The journey to Mt. Doom continued as the group abandoned their disguises. Their rations were gone and they were tired. The heat of Mt. Doom and the choking air made it hard for everyone to continue. Sauron’s gaze became fixed on the Black Gate as everyone struggled on. Frodo finally collapsed as Sam crawled towards him. He then lifted Frodo off the ground. “Do you remember the Shire, Mister Frodo?” asked Sam. “It will be Spring soon and the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thickets.” Tears then streamed down his dirty face. “And they will be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields and eating the first of the strawberries and cream.”
“Strawberries,” sighed Megumi. “I can still see a package of them in our house, Richard. You brought them home to try and cheer me up during my funk. I can see myself whipping cream and then we retire to the porch and look at the natural forest near our backyard.”
“We would always be more at ease at seeing nature,” chuckled Richard as he remembered their house on the outskirts of Beyond City. “Just like the romantic poets of old. We then kiss, the taste of strawberries lingering in our mouths.”
“Do you remember the taste of strawberries?” Sam asked Frodo.
“…No, Sam,” wheezed Frodo. “I can’t recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water or the touch of grass. I’m naked in the dark! There’s… there’s nothing! No veil between me and the wheel of fire!” Panic then set into the Hobbit. “I can see him with my waking eyes!”
“Then let us be rid of it once and for all!” roared Malak.
“He’s right!” agreed Curly. “I’m sick of being afraid of that ring!”
“Me too!” affirmed Larry.
“Me three! Let’s finish it!” declared Moe.
“They’re right, we have a mission to complete,” proclaimed Prowl. “For ALL of our loved ones, let’s finish it!”
“Let’s do it to it!” cheered Sonic. “…Never thought I’d say that again.”
“I may be a creature of darkness,” hissed Jandro, “but my darkness is acknowledged, not controlled! I’ll be damned if I bow to a freak of nature like Sauron and undo the three Ages of mastery of my darkness!”
“I’ve been fighting evil since the 80’s,” declared Usagi I, “I’m not stopping now!”
“I’m not going to live in fear of a scrap of jewelry!” snarled Batman. “I don’t care how much power it has, let’s end it!”
“Minna-san, I’ve always done everything in my power to accomplish a goal,” pronounced Megumi, “I’ll not let myself falter now!”
“Come on Mister Frodo, I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” declared Sam as he hoisted Frodo onto his shoulders. “COME ON!” he called to everyone as he led the charge up Mt. Doom.
“Still can’t pierce the ash cloud,” reported Amelia on the Virginia. Emily winced.
“Would really like to know that they’ve won!” she muttered. “And they need to hurry up! Prime’s not gonna last much longer!”
“Can’t Ratchet do anything?!” protested Joshua.
“He’s not equipped for that kind of poison,” muttered Emily. “He can only slow down the spread. If he tries to repair Optimus, the repair trauma will extinguish his Spark.”
“Then we need to move it!” urged Amelia.
“Sparks can’t exist outside a living body,” replied Emily. “We’d need a safe vessel for it to rest in.”
“Like what?!” argued Joshua.
“Right now, we need to make sure Megumi makes it to Mt. Doom,” answered Emily. “Keep trying to break through the ash cloud.”
“Emily,” called Moon-Kyung, “The Battle of the Black Gate is going on.”
“Good, they have time now,” muttered Emily.
“Look Mister Frodo, a doorway!” cheered Sam as everyone climbed boulders that looked like steps. “We’re almost there!”
“Praise every god in the multiverse, we’re home free!” cheered Megumi.
“Not so free yet!” rasped a voice. It then made a horrible swallowing noise that sounded like “Gollum! Gollum! Gollum!” In that instance, Old Gollum leapt between the group and the Cracks of Doom!
“Gollum, we have to destroy the Ring!” argued Megumi.
