"I have a mission for you."
One doesn't ignore a command from The Leader, as all Decepticons are aware(some painfully so, as the existence of the Smelting Pools can attest). When you are summoned, you report to the Throme Room with all due haste.
And so it was with such haste that a certain young Decepticon was summoned. He had been about to leave on another mission; his profile and mode already adjusted to fit the mission parameters. When the communication came thru, he did not hesitate; stories from some of the more grizzled veterans had put a spring in his step. His experience with Starscream, in-particular, had left him no choice but to reconfigure himself and find a new line of work. The mission he was about to leave on was supposed to be his ticket out; unfortunately, someone must have discovered his original purpose, and planned to utilize him accordingly. That the person was The Leader only made it more painful. With a shudder, he left the launch area, and proceeded to the Command Deck.
Once there, the leader wasted no time: "I am reassigning you to Earth. Once there, you will report back to me on the activities of a certain Decepticon stationed there. It has been some time since I have heard from our operative. You will find him, and report back to me."
"So what do I tell him when I arrive?"
"You can tell him that it is high time he delivered on his promises to me. I have waited long enough."
"You will leave immediately. Take the warp gate. There will be no delays."
"Understood. To where am I heading, exactly?"
"To a region that the fleshlings call the Midwest....."
The explosion was deliberate.
Crackup knew this the moment he felt the ship shake. The warning klaxxon silenced, he looked over his display console, and found that the attacker (surely he can be called that) had blown the ships powercore. A foolish idea, really; after all, there were safeguards in-place. Still, the loss of main power meant that his plans were further delayed. A solution would have to be found.
"But first," thought Crackup,"I'm going to take care of these little 'problems', once and for all." Stepping off the bridge, he exited the Command Deck, and headed for the bowels of the ship below.
SunBeam scanned the files of the area he was going into.
What a mess.
No wonder The Leader had assigned him. Who else would have been able to sort thru the tangled timelines, the polluted history? Certainly not a lesser being. Obviously, decisive action was called for here. Too-many realities have impinged themselves in this one focal point.
Arriving on Earth, Sunbeam stepped thru the warpgate. The targeting was excellent; he had arrived exactly on top of the Milwaukee Base Command Center. Punching a few buttons, he activated the lift that would take him directly into the heart of the system....and there, he would begin his cleansing.
Ticker land safely in the shuttlebay of the damaged ship. Immediately, Flatfoot, Bunny Convoy, and Electrum Beast exit her. She is about to transform when Electrum Beast stops her:
Electrum Beast:"Stay here, Ticker. Until we know what's going on, I'd prefer to have an, 'ace in the hole', so to speak."
Ticker: "Understood. However, if things get rough...."
Electrum Beast: "We'll call you, have no fears."
With that having been taken care of, the three beast'bots set off for the interior of the ship. As soon as the exit doors closed behind them, Ticker transformed, and followed.
The elevator descended to the command center, and the door opened. Before he could take one step out of the lift, Sunbeam was greeted by Campaign Car, weapon drawn, and pointed directly at his head.
Campaign Car: "I don't know who you think you are, Decepticon, that you can simply come waltzing into this base. I wanted to see the face of the 'bot who had the cams to do it before I blew them off."
SunBeam: "Sigh. I don't have time for this. The mission is over. You are being recalled. Codename alpha-Trion."
Immediately, ....nothing happened. SunBeam and Campaign Car stood there, saying nothing. "Are you some kind of a nut?" It was the only thought that Campaign Car was able to muster before the gun was knocked out of his hands. Fine then, the old fashioned way. He clenched his fists, and took aim. But SunBeam was ready. Calling upon his powers, he released a hot, searing burst of intense light. Blinded, Campaign Car stumbled and fell down. Before he could muster a defense, SunBeam spoke again;
SunBeam: "Well, that was just plain stupid; you were supposed to have an encrypted file upload to your core memory when I spoke that phrase. Just how badly damaged *are* you, anyways?"
Campaign Car: "I don't know who you are, or what the hell you're talking about, but I have had more than enough secret information to last a lifetime. Now hold still while I strangle you!" Campaign Car lunged, and managed to get a hold of SunBeam's head. Bringing up his knee, he smashed SunBeam's head into it, then threw him across the room. Sparks flew as SunBeam impacted against the console.
