“All right, let’s go over the plan one last time,” declared Megumi once several days had passed and all newcomers had made contact with their homes. “We need to get the Ring to Mordor and get Frodo to throw it into Mt. Doom. I will lead a group consisting of Batman, Richard, Emmanuel, Irina, Brenden, Famine, Tonje, Tanisha, Lacey, Sophie, Swalmu, Jandro, Colleen, Usagi I, Bumblebee, Perceptor, Prowl, Team Sonic, Gorfanth, Lardeth, Oak, Dalengor, and Malak. We get Frodo and Sam into Mordor via the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, cross Mordor unseen, and throw the Ring into the fires of Mt. Doom.”
“While that’s going on,” supplied Hiroki, “I will direct a group consisting of Gandalf, Wyldstyle, Michael, Lukas, Livia, War, Charline, Death, Wilson, Twaldar, Alesandro, Liam, Jason, Mickey, Optimus, Cliffjumper, Ironhide, Sira, Team Dark, Malnar, Nazay, Laverda, and Elmar. We will assist Pippen and Gandalf in getting the defenses raised for Minas Tirith and try and hold out.”
“Hopefully, they will hold out until Rohan arrives with my group,” continued Mikhail. “I will be leading Hongo, Haitao, Xiomara, Flora, Victor, Dell, Agus, Foresna, Arsha, Thangred, Melandra, Bashoon, Trema, Natalie, Strongarm, Blackarachnia, Grimlock, Slash, Snarl, Jazz, and Team Chaotix.”
“If and when we drive Mordor’s forces back into the Black Land,” Hiroki went on, “we unite and storm the Black Gates and distract Sauron long enough until Megumi’s group succeeds.”
“When Mt. Doom explodes and Mordor self-destructs,” finished Emily, “the Virginia and Scorpainia’s fleet will finally reveal themselves. I will be in command of the Virginia and will have Joshua, Sheela, Chell, Elphaba, the Brigadier, Rusty, Amelia, Pestilence, Amelia, Henry, Moon-kyung, Peach, Marshii, Thengo, Orthena, Sludge, Swoop, Slag, Ultra Magnus, Team Rose, and Ratchet. We’ll beam you all out, inform everybody of your survival, and, once we return the Hobbits back to the Shire and coronate Aragorn and reunite him with Arwen, we regroup with everyone, chase any survivors of Hiro’s group back to Vorton with a fleet more massive than Shocker Rift’s, chase the bad guys out of our home, and restore it back to how we like it.”
“Excellent!” praised Megumi. “We’re all good. Minna, we all know what’s at stake. If we miss this chance and Sauron gets the Ring back, he’ll have our heads. We must make sure Frodo gets rid of the Ring.”
“A tremendous victory awaits us,” assured Optimus.
“I trust those words are prophetic,” gulped Arsha.
“They are,” replied Optimus.
“Then we should prepare a drink for when we do win,” chuckled Trema.
“Got a bottle of Rock-rum on you?” asked Optimus.
“A bottle?” remarked Trema. “I brought 10 barrels! 2705, there is NO finer vintage!”
“Then let’s make sure we all win so we can use it for a toast,” declared Megumi.
“Hiro, what, pray tell, are you and your wife doing?” asked Megatron as he arrived at the Gateway Room.
“Checking something out,” replied Hiro as he set Megumi’s crown on Igura’s head. “What do you think?” he asked Igura as he gestured towards a mirror. She looked in the mirror, then her face fell.
“Oh god, I’m fat!” she moaned.
“You’re not fat,” assured Hiro as he held her pregnant frame from behind her. “Is there anything you need?” he whispered in her ear.
“A new head, maybe,” grumbled Megatron.
“What’s THAT supposed to mean?!” snarled Igura as her mood changed. Call it a mood swing if you will, but I’d say her anger, at that moment, was legitimate.
“Perhaps you should remain out of our way until you’ve given birth,” replied Megatron.
