“…That’s actually a good question,” Optimus replied to the voice. “What AM I doing?!” The image of the family flashed through his mind, but he suffered no pain. “Uh-uh, not this time!” declared Optimus as he stood up.
“That HAS to be a good sign!” called Jazz.
“It is!” cheered Pyra Magna. “He’s figuring out WHO’S behind this attack!”
The image flashed through Optimus’ mind again. “Oh no, you don’t!” he snarled. “You already played that hand! I’m not falling for THAT bluff! I’m not a pretty-boy with marital problems! My psyche has fallen into order a long time ago! I don’t have parental issues! I DO have brotherly issues, but I’ve long accepted that Megatron and I are on different paths! I’m not gonna kill him, I’m gonna knock some sense into him! You’re not dealing with a horror protagonist! Time and again, I’ve suffered dealing with people at their worst! Time and again, I’ve had obstacles put in my path to make me feel insignificant! You come at me with angst and try to make me doubt who I am?! I’m more than just a kid with a powerful relic lodged in his chest! I’m more than just a starship captain! I’m more than just a faction leader! I’m a friend to those around me! I’m the one they can trust when things go south for them! I’m the guy who assures people that being nerdy isn’t a crime! I’m an ally to those who fight for what’s right! I am Optimus Prime, the Autobot!” He twirled his gun, leveled it at the figure, and raised his axe, banishing whatever illusions of his friends remained! “Who in the Pit do you think YOU are?!” The figure clenched its fists at Optimus’ display. “Ah, but I DO know who you are!” continued the young Prime. “See, the thing is, you’re neither Pacemaker nor Blade Dancer. You’re something that focused all the pain and rage and hatred they felt as they were tormented and sacrificed to make my weapons! You want to kill the person who did this to them! But…you can’t. They already got it. The one responsible for their pain, he’s dead already! …That’s the problem, isn’t it? Those two, they poured their Sparks into these things. They don’t need what you’re channeling! He’s dead! They have no one left to hate!” Optimus then realized something. “Your hatred is simply masked by what they once felt! You don’t hate the guy who made them this way, you hate ME! You know that Pacemaker and Blade Dancer DON’T hate me! And if you hate me…then I think I know who you are! So, we’ve played this game. I win, so you can buzz off…Nemmy!”
“Nemmy?” asked Ratchet. He then realized. “You don’t think…?”
“Nemesis Prime!” snarled Jazz. “HE’S the one that nearly made Optimus commit suicide!”
“Nemesis Prime?” asked Pyra Magna.
“We’ll explain later!” answered Ultra Magnus.
“…I see,” muttered Pyra Magna.
“I’m sorry, Nemmy, but you lost,” declared Optimus. The figure stared…then started laughing.
“Lost?” asked the figure. “No.” The figure then thrust its hands into the air and fired its mist straight up until a purple glow flashed from inside the column of mist. The figure then grabbed the light’s source and swung it downwards to banish the mist and reveal Nemesis Prime with the Dark Saber. Nemesis then swung the blade into Optimus’ chest, making a significant gash in it. Optimus clutched his chest and gasped in pain.
“Okay, that’s too dangerous!” yelped Pyra Magna. “Everyone, get ready!” Ultra Magnus, Ratchet, Ironhide, and Jazz wondered what that meant until they passed out. Pyra Magna chanted until she fell to the floor.
Optimus heard cracking and looked to his left to see what looked like reality cracking to reveal light. The cracks got wider as reality in that area fell apart and revealed a swirling vortex of lights. “What in…?” quizzed Nemesis. “What are you trying to do?”
“Believe me, this ISN’T my doing,” replied Optimus. Just then, Jazz, Pyra Magna, Ultra Magnus, Ironhide, and Ratchet came through. Ultra Magnus, Jazz, and Ironhide tackled Nemesis while Ratchet and Pyra Magna headed to Optimus. “…Any accusatory remarks?” quizzed Optimus.
“Would you prefer one?” snarked Ratchet. “Like, ‘How could you let an imp like Nemesis get in your head?’ Or, maybe, ‘You made us worry when you put the gun to your chin?’” Optimus grinned.
“Good to finally have the real deal in my head,” he chuckled. “Pyra Magna, I presume you’re the one behind bringing everyone into my head?”
“Actually, that was mainly you,” corrected Pyra Magna.
“Me?!” yelped Optimus.
“You identified who was attacking you,” replied Pyra Magna, “why they were doing it, and how they did it, though, not in that order.”
“Yeah, doing things my way, that’s me!” chuckled Optimus.
“That’s the mark of a Wizard,” replied Pyra Magna. Just then, a glow appeared above Optimus. Optimus instinctually reached towards it, then was enveloped by the glow.