SunBeam: "Oh, that's it. You wanna throw down? Come get some!!"
Ironhide returned to the medbay, to find Optimus Minor tending to the two new patients.
Ironhide: "I take it they're from the ship that was blown up earlier?"
Optimus Minor: "I'm afraid so. These two are particularily worrisome; I swear I recognise the one, but I cannot say for sure. She is heavily altered."
Ironhide: "By who?"
Optimus Minor: "Do not concern yourself; you have your part of the mission to fufill, and I have mine."
Ironhide: "I'm finished, actually; Prime sent me here to take out the ship, and I did...more or less. I may not understand all this time-jumping business, but I know how to follow an order. What about you?"
Optimus Minor: "I beg your pardon?"
Ironhide: "Not that I'm ungrateful for the repairs, but I was wondering who you take your orders from. I wasn't briefed about you. And that worries me."
Optimus Minor: "Have no fears. Be assured that I am only on the side of what is right and just."
Crackup (calling thru the ship's comm) "Well, then that makes you an enemy of mine, doesn't it?"
As Electrum Beast, Bunny Convoy, and Flatfoot work their way thru the ship, they hear the ominous proclamation spout seemingly randomly thru the ship's speakers. Not stopping to wonder what it's about, they continue to follow the scent that Flatfoot has picked up on.
Electrum Beast: "You sure it's her?"
Flatfoot: "Positive. She came thru here, one way or the other."
Bunny Convoy: "That's a relief. At least we know they survived."
Flatfoot: "We know of no such thing. It could merely be that they carted a piece of her lifeless corpse this way."
Electrum Beast: "Enough of that, now. I am sure she survived the experience. I made sure she was quite sturdy."
Bunny Convoy: "I'll bet you did. Has anyone escaped your grubby experimenting hands?"
Electrum Beast: "Not that I can recall."
Flatfoot: "That explains the mess we're in, then."
Without saying another word, they followed the trail, which was inexoribly leading them to the ships main medbay...and to danger.
"I have heard more than enough to make my decision."
Crackup had arrived at the Medbay. The spying devices he had scattered all over the ship had informed him exactly of what had happened, who did it, and when. It appeared that, one way or the other, these two would have to be eliminated.
Crackup: "A pity, really. Much of Electrum Beast's research was based off of you, my furry little enemy. How much more I could have learned from you alive. Ah well, such is life. I will simply have to dissect your corpse."
The fight didn't last long.
SunBeam, true to his name, super-heated the combat area until Campaign Car's circuits fried. Having accomplished that, he briefly recharged, then set about his work. Campaign Car was scorched, but usable. Opening the toasted bot's chest panel, he found the breakers that had been tripped. Before resetting them, he attached a small wire to his cranuim, and ran it to Campaign Car. Flipping the breakers one by one, he found the one going to the core consciousness, and began the download.
"I'm gonna make you remember, one way or the other...."
The shots missed their target.
Crackup had intended to shoot Optimus Minor first, but Ironhide had pushed him out of the way, taking the full brunt of the laser blast himself. Stasis-lock was almost immediate.
Optimus Minor used the moments thet Ironhide bought him. He scampered over to the R-pods, and entered the activation sequence. With any luck, the other two would come to beforeaaarrrggghhhh!!!
The slash across Minor's back was quick, but far from clean. Crackup intended to cause as much pain as possible before he finished him. Struggling, Optimus Minor transformed, and jumped upwards, managing to grap ahold of a support strut on the ceiling. But his safety was short-lived; Crackup still held the blaster pistol in his other hand. Several well-placed shots, and the support strut came tumbling down, with Minor in tow.
He landed hard.
Damaged, disorientated, Optimus Minor lay on the floor while his systems attempted to compensate.
Until the doors opened again.
"My aching head."
SunBeam: "Not surprising, considering what I just put you thru."
Campaign Car: "Are you sure you're not my enemy? You're a Decepticon, after all."
SunBeam: "You of all people should know by now. Autobot, Decepticon...these words have no meaning."
Campaign Car: "Perhaps not to you, but certainly to others, especially now."
SunBeam: "Perhaps you're right. Old habits die hard. Still..."
Campaign Car: "This file you uploaded. If your information is correct, we have a job to do."