“Mustn’t go that way!” rasped Gollum. “Mustn’t hurt the Precious!” He leapt towards them and was intercepted by Malak. He got out of the Troll’s grasp and knocked Sam down. Batman tried to pull them apart, but Gollum was too wriggly for him! Gollum then bit Batman’s hand, causing him to roar in pain. Megumi then punched Gollum straight in the mouth, but Gollum then kicked her square in the gut. She was winded as Gollum clambered onto Prowl and tore into his shoulder. As it sparked, Prowl fell to the ground as everyone tried to get a shot in at Gollum. “Precious will come back to us!” snarled Gollum. “Precious is ours!”
“The Precious is evil!” argued Megumi as she got her wind back.
“Precious is just Precious!” shouted Gollum. “Precious will…where is it?!”
“Frodo?!” called Sam. Everyone turned to see Frodo sprinting towards the Cracks of Doom!
“Quick! After him!” called Megumi. Everyone dashed into the volcano and were immediately assaulted by the heat of the lava.
“FRODO!” called Sam.
“I’m here, Sam!” replied Frodo’s voice. He was at the edge of the cliff overlooking the river of lava.
“Destroy it!” urged Bumblebee.
“Go on! Now! Throw it in the fire!” called Jandro. Frodo held the chain over the lava river, but simply stared at the Ring.
“What are you waiting for?! Just let it go!!” pleaded Sam. Frodo then turned slowly, his eyes blazing with madness.
“No!” groaned Megumi.
“The Ring is mine!” called Frodo as he took it off the chain and put it onto his finger, vanishing from sight!
“NO!” wailed Sam.
“PRECIOUS!” shouted Gollum as he leapt over the group and managed to land onto the invisible Frodo. Because of Frodo’s invisible state, Gollum looked like he was bouncing up and down in the air, grappling with an invisible worm. He then got a hold of the invisible thing and bit down on it. He took the invisible thing and came off of the now visible Frodo as he fell to the ground, clutching his hand in pain. Half of his finger was gone! Gollum then got the Ring and held it into the air before celebrating that he got the Precious back.
While Gollum was celebrating, the Battle of the Black Gate was at a standstill, even with the new technology the Enemy’s forces had. “I thought Hiro said we’d be unstoppable with these ‘goons’!” snarled an Orc.
“It’s pronounced ‘guns’,” shouted a Combatman, “and we didn’t consider that the enemy would have giant robots!”
“Stop talking and keep fighting!” shouted a third Orc. The Orc’s voice belonged to Kiri. “Thank goodness for medics!” hissed Kiri to himself as he summoned the Hyper Zecter. “Hyper Cast Off!” He then attached the Hyper Zecter to his left hip and pressed the horn down.
“Hyper Cast Off!” announced the Hyper Zecter as Kiri went into Hyper Form. “Change: Hyper Mantis!”
“Hyper Clock Up!” called Kiri as he slapped the Hyper Zecter.
“Hyper Clock Up!” repeated the Hyper Zecter. He then went at incredible speeds to continue the assault.
During Kiri’s appearance on the battlefield, Frodo saw Gollum jumping for joy, then became possessed by a burning sensation of resolve. He ignored Megumi’s protests as he got up and charged at Gollum, grappling with him for possession of the Ring. As they fought, both of them tumbled over the edge! Gollum fell as he cuddled the Ring, then held it aloft in triumph. That feeling ceased the instant he hit the lava and sank into it, the pain of the intense heat shutting every sense of feeling down. While Gollum was destroyed, the Ring stayed aloft on a small solid part of the lava as the writing appeared. Everyone looked over the edge to see Frodo holding on to the cliff! Batman worked quickly. “Shift Keystone, activate! Magenta, near the group! Yellow, near the cliff edge! Cyan, near the door! Shift! Frodo! Magenta!” The Shift Keystone then pulled through as Frodo came through the Magenta Portal and into Sam’s arms! The instant Frodo was rescued, the Ring sunk into the lava, melting as it did. Sauron then roared in utter defeat!
