Scoot went over the records.
Though a meterials engineer by design, he dabbled in that most archane of pursuits, his race's history. The story of the Transformers was a long and varied one. In all his eons of study, it seemed odd that no one had come up with a unified theory of transformers. Several attempts had been made over the years. One villian had gone so far as to wipe the entire history of their race from the computers, though that had merely slowed down the effort. Wiping the central database did only that; there was no way to remove the information from all periphal locations, such as Transformers' memories. Though he had tried....
It was something for 'megatron' to do, he supposed, while waiting for universal domination. Scoot documented the decendant's pursuits while he waited for the various teams to report in to base.
Scoot was going over the beginnings of their race, the supposed 'origin' of Cybertonains (before they'd split into so many different warring factions). Simpler times, then. Before the planet, and their history, were nearly destroyed. Before the Covenant of Primus, or the Pax Cybertonai, even. Rewritten, yes; from the ancient records that spoke of Fortress Maximus and the Second Golden Age, to newer records that spoke of the great purge. Much of it didn't make sense, and historians still struggled to piece together several seemingly contradictory histories of their race. Some scholars speculated that parts of the encoded texts should be written off as fiction. For example, the rumor of an enslavor race called Quints. It has no other reference in the text, so presumably, that piece doesn't belong. Still, there were some who doggedly desired to make all the pieces fit, and Scoot was one of them. Short of reviving the old multiverse theory, though, it wasn't likely to happen. That was another belief that fell by the wayside in recent times.
Lost beliefs. Hmmm. Few people believed in Primus anymore either; their supposed creator, their mythical god-figure. Oh sure, you'd find small pockets on Cybertron here and there, seemingly identical little gangs of motorcycle drones worshipping something called the Oracle; but as far as Scoot knew knew, Oracle was just another name for a different myth, the one about a mythical super-computer called Vector Sigma.
That's what spurned Electrum Beast's research into Transwarp technology; the ability to traverse the timeline in order to determine the true universal setting. Though sealed away by order of the Council, there were small pockets of research done in clandestine circumstances. Electrum Beast had come across some of these Transwarpers himself back in the day; having been witness to a Universal reset (or two) himself, Electrum Beast was convinced that this technology was the reason the timeline was so ... well, screwed up. It was as though the stories of the previous timelines survived, but the timeline itself had changed.
It was this presumption that convinced Scoot to join Electrum Beast so long ago.
He'd dabbled in the transwarp technology himself; there was a time when he could actually reach thru to different times and places and snatch bits of technology to further his research. This had proven to be a mistake; it had caused certain other parties to take notice of his work. Fearing he would damage the timeline, they elected various plots and schemes to minimise (and sometimes, outright remove) himself and their faction from existence.
A faustian bargain; by removing Scoot, Electrum Beast, and the others, those parties were damaging the very timeline that they themselves sought to protect. Various complicated schemes had unraveled, leaving the team alive, but scattered, looking for a way to bring the last pieces of themselves back together.
That's why Electrum Beast was here, on Cybertron; somehow, he felt that this latest little reset was localised, but not permanent. Scoot could feel it too; something just beyond the edge of his thought processes suggested to him that they needed to reassemble the Stormsword bits in order to stave off what was coming. As to what exactly was coming, he didn't know; he could only react to the feeling.
Scoot felt the pang of loss; as things stood currently, they had all lost the ability to travel and tinker with time in any standard fashion. Their personalised warpgates only allowed travel in space, not in time. This loss was keenly felt by Burning Furry Monkey, who longed to return to his own era and fight the good fight, instead of being stuck here in what he termed the 'past'. But even Electrum Beast had no true answers for him. As a resource, BFM was invaluable; better he stay here and help them preserve the timeline they were all in.
A shame, that the reset didn't merge him with existing events, as it did with Uncle Whiskey Breath and many of the others. Then again, it was Scoots' unique physiology that prevented him from ever seeming to fit in, so he supposed he should be grateful that there were others who shared his pain. Had Electrum and the others not realised what had happened, this universe would be a sad and lonely place.
