Optimus was looking over the notes Prowl had taken over the course of his visitors’ explanations. Ratchet had confirmed that they were mentally stable and Prowl confirmed that they were telling the truth, but Optimus remained a tad skeptic about Vorton. His thoughts were interrupted by his office’s door chime. “Come in,” he bid. The door opened to reveal Richard. “Mr. Saunders, what can I do for you?” asked Optimus.
“I’ve just finished my tour of the base,” replied Richard. “Holo-suites, starships, transporters, warp drive, this almost feels like Star Trek.”
“The similarities ARE staggering,” chuckled Optimus. “I suppose I’m an unofficial member of Starfleet.” He then got a faraway look. “Although, then again, Starfleet would be on my aft for breaking the Prime Directive. Mobius isn’t considered advanced enough sufficiently. It only recently discovered warp travel with our help and is still divided.”
“I usually have a problem with that bit of thinking when it comes to the Prime Directive,” interjected Richard. “How is any civilization to determine if another is advanced enough for First Contact. Forgive me if I sound combative in saying this, but I feel that line of thinking is arrogant.”
“What if that civilization is still divided?” asked Optimus. “What if said civilization still believes in gods?”
“The Bajorans worshipped gods,” argued Richard, “and they were a warp-capable species. They’ve had interstellar flight since Earth’s 16th century. They’re Federation allies, as well. Besides, don’t you carry an item of religious significance?”
“Touché,” remarked Optimus, conceding Richard’s point.
“Still, there were reasons the Prime Directive was instituted,” continued Richard. “To instantly transform (if you’ll pardon the word choice) a society with technology is disastrous. How did Picard put it?”
“‘The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy…and a very correct one,’” quoted Optimus. “‘History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.’”
“…I’m stunned you could quote him so easily,” gulped Richard.
“Next Generation is my favorite Star Trek series,” explained Optimus.
“I prefer Deep Space 9,” mused Richard.
“What about your thoughts on Voyager?” asked Optimus.
“Not my favorite series,” replied Richard. “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed seeing races outside the Alpha Quadrant, but some of the episode plots seemed contrived, even for Star Trek.”
“I don’t know, I thought it was good enough to be my second favorite Star Trek series,” mused Optimus. Just then, his desk chirped. He pressed the comms button. “Yes?” he asked.
“I just heard laser fire,” reported Prowl. “It’s from a lady using red slime and some sort of Elf. They’re attacking a human, a Mermaid, a Drider, and another Elf.”
“I wonder if our mythic friends would know how to deal with them,” mused Richard.
“Only one way to find out,” declared Optimus. “Ratchet, punch in Prowl’s coordinates for the Ground Bridge. Have Queen Hanako meet us before we leave. Richard, want to come along?”
“Let me just get Sheela and Lukas,” replied Richard. They both headed out of the office as Richard called up Sheela and Lukas. They were informed of the situation and met him and Optimus, along with Bashoon, Melandra, and Hanako, in the Command Center.
“Unfortunately,” began Hanako, “the lady in red slime and the Elf accompanying her are familiar to us. The lady is Reb Rojam, Fleet Admiral of the Scarlet Stream Pirates. The Elf is her husband, Calzax Melgem the Sea Elf. Melgem was part of a plot to lure my daughter and her crew to Reb’s stronghold so she could ransom the ship and crew off to Realmfleet.”
“An unsavory lady, I see,” remarked Richard.
“Cliffjumper, Ratchet, you’re with me,” ordered Optimus.
“Bashoon, Melandra, you’re going with him, as am I,” directed Hanako, since she was the one in charge.
“Your Majesty, I must protest,” objected Optimus.
“Your objection is noted, I’m still going with you,” insisted Hanako. Optimus sighed.
“Very well,” he answered. Optimus, Cliffjumper, Ratchet, Hanako, Bashoon, Melandra, Richard, Lukas, and Sheela then waited for the Ground Bridge to open.
“Coordinates set,” reported Teletraan 1.
“Activate,” ordered Optimus. The Ground Bridge vortex then opened. “Transform and roll out!” called Optimus. Richard squeed a little as Optimus, Cliffjumper, and Ratchet changed shape and accepted their passengers. They sped through the Ground Bridge and arrived in a mountain basin. Prowl gave his exact location over a secure channel and the Autobots moved in that direction. Prowl was in vehicle mode, his holo-form observing the fight. The Autobots’ holo-forms and their new allies joined him. Richard was confused.
