The calls had been made. Now all Electrum Beast could do...is wait.|
Unfortunately, waiting wasn't his style. He still had a few cards to play...still a few preperations he could make. Electrum Beast left the command center, and headed down to the lab. Entering his passcode, the reinfoced doors opened...and revealed his masterpiece....
They remained in stasis-lock, for the moment. Three brave volunteers who saw the good that Electrum Beast was trying to accomplish, they submitted themselves to the next stage in his experiment: the taming of earth itself. Most of the alterations to their structures and abilities had been made without incident, but their new powers had yet to be tested. Electum Beast punched a few numbers into the console, and scrolled thru the readouts.
"Yes, things are looking good. A few more cycles, and the sparks will have fully stabilized. With the weather being what it is on this portion of the planet, it's a wonder the humans stay here at all. What a hardy breed, to put up with the unpredictability. Hopefully, I'll be able to do something about that soon. Or rather...they will."
Satisfied that everything was well and good, he shut the terminal down, and left the lab, unaware of another presence hiding in the shadows. Electrum Beast entered the lift, and returned to the command center.
Uncle Whiskey Breath stepped out of the shadows.
Ticker and Scoot arrived at the scene before anyone else did. The first thing they saw was a swath of destruction carved along a path roughly mirroring their own. The second thing they saw chilled them to the bone.
Overdrive was dying. Flatfoot and Washout stood by, unable to do anything more for their leader. Neither was trained as a medic; they hadn't even considered bringing one along. After all, there wasn't supposed to be any real danger on this mission; just a simple containment and retrieval. They couldn't have predicted the ferocity of Campaign Car's attack, for if they had, they would have simply blasted him from a distance.
"Nnngghh..." was all that Overdrive could manage, his optics flickering in and out. He was aware of the damage he incurred; aware of his fluids leaking away from him. Even aware of his spark being called to the matrix. But he wasn't willing to let go just yet. He needed to correct his mistake, needed to ensure that the mission continued...
"Leave me," he told his comrades. "You must...stop him." "No way, boss," Flatfoot replied. "We gotta patch you up. Make sure you get medical attention." Overdrive shook his head, weakly, "No...the humans....must be protected. Stop him...before he kills anyone else."
It was this scene that greeted Ticker and Scoot as they landed next to the three warriors. Scoot exited the shuttle and transformed, arriving at Overdrive's side in mere moments. "Stand clear! I'm a medic! Ths bot needs attention immediately!" Washout and Flatfoot took a step back, to give Scoot room to work. Things were a mess. Energon was leaking all over. Scoot reached in to the gaping wound, cauterized the larger of the ruptured fuel lines, twisted a few wires, and got the glow in Overdrive's eyes from a flickering to a standard glow. "Campaign car's doing, I take it?" Scoot asked. Washout nodded. "Well, get after him. We'll take care of things here. Ticker, one coming aboard!" Scoot deployed his stretcher, and placed Overdrive on it. He then pushed the antigrav unit on-board the shuttle, and climbed aboard himself. "We'll get him to base, and do what we can. Stop that 'bot before he does any more damage!" With that, Ticker blasted off, with Scoot and the dying Overdrive inside, heading for base. Washout turned to Flatfoot, and said, "Well, you heard them. Let's pull out the big guns." They transformed, and took off at high speed for Base.
Onboard the shuttle, Overdrive faded in and out of function. He could see, but was having trouble communicating. Scoot deployed a number of tools from the side of the shuttle; medical implements that, he hoped, would save the Autobot's life. "Hang on, friend," he told the prone form of Overdrive. "We'll have you up and rolling again in no time. This might hurt a bit, though, so if you don't mind, I'm going to put you into stasis-lock." Overdrive nodded, sensing he was in good hands. With the work Scoot had already done, he felt his spark solidly back within this reality. No trip to the Matrix for him today, apparently. He closed his optics as Scoot pulled the plug on his active senses; the interior of the shuttle was the last thing he would see for quite some time.
