An hour had passed. Both groups had arrived in a discreet location in Japan of universe K-4-M-3-N-R-1-D-3-R. Megumi’s group had also brought Igura’s body and helped dig the grave. Megatron had a grave marker with Igura’s name. The casket was lowered and the marker was set. The casket was buried and Igura’s body, over time, would return to nature. Once the grave was filled, everyone had a moment of silence. “…It’s over,” sighed Megumi after a minute had passed.
“No,” answered Hiro. “My hunt for Caan is still in effect.”
“After what happened to your wife, you still want to hunt Caan?” asked Dr. Borg.
“He freed the Skaro Daleks,” explained Hiro. “He must pay with his life.”
“He’s the one who made our little alliance less safe,” realized Dr. Borg, seeing Hiro’s logic.
“Exactly,” replied Hiro.
“Pardon me for interfering,” interjected Megatron, “but we DO have an exchange to complete. Quake Hammer, you can go now.”
“Yes, Sir,” answered Quake Hammer. He moved to Megumi’s side. Megumi then allowed Hiro to return to his allies.
“We have Hiro,” Megatron reported over the comms. Hiro and his group then vanished in a transporter beam.
“Well then, Quake Hammer,” declared Megumi as she turned to their new prisoner, “we have a place for you.”
“You will be watched and questioned,” revealed Optimus. “You will have rationed Energon and a chance to exercise, but I read enough about you in the history books to want to listen to the security recommendations of the veterans of my team.”
“I understand,” replied Quake Hammer.
“POmega, we’ve got Quake Hammer,” Megumi called over the comms.
“One rift home, coming up,” replied POmega. A rift opened and everyone returned to Vorton.
“This way,” Prowl directed to Quake Hammer. “Lieutenant Skyfall will take first watch over you.”
“Er, of course,” replied Quake Hammer, looking a little nervous. He was then led to the brig. Everyone finally dispersed to make preparations for the next round of the 3V2R. Richard followed Megumi as she rubbed her temples.
“Sweet God,” he muttered, “this has been a tense day.”
“Tell me about it,” replied Megumi. “I need some unwinding. Perhaps you can help?”
“How so?” asked Richard.
“In our bed,” continued Megumi as her voice dropped to a sexy purr. “Perhaps…a little…intimacy? Acting on…animal instincts?”
“…Oh?” Richard purred back, getting the hint. Megumi morphed into Tora-Onna and led Richard to their room.
Emmanuel and Lukas shut the door with a look of irritation on their faces. Lukas was muttering to himself in his native German all the while. “So,” chuckled Scorpainia as she saw them, “Jandro and Brenden kicked you out, huh?”
“Well, pardon us,” snapped Emmanuel, “for wanting to use OUR ROOM FOR PRIVATE TIME!” He shouted towards the room he and Lukas usually called theirs. “Speaking of, didn’t I hear you got sick after yours?”
“Thankfully, it’s nothing contagious,” replied Scorpainia as she patted her tummy.
“…No way!” breathed Lukas.
“The Council has decided,” answered Scorpainia, “that my child will be the heir to the throne unless contested by vote or by combat.”
“Félicitations!” (Congratulations!) cheered Emmanuel. “Have you figured out names?”
“No, not yet,” replied Scorpainia. “The name will come when the child decides on its shape.”
“Its shape?” asked Lukas.
“We are born as small lumps of putty,” explained Scorpainia. “The lumps DO have the chromosomes that determine if it’s a boy or girl, but, other than that, we don’t know.”
“When can we see the new prince or princess?” asked Emmanuel.
“Gestation’s going to take two years,” replied Scorpainia. “When the first year is complete, I need to limit my movements; probably going to be my most crabbiest time as I enjoy being mobile.”
“Well, congratulations!” cheered Lukas. “Have you decided on the Godparents?”
“Lacey shall be one of the Godmothers,” declared Scorpainia. “She helped free my mind from Vortech’s influence and I owe her a great deal.”
“One of the Godmothers?” repeated Emmanuel.
“Tarlaxians have four Godparents,” replied Scorpainia. Her face lit up as she got an idea. “I believe I know who to name as Godfathers.” She glanced at both men. They took the hint.
“My lady, we are honored,” declared Emmanuel.
“Regs! Prowler!” Skyfall protested to Strongarm and Prowl as she followed them around Vorton’s habitat ring. “I really must insist that we hold off on the inspection!”
“Article 7, Section 9, Subsection 2, Paragraph 3,” quoted Strongarm, “All Quarters are subject to random inspections at the Security Officer’s discretion.”
