Part Eight

The Epic Conclusion!

"I am....Bunny Convoy!"

Pride in his voice, and ready to do battle, he checked his internal display for weapons systems upgrades, and reached into subspace for his twin blasters.


Now why should that surprise him?

Of course Scoot would have removed his weapons. God-forbid his being able to *shoot* the enemy. Stupid child safety laws. If he got out of this alive, he promised himself, he was going to kill the engineer for getting rid of his firepower. According to his datafile, he was now armed with something called...'hare-splitter' swords.

Oh, how droll. That Scoot had quite a sense of humor. He'd be sure to pay him back for it later. For now, though....

"Release my friends, Decepticon, or face my wrath!"


Crackup managed to swat two of the little bots away when Bunny Convoy made his announcement. As he skewered the third one thru the shoulder, he looked up, and saw the odd-looking transformer in the middle of the room, flexing blade weapons. Releasing the little bot, who slumped next to his friends, he pondered who this new warrior was. After all, he thought he'd made preperations for all personnel in the base. The files seemd complete. Hmph. This one must have slipped by. Oh well. Easily remedied.

Brandishing his own energy blade, he pointed it at Bunny Convoy. 'This one looks newly-minted', he thought to himself. 'I'll bet he'll be thrown off-balance if I meet his threats in-kind.' Ahem. "So, you want a piece of me, too? Bring it." Charging at him, the two warriors faced-off, in what promised to be an epic battle.


The three little bots were stunned; they had been knocked out of the battle fairly quickly, and with little trouble at that. Although unable to articulate it, they knew this wasn't the way things were supposed to be. They were *sure* that they were more powerful than the ugly pink robot. At least, they used to be.

Unable to follow thru on that thought, the little bots simply looked at each other, then at the two combatants...and their weapons. In unison, they locked-in to their targets, and activated their scanning devices...


Ticker's diagnostic sensors were flashing sudden, urgent warnings to her. "Um, Scoot...hypothetically, what would cause a base's powercore to build up to critical levels?" "Well," Scoot replied, "A number of factors, including cooling system failure, core breach, and the self-destruct sequence. Why do you ask?"

"Oh...no reason. My sensors were just reading a critical buildup in the powercore, that's all."


The Blizzard shotgun was wrecked. Oh, it could probably be repaired, but not in the middle of a battle. Uncle cursed. That only left him with his Cheddar rifle, and the Wedge. Hardly powerful enough to stop whatever else Crackup had planned for them. Frustrated, Uncle looked down, and happened to catch the three little bots standing motionless, apparently frozen in-place, looking at the fight in-front of them. One of them was slumped on the floor. "Hey dere, you ok, little fellow?" No response, but one 'bot turned to look at Uncle, and activated a second scanning beam. Uncle yelped as he felt the tingle on his palms; the scanner was doing its work. Uncle couldn't see the beam, but he could sure feel it.

The little bot had targeted Uncle's Cheddar rifle, and the Wedge.


The warriors clashed; sparks flew from each of their blades as they performed a strange dance of war around the control center. Pulling back to analyze each other's initial charge, Bunny Convoy took a moment to access his memory banks. Although no stranger to the sword, he was no master, either. He was hoping that Scoot took that into consideration. Locating a cross-reference in the weapons-files, he found the name he was looking for: StarSaber1. Joyous, he clicked on the link:

Error 404 File Not Found.

"I'm going to kill him", thought BunnyConvoy, remembering once again that Scoot was the cause of this. Bracing himself, he prepared to attack Crackup again, drawing on his own skills instead. He was more of a talker and brawler than an expert swordsman; however, this was the form he was now in, and it behooved him to make the most of it.

Bunny Convoy: "If you surrender now, I'll go easy on you."

CrackUp: "You sound so sure of yourself. And yet, there's something odd about the way you hold your weapons. Could it be hesitation, and unfamiliarity that I'm picking up?"

Bunny Convoy: "You know what, Decepticon? You talk too-much." With that. BC charged him again, screaming, both blades pointed forward. The battle was joined.


