The Shattered Milk Glass Moo-niverse.|
Tarmac was having another Adventure.
With his truty sidekick, Chodebot, and their recent addition Fernando, Tarmac and his Adventures were well-known across the multiverse. He'd seen the most exotic femmebots with their chestplates off (if you know what we mean). He'd sampled the local oil. He'd come into contact with all kinds of denziens and n'er-do-wells of the Universe, and come out with his chasis intact to tell the story.
It was thought that the Adventures of Tarmac would go on forever.
Imagine the fans' shock when they found out he'd died.
(You can read more about the Adventures of Tarmac here!)
The Teams had arrived.
Steers surveyed his Troops.
Steers had infected his Troops.
Steers had been kidnapped.
This was what ElCowmeno had known thus far. That, and it was up to him to stop the infected Dairycons.
ElCowmeno transformed, and fired his heff-mounted weapons at the infected. Encasing them in a protective bubble, ElCowmeno began to access his files:
"Hmm... cybertonium? No, they can transform. Nucleon? No, they need to continue to do so. Corestop? no, they're shiny enough..."
ElCowmeno spent a considerable time trying to find what he was looking for. It occurred to him that the antidote to the plague would likely be stored on the same medium that had caused the infection.
Sighing, ElCowmeno transformed, and sat down upon a boulder. His force bubble would not hold the combatants forever- but there was nothing more he could do except wait.
Perhaps Steers would return. He hoped so.
There wasn't much time.
Hi-Q had come up with it initially.
If there was a way to save one, there surely could be a way to save the others. But to do so, he needed the help of a Prime. He hadn't yet collected enough of the Essence to do it himself. And he didn't want to sacrifice Big Max. He'd just saved him, for Primus' sake!
Then the Dairycons were dumped upon him. Literally.
And here they sat, in various forms of stasis. Hi-Q had worked quickly, draining them as they arrived, and placing them within the City. Over time, he'd pored over the design at each one, looking for hints as to how he might save the others.
He thought he might have an answer.
This Prime who wasn't Prime.... Heffer, was it? Well, whoever, he was clutching an object that interfered with the transport of his intended target. It was a crude device; someone had actually scrawled 'mootrix' along the side of it, as though it were meant to fool people that it was the matrix.
Pulling out the object from Heffer, Hi-Q studied it. If he was not mistaken, this device could be used as a spark- shunt. While not exactly a matrix, it would allow him to, in-essence, channel the sparks of these fallen brethern back into their repaired chassis.
They would be saved... *if* he could get their chassis repaired.
If he could get the device to work.
If he had the power.
What energy was not needed to keep all these stasis pods functioning was being channeled into the City. If he guessed correctly, he'd have enough power to ressurect two of them, possibly three.
But to what end?
The Council had assured him there would be materials, and ample time to work. As to why he as supposed to store all the others here was a question he'd as soon not answer.
Though there were possibilities.
This one, Ticker, was a healer. If he'd read the file correctly, she'd engauged in some rather... unorthodox methods to save her friends (see the original Dairycon saga for details! -editor).
Perhaps she would be of some help now.
Activating the revival process, Hi-Q waited.
He hoped she wouldn't be too-mad.
He was so driven by the work that he did not at first notice the ship wasn't completely empty. Steers poked thru the obvious locations - engineering, the command center, the armory. It was the last one that surprised him:
Or rather, a part of him. Why his armored shell sat, empty and powered down, in a ship that was itself powered down, was a mystery.
One more to add to the list. First, an entire contingent of Dairycons had gone missing. Then, their ship had turned up, empty and a drift, a derelict in near-space.
And how to explain the voice, that insidious growl that prompted him on this journey in the first place? Catapulting him from a warrior, to a Leader when the others showed up.
And then taking them away.
It was quite a change, thought Steers.
The other. The Mexicons. The Reinforcements from Dairycon. And now, this empty ship. It was enough to give anyone a headache.
Steers juggled the tape from one hand to another. When the mysterious thing popped into existance, he was told answers would be found. But all he had were more questions. The tape was encoded. And the last time he tried to access it, chaos ensued. It was as if suddenly the entire world had gone mad.
