Everyone had managed to calm the people down as they investigated where the scream came from. It was an old hangar barn for everyone to fit into. “This…I mean…it was coming from here!” insisted Cliffjumper.
“Sure it did,” remarked Ratchet.
“You heard it too!” protested Cliffjumper. “So did half of Empire City!”
“What we heard,” argued Ratchet, “was something that SOUNDED like a scream. It’s probably just wind going through the buildings.”
“What IS this place?” asked Swalmu. “Some sort of plane hangar?”
“Looks like it,” remarked Hanako. “Bit dusty.” She wiped some dust off of a support.
“That’s it, we’re taking a breather,” declared Ratchet. “Doctor’s orders.”
“Cliffjumper, you and Prowl distribute the Energon rations,” ordered Optimus.
“Got it,” confirmed Cliffjumper. As he passed out Energon cubes that would fit in a Transformer’s hand, he noticed something. “Oh, peachy! I need the fire extinguisher!” he grumbled. “There’s a small fire…over…here…huh.”
“What’s wrong?” asked Bashoon.
“The fire,” replied Cliffjumper. “Come take a look.”
“…Okay, as a Wizard of the Red Order, I can say this with some measure of authority,” called Optimus once everyone saw what was wrong, “fire should flicker. Primus, fire should MOVE!”
“Maybe it’s a projection of some kind?” suggested Twaldar. Thengo inched one of her legs towards the frozen fire.
“I’m feeling heat coming from it,” she replied. “I’m…kind of afraid to touch it.” She then snapped her fingers as an idea clicked in her head. “Someone get me a cloth!”
“Got one!” called Shalvey as her chair glided over to Thengo. It was an oily rag.
“Perfect,” praised Thengo. She took the rag then dropped it onto the fire. “…Huh,” muttered Thengo as everyone observed the results. “The rag’s burning but the fire’s still not moving. Heck, even the new flames are freezing up.”
“Er, everyone,” gulped Hanako, “I wiped some dust off of a support beam, then wiped my hand onto my sleeve, but now the dust is OFF my sleeve and back onto the support beam!”
“Okay, I wanna test this further,” declared Ironhide. “Cliffjumper, my rations?”
“I hardly think this is a good time to take in Energon,” muttered Cliffjumper as he handed the small cube over. Ironhide then pulled his arm back with the Energon cube still in his hand, then hurled it at a wall, shattering it on impact!
“Are you trying to make Prowl bore us with a lecture on wasting Energon…!?” spluttered Ratchet until more weirdness took place. The liquid Energon was flying back into the cube as it reassembled itself and flew back into Ironhide’s hands! “…Okay, to the Pit with a basket of this!” shuddered Ratchet. “Can we relax somewhere that ISN’T a freaky time-locked hangar barn?!”
“I second that,” agreed Optimus. “Let’s roll out. Teletraan, we need a…”
“Sir, hate to interrupt,” called Prowl from outside the hangar barn, “but, for some odd reason, Teletraan can’t be reached when you’re inside the barn. Apparently, he can’t find you lot.”
“What?!” yelped Optimus. He dashed outside and connected to Teletraan.
“There you are!” answered Teletraan. “Where were you?! You guys blipped out the instant you stepped inside!”
“How could we have blipped out?!” protested Optimus. “You’ve got all the sensors monitoring…!” He was cut off by everyone inside yelping in surprise. “Oh, scrap! I’ll call you back!” He and Prowl then ducked inside and gave off their own yelps as transparent people had joined the group.
“Where in the Pit did THEY come from?!” asked Prowl. One of the people, a Japanese woman in a white and gold dress with a three-pronged crown said something, but it was too fast to pick up.
“Um, could you repeat that?” quizzed Ironhide. A heavyset woman with roses all over her outfit then spoke to the Japanese woman at the same speed as her.
“We…we can’t understand you,” called Optimus. “We can’t…”
“Megumi!” called Richard. The Japanese woman turned and her face brightened at seeing Richard. They both ran toward each other. “Megumi, I can’t tell you how much I WHOAHAHAAHAHA! She…She ran right through me!” Richard’s joy was replaced with fear.