The scans completed, the other two bots stayed put, while the third one(who had dually-scanned Uncle's weapons as well) transformed, and flew up towards him. Another beam activated, this one yanking the weapons out of Uncle's hands. "Eh?! What gives, hey?" The little bot transformed again...and combined with the two weapons. The massive unit landed into Uncle's outstretched arms. It was a bit of a jolt; this odd combination had quite some heft to it. Uncle called up his HUD, and accessed the device bio. The computer responded: Cheddar Bazooka.

Uncle smiled.


Blades thrashed and spit as the two warriors flailed against each other. Sparks flew. Neither would give an inch. Odd as it seemed, the fighting seemed to grow in intensity with each stab toward the other. Opponents evenly matched? Perhaps...but Crackup had a slightly more fluid motion to his bearing. Bunny Convoy, though meeting his thrusts in-kind, seemed to be concentrating harder. A fencer fighting against a weed-whacker. One would think there would be no room for talk...but Crackup proved otherwise.

Crackup: "No stranger to the blade then, eh?"

Bunny Convoy: "Apparently not."

Crackup: "But you work so hard at it. Perhaps you'd like to take a break?"

Bunny Convoy: "Shut up."

Crackup:" Well that's not very nice of you. I'm just trying to make conversation."

Bunny Convoy: "So stop."

Crackup: "Why? Is it distracting you? Then I'll stop."

With that, Crackup grew more fierce. It was getting harder and harder to deflect his blows. He had yet to make an advance of his own. Suddenly, Bunny Convoy realised: Crackup had been toying with him all this time, going up by levels, testing his limits...and apparently, surpassing them. Now, he was completely on the defensive. The shots came faster and harder. If he slipped up just once...

He did.

Bunny Convoy, despite having two blades to Crackup's one, made the mistake of putting them both up to block a shot to his head. A shot that wasn't there. Before he realised his mistake, he felt several sudden, white-hot pains in his joints. Arms. Shoulders. Knees. Thighs. Just as suddenly, the pain was gone...but so was his mobility. Bunny Convoy fell to the ground, his major motor relays slashed. He was paralyzed.


Uncle took aim at the ceiling-emitters, and fired. The blast was uncanny in its accuracy. Within moments, he's managed to saw a neat circle all around the housing. Another moment; the force-beams cut out, dropping Ticker and Scoot to the ground....and then the emitters themselves broke free, dropping on top of Scoot.

Scoot: "Yeeaoouch! Was that really necessary?!"

Uncle merely grinned.

Ticker: "I'm sure it was an accident."

Scoot: "Yea...maybe. Ticker, you see to Electrum Beast. I'll try to stop that powercore from melting down." Scoot rolled over to the computer trminal, atempting to undo whatever Crackup had wrought upon them.


Crackup smiled. Victory was his.

Crackup: "Well, that was exhilarating. Thank you for the workout. You're no StarSaber, that's for sure. But you did well enough for your first time."

Bunny Convoy: "...bastard. My legs..."

Crackup: "Oh yes, that. It's a little technique I picked up called Metalli-Kato. Hurts, doesn't it? Basically, I've disabled all your limbs at their fracture-points."

Bunny Convoy: "...and you're telling my because...?"

Crackup: "...beacuse you won't be alive to pass that information on. Goodbye."

He takes aim for Bunny Convoy's chest, directly above his spark-holder. But before he can administer the killing blow....a yellow beam struck him in the chest...and went thru, punching a hole on the other side. Crackup looked at the hole in surprise. What in the world would have been powerful enough to tunnel thru his armor? He didn't have a chance to think about it further, as a second, more widespread burst hit him, caving in his chest and knocking him against the back wall.

"Eh, finally figured out how to change da settings," Uncle said, making another adjustment on the Cheddar Bazooka. "Dat last one was on half. Whaddya spose happens when I turn the power up tree-quarters, eh?"


Scoot continued to work at the auxilliary controls, while Ticker pulled Electrum Beast down from the cables he was strung up on. Immediately, she applied patches to the worst of the wounds. He'd lost a lot of energon, but it would appear that he could be saved...if she could get him to the repair bay in time. But with all the fighting going on around her, that didn't seem to be an immediate option. A small energon-transfusion, then. Tapping her forearm, she ran an iv-line from one of her dispenser compartments to a port on Electum Beast. The energon would keep him alive until the situation around her could be brought under control. She hoped.

