was frustrated. The newcomer refused to divulge information, merely taunted him by answering his queries with sarcastic questions of his own. If Spot was going to get answers, he would have to get rough. He grabbed the small being by his neck, throttling him and raised him up to eye level:
Spot: "Now, would you care to explain yourself, or must I damage you?"
Intruder: "Enough! I'm a friend, all-right? I didn't think you would be so angry."
Spot: "A friend? How so?"
Intruder: "You don't remember me because we never actually met. But I read about you from the Dairycon secret files. You're Spot. My name is Burning Furry Monkey."
Spot: "That's... a silly name."
BFM: "Hey, I wouldn't talk, pseudonym for a dogbot mess." The small monkey held out his arm; a highly-stylised Maximal symbol was overlayed with a recognisable cow-head.
Spot: "My designation isn't your concern(sets the small monkeybot down). Why have you been following me?"
BFM: "Well, believe it or not, I wasn't intending to. I'm actually tracing the energy signature of another Transformer that passed thru here, but for some reason I ended up finding you." Burning Furry Monkey taps the control module, attempting to get the handheld device to function properly. "I don't know what to tell you beyond that. But what are you doing here? Last I knew, you were in stasis awaiting some major repairs."
Spot: "Someone....woke me up, and sent me here. Didn't tell me why, but seemed to indicate it was vital. Told me that where I was going, I was the Last Autobot, and that I needed to save the Universe. I still don't know what that means."
BFM: "Well, I'm a Maximal, so if we're the only ones here, it would make sense. Except that now that we're on-top of each other, I can sort out the signal I was tracking. Hm. Make that two signals." (BFM shows Spot the scanner).
Spot: "Could that be a glitch? Is your scanner still picking up us?"
BFM: "Nope. Those signals are further away than us. One is the signal I'm tracking...and the other one is nothing I've ever seen before. It worries me."
BFM: "Because it's coming closer."
Defensis had arrived.
Or at least, he thought he did. The location was correct, but the Safehouse...
There was something terribly wrong with the Safehouse.
It had apparently been converted into some kind of human food establishment. Defensis read the sign from a distance: "Stogie's Pizza. Serving the best Burgers and Pies (est 1984)."
Now that was definately not there before. This was an abandoned barn the last time he was here. The barn had apparently been torn down, and this resturant built.
The barn was gone... did that mean the safehouse was compromised as well?
Defensis scanned underneath the resturant, and to his relief found that the underground building was still intact. His entrance into it, however, was blocked. How could he get down there with this new building on top?
Defensis pondered this dilemna, as a delivery vehicle pulled out of the resturant, and drove slowly toward him...
To Be Concluded in 2008!!