“I’m…still trying to grasp your logic,” remarked Shockwave once Megatron explained Nemesis’ presence.
“So am I!” snapped Starscream. “One Prime was more than enough trouble!”
“Still here,” called Nemesis.
“Nemesis Prime,” elaborated Megatron, “is here to learn from us. His universe’s Decepticons are blind to the true paths to power, so we’re going to show him how we do things here. So, Nemesis, tell me, what do you make of this?” He activated a map within the conference table.
“Current boundaries?” asked Nemesis.
“Splendid!” cheered Megatron. “These are, indeed, the boundaries between us and the Autobots, along with the respective allies of both factions. Now, what can you tell me about them?”
“G.U.N’s territory,” observed Nemesis, “is near to our own. And, if I recall, they provide necessary local military support to the Autobots. The key to winning that territory…is G.U.N HQ. If there’s going to be any build-up of military activity, it’s going to start there.”
“I think you get it!” praised Megatron.
“Then the first step,” declared Nemesis, “is to raze it and kill everyone there. It’s the only answer.”
“He gets it?” remarked Shockwave. “Lord Megatron, forgive my impudence, but you may have assumed incorrectly.”
“It seems that way,” sighed Megatron. “We can’t simply burn it and kill everyone.”
“It would quell any and all resistance to see their beloved military destroyed,” argued Nemesis, “to know that their protection is gone, fallen at the hands of a superior force.”
“And if the Autobots attack?” asked Megatron.
“Then we use G.U.N’s arsenal against them to eradicate the threat,” replied Nemesis, “on top of our own.”
“You can’t simply destroy things willy-nilly,” dismissed Megatron.
“…Why not?” asked Nemesis.
“Starscream, explain it to him,” directed Megatron.
“A true victory,” explained Starscream, “is to make your enemies understand that they were wrong to oppose you in the first place, to force them to acknowledge your greatness!”
“Then you kill them?” asked Nemesis. Starscream sighed.
“Only if necessary,” he replied.
“…You make killing sound so tiresome,” mused Nemesis.
“Perhaps the biggest disappointment in my life,” reminisced Shockwave, “is that the Praxians still refused to appreciate how lucky they were to have me as their ruler. I had enforced excellent health amongst the Praxians in the camps. I ensured that they were in peak physical condition. Healthy workers are happy workers, happy workers are productive workers. I made sure that death was at an all-time low. I pointed out how their work was important to Cybertron. I cared for them as if they were my own children. But, to this day, is there a single monument to my great sacrifice in Praxus? And I ask that in a form of honesty as I have been in stasis for some time.”
“I’d bet not,” muttered Nemesis.
“And you’d have won that bet,” chuckled Starscream.
“In any event,” remarked Megatron, “the camps were a good thing, in the long run. Without the camps, Praxus would be stuck in a pit of indecision and decadence.”
“So we need people alive to enforce our will,” guessed Nemesis.
“And you must care for them as if they are your children,” confirmed Megatron. Nemesis started chuckling. “You find this amusing?”
“No, not at all,” sniggered Nemesis, “I find it…fascinating.”
“Laugh all you want,” countered Megatron. “I shall happily prove my point at any point in time. One other thing, a victory against just one force alone cannot bring total victory in the long run. We need to weaken the core of the alliance. That requires weakening Optimus. We need to break the bonds he’s forged with everyone. And I think I have a way to beat him.”
Optimus stretched as he walked out of his office. He was concerned for Amy as she hadn’t contacted them in a while. He was making his way to the command center, to meet with his bots on a mission and to contact Amy, when he heard Slash and Blackarachnia arguing about something. “You heard what he said!” called Blackarachnia. “‘Go thy ways to a nunnery,’ indeed!”
“I can’t believe you did that!” snapped Slash. They appeared in dresses that Noblewomen of Demark would wear in the Middle Ages.
“Well, he didn’t leave me much choice!” argued Blackarachnia.
“Wait, what happened?” asked Optimus.
“She knocked out Hamlet!” replied Slash.
“He told me to be a nun!” protested Blackarachnia.
“He’s supposed to tell you to be a nun!” snarled Slash.
“But I’m supposed to be his girlfriend!” wailed Blackarachnia. She then heard her real boyfriend, Optimus, snigger. “Might I ask what’s so funny?” she hissed.
“Nice dress,” chuckled Optimus. Blackarachnia wondered for a bit, then realized why he was laughing.
“Okay, I know I said I don’t like dresses,” she muttered, “but I was Ophelia and Slash was Hamlet’s mother and we were in the holo-suite…”
“So I gathered,” replied Optimus. He then turned to Slash. “When did you discover Shakespeare?”
“A few centuries into our search for magic guns,” explained Slash. “Somehow, his writings speak to me.”
“Where were you off to?” asked Blackarachnia.
“I was heading to the command center,” answered Optimus. “I hadn’t heard from Amy in a while.”
“I WAS going to tell you that the Retranga was two days out from Nebulan space,” reported Blackarachnia, “when Slash roped me into playing Ophelia.”