Scoot wheeled over to the comm station. It would be time for the other teams to check in. Presumably, Electrum Beast would be done with his part of the mission soon; it remained to be seen if Campaign Car and Burning Furry Monkey could do the same.
Campaign Car fumed.
He hadn't wanted Uncle along for this mission. But the big bot had insisted; stated that, since he knew the area better, he could help him complete his mission faster. It was hard to argue with that logic. It was also hard to get rid of him; once Campaign car had seen that he couldn't lose him in traffic, he let Uncle in on what he was doing.
Uncle: "So let me get dis straight. I was a big hero, saved the gosh-darn universe, and don' remember it, nor do I remember my lil' buddy?"
Campaign Car: "That's the speed of it."
Uncle: "Horse puckey."
Campaign Car: "Excuse me?
Uncle: "Why would you remember this crackpot story, while I don', specially seen as how I figure so darn well in it?"
Campaign Car: "I don't know. Ticker supposes that since you're an old-school Gee wun design, you're more part of the universal fabric, while most other Dairycons aren't."
Campaign Car: "Yea, I know, I know, but that's what she told me."
Uncle: "Well good, as long as we both know yer loco."
They drove onward.
Clutterbug was pissed.
In her previous incarnation, she would have stood toe to toe against Prowl, Optimus Prime's formidable right-hand 'bot. However, as Clutterbug, she barely came up to the top of his foot, even in her robot mode.
Clutterbug: "Listen, I have to talk to Prime."
Prowl: "I'm sorry, but nobody gets in to see Prime anymore."
Prowl: "Nobody. Those were the last orders he'd given me before he secluded himself so very long ago. In point of fact, nobody should even know he exists anymore, much less know the location of this place. Who are you?"
Clutterbug: "I told you, in my previous incarnation, I was known as Silverwynde. However, due to some... formatting issues, I'm known as Clutterbug."
Prowl: "I see. A sparkcore with two known identities. That seems.... unbalanced."
Clutterbug: "Well, when my original form was destroyed, and my spark captured, I sat unaware for some time. When placed in a new body, my personality component was reprogrammed. However, my spark retained its true personality, which came forth in a recent battle."
Prowl: "Yes, I see. Very Logical. A small bug, whom I've never heard of, invokes the name of someone whom I've also never heard of, and wants to get in to see Prime. Yes, it makes perfect sense."
Prowl raised his massive boot, and prepared to stomp on Clutterbug. She transformed, and scuttled away just as the foot came crashing down on the spot where she was mere moments ago. The word 'Patrol' loomed large in her viewfinder.
Prowl: "I don't know who you are, or who you claim to be, and either way, it doesn't matter. My job is to protect Prime from everyone. Everyone. There can be no exceptions."
Clutterbug stared in horror as Prowl made ready to stomp on her again.
It didn't take long to get to the buildings; Spot was faster (for the moment) than the scuttling hulk that was pursuing them. Spot transformed; BFM's internal repair circuitry got him mobile again. He transformed, and pointed his scanner at the building.
BFM: "Sensors indicate it's an abandoned factory of some sort. Not of Cybertronian design. It's curious, though."
Spot: "Why is that?"
BFM: "Well, it's not something Transformers built, but my scanner is picking up bits of Cybertronian technology inside."
Spot: "So... another mystery. What's one more on top of the others? Let's go inside. Maybe some of that tech can be used against our friend out there."
Spot pushed aside a massive metal door, and stepped inside. BFM followed close behind, scanners at the ready.
So much had been lost over the eons, including, apparently, his will to fight. He was old; by some reckoning, he was one of the oldest Transformers currently active. Such a distinction should have earned him a place of great honor and respect, where he spent his time pondering the great questions- such as why their were factions in the Grand Design. Autobot, Decepticon, these designations held no meaning for him. There were only Cybertronians. The children of Primus, splitting into tribes and making war amongst themselves? Preposterous! Yet here they were, eons later, dancing the same little dance while the universe ticked down.