“WHOA!” called Ratchet as he and Pyra Magna stepped back. “PRIME! ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!” shouted Ratchet. “SPEAK TO ME!”
“I’m all right, Ratchet!” assured Optimus’ voice. “If anything, I feel stronger!” The glow died down and Optimus stood, the gash on his chest gone and a magnificent looking broadsword in his right hand. Within the hilt was a space shaped to fit the Matrix. Pyra Magna and Ratchet gasped.
“It can’t be!” breathed Ratchet.
“The Star Saber!” Pyra Magna confirmed in a reverent whisper.
“Ratchet, Pyra Magna, hang back for me,” directed Optimus. He then charged towards Nemesis and the Autobots distracting him. “AUTOBOTS, BREAK OFF!” ordered Optimus. Jazz looked back and widened his optics.
“INCOMING!” he warned. The Autobots got off of Nemesis as Optimus slashed across his opponent’s chest with the Star Saber. Nemesis gasped in pain, then shook it off as he swung the Dark Saber down. Optimus blocked with the Star Saber and both swords were pushed to the side.
“How are you standing?!” demanded Nemesis. “I brought you down!”
“One gash across my front,” countered Optimus, “does NOT a victory make! What you see in my hands are the schematics for the Star Saber since the original one was lost a long time ago, long before any of us were born!”
“So yours was trapped in your Matrix?” hissed Nemesis. “I ripped mine from the Grid!”
“Tell me, your weapons,” snarled Optimus. “The ones you discovered two years ago on Halloween. Are they magic as well?”
“Of course!” replied Nemesis. “They were constructed by a dark cult that wanted to spread the word of their god. The weapons destroyed the fool who made them and they found their way into my suit’s possession.” Pacemaker and Blade Dancer appeared.
“And, in your universe,” asked Blade Dancer, “were a mother and her son sacrificed to make those weapons? Were they tormented beyond belief, the lie of their life with the one who sacrificed them lain bare at their feet, causing unbelievable hatred and pain?” The weapons’ evil counterparts appeared. They were red. Blade Dancer’s double had no tutu and Pacemaker’s double had a scar down his arm that terminated in a hook.
“Hatred and pain?!” scoffed Pacemaker’s double, Under Taker. “You stupid, foolish girl!”
“My son and I,” continued Temptress, Blade Dancer’s double, “forced my weak husband to use us as materials for the weapons!”
“…We’ll hit them while you take care of Nemesis,” Blade Dancer suggested to Optimus.
“Sounds like a plan,” replied Optimus. All four spirits turned their ghost tails into legs and they clashed while Optimus and Nemesis fought. One could almost hear an 80’s hair band song playing. Nemesis raised the Dark Saber, leaving his chest open for Optimus to slash across with the Star Saber. Nemesis gasped in pain, dropping his sword and clutching the wound. Optimus then drove his knee into his opponent’s jaw. He grabbed Nemesis’ leg and flung him into a wall. Nemesis got up shakily and tried to clear his head. Optimus then swung a punch into his gut and floored him. Under Taker and Temptress were flung into Nemesis. Nemesis craned his head up as he saw Optimus standing over them, the Star Saber on his back.
“P…please!” gasped Nemesis. “Prime…I b…beg you, have…mercy!”
“I gave you mercy when we first met,” replied Optimus. “You came back and terrorized innocent people. You’ll have to convince me. If I do grant mercy, and you betray my trust, you’ll never get a third chance. So, let’s have it. Persuade me.”
“Please!” begged Nemesis. “I’ll…I’ll leave your mind! Yes, I’ll leave your mind alone! You will never suffer any psychic attacks from me! Promise!”
“Why am I having a hard time believing that?” quizzed Optimus.
“You have my word!” pleaded Nemesis.
“I trust your word as far as I can throw you!” hissed Optimus. “However, I’d prove myself spiteful if I fractured YOUR psyche in retaliation, so I will let you go.”
“Oh, thank you!” breathed Nemesis.
“However, I will insure you NEVER attack my mind again!” warned Optimus.
“H…how?” spluttered Nemesis. Optimus charged up a magic blast.
“The best way I can,” he answered.
“No! You said…!” cried Nemesis.
“I AM showing mercy,” countered Optimus. “You’re leaving with a headache.” He raised his arm.
“…Damn you, Optimus PRIME!” roared Nemesis as Optimus fired the blast and vaporized Nemesis’ mental projection. As he faded, so did the scene.
Optimus, Pyra Magna, Jazz, Ironhide, Ultra Magnus, and Ratchet woke up in the real world. “Ooogh!” groaned Optimus. “That was rough!”
