"Activation sequence complete." The computer stated over the speakers in a rather manly, matter of fact tone. The covers to over a dozen stasis pods popped open, and what a glorious sight to behold!
The Dairycons were risen again.
Ticker: "What just happened?"
Electrum Beast: "Unknown. The last memory I have is of walking thru a time portal, then darkness...."
Scoot: "I distinctly recall being in stasis lock, and having my core programming hacked..."
Campaign Car: "I can tell you exactly what happened. We were tricked! When I get my hands on him...."
Bunny Convoy: "No time for that! I have a sneaking suspicion that we should get out of here now. Roll call!"
"Campaign Car here. C-10 Case Fresh!"
"Electrum Beast present. Cheese, the other white meat."
"Burning Furry Monkey on-line. My presense is no laughing matter."
"Clutterbug, ready to salvage. Catch as catch-can!"
"Scoot here. Diecast construction...it's a lost art."
"Flatfoot, ready to hit the beat. Thank you for your cooperation."
Ticker on-line. Easy does it Flatfoot, looks like you went thru a body-change again!"
"Thunderclap and Hotstuff, energised. I predict victory."
"Bunny Convoy, Dairycon Field Commander, large and in-charge. I am a sexy beast!"
"Dairycons, move out!"
Heffer was a simple bot.
At least, simple in all the ways that mattered.
He enjoyed being a guard on The Leader's ship, enjoyed the stories of multiple universes (though he didn't always understand them). Even marveled at the one involving little old him. How The Leader, in collapsing the timeline where Heffer existed, took pity on the little fellow, and brought him with him to this time, this place, and gave him the real important job of guarding this ship. The Leader was always mean to SunBeam, but never had a harsh word for Heffer. The Leader said that's because, like him, Heffer had been one of the last ones to fall off the Turnip Truck, and that they had to stick together, and by golly, if that wasn't Heffer's favorite part of the story.
So Heffer guarded the Leader's ship real good, never let anyone go where they ought not to be, and it was a good job, right up until the alarm sounded, and SunBeam pushed past him in the cooridoor. Mean old SunBeam, always breaking the rules.
Heffer: "Hey, slow down, pardner, y'all done gone and knocked me over here!"
Heffer: "Go slag yourself, horn head!"
Sunbeam cursed and continued running down the cooridoor, toward the ship's main exit. Normally, the large exit ramp would close when the alarm went off, but for some reason it stayed open, and SunBeam barreled right out. He looked at the Leader, fighting with the other 'bot, transformed, and headed down the road in the opposite direction.
"How rude!" Heffer thought to himself. Why, he had half a mind to go chasing right after him, but The Leader always said it was better if Heffer didn't rush around too-much, cause he wasn't as fast or as fuel-effecient as the others. Besides which, there was the problem of this here alarm, and darned if he wasn't getting a headache from it, so Heffer decided to see what all the whoopin and hollarin' was about.
He clanked down the hallway, and turned just in time to see a plumb stampede of but-ugly lookin' bots herd'n right down on top of him. Heffer had just enough time to spit out his wad of cyber-chew before they were on top of him, pushing him out of the way and heading out the way SunBeam had gone.
Heffer sat on the floor, dumbfounded. Weren't those bots the ones that..... that.... Heffer's IG8080 processor struggled to find the right words for what he just saw.
The Leader was going to be mad.
Heffer transformed to vehicle mode and belched after the fleeing Dairycons. Mean old bots, going to get Heffer in trouble, they were.
Mean old SunBeam.
Uncle.... had lost.
Damage reports flodded in on his HUD, but that kind of thing didn't much bother him so much as the feeling.
He could feel his spark leaving him.
His time in the light was short.
Uncle: "Who woudda...thought those mystics were right...." Uncle collapsed onto his undamaged knee, his good working arm clutching his chest. He could feel the mech fluids leaking out of everywhere, feel the Matrix calling to him. Actually calling to him.
So this is what dying felt like.
The Leader stood triumphant. That hulking relic had miscalculated; though the Leader had taken damage, Uncle had taken more, and it would be the death of him. The Leader brandished his damaged sword at Uncle.
The Leader: "I've waited millions of years for this. It's overrrahhh!" Twin beams of searing cold shot into the Leader's sword arm. "Beep!!!" Windchill shouted. He had watched the fight from above, helpless, as Uncle and the Leader battled it out, wanting to help, but trusting Uncle's judgement that he should stay out of harm's way.
But Uncle was hurt, and Windchill couldn't stay out of the fight any longer. The Leader was going to kill Uncle.
He would not stand for it.
She would not stand for it.
The Leader had done this before. And worst of all, she had let him. She couldn't forgive herself for that. Seeing Uncle die the first time was horrible; seeing it the second time was cruel.
But the third time?
No. It would not happen a third time.
She wouldn't allow it.
Time-jumping and universe resets were tricky things. The Leader had tried this tactic before, and everyone had ended up the worse for it. The universe itself had shifted, but only partially. Things didn't fit. Stuck between cartoon and comic universes, a weird amalgam of the various mediums.
Just like the Dairycons.
Just like her.