“My husband…literally…ran…right through me!” squeaked Megumi as the transparent version of Richard slowly stopped. “To Hell with this! Let’s get out of the ghost cave!”
“But ghosts only manifest in the Under-realm!” protested Malnar.
“Oh, really?!” argued Jandro. “Maybe you should tell them that! I’m sure they’ll move there right away!”
“Guys, those aren’t ghosts,” corrected War.
“What do you mean?” asked Arsha as she saw the altercation between the transparent versions of Megumi and Richard.
“They’re our loved ones,” explained Lacey. “The Temporal Stops are lining up with their help. We just need to figure out which one is the central universe.”
“And that means?” asked Ultra Magnus.
“It means that there’s a universe,” lectured Death, “that runs on a time scale between two other universes. We synchronize on that universe; we all go to that universe.”
“I don’t get it!” snapped Optimus.
“I can put it in more…” offered Pestilence.
“No, no, no,” replied Optimus. “What I don’t get is how we missed this! We swept Empire City before! We didn’t see it!”
“Oh, that?” asked Pestilence. “Maybe I didn’t tune the sensors right. In any event, we need that equipment now.”
“I’ll step out and tell Teletraan we need it,” volunteered Snarl. He headed out as Pestilence tried to make the situation clear to the transparent people.
“If I’m understanding Pestilence’s frantic waving right,” muttered War, “she’s saying we need to find the central universe.” She pointed to Megumi to try and make it clear. First Death nodded, then, after a minute, Pestilence nodded.
“I guess we’re all tuning to THIS location,” mused Megumi.
“Okay, she got the message,” declared Death.
“And it looks like Optimus’ team is setting up their equipment,” observed Strongarm.
“When they’re done, we need to modulate the rift transmission to a setting of 3.982,” began Lacey. Arsha tried her best to mime the number to the transparent people.
Pestilence was looking intently at Arsha when her image was rapidly and repeatedly miming out Lacey’s instructions. “If I’m reading her right,” called Pestilence, “once everything is set up, we’re modulating the rift transmission to a setting of 3.982.”
“She’s miming 3.982,” reported Malnar, eager to reunite with Arsha.
“Must be the modulation of rift transmission,” guessed War.
“They’re modulating!” called Arsha.
“Then, once they’re all done,” instructed Lacey, “we all need to press our respective start button! First us, then Richard’s group, then Megumi’s.” Arsha mimed the instructions repeatedly.
“She’s pointing to her, then us, then Megumi,” reported Richard.
“The start button order,” guessed Pestilence as her hand hovered over the button.
“It’s Lacey’s group, then Richard’s, then us!” reported Megumi.
“Then all we need to do,” declared War, “is wait for the countdown.
“They got the message!” called Arsha.
“Starting the countdown!” replied Lacey. “Three!” Arsha held up three fingers.
“Three!” called Optimus as he held up three fingers.
“Three!” counted Megumi as she held up three fingers.
“Two!” called Lacey as Arsha let a finger down.
“Two!” announced Optimus as a finger went down.
“Two!” relayed Megumi as she put a finger down.
“One!” continued Lacey.
“One!” relayed Optimus.
“One!” reported Megumi.
“NOW!” called Lacey as she pressed the button.
“NOW!” declared Optimus as Pestilence pressed the button.
“NOW!” announced Megumi as War pressed the button. All three, by some cosmic coincidence, managed to press their buttons at the same time. Energy then coursed throughout everyone and put them into pain. This treatment lasted for an hour until everyone blacked out.
When she came to, Megumi groaned. “Who else is aching all over?” she asked.
“Is someone talking?” moaned a young man’s voice. “I think my processor’s in another head that’s in another castle!”
“I don wanna go t’ scoo, mommee!” mumbled a young woman’s voice.
“Prime?” asked Blackarachnia. Megumi’s vision cleared to see Blackarachnia stepping towards a red robot with a blue helmet, Optimus Prime. His vision cleared and he put on a look of disbelief when he saw her.
“Legs?” he gasped as he stood up. They touched one another on the shoulders, then kissed passionately, pressing their lips against one another.
“Megumi!” called Richard’s voice. He picked up Megumi and twirled her, startling her at first before she laughed happily with him.