With no guidance, the war of Primus' children would have spread across the universe, destroying things in much the same manner had Unicron gone unchecked. It gave Defensis pause, wondering if the struggle was worth it. For all his carefully laid plans, he was still fighting a battle he had no true stake or even interest in. Primus' plan was finished; Unicron was vanquished. Had Primus no plan for his children once the great play had ended? Were they simply meant to shut off, shut down? Or was this war of attrition meant to be the answer? They would wipe themselves out, thus ending even that vague threat to the universe?
Defensis shook it off. That kind of thinking led to madness, and despair. He'd accomplished a great many things in his eons of existence, and he was not about to let this young upstart grind him into the dirt. Existence being what it was, he had a duty to make sure it continued on, in whatever form it chose. That's what made this struggle important; it wasn't about himself, or even the Transformers, it was about Life, in its many forms, not the least of which the organic life that had been trampled so many times in this struggle. This was why Defensis fought; for if he didn't, the life on this planet would cease to exist.
And he refused to have that on his conscience.
Defensis considered his options. Weapons systems were back on-line. He could transform and deploy his vehicle-mode cannon, but that would limit his defensisve capabilities. This was close-range combat, and he had very few weapons in that regard. Barry usually served as advisor and impromptu weapon, but he was currently in the hands of the enemy. He had other devices; whether it was wise to deploy them in this situation was debatable.
In-theory, his current frame was ideally suited in strength battles. Brains and Brawn should be an effective combination. Still.... against a new-chassis Decepticon, the outcome was not assured. Nonetheless, it was the best possible course of action.
His fists clenched, Defensis charged Domino.
He wasn't expecting him to fight.
Domino preferred his victims cowering, quivering. Find out what hit their emotional center, then break it. Once their spirit was broken, it was time to break their body. In half, preferably, and leave them for dead in a back alley somewheres, or better yet, in the methane oceans of Hydras 4.
Using Defensis' prized possession against him was supposed to break him. That's what he'd been told, anyways. But here he was, this old geezer, with fire in his optics and fists at the ready. It looked as though this would be a fight.
Good. Been awhile.
Switching the cylinder setting from a spatula to a giant pair of tongs, Domino stabbed at Defensis, keeping him just out of hitting distance as he reached for his heartburner gun. He fired point-blank at Defensis' chest, causing obvious discomfort in his enemy. He followed it up by stabbing him with the tongs again, this time piercing his chest. Domino fired again, causing the burn to go even deeper. Satisfied he's done the old 'bot enough damage, he holstered his gun and deactivated the cylinder, magna-locking it onto his hip. A trophy to remember the battle with.
Stomping over to where Defensis lay crumpled, he reached down and prepared to tear pieces off of him personally. When he was finished, there's be nothing left but a stripped, charred chassis. Just the way Domino liked it. Crackup would be pleased; this delivery would be wrapped up in 30 breems or less.
Or else it would be free.
Defensis marveled at the amount of pain the 'con had actually caused him.
The 'heartburner gun', as the little thug had called it, actually managed to injure him. However, the damage done by the cylinder was mainly superficial. The cylinder, as a weapon, had proved less than effective against Defensis' durasteel skin. Granted, the paint job was badly scrathed, and he'd never get the carbon scoring off, but otherwise he was in fine fighting form. His ruse had worked; he'd gotten the little punk to foolishly abandon his ranged weapons, and come for him bare-handed.
This was going to be fun.
Domino reached down for Defensis. As he did so, Defensis grabbed his arm and pulled, hard, flippping him over himself and onto the ground behind. A loud crash, a small indentation in the dirt. Domino was stunned, barely registering what had just happed. A hubcap flew off into the distance, never to be seen again. Defensis stood up and reached around, grabbing the 'con by the scruff of his neck, lifting him physically off the ground, and bringing his face to within inches of his own.