"Ticker, fly me up!" Ticker obeyed, transformed into her shuttle-mode and took flight, using her undercarriage grappler to bring Clutterbug with her. Clutterbug barely felt the grip; her mind was already a mile away, concentrating. Thunderclap and Hotstuff, perhaps sensing what was to come, transformed as well, and flew formation.
Ticker: "Thunderclap, Hotstuff, go join windchill and help Uncle!
Thunderclap: "Acknowledged." The two small jets flew off to join their brother. Clutterbug was only vaguely aware of the others. She was too busy concentrating.
A warm glow began to envelope her. She thought of all the good things the Dairycons, and Uncle in-particular, had done for her. Thought of how she had messed up her mission back at the base, and how Uncle had saved her. Thought about her powers, and how she might best use them.
Thought about her past life, and how she might atone for her sins.
Thought about her friend Ticker, helping her even now, at the very end.
Tears welled up in the corners of her eyes. Giving her life for her friend like this was a good way to die.
The glow around her suddenly ratcheted up in intensity.
"Clutterbug, spark attack!!!!!"
Windchill wasn't the largest bot, but he could certainly be counted as one of the bravest.
He transformed into robot mode, standing between Uncle and the Leader, tiny fists raised toward the enemy.
The Leader: "How cute. Even now, at death's door, you defy me for the sake of your large friend. Can you sense the end of this universe, little one? Can you feel it crying out in pain? Would you risk your own life for that of this relic?"
Windchill nodded in the affirmative.
The Leader: "Pity. It's too-bad you won't get to come along with your two other friends. I have uses for them in the other universe. Perhaps when I come thru here next time, I'll..." The Leader paused. He didn't see it so much as sensed it. A small shudder; a shifting of the timestreams.
The marching of metal feet upon cooridors.
The burning smell of ozone.
The striking of a high-intensity particle beam at his back.
The beam struck The Leader true, punching a large hole thru his torso and knocking him several feet forward, past the nearly prone form of Uncle. Winchill looked up; two small jets were flying toward him, while a larger cargo shuttle, blackened and scorched, was slowly falling out of the sky. The two small jets transformed, and landed in front of Windchill in bot mode.
Thunderclap: "The job isn't finished. We must join together and help the large one finish the job."
Windchill nodded. He had sensed it before, sensed that there was some higher purpose to his existence. Sensed that he had a higher place than that which was carved out for him. In unison, the three bots transformed, synching their energy outputs as they took to the air.
Synching their outputs with Uncle.
Uncle could feel it more than see it. In his damaged condition, he sensed that there was one last thing he must do. He looked up and saw Windchill, and...and the two other little bots he met back at the Milwaukee base. His little friends. Were they here to help?
He sensed that they might. He could see them synching their energy signatures, transforming...like they did previously, only now they were doing it with each other. There was a surge, a transformation, and suddenly, a flaming shot of energy shot downward into his hand. Instinctively, he reached up and grasped at the energy.
Grasped the Stormsword.
The other Dairycons tried to join the battle.
Campaign car stopped them, holding them back with one arm as they watched the proceedings in front of them.
Electrum Beast: "See here, we need to help Uncle!"
Campaign Car: "No! You don't understand! We have to stay back!"
Campaign Car: "Don't you see? This battle is not for us. We were *not* meant to be here. If we interfere now, it could mean the end of our very existence!"
Flatfoot: "I'm willing to take that chance."
Campaign Car: "Well I'm *not*. My job is to keep us protected from this."
Flatfoot: "And my job is to protect the innocent... no matter the cost."
Campaign Car: "If you interfere now, you'll destroy this entire universe. Let this play out!"
Bunny Convoy: "Dairycons, stand down!"
They all look toward their leader
Bunny Convoy: "If what Campaign Car says is true, then this will play out no matter what we do. The universe is bigger than any of us."
Flatfoot: "Well, I plan to help Uncle. He's always been there for us. To hell with the Universe!" Flatfoot pushes past Campaign Car, followed by Electrum Beast and Scoot. Bunny Convoy waits a moment, looks Campaign Car in the eye, then follows the others.
Campaign Car: "....slag..."
Campaign car runs on after them. The battle is joined.
Burning Furry Monkey had found the lurker. He swung down from his hiding spot on the ship and landed on top of Washout.
Burning Furry Monkey: "You cower here in the shadows while your friends run off to die."
Washout: "You're here, too."
BFM: "Only long enough to make my point. Then, I go to die as well."
Washout: "So you know?"
BFM: "I always have. I travel the timelines too, if you recall."
Washout: "I don't want to die."
BFM: "My friend, none of us *want* to die. But Primus works in mysterious ways; if it is our time, then it is our time."
Washout: "The Leader promised to bring me with him to the next Universe."
BFM: "The Leader promises many things. But the Leader is wrong. Would you follow the false prophet?"
With that, Burning Furry Monkey jumped off of Washout's shoulder, and headed into the battle. Washout pondered the little furry animals' words: should he join the battle? Or should he stay bought, stay here where it was safe, and live another day?
Washout spied his friend Flatfoot squaring off against a rather hulking grey and white robot. Saw that he was back in his original changeform, with no trace of the animal mode he posessed previously. Saw him punch at the other robots' leg.
Saw the hulking robot punch back, smashing Flatfoot into the pavement as the other Dairycons swarmed around him.
Washout ran to join the battle.