The diagnostic cycle finished its run; Uncle Whiskey Breath was as much his own 'bot as he was when he first rolled off the assembly line. The hypnotic programming that over-rode him earlier was gone, purged by self-repair subroutines. Systems cycled back to full-power status. Uncle Whiskey Breath 'woke up'....and had a bushel basket full of questions.|
"Eh, wha? What da heck am I doin' here? Last I recall I was out'a town, trying to stop dat goofy black truck." The repair work to his mind was thorough; anything that happened after his encounter with Campaign car was completely wiped, for safety's sake. It was better to eliminate a few memories than risk exposing Uncle to the worm program again. Which was just as well; Uncle Whiskey Breath would not have been too-happy with himself if he knew some of the things he had done. "Now what have we here," he asked, staring at the three robots in front of him. "Some kinda fancy-schmancy robots ol' Electrum's been workin' on. I wonder what they do?"
Almost innocently, Uncle touched a few buttons on the console in-front of him, enjoying how the pretty lights changed color when he pushed them in a certain sequence. Without realizing it, he had inadvertantly started the activation-cycle for the three little bots.
Campaign car was insane.
Repair systems were doing what they could, but there was simply too-much damage. The blows from Defensor were too-much; Between the crunch into the elevator, and the subsequent fire, there wasn't a single system that was intact. Warning alarms practically blocked all his 'vision' on his internal heads-up display. Hydraulics, pneumatics, transformation, weapons, armor...everything was wrecked. It was a wonder that he could still move at this point. If he hadn't triggered that stupid firetrucks' blizzard bazooka, he reasoned, he would have been dead now...burnt to a well-done crisp. As it was, he was blackened from head to toe.
And it was all Electrum Beast's fault.
He didn't need his internal scanners to find him anymore. He could feel where the little beast was hiding. Yes, he was hiding. He was trying to run away, to escape, but it would do him no good. He would find him, and he would destroy him with his bare hands. He'll rip out his optics one by one, he'll....
Another short circuit, this one in his storage compartment. It wouldn't be long now. Soon, everything would fall into place, and he would have his revenge.
The door in front of him closed, but another one opened to his right. He stumbled down the cooridor, knowing that fate was on his side, that he was headed in the absolute right direction. Even the mighty Milwaukee base was helping him, leading him toward his goal....
Electrum Beast watched on the monitor as Campaign car came even closer to the command center. He pushed buttons, opening and closing pathways, trying to give him the easiest route there. "Soon, my old friend," Electrum Beast told the temporarily-senseless being on the monitor. "Soon we'll be together again. And then...then I can finally rest."
Sirens wailed as Autobot and fleshling worked together to salvage the situation. Flatfoot and Washout worked with the medical and law-enforcement humans on tending the wounded, and clearing out debris. When an ambulance couldn't get to a body, flatfoot would rip off a door, or pick up the entire vehicle and bring it to the paramedics. Washout directed traffic from the ramp entrance, routing would-be-gawkers and people trying to catch their flight to an alternate destination. With the situation somewhat stabilized, one of the officers came up to Flatfoot to speak with him:
Cop: "Well, near as the victims can tell, a truck ran into a car-carrier, starting the fire. It's a good thing you two came along when you did. Saved a lot of folks. The situation could have been a lot worse."
Flatfoot: "No, you don't understand. I think it was our fault."
Flatfoot: "I think one of our comrades was trying to stop a Decepticon, and this horrible mess was the result."
Cop: "I....I have trouble believing that. You're Autobots. You protect life."
Flatfoot: "Even the most noble among us sometimes make a mistake. But rest assurred, officer, we will make amends for this. I promise."Washout!" he called, signalling for his friend, "As soon as you're done there, we're heading out. We've got to stop Campaign car before he does any more damage!" Washout nodded, and continued to direct traffic while blockades were being put up. In the meantime, Flatfoot went over to the charred body of his fallen friend. He barely recognized him as a Cybertonian, crunched up as he was in his earthen-mode. "Oh, Spot, what have you done?" he asked the corpse.
There was, of course, no answer.
The Command Center.
It was just as Campaign car remembered it. Or so he thought, anyways. His remaining optic was still not functioning properly, (although his audio sensors were at last restored). As it was, everything was a blurr; various lights and control panels swirling into one. A voice called out to him:
Electrum Beast: "I see you finally made it to me. Congratulations."
The warning lights on his HuD disappeared. Campaign car's vision cleared in an instant, as did his purpose. He said nothing; merely gurgled, and made a rush for his former mentor, the energon boiling in his veins. But Electrum Beast was prepared; he flipped out his blaster and shot him in the torso. Without armor to protect him, Campaign car faltered; his primary motor relays went off-line, and he stopped moving. A new damage alert on his display monitor. The electro-inhibitor had done its job. Campaign car cursed.
Electrum Beast: "Dear me, you needen't be like that. I thought we could at least talk first, before you destroyed me."
Campaign car: "Raaaaggghhhhhh! What have you done to me!?"
Electrum Beast. "Take it easy; the effect is only temporary. I needed to stop you long enough for us to talk; I'd hoped to reason with you one last time."
Campaign car: "I have nothing to say to you!"