SunBeam: "Indeed. Can you summon all personell to the Command Center? We'll have to evacuate them."
Campaign Car: "There's a bit of a problem with that.
Campaign Car: "They're already gone. Four of our staff took off after two others that had gone missing. And there's this Decepticon named Crackup that ..."
SunBeam: "I know about Crackup. Crap in a hat. There's a strong possibility that everyone's already on his ship. And with the chronotons, I can't just back up and stop things."
Campaign Car: "So do it the old fashioned way."
SunBeam: "Great minds think alike. OK fine, you evacuate everyone from the base. I'll warp to his ship and see if I can stop things before they get out of hand."
Campaign Car: "Aren't they out of hand already?"
SunBeam: "Don't remind me."
First Darkness.....and then, Light.
I remember it so clearly now. A moment; a mission, a purpose. A need to head back to Cybertron and warn the others.
Then, the other ship.
And now, the light again.
"Is this what death is like? Has my spark finally gone to join the matrix?"
Judging by the fact the aches and pains, and the fact that she just heard herself talk, Clutterbug guessed that she was still among the functional. Though she didn't know why. The ship exploded. Hotstuff was thrown from.....were....
Clutterbug finally snapped fully awake. She saw at once that she was in a stasis/R-pod. And that it was locked from the outside. She began to pound on the transparisteel canopy, trying to force the door open.
Clutterbug: "Gah! You stupid thing! Dammit! Open!"
Pod: "Acknowledged. Lock disabled. You may now exit. Have a nice day."
The door released and opened with a resounding woomph of air. Clutterbug raised the canopy and sat up. To her left was another pod, with Hotstuff awakening inside of it. To her left....was a battle.
The problem was obvious at once.
Crackup had finished off one warrior, and was about to finish off another when they arrived. It was no question who their enemy was(though they did wonder for a moment as to the identities of the other figures slumped on the floor).
Flatfoot went thru the door first, transforming into beast-mode as he ran. Snarling, he lunged at Crackup, clamping his teeth on his gun-arm. He held fast.
Crackup: "What's this, the cavalry's arrived?"
Crackup poked at Flatfoot with his energon-sword, trying to dislodge Flatfoot from his wrist. His jabs hit their mark, but Flatfoot wouldn't give. Meanwhile, Electrum Beast headed over to Optimus Minor, while Bunny Convoy took position behind Crackup.
Bunny Convoy: "It's over, Decepticon. You've lost."
Crackup: "My my, the animals are just coming out of the woodwork. What are you going to do, nibble my ankles? Here' have your dog back."
With a mighty jerk, Crackup dislodged Flatfoot from his arm and sent him flying toward Bunny Convoy. BC had barely enough time to duck as Flatfoot came sailing by, slamming into the wall next to the door. He bounced off of it, and landed several feet away.
Crackup: "I hope you've learned something since the last time we fought. I would hate to be bored." Crackup took up a defensive stance, blade pointed straight out.
Bunny Convoy: "Coming at you!"
With that, he charged Crackup's position, both of his blades already deployed.
Electrum Beast looked over Optimus Minor. The damage was severe; without even accessing his hud, he knew that Minor was not going to be much help in the fight ahead. Noting that Minor was trying to talk to him, he leaned in closer:
Electrum Beast: "I say, you are quite a mess. You should have stayed back at the base."
Optimus Minor: "What, as your prisoner?"
Electrum Beast: "If you would have just cooperated...."
Optimus Minor: "Spare me your platitudes, butcher. You knew of my mission. You could have helped. Instead, you used me."
Electrum Beast: "For I higher purpose, I assure you. My orders.."
Optimus Minor: "Your orders mean nothing to me. Because of you, the entire timeline was very nearly reset again."
Electrum Beast: "Don't go blaming your problems on me. My mission was to stop you transwarpers from messing things up even further. Your faction is particularily irresponsible."
Optimus Minor: "My faction?"
Electrum Beast: "You were wearing a Decepticon symbol when we first met."
Optimus Minor: "You...you think we're different factions? You're a fool. The transwarpers are all on the same side."
Electrum Beast: "The same side?"
Optimus Minor: "Yes! You're a transformer, aren't you? A robot in disguise? Did you ever stop to think that maybe we were employing one?"