Uncle Whiskey Breath paused at the door of the lab; he wasn't sure why he was even here. The last thing he remembered was going to stop the Decepticon from...from what? It was all so blurry to him. All he could hear was this niggling voice in the back of his consciousness, telling him that Electrum Beast was keeping a powerful secret from him, from everyone; and that he must expose it at all costs. He didn't know where the voice was coming from, or even why he was listening to it. He could only be a seeming spectator to his own actions as his hand punched in the access panel he saw Electrum Beast use moments before. "Eh, wonder what's behind dis fancy-shmansy door," thought Uncle Whiskey Breath, as the lock failed, and the doors opened. "Probably some new kinda weapon. Sure could use an upgrade to de ol' blizzard shotgun, hey." What he saw in front of him only confused him. "Wha? A couple two-tree robots? Big whoop. I seen better on da tv." He stood there, staring at the three robots in stasis-lock, waiting for instructions. But there were none forthcoming. The voice had disappeared from his head. "Eh? What gives? Jeepers creepers. Well...I guess I'll wait here fer awhile." With no further prompting either way, Uncle Whiskey Breath cycled into stasis-lock, his self-diagnostics beginning their routine.
Campaign car was nearing an enterance to the Base. "No," he thought to himself. "That can't be all that there is in the lab. There must be something more, something else he's hiding. Unless...." Campaign car pondered the scene before him, the picture of the three robots, as he saw them thru Uncle Whiskey Breath's eyes. The befuddled Autobot had proved useful; even while traveling toward the base, Campaign car was already inside(albeit indirectly). It was a simple matter to have Uncle Whiskey Breath wander thru the base, looking for whatever secret Electrum Beast was keeping. As unlikely as it would seem, those three robots must be it. "Hmmm....I'll deal with it myself once I arrive," Campaign car thought to himself. The approach to the entrance was right in-front of him. Mitchell Airport was just one of a few of the ways into the base. But it was the one that he had personally rigged to open at his command, even if Electrum Beast had changed all the codes. "Always leave yourself a back door," Crackup had said, and he had taken the advice to heart. He issued the command, and the large airplane began to rise out of the ground, revealing a robot-sized elevator. A few human cars entering the airport stopped and gaped at the sight, while others looked and didn't stop at all, crashing into each other. But it was nothing compared to the sudden explosion Campaign car felt behind him. The blast took him by surprise; he didn't even have time to transform, merely slammed sideways into the elevator. Stunned, he scanned the area behind him. Imagine his surprise when he layed optics on a battered blue firetruck about to ram into him, fireball gun blazing...
"There's not enough left here to make it last," Scoot said to Ticker. "And he's not going to survive transport to Cybertron for their medics." They had arrived at the medlab, and discharged their cargo. Scoot was still working on Overdrive, trying to save him from the brink. Although he had succeeded in stabilizing him temporarily, he was having no luck getting the repairs to hold...or getting him back on-line. Every energon vein he'd solder, two more would rupture in its place. "This is hopeless," Said Scoot. "But if I don't do something soon, I'm going to lose him."
"Can you remove his personality core, and put it on life-support while you do major repairs?" asked Ticker. "It wouldn't be enough," replied Scoot. "The damage is too-severe. His spark wouldn't last outside his body long enough for me to try."
"Well....there is another way," said Ticker. "We could transplant him into a completely new body." Scoot shuddered at the thought. "Yes, but....would he be the same 'bot? You know how something that drastic affects a Transformer. He may come out of it traumatized...or he may come out as a completely different 'bot. Heck, he could become a 'con, if we weren't careful."
"I don't see as though we have much choice," replied Ticker. "You said it yourself that we can't get him to Cybertron in-time. And we don't have Maximal facilities here." "No, that's true, we don't," said Scoot. "But we do have one of those new 'protoform blanks', don't we?" "Yes," replied Ticker. "But I fail to see what good it would do. I already told you we don't have the facilities for it. No pod, no scanner...no good." "You're right," said Scoot, "We don't have Maximal facilities. But we have something almost as good...a repair bay....and a skyspy."