“Why don’t you guys spook the attackers with your robot modes?” he asked.
“I’d advise a brief transformation if we’re going to do that,” warned Cliffjumper as he handed Optimus a scanner with its readings displayed. Optimus’ eyeridges shot up.
“Yeah, that’s a pretty high local Energon density count,” he remarked.
“I take it there’s too much Energon in this area?” guessed Richard.
“On this planet,” elaborated Ratchet.
“And prolonged exposure to the Energon’s radiation while in your robot modes,” continued Richard, “will cause you to short out?”
“Yep,” confirmed Optimus. “We may need Energon for power, but this is too much of a good thing.”
“Not to distract you from your health,” interjected Hanako, “but we DO have people from my universe to save.”
“Warning shots,” ordered Optimus. The Autobots pulled out their weapons and fired over the aggressors’ heads. The Sea Elf, Melgem, saw where the shots came from and pointed at that spot once Reb’s attention was grabbed.
“My DEAR friends,” she called, “this matter does not concern you! I am dealing with those who would keep me from my BELOVED prize!”
“Stand down, ma’am,” directed Richard. “We’re only after the people you’re attacking.”
“Realmfleet has decided to interfere again!” argued Melgem. “We will not stand down!”
“We’re not this…Realmfleet you think we are,” countered Prowl, “just concerned people wanting to keep things from escalating.”
“I’m afraid escalation is, REGRETFULLY, the only option here,” declared Reb as she leveled her flintlock at the group. Optimus sighed, as did Richard.
“All right, we escalate!” called Hanako as she moved from her cover and summoned several orbs of light, one from each tail and one in her palm.
“Ah, Queen Hanako Royana,” chuckled Reb, slightly nervous. “Your GRACIOUS Majesty, as I have said, this DREADFUL matter does not…”
“Henshin!” called Richard as he changed into Kamen Rider Guard.
“…Okay, that’s a TINY bit worrying,” mused Reb. “However, I am sure you are MOST…” she then heard Optimus change into robot mode. Ratchet, Cliffjumper, and Prowl followed suit.
“Henshin!” called Lukas and Sheela as they became Kamen Riders Kämpfer and Claw. Bashoon and Melandra then drew their wands. Reb and Melgem’s expressions turned to those of concern. Reb then dropped her wand and had her slime make a pair of appendages come up in a surrendering fashion. Melgem dropped his wand and followed suit.
“Uhm, parlay?” gulped Reb.
After the whole situation was explained, Reb and Melgem were sharing a cell within G.U.N HQ. The people she and Melgem were attacking were identified as Shalvey, the Mermaid Communications officer for the Endeavor, Thengo, the Drider Counselor, Foresna, a human and one of Gorfanth’s spouses, and a Mid-realm Stone Elf named Twaldar Endri. Reb used her slime to envelop Melgem so she could sit on his lap and allow him to hug her core body. Normally, she would be more at ease. Today, however, was not going to allow that. She always felt eyes on her, but when she looked up, her guard, Bashoon, was reading a book. Reb growled, then stood up. “Ensign Bashoon, a word,” she demanded. Bashoon looked up from her book. “What, PRAY tell, are you doing?” asked Reb.
“Reading a book,” replied Bashoon as her gaze returned to the book.
“You and I both know that’s a VILE lie!” hissed Reb. “Whenever I’m not looking at you, I always feel your PIERCING gaze. Tell me, did you volunteer to watch me because of that DREADFUL business at my stronghold about a year ago?” Bashoon slammed her book shut and stood up, giving Reb her full attention.
“You tricked the full crew compliment of an Dauntless-class skyship,” she snarled, “drugged us, imprisoned us with intent to ransom us, then tried to kill us when we tried to escape!”
“Then we learned that it was a HEINOUS Splitter Plot,” argued Reb, “and put aside our differences to stop them!”
“Five crewmembers died as a result!” retorted Bashoon. “If you hadn’t tricked us, they would be returning to their families! So, you can either put up with me staring at you or another member of the crew! Either way, we’re not letting you out of our sight again!” She then opened her book again, this time, not even hiding the fact she was glaring at them over the edge.