Electrum Beast: "That's insane. It is an unwritten agreement amongst all cybertonians that a 'bot be branded with his faction symbol, so he is easily identified as friend or foe."
Optimus Minor: "Have you forgotten? I'm from the future. Everyone is a Cybertonian. We can change our ident signatures and faction symbols merely by willing it. We don't do something as crude as branding anymore."
Electrum Beast: "But my information....the different transwarpers...the factions..."
Optimus Minor: "Obviously, your information was wrong."
Electrum Beast: "...."
Optimus Minor: "Look, I know it's a lot for you to absorb all at once. But never mind me anymore. Your friends are in the pods across from you. They have been restored. Leave with them while you still can."
Electrum Beast: "But what about you?"
Optimus Minor: "My time...in the light....is short."
Optimus Minor's optic begin dimming, whether from stasis-lock or death, he couldn't be sure. Electrum Beast stood up, and hurried over to the pods.
Swords splay against each other; laser blasts are deflected. Such is the battle between Bunny Convoy and Crackup. Neither gives an inch in their small dance of death.
Crackup: "I see you've improved a bit."
Bunny Convoy: "..."
Crackup: "What, not even a witty reply? I'm hurt."
Bunny Convoy: "Talk is cheap, Decepticon."
Crackup: "Dear me, you're beginning to repeat yourself. Shall I end this for you?"
Crackup raises his laser to fire at BC again, but this time he's ready. As the gun swings around from behind Crackup's back, Bunny Convoy slashes at it. The gun, having been subjected to a haresplitter sword, falls neatly in half. Crackup stares at the handle of the gun, which is all that is left in his hand.
Crackup: "Very nice. But you should have gone for the head, not the weapon."
Crackup once again unleashed a series of deft maneuvers designed to break Bunny Convoy's defenses. However, having learned thru bitter experience, chose instead to back up, out of harm's way. Crackup continued the advance, stepping forward each time.
Crackup: "What, you don't wish to fight? Stop backing up so I can kill you."
Bunny Convoy: "Not likely, Deceptiiiii!"
Bunny Convoy had miscalculated. His attention focused on Crackup's blade, he failed to notice where he was being maneuvered. The prone form of Flatfoot made for an easy obstacle to avoid....or to trip over, if you aren't watching where you're going.
Bunny Convoy landed with a thump, his legs draped over Flatfoot. Before he could even think, Crackup had his sword point pressed against his throat.
Crackup: "It's over, Prime."
Bunny Convoy: "That's Bunny Convoy, to you."
Crackup: "Whatever. It's a pity you 'bots die so easily, or I would at least have some sense of enjoyment."
If Hotstuff spoke in words, he would be speechless.
He watched in-horror as, one by one, warriors fell against the one called Crackup. Had Clutterbug popped him out of the R-pod, only to witness his side's defeat?
He could not....would not allow this to continue. Hotstuff hopped off the edge of the pod, and ran to Optimus Minor. There was a chance, a brief chance. He ddn't fully understand what he was doing, or why, but it seemed the right thing to do.
Stepping next to him, Hotstuff hesitated, and then....reached out.
"Come back! It's not safe!"
Clutterbug gasped as Hotstuff jumped over her and made a dash for the robot lying in the debris across the room. She couldn't be sure, but she thought he looked like the one that was helping Crackup(and held her hostage back at Base). What was the little fellow doing? Was he looking to see if he was dead?
Electrum Beast thought this might happen.
After all, the little fellow was a smart one. He had seen to that when he created them. When the sparks of those once great heroes became available, he had requested three of them for his grand experiment. That one of the three should have fallen prey to Crackup already was a travesty, for only in unison could they be brought into their full power. That a second one was even now running toward one that might still be an enemy was simply...confusing. What did he hope to accomplish? And why didn't he select either himself or Clutterbug? What was so special about the monkey?.......
The first surge of power dragged his spark back, and secured it within his body once again.
The second surge of power hit all his damagd circuits, boosting repair protools into hyper-maximum.
The third surge had nowhere to go. So he absorbed it.
And absorbed it.
The power kept coming. Optimus Minor, a unique design in and of himself, took everything Hotstuff had to offer. And still the power kept coming. His fur began to stand on end, and glow, his entire body radiating from the excess energy. He was engulfed in it.
The debris melted away.