Defensis: "Normally, I abhor violence. For you, I will make an exception." Reaching toward Domino's belt, he snatched the Barry cylinder off of him, and placed it within his own storage compartment. His property safely placed, he again turned to the con in his outstretched arm. Domino's legs kicked the air uselessly as he struggled to make contact. "Yes, you don't like that, do you? Being out of control? Not being able to beat up on a helpless old victim? You make me sick. Your kind was never planned for by Primus. You ought to be expunged from the universe." Defensis reached his fist back and let it fly, punch after punch, not letting up, and not letting go.
Off some distance, Washout and Heffer watched the proceedings with some dismay.
Washout: "Not yet. Soon, though, if this keeps up."
Flatfoot pulled onto the scene and transformed. He assessed the situation. Two subjects engauged in fisticuffs. His main target, off to the side, apparently observing, still clutching the artifact; a cybertonain 'golden disk' if memory served.
Flatfoot wished he knew more about the situation he was about to stumble into. On the one hand, he needed to aprehend Washout. On the other hand, the Codex demanded that he stop this fight.
He chose to do both.
Unholstering his gun, Flatfoot approached Washout from behind, preparing to take him into custody.
He never thought he'd see the day.
Cybertronain G1 tech at it's finest. It was shells like these that were popular during the ending days of the last Great War. How they ended up here was anyone's guess, but judging from their condition, they'd been here awhile.
Spot: "So what are we looking at?"
BFM: "Well, they weren't made here. They seemed to have been abandoned here after a battle. Odd, though; except for a hole blown clean thru this one, the other two seem fine. Just some minor denting and a few chinks."
Spot: "And dust. Don't forget the dust."
BFM: "Yes, they have been here awhile, that is for certain."
Burning Furry Monkey climbed to the top of one of the massive Pretender shells; an internal diagnostic would no-doubt reveal who had used it last, and perhaps why it was abandoned (assuming he could access a powerport, that is.)
BFM: "You know, back in the day, a bot your size could actually fit into one of these. In addition to being armor, it would aid your healing process. It's similar to the CR chamber technology, except that this was your own personal one. It made up for the lack of rudimentary repair circuitry in many older Transformers. Are you sure you haven't seen this technology before?"
Spot: "I'm not sure. That's always the problem. The galaxy is a big place, and I was mostly assigned to Earth. It looks heavy. How would you carry it?"
BFM: "That's the beauty of it, the shell could be radio-controlled. It moved itself."
Spot thought it seemed too-good to be true; a transformers bulk being covered by these even-larger hulks, while still maintaining independant movement? It seemed absurd, yet some errant thought told him that what he was hearing was true. And further, that he should already know it.
So why didn't he know it?
BFM: "I got it."
BFM: "The problem with my scanner before on that... thing. The reason I can't lock onto it is because it's not actually all there."
Spot: "How can it not be there?"
BFM: "It's not in-phase with this universe. Part of it is, but the rest of it seems to be... elsewhere."
Spot: Which means your little friend is elsewhere, too?"
BFM: "I'm afraid so. Which means we can do only one thing."
Spot: Which is?"
BFM: "We have to go elsewhere too..."
Washout felt him before he heard him.
Turning away from the fight, he faced off against his old partner Flatfoot. Though nominally assigned to the same missions in the past, it was a critical incident long ago that had caused a rift between them. It was Washout who nearly cost Flatfoot his life. They'd lost their leader, Overdrive, on the same mission. Granted, Overdrive was reborn as Bunny Convoy, but it hardly mattered, because Overdrive was gone. *That* was what was unacceptable. To complicate matters, Flatfoot himself was a Cybertonain Purist. Though he didn't let it interfere with his duties, he abhorred the notion of organic beast Transformers. When the mission failure led to Flatfoot being turned into a beast changeform himself, he blamed Washout, and rightfully so.
Things had never been right between them since.
So here Washout stood, Golden Disk in-hand, with Flatfoot pointing a gun at his chest. How cliche.
Washout: "Before you say anything, I have to tell you, I'm on a mission..."
