Crash and Burn
Ratchet groaned as he walked into the bridge and caught sight of what Flareup was watching. “Why are you watching history vids again?”
Flareup shrugged. “Because you won’t tell me what really happened.”
Ratchet rolled his optics. “I will never understand younglings’ fascination with the war.”
“Hey, I’m not a youngling!” protested Flareup. “And I wouldn’t keep watching these if you would just tell me what happened.”
Ratchet grit his denta and opened his mouth to lecture her about how those events were not something he was ever going to talk with her about. However, before he got the chance to do so a frantic Bumblebee dashed into the ship from outside. “Ratchet! Wheeljack is messing with the space bridge!”
Ratchet cursed and ran out of the ship. Sure enough, Wheeljack was doing something to the control panel of the space bridge. Ratchet couldn’t see what exactly, but it was causing sparks. He formed his magnets and quickly yanked Wheeljack away from the console.
Wheeljack yelped and struggled for a second before realizing it was just Ratchet’s magnetic field. “Hey! What’s the big idea?”
“You were messing with a space bridge again! You know we can’t afford to blow those up!”
Wheeljack made an annoyed sound. “Oh come on, not everything I touch blows up!”
“Pretty close to everything,” muttered Flareup as she stepped outside. “Why is he here again?”
“Don’t ask.” Ratchet unceremoniously dropped Wheeljack. “Bulkhead…” He trailed off.
Bulkhead waved from where he was hanging off a cliff by his wrecking ball. “Hi Ratchet.”
“I’ll get him,” said Bumblebee, jumping to the top of the cliff and blasting the rocks.
“How did that happen exactly?” asked Ratchet.
“He tripped and his wrecking ball snagged on the cliff face as he fell.”
Ratchet and Flareup both jumped at the sudden voice. Flareup growled and turned to glare at the speaker. “Do you always have to do that?”
Prowl raised an optic ridge. “Do what?”
“Sneak up on us like that!”
“I wasn’t sneaking,” said Prowl like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I just prefer to be silent. You should try it sometime.”
Ratchet pulled Flareup back before she could start anything. “And why didn’t you do anything about Wheeljack?”
“I didn’t want to get caught in an explosion.”
Ratchet made an annoyed sound. “Just get back to work so we can get out of here.” He’d thought repairing space bridges would be nice and peaceful, just what he wanted for his retirement.
It probably would have been if he hadn’t been stuck with this particular crew.
At that moment, Bulkhead fell to the ground. It looked like half the cliff fell on him too. Bumblebee winced. “Oops. Sorry about that! You okay?”
“Yeah, just give me a klik.” The pile shook for a moment before Bulkhead burst out. He shook his head to get his bearings. “So…I’m just gonna go look at the space bridge.”
So Bulkhead started working on the space bridge while the others got rid of the debris surrounding it. This was what inevitably happened on their stops. It was rare for anything interesting to occur. Ratchet found the monotony and expectations relaxing after all the scrap he’d had to go through during the war.
Of course something had to happen eventually. Something always happened. It was usually something small, like an argument between Flareup and Bumblebee or Wheeljack trying some new invention and accidentally blowing himself up again. Ratchet could deal with that.
Most bots would not be able to deal with what happened next.
Bumblebee blasted some rock apart. He paused when he noticed it was glowing. That had never happened before. Since Wheeljack happened to be nearby, Bumblebee figured he should make sure it wasn’t anything explosive and peered into the large crack. He didn’t see anything that looked explosive, just some sort of orange container with handles and glowing blue lines. Then again, this was Wheeljack he was talking about. He could probably make a rock explode.
Wait. That actually happened once. Bumblebee made a face at the memory and quickly shoved it to the back of his memory banks. “Hey Ratchet! I found something weird! Will you take a look at it?”
Ratchet rolled his optics and made his way over, expecting it to be an oddly misplaced piece of machinery.
He wasn’t expecting what he found instead.
When Ratchet saw what Bumblebee had found, it only took him a klik to figure out what it was. It took another cycle for him to accept that what he saw was real and not some sort of virus-induced hallucination.
“Uh…Ratchet?” Bumblebee gave the medic a worried look. “You okay in there?”
“What is that doing here?!” Ratchet’s shout made everyone jump. “We sent it through…” He trailed off and looked up at the space bridge. A look of realization flashed across his face. Then it became completely serious. “We need to leave. Now.”
“But we’re not done fixing the space bridge,” protested Bulkhead.
“I don’t care!” snapped Ratchet. “This is much bigger than a lousy space bridge in the middle of nowhere!”
“What’s got you in a bender?” asked Wheeljack, giving the large crack a quick glance as he walked over. Then he froze and did a double take. His optics widened in shock and he turned back to Ratchet. “You transform. I’ll load it.”
