After the meeting had ended, Rodimus had pulled Hot Rod to the basement, filled with all sorts of stuff for the Autobots that had been relegated to storage. “Unplug your exhaust pipe, Old Me,” scoffed Hot Rod. “I’m a star!”
“This is a military operation!” snarled Rodimus. “Not an Alien Hunt! set!”
“I’m only the greatest bot here!” countered Hot Rod. “That kid, on the other hand, seems to be a little puffed up in the carburetor!” Rodimus then slapped Hot Rod across the face.
“That ‘kid’,” he corrected as Hot Rod rubbed his cheek, “is your Prime! A little humility MIGHT earn some respect!”
“Dad always said ‘Fume-running bots take in Energon, humble bots serve it!’” argued Hot Rod.
“Dad was a coward!” roared Rodimus. “You let Nyon and Ki-Aleta make us an even bigger one!” That did it! Hot Rod’s hand retracted into his forearm and a buzzsaw replaced it as he slashed across Rodimus’ face.
“Never…EVER…call me that again!” growled Hot Rod. Rodimus then swept his leg at Hot Rod’s and tripped him up. Hot Rod’s hand returned, and he grabbed Rodimus’ leg, pulling him to the floor. The two bots then wrestled, hell-bent on tearing the other a new one. While their fight went on, Optimus, Prowl, Strongarm, Kup, Ironhide, and Chromia dashed into the basement. Kup, Strongarm, and Ironhide pulled Hot Rod off Rodimus and Optimus, Prowl, and Chromia held Rodimus back.
“That’s enough!” shouted Optimus. “THAT’S ENOUGH!” The two fighters stopped struggling for just a second. “I don’t know what in the Pit has gotten into you idiots,” the two fighters opened their mouths to explain, “and, frankly, I don’t care!” Optimus interjected before either of them could speak. “You two are Autobot soldiers! I thought we were all above petty infighting! Prowl! Strongarm! Have Ratchet look them over in the brig!”
“Yes, Sir!” replied Prowl and Strongarm as they led Hot Rod and Rodimus to the brig.
“Teletraan,” called Ironhide, “pull up any footage from before the fight.”
“Got it,” replied Teletraan.
“Display,” ordered Optimus. A screen played the footage of Hot Rod and Rodimus’ conversation before they started trading blows. “That’s twice now,” muttered Optimus.
“So, he still hates himself over Nyon and Ki-Aleta,” mused Kup.
“You know why he gets so defensive over those names?” asked Optimus.
“He hasn’t told you?” quizzed Kup.
“No,” replied Optimus.
“Sir, those were his two greatest disasters,” explained Kup. “It’s why he acts the way he does.”
“…I think you better tell me,” directed Optimus.
While Optimus had to discipline Rodimus and Hot Rod, Galvatron had led Megatron back to Mobius. They arrived in a cave system that offered little light. “For Primus’ sake!” grumbled Megatron. “Must you drag me through caves?!”
“These caves,” assured Galvatron, “will lead to a great power that helped defeat Unicron before!”
“Oh, please!” scoffed Megatron. “The chances of that are astronomically dismal!”
“I found its remains in my time!” insisted Galvatron. “It was discovered whole a few days ago!”
“And you told the crews not to tell me immediately?” quizzed Megatron. “Last time I checked; ALL FINDINGS WERE TO BE REPORTED AT ONCE!”
“This one needed,” argued Galvatron, “to be kept under the radar, since Eggman is sure to bungle it!”
“Oh, come on!” protested Megatron. “What could possibly be so important that Eggman didn’t need to know until later?!”
“Observe!” directed Galvatron as he gestured to a large cave opening. A blue glow emitted from inside the cave, giving Megatron a sense of curiosity. He entered the cave…his jaw dropped, and his optics widened when he saw the source of the glow. Embedded in the rockface was a massive cube that dwarfed him. From what he could see, the material seemed to be a mix of stone and metal and the face of the cube that was uncovered was coated in hieroglyphs of an ancient time. Megatron turned to Galvatron as the future Decepticon entered the cave. “I had to confirm my findings before anyone got a chance,” he explained.
“Then, this is…?” stammered Megatron.
“It is,” answered Galvatron. “In my time, Unicron had shattered it, thus rendering it useless for any immediate attacks. We had gathered the pieces, but we don’t have a vessel to utilize its power.”
“…We need a guard posted,” declared Megatron, “and a means of getting it out of the rock.”
“The comms still work down here,” revealed Galvatron. Megatron then called the moon-base.
“Megatron to base!” he demanded. “Detail a guard platoon and prepare an extraction team!”
“What for, Lord Megatron, Dude?” asked Soundwave’s voice.
“Galvatron has just made the find of the age,” replied Megatron. “Right now, I’m staring…at the Allspark!”
Optimus approached Hot Rod’s cell in the brig with Kup on his heels. He stared at the upstart Velocitronian for a good minute before speaking. “Kup told me what he knew about Nyon and Ki-Aleta,” he began. “However, he’s only got bits and pieces. You never told him the full story. Care to fill him and me in?” Hot Rod said nothing. “…Well?” Still nothing. “…All right, let’s try again with Rodimus.” He turned to Rodimus’ cell. “Willing to help?” Rodimus said nothing, then sighed.