FlatFoot: "I know. I'm here to stop you."
Flatfoot: "Oh, like you think Electrum Beast would let you go off on your own missions once he got us assigned to his team. Or had you forgotten?"
Washout: "I haven't forgotten anything. I also haven't done anything to be taken into custody for."
Flatfoot: "Really? Deserting your post? Aiding and abetting an enemy Transformer? Attempted asassination of an Ancient? Tell me if I've forgotten anything."
Flatfoot: "That's what I thought. Now, you and your friend just stay right here while I summon a warpgate. It will take you to a detention facility on Cybertron until we can decide what to do with you."
Flatfoot activated a button on his com. The personal warpgate materialised.
Behind them, Defensis made a critical error.
Spot and Burning Furry Monkey made their preperations.
The goal was to rush 'into' the creature. BFM's scanners said they could do it; what they didn't say was where they would end up.
Better to focus on the task at hand. Spot had further questions, anyways.
Spot: "So what did you say the name of this planet was?"
BFM: "Well, it doesn't have a name that I'm aware of. The old star charts I consulted to get here listed this place only by its alpha-numerical destination of VsQs. Why?"
Spot: "Hrm. Nothing, I guess. Maybe something. I'm not sure. This situation tugs at me, some errant memory. I've been listening in on the remnants of my merged groupmind, looking for an answer. But it still remains a whisper, something just out of reach. I... oh, no."
Spot's mind reeled; the final connections fell into place. It was as though everything he'd known and forgotten was suddenly available to him. His buffers siezed; he was barely able to vocalize what was going thru his mind.
Spot: "This is the place where Prime's old body landed! This is the place we were never able to locate in order to retrieve the remnants of our technology. I was in charge of several retrieval teams that scoured space, reclaining our lost technology, lest it fell into the wrong hands. This is one of the places we missed. The battle. Thunderwing. Unicron. The Last Autobot. The creature outside is the result of the Matrix!"
BFM: "What do you mean?"
Spot: "Blades. The Swarm. The Vok. Scrapmetals. These terms are pouring into my memory, but they're out of context. I don't know how they relate. It's too-much, I can't process, I..." Suddenly, Spot stopped talking, except to make a final statement before his optics went dim. "It's too late. We're out of time."
Before Burning Furry Monkey could ask Spot to clarify, he heard clanging above them. The creature that had been stalking them outside ... had found a way in.
He was angry.
And rightfully so; this 'con had taken a piece of his identity, then tried to kill him, for no reason that he could think of. So he was pounding on him until...
Defensis stopped punching Domino, and let his fist drop. This was not Primus' way. This was the way of the chaos-bringer. This young upstart had very nearly made him forget that. It was time to talk, and try to find out *why* Domino was trying to kill him. Defensis let him settle to the ground.
Defensis: "So, now that you've been softened up a bit, how about telling my *why* you've been trying to deactivate me."
Domino: "I ain't got nuttin ta say."
Defensis: "Come now, surely you'd rather go on your way with me knowing, versus being taken into custody and having a professional interrogate you. Why are you doing this?"
Domino: "The boss wants what the Boss gets."
Defensis: "Excuse me?"
Domino:"I said, the Boss wanted you roughed up, and taken out of the picture. I don't ask why, I just do it."
Defensis: "I see. And who is your boss?"
Domino: "What are you, nuts? YOu don't know who my boss is? You don't know that Domino is the right-hand bot to Cra-uurk!...."
Domino sparked, sizzled, before his optics went black. His life had been cut short abruptly. Defensis looked up; a small blade was retracting itself out of Domino's chest. The blade's owner was none other than-
The Leader: "Dear me, I seem to have made a mess." The Leader wiped his blade off on Domino's chassis. Mech fluids congealed in a puddle around his fastly evaporating corpse.
The Leader: "Yes, me. How grand."
Defensis: "What have you done!?"