Scoot: "The controls aren't responding. I can't shut down the reactor. The codes appear to be encrypted. We'll need those ciphers from Crackup if we expect to live."


Crackup merely screamed, in anger, pain, and surprise. Where had that buffoon gotten ahold of such a weapon? It wasn't listed on his spec sheet. And it certainly wasn't on the listing in the armory. "My plans, my beautiful plans..." He looked closer; it resembled one of those three little robots that were distracting him earlier. Of course....but first; must calm down. Take control of the situation. Breathe. There. Better. Now then...

"Hehe...looks like you beat me," Crackup said. "I surrender. Take me to the brig."

"Oh, I don't tink so," Uncle replied. "You sure caused a lot of problems here today. Maybe I'll jus shoot ya, take you outta' da game. No more trouble for us then, eh?" Uncle took aim with the Cheddar Bazzoka again.

"But surely, that violates your code, Autobot," said Crackup. "What would your leader say if he knew you would kill another being in such cold blood?"

Bunny Convoy:(weakly) "...don't listen....a trick..."

Uncle: "Eh dere, you rest yerself, BC. Ole' Uncle's got da bad guy covered, eh?" Looking back to Crackup, he was surprised to find him calm, smiling. As if this were all some part of his plan. Uncle wasn't fond of devious-looking weasels, and this Crackup character definately fit the bill.

Scoot(yelling from the terminal toward Uncle) "If we expect to stop the reactor from melting down, we'll need the encryption codes. If the Decepticon doesn't give them to us, then he'll die along with us."

Crackup: "He's quite right. I don't want to die. I'll talk. The code cipher you need is, 'plan B'."

Uncle: "Did'ja get that?"

Scoot: "Inputting now.(types into the terminal). Hmmm...that *did* unlock something. There's a buildup control that I can now reset. But it seems that's all I can do. I can't initiate a complete shutdown from here. All it's done is idle the core."

Crackup: "Yes, I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about that. It won't build up any further, but it's not going to go down anymore either. The core will have to be shut down manually at the source. But at least we won't all die now, right?" (The grin remained on Crackup's face.)

Uncle: "Eh, what are youse smilin. about?"

Crackup: "Oh, nothing. 3....2....1...."

Scoot: "Hey! here's a *second* timer on here! And it's counting down to zero!"

The warning, such as it was, came too-late. Crackup closed his optics. Suddenly, the Command center was filled with a harsh, burning light. Intruder counter-measures. Or at least, they were supposed to be when they were originally installed. It had no effect on the Decepticon(his having taken the proper precautions), but it disabled all the other defenders within range. Blinded, they were unable to stop Crackup from making his move. And move he did. Acting quickly, he ran under Uncle Whiskey Breath, past the damaged Bunny Convoy, and made a grab for the little robot he damaged in the fight earlier. Thus equipped, he made his way toward the exit, dropping several grenades along the way. He was well past the point of impact when the grenades went off, stopping the light...but bringing the Command Center crashing down on top of the defenders.

There was nothing they could do.

The entire area was awash with cybertonain metals and uncounted tons of concrete, pouring down on top of them. Had they been able to see, they might have avoided being buried alive. Unfortunately, Crackup had left them no quarter. The debris continued to fall, smashing the computer terminals, smashing the robots trapped inside. An eternity of noise and vibration, and dust....and then, there was silence.

Crackup waited a few moments, and watched for movement.

And waited.

And waited some more.

There was none.

Crackup smiled. His mission here was accomplished. The Defenders were destroyed. And this accursed research facility would still blow up. Without anyone left alive to shut down the over-powered core, the meltdown would begin again. It would take a little longer, but it would happen. Milwaukee Base, and the human city above it, would be reduced to ash.

Crackup loved a happy ending.

Not wishing to be around for the explosive finale, Crackup headed down the corridor, and made for the exit. It was going to be a hot time in the old town tonight. For the humans.