Crackup was about to administer the killing blow when he felt an intense energy buildup behind him. Bunny Convoy looked to where Crackup's attention was diverted. Even Flatfoot came to briefly to witness the miracle before them.
A new being sprung into existence before the eyes of those present. Standing tall, gleaming of reds and golds, his savior beside him, he spoke to all those present:
"This travesty ends now. Burning Furry Monkey commands it."
Hotstuff transformed into his jetmode. Burning Furry Monkey pulled his tailmace weapon out of his behind, and held it out to Hotstuff, who scanned it, and combined with it in a blinding display of pyrotechnics. Holding the combined weapon aloft, Burning Furry Monkey called out the name of the weapon, as well as the attack:
His anger, held in-check for so long, was finally unleased. And the charge was immediate. Building up speed, the new weapon pointed straight out, Crackup barely had time to bring his sword up for a defensive maneuver.
It was like slicing thru paper.
Crackup's energon blade shorted, and failed upon coming in contact with the Blazing Scimitar. The blade pushed onward, slicing thru successive layers of armor in Crackup's chest, finally poking thru to the other side. Feeling it pierce all the way thru, BFM pulled it back out.
The pain was like nothing he ever felt before. Everywhere the blade had touched, it had literally melted him. Circuits sizzled; fuel lines were sliced and instantly cauterized. The energon sword gone, Crackup attempted to blast his new opponent instead. He began firing shots one right after the other, at BFM's head, legs, and weapon. It had no effect, the shots bouncing harmlessly off the weapon, and sizzling into nothingness before they even touched his body.
BFM retaliated by slicing his firing arm completely off.
But even that was not vengence enough. Another slice; this time across Crackup's knees, effectively amputating them. Crackup fell, a flurry of damaged parts and short circuits, his one remaining limb barely enough to keep him balanced. Damage reports coming in from all sectors, drowned out by the blinding pain that screamed thru every circuit of his being....
And then, with one final slice, it.... was over.
To the left we see Crackup, lying in a pile of his own dismembered parts. Burning Furry Monkey standing over him, still glowing, the anger that was always present finally under a permanent control. How much of the anger had fueled him in this mode, and how much was given to him by Hotstuff, would probably never be sorted out. Needless to say, the two put together had carried the day.
Crackup was still functional; the pain dampers finally clamping down. However, the air of superiority that usually accompanied Crackup's words was gone, replaced with astonishment...and more than a touch of fear.
Crackup: "But how? How could you do this? You didn't have the power...."
Burning Furry Monkey: "Maybe not. Or maybe I did, and merely waited to let it all out. "
Crackup: "That little weapon you hold..."
Burning Furry Monkey: "Yes, this fellow was quite a help. He let me tap into something that I may not have reached on my own- your defeat."
Crackup: "...my victory...."
Burning Furry Monkey: "Your victory is a sham. You deviated from the established timeline. What has come to pass...will very likely come to pass again. You paid the price for your transgressions."
Crackup: "But I did what you told me to do..."
Burning Furry Monkey: "No, you played at it, taking what you wanted, and I feared that. I feared for my own existance. But no more. I would rather see you defeated, and my existance erased from this timeline, than continue to exist, knowing your evil would spread far and wide. I expect another reset of the universe shortly. And though I may fade away, I will do so with satisfaction, knowing that I've eliminated your evil from the world."
And indeed, no sooner were the words spoken, then a swirling mist began to resolve itself around them. The others watched in utter amazement, but BFM knew what was to come. He closed his eyes, and prepared himself mentally for what was (to him) his last moments in this existance. He thanked Primus for an opportunity to set things right, to fix the timeline of which he fought so long and hard to protect.
The hairs on his back pricked up more; the energy discharge was picking up. Just as he figured it would engulf him, he opened his eyes, and.....
...To say that Burning Furry Monkey was surprised would be an understatement.
A transwarp gate resolved itself. SunBeam stepped thru. The warpgate closed with nary a pop to indicate it had even been there. Sunbeam had judged his timing correctly. He arrived at what was very probably the most dramatic time. There was Optimus Minor(albeit a different color than he expected, and at a higher energy spike) and of course Crackup, looking worse for the wear. But still alive. Hmmm....this needed to be remedied now. If the information that Campaign Car provided was accurate, then there was exactly one way to play this...
