"I believe it's time."
"It's why I came in person. Many of the signs you told me to watch for are there. It started a few years ago, in earth time. I waited until I could be sure."
"The Guardian designated UWB. For reasons I don't understand, he calls himself Uncle Whiskey Breath."
"Who did you send afterwards?"
"The Ancient. He practically jumped at the chance. I believe he knew. And now, I can't raise him, either."
"There is one more item; a rogue called Clutterb... well, Silverwynde, apparently. Her story seems to corroborate the facts as we know them. And now she's disappeared, too."
"Have you scanned for any likely planets?"
"Based on the available information, I'd say Earth."
The figure nodded. "Of course. It's only fitting. Very well. I believe I will deal with this in-person. Ready my shuttle for launch. And tell Wheeljack to expect me. I'll need to bring... an old friend with me."
"At once, sir."
The Dairycons found themselves more than a little disoriented. It wasn't just the earth-bound ones that had been brought here; several of them had been off-world when the Incident occurred. Earth, Cybertron... every Dairycon in the galaxy had been brought to this place.
Only a handful could even guess why.
PlotHole surveyed the terrain; off in the distance, he could still sense Prime's original body, still partially in its casket. The Autobots never came back to reclaim it when the war ended. The only Decepticons that knew about were dead; then, there was that G2 business to worry about...
PlotHole supposed it was merely lost in the shuffle. The universe was a big place, after all. Still, that was no excuse. Even with the creation matrix recovered, they should have come back for the body. This planet was positively riddled with litter of Cybertonian design. It made things all the worse; little details like this were the reason that Fate intervened, causing would-be-heroes to snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory.
Is that why he'd brought them all here, he wondered? To allow the Dairycons to choose Defeat over Victory?
He would find out soon enough.
Turning away from his musings, he looked down the hill he was on and faced the crowd underneath him. Many were friends, a few enemies.... even a few unknowns. Not to him of-course; the Shard of Primus allowed him a certain insight into these matters. However, he supposed that a few gathered here were unknown to the rest of the group - probably didn't even know themselves that they were Dairycons.
It was time to educate them.
PlotHole had enjoyed his time as Defensis Prime; almost as much as he'd enjoyed playing other characters in Transformers history. He'd had the luxury to play a pivotal role in many epic sagas; witnessed great leaders born, die, and be born yet again. But he was tired; he felt as old as the universe that had given birth to him. He sensed that his time in the light was short; he needed to make sure things went correctly from here before he was gone. It seemed almost an irony that he'd be relying on his worst enemy to help them thru this. Then again, if not your closest enemy, then who else could you trust?
"Primus, give me your strength. They must be made to understand. They have to hear it from you, not me. I fear it is the only way." Clutching the Shard, Plothole Pushed it within himself... slowly, painfully. As the light from the shard faded into his chest, his eyes began to glow with that same power. He began to rise, floating above the assembly before him. And when he spoke, it was not as PlotHole, or as Defensis Prime.
It was as Primus.
"Hear me, Children of Primus. I have brought you here for a purpose; this planet is where it all began. One of your number stumbled upon something that should never have been; he used that something to travel the timestream. This, in-effect, caused ruptures in the universe. A multiverse was born."
"But this multiverse was unstable. Even at its core, ripples of the coming Apoclypse could be felt. Heralds from both sides crossed and recrossed the barriers, weakening it as they went. Timelines snuffed out. New ones created. All of this has brought us to this point, where the divisions between the multiverse are at their weakest. Here, is where it will all come to an end."
He could hear them murmuring. "I know what many of you may be thinking. But understand, I have been watching this happen for a long time... longer than you might imagine. This vessel known as PlotHole has been to many places, seen many things, and he can tell you that this.... this finite space was not designed to contain a multiverse. Things will soon collapse and reform into a single Transformers Universe. Those of you gathered here today have a say in what kind of universe that will be. Some of you wish it to return to the original universe. Others have attempted to shape things in their image. Others still have thought they already accomplished that goal; you can imagine their surprise when I tell them now that they have failed. There is no alteration of the timestream, no returning to your own time. There is merely crossing over from one universe to another."
