"Let go of me, Kup!" said Erector as he struggled to get free. Kup had been carrying him. It had been nearly fifteen minutes since they left Skyhammer and they were now in another part of the base. Finally, he managed to twist free of Kupís grip. "We have to go back for him!"|
Kup grabbed Erector and threw ham against the wall. "Damn it," growled Kup. "Kid, we canít do nothiní for him."
"We canít just leave him to die!" yelled Erector. "Weíve already lost the others."
"Kid, Iíve lost more friends than you will ever have in a lifetime!" yelled Kup. "Iíve had friends standing beside me blown into little bits while I walked away without a scratch. IĎve seen dying bots begging me to save them when they were already so far gone there was nothing to be done. Iíve had friends on the battlefield plead with me to end their suffering as they lay there with their circuits spilling out around them...and Iíve done it. You donít have the first clue what Iíve seen, Kid, and if you did, youíd curl into a ball Ďan cry like a human. Donít you lecture me about losing friends!"
Before Erector could even think of a response, the world turned upside down around them. First there was a distant explosion, followed almost immediately by far larger explosion that shook the entire facility. Erector was pinned to the wall by a piece of falling ceiling, and he felt a sharp pain in his right hand, but his repair circuits were rebooting and he wasnít sure how bad it was.
"Kup!" Erector called. There was no response.
Erector pushed on the debris as hard as he could. The pain in his hand got worse, but he ignored it. His gears were near breaking when the debris finally gave way and toppled away from him. He thought he was free, but he was pulled forward, landing on top of the rubble. Now he could see that his right hand was trapped in a hole in the debris and he couldnít pull it free.
"K-kid," he heard Kup say softly. "You...you okay?"
"Mostly," said Erector. "Where are you?"
"Not sure...canít see anything," said Kup. "Buried."
"Hold on, Kup, Iím cominí," said Erector. He tried to pull his hand free, but it was stuck. The piece of ceiling was really thick. He could cut through it with his blaster, but it would take a while.
"Hurry...kid," said Kup weakly. "Losiní power."
Erector pulled out his laser pistol. There was only one thing to do. He placed the barrel against his wrist. His hand shook as he tried to pull the trigger.
"Help...help me...kid," he heard Kup say.
Erector pulled the trigger. "Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!" The blast severed his hand, and he fell back against the wall. He managed to pull out his repair kit and stop the energon leaking from his wrist, but there was no time to shut down the pain sensors.
Erector started to dig through the debris ignoring the horrible pain. He was calling Kupís name, but getting no response. Finally after what seemed like forever, he found him.
"Hey, kid...took you long enough," said Kup.
"Hold still," said Erector. He looked over his wounds. He had small amounts of damage everywhere, but the big problem was a shard of debris piercing his main fuel line in his chest. He worked furiously to close the leak. The damage was bad, but he was able to seal the leak.
"Powerís cominí back," said Kup. "Auto repair is kickiní in, should get me back on my feet in a few minutes. Thanks, kid."
"No problem, old timer," said Erector, as he pulled Kup up and leaned him against the wall.
Kup looked down at Erectorís wrist, and grabbed his arm. He examined the charred stump where his hand had been. "Thatís a blaster burn," said Kup. "Whatíd you do, kid?"
"What I had to," said Erector. "What the hell just happened? What was that explosion?"
"Well...I think the first blast was Hammerís grenades," said Kup solemnly. "When the reactors went up, I thought I only counted six explosions, but I wasnít sure. Last one must not have gone off. I think the vibration from the grenade blast set off the last reactor. You got to get moving...get to the escape pods, Iíll catch up."
"Shut up, or Iíll disable your audio output," said Erector.
At his small size, there was no way he could help Kup walk, so he grabbed him by his shoulders and started dragging him over the debris down the corridor. It was slow going, but Erector didnít slow down.
"Stop," said Kup after they had gone about a hundred feet over the debris. "I think I can walk."
Erector helped Kup to his feet, and he leaned on the wall for support as they continued on. Suddenly, Kupís proximity alarm went off. Kup kept walking.
"You wanna check that?" asked Erector.
"Nope," said Kup. "Weíve got only one route to those pods now, and if the cons íre in front of us, weíre as good as dead, and if theyíre behind us, best not waste time checking."