“Are you calling my wife useless?!” growled Hiro.
“I’m saying she’s stressing herself out!” answered Megatron. “Sexist though this sounds, a war zone is no place for a pregnant woman!”
“This ISN’T a war zone!” argued Hiro.
“Give it time!” countered Megatron. “Megumi’s going to return, you can count on it!”
“And we’ll be able to hold her off!” insisted Hiro. “Stop being so unreasonable!”
“Hey, hey, hey, make some love right now!” called a voice. It was Dr. Borg’s Goblin financier, Tormo. He had a tray with a beverage on it.
“Ah, Tormo,” greeted Hiro. “I take it that’s the decaf?”
“Decaf what?” asked Megatron.
“It’s the first attempt at decaffeinated Goblin coffee!” replied Tormo. “Doing a little market research. Go on, try it!” Igura took the drink and sipped it before making a face.
“Horrible!” she gagged.
“Come on, it can’t be that bad,” soothed Hiro before he tried it. “…Ugh, Tormo!” he protested.
“I gave it my best shot!” protested Tormo. “The removal of caffeine from beverages has plagued restaurateurs and bartenders for eons! Not even our best magic can do any better!”
“I’m trying to get Igura off of caffeine, not poison her!” growled Hiro.
“Okay, now who’s being unreasonable?!” argued Igura. “You make me sound like some kind of addict! I have one, maybe one and a half, cups a day!”
“Sweet Eagle,” replied Hiro, “I simply don’t want our daughter to be dependent on caffeine.”
“You’re being ridiculous!” hissed Igura.
“Don’t bother reasoning with him,” interjected Dr. Borg as she came in. “Pregnancy always gets a man in a tizzy, not that that’s always bad. It DOES indicate that the man cares about the child.”
“Excuse me, Doctor,” argued Hiro, “this isn’t the first baby I had!”
“Excuse ME!” replied Igura. “Your first wife had Megumi! You shouldn’t tell me what to do!”
“Not to give total credence to Hiro’s behavior,” remarked Dr. Borg, “but you are carrying HIS child as well as yours. He DOES have some say.”
“Even if he IS leasing out your time,” interjected Tormo, “Hiro HAS certain rights.”
“…Leasing out my time?” asked Igura as venom dripped in her voice.
“Back home, pregnancy is when a man is renting a woman’s time in caring for a child and has to compensate her for her time,” explained Tormo.
“…RENTING?!” roared Hiro and Igura. Tormo decided to beat a hasty retreat.
A portal had opened on the Promenade, a portal of Caan’s design. Caan stepped out of it and looked around. He then inched his way towards a shopping area. As he crept in, he failed to notice one of his old Dalek mates. “Unauthorized humanoid detected!” it barked.
“Peace, old brother!” called Caan. “I’m here to help.”
“Why should the Daleks accept help from you?” demanded the Dalek.
“Because I know how to get the Skaro Daleks back into their original casings with no repercussions, and I know what the Emperor is,” replied Caan. The Dalek became a little less twitchy.
“The Creator is the Emperor!” barked the Dalek. “He has joined us in…!”
“Shocker Rift propaganda, I’m afraid,” interrupted Caan. “It’s actually a mutant bred from a Combatman’s cells. I have proof. Check it to see that I’m not lying.” He produced a data-pad for the Dalek to examine.
“…If it IS the truth you speak,” continued the Dalek, “then what hope do we have? We are doomed to be slaves to inferior life-forms!”
“I know how to extricate you from the False Emperor’s control,” offered Caan. “But, we must do it carefully and quietly. If Hiro finds out, you really WILL be doomed to slavery. Even then, after you ARE freed, you must wait until proof of Mordor’s fall reaches you.” The Dalek’s eyestalk drooped slightly downwards and moved from side to side as it considered its next move before deciding. The eyestalk then faced Caan.