He would not risk that again.
Perhaps if he could find someone who could actually play the tape without activating the virus. That would be useful.
CosMoo was a Moocher.
That was the nicest way to say it. For years, he'd been living in the city, rent-free, hardly ever showing up for work. But all that changed when Heffer had arrived. For reasons he still didn't understand, Hi-Q had kidnapped his friend, locked him up, and started tinkering with him. CosMoo thought he could just keep quiet, but when he removed Heffer's Mootrix of Leadership, well, that was just too much.
Borrowing a spare set of Heff-mounted weapons, Cosmoo took off, heading for parts unknown, hoping to find help.
It was dark when CosMoo left. Those who fell under his shadow as he flew by thought the planet's small satelite had passed over them. Forevermore, they referred to it as the Dark of the Moo.
When he finally remembered, he practically ran back to the Armory.
"Pete" had a compatible tape player. He remembered how the shell had produced it once before, during a battle when they thought all had been lost. The tape had been accessed then, and the Plague had not been released.
Why he hadn't thought of it before, he didn't know. Why he'd tried to access it without the proper codes he'd never figure out. It was almost as though Steers had been manipulated all along, and he didn't like it one bit.
The Leader was dead. Yet it was the Leader who'd given him the tape. Why? Did he 'want' the plague to wipe out all life? Or was that an error on Steers part?
Grrr...time travel always made Steers' head hurt. All he knew was that his friends were missing; half to parts unknown, and half to primus-know-where on earth, no-doubt spreading the plague to the inhabitants while he just sat here.
It was time for action.
Tape in hand, Steers reached for the tape player in Pete's storage compartment. Imagine his surprise when the previously-dormant shell suddenly came to life and grabbled him...
"Has he achieved it yet?"
"No. But soon."
"The others might stop him before he succeeds."
"That, too, has been taken care of."
Shattered Milk Glass Moo-niverse.
Tarmac exits the stage after being booed off by the audience. He didn't understand it. Those jokes killed in a dozen different universes. But he was dyin' out there tonight. What was going on?
Tarmac: "Well, that was unplesant. I guess they won't be inviting me back to that barbershop anytime soon."
Tarmac: "Yea, yea, C. Can't you say anything else?"
ChodeBot: "I have a question: why did they keep calling you Artfire?"
Tarmac: "Maybe it was me burning that picture of their Leader. Who knew the'd be pissed?"
There was little time to wonder about it, as a rift opened, and a hand reached out for the trio...
(You can read more about the Adventures of Tarmac here!)
Near Earth orbit.
The hate had spread.
Steers had felt it himself at first; the rising, mindless gorge clawing at his sanity. He should have fallen then and there, but a strange glow from the artifact had soothed the hate, calming him. Now, it seemed as though he were in another struggle. The shell had grabbed him, possibly infected with the plague as well. Steers aimed his gun and was about to shoot when the shell spoke:
Pete: "Wait for it."
Steers: "Excuse me?"
Pete: "I said, 'wait for it.' "
Before Steers could reply, the rift opened. Out of it spilled Tarmac, ChodeBot, and Fernando.
Tarmac: (landing hard on Steers) "Woooff!"
Chodebot: "Some ride!"
Fernando the C-bot: "C!"
Steers: "What the hell?!"
Pete: "We've been expecting them."
Tarmac: "Do what now?"
Steers: "Aw, come on, let me shoot them, please?"
At that, Pete stiffened; a seam formed along the side of the shell, and out stepped
Optimus Prime: "Indeed. I was trapped in my shell by forces unknown, and stored in this weapons locker. The shell did not activate until your arrival. Apparently, I was told to wait for BacKup. I can only assume that this is it."
ChodeBot: "Yay, we're part of the Dairycon Universe now! We're canon!"
Tarmac: "Official figures, here we come!"
Steers: "I don't think so." Cycling an airlock, Steers opened it, and kicked Tarmac, Chodebot, and Fernando off the ship.