"And that is the crux of the problem. Unconsciuously or not, it all comes down to your universe, the one you all now currently inhabit. No matter where you came from originally, *this* universe is where it began.... and where it will end. For you see, the Apocolypse is upon us all, and you, my Dairycons, my Children ... you are the Harbingers of that selfsame."
"You are here to choose, children. And your choice... will effectively end the multiverse.
With that, PlotHole, formerly known as Defensis Prime, long the Ancient of Space, and more recently the Voice of Primus, sat down upon the rocks that overlooked the others, and fell silent.
He would never speak again in this lifetime.
"Oh, my God, I can't believe it's you!"
The teen fan practically gushed at the venerable old man. It was not unusual behavior; this kind of thing seemed to happen more frequently as of late. It seemed random chance that he ended up looking like a famous actor; made it harder to blend in. With infinite patience, he turned from the window display of tvs, and tried to explain to her again.
"Madam, I believe you have me confused with someone else."
"Squeal! You even sound like it in person. Can I have your autograph?"
Sighing, he put on his best grandfatherly smile, and signed her book. The girl looked at it, smiling.... and the smile turned to a look of confusion. She looked up, and asked:
"I don't get it. Is that the company you work for?"
"Er...no. As I said, I think you have me mistaken for someone else. Probably that good-looking actor from the movie."
"But you sound just like him. You wear a cowboy hat. You even have the mustache."
"Yes, I seem to get that a lot. I'm very flattered; however, it's really not me. That is, I'm not him."
"Hmpfh! Imposter! Pretending to be something you're not!" Turning in a huff, the young girl stomped off in the opposite direction from him. The man sighed; apparently, there were some items that hadn't been explained to him. He wanted to be able to walk around unnoticed. Instead, he frequently had to stop for small crowds of squealing 'fans'. If he had another disguise, he would use it, but alas....
A flicker caught his eye. Watching the screen in the window, his eyes narrowed; his keen hearing picking up what the news was saying. Satisfied that he'd heard correctly, the man walked across the street, and climed into the semi truck parked there. With a rumble, and a belch of smoke, the man drove off. His destination:
"I don't care who this crackpot is, or what he says. I was out trying to take over the universe while you were still a protoform! I am not about to take orders from you, or that pile of leftover scrap!"
He'd not seen Crackup in a long time, much less heard him talk like this. SunBeam had thought Crackup destroyed. Was it not his lifeless body he'd seen in the old ship when the Dairycons had first been captured?
Yet here he was, alive as ever. And apparently mad at The Leader.
The Leader: "You have no idea how long I've been around, do you? I was there when you were first cast. I took you out of the picture because your presense was disrupting the timestream."
Crackup: "Yes, and I can see how well you seem to be doing! All your subtle planning is out the window now, isn't it? That old geezer pulled out his sparkler, brought us all here, and now poof!, you no longer want to kill him?"
The Leader: "That's not it, exactly. You see.... I believe he was saying that this is all my fault. As Waspi.... er, in my former existence, I had, shall we say, big plans. It was I who discovered the Rift on this very planet. It's this rift energy that's integrated into my very spark... what allows me to teleport, as it were, from one 'time' to another. It would appear, however, that I've inadvertantly made things worse."
SunBeam: "How so?"
Electrum Beast: "If I understand correctly, you secured technology that allowed you to travel thru time...except that it wasn't time, in the strictest sense, but space. More accurately, every change you made in an attempt to alter the timestream... merely created another universe where the conditions you set forth existed. That implies there are a multitude of universes out there that exist pre-change."
The Leader: "So it would seem. As hard as I find this to accept...I am the reason the multiverse exists. It's my fault things have become so damaged."
Electrum Beast: "Surely, you understand that you weren't the only one doing this. I imgine there are a number of people to blame for this catastrophe, this ever-expanding multiverse of Transformers.
The Leader: "It is cold comfort, I'm afraid; I'm sure it was the meddling by either myself, or rather, my formers mentor that did this. If we traced the change directly to the so called Beast Wars, I think you'll find that-"
Crackup (interrupting): "I can't believe my ears. You're telling me that the lies we told the other Dairycons in our attempt to take over the universe turned out to be the truth? I've been telling the truth?!"
