Echoes and Fragments Part 3 - Terror on Two Worlds!
Echoes and Fragments Part 3 - Terror on Two Worlds! is the third part 2016 science fiction story in the GoBots and Transformers series written by Jim Sorenson and illustrated by Christopher Colgin. 
Part 3 - Terror on Two Worlds!
Vec-Tor smiled in satisfaction at Sideways, now safely behind energy bars inside the GoBotron Fortress. The guard, Twister, looked worried, but Vec-Tor knew Sideways' abilities perhaps better than Sideways himself did. As long as he was constrained thusly, he was little threat to anyone.
"Ah, Sideways, mischievous imp of the multiverse. How unpleasant of you to drop in on this corner of time/space."
Sideways spat. "I have nothing to say to you, Vec-Tor, and sooner or later you know I'll get free."
Vec-Tor gave a shrug. "Of that I've no doubt. But not before I correct whatever little game you're playing. Tell me where the other reality is?"
Sideways played dumb. "What reality?" Vec-Tor pulled up a chair and sat, waiting patiently. For several hours, he merely sat and watched, his senses focused on the Decepticon before him.
Finally, his serenity was rewarded. A button on Sideways' left arm glowed, and Gong's voice emerged. "What's going on at your end, partner? You giving up --" Sideways quickly clamped his right hand over the button, terminating the call, but Vec-Tor had been ready.
"Ah, I see. Gong. Of course. I need to repair BOTH universes to repair either." With that, Vec-Tor converted to his ship mode and flew out of the detention facility. His Critias Gateway glowed, and he exited reality.
- * * * *
On Antares III, Hot Rod found himself under some sort of fluid, ammonia perhaps, tangled up in some mechanical vines. The more he struggled, the more he seemed to be tangled up. He cried for help, but got no answer. A small purple mech took notice of him, a sort of purple submarine-thing, and edged closer. "Who is it that has intruded upon Odd Ball's domain?" the mech asked as it converted to a humanoid mode. He approached Hot Rod and opened a fanged mouth. "Dinner, perhaps? I'm in the mood for robo-fingers!"
The monster grabbed at Hot Rod's hand, but the Autobot was quicker. He retracted his fist and extruded a spinning saw, catching the creature by surprise. Hot Rod waved his arm about wildly, driving Odd Ball back while simultaneously freeing himself from the vines. The small creature decided easier prey existed elsewhere, converted back to his travel mode and swam off.
Hot Rod's work wasn't done. A feeble cry, Kup maybe, reached his audio receptors. Hot Rod converted to his car mode and sped towards the danger unflinchingly. He arrived in time to see Kup clutched in the hand of an enormous combiner. "More food for Monsterous!" cried the beast.
Hot Rod took aim with his exhaust weapons and fired. The beast roared, then tore Kup apart and threw the pieces away. Hot Rod kept up a steady stream of fire, causing the enormous monster to flinch, then grab Hot Rod with his right hand. Hot Rod immediately activated his saw blade and cut the creature on the wrist several times, severing a hydraulic line and causing the fist to involuntarily release the Autobot. Hot Rod wasn't done, though. He took aim and shot the creature directly in the slightly-too-small head, causing it to separate into six component parts. The leader, a blue mech with a bizarre featureless ovoid for a face, sounded the retreat, and the creatures withdrew into the ammonian depth.
Kup lay face-down on the ocean bottom. He looked terrible, his right arm and left leg torn completely free. Hot Rod turned him over and cradled him in his arms. "Kup... talk to me!"
There was no light in Kup's eyes for several long seconds... then a faint blue glow came into them. "Fix me," he weakly commanded.
"Sure, Kup. Right away!" Hot Rod gathered up Kup's pieces, and gently carried him until he reached a silicon shore.
- * * * *
The control module of Command Center 09 approached Quartex with few working controls. The Autobots and Guardians aboard had done their best to patch things, but it was a futile effort. Major Mo hoped they could somehow salvage the ship if they--ONCE they--landed. "Brace for collision," he ordered.
It did little good. Without functioning retro-thrusters, they slammed into the rocky ground at full speed. Some portion of his mind observed Arcee shielding A.J. from impact with her body, and Bullseye stashing Nick in his cockpit. The ships bounced several times before the various collisions caused it to skid to a halt. The Autobots and Guardians lay on the floor or slumped over consoles, and Major Mo gave a silent prayer he hadn't killed them all. "Sound off."