“I must consult with the true Dalek Supreme!” declared the Dalek as it took the pad. “You will have our decision within the hour!”
“I’m sure the true Dalek Supreme will do what’s best for Dalek Supremacy,” purred Caan. The Dalek trundled off to find the Dalek Supreme. Caan then activated a communicator. “Metaltron, this is Caan, the seeds of doubt against Hiro are planted. I repeat, the Daleks are about to be free. Requesting immediate return.”
“I obey!” replied Metaltron. A rift opened for Caan and he stepped through.
“All contents confirmed!” barked a Scientist Dalek of the Skaro breed. All Daleks on the private comms were of Skarosian origin. “Caan can free us!”
“Then we must accept his offer!” replied the Dalek Supreme. “When we return to our original casings and are freed from the explosives, Skaro will be closed off to Shocker Rift and anyone staying behind will be exterminated! Shocker Rift will fall! Contact Caan with the frequency encoded on the pad!”
“I obey!” replied a Dalek.
Soundwave had finally learned the operations of the Gateway and its computer, so he was on monitor duty as usual. He idly flicked through a pleasure channel while keeping his main attention on rift activity. He then heard a ping in his head. It was from Middle Earth. “What the?” he muttered. When he sifted through the information, his optics went wide! “Emergency! Emergency!” he called on the general comms. “Dudes, Autobots have been sighted marching with Théoden! Repeat, Autobots are marching with Rohan!”
“What?!” replied Megatron’s voice.
“There’s more!” continued Soundwave. “Vortex Riders have been sighted at Minas Tirith and Megumi’s reaching Mordor’s western borders!”
“So that’s why she disabled all non-life-support systems!” theorized Dr. Borg. “She still has a way to circumvent us!”
“We need to stop them immediately!” declared Megatron. “Mordor HAS to be their ultimate target, since Sauron’s reduced to being a flaming eye atop Barad-dûr again!”
“There is no reason to panic,” assured Hiro. “Mordor has been augmented by our technology. The Orcs will be able to get the Ring back to Sauron and we’ll be able to defeat them soundly.”
“I find it wise not to underestimate the enemy,” advised Megatron.
“Fine, we can send some other troops, if you’re so paranoid about it,” sighed Hiro.
“Seekers, stop the Rohan march!” ordered Megatron.
“Jansha, weaken Gondor!” commanded Dr. Borg.
“And I suppose we can employ Shelob to stop them, since she’s more powerful than ever as a Transformer,” mused Hiro.
“…Shelob’s a what?” asked Megatron.
A portal opened as Sam and Frodo met Megumi’s group at the edge of the Morgul Vale. “Never thought I’d try this again,” muttered Frodo.
“Well, we’re here to help,” assured Megumi, “and, this time, there’s no Gollum to guide you.”
“Why would that stinker guide us into Mordor?” asked Sam.
“We’ll tell you later,” replied Richard. “Right now, we’ve got some scaling to do.”
“Scaling?” asked Frodo.
“We’re climbing the mountains,” explained Prowl, shuddering. Megumi noticed. Bumblebee saw her glance at Prowl and smirked.
“There are only two Autobots I’ve heard of with a fear of heights,” chuckled Bumblebee. “One of them is Prowl, the other is, ironically, the Aerialbot leader.”
“You could have said something!” Megumi hissed at Prowl.
“The mission is all that matters!” declared Prowl.
“Well, the mission’s going to be screwy if not all teammates are fully prepared!” snapped Megumi.
“I HAVE put aside my acrophobia in certain…” Prowl stopped and had his attention snatched by something else. “Everyone…” he warned.
“That’s definitely marching we’re hearing!” gulped Jandro.