Tarmac: "Wait! I can't travel without my shipping container!!"
Steers cycled the lock, and all was silent on the ship again.
Optimus Prime: "That... um..."
Steers: "Had to be done."
"Hello, my dear."
Ticker had awoken, groggy, from stasis. The sight that greeted her was none-too-reassuring. There was a small metal man sitting on a shelf above her. He seemed to be expecting some kind of comment from her, but she didn't know what she was supposed to say.
Ticker: "Um, hello?"
Hi-Q: "Excellent! Your higher reasonging functions have come back online. Come, there is much we must talk about, and much we must do. There isn't much time, you know."
Ticker: "Wait... who are you?"
Hi-Q: "You don't recognise me? Ahh, but why should you? They expunged the records. My dear, I am Hi-Q. I am former head scientist of Nebulous, and once, a long time ago... I was the Last Autobot."
Ticker: "But, um.... you're..."
Ticker: "Well, yes."
Hi-Q: "As I said, it's a long and interesting story. Come, we have friends of yours to repair. And while we do, I'll tell you a story... a story of how once, I was Optimus Prime."
Looking more than a little shocked, but not seeing any other choice, Ticker followed the diminutive fellow as he hopped off the shelf and headed toward the other chambers stored in sickbay. It's obvious he was more than a little crazy, but until Ticker figured out where she was, and what the little man wanted, she would just play along and listen. So, she listened.
When Hi-Q was done telling here the story, she wasn't sure what to believe.
Her whole world had just been turned upside down.
Steers: "So where are the others?"
Optimus Prime: "Gone, I'm afraid. There was obviously a coup in high command. Our first priority is to secure this ship. Then, after we find our friends, we'll find out who is behind this."
Steers: "I'm with ya, Prime, but there's a hitch in the giddyup."
Optimus Prime: "Oh?"
Steers: "I tried accessing the tape. I didn't have the proper codes, and it released a virus, kind of like the hate plague. We've got to save the Dairycons on Earth!"
Optimus Prime: So there are others?"
Steers: Yep. Reinforcements. We were gonna storm in and save y'all, but things got - complicated."
Optimus: "Very well. Tell me about this plague."
Steers: "It's the darndest thing. It didn't spread quite right. Didn't have to touch anyone. Airborne. Electric. Might be a diversion."
Optimus Prime: "We can't take the chance. Lives are in immediate danger, and we have to help." Sealing back inside the shell, he deployed Pete's tape player. The blue device was well-worn; one could barely make out the faded decepticon logo on the tape door. Taking the tape from Steers, Pete inserted it into the player and accessed it.
Optimus: "Hmm. I see. It won't spread beyond the affected area if we act quickly. There's an antiviral formula, but it must be administered physically. We'll have to go down there." He raised his hand, and a white glow enveloped his hand, materializing into what looked like....
Steers: "Aw man, I already ate one of those."
Optimus Prime: "Indeed. It does resemble an earthen mint. However, this is a coded packet that will wipe the virus from the other Dairycons. I can preload you with the code, but you must be in physical contact with the other Dairycons in order for it to work."
Steers: "Got it. Send me down, pilgrim. I created the mess. I'll fix it."
So let me get this straight: You were binary-bonded to our Supreme Commander, who died, yet lived on in you, who eventually *became* Optimus Prime? And now you're not?"
Hi-Q: "Yes, that's it exactly." (waves some pamphlets in-front of her) "Perhaps if you read this comic book serializing the events, it would help?"
Ticker: "Um, no thanks, I'll wait till the movie comes out. So what about saving my friends?"
Hi-Q: Well, that's the interesting part. The chassis need massive repairs, but with this device your friend Heffer has, we'll be able to retrieve their sparks and revive nearly everyone."
Hi-Q: "Well, to put it simply, there are a couple of fellows here who were stripped down to an empty frame. There's nothing to restore them to. Unless we fabricate new bodies, I have no idea what we can do for them."
Ticker: "I think I know someone who can help. Is Scoot here? Can you revive him?"
Hi-Q: "Well yes, but to what purpose?"