There were several groans, then a bit of debris fell on Springer. He pulled himself to a sitting position. "Remind me to give the Autopilot a raise." Arcee lifted herself up, and inquired after A.J., who was mercifully unhurt. The other got to their feet. Incredibly, there were no serious injuries.
Sadly, they couldn't rest on their moment of triumph. Trying to... somehow... get the ship spaceworthy enough to get to Cybertron took priority. One bright spot was outfitting Nick and A.J. with exosuits belonging to Matt and Dr. Turgenova, giving them enough protection to help with the dangerous job of ship repair.
As they got to work, several seemingly ordinary boulders a few miles away transformed into humanoid configurations. The lead one, a quartz creature called Tombstone, idly petted a Narligator while surveying the scene.
One of his two subordinates, Rock Shot, had a profound mastery of the obvious. "Magmar won't appreciate intruders on his territory."
Tombstone glowered at the Shock Rock, until his bauxite underling mumbled an apology. Tombstone couldn't help but acknowledge that Rock Shot had a point. He turned to his other minion, a small silver Rock Lord. "Slimestone, go to Stonehead and inform our lord that we have intruders. He'll want to deal with them... personally!"
- * * * *
On the shore of the ammonia sea of Antares III, Hot Rod put the finishing touches on his repair job. Filled with pride, he inquired as to Kup's status. Kup, naturally, grumbled about the quality, though he soon acknowledge that, under the circumstances, it was an amazing job. They set off to find the Dinobots, but were soon confronted by several strange monstrous vehicles.
The lead vehicle, a treaded scorpion, rolled close to them. "What do you think, Bladez?"
The blue wheeled tank, with front-mounted black claws and five angry tines on either side of him, snapped his talons menacingly. "I think we're going to have an excellent meal, Scorp!"
Hot Rod raised his fists, ready for a fight, but Kup interposed his arm. "Don't act hostile," he whispered, "I'll use the Universal Greeting." Hot Rod was skeptical, but deferred to his more-experienced companion. "Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong," Kup gravely intoned. Hot Rod repeated it in disbelief.
Much to their surprise, the creatures glanced at each other, then repeated the phrase themselves, in confusion as much as anything else. Two more of the bizarre vehicles edged closer, a blue-and-yellow wheeled ship shaped vaguely like an arrowhead, and a blue and purple winged craft with twin silver missiles. Still, none of the creatures had opened fire yet. Kup seemed to take that as a good sign. "See! The Universal Greeting works every time. Now, without making any sudden moves, offer them an energon goody." He and Hot Rod did so, handing out for potent energon strips. Each of the bizarre vehicle/creature amalgams took one.
Hot Rod groused that the endeavor was becoming expensive, but Kup waved off his concerns. "Don't worry, they'll reciprocate." The creatures crowded around them, eager for more, but the Autobots' stock was depleted.
"I thought they were supposed to reciprocate," remarked Hot Rod. He spread his hands. "No more."
Kup tossed the empty dispenser over his shoulder. "Sorry, that's it."
"You hear that, Bugsie?" asked the blue and purple mech.
"Indeed, Hornet," his companion replied. "After you?" As one, the monster creatures converted to humanoid form and swarmed over the two Autobots, quickly overwhelming them.
Unseen behind an outcropping, two small robots witnessed the proceedings. They trailed the Monster GoBots and their prisoners at a discrete distance all the way to the mighty fortress of the Master Renegade. "What do you think, Squirt?" asked the larger of the two. "Shotgun," replied the smaller, "I think those mechs are gonna need to find some help. Let's go find the others!"
Inside the fortifications, Kup and Hot Rod were pushed along by the four Monster GoBots, bound with energy chains. Their complaining was interrupted when they came to a huge central chamber, dominated by a pit in the center. A lonely outcropping extended forth over the pit, with a hapless grey-and-blue mech with a huge spinning saw mounted in his chest standing upon it. High above the proceedings, a single cyborg sat in an ornate chair, a human or humanlike alien with a cybernetic eye and shaggy white hair.