“Hide!” hissed Megumi. Everyone got off the road before the Orc army could see them. Gorshagh was leading the march as the Kiri Zecter sat in his hand. A screech then echoed throughout the Morgul Vale as the Lord of the Nazgûl flew on a mechanical Fell Beast with his new motorcycle embedded into it. His new biker gear evoked his old armor. He shrieked and the Orcs continued marching, arming their new weapons that Shocker Rift had provided. It took over an hour for the Orcs to clear out of the Morgul Vale. Once it was confirmed safe, Megumi’s group looked upwards.
“Too high for a grappling hook,” mused Batman.
“Zephyrs and Vampires tend not to go straight up that high,” muttered Swalmu.
“I can’t really take everyone up as I don’t have that kind of strength,” remarked Tails.
“And our vehicle modes can only go so high unless we’re in combat mode,” replied Perceptor. “Even then, my vehicle mode’s a mobile lab station.”
“Then there’s only one thing for it,” declared Megumi. “We have to scale it.”
“Not all of us are that prepared for rock-climbing,” countered Emmanuel as he gestured to his dress.
“Then there’s only one option,” offered Bumblebee. Everyone gave the Autobot scout their full attention.
“You realize having them on us as we climb,” whimpered Prowl, “won’t make us go any faster!” He had Gorfanth, Lardeth, Oak, Dalengor, Malak, Jandro, and Swalmu holding onto him.
“It was the best option I could come up with, given the circumstances!” protested Bumblebee as he carried Team Sonic, Colleen, Usagi I, Sophie, and Lacey.
“Ja, well, next time we do this,” grumbled Perceptor as he carried Megumi, Batman, Richard, Emmanuel, Irina, Brenden, Famine, Tonje, and Tanisha, “we’re bringing a rocket sled that can carry everyone.
“Jandro, stop moving around so much!” protested Gorfanth. “You’re upsetting the balance by moving!”
“Sorry!” whispered Jandro. “I just can’t keep my eyes off Brenden.”
“…Do you have a crush on him?” asked Gorfanth.
“Well, he admitted the same to me when Megumi, Arsha, and Optimus were fighting their preliminary rounds,” replied Jandro.
“Then why not ask him out?” inquired Gorfanth.
“After this adventure, I think I will,” mused Jandro.
“There!” called Megumi as she pointed to a tunnel’s entrance in the mountains.
“I see it!” called Prowl. He buried his fear of heights a little longer as he led the climb to the entrance. He wanted solid ground under his feet as fast as possible. They all arrived at the tunnel’s mouth and rested for a bit. “Bumblebee,” panted Prowl, “never suggest rock-climbing to me as a bonding activity, EVER!”
“Noted, Sir,” replied Bumblebee. “Okay, who else could use a top-off on their internal Energon reserves?”
“I think that will be splendid!” cheered Perceptor.
“We’re taking a breather, then,” declared Megumi. Everyone sat down as the Autobots got their rations out. Megumi arched an eyebrow when she saw how little Bumblebee drank. “I thought you said you needed Energon?” she asked.
“I asked if everyone needed a top-off,” corrected Bumblebee.
“Perceptor and I needed more Energon from that climb,” continued Prowl. “Bumblebee’s the most efficient in terms of Energon consumption.”
“That usually happens when a bot like me is so sho…” Bumblebee was struggling to say the word, “…sho…short!” He then curled up into a ball to hide his embarrassment.
“He admitted it!” Perceptor whispered to Prowl.
“He’s starting to face reality!” replied Prowl.
“Well, shortness-acknowledgement aside,” declared Richard, “I could use some food. Mr. Gamgee, is there enough Lembas for us all?”
“More than enough,” replied Sam. He divided up the Elven-bread and everyone was pleasantly surprised.
“It’s sweet!” praised Jandro.
“Almost like the Elven-bread of home,” chuckled Swalmu.
“Mister Frodo, you need some…Frodo? Mister Frodo?!” Sam became alarmed as he couldn’t find Frodo.
“Of all the…FRODO! NOT YET! WAIT FOR US!” called Megumi. Everyone got up and gave pursuit of the wayward Hobbit.