At the Black Gate, everyone turned to see where the shouting came from. Kiri then twitched as a nasty feeling welled up in his gut. His Hyper Zecter had long announced that Hyper Clock Up had wound down so he could see Barad-dûr crumble and fall as Sauron vanished. “FRODO!” cheered Merry! “FRODO!” The call was taken up by everyone. Kiri decided that leaving this universe would increase his chances of survival.
“Hyper Clock Up! Hyper Clock Up!! HYPER CLOCK UP!!!” he urged as he slapped the Hyper Zecter.
“Hyper Clock Up!” confirmed the Hyper Zecter. He then ran towards a small fighter craft and got in. “Hyper Clock Over!” announced the Zecter as he went through the checks. Everything was good, so Kiri took off, summoned a dimensional rift, and escaped through it. Meanwhile, Mordor crumbled and the enemy forces that remained were swallowed by the earth. Mt. Doom then blew its top, causing the cheer to stop.
“Time to go!” yelped Megumi as Prowl and Bumblebee transformed and let everyone in. Perceptor stayed in robot mode, allowed people onto his back, and used his flight jets to keep up with Prowl and Bumblebee as they escaped Mt. Doom. The lava pursued them as they continued fleeing the volcano. As they fled, the ash cloud parted.
“We have a signal!” called Amelia. “They’re trying to stay ahead of the lava!”
“Can you get a running lock on them?!” Emily called to Rusty and the Brigadier.
“We have one on them now!” reported Rusty.
“Get them up here! Into the cargo hold! NOW!” ordered Emily.
“…Megumi…Neesan…” (Sister) whispered Sengoku as he dropped to his knees and his transformation cancelled. Hiroki’s eyes were wet with tears of disbelief that his sister, Megumi, was dead.
“Hello?” called Emily’s voice. “Any Riders receiving?” Hiroki then took the call.
“Moshi moshi,” he mumbled.
“They’re safe in the cargo hold,” reported Emily. Hiroki’s mood brightened instantly. “We’re ready to beam everyone aboard!
“Do it!” cheered Hiroki. Everyone was beamed onto the Virginia and into safety. They were in the cargo hold, same as Megumi’s team. Henry was tending to Frodo’s finger stump, disinfecting it, and bandaging it while Frodo got a faraway look. The surviving Fellowship Members gathered around him as Frodo smiled.
“I can see the Shire,” he sighed happily, relieved to see anything aside from Sauron and the Darkness. “The Brandywine River. Bag End. Gandalf’s fireworks. The lights on the party tree.”
“Rosie Cotton dancing,” sighed Sam. “She had ribbons in her hair. If ever I was to marry someone, it’d be her. It’d be her.”
“You have that chance, Samwise the Brave,” remarked Batman.
“I’m hardly that,” replied Sam.
“You carried an adult Hobbit up miles of burning mountain,” countered Batman, “all while it was spewing poisonous gases. You were the one who got Frodo to the Cracks of Doom, not any of us.”
“Sam, I’m so glad to have someone like you as a friend,” sighed Frodo. Sam had happy tears in his eyes as the two Hobbits embraced as friends do.
“Well then,” chuckled Pippen, “we’ve got celebrating to do!”
“Not quite,” muttered Henry.
“What do you mean?” asked Megumi.
“Optimus was stabbed by something called a Morgul blade,” explained Arsha.
“Since Sauron fell,” continued Henry, “the effects of the thing have lessened, but Ratchet’s not so hopeful.”
“Where’s Optimus?!” yelped Megumi. She was led to Sick Bay and saw Optimus on a medical berth. Ratchet was looking him over.
“His Spark is still weak,” he reported. “With the repair trauma, we’ll lose it for sure!”
“Then we have to move it so he can be repaired safely!” insisted Megumi as Richard came in after his wife.
“His Spark can’t exist outside a living body!” argued Ratchet. Megumi then looked at her Vortex Driver.