“Since I’M head of security for the Autobots on Prime’s team,” supplied Prowl, “I determine when the quarters are inspected. Now, unless you want to help, stay out of our way.” He opened the door and both he and Strongarm entered Skyfall’s quarters and shut it in Skyfall’s face. They were surprised at the mess pervading her quarters. “What in the…?” spluttered Prowl.
“How could she let her quarters…?” quizzed Strongarm. “If she went lax in the 2,000 year interim between the previous war and the current one…!” She grabbed some armor polish, examined it, then opened the closet and handed it off absentmindedly to the person inside. “Here!” she snapped.
“Thank you,” replied the person in the closet. The door shut and Strongarm realized what just happened.
“…Prowl, sweetie,” she gulped.
“What’s the matter?” asked Prowl as he noted his wife’s shock.
“I want you to look in Skyfall’s closet and tell me I didn’t hand off armor polish to someone in there,” directed Strongarm. Prowl opened the closet door and blinked.
“…Quake Hammer?” he asked.
“Prowl!” yelped the bot in the closet, Quake Hammer. “What are you doing here?!”
“I…I, er, w…we were…inspecting Skyfall’s quarters,” stammered Prowl.
“That’s no excuse!” snapped Quake Hammer. “Vorton has a security breach! That needs to be investigated!” Prowl and Strongarm then dashed out of Skyfall’s quarters.
“We’ve got to go!” Prowl explained to Skyfall. “Quake Hammer noticed a security breach around here!” Strongarm was about to transform, then stopped herself.
“Wait a cycle,” she muttered. “What was Quake Hammer doing in the closet?!”
“Whose closet?” asked Skyfall. Prowl and Strongarm then had a nasty suspicion.
“Skyfall,” Prowl hissed in demand of an explanation. Skyfall sighed and activated the comms into her quarters.
“Quaky,” she called, “you might as well come out.”
“QUAKY?!” squeaked the two security bots.
“2nd Lieutenant Skyfall of the Autobot Air Force, what’s going on?!” demanded Strongarm.
“Next time you decide to inspect,” replied Skyfall, “I’d really appreciate it if you notified me first.”
“That doesn’t answer our question!” growled Prowl. Quake Hammer then came out of the room and into the hallway.
“Which of the Femaxian Points of Profit says, ‘Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer’?” he asked.
“Point 295,” replied Prowl before he jabbed an accusing finger at Skyfall. “You sold us out to the ‘Cons, didn’t you?! What did you tell them?!”
“Quake Hammer, rest assured,” snarled Strongarm, “you won’t be transmitting any intelligence to Megatron! Skyfall, what did you tell him?!”
“Relax, you two!” snapped Skyfall. “I didn’t sell us out to the Decepticons!”
“Oh?” asked Prowl disbelievingly.
“Why would a soldier like her,” asked Quake Hammer, “betray her faction and its ideals like that?”
“…Wait, you mean you DON’T have Autobot intelligence?” quizzed Prowl.
“Intelligence on what?” inquired Quake Hammer. “Look, why don’t we clear up some confusion? It’s all quite simple. You see, Prowl, Skyfall and I are married.” Strongarm and Prowl blinked in surprise, then Strongarm did something she wasn’t known for…she fainted and her husband caught her.
After Strongarm was revived and all Autobots informed, Skyfall and Quake Hammer sat opposite of Optimus, Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, and Strongarm. “How long has this been going on?” demanded Optimus.
“Since the first war’s end,” explained Quake Hammer.
“Quake!” hissed Skyfall.
“Yes, because hiding it any further,” argued Quake Hammer, “would totally save our afts!”
“At the moment,” muttered Optimus, “I’m considering stripping you of the Autobrand, Skyfall. I certainly hope your explanation can save you from that fate.”
“We met after Earth,” explained Skyfall. “It was during a Targa tournament. I was playing in the Copper division.”
“Winning it for the 38th time in a row, if I recall,” chuckled Quake Hammer as he remembered fondly.
“Anyway, word reached us that the Diamond Division Champion was having trouble,” continued Skyfall.
“And that was you?” Prowl asked Quake Hammer.
“That was me,” confirmed Quake Hammer. “For some reason, I kept needing a line of credit at that time!”
“So, I wrote him a note,” continued Skyfall, “giving him some pointers on how to improve his game.”
“And they worked,” supplied Quake Hammer. “Those pointers helped me secure the 47th championship in a row! We then started corresponding regularly.”