“They were my greatest failures,” he explained. Hot Rod flinched.
“Kup already told me that before he told his interpretation of the story. I need more than that,” directed Optimus. “Nyon was a Cybertronian city. What were you doing there?”
“…Recon work for Velocitronian Command,” replied Rodimus. “I was stationed there because there were rumors of a Velocitronian Decepticon force about to commit genocide on the populace because of their natural artistic expression being used to further the Autobot cause. I was only 2,002 at the time, a brasher upstart with delusions of heroism. I thought that, if I could avert the crisis, I would be a hero. I had confirmed the rumors to Velocitronian Command and further explained that the Velocitronian Decepticons had gotten ahold of Vamparc Ribbons.”
“Vamparc Ribbons?!” repeated Optimus.
“Those things that drain a bot of their Energon and use it as a weapon?!” gulped Kup.
“The same,” answered Rodimus. “I was ordered to return to Velocitron and then return to Nyon with a full platoon. …I didn’t. I went straight to the Decepticon Command Center in Nyon and attacked the base single-handedly.”
“Okay, I’m not exactly a brilliant strategist,” remarked Optimus, “but even I would have been hard-pressed to do something that dumb!”
“I don’t know,” mused Kup, “Sonic told me about how you stormed Eggman’s base when you lost your magic.”
“…I am going to SKIN that rat!” hissed Optimus.
“In any event, I ran through the base, thinking my actions would save everyone,” continued Rodimus. “…They didn’t. The Decepticons were instructed to use the Vamparc Ribbons the instant an intruder was detected inside the base. They found me. Once I was captured, the commander of the base, Lugnut…”
“That idiot?” asked Kup.
“You and I clearly have different views on that monster,” replied Rodimus. “Lugnut made me watch as he… as he…” He was choking back tears.
“…Lugnut?” asked Optimus. “He was ready to…commit genocide in the name of the Decepticons?!”
“I broke out of the base, dialing my speed up to 11,” Rodimus finally continued. “I shouted to the people, using my after-images to outline a safe path…but the Ribbons…” At that moment, Rodimus broke down.
“Oh, Primus…” realized Optimus as he looked at Hot Rod.
“…Since he can’t go on, I will,” grunted Hot Rod. “After Nyon, I took a crew of Autobots with me to find the Magnificence, a legendary super-computer that could tell you the answer to every question. I only had one on my mind.”
“Whether or not there were Nyon survivors,” guessed Optimus.
“Yep,” confirmed Hot Rod. “I had a crew of four with me; Download, Gizmo, Backbeat, and Dealer. We were using an ancient map to the Magnificence as a guidebook and soon landed on its resting place, Ki-Aleta. That world’s got storms charged with ionic energy over its rocky surface, making our scanning equipment useless. We had gotten past the dead Omega Guardians and were ready to enter the Magnificence’s resting place. Dealer stayed behind to watch our backs while I took Download, Gizmo, and Backbeat inside the tomb. We approached the Magnificence and took it from its resting place…”
“You SAW the Magnificence?” asked Optimus.
“It looked like a Transformers brain module,” explained Hot Rod. “I took it, then it all went to the Pit. Dealer tried to contact us, telling us to get out of there, but the transmission was cut off by his dying screams. At that point, the Magnificence didn’t matter. I knew I had to get everyone out. We ran, trying to avoid the traps as fast as we could, but Gizmo lost his head to an axe from the ceiling, Download was dumped down a pit that was flooded with acid, and Backbeat was speared from the floor. All I could do was run and run and run until I returned to the ship. I flew solo, gave my report, then left the Autobots to return to what really matters to a True Velocitronian; the racing circuit.”
“And that regret has haunted me!” growled Rodimus. “You fled like a coward!”
“My old life was better!” shouted Hot Rod.
“Was it?!” argued Rodimus. “Can you really look anyone in the eye and say that you made a mistake in joining the Autobot Militia?!”
“Yes!” declared Hot Rod. “An entire city died because of me! My entire team died because of me!”
“Hot Rod, Rodimus Prime, you two couldn’t be more wrong on either count,” interrupted Optimus.
“…Excuse me?” asked Rodimus.
“What’s THAT supposed to mean?!” snarled Hot Rod.
“That ‘acid pool’ that Download fell into,” began Optimus, “was nothing more than coolant. He told me vague descriptions of a mission that went awry. In any case, Jazz is living proof that there WERE survivors of Nyon. His grandmother, Songbird, led as many bots as she could out of Nyon through the catacombs below the city. She helped everyone find new refuge in Praxis after liberating the city. Their artistic expression rallied more Praxian freedom fighters than ever before to the Autobot cause, Prowl and Strongarm included.”
“…You mean…all my screw-ups…” realized Hot Rod.
“Led to Sentinel Prime and his team first landing on this planet and ending the first war,” confirmed Optimus. “Don’t get me wrong, you two are still on waste disposal duties for two weeks for conduct unbecoming an Autobot, but just know that you DID save people back in the day.” He then turned on his heel and left the brig, Kup following behind.
“…I…I ran away from…” mumbled Hot Rod.