Part One

Crackup had to think fast.

"Er, look friend, can't we come to some sort of deal? I could make it worth your while...."

Washout: "You've got nothing to offer me, Decepticon. Except your life."

Crackup: "I have something about *your* life?"

Washout: (confused) "What?"

Crackup: "What if I could offer you your position back in the Cybertonian forces?"

Washout: "You're joking."

Crackup: "No, I never joke. I have 'pull' in some very high places. I see no reason why you couldn't have your old position back....or perhaps even a better one, hmmm? Maybe a nice office, and a secretary who walks around minus her torso plate, if you know what I mean?" Crackup continued to speak smoothly, putting the Autobot under his influence with every sugar-coated word.

Washout: "What,"(powers down his plasma cannon, drops Flatfoot)

Crackup: "Yes, you seem confused, but it is understandable. Come with me, and we'll get it all sorted out. Here, I'll even let you carry our little friend here, yes? You can do that, right?"

Washout: "Right...of course. Let me carry him. Nothing wrong with that."(he takes the unconscious little robot from Crackup).

Crackup: "Now, then, what's the best way out of here for us?"

Washout: "Well, for you, there isn't one.(powers up his cannon again) Your tricks won't work on me. But I had to make sure I didn't hurt the little guy when I killed you. Goodbye, Decepticon."

The cannon was pointed at his chest. That was it. The end. Crackup had lost. No more cards to play. He simply stood there, frozen, closing his eyes, and waiting for his end. He heard the whine of the cannon build. As it was about to discharge, Crackup said a small prayer to Primus.

(slam!) Nuuuuhhhhh...."

The cannon fired, crackling with awsome energies. Crackup could feel the heat blast above his head as it tore into the ...what? *Above* his head?! But...Crackup opened his eyes, and watched Washout slump to the floor, only to reveal another 'bot behind him.

Crackup's mind was reeling. He wasn't dead. The blast missed. He'd been saved. But by who? Here was yet *another* person not accounted for on the roster. What was worse, he wore the same Defender brand on his chest that Washout had (although it seemed to be a bit more odd). Was this some sort of trick? The enemy helping him? But why? Why would he disable his friend? He needed answers, and needed them now. Nothing was making sense at the moment. He had to ask. But how to phrase it....

Crackup: "Now, that wasn't very nice. Who are you?"

Robot: "My name is not your concern. Getting out is. Follow me if you want to live."

Crackup: "Not to be impolite, but I'm not in the habit of following complete strangers into who knows where. Can you at least tell me your name?"

Robot: "My name? You want my *name*? (chuckles bitterly). Oh, I have no name in this time period. But when I was cloned, I was given the nickname Optimus....minor."

Crackup: "Well, it's very nice to meet you, Optimus. Shall we go?"

Optimus Minor: "Yes. You shall."

Turning and walking away, Crackup stared at the retreating figure of this strange 'bot, as he pondered his choice of words(time period? What did *that* mean?). Clearly, this was not someone for him to trust. On the other hand, he*did* take out that rather hulking Washout, saving his life in the process...

Going with his instincts, Crackup chose to follow this 'Optimus minor' fellow, and seewhere it led him. Picking up his little prize robot once again, Crackup headed down the corridor after his would-be savior. To where, he had yet to determine...

To be continued.

Onward to Part Two!

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