“We then arranged to meet after a stellar cycle,” Skyfall went on. “Imagine his surprise when he discovered an Autobot helped him!”
“I almost had a Spark Attack!” interjected Quake Hammer. “But, as you can see, I recovered. I was going under a false name at the time since I deserted my platoon during the Battle of Crater Tycho. Over time…”
“And after much wheedling from me,” remarked Skyfall.
“I told her my story after she told me hers,” continued Quake Hammer. “We DID have a spat, as Autobots and Decepticons would do during that time, but we worked it out.”
“And we became a married couple and lived together ever since!” sighed Skyfall happily.
“A source of contention between me and my grandson, Lugnut,” mused Quake Hammer. “He said marrying an Autobot is a disgrace to my glorious ex-wife’s name. I keep reminding him that I divorced his grandmother during the war and there was nothing glorious about the direction the Decepticons were going.”
“…Skyfall,” asked Optimus, “is there a reason why you told everyone you never married? We were at peace at the time!”
“The stigma against mixed faction couples,” replied Skyfall, “is still too great.”
“They would force our marriage to be annulled,” continued Quake Hammer.
“You don’t know that!” hissed Optimus.
“They’ll cite Blackarachnia’s parents as ‘evidence’,” argued Skyfall, “that Decepticons and Autobots CAN’T live together!”
“I have sufficient counter-evidence,” dismissed Optimus. “…Skyfall, your commission and Autobrand ARE safe, but I would advise you and your husband to do something spectacular to get into our good graces again. Quake Hammer, you may stay in Skyfall’s quarters. Both of you, dismissed.” Skyfall and Quake Hammer departed the room.
“…You wouldn’t cite other Councilbots, would you?” asked Ironhide.
“I know it’s underhanded,” replied Optimus. “I also know that revealing such a thing to the council will lead to a fracturing. There are those that would cite Blackarachnia’s parents, yet they have Decepticon spouses. Blaster and I both told them about how we know. As such, if they wish to keep their positions, they will NOT annul Skyfall and Quake Hammer’s marriage.”
“Understood, Sir,” muttered Prowl. “But, I must formally protest this course of action.”
“I understand your concern, Prowl,” assured Optimus. “Hopefully, it won’t lead to anything bad.”
“With that out of the way,” declared Prowl, “we need to get you ready for the next round.”
“There’s been a bit of a lull, hasn’t there?” asked Richard as he and Megumi, still as Tora-Onna, checked themselves for any wrinkles in their clothes after their private time.
“Yeah,” confirmed Tora-Onna. “Something about a controversy between Stornk and Cassandra.”
“Not surprising,” muttered Richard. “The guy’s a hack, quite literally, made up of various aliens grafted onto him. Since he can’t get along with himself, he can’t get along with others. What IS the controversy about, though?”
“I’m not sure,” replied Tora-Onna. “I’m sure we’ll find out.” A flash of light then appeared on the table next to the bed. It then faded to reveal paper. Tora-Onna took it and read the contents. “It’s from the Chizarans,” she reported. “The controversy was about the fight conditions. Stornk set the rules and he believed that Cassandra broke them.”
“What were the rules?” asked Richard as Tora-Onna morphed back into Megumi.
“Stornk believed,” explained Megumi, “that his speed was faster than Cassandra’s. He had to land ten hits on her in two minutes. Cassandra won that one by continually pirouetting out of the way and Stornk believed that to be a non-combat related dodge, so he appealed that she broke the rules. The appeal was struck down and Stornk was still declared the loser. He only got two hits on her.”
“A hit a minute, on average,” mused Richard, “instead of his goal of five a minute.”
“Bingo,” replied Megumi. “So, the contest’s last bout will start tomorrow and we’ll be ready for the Advancement Ceremony for the next round.”
“If it’s back on,” suggested Richard as he finished checking himself over, “then we need to continue training.” Megumi groaned comically.
“I don’t wanna!” she whined as she folded her arms.
“Come on, we all know it can’t be avoided,” Richard urged gently. Megumi still groaned, but finished up her makeup. “Still breathing good?” asked Richard as he had made her bodice too tight once or twice in the past.
“Still breathing good,” assured Megumi.
“Good, I prefer my wife to have her full lung capacity,” chuckled Richard.
“You and me both, My King,” agreed Megumi as she finished her makeup.
The last bout was over and the Advancement Ceremony was underway. A parade went down the streets of the Capital Planet of Universe 1-A with the winners riding on floats representing what they do in their universe. The Winners, in parade order, were Ultragingana, Arsha Royana, Lord Shