Optimus punched a hole thru MotorMaster's pretender shell. Reaching deep, he pulled the object out of where it had imbedded itself. The shell slumped; Optimus Prime released it from his Lasso's grip, tossing it next to the inert form of MotorMaster's inner robot. It had, mercifully, finally stopped talking once the object was removed.
The final link to the Dark Entity had been severed.
Optimus eyed the object. In the right hands, it could have been a source of Great Good. Instead, the matrix-like device had been turned, by a dark energy he could no longer detect. It was obvious that, without this object, MotorMaster would no longer pose the threat he once did.
Optimus ordered repairs for Heffer, and directed the others to place Motormaster's inner robot back inside his shell. With the amount of damage both had sustained, it would be a very long time before he would pose a threat again.
Optimus turned to his troops.
"Fellow 'bots, the time has come. The threat we face now is greater than anything that has come before. However, know that we are not fighting alone. Each of you has a special talent, a special ability, that has brought you here. I know that, together, we can defeat this menace, and save the universe. On my mark, prepare to Battle. Dairycons, transfo..."
Optimus' speech was interruped. Minerva arrived on the scene, loudly revving her engine. Transforming, she leapt into the air, sumeraulting, and landed in-front of Optimus.
Minerva: "Optimus, wait! I have information!"
She didn't get to finish. At that moment, the Ancient appeared in front of them both.
PlotHole: "Optimus, a moment please?"
The Apocolypse loomed closer.
The dark entity paused; his link with one of his Heralds was severed. It was... inconvenient. Unanticipated. A surprise. No matter; at this stage of the game, it was merely an eyeblink in an otherwise uninterrupted stare. This universe, like so many others, would soon be consumed. It was in his will, his very nature to do so. To think there would be any other outcome was simply absurd.
This universe would be cleansed in the fires of his retribution; he had judged them as unworthy.
They would not continue.
Minerva spoke first.
"They're dead, Sir. As predicted, they weren't able to stop the assault, merely slow it. They died as heroes."
The other Dairycons murmured amongst themselves. Who was this new interloper in their midst, and what was she reporting to Optimus? Who had died?
The Ancient intervened.
"They are not Lost; they have merely... transformed. Their lifeforce is now one with the AllSpark. We have very little time. If you wish to avoid the same fate for the others, and this entire Universe, you'll act on this."
PlotHole presented Optimus with the ancient recording medium that The Leader had salvaged. He eyed it, nodded, then split his shell. His robot form stepped out from inside. The shell resealed itself and transformed, shrinking down to the size of a typical earth human, the armor dispersing into subspace.
The small figure, Pete, took the cassette. Looking it over, he reached into his pocket and pulled out an old tape player. It was scuffed and dented, as though it had been around for a long time. The decepticon symbol on the front case was barely visable under years of scuffing.
PlotHole: "Is that...?"
Optimus: "Yes. And I believe that is ..."
PlotHole: "Yes. The Leader removed it from the Timestream a long time ago. Or a moment ago. The information contained within could alter the flow of history. It's dangerous; perhaps too-dangerous, even for you."
Optimus: "Then why now?"
PlotHole looked at Minerva, then looked back: "Something that young pup had said, about this Universe being worth the sacrifice. I'm old, I don't remember what was said a chapter ago. And I don't need a reason."
Optimus nodded. Pete had deployed a small cord from his pocket and was in the midst of sorting and uploading the information. Optimus interpreted the data in real time. His brow furrowed; he came across one particular piece of interesting information. Checking it again, Optimus nodded to Pete, who nodded back. Disconnecting the cord, he placed the tape and the player in his pocket. The warm glow enveloped Pete, as the shell armored up and returned to full size.
PlotHole asked: "A thought?"
Optimus answered: "Just one. Minerva, I need you to take Pete to the following coordinates. I've programmed them into the shell. You'll need help. And he'll know where to find it."
Minerva checked the coordinates on Pete's hud. She paused; though she had rudimentary control of the outer shell, controlling Pete to the level required would take all of her chokon power. Operating at those levels, she was in very real danger of losing her spark. If she failed, she would once again become the lifeless Transtector body that she once was.
She wasn't sure if she was up to the task.
Minerva: "Um, Optimus..."
Optimus: "I know. It is... a great sacrifice. However, you won't be alone. The Ancient is going with you."
PlotHole: "I am?"
Optimus: "Yes. You're the only one among us who has the ability to transport her to where she needs to go. And if something should go wrong..."
PlotHole: "At least one of us will survive for the return trip."
Minerva: "I am honored to be considered for this task. We will not fail."
PlotHole nodded. Minerva issued a mental command, opening a small port in the outer shell. Concentrating, a glow enveloped both her and the Ancient, lifting them into the opening. The shell sealed. From within, PlotHole concentrated on his Shard of Primus.
The armored Pretender shell, and its occupants, disappeared.
Optimus and the Dairycons turned to face the enemy.
Earth. The near-past.
He was filthy.
And confused. A small organic creature was at his feet babbling at him. The grime was everywhere. He'd need to bathe in a smelting pool for a week just to get clean again.
Toiletbot had pushed thru the steel and concrete roof of the human eating establishment. Stepping over the walls, he'd set out a call on his inter-autobot radio.
Silence greeted him.
He accessed his internal diagnostics. In-addition to his communications being scrambled, he was unable to access his repair routines, nor was he able to call upon his sleek turbojet transform. The only mode available to him kept coming up as 'kammode'. If that was what he'd been a moment ago, he was in trouble. He needed to get out of here, and fast.
He needed to find his friend.
Stepping free of the rubble, ToiletBot spotted what appeared to be a battle in-progress. A red and blue robot was in the midst of combat... with the same green and yellow Seeker that had shot him down (for details on the exciting Battle, see the Dairycon Fanfic, 'PlotHole'- editor).
The anger at seeing that 'bot again grew within him. He didn't know who they were, but if the red and blue one was fighting the yellow and green one, then that made old Red his friend. He'd help Red defeat his enemy... and then he'd pound some answers out of his carcass personally.
Toiletbot was about to enter the battle, when a small teleportation vortice opened in-front of him. An arm reached out- a yellow and green one.
The Leader: "Sorry, friend, you don't want that handsome fellow over there. How about we talk instead?" Grabbing ahold of the larger 'bot, he dragged Toiletbot into the vortice, where they both disappeared.
The battle between The Leader and PlotHole raged on unmolested.
Cybertron. The Present.
"Jazz to MooBase 1... Jazz to MooBase 1..."
Jazz was wasting his time. Ever since Prowl had asked him to contact Electrum Beast and his team on Earth, Jazz had been at the communications console - with no luck. Either they were unable to answer, or worse, they were ignoring him.
Optimus had left the Sanctum, and was likely already there. He hadn't contacted them... or at least, *he* hadn't recieved a call.
Just then, Prowl stepped into the communications Center. He was speaking into a small handheld device; no-doubt, he was speaking with Prime. After all this time, he'd left the Sanctum on an important mission... one he was only telling Prowl about.
It ground his gears. They used to be close, he and Optimus. The fact that Jazz was being systematically shut-out of speaking with Optimus was galling. There would be a reckoning, and soon. Jazz fumed, and continued to do his job. He would not let his professionalism lapse because of a personal feeling.
It was during this fuming that he missed Prowl walking up to him. Jazz had also missed what he'd just said.
Prowl: "I said, He wants to talk to you." Jazz took the handheld device from Prowl. The figure spoke his name:
"What's up, Big Red?"
"I'm sending you coordinates. I want you to contact the beings at that location. Tell them to expect me. And have them prepare for battle. The info you will need is contained in the datapacket."
"And Jazz... thank you. I know it's been a difficult time. We'll be home soon. I promise."
"I never doubted you for a second." Handing the communicator back to Prowl, Jazz smirked- and then began his new transmission.
"Jazz to MooBase 2... Jazz to MooBase 2..."
It was time to call... the Reinforcements from Dairycon.
"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, Washout, those lousy humans, they'll get ya if you give them half a chance...."
Washout sighed, and continued to only half-listen. He'd heard Checkers rant like this before. They all had. It was the same thing, just slightly reworded. If his systems weren't still shorted out from that last MotorMaster attack, Washout would have turned his main weapon on Checkers... or even on his own audio receptors. Just to get a moment of peace.
"... and another thing, why are we following Optimus on this? He doesn't even look like the Prime I remember. He never would have hidden inside a stupid fleshling outfit, or ever allowed a human to help him at all..."
Washout: "What about Hi-Q?"
WashOut: "What about Hi-Q? The fleshling from Nebulous? He was a part of Prime, just like this shell."