Ticker was confused. "What good does that do? That's the old standard reconfiguring system. It's not compatible with the new technology." "It could be MADE to work," replied Scoot. "We'll just have skyspy scan for the appropriate organic object. The repair bay should be able to configure the protoform then." "But how is that better than simply putting him into another body?" asked Ticker. "Surely my way is easier, and less risky." "Not when you take into consideration the mental health of our patient," replied Scoot. "The spark helps configure the protoform, so that you end up with a vessel compatible to the one the spark occupied previously. The body may look different outside... but inside, it 'feels' the same. Less trauma to the patient."
"I still don't like it." said Ticker. "There's too-much risk." "You don't have to like it." replied Scoot. You just have to help me do it. You roll the protoform in here. I'll scan for a new pattern, and prepare Overdrive's spark." At that, she let out an audible sigh. "Fine," replied Ticker. "We'll do it your way. I just wish we could ask Overdrive which he would prefer." Ticker left the medbay to retrieve the protoform. Scoot replied to the closed door, "So do I, Ticker. So do I. Pray that I am right."
The crunch was incredible. The very ground shook beneath them. The elevator, meant to survive a direct hit from an orbital weapons platform, actually bent a bit. Which was no surprise, considering the impact of two Cybertonains at such a high rate of speed. The spillage of fuel, both energon and human gasoline, created an imminent danger to both the fleshlings and the two Transformers....all it would take is a small spark to set the entire area ablaze.
A damaged headlight provided that spark.
The explosion was unbelievable. a square mile around ground zero was literally ablaze in an instant. Tempuratures hot enough to melt even the most hardened metal engulfed Campaign car and Defensor. A scream; then several. The humans who had crashed moments before were dying, being burned alive in their own vehicles. There was nowhere to run, no place to get away from the terrible, terrible pain. A pain that even a Transformer felt.
Campaign car didn't hear the screams. He couldn't hear anything. Many of his sensors were destroyed; and what few were still working could only register pain. He transformed; barely. He was literally sandwiched between the elevator and Defensor, unable to get out. He flailed, struggled, and reached, seemingly to no avail...
Things were not any better for Defensor. He didn't register anything, anymore. The last optic had shattered upon impact. All he was aware of was the gradual fading of his existance, as his circuits fizzled and burned, one by one. His mind was slipping; all that he ever was, swiftly joining with the Matrix. The others had gone before him; he could hear the Protectabots that made up his massive intellect calling to him from the other side, inviting him to join with them again. He was comfortable with that; after all, he had finally completed his mission.The enemy was gone; destroyed in the same blaze that even now was consuming him. He could finally rest.
He let go.
Alarm Klaxxons greeted Electrum Beast upon his arrival back at the Command Center. The comm circuits were ablaze, with Overdrive down and calling for backup, and Ticker radioing that they were heading back to base stat with wounded. Reports pouring in that Campaign car had gotten past all the defenders; that the autodefenses along the highway had failed to impede his progress. A proximity alarm was wailing, telling him that the eastern entrance to the Base was being opened. Yet another siren was going off, telling him that the lab lock had inexplicably failed.
Electrum Beast tried to make sense of it all at once; how could this many things be going wrong so quickly? Well, no matter. First priority was placing a call to the human Emts, to scout the failed autodefenses along the highways for any possible human casualties; the second was to assess whether or not Campaign car had gotten into the base, and if so, where was he currently. Third was to find out what was wrong at the lab. And fourth...was to prepare himself for his seemingly inevitable death. If Campaign car had made it into the base, then there was little he could do. But he would try to make one final effort to talk to him; to try to make him understand. Failing that...well, then he would destroy them both, before Campaign car had a chance to endanger any more of the humans. The charade had gone on long enough. It was time to put all the cards on the table.
Flatfoot and Washout arrived at the eastern end of the base. It wasn't hard to follow Campaign car, with all the wreckage he left along the way. What was surprising was the mess they found in front of them currently; a human airplane positioned on top of an elevator. A charred fire engine. Several half-burnt cars, with their human occupants still inside. It was a grisly sight, only made slightly less so by the fact that things weren't still burning. Apparently, the fire engine had put out the blaze, even as it was being consumed. Odd thing was, the end of its water cannon was literally frozen, as was a large spot directly in-front of the enterance to the Base. What was going on here? And where was Campaign car?
To be Continued.