The Leader: "Oh, merely punished one of Crackup's lackeys for interfering with my plans. His chassis will come in handy again, I'm sure. I'll keep it on ice until I need it." The Leader sighed. "I'll likely have to place Crackup on permanent ice as well; he's managed to interfere with my plans again, even without fully accessing this dimension. Color me gullible; at least now I know better." The Leader finished wiping off his blade, then straightened up and faced Defensis Prime. "Now then, what to do with you. You've become a pain, my dear boy. My grand universal story has a PlotHole in it, and we simply can't have that, now can we? How about you be a sport and give me your MacGuffin."
Defensis: "My what?"
The Leader: "Your shard of Primus. You won't be needing it anymore."
Defensis: "I know you. Or rather, I knew you. You're that insufferable 'mech that goes by the name of Was-"
The Leader cut him off. "Now now, my boy, I don't go bringing up details about your past incarnations. The least you can do is keep quiet about mine."
Defensis: "Fine. What do you want with me, interloper?"
The Leader: "Well, you might not know it, but I've come to fancy this universe. I make little tweaks here and there when necessary, but mostly I leave things alone. You, my friend, seem to be in the same business."
Defensis: "If you mean, do I try to help our race along, then yes, I suppose so. Primus' children tend to cause trouble when left to their own devices. I make sure a steady hand is at the wheel."
The Leader: "Well, my boy, therin lies the problem. We have slightly different ideas about how this universe should be. Your machinations are interfereing with my plans in this timeframe, and I'd prefer that you knock it off."
Defensis: "You expect me to abandon my mission just so you can fufill yours? With no proof that what you say is true? I don't think so. If anything, it's your little localised 'resets' that cause the problem. I could focus on the rest of the omniverse if you wouldn't keep tearing apart local time. If anything, you should stop."
The Leader: "Sigh. Very well then, we seem to be at an impasse. As such, you leave me no choice." The Leader deployed his blade and prepared to advance.
Clutterbug transformed into robot mode, and jumped out of the way again. Prowl was intent on stomping her into the ground. She could not allow that. She deployed her wrist-emitters, and fired small bolts of spark-blue energy at his foot. The bolts splayed harmlessly off his foot. Hmph. Figures. In this form she was clearly no match for the Autobot. She decided to switch tactics. Transforming again, she leaped for the back-side of Prowl's durasteel window. Finding purchase, she scuttled into Prowl's inner leg workings, away from where he could stomp her. Making her way thru his leg, out his shoulder blade, and up to his cranial module. Clutterbug crawled into his right auditory sensor, and breathed a sigh of relief. Now she could talk to him without risking a stomp.
Clutterbug: "Now you're going to listen to me whether you like it or not."
Prowl: "I could easily get you taken out by an internal probe."
Clutterbug: "Yes, but not before you hear what I have to say. I told you, I have to talk to Prime. He needs to know about the theat to the universe."
Prowl: "There's always some threat or another. The universe has gotten along fine without his direct involvement. Why would you want to bother him now?"
Clutterbug: "Because now it may be too-late. I was sent on a mission a long time ago. I'd found out something critical about one of our enemies, and was on my way back to report in when I was ambushed. My body was destroyed, and my spark captured."
Prowl: "Yes, you told me this part of your fantasy already."
Clutterbug: "Listen to me! While I was out of action, the crisis worsened. When I finally came fully back online, I knew I had to report to him at any cost."
Prowl: "If your mission was so long ago that nobody remembers, perhaps it resolved itself."
Clutterbug: "It didn't. I got a first-hand look at how badly it progressed; even fought against the threat directly before coming here. It's worse, and it may already be too-late. But only Prime can make that determination."
Prowl: "You are an annoying little pest.
Clutterbug: "Be that as it may, I need you to listen."
Prowl became an unwitting audience as Clutterbug revealed her tale.
And just like that, they were out of time.
Burning Furry Monkey grabbed hold of Spot as the Scrapmetal creature fell toward them. One way or the other, they were going to find out where this took them. The creature fired. They pressed on. The blast was becoming blinging, intolerable, when suddenly...!
TO BE CONTINUED!