“How long are we in here for?” asked Melgem.
“I’d say at least three days, give or take an hour,” replied Bashoon.
“In that case,” declared Melgem as he took out a pack of cards, “we better do something to occupy our time. Care for a game of poker?”
“I’m not playing cards,” muttered Bashoon.
“I can teach you,” urged Reb. “It’s SHOCKINGLY simple in its complexity.”
“Let me put it in clearer terms,” growled Bashoon, “I don’t WANT to play cards at this point in time. Even if I did, I don’t want to play with YOU!”
“Afraid you’ll lose?” quizzed Melgem.
“A true Goblin never fears failure, especially from a mere game,” scoffed Bashoon. “I’d just rather read and keep an eye on you for now.”
“…You know, I always thought that a Goblin’s INHERENT dissatisfaction stemmed from the fact that you ALL believe it to be culturally immoral to go into OTHER fields besides business,” remarked Reb. “You always attach profit to EVERY single thing under the sun. You feel a need to attach a price to ALL aspects of life, thus limiting whatever GLORIOUS gifts you have. But, you’re not a businesswoman, are you?”
“I don’t exactly have that aptitude, no,” replied Bashoon, deciding to indulge Reb in that respect, “I prefer keeping the peace just for the sake of keeping the peace.”
“My point is,” continued Reb, “you CHOSE to do something outside of business! You were the one who decided to join Realmfleet and was lucky enough to have the LOVING support of parents who held to traditional Goblin beliefs! They encouraged you to find your OWN path! Life is yours for the taking, you just need to GRAB it! But, have you done that since you joined Realmfleet? No, because, Goblin or not, you would still be the same, a MISERABLE, self-loathing misanthrope! That’s who YOU are, and that’s what you’ll ALWAYS be.”
“…Just for that, I’m REALLY not playing cards with you,” grumbled Bashoon.
“Fine, then we will sit in UTTER silence for three days,” remarked Reb. Bashoon returned to her book at that.
“…What are you reading?” asked Melgem.
“Nothing that would interest you,” replied Bashoon.
“Don’t be so sure,” chuckled Reb as a slimy tendril grabbed the book and brought it into the cell.
“Reb, give that back!” barked Bashoon.
“What will you do, arrest me?” snarked Reb. “Now, this looks like a DELIGHTFUL play here. Let’s see, Melgem, why don’t you read this Hamlet character and I’ll read Queen Gertrude?”
“Let’s see,” mused Melgem as he looked at the scene. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune; thou find’st to be too busy is some danger. Leave wringing of your hands: peace! Sit you down, and let me wring your heart; for so I shall, if it be made of penetrable stuff, if damned custom have not brass’d it so that it is proof and bulwark against sense.”
“What have I done that thou darest wag thy tongue in noise so rude against me?” answered Reb.
“Such an act that blurs the grace and blush of modesty, calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose from the fair forehead of an innocent love and sets a blister there, makes marriage-vows s false as dicers’ oaths: oh, such a deed as from the body of contraction plucks the very soul, and sweet religion makes a rhapsody of words: heaven’s face doth glow: yea, this solidity and compound mass, with tristful visage, as against the doom, is thought-sick at the act!” read Melgem.
“Ay me, what act that roars so loud and thunders in the index?!” replied Reb in a fearful tone.
“Okay, thank you!” snapped Bashoon as she snatched the book through the bars and returned to her seat.
“I was wrong,” chuckled Reb, “there ARE layers of mystery and GLORIOUS intrigue about you!”
“You know, if that kind of thing is up your ally,” mused Melgem, “I could be persuaded to sell you my copy of The Son’s Torment.”
“It’s a well-known fact,” growled Bashoon, “that most remarriages result in the child feeling like the parent that married again has betrayed their original partner in some way, shape, or form! Often, it can result in blood! I’m reading this to gain access to a criminal mind!”
“There’s no blood in The Son’s Torment,” replied Reb, “but it’s still a most WONDERFUL play!”
“Give it up, you two,” hissed Bashoon. “You can annoy me, outrage me, insult me, whatever you wish. In the end, I’m still comforted by the fact that you’re beaten! When all is said and done, I’ll be laughing as you two are declared guilty and sent to a penal colony!”