“Rough doesn’t BEGIN to describe it!” moaned Ironhide.
“You doing okay?” Jazz asked Optimus.
“I hate to be a pain,” replied Optimus, “but we ARE in the real world, right?”
“We sure are,” replied Pyra Magna. “There’s weight in our bodies, the mental world never gets that right.”
“Good,” sighed Optimus in relief. “Ratchet, would you mind checking us over?”
Ratchet had given everyone a clean bill of physical and mental health. Optimus was cleared for duty and assumed command again. Pyra Magna was waiting outside the med-bay when Optimus came out. “Young One,” she began, “I noticed something different when we came through.”
“Oh?” asked Optimus.
“You’re usually so stubborn that you think your ways are the best ways,” continued Pyra Magna. “Yet, you accepted our help when Nemesis was revealed. Might I ask what changed?”
“Let’s just say,” replied Optimus, “the Grand High Witch of Mobius and the Primes gave me a swift kick in the afterburner.” He explained what happened when his magic went haywire.
“I’d like to meet this ‘Sira’ person,” mused Pyra Magna.
“She’s on Nebulos,” explained Optimus, “with her student and her Nebulan friend.”
“Oh?” quizzed Pyra Magna. Just then, Teletraan 1 appeared on Optimus’ screen.
“I hate to burst people’s bubbles,” he began, “but the Retranga is contacting us.”
“Put it through,” replied Optimus. Sira, Natalie, and Amy appeared while Teletraan moved his avatar to the side. “Amy!” cheered Optimus. “Good to hear from you again! We’ve missed you here!”
“Are you ready to return?” asked Teletraan.
“No!” countered Amy. “Far from it!” She then relayed what was going on.
“An invasion?!” yelped Optimus. “Why would the Nebulans invade Mobius?!”
“A demonstration of power,” guessed Sira.
“They don’t have the resources!” protested Optimus.
“Then why plan an invasion if they don’t?” quizzed Natalie.
“Ladies,” interjected Teletraan, “is the Retranga still at Trema’s estate?”
“Yes, why?” quizzed Amy.
“In the Folassian Forest?” continued Teletraan.
“…Yes…” confirmed Amy.
“There’s an Autobot stationed there,” explained Teletraan. “A Metrotitan by the name of Fortress Maximus with a partner named Cerebros who’s the basis of all Headmasters. You have to find him! Convince him to stop this invasion!”
“He’s right, we can’t deal with an invasion,” supplied Optimus. “We have enough trouble being harassed by Nemesis Prime!”
“He’s back?!” yelped Amy.
“And Nemesis Prime is…?” asked Sira. Optimus realized that Pyra Magna never got the story, so he elaborated.
“Here’s the summary,” began Optimus. “From an alternate reality where the Autobots are bad guys and Mobius, Moebius over there, is full of cowards trying to ruin the world. Evil Me landed, killed Evil Sonic and his ‘friends’ except for Evil Tails. Evil Me dies. Evil Tails wires himself into Evil Me’s chest and uses Evil Me’s body as his personal Mech suit. He commands the Evil Autobots and crossed over to our universe on Halloween one time, when we were celebrating our one year anniversary of our arrival on Mobius. We sent him back, but now he’s here, commanding our Decepticons in Megatron’s absence.”
“We’ll stop the invasion, if not delay it,” declared Amy. “Amy out.” The call ended.
“How did you know Nemesis was placed in charge of the Decepticons?” quizzed Pyra Magna.
“Teletraan managed to find a security hole in the Decepticon’s systems,” replied Optimus. “It was opened the instant Megatron and his flunkies left for Nebulos.”
“Well, for a bit,” countered Teletraan. “I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought, so they kicked me out and closed it when you arrived.”
“I see,” mused Pyra Magna. “In any case, since Nemesis is only banished from your mind, not this universe, what will our plan of attack be?”
“Nemesis is so focused on me,” replied Optimus, “that he’s willing to destroy this entire planet. He’d want me to hurt, so he’d go after some high concentration of…of…” realization dawned on Optimus, “of people skilled in defense!”
“The planet’s military!” breathed Pyra Magna.
“Many of the G.U.N soldiers are my friends!” confirmed Optimus. “If they fall, I’d be riddled with guilt and he’d cleave my fractured Spark last, just for me to watch him destroy everything and everyone I love!”
“We need to alert them,” declared Pyra Magna. “The Rust Renegades will stay with the Autobots here.”
“Thank you, Pyra Magna,” bid Optimus as Pyra Magna left. “Teletraan, patch me through to Commander Topaz,” Optimus ordered the a.i.