“PRINCESS! FOXY! HOOVES! FLUFFY! FARM BOY!” called Malnar.
“BONFIRE!” called Lardeth. Falnii, Foresna, Malnar, and Gorfanth then ran towards Lardeth and Arsha. “Uh oh!” gulped Lardeth. They were soon buried under their lovers and kissed repeatedly.
“Give them some air, for Seemeertii’s sake!” called Hanako. Everyone broke off the embrace as Hanako hugged Arsha. “My Precious One, I’ve missed you!” she proclaimed.
“I missed you too, Mama!” replied Arsha.
“Autobots, do you read?!” called a voice.
“Excuse me, Sir,” hissed another voice, “but if you could get off the line, I’m trying to locate a friend!”
“So am I, Lady!” snapped the first voice. Optimus and Arsha then found the communicator on Megumi’s equipment.
“Teletraan, this is Optimus,” he began. “All Autobots are reunited.”
“My Senior Staff and Ensign are with me as well, Rellmeer,” continued Arsha. Both callers sighed.
“You bots disappeared in a flash of light,” explained Teletraan. “I had to use a Sky Spy to try and contact you.”
“I was coming in to check on you all,” continued Rellmeer, “when you lot disappeared in the same manner as Mr. Optimus did.”
“We’re all safe,” assured Arsha.
“If things go right, we’ll be back soon,” reported Optimus. “See you in a bit.” Both Arsha and Optimus then ended the call.
“Megumi! Good to see you!” called a voice. It was Sonic!
“You blue speedster! It’s been too long!” cheered Megumi.
“So you have Transformers in your universe?! Lucky pincushion!” chuckled Richard.
“Prime’s been a pretty big help so far in fighting Eggman,” explained Sonic.
“Don’t sell yourself short, dude,” interjected Optimus. “You’ve helped the Autobots a lot against the Decepticons.”
“He’s helped a lot in keeping Soundwave and Buzzsaw off our backs,” supplied Arsha.
“Soundwave and Buzzsaw were in your home universe?” gulped Optimus.
“I’ll brief you on everything when we have time, Sir,” offered Ultra Magnus.
“You know, I just realized,” remarked Arsha, “we never introduced ourselves.”
“No, we didn’t,” agreed Optimus.
“I’ll start,” offered Megumi. “I’m Hishikawa Megumi, Queen of the Feudal Nerd Society and Kamen Rider Royal/Vortex.”
“I’m Optimus Prime,” continued Optimus, “leader of the Autobots.”
“I’m Arsha Royana,” finished Arsha, “Captain of the CRS-2784, Endeavor and Crown Princess of the entire Mid-realm.”
“I have to apologize for dumping my friends on you all,” offered Optimus.
“That’s the result of the Convergence,” replied Megumi. “We all had to take care of one another until we were reunited.” The equipment then made a noise. “Aha!” cheered Megumi. “Your respective homes are encoded onto a flash drive! Let’s get to the Gateway and locate your homes!”
“The Gateway?” asked Optimus.
“I guess we’ll find out,” mused Arsha. Megumi pulled out a communicator.
“POmega, this is Megumi!” she called. “Temporal Stop alignment is a success! Everyone’s back together! I repeat, everyone’s back together! Requesting a rift back to Vorton!”
“One rift home coming up!” called POmega. “And I’ve finally got the patch that removes the seven-person limit set up! You’re all welcome to Vorton!”
“Wait, hold up,” interjected Optimus. “Are you saying…?” The rift then opened.
“Everyone, please mind your step as you enter the rift,” lectured Megumi. Everyone then piled into the rift and made it to Vorton. Optimus was stunned! Arsha took in the beauty of the place.
“But…but I thought,” spluttered Optimus as he stumbled around, “…I mean…this planet’s supposed to be a myth!”
“Apparently not,” mused Arsha. “By the Ones, this is magnificent!”
“Told you!” laughed Sonic.
“Sonic went on about how he went to Vorton and how he helped beat Lord Vortech,” elaborated Optimus to Megumi.
“Home sweet home,” sighed Richard, happy that he proved Optimus wrong.
“It’s been home for a lot of us for some time,” chuckled Malnar.