Ticker: "He can build new bodies for us. He firmly believes that diecast construction is a lost art."
The forcefield would hold them no longer.
Instead of fighting each other, the plague-infested Dairycons began to work together, straining against the force bubble. It was more than the field was capable of handling.
ElCowmeno: "Ah, I am sorry, my friends, but I cannot allow you to spread. When the bubble comes down, I will have to disable you."
Suddenly, Steers materialized next to him.
Steers: "Yee-ha! Put me in, coach! I'm ready to play!"
ElCowmeno: "Ok." He lowered the force bubble. Steers went to work, methodically punching every Dairycon that was infected. For each one he touched, the code did its work, removing the virus and leaving them with fresh breath.
When he was finished, Steers surveyed the area. Every Dairycon and Mexicon was lying dazed on the ground.
There appeared to be no trace of the plague.
Steers: "And *that's* why I'm in charge! Y'all can stay on the farm, Pilgrims!"
ElCowmeno: "Impressive. You had help?"
Steers: "Only the best kind. Come on, we've got a job to do." Herding the dazed Dairycon second-stringers into the transport beam, Steers and ElCowmeno were off. Next stop: Adventure!!
The tubes were connected to various points throughout the chamber. Raw power crackled as the device fed power into the containers housing her friends.
Those that were simply kidnapped were revived, and stood by, watching the others, who were damaged in the battle and needed reconstruction and spark renewal.
It was an exciting time to be online.
Hi-Q: "Ok, the device is charged. Pull the switch!"
Ticker pulled the switch. Energy that had been in the air around the room began to concentrate in the tubes.
Hi-Q: (shouting over the storm)"Remember volunteers, each of you is giving up a small fraction of your spark so that the others might live! This process is dangerous! If you don't wish to participate, leave now!"
To their credit, the Dairycons, friend and foe alike, stayed, in order that their comrades might live.
The room was dark. No trace of life, except the dull hum of the stasis tubes. Ticker worked feverishly, her energon reserves dangerously low. Scoot had dropped into stasis lock some time before, his meager supply of life exhausted. She placed him into a chamber so that, if they ever got some power to spare, he would live again.
Hi-Q was insane. Ticker knew that now. But she was too-weak to stop him herself. So she continued on this mad quest of his to restore life to one other. She hoped he could help. He was their only chance.
The Leader was pleased. Though history had recorded his eventual 'rebirth', he was, in this instance, impatient; it was rather inconvenient to move about as a spark-ghost. Without it, his nigh-inextinguishable spark might have been forever expected to effect events forever from within the rift. Not a plesant way to be. He'd been doing it for some time now.
However, with this new body, he comfortably slid back into events as a solid entity.
PlotHole: "I suppose, young buck, that I can count on you meddling in time further?"
The Leader: "Not that you'll notice. At this stage in our relationship, you develop a grudging acceptance of what I do."
PlotHole: "Lucky me."
The Leader: "Besides, what would you do without me? Be bored off your duff, I'd wager."
Without a further word, a rift opened above the Leader. A hand reached down; looking similar to the hand that was reaching up, the Leader literally pulled himself into yet another dimension.
The Leader: "Toodles! You guys won't believe what you'll have to deal with next!"
With that, the Leader vanished.
PlotHole. "I suppose..." When the Leader vanished, PlotHole vanished as well.
He had to hand it to Ticker. She made a good, strong body. Scoot was no slouch, either.
Flatfoot flexed; there was no hesitation in his motor-response. And no hint of the organics that had once plagued him. And... was it his imagination, or did he actually tower *over* a number of his Dairycon bretheren?
He was choked up.
Flatfoot: "I.... thank you."
Ticker: "It was our pleasure. Wait till you see the others!"
FlatFoot surveyed the room as the others were brought out of the chambers. Many he recognised from before the battle. Some were familiar, but like him, had almost an upgraded look about them.
And Washout.... wow.
Washout: "Over here. I'm talking with an old friend of ours. You remember Overdrive?"