SunBeam: "You are a fool, Crackup. All of you are. You keep thinking that time is a one-dimensional track that you travel back and forth on. All of this, 'time jumping' that those of you thought you were doing....you weren't. You haven't traveled in time. You've simply warped into another Universe. How could you think any different? How could you think that The Plan would include something so small as this?"
"Your mission is over, Crackup. You were to gather the material, and return to base. Somehow, you've created a different plan- one that benefitted yourself, and caused this mess. Now I have to clean it up."
With that, he fired successive laser blasts out of his eyes, hitting Crackup in the chest, head, and left shoulder. Smoke poured from the wounds. As quickly as victory had been achieved, defeat- and death -had replaced it. Optics growing dim, Crackup locked up, and fell to the floor, like so much lifeless scrap metal. With nary a second thought, Sunbeam resolved a second warpgate (smaller and less dramatic than the one he arrived in), turned to the others assembled, and said:
"If Crackup's plan had succeeded or failed, it wouldn't matter. This is but one universe. The information and equipment would simply have been found somewhere else. This little war...means nothing on the grand scale of things."
SunBeam held their attention. The next words he spoke would make or break the deal.
"As for the rest of you, you've polluted the Universe enough. You will all step thru this gate immediately for processing. You will be returned to your proper Universe, and your proper place in time. Defy me, and you will be immediately excecuted. The choice.....is yours."
All were silent for a few moments, until Electrum Beast spoke up:
"I'm sorry, but I cannot accept that."
SunBeam: "Excuse me?"
Electrum Beast: "I said, I cannot accept that. You interpretation of events precludes any true scientific data. Multiple Universes is simply an excuse. There is but one Universe."
SunBeam: "You don't *accept* my analysis of the situation? You little, little mind."
Electrum Beast: "Say what you like, but as far as I'm concerned, all you speak is rubbish; a lame attempt to make all the pieces of a great cosmic puzzle fit together. Well, it won't work. The universe is not neat and orderly. Your pretty words cannot change that. I will not do as you say."
SunBeam: "Suit yourself." (fires)
(A form stumbles thru the warpgate from the other side. It is Campaign Car. Sunbeam's shot at Electrum Beast is bounced harmlessly off Campaign Car as he steps into the line of fire. The shot richochets into the wall, where it punches a hole thru an internal wall of the ship.)
Campaign Car: "There is a better way to solve this!"
Electrum Beast: "Where did you come from? Why are you here?"
Campaign Car: "I'm here...to put a stop to all of this. The mission is over. No one else needs to die. And I'm here to say this to Optimus Minor: The codename is alpha-Trion."
(a small crackle ocurs along BFM's cranial module. New files, previously hidden, are released from their encrypted location and dumped into core memory. This process takes all of a second. The results...are astonishing.
Burning Furry Monkey: "Ah. I understand now. I truly let things get out of hand."
With that, he powered down into his Optimus Minor form, letting go of HotStuff in the process. He stepped up to the warpgate:
Optimus Minor: "You see, I've been in this business for far too-long. I've made bad....choices. It's clear now that things need to be set fully right. SunBeam can do that. It has been....a pleasure working with you all. I am sorry things ended up like they did. Hopefully, the damage can be fully repaired now. Goodbye. And good luck."
He stepped thru the warpgate, and disappeared.
Clutterbug: "The hell?"
Bunny Convoy: "Mad. They've all gone mad."(deploys blades) "I don't know who you are, but if it's a fight you want..."
Campaign Car: "No more fighting! And it's not madness. It's just that...the mission is finally over. We can go home."
Electrum Beast: "I am quite far from understanding all of this."
Campaign Car: "There's not much to explain, really. It turns out I was an Agent this entire time, but I didn't know it. With all the mind-tampering I went thu, things got...well, a little lost and confused."
SunBeam: "The bottom line is, the entire multiverse is a mess. We can't begin to sort out the problems unless and until we remove the agitators from the focal point of the timestreams. Crackup was one of the agitators. You, Electrum Beast, are the other."
Electrum Beast: "But, my work....the authorizations...the mission!"
Campaign Car: "Quite a bit of it was unauthorized, and some of it was just plain wrong. You were fighting the wrong war."
Electrum Beast. I....surely you don't expect me to believe...."