“That trial HASN’T happened yet!” snarled Reb, annoyed by the fact that Bashoon was acting so smug with her. “It’s still a LONG way off! A lot can happen in three days!” A slimy tendril then snaked its way towards the bars. Just as it was about to go between them, a forcefield activated and sent a shock through it. The tendril retreated and Reb released a yelp of pain as the slime was part of her body. Both she and Melgem looked at the tendril as it regenerated, then glared at the smirking Goblin Ensign.
Optimus sat in his office, catching up on paperwork and grumbling about it all the while. “Forms, requests, reports,” he muttered, “I swear it never ends! Maybe this is why I was so hesitant to accept the Matrix in the first place. I knew there was going to be an excessive amount of paperwork!” He finally finished the day’s work and leaned back in his chair, sighing in relief. “Thank Primus!” he whispered. As he was about to take a quick stasis nap right then and there, a golden flash appeared on his desk. He noticed that the resulting light faded and formed a folded piece of paper that could fit in a Transformers’ hand. Part of it had his name on it, so he unfolded it and looked at the contents. His name was in fancy font and colored gold with black lines and he noticed trim around the contents of the paper colored in red, blue, purple, pink, and green. Five roses broke up the contents in a circle. Going clock wise, the roses were pink, blue, green, purple, and red. A circle rested in the center of the roses, divided into five and each segment colored the same as the roses. Optimus blinked as he read the paper aloud. “‘Optimus Prime. You are cordially invited to participate in the 590,492nd Verse Vs. Verse Rumble Royale, graciously hosted by the Chizaran Princesses. Declare (with no doubts in your mind) your acceptance and details will be made clear. Congratulations and, should you accept, welcome!’” His optics flickered, another blink. “…Okay, assuming this isn’t some prank, I would like some details about this and…” he was interrupted by five lights flashing. They then formed the Chizaran Princesses. Verdutha spoke.
“The Verse Vs. Verse Rumble Royale is a tournament,” she explained. “Within every reality is one best suited to defend those realities.”
“So, I’m not the only one?” asked Optimus.
“No,” replied Azuliterii.
“What does it mean, aside from the fact that we’re invited to a tournament?” quizzed Optimus.
“It means that we want to see how well you would fare against other opponents,” answered Rosadera. “You are under no obligation to join, but if you do, you will have the opportunity to test your abilities against other powerful individuals and make an attempt at a great prize.”
“As of now, First Place prize is undecided,” continued Moradelia. “To ensure you all fight well, we will not reveal the Second or Third Place prizes.”
“All battles are non-lethal,” supplied Rojenthi, “and participation is voluntary. Should you be victorious, you will be awarded this great prize. Defeat brings only as much dishonor as you allow yourself. If you have any questions, speak now.”
“How long do I have to decide?” asked Optimus.
“You have until you unite with Megumi Hishikawa and Arsha Royana,” replied Rosadera. “We will see you again, Optimus Prime.”
“Wait, who are you?!” called Optimus.
“I am Rojenthi, the Red Princess of Chizara, and the war-time leader,” began Rojenthi.
“I am Azuliterii, the Blue Princess of Chizara, and the technological leader,” continued Azuliterii.
“I am Rosadera, the Pink Princess of Chizara, and the peace-time leader,” introduced Rosadera.
“I am Verdutha, the Green Princess of Chizara, and the environmental leader,” called Verdutha.
“And I am Moradelia, the Purple Princess of Chizara, and the history leader,” finished Moradelia. The Five Chizaran Princesses vanished in lights of their respective colors. Optimus was alone in his office once again. He was about to call Prowl when Teletraan 1 appeared on his screen.
“Optimus, a Lieutenant Skyfall has arrived,” he reported.
“Skyfall? What’s she doing here?” asked Optimus.
“Autobot Intelligence told her to personally give you their report,” replied Teletraan.
“Have her come to my office,” ordered Optimus. After a minute, a female Autobot with jet parts entered the office.
“Lieutenant Skyfall, with an intelligence report,” she introduced herself.
“What news, Lieutenant?” asked Optimus.
“Sir, Autobot Intelligence intercepted Decepticon transmissions directed to a Mr. Hiro Adachi and a Dr. C. Y. Borg. They have mentioned the eventual conquest of this world.”
“…Come with me, Lieutenant,” directed Optimus as he stood up. “I think we may have some people who can identify these people.”