Bumblebee led his larger team over rough terrain. Caused by an object falling to Mobius’ surface, the ride wasn’t exactly comfortable. “Halt!” called Bumblebee as he stopped. Thundercracker transformed as he landed while Rouge and Knuckles got out of Cliffjumper. The Autobots then followed Thundercracker’s example as they transformed. Cliffjumper was the only one with a look of stark surprise. Sitting in the middle of a massive crater was the remains of the Weak Anthropic Principle. “It’s not much,” remarked Bumblebee, “but we got the rectifier coil going.”
“THAT’S Krok’s ship?!” asked Cliffjumper. “But that’s Vanguard-class!”
“Yeah, never really got a straight answer on how we got our hands on it,” muttered Thundercracker. “Still, you said you got the rectifier coil going, so there’s obviously SOME power.”
“Plenty of it, we’re just having trouble accessing it,” replied Rouge.
“We’re going to have to find one of our geniuses,” sighed Arcee.
“We find one, then we connect Teletraan 1 to this place, and then we find everyone else,” outlined Bumblebee. “This will be our base for anti-Unicron operations. Besides, it has a Bridge Portal generator inside, so we can get a Ground Bridge to help us get to any disaster areas faster.”
“Where are we gonna find your friends?” asked Thundercracker.
“I’ve heard a rumor that someone’s been holed up in a junkyard about 20 miles north of here,” replied Bumblebee. “I know rumors aren’t the best leads, but it’s all we’ve got right now. We need to act fast. Unicron’s still preparing for the tournament, and we have no idea what he’s plotting.”
Back at Castle Unicron, arena construction suffered another hiccup. It wasn’t square-shaped this time; it was circle-shaped. “HOW DID ALL THESE SQUARES MAKE A CIRCLE?!” shouted Nemesis Prime. “I just…!”
“No, no, it’s fine,” assured Unicron. “It’s fine. It doesn’t bother me. It DOESN’T bother me…it bothers me! It bothers me a lot and THAT TILE’S STILL PINK!”
Thundercracker, Cliffjumper, and Arcee elected to stay behind while Bumblebee, Rouge, and Knuckles went off to the junkyard. They entered it and looked along the mounds of unusable cars, ruined trucks, and things that used to go but now won’t. The machines designed to dispose of it all loomed menacingly among the twisted metal heaps. If Bumblebee ever said he wasn’t scared, he was lying. It looked almost like the machinery that lined a Decepticon-controlled Smelting Pool, machines that would prevent their prisoners from ever escaping the molten metal. Bumblebee crept down the aisles in vehicle mode and found what looked the Manager’s Office Building. Knuckles and Rouge stepped out and knocked on the door. “It’s open,” called a voice. The two then entered the office and saw someone at the desk. “Welcome to Grand Mobius Salvage, how may I help…? KNUCKLES?! ROUGE?!”
“TAILS!” cheered Knuckles. Tails looked like a guy who had no hope for a while. He got up from the desk and hugged the two.
“It’s been way too long!” he chuckled. “How long have you guys been on the road?”
“About a month,” explained Rouge. “We originally hunkered down in my treasure trove. For once, Knuckles was insistent on putting the Master Emerald there.”
“You mentioned energy dampeners, I couldn’t pass THAT up under the circumstances,” reminded Knuckles. “Never mind that, though. Tails, we need your help. We found a new base. It’s the wreck of Krok’s ship and we’ve got enough power for something called a rectifier coil, but we need someone to help with getting power to all the necessary systems.”
“Well, look no further, there are THREE who can help,” answered Tails. “I’ve got Scattershot and Ratchet with me.”
“Perfect! We came with Bumblebee, so he can help guide us to the new base.”
“Then it’s time for me to close up shop.” Tails typed something into his computer and all systems shut down. He then picked up a pot with a single rose bloom in it.
“Er, Tails, what’s…?” asked Rouge.
“It’s something Cosmo left behind when she…when she…” Tails was struggling to say the words.
“Tails, honey?” asked Rouge, concerned for her little friend.
“…Makeshift and Rodimus Unicronus surprised the four of us. Cosmo said she’d cover the retreat and gave me a single seed. She told me to take care of it and then…she charged at the two and…” Tears welled up in his eyes.
“Oh, man, Tails, I’m…I’m so sorry,” sighed Knuckles as he realized what happened.
“That was a month ago,” sniffed Tails. “The three of us have been hiding out ever since. I’ve been trying to find a sunny spot, but all I could get for this little thing was a solar lamp.”
“We should be able to get some sun at the new base,” assured Rouge. “And we’ll avenge Cosmo. You can count on it!” Tails looked at the thief, saw that she was genuine, then set himself.
“Let’s get the others.” Tails led his friends out of the office, met Bumblebee, then led them to a concealed hangar, small enough for one jet. Coincidentally, there was a jet in it. “Hey, Scattershot! Up and at ‘em!”
“Mmh, five more minutes!” mumbled the jet, Scattershot.
“We’ve got company. They found us a base.” Scattershot then transformed and sprang out of the small hangar.
“Then what are we waiting for?!” he asked. “Let’s get Ratchet and get out of this dump!” They all then went down the aisles and found an ambulance.
“Ratchet!” called Tails. “Ratchet, we found our friends!” The ambulance, Ratchet, didn’t stir. “…Ratchet?”
“Go away,” said the medic gruffly, not even bothering to activate his holo-form.
“Come on, Ratchet,” encouraged Bumblebee as he transformed to robot mode. “We’ve got some work to do!”
“You’re interrupting my power-down,” replied Ratchet. Everyone looked at each other in confusion.
“…Ratchet, come on!” urged Scattershot. “We need your help to get everyone to our new base!”
“Only then can we take the fight to Unicron!” supplied Bumblebee.
“We CAN’T stop Unicron!” barked Ratchet. “Not anymore. The war is over and we…lost!”
“You, of all people, are giving up?!” wailed Bumblebee. “We can’t just give up! Especially not you!” Ratchet transformed and loomed over Bumblebee.
“Then tell me what we CAN do?! Without communications?! Without a Ground Bridge?! Without a base of operations or resources of any kind?!”
“But we DO have those things, we just need help to power it all up!” argued Knuckles.
“Knuckles’ right!” affirmed Bumblebee. “We know that the Cons had access to a Ground Bridge before they moved in with Eggman, right?”
“Yes, yes,” Ratchet waved off, “Soundwave clearly used the Harbinger’s Bridge Portal Generator to accomplish such a feat! The Harbinger’s been cleared out, remember?! What does that have to do with anything?!”
“I found the Weak Anthropic Principle! It’s loaded with tech! The Metarex didn’t destroy it completely! We’ve got the rectifier coil going, but it’s still got more untapped power! We can use it as a base of operations! It’s got up-to-date Cybertronian tech you can work with! We can make our allies stronger now!” Ratchet scoffed at Bumblebee’s words.
“Well, resources won’t be of much use! Not without someone to…lead us.”
“It’s a start!”
“Then you’ll have to start without me! …This is someone else’s fight now.”
“There IS no one else, Ratchet! Just us! Just the team!” Ratchet turned away and transformed.
“Please. Just let me…rust in peace.” Everyone stood there, not moving an inch.
“…Come on, guys, let’s go,” sighed Bumblebee. He and Scattershot transformed. Tails flew into Scattershot’s rear cockpit, and Knuckles and Rouge sat inside Bumblebee. They took off, leaving Ratchet to himself.