“Am I missing something?” asked Bumblebee.
Ratchet transformed. “We’ll explain once we’re back on the ship. Now move!”
Bulkhead climbed down as the others loaded the strange item into Ratchet’s vehicle mode. Then everyone transformed to as well and made their way back to the ship as quickly as they could.
Once they got there, they unloaded the odd item into the cargo bay. The younger bots stared at it in confusion. “So, what is it?” asked Bumblebee.
“You don’t recognize it?” asked Wheeljack. “What are they teaching you young bots?”
Ratchet vented. Things were definitely going to be getting a lot more complicated now. And to make matters worse it was with a bunch of young bots that didn’t deserve to be dragged into the inevitable mess that was sure to result. “It’s the Allspark.”
Bumblebee’s optics widened. “The Allspark…As in the Allspark?”
“Didn’t you guys send it through a random space bridge to win the war?” asked Flareup, remembering one of the key points of her war vids. “It should be lost for…the rest of our lives!”
“It might have drawn us here,” mused Wheeljack. “It has some odd properties.”
“So…Do we bring it back to Cybertron?” asked Bulkhead. “Or do we have to finish the repair schedule first?”
“Cybertron,” said Ratchet and Wheeljack at the same time.
You knew it was serious when the two agreed on something.
They instantly ran to the control room. Everyone took their assigned positions. Wheeljack started typing something into the computer. “C’mon, c’mon…Why doesn’t Perceptor ever answer his phone?!”
“Picking up a ship on the starboard side,” said Prowl. “It appears to be a very large one too.”
“We better get out of here!” added Bumblebee
Wheeljack was still trying to contact Perceptor. “His intern’s not picking up either!”
“Try a different code then!” shouted Ratchet.
Wheeljack paused as he thought for a moment. He typed in another code that he remembered was important even if he wasn’t sure who’d pick up. After a few terse moments of waiting, a young mech’s face appeared on the screen. “Rodimus Prime here. What’s the problem?”
“We found the Allspark!” shouted Bumblebee.
Rodimus blinked. “Really?” Wheeljack quickly brought up the image of the cargo bay that displayed the Allspark. “Well, that’s good news.”
“The ship is giving off a Decepticon signal,” interjected Prowl.
“Wait. There’s another ship?” asked Rodimus. “Scrap. Try to evade it while I get a rescue party. We’ll be there as soon as possible.” His image disappeared.
“The Decepticon is closing in on us rapidly,” said Flareup. “Start evasion tactics?”
“Hold that thought,” said Ratchet. He turned to a panel and typed in a few commands. “Activate Omega protocols.”
“Negative,” said the computer. “Omega protocols have been disabled in keeping with energon rationing practices.”
Ratchet’s optics widened. “What?!” He whirled on Wheeljack, who waved his hands in front of him in a completely ineffective pacifying attempt.
“Hey, don’t look at me! I didn’t know about that!”
“Uh, guys…” started Bulkhead. He pointed out the window. “Is that what I think it is?”
A rather jagged looking and dark ship could just be seen. It was very recognizable to anyone familiar with the Great War. Ratchet groaned. “It just had to be the Nemesis.”
Flareup’s optics widened. “The Nemesis? Isn’t that Megatron’s personal ship?”
“Yeah.” This was looking bad. Ratchet was thinking of escape and battle plans and pushing back some of his more traumatizing war memories. However, before he could bark out any orders, they felt a very large thump on the roof.
Wheeljack turned on the camera on the roof. It was Megatron, and he was using his fusion canon to melt through the roof.
“We’re all gonna die aren’t we?” deadpanned Bumblebee.
“No!” shouted Ratchet.
By this point, Wheeljack was using the mechanical arms on the roof (usually for moving heavy debris or operating in dangerous areas) to hold Megatron in place and keep him from trying to melt the roof. He knew it wouldn’t last very long, but it would at least buy them some time to plan some sort of defense. “Well, what are we gonna do?" Wheeljack asked. "He’s gonna get in here eventually!”
Ratchet groaned. “I know!” Fortunately, Ratchet had come up with a couple of ideas.
Unfortunately, Megatron blew up just then and took most of the roof with him.
“It wasn’t me!” Wheeljack shouted frantically.
It got worse; the explosion was strong enough to send the ship spiraling back towards the small asteroid they’d taken off from. Flareup tried to steady it, but it seemed the explosion had taken out a thruster or stabilizer as well. It looked like they were going to crash.
Then a bright flash of light enveloped the ship before shooting off towards the space bridge. The space bridge came to life, lighting up as a portal was created…
Which was pretty impressive since Bulkhead had commented it was not operational.
Before any of them had a chance to react to this, they flew right through the space bridge.