"Good call," said Erector.
The corridor seemed to go on forever. Erector wasnít sure how long they walked before they finally reached the escape pod bay. Now they had a new problem.
"Only one pod left," said Erector. He stuck his head inside of the one bot pod. "Well, with my size, I think if I pull out some of the equipment we can both fit. Shouldnít take me too long."
"Sure, kid," said Kup.
Erector was hoisted off his feet and pushed inside the pod. He turned around just as Kup slammed the door shut and locked it. He pressed some buttons beside the door enabling the launch sequence. Erector tried to open the door, but it was sealed shut.
"Kup!" yelled Erector. "What are you doing?"
Through the window in the door, Erector watched Kup slump against the pod door and press the communication button. "Listen, kid...we both...we both know I ainít gonna make it," said Kup. "Damage is too extensive."
"NO!" yelled Erector. "Kup, please donít do this!"
Kup shook his head slowly. "Listen, Kid...do you know why Iím always telliní old war stories?" he asked. Erector shook his head. There was a lump in his audio processor. "I tell those stories...to remember all my friends who never made it back. Iíve seen too much death...lost too many friends. Thatís why I took this mission. I knew this mission could end the war...and thatís the way I always wanted to go out...doing something that mattered. Kid, itís been an honor serviní with ya."
"Please, Kup." said Erector, finding his voice. "We can both make it...donít do this."
Kup smiled. "Someoneís gotta live to tell the tale," he said. "Ya done good, kid...ya done real good...and Iím proud ía ya."
A laser blast hit Kup in the side, and he slid down out of the window and Erector screamed for him to open the door. Erector watched Kupís shaky hand reach up and press the launch button.
Erectorís optic sensors came online, and he lurched forward, falling from his charging station. His head was throbbing. He lay there trying to get his bearings. This was not the worst hangover he ever had, but it just might be the worst. He once threw up oil for two days. The memory made his insides seize, and he barely made it to the waste disposal system before he lost his oil completely.
He tried to remember exactly what happened last night, but everything after his fifth quadruple Kremzeek Overcharger was a blur. He had a vague memory of leaving the club with Bumblebee, but nothing after that.
Erector felt really strange, and it wasnít the hangover. He ran his internal diagnostics. "By Unicron, what did I do?" he said. He looked in the mirror on the wall at his reflection. "Damn...I got myself reformatted."
He examined his reflection and diagnostic readings. He was no longer a construction vehicle, but a four legged construction drone, and he was taller. "Not bad, really," he said. He kind of like the shoulder mounted cannon that converted to a crane. He could get used to this. He had a tattoo on his upper left arm that said ĎThe Forgottení. He glanced down at his right arm and saw the blaster/welder. At least he wasnít so drunk that he had that fixed.
He heard a noise in the living room, and headed in that direction. "Bee, is that you?" asked Erector as he entered the room. "Oh, Iím sorry!" Erector clamped his hand over his eyes. He had walked in on Gemini still reattaching her outer plates.
"No problem, E, Iím not shy," said Gemini. He heard her snap her plates back in place and she laughed. "You can look, Iím all set. I need to get going." She glanced over to Bumblebee who was passed out on the couch. "I never would have guessed Bee was such an animal. I think I saw Primus. Tell him to call me next time heís in town. Also, warn him, he might want to steer clear of my boyfriend. I wonít tell him, but he has a habit of finding these things out."
"You have a boyfriend?" asked Erector.
"Yeah, weíre sort of dating off an on," said Gemini. "Heís kind of the jealous type. You might know him. He used to be an assassin. His nameís Six-Shot."
Erector knew Bumblebee was as good as dead.
"Anyway, Iíll see you around the club," said Gemini. She smiled. "Donít give up on Krystal. I think she really likes you...she just gets kind of star struck when Roddyís in town. I think she just needs a reason to stop being star struck...so...you might want to give her one." She winked at him.
"Thanks," said Erector, though he really wasnít sure she was right.
Gemini left and Erector dropped down onto a chair. He picked up the television remote and threw it at Bumblebeeís head.