Electrum Beast: "Nothing? That seems a bit odd, considering all the trouble you went thru to get here. Surely something must be on your mind."
Campaign car: 'The only thing on my mind is making you pay for what you've done to me!"
Electrum Beast: "Done to you? I haven't done anything to you."
Campaign car: "You kept the truth from me!"(he spat out)
Electrum Beast: (incredulously)"Is that all? That's what you hate me so much for? Because I didn't tell you everything I did?"
Campaign car: "Yes!"
Electrum Beast: "But I'm an Agent!! I kept the truth from everyone! That's my JOB!"
Campaign car: "But I was your student, your second-in-command. I should have been privy...especially considering the dangers!"
Electrum Beast: "Privy...to what? To every design, every machination? None of the Agents were aware of everything! Not even me! That would have been foolish. That's why Bumblebee set things up the way he did. And what danger are you talking about?"
Campaign car: "But you didn't even tell me the truth about what *you* were up to."
Electrum Beast: "You were new, untested...suppose you were compromised? I couldn't take that chance. And I was proved right."
Campaign car: "No, you were *wrong*. I would have been completely trustworthy. At least someone else saw fit to take a chance on me."
Electrum Beast: "Who, the Decepticons? They tossed you one little tidbit, and you were hooked. It was all part of their plan to compromise you. They couldn't get to me, so they sought you out instead. And you still haven't told me of this 'danger' I'm supposedly responsible for."
Campaign car: "Liar!" Crackup values ME! And he's always played straight with me...unlike YOU! Even when facing your own demise, you continue to maintain your innocence. Bah!"
Electrum Beast: "My demise...? You foolish, foolish robot....he used you. The very thing he made you believe about me is what he has been doing all along to you. There's no danger at all. He lied to you. He's always lied to you. And you fell for it. Tell me, if he is so brave, and so noble, why isn't HE here, instead of you? Why isn't he trying to combat this supposed danger, instead of you? Well? Why?!"
Campaign car didn't answer. He didn't have to. A horrible grin spread across his face, as a grating sound(that might have been laughter) erupted from his vocal unit. A panel hissed, and shifted; a burst of cold air was felt as a large panel fell away from Campaign car's leg, revealing a stasis-pod-like arrangement. A storage area, big enough to fit a couple of humans...or a robot. The alarms in the Control Center went wild.
"Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!"
The three newly-minted little bots looked up at Uncle Whiskey breath, awaiting instruction. They had the sparks of former heroes, but in this new configuration, they were literally blank slates. They had no knowledge to guide them; only instinct. Had they remained in stasis a little longer, they would have been fully functional; but since Uncle woke them up early, they sought....experience.
Uncle Whiskey Breath would provide it to them.
"Hey dere, little fellows! I'm Uncle Whiskey Breath, but you can call me Uncle. Who are youse?" The little bot's faces lit up with excitement; surely this must be their creater, their 'father'. They did not yet have knowledge of speech; they could sense the feelings and emotions of Uncle, but were unable to articulate their own. Not in words, anyways; but they beeped and hopped excitedly around Uncle's feet.
"Well, you sure are a bunch of happy little tykes, arent'cha? Well, introductions can wait until later, then. How's about I tell ya a story?" The three little bots beeped excitedly. "Hehe, ok, ok, let ol' Uncle grab a chair, and sit down. I'll tell ya the one about...."suddenly, the alarm went off. "Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! Level one, Command Deck". Uncle practically jumped out of his steel shorts. "Holy smokes, we got ourselves a Decepticon on-premises. You kids stay here; old Uncle's gotta stop a bad guy." With that, he took off for the lift, leaving his new little friends behind. The three robots looked at each other; they didn't know what a 'Decepticon' was, but they sensed that Uncle was worried that a bad man that might come and hurt them. Sharing a series of clicks and beeps amongst themselves, they resolved to help Uncle scare him away. The three little bots transformed, and took off after their father....
That was the first thing he said, upon awaking from the operation.
Ticker and Scoot had done their job well; the patient was alive, and healthy. Probably in even better condition than before the attack. But he was none-too-happy.
"You're telling me I'm stuck like this?"
"Not at all," Scoot replied. "You can always choose a form more to your liking once you return to Cybertron. But I didn't exactly design this to be temporary."
"And this...configuration...was my only option?"
"The only one that would have kept your personality intact, yes." replied Scoot. "Would you rather have awoken as a deranged frakin-bot?"
"Sigh....no. No, I suppose not. And I am grateful, but still, couldn't you have picked something more...heroic?"
"My boy, what could possibly be more heroic!" replied Scoot. "The brave Autobot warrior, reborn to fight for justice on the very planet that spawned his new form...."
"Besides," said Ticker. "I think you're kinda cute." With that, she planted a small kiss on his head. "Aw, shucks, ma'am," he replied, blushing." "I guess if you're happy, than I've got no reason to complain."
Just then, the alarm sounded. "Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!"
"It's the Command Center!" said Scoot. "We're under attack!"
"Electrum Beast is up there! He'll need help! What should we do?" said Ticker.
"Well, I don't know about the two of you," the rebuilt hero replied. "But I've got a Decepticon to stop. Jumping off the repair table, he headed for Electrum Beast...and destiny.
To be continued.