The creature heard the explosions; saw the little pink robot make a run for the corridor. "So, it begins," he thought. "Everything that has come to pass....will come to pass." As it had numerous times, no doubt. The timestreams were a fickle mistress; pull a string here, and it caused a vibration farther down. Larger events caused larger vibrations. And today's events...well, like a few key points in history, their vibrations could be felt quite a long time indeed, perhaps as far as the gray area that the travelers could not yet penetrate. The changes tended to be most felt immediately after the key event, and tended to die down further along the time stream, so that an event that occurred in 1984 would greatly affect 1985, but would barely cause a ripple in 2005...Yes, time was an interesting plaything. Immutable in the long run, but chaotic in the short term. And it was that chaos that must be controlled, lest the strings vibrate so badly that they snap.

And speaking of short term...the little pink robot was going the wrong way. If he went down that corridor, he would run into more defenders, and quite probably perish. That particular event would not sit well with the future. He would have to be steered back the right way, or even possibly assisted if things got too-for out of wack. Or even...have the mission carried on by someone else if he were destroyed. What a delicious piece of irony *that* would be, having to help the ancient decepticon cause in order to save the future...

Swinging down from his hiding spot in the ceiling, the creature followed Crackup, hoping things went all right. Hoping there was still time...


A lone hand pushed out from underneath the rubble that was once the Command Center. Then, another. The two hands lifted a chunk of concrete, revealing a somewhat dented robotic head and back. The robot stood....slowly, almost painfully, tossing the chunk of debris off to the side in order to straighten up fully. His eyesight finally restored to normal, he looked down to see the two little robots(only two? Where was the third one?)he instinctfully shielded from the debris when things started to come crashing down.

"Eh, we got quite a mess around here. Any more of da base land on us, and it woulda been a tomb. Tink you little guys are up to helping me find da utters?"

The two little bots smiled and saluted smartly, transforming and flying around the room, with Uncle following them. With scanners and tractor beams, they quickly pinpointed everyone's location, and dug them out. They were battered, and dented, but they were all accounted for. More or less. One of their number was missing.

Uncle: "Eh, where's da tird little one?"

Scoot: "Perhaps still under some of the debris?"

The other little two bots shook their heads no, and pointed toward the exit.

Ticker: "I think they're saying he went out the door."

Scoot: "Not possible. If I recall correctly, he was damaged. I think that perhaps Crackup took him."

Uncle: "I'm going after him. Youse patch tings up around here. Come on, little fellow!", he said, motioning to the little robot who combined with his cheddar rifle before. The two of them made for the exit, with Uncle out the door first. The little robot followed, but not before flicking out a tractor beam, and grabbing the trashed Blizzard shotgun to take along the way. It might prove useful later...

The remaining Defenders regrouped, assessing damage, and wondering if they were too-late to prevent a disaster.



The creature had given Crackup too-much credit. He was waiting at the exit, but the little pink robot was nowhere to be found. He must have gotten lost, taking a path that led further into the base instead of out. Looks like the Defenders would win the day after all. It's too-bad; that little screw-up would probably cost them the war. The anger came on stronger now; his temper flared, and he struck out at the exit door, smashing it off the rails. He would have continued, but his attention was caught by the sight of a small vortex appearing in the distance, obscuring an otherwise clear day. He could feel the tug. Things were happening faster now. The time-shift was just about upon them. He looked at his hands; he was still solid matter, but the random phase-out was beginning. His existance would soon be erased from this timeline, as the immediate future rewrote itself to accomodate the shift. Checking the skyline once again, he ran back into the bowels of the base, wondering if there was anything left that he could do. His thought: probably not....


Crackup ran along the corridors, clutching the unconscious little 'bot as he maneuvered thru the damaged base toward the exit. "This," he said to himself, "is quite the victory. I have the datafiles on the metal-organic hybrids Electrum Beast was guarding. And I have you, my little friend. Once I crack you open and find out your secrets, the universe will be mine." So caught up with his gloating that he failed to notice the clanking footsteps in-front of him until he ran headfirst into....a very charred, very dented Washout, with with an equally damaged and unconscious Flatfoot slung over his shoulder. The look of anger was evident on Washout's face as he recognised the Decepticon, and locked his plasma cannon onto him. As Washout prepared to fire, Crackup pondered this rather-sudden change in circumstances, and only one thought came to mind:

"ah... crap."

The end. For now.

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