The Leader: "So it would seem."
Crackup: "Well, I refuse to accept that! This is merely a trick being played by someone who has found a better way to manipulate you than I ever could!"
Electrum Beast: "Though it does validate a number of my research projects. It would explain why things seemed to get more complicated after volume 80 of my original Covenant of Primus; the video logfiles that seemingly contridiced something referred to as 'gee-two', not to mention that whole business about-"
Crackup(interrupting again): "Yes, yes, your damnable 'minicons'. I get it. They were from another universe."
The Leader: "It would seem that most of our special abilities may have come from these other universes."
SunBeam: "I have a question. If we all come from different parts of the multiverse, and it's going to become a Universe again... does this mean we'll cease to exist?"
Everyone fell silent after that.
The man drove as far as he was able, then stopped. With no one watching, it was easy to hide his means of transport. Walking the rest of the way, he approached a familiar landmark. Reaching around the base of it, he looked for the keypad that would allow him egress into the bunker.
However, there was no keypad.
Looking around him to make sure no one was watching, he gripped the sides of the cement platform that held the airplane in-place. At this time of the day, there seemed to be no traffic going in and out of the airport.
No one to see him do this.
With a mighty heave, he pulled on the cement platform. A grinding of gears, the sound of twisting metal, but something finally caught; the platform moved upward, revealing a charred accessway underneath.
An accessway to the old Milwaukee Base.
Designation: Moo Base 1.
The Leader: "So that's my Rift Technology in a nutshell. I use a rather hulking behemoth to disguise it. My hope is that there's an answer in (his wristcom beeps) Hmmm. It would appear that we are short two of our number. My readings indicate that my Workshop, and the device, have been accessed recently.
Electrum Beast:"Say again?"
The Leader: "I'm saying that someone has...gone thru the rift. In point of fact, they're coming back thru now."
A number of Dairycons turn and draw their weapons as the Scrapmetal creature standing amongst them suddenly shimmers into visability. Planninf for the worst, it comes as a great surprise when Spot, Burning Furry Monkey...and ThunderClap walk thru the rift to join the others.
BFM:" Hmmm. I don't remember it being this...crowded when we left."
Spot: "Did we miss something?"
Pinchbottom was distressed by this entire experience. Sunbeam sympathised with his small friend. With nothing on this planet for him to pinch the bottom of, it was all the little fellow could do to simply pace and scurry back and forth. The others were in a better position to discuss their situation; Sunbeam hoped they would solve the problem soon. In the meantime, he decided to try to help settle his small friend.
SunBeam scrolled thru his sensor sweep of the area. Defensis was giving off one kind of energy, while the scrapmetal rift another. Removing those from the list, SunBeam spotted another waveform, and frowned. "Hey, pinchy! My sensors indicate some anomolous energy readings over that ridge. Want to help me check it out?"
Standing nearby, Ass-09 heard the exchange. Pondering the situation, he allowed himself a moment, then asked Sunbeam if he could join them. Nodding, Sunbeam transformed, and drove toward the ridge, Pinchy riding shotgun. Ass-09 smiled, transformed, and galloped off after them.
They didn't make it very far.
The man stroked his mustache. All that remained - all that was left after what appeared to be some time - was an empty bunker. Devoid of information, computer systems... nothing but battle damage.
And rubble. A lot of it. As though the rocks were meant to hide something.
He tossed a few aside, absently poking at the rubble. He'd assumed that a clue to the Dairycons' wherabouts would have been found here; some marker that pointed the way. But if that were the case, then the tracks were too-well covered; he honestly didn't know where to look next.
Stopping to wipe his brow, his cowboy hat fell to the ground. Reaching down to pick it up, he brushed bits of dust off. Doing so caused him to look down where the small flecks were falling. And then, just as he expected, he found it.
Pulsing with a warm glow, it practically beckoned to be touched. It had an almost Matrix- quality to it. The man with the mustache reached for it, and....
TO BE CONTINUED!