Another Monster GoBot stood by a large lever, a grey/green beast with prominent horns jutting forth from either side of his head. "Has the Master Renegade reached a verdict?"
The cyborg stood, a grim look on his face. "I have."
The GoBot, with an air of formality, asked, "Guilty or innocent?"
"Guilty!" the Master Renegade declared.
The Monster GoBot pulled the lever and the platform under the condemned mech collapsed. "Feed him to the Dactyls!" he declared with evident glee. Surely enough, the end of the platform dropped and the blue pterodactyl-like mechs below tore the hapless victim to pieces. The Master Renegade bellowed in laughter.
Hot Rod attempted a joke, but it fell flat. Scorp, Hornet, Bugsie, and Bladez pushed them into a cell and locked the door, mockingly repeating increasingly abstract iterations of the universal greeting as they did so. They looked about their cell, strewn with debris that had once been robotic life. "What is this place?" Hot Rod wondered.
Unexpectedly, a voice from the shadows of the adjacent cell answered. "The world of the Monster GoBots, and the cruel Master Renegade. I am Crank. My planet was destroyed by Unicron."
The mech stepped forward. He was a brown, with purple limbs, and dominated by a large drill in the center of his chest.
Kup and Hot Rod exchanged glances. "Unicron?" asked Hot Rod. "Who's Unicron?"
Crank's voice cracked. "A planet that devours everything in its path."
"So that's the monster's name," whispered Kup reverently.
Sadly, no more information would be forthcoming from this alien mech. The mech who had been manning the lever appeared at the doorway, with a blue and gold Monster GoBot behind him. "Pincher, Klaws, please! I'm the last survivor of Planet Zi!"
Hot Rod rushed the bars, but the instant he made contact he received a huge jolt and was knocked backwards. The mech called Klaws snorted. "Don't worry, you'll get what's coming to you soon enough."
The blue mech, Pincher evidently, pushed Crank to the end of the platform, while Klaws resumed his gruesome position as executioner. The trial was over in seconds, and then Crank was rent asunder.
Kup and Hot Rod bowed their heads in sympathy. "Not the end I'd wish for, lad."
- * * * *
Elsewhere on Antares III, Swoop returned to the other three Dinobots, his scouting mission a failure. "Me Swoop no see nothing."
Grimlock was undaunted. "Me Grimlock positive Hot Rod and Kup close."
He and Slag got into a brief argument, which was interrupted by voices from behind a ridge. "You'll never find your friends going that way!"
The Dinobot leader growled. "Who say that?"
Five diminutive mechs emerged. "I'm Pistol, I lead the RoGuns. We crashed here--"
Grimlock took a menacing step forward. "You no tell Grimlock how to find friends!" He lifted a powerful leg and stamped down, causing tremors that knocked Pistol and Shotgun to the ground. Pistol was unperturbed. "Rifle, Scope, combine and show them what-for!" Rifle and Scope formed a single powerful weapon, which Squirt caught. The fired off a low-powered warning shot, hitting Grimlock square in the face.
"Why RoGuns shoot my nose?" he whimpered.
Pistol had gotten to his feet by this point. "We don't have time to fight, your friends are in trouble. In trouble... back that way!"
Grimlock was convinced. "Me Grimlock say, time to rescue Kup and Hot Rod!"
- * * * *
At the fringes of Cybertron's orbit, Unicron prepared to receive a visitor. Galvatron returned, to discover how he had displeased his 'master', and was none too happy about it.
Vector Prime observed this from behind a bit of the planetary wreckage of the two moons Unicron consumed. With Unicron this close, it was dangerous for one such as he to approach Cybertron. He had had to waste hours, watching, waiting for Unicron's attention to become divided. That time, at last, had come, and so, ever so cautiously, Vector Prime made his way to the surface of the planet.
If the Chaos Bringer and his herald acted according to script, Galvatron was about to be dispatched to the planet of rock, Quartex. Vector Prime couldn't believe how foolishly, foolishly and recklessly, Gong and Sideways were behaving. Cybertron was one of the axes on which the local multiversal sector spun. To link two realities where one was threatened by Unicron risked not just a single reality, but vast reality swaths. True, Unicron was fated to be destroyed, but who knew how the Gargent influx would change things? At any moment, the Autobots and Decepticons could go careening off-script.
Vector dodged the small Renegades Breez and Pow Wow, guarding an entrance to Cybertron's interior. Soon, he thought, he would confront Gong and return things to their proper path... before disaster struck!
- * * * *
On Quartex, the repairs proceeded at a glacial pace. The Autobots and Guardians would be lucky if they had their craft spaceborn in less than a month. Still, they tried their best.
Just over a hill, Magmar surveyed his assembled forces. He had no idea who these intruders were, and no desire to learn. He just wanted them off his planet, or better yet, smashed into rubble. He had quite an army... his Action Shock Rock drones, Dragon Stone type, were moving into position. The Snarlie-Narlie, mighty king of the Rock Narlies, had agreed to keep his Narlilizard, Narlirhino, Narlilions, and Narlibaboons out of the fight, and even allow Narlibats to serve as scouts. Tombstone had half of Magmar's forces, the Shock Rocks called Stone Hook and Rock Shot, and the Rock Lords Slimestone and Spearhead, ready to flank from the south. Magmar had with his the two-headed lieutenant, Sticks 'N Stones, along with Stoneheart, Brimstone, and Saberstone, covering the intruders from the north. It would be a short battle indeed.
From inside his Stone Wing jet, Magmar raised his fist, about to give the order to attack, when he spied a large force descending from the sky. He quickly shifted his gesture to indicate a hold... he would see how these new arrivals interacted with the old ones.
Major Mo felt his oil go cold. He turned to face a vast armada of Renegades and Decepticons.
"It's Galvatron! We've got to draw them off, and double back to the module!" The Autobots and Guardians shifted into full retreat mode. It didn't matter, Fracture had spied the prize she sought. She landed and lifted her heavy foot, deliberately allowing it to fall. The powerful arc of energy shot forth, snaking along the ground until it met its target and the tortured craft exploded.
Springer converted to his helicopter mode. "There goes the shuttle!"
The Autobots and Guardians followed suit, converting to their vehicle modes that they might have some small chance of eluding their pursuers. Motosan and Arcee ran alongside Nick and A.J., still in their exosuits. "We'll never outrun them," voiced Nick, as their allies converted to vehicle modes and sped away.
"Sure we can, Nick," encouraged A.J. "We just need to convert!" A.J. shifted into a small car form and sped away.
Nick had never performed this operation before, so when Pocket and Jigsaw landed before him, he started to panic. Jigsaw raised a fist and prepared to fire, taunting him. "Guardian lapdog!"
He focused his mental energy on the process, urging his mech suit to transform... and it did! He sped past the two Renegades, knocking them out of the way.
Galvatron, however, only had eyes for Major Mo. The Guardian commander realized the strategy, and ordered his followers to withdraw. "Make a break for cover, I'll try to unleash the power of the Matrix!" He fired off at some boulders behind him, causing a landslide that cut his followers off from the Decepticon/Renegade onslaught.
As Galvatron advanced, with Deadlift and Fracture close behind, Major Mo grappled with the Matrix. "Open... curse you, open!" The artifact remained stubbornly inert. "Leader-1, you promised the Matrix would save us when things seemed most grim."
The purple Decepticon stretched out his hand. "Major... I want the Matrix."
Major Mo looked at the three Decepticons before him, and the dozens of Renegades he had brought with him. The fight was hopeless. "All right... on one condition. Spare my men."
Galvatron nodded. "Agreed." He stepped forward, and Major Mo, with the greatest of misgivings, handed over the most sacred Guardian relic. Galvatron grinned a wide grin, then punched Major Mo in the gut. The Guardian doubled over in pain. Galvatron grabbed his defeated adversary, steel hands tearing great gashes into Major Mo's superstructure. "Always remember, Guardian... you are nothing compared to Galvatron. Nothing!" He hurtled the battered Guardian over a hillock, then glanced down at his new prize. "Unicron, my master. With this, I shall make you... my... slave!"And, light years away, Unicron unleashed a roar of frustration, fearing that he had drawn focus to the one thing in the entire galaxy that could cause his defeat.
- Jim Sorenson (w). "Echoes and Fragments" Ask Vector Prime (February 10th, 2016), Fun Publications