“And I hope you can visit us in the future,” offered Megumi.
“Wait, before you send us off,” interjected Arsha, “I gotta know; did you get invited to a fighting tournament?”
“That depends,” replied Optimus, “was the fighting tournament called the Verse Vs. Verse Rumble Royale?”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot!” gasped Megumi. “I was supposed to decide on whether or not I would participate when I met you two.”
“Same here,” supplied Optimus.
“Anyone know what First Place prize is?” asked Arsha.
“Nope,” replied Megumi.
“Sorry,” answered Optimus.
“Then I guess we need to ask them before we give our decision,” declared Arsha.
“I’ll get my invitation and we’ll ask them,” offered Megumi. She headed to her room and got her invitation, returned to the group, and held her invitation up. “Chizaran Princesses, is the First Place prize decided?” she asked. Purple, pink, and green flashes of light appeared and they solidified into Moradelia, Rosadera, and Verdutha.
“First Place prize,” answered Verdutha, “should you accept, is an object known by many names. In Arsha’s home, it is the Elder Stick. On Cybertron, it is the Staff of Power. Megumi heard it referred to as the Wand of Godhood during one of her history classes. All universes call it…”
“THE FRAGGING MASTER WAND?!” yelped Optimus as Megumi’s jaw hit the floor.
“WHY WOULD GOD-LIKE BEINGS WANT TO HAND OUT PRIZES THAT POWERFUL?!” protested Arsha.
“Because we can,” replied Rosadera.
“Seems like it would give you an unfair advantage if you participated again!” remarked Optimus.
“Not possible,” assured Moradelia. “Once you’ve won first place, you cannot participate again. Only if you don’t win first place may you compete more than once.”
“Forgive me if I sound ungrateful,” interjected Megumi, “but this feels like a trap. You find potential dangers, entice them with ultimate power, then get rid of them!”
“Just because one wins,” countered Verdutha, “does NOT mean previous competitors can’t try and steal it from you. When she lost the one War won, Scorpainia tried to steal the Forge from her.” Megumi arched an eyebrow. “Don’t be so harsh on her!” protested Verdutha. “She was trying to free her world from a tyrannical regime before her own regime took over! A forge that can create anything you want? You bet she wanted that. War made it too well defended, however. She just gave up. Besides, not all champions here are heroes. Some may be unstoppable dictators while others may be pacifists with superior mental powers. Some use their respective prizes on a whim while others just lock them away.”
“And that’s what needs to be done with the Master Wand,” declared Arsha.
“So we’re agreed,” guessed Megumi. “The Tarlaxians have the best vault and…”
“Excuse you!” interjected Arsha as she transferred her hairpiece to her waist. “The Master Wand is going into Realmfleet’s custody!”
“Excuse YOU!” argued Megumi. “The Tarlaxians are better guardians!”
“Excuse BOTH of you!” countered Optimus. “The Forbidden Archives on Cybertron are far more guarded than any of yours!”
“…There’s only one way to settle it then,” declared Megumi.
“Agreed!” called Arsha.
“No other way,” confirmed Optimus. They then turned to the three Chizarans. “Invitation accepted freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,” pronounced Optimus.
“I’m in, too!” declared Arsha.
“I’m fighting as well!” announced Megumi.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” called Death’s voice. “What’s this I hear about accepting the invitation?! You lot aren’t ready yet!”
“Megumi Hishikawa,” declared Verdutha, “your preliminary round begins! I shall preside over it. Your opponent is Godzilla! Battlefield has been selected as Godzilla’s.”
“Optimus Prime, your preliminary round begins!” announced Moradelia. “I shall preside over it. Your opponent is Beatrice, the Golden Witch! Battlefield has been selected as Optimus Prime’s.”
“Arsha Royana, your preliminary round begins!” proclaimed Rosadera. “I shall preside over it. Your opponent is Priest 072486! Battlefield has been selected as Arsha Royana’s.” The three then disappeared.
“Preliminary rounds?” asked Optimus.
“Oh yeah,” remembered Arsha. “Before they start things off, they need to make sure they made no mistakes, so they have…” Arsha, Megumi, and Optimus then vanished!
“Oh, please, let them win!” begged Death.