SunBeam: "It doesn't matter what you believe. All that matters is that you accept this. It's over."
Campaign Car: "I wouldn't lie to you, boss. We're really going home."
Electrum Beast: "But where is the proof?"
Ticker (stepping out from the shadows) "Would it help if *I* offered proof?"
Electrum Beast: "....my darling Ticker, not you too...."
Ticker: "I'm afraid so."
Electrum Beast: "So how long has this been going on?"
Ticker: "Probably for a long time. Once the core universe was tampered with, it set off a chain reaction that caused every future reset to spawn another universe. At least, that's what I get from his(points to Sunbeam) explanation."
Electrum Beast: "It's a possibility, but the implications...."
Ticker: "Are hard to swallow, I know. But let's face it; everyone here is from someplace different....and has a different agenda, a different reason. Different goals. And now, different forms. With some of the work we've done, is it any wonder that people farther along got sick of our meddling, came back...or across, if you prefer...and told us to knock it off?"
Electrum Beast: "I....sigh. Very well. You may be right. But I simply cannot accept that *I* would be a focal point for this agitation. I still need proof."
SunBeam: "All your questions will be answered on the other side."
Ticker: "Well, what are we waiting for? If you want, I'll go first."
Electrum Beast: "No, no, that won't be necessary. I'm sure if I were to be executed, he would have done it already. How about if we go together?"
Electrum Beast offered his arm, and Ticker took it. Together, they stepped thru the warpgate....and into the unknown.
Epilogue: Crackup's ship. The clean-up crew has stripped the spaceframe bare(excepting, of course, for those technologies that will need to be 'discovered' at a later time). The last of the Dairycons had stepped thru the warpgate to(for them) parts unknown. The Milwaukee Base had already been shut down; the personnell assigned there removed, the projects scrapped. Only Sunbeam and Camaign Car remained behind. The lifeless body of Crackup is left sitting in a corner of the room. Not activated, of course; for he, and the rest of this ship, are not meant to be discovered for at least a couple of vorn.
Campaign Car: "So what will happen to all the others? The ones who aren't agents?"
SunBeam: "Complete memory wipe, restoration of original forms, and a return to Cybertron, of course. There can be no other way."
Campaign Car: "It's a shame, really. The technology alone....."
SunBeam: "Yes, but in it's proper time. These things have to come about naturally. You can't go mixing up your beast-era with your other generations. Everything has its proper time and place. That's all we're really trying to accomplish here."
Campaign Car: "So Electrum Beast was right?"
SunBeam: "In his own way, yes. The chronoton particles were a nice touch. It very nearly worked. I was pulled because I happened to exist in the same time coordinates as the rest of you."
Campaign Car: "I'm sorry. I wanted you to know that."
SunBeam: "This wasn't your fault. There was no way anyone could have anticipated these events happening. There was a spill; we mopped it up. That's all there is to it."
Campaign Car: "And Crackup?"
SunBeam: "There was no other way. He knew too-much, and he would never have gone quietly. His laser-core's been wiped, and his spark gone to join the Matrix, I suppose. Nothing left here now but a shell. Intel says the body was here when the ship gets discovered in the future."
Campaign Car: "What about the two missing 'bots?"
SunBeam: "They'll be found eventually. And even if they're not, what can those to possibly do to mess things up? They're alone; isolated on-planet. They won't be bothering us again." (smiles)
Campaign Car: "Multiple Universes. That was a good one."
SunBeam: "Yea, alternate realities was one of my better fabrications. Can you imagine how hard our job would be if we had to untangle tampering from a multiverse? Inconcievable."
Campaign Car: "So why did you see fit to restore *my* memory? You could have wiped me like the others."
SunBeam: "Yes, I suppose I could have. But what can I say? I'm an old softie at heart. We Transwarpers have to stick together, right?"
With a slap on the back, SunBeam steps thru the warpgate. Campaign Car is right behind him, pausing only a moment to look around the cleansed ship. In a few hundred years, this ship will be discovered, and those who find it will no doubt wonder about its purpose. They might even wonder why it's here. But they will find no answers. This ancient relic, with no past and no future. No one will guess that this space once contained a vital battle, and living machines inside. All that's left are the empty cooridors, echoing with the absense of a story that it aches to tell.
With that thought, Campaign Car turned, and stepped thru the warpgate.