He did. Way back in the day, before this adventure first started. When Flafoot, Washout, and OverDrive were called down as reinforcements from Cybertron to deal with a growing menace on Earth. He remembered how they'd been injured; Overdrive critically so. He remembered the shame of how he and Overdrive ended up in those despicable beast changeforms, and how he worked so hard to hide it, while OverDrive...
Overdrive was Overdrive again. He couldn't believe it. How?
Washout: "Well, I can see you have a few questions. So did I. Apparently, technology marches on. Ticker and Scoot felt real bad bout what happened to us way back when. This is their way of making it up to us. This ressurection of our friends's sparks could drop them into any body we wanted; old, or new. Many chose to remain as they were, with their maximal upgrade. Some got the masterpiece upgrade, like you. And trust me buddy, you deserve it. And OverDrive... well..."
OverDrive: "I'm no longer Bunny Convoy. He exists (taps chest) in here, should the time come. But for now, I'm back to my old self again. My better self, really."
FlatFoot: I can't believe it. I just can't believe it."
WashOut: Well, you shouldn't. This is all a dream."
The lights dimmed as a final crackle skittered over the darkened cr chamber. Ticker and Hi-Q jumped as the device finally grounded itself against the floor. A pop, and a hiss, as air escaped from the chamber. Flatfoot awoke screaming, pounding against the transparisteel glass.
Ticker: "My God! What's wrong with him?"
Hi-Q: "It is as I expected. Everyone experiences resurrection in a different way. Obviously, we can't know what his spark has gone thru since it was last in his chassis. He may not be the friend you remember."
Ticker: "I'll take my chances. I couldn't save the others, but dammit, I will not lose him, too!"
Ticker had labored for days under Hi-Q's direction. Scoot was awoken from stasis briefly, to aid in the construction, but was powered down again. Fuel rations were at a critical stage right now, and they couldn't keep anyone online at the moment. Or so Hi-Q had said. Anyway, it was hard for Ticker to think with her fuel so low. The City power cells were depleted some time ago, as were her friends. How were they powering this contraption?
It was a difficult choice, determining which of her friends would be brought back to life. They had so little power. The battle had drained the City a long time ago, and now, Hi-Q had drained all her firends still in-stasis.
It was horrible. She didn't have the tools or energy to repair the ones they'd left behind. Even if she'd known then about the spark-shunt, there simply weren't enough materials or energy to do the job right. That's why they buried them here, in the City, as a memorial to all those who fell in battle.
Yet here she was, again, at the city, with some deranged little man, who unearthed them from their burial... who kidnapped her living friends, experimented on them, disassembled them, stored them in-stasis and drained of all but the minimum energy required to maintain life...
Her comrades, lying dark, disassembled, dead stood in mute contrast to the life that was struggling to be born again.
Ticker pulled open the door to the chamber and struggled to bring Flatfoot completely online.
Ticker: "Come on, come ON! Don't die on me, you sonofascraplet!"
She slapped him, and it all came into focus at once: Flatfoot came online. Assessed the situation. Pulled Ticker to the side. Pulled his gun from subspace. Took aim at the little tin man. Fired.
Time stood still.
Time resumed normal flow.
FlatFoot fell back, exhausted.
Hi-Q: "Well, that was exciting. Good thing your weapon wasn't loaded. A sensible precaution, eh?"
FlatFoot: "...kill you. What have you done... overdrive..."
Ticker: "Take it easy, soldier! You've been off-line a long time. What do you remember?"
FlatFoot: I... I was sent here from Cybertron... with Overdrive and Washout... we were to stop.. but then, there was an accident, and... I died."
Ticker: "Easy, it will come to you. That was a long time ago, and you've been thru a lot since then."
FlatFoot: "Ticker... please... why..."
Ticker: "Because we need you. Because you're the only one that can save us all."
FlatFoot: "But... I served... the allspark... rest."
Ticker: "I'm sorry. He made me bring you back. There's a mission."
Hi-Q: "Yes, this reunion is all very touching, old boy, but you've been drafted. And if you ever want to see your friends alive again, you'd best comply."
To Be Continued.