Part 3 "So I see you still have some sense in that dented cranium of yours," said Crackup. "You let me and my friends escape, and I won't kill your young lady here. Deal?" Uncle grunted; he could probably still stop them, freeze everyone and sort it out later... but Clutterbug was already looking damaged; if he froze her, it might send her spark over to the other side. Not wanting to risk a comrade's life, Uncle Whiskey Breath lowered his weapon. Windchill, sensing that being in this mode might still be a threat, transformed to robot-mode, and landed on Uncle's shoulder. The Blizzard shotgun, free of the Windchill enhancement or Uncle's hand, clattered uselessly to the ground. Crackup: "Good choice, Autobot." Crackup tossed Clutterbug's unconscious form back to the ground. Uncle didn't make a move; a deal was a deal. He would check on her as soon as Crackup and his monkey-faced friend had escaped. Picking up his little prize for the third time that day, Crackup went to the exit door that Optimus Minor was standing in front of. It appeared that he was sleeping, but in actuality he was studying the door for structural inconsistancies; looking for the best place to punch it so that it would come off the rails. Crackup was running out of patience, however. Using his energy blade, he made three quick slices, shredding the door in one fell swoop. As the piece fell away, daylight poured into the cooridor. The time-vortex was gone. They would live. And they would make their escape. Stepping out into the sunlight, Crackup handed the small robot off to Optimus Minor and transformed, opening his trunk and passenger door in the process. Optimus Minor held the small robot a moment; he sensed an odd power emanating from him, even when stasis-locked. Poor little fellow. If only he knew what evils lay in-store for him; he would probably wish he'd never been activated. Ending his ruminaions, he placed him in Crackup's trunk, then climbed into the vehicle himself, speeding away into an unknown part of the city. Uncle stepped out of the cooridor himself, and watched them fade into the distance. Crackup had won. Pushing aside that thought, Uncle scooped up the prone Clutterbug, and headed back into the base. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ "Repairs completed. Powercore stabilized." Scoot sighed in relief; it was good to hear the base computer's voice again. The Command Center was down, but at least Engineering was still up-to-spec. The powercore was fully cooled; and the numerous viruses and backdoor hacks that Crackup had done to the computer were removed. With the computer operating, the powercore could be brought on-line and kept stable. The base could be operated smoothly enough from here...and until the command center was repaired, it looked as though it would have to be. Repair crews would be dispathed from the Autobot's main earthside headquarters for that project. In the interum, Scoot would remain here, where he could do the most good. "Computer, as soon as we have full power, initiate base lockdown sequence." "Acknowledged. Lock-down in 2 cycles." "Scan for intruders." "Scanning. No intruders found." "None at all? Are you sure?" "Damage to sensors in grids 1, 4, 7, and 9. Unable to properly scan those areas. However, information from adjacent areas indicate no intruder presense. Probability of affected areas harboring Decepticons are point-zero-one percent." "Have any of our outer doors been breached?" "Affirmative." Grid 4 Airport Entrance breached and damaged prior to Command Center failure.(an audible 'bing' sound is heard over the intercoms). Attention: Power restored. Initiating lockdown sequence. Warning: Outer door to City Entrance 7 has been removed. Outer door to City Entrance 9 has been punctured. Lockdown sequence completed. Warning: forcefields in-place in grids 1, 4, 7, and 9. Personnel are advised to stear clear of those areas." "Computer, you do excellent work." "Acknowledged." ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Ticker paused in her work a moment as the computer made its announcements. "At least the base was secure," she thought. "Now, if only we could say the same about the people in it..." Repairs were slow, at best. Bunny Convoy had been the easiest; merely the repair and replacement of severed hydraulics and musculo-structures. He rested comfortably in stasis while the nano-bots finished the repair work. Electrum Beast was a bit harder; he could be salvaged, but she needed to finish quickly, and get him back into stasis so that he could begin the long healing process. She looked over at the third stasis pod; the one containing Campaign Car. "Ah, there's the rub," she thought. "He's the reason all this has happened. I should just toss him into storage and forget about him. But....that's not what the Commander would have me do. No, he'd insist that I repair him. Nnnngh. This shouldn't my decision to make." With the computer operating again, Ticker hovered over to the medical console, and spoke into it. "Computer, access stasis pod two. Bring the Commander's core consciousness on-line." "Acknowledged." Accessing a transformers mind while the body healed was just one of the new techniques that Ticker developed in her time as a medic. Prior experience had taught her that it was the mind, the 'spark' of a transformer that really mattered. Bodies could come and go, but the spark...that was eternal. *If* you could keep it on this side of the Matrix. If the vessel failed, then the spark would leave, joining the billions of others that had gone before it. To date, no one had retrieved a spark back from the other side (unless you counted the Matrix of Leadership...but even that was cheating, as it was actually just storing sparks that could be retrieved at a later date...and usually only the spark of the Matrix-bearers themselves). Still, it was an interesting puzzle...and one she may never solve. She highly doubted that Prime would give her the Matrix to test her theories out on it. For all she knew, the Matrix of Leadership really was an artifact that was attuned to the Matrix where all sparks went..a 'channel' of sorts...like dialing up the dead. Or maybe... Pushing her thoughts aside, she accessed Electrum Beast's mind; the console allowed her to converse with him (well, only a part of him, really) as though he were on-line, and not currently in stasis. "Any port in a storm," she reasoned. Electrum Beast CC: "Problems?" Ticker: "Yes. Repairs are nearly completed on you and Bunny Convoy...but I'm having a problem with Campaign Car." Electrum Beast CC: "What seems to be the problem?" Ticker: "The problem, commander, is that...I don't want to do it." Electrum Beast CC: "What about your medical oath?" Ticker: "He's the reason you're hurt, and the reason the base is wrecked. I'd be doing more harm than good if I brought him back." Electrum Beast CC: "Technically, it was Crackup's doing. Campaign Car was simply a victim, like the rest of us." Ticker: "Maybe...but I won't change my mind." Electrum Beast CC: "I see...well then, make it an order." Ticker: "Yes sir. I'll get started right away." Electrum Beast CC: "Good. Let me know if you need any more orders." Ticker: "I will, sir. And....thank you." Electrum Beast CC: "You're welcome." Shutting down Electrum Beast's core consciousness, Ticker began preperations for Campaign Car's repair. This would prove to be her greatest challenge yet. How to properly treat a patient you consider the enemy.... To be Continued.
ONWARD to Part 4!