Checkers: "Ah, whaddya yew know? That was a completely different situation right there. Optimus wasn't himself. His brain was on a floppy disk, and they forced him into that. Those precious humans you always like to coddle, and another thing..."
Sighing audibly, Washout was grateful when stasis-lock took him. Now, at least, he wouldn't have to listen to that incessent prattling.
The call came thru.
Jazz had made contact. After all this time, they would finally be called into battle. The One would soon visit them personally.
They prepared for the Meeting.
They had been waiting a very long time. They knew deep in their chassis that their mission, the one they'd prepared for all this time, would finally come to fruition. The troops were ready. The City soon would be.
They busied themselves with the many small tasks of Arrival. The Chamber had to be prepared for His arrival.
Imagine their surprise when a small vortice opened up above them, and ToiletBot came falling out.
The Leader: "There you are, old chap. Stick with these fellows. They'll get you where you need to go." The vortice disappeared. The small beings surrounded Toiletbot, a look of intent deep in their optics. They asked him but one question:
The Dark entity had arrived.
The Thousand Asses of the Apocalypse thundered down upon the Dairycon's position. Optimus took the flanking position. Scoot and Ticker worked to revive Heffer and Washout. There was little they could do for them here; to truly effect any meaningful repairs, they would need their old Base. Too-bad it had been destroyed in-battle (several years ago! -editor). Without their repair bay and tools, it was unlikely they could bring anyone back on-line. They could not stabilize the patients; Ticker herself was barely in any condition. The fact that she was online at-all was a miracle. She refused to speak; merely continued to work on Heffer and Washout, hoping she could save at least one of them...
It didn't pay to try to remove them from the Battlefield; after all, there was literally nowhere in the Universe they could go to escape. They would battle, and try to honor those who fell this day.
The remaining Dairycons flanked Optimus' position. Weapons at the ready, they would fight.
Either way, a line would be drawn here.
Optimus Prime called for a battle squad. The Dairycons sounded off:
"Campaign Car!" (powers up blinding sparkle effect) "c10 case-fresh!"
"Uncle Whiskey Breath!" (cocks his Blizzard Shotgun) "Cold enough fer ya?"
"Electrum Beast!" (charges his electrum-cheddar armor) "Cheese, the other white meat!"
"Burning Furry Monkey!" (pounded the ground furiously and screams) "My presense is no laughing matter!"
"Clutterbug!" (charges her spark-attack) "Catch as catch-can!"
"Scoot!" (charges his flaming exhaust missles) "Diecast construction...it's a lost art."
"Bunny Convoy!" (deploys his haresplitter swords) "I am a sexy beast!"
"Spot!" (deploys fireball cannons) "The Safety of the Universe is Job One!"
One more made herself known. Quietly, a whisper:
"Ticker." (continues to work on her patients) "My Touch is Your Remedy."
The others could not talk for themselves, though they heard the battle cries in their sparks. SunBeam, Nachos BelGrande, PinchBottom, Heffer, Washout... even Crackup and Domino. They would not be forgotten this day. Nor would the score of Dairycons lost to them in the battle with MotorMaster. FlatFoot and Checkers didn't speak, though they thought of BailJumper, who, like their other chassis-sibling Domino, had been crushed in the previous attack. It hardly seemed fair, that after all these years of being on opposite sides of the War, when the moment to finally unite under a single banner... they wouldn't be there to share it.
It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. FlatFoot didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to Washout, or to tell him he was sorry about how things turned out. They'd been together since the very beginning, when they'd come to the planet Earth with OverDrive. Little did they know that their lives would be so intertwined with the Dairycons. Would they have accepted the mission, knowing what they knew now?
Still, who would have thought...
There was more than one 'bot who wished for the Wisdom of the Ancients at that moment. PlotHole and Minerva were gone; the Leader was nowhere to be found. Even the fabled Ducky had long gone missing. The others either off-line or too-damaged to fight. Even at full-strength, the Dairycons wondered: were they up to this task?
They were about to find out.
Optimus Prime: "Troops, ready for Battle! We Fight for Freedom, for it is the Right of all sentient beings! We fight for our friends, who gave their lives in service to the Cause! And most importantly, we Fight for the very Universe itself! We will not go quietly into the Night! Dairycons, Transform, and Attack!"
To Be Continued.