“There IS a way,” she mused, remembering Vortoranii.
“…What, are you NUTS?!” yelped Richard. “The Vortex Driver is meant to use i.d. tags, not Sparks! Besides, Prime’s Spark has the Matrix with it! It’s probably too powerful!”
“Like we have a choice?!” countered Megumi. She turned to Ratchet. “During the Vortech Wars, my old belt, the Supreme Vortex Driver, carried a living soul with it. If the current model Vortex Drivers are built around the Supreme Vortex Driver’s blueprints, we can safely move Optimus’ Spark into the Vortex Driver.”
“…A risky gamble, but I’m not gonna let a young one die on my table!” declared Ratchet. He opened Optimus’ chest and revealed the Spark. He then picked Megumi up and held her near the Spark. Megumi held up her Vortex Driver and pointed it at the Spark. Nothing happened for a bit, then the Spark fired a beam of light into it and made it crackle with energy. The energy then tore through Megumi and heaped the pain onto her before blowing her and the Vortex Driver back. The Spark had long faded and a strange device landed near the Vortex Driver as it hit the floor. Megumi didn’t see the device, paying attention only to the Vortex Driver as she picked it up.
“Prime?! Prime, can you hear me?!” she called.
“Loud and clear,” replied Optimus’ voice. Megumi then realized it didn’t come from the Vortex Driver. “On the floor,” called Optimus’ voice. Megumi looked around to see the device on the floor. It was rectangular and had a tab extending from the back that looked like it could hold an i.d. tag in it. The front looked like it could fit over the wheel of the Vortex Driver. It had small arms with smaller wheels with teeth set on them that looked like they could turn the Vortex Driver’s wheel. Megumi picked up the device and examined it.
“…Prime?” she asked.
“That’s my title, don’t wear it out,” answered the device in Optimus’ voice.
“Optimus, how…what is this thing?!” demanded Megumi as Ratchet set bodily regeneration to maximum.
“I’m not sure,” replied Optimus. “I think it’s called an Ascendant, an extension of the Vortex Driver that needed a massive amount of energy to bring it into reality. It looks like my Spark was the energy needed. You slip the tab into the i.d. tag slot, then tilt it down until it rests over the wheel and the smaller wheels’ teeth fit over the larger one’s teeth, then press the blue button to activate its functions. Apparently, it can alter your armor so that you look more like the person the i.d. tag is based off of and gain their memories and skill.”
“Hold on, let me make sure we heard that right,” interjected Richard. “The Ascendant will turn us into the person the i.d. tag is based off of?”
“Yep,” confirmed Optimus. “Strengths, weaknesses, and all.”
“And is it designed to hold onto a Spark for very long?” asked Megumi.
“No, I can only be in here for a few hours,” replied Optimus.
“Thankfully, you’ll only need to be in there for half that time,” reported Ratchet. “Your body is regenerating nicely and is removing all traces of the Morgul blade except the scar on the shoulder.”
“Sweet! My first battle scar!” cheered Optimus.
“In that case, I’ll just leave you all to…” began Megumi. She was intercepted by Emily as she shoved her sister-in-law onto a bed. “Wait a minute, I need to…!” protested Megumi.
“You keep arguing with your kindly family doctor,” interrupted Emily, “you’re gonna be laid up for two hours. If you’re lucky, you’ll be out in one.”
“Well, if no one else needs me,” mused Richard, “I think I’ll head for my station.”
“That bed’s your station!” snapped Emily as she pointed to another bed.
“Emily-chan, I think you’re enjoying this,” chuckled Megumi.
“Oh, she is,” sniggered Richard as he laid down onto the bed. “I’ve never seen her look so happy.”
“Shut up!” snapped Emily. Megumi opened her mouth and was promptly shushed by Emily. Sick bay then went quiet. “…Well, what do you know? I finally got the last word!” giggled Emily.