"Ouch!" said Bumblebee. "Oh, Primus, my aching head." He sat up, and Erector began to laugh uncontrollably. "What?"
"Go take a look in the mirror," said Erector.
Bumblebee put his hands on his head to prevent the jackhammer inside from bursting out completely, and hauled himself to his feet. He went to the mirror on the wall and looked at his reflection. "Crap," he said. "Not again."
"Does this mean I need to start calling you Goldbug again?" asked Erector, barely containing his laughter. "I mean, I know how you admire Optimus being the strong, mouthless faceplate type, but it really doesnít work for you."
"Was I really that drunk?" asked Bumblebee.
"Apparently we both were," said Erector.
Bumblebee only now noticed Erectorís new form. "Not bad," he said. "Hey, maybe I imagined it, but did we leave the club with Gemini?"
"Yeah," said Erector. "She had to go, but from what I gather, you two had quite a night last night. She said to call her next time youíre in town."
"Damn, I donít remember any of it," said Bumblebee.
Erector picked a data pad from the table in front of the couch and pressed some buttons. "It looks like I didnít disable the security system when we cam in last night, so the cameras in here were on," he said. "Here."
Bumblebee took the pad and began to play the video of the living room. "Oh wow. Damn. Holy. I didnít know I could bend into that position." He rotated the data pad 90 degrees. "Dear Primus! I didnít know I was that articulated! Just like an Action Master! Wow. Thatís just...wow!" He fast-forwarded stopping at some parts and continuing to act amazed at whatever was on the video. Erector didnít really want to know.
"I wish I could remember that," said Bumblebee.
"Oh Gemini said something else," said Erector. "You might want to be careful. If her boyfriend finds out you might be in trouble.
"Oh, crap," said Bumblebee. "Whoís her boyfriend?"
"Six-Shot," said Erector.
"WHAT!?" bellowed Bumblebee, leaping to his feet and running to the window. He hid against the wall, looking around the corner at the street below, being careful not to be seen. "Oh shit, whatíer we gonna do now!"
"What do you mean we?" asked Erector. "Youíre the one who did the nasty with his girlfriend."
"Iím gonna die, and I donít even get to remember what I died for," said Bumblebee miserably.
"Come on, Bee," said Erector. "We should get going. We need to get to the convention, it starts in an hour...and donít worry about Six-Shot."
"Why not?" asked Bumblebee. "Heís going to kill me."
"Yeah, but on the bright side, if heís angry enough he wonít torture you first," said Erector.
"Thanks, Erector," said Bumblebee. "I really appreciate that."
"Anytime," said Erector. "Iím always here to help."
Megatron paced back and forth in Bombshellís workshop. "Is it ready yet?" he asked. "I need to leave for the ceremony. I want to make sure this is done before I leave."
"All done," said Bombshell. "The virus is uploaded to the Alcove of Honor tabulation computer. It will skew the voting and ensure that you are elected, Lord Megatron."
"Excellent," said Megatron. "And youíre sure nothing can go wrong?"
"The only thing that could possibly cause a problem is if someone else tried using a virus to alter the results," said Bombshell. "If that happened, there is no telling how the viruses would interact. But really, who else would be doing this?"
"Thank you, Bombshell," said Megatron. "Soon, I shall be elected to the Alcove of Honor and then the humans will give me the proper respect I deserve!"
"Is it ready?" asked Starscream. He was sitting in a seedy Decepticon bar on the outskirts of Chicagoís robot district. Really Old Snake was sitting with him, typing away on a laptop.
"Yessss, Sssstarsssscream," said Really Old Snake. "Iíve uploaded the virussss. You will be elected to the Alcove of Honor."
"And youíre certain nothing can go wrong?" asked Starscream.
"Not unlessss ssssomeone elsssse is uploading a virussss," said Really Old Snake. "Who would possssibly do that? Now...where issss my paymnent?"
Starscream slid a set of keys across the table. "Truckís parked out front," he said. "You should eat well for months." He grimaced.
"Exssselent," said Really Old Snake. "Itíssss been a pleassssure doing buissssness with you."
"Likewise," said Starscream. Really Old Snake left, and Starscream sat back in his chair. Soon he would be elected to the Alcove of Honor. He was sure this was going to be fun.