“They’re making good time,” praised Optimus. “I’m gonna head out with Prowl and Ironhide for patrol. You two wanna come with?”
“Sadly, I have to help Ratchet tidy the repair bay,” sighed Blackarachnia.
“And Grimlock, Slag, and I are on an Energon scouting mission after this,” continued Slash.
“Oh,” mumbled Optimus. “Oh well, I guess them’s the breaks. Catch you later.” He headed off to the command center and met with Prowl and Ironhide. “You bots ready?”
“Heck, yeah!” cheered Ironhide.
“I’m prepared, Sir,” replied Prowl.
“Teletraan, the Ground Bridge, please,” bid Optimus. The Ground Bridge portal then opened. “Transform and roll out!” rallied Optimus. The three Autobots changed shape and sped through the portal to Soleanna. “All right, bots,” called Optimus, “let’s make sure the royalty knows about this and get on with it.” Optimus made a quick call to Elise, who confirmed the patrol. “All right, we’re good. Prowl, you take care of Castle Town. Ironhide, you’re sweeping the Forest. I’ll take care of New City.”
“Yes, Sir!” confirmed the two as they sped off.
“All right, let’s see if any…huh?” Optimus saw a Transformer-sized Mobian Long-jawed Jumping Spider land near him.
“Excuse me!” it called. “Have you seen where my armadillos slept in the cheese?!”
“…What?!” gulped Optimus.
“Exactly!” replied the spider. “I’ve asked the tubs where my pants danced, but they couldn’t tell the trees about my face!”
“Tell the trees about…sir, you’re not making any sense!” protested Optimus.
“It’s alright, Mike, old son, I’m used to it!” laughed the spider.
“YOU’RE used to it?!” protested Optimus. “What about…?!”
“AAAHH! THE POO MICE!” screamed the spider. It ran off and non-Mobian mice the size of Optimus’ foot were pirouetting after the spider. They were wearing tutus and cop hats. Once they vanished from Optimus’ sight, he rubbed his optics, trying to process what happened. He then shrugged it off and patrolled the area. Once that was done, Prowl and Ironhide came up and transformed.
“Prime, Castle Town is secure. No…Prime?” quizzed Prowl. Optimus looked deep in thought “Prime, are you all right?”
“Ironhide,” asked Optimus, “was there anything ‘special’ in last night’s Energon rations?”
“No, kiddo,” replied Ironhide. “Why?”
“I think I am unbelievably high right now!” answered Optimus.
“…Drug humor is in bad taste, Sir,” remarked Prowl.
“Once I finish telling you what I saw before I started my patrol,” argued Optimus, “you look me in the optics and tell me I’m not on drugs!” He then described what happened, eliciting an odd look from his subordinates.
“…I suppose if you really want proof,” mused Prowl, “I could conduct a drug test.”
“Please do so,” instructed Optimus. “I really don’t want to see that again.”
Optimus came up negative on the drug test. The results were checked over by Ratchet for confirmation, so no chance of error there. Another theory was that maybe the stress of the job was affecting his mind, so he was ordered to rest. Optimus complied and pulled out a few issues of The Fabulous Windblade in his quarters. They weren’t the best issues, though. Swoop and Tails joined him as he griped about it. At least it was something he could control. He was making small talk to keep himself from reading the issues. “Look,” he answered when he got disapproving faces, “I know what I’m saying has nothing to do with the comics. I’m just putting it off so I won’t talk about the stupid storyline!”
“Yeah, you NEVER go off on wild tangents, do you?” hissed Tails, sarcasm lacing his voice.
“Oh, whatever!” argued Optimus. As Optimus read on, he came to a scene where Windblade had encountered an alien that sparkled in the sun. “Ugh, insert Twilight joke here!” groaned Optimus.
“What, you ain’t even gonna try?” asked Swoop.
“I could, but what would be the point?” sighed Optimus. “It’s just getting old now.” He continued reading, then, after two issues, he groaned and tossed the pad aside. “Sweet PRIMUS!” he shouted. “The artwork is all over the place! The writing is just abysmal! There’s an unnecessary romantic plot! Can you believe that there are THREE MORE ISSUES to go?!”
“Well, YOU picked them out!” argued Tails.
“Really is his own fault,” agreed Swoop.
“Would you people put a sock in it?!” snapped Optimus. His door then opened to reveal his best friend.
“I heard screaming!” called Jazz. “Are you okay?!”
“I would be,” hissed Optimus, “if two people didn’t spout stuff to interrupt my deconstruction of…!”
“What people?” asked Jazz.
“THEM!” replied Optimus as he pointed. “Tails and…and……Swoop?” They were gone.
“Prime, Tails and Swoop are working on the Fang’s engines,” reported Jazz, “trying to install the Warp Field Driver. You’ve been alone all evening.”
“But…!” stammered Optimus, fear gripping his Spark. If they weren’t there, then why did Optimus see them?