There was a brief moment of weightlessness and stillness. Then they were back in space and could see a planet of mixed blues and greens and white. Interestingly enough, they’d been slowed down some. They were still moving, and it looked like they were probably going to crash on the planet, but at least Megatron and the Decepticon ship were gone.
“So, is that it?” asked Bulkhead. “That was really…strange.”
“Looks like we really lucked out,” said Bumblebee. “We found the Allspark and survived Megatron!”
“Does anyone else find it suspicious that he just blew up?” asked Wheeljack. “That doesn’t just happen, not even with me. There has to be a reason.”
Ratchet nodded. That had been bothering him as well. Wheeljack and Flareup knew better than to mess with the ship. So what had caused this? As he wondered, he noticed something. “Where’s Prowl?”
Before Ratchet could look for the errant ninja, something grabbed him and slammed him into the wall. As his vision cleared, he realized it was Megatron, who had survived the explosion. He was missing an arm, but that didn’t mean much considering who it was. “The Allspark, Autobot.”
Ratchet just glared at Megatron. Wheeljack took a couple of cautious steps back before throwing one of his grenades at Megatron’s back.
Normally, Megatron would’ve grabbed the grenade and thrown it back, no problem. However, this time, he had to let go of Ratchet to grab the grenade.
While Wheeljack dodged the grenade, Ratchet put as much distance between him and Megatron as he could while forming his magnets. Then he used them to pull the lever that controlled the artificial gravity. Everyone started floating towards the ceiling. Ratchet used his magnets to stick to the ceiling. Megatron jammed the remains of his arm into the ceiling to stay in place.
Bumblebee held onto his seat. “Wow, he’s even uglier up close.”
Megatron ignored the quip. Instead, he was determining which Autobot was the best fighter. Considering that the only attack had been a grenade so far, he was not impressed. He threw a sword at the femme, who’d just transformed her servo into a gun. She screamed as it cut into her chest.
Then Megatron’s wrecked arm exploded again.
Ratchet used his magnets to hold the surprised Megatron in place. “Bulkhead!”
Bulkhead got the picture and fired his wrecking ball at Megatron. It did hit him, but Megatron grabbed the line and, bracing himself against the control panel, used it to throw Bulkhead into Wheeljack, causing them to tumble into the cargo bay.
Megatron turned his attention back to Ratchet, who was now using his magnetism to try and keep Megatron away from him. That combined with the zero gravity was slowing him down, but he was still making his way over to Ratchet. Bumblebee was shooting at him, but his stingers didn’t seem to be doing any damage.
Just then, Prowl appeared from seemingly nowhere and made to attack Megatron. Megatron swiped at him with a sword…only for it to go through him. The fake Prowl fizzled and disappeared as the real Prowl came at him from an entirely different direction.
The shuriken he threw did connect, but they only left scratches. Megatron hit Prowl with the sword’s blunt side and into the gravity lever.
The gravity came back on, and everyone slammed into the floor. Before Ratchet could react, Megatron had dashed over to him and landed a very strong punch to Ratchet’s midsection. Then he slammed Ratchet’s head into the wall hard enough that Ratchet was knocked unconscious.
Prowl, who’d been sneaking up on him, tried to attack again, Megatron spun, knocking Prowl into one of the control panels. Then Megatron ran him through with his remaining sword.
Megatron briefly considered taking out Bumblebee. The minibot was frozen from terror, but he could recover. Megatron threw a piece of wreckage that was too big for Bumblebee to dodge. Now he could find the Allspark and get out.
Even he can be thrown for a loop by these many injuries.
Since the Allspark obviously wasn’t in the bridge, Megatron made his way out and followed the voices.
“Blow it up? That’s crazy!”
“It’s better than the alternative!”
That sounded about right. Megatron picked up the pace and shoved open the door to the cargo hold. Wheeljack and Bulkhead were standing over the Allspark. Bulkhead’s optics widened. “Uh oh…”
Wheeljack threw a couple of grenades he was holding at Megatron. Megatron dodged one, grabbed the other, and threw it back. Wheeljack and Bulkhead scattered. The Allspark was left unguarded.
That was when the ship started entering the planet’s atmosphere. Everyone and everything was thrown back. Wheeljack recognized the feeling from other re-entries and threw a dud grenade at the airlock button. The door snapped open and promptly started sucking various items out of it. Wheeljack was partially sucked out before he grabbed onto the doorframe. His optics widened as he saw the Allspark fly towards him and quickly grabbed it with one servo, holding onto the doorframe as tightly as he could with the other. He grunted as several pieces of cargo hit him, mainly in the face.
Then the arm holding the Allspark jerked back. Wheeljack glanced behind him and saw that Megatron had grabbed onto the other handle of the Allspark. He quickly turned back around. “Help!”
Megatron ignored the shout. Instead, he focused on opening the Allspark. If he could open it, he should be able to-
Megatron was sent flying out of the ship as Bulkhead’s wrecking ball collided with his face. The last Wheeljack saw of him, he was bursting into flame due to the speed of the reentry. Wheeljack quickly grabbed onto the wrecking ball and line as Bulkhead reeled it in, kicking the airlock button to close the doors as he was pulled in.
He practically crashed into Bulkhead, but neither complained. “Nice aim.”
Bulkhead grinned. “Yeah, usually I miss!”
Wheeljack picked himself up, noting that the centrifugal force had lessened. “Reentry isn’t as bad now. Better go check on the others. Primus knows Megatron must have done a number on them.”
It still took some careful maneuvering, but they managed to make it back to the cockpit. Ratchet had managed to regain consciousness at some point and had presumably used his magnetic powers to hold everyone in place and free Bumblebee from the machinery holding him in place. He had now made his way over to Prowl and was looking over his injury. “I’m surprised he didn’t impale my spark chamber,” grit out Prowl.
“He must’ve been thrown off by his injury,” muttered Ratchet. So was he. He was doing his best to ignore the pain in his chassis and head, but his vision kept blurring. He briefly noticed that Wheeljack and Bulkhead had reappeared. “Get Flareup to a stasis pod! Stat!”
“Right,” said Wheeljack. He hurried over to Flareup. Bumblebee, who’d simply been pinned under the large piece of wreckage Megatron had thrown at him, was using one of his stingers to weld shut the leaking energon lines. “She stable?”
“I don’t know!” shouted Bumblebee.
“You’re welding me and you don’t know?!” shouted Flareup.
“Yep, she’s okay,” noted Wheeljack. He took a moment to inspect the lines, decided that they were not leaking, and picked up Flareup and her arm. He paused as he passed Ratchet and Prowl. “Give me a second.” He handed Flareup to Bulkhead. “Put her in a stasis pod and stay there.”
Bulkhead, who was visibly stunned by the carnage, just nodded and hurried out of the room. Wheeljack hurried over to Ratchet, Prowl, and Bumblebee. “What’s the plan?”
Ratchet looked at the wound. “I’ll shut down all but his most vital systems to keep the leaking to a minimum.” Prowl groaned at this. “Then you’ll remove the sword, I’ll keep his parts in place, and Bumblebee will weld together what he can until we have to get to the stasis pods. You’ll be piloting to try and guide us to a location that won’t destroy the ship.”
Wheeljack nodded. “Got it.”
Bumblebee ran over. “Ready!”
Prowl groaned. “Fine.”
Ratchet quickly pulled open Prowl’s helm and with practiced ease shut down everything he could without offlining Prowl permanently. Prowl’s head slumped forward. Wheeljack yanked the sword out and ran over to the steering mechanism. He grabbed it and pulled back to try and even out and…were those buildings? Was this planet inhabited?
Meanwhile, Bumblebee was welding Prowl’s parts together as quickly as he could.
“Careful! You don’t want to ignite the energon!”
“I know!” It was just that there was so much energon. Bumblebee had never seen so much spilling out of a bot before. He just hoped that he was welding the right parts together. He did not want to find out that Prowl had offlined because he’d chosen the wrong part to weld.
Was this what Ratchet had to go through during the war? No wonder he was so grumpy when they first met.
Meanwhile, Wheeljack had discovered how difficult it was to pilot such a severely damaged craft. He wished he had more time, but at this point it looked like he was going to have to choose between crashing into the city and crashing into the lake.
He hoped the lake wasn’t acidic or something. His decision made, he held the ship steady until he was sure the city was out of range. “Okay, time to get out of here!”
Ratchet took a good look at Prowl’s insides. It looked like it was good enough to keep him out of immediate danger. “Stasis pods! Now!”
He didn’t have to say that twice. Wheeljack grabbed Prowl and made a run for it. The other two were close behind.
Bulkhead was waiting for them in front of Flareup’s pod. He gave Prowl a worried look. “He’s gonna be okay, right?”
“Maybe,” said Ratchet. “Now move!”
Bulkhead and Bumblebee quickly jumped into their pods. Ratchet and Wheeljack took a moment to get Prowl into his pod. Wheeljack, who suspected that Ratchet was hiding at least one injury, took another moment to inconspicuously make sure Ratchet got into his pod as well. Then he got into his pod.
Just in time for the ship to hit the water. The water rushed in through the hole, filling the cockpit and the rest of the ship, making it sink. And it fell with enough force that half the front panels were stripped off.
It was going so fast that it carved a gouge into the lake bed until it finally came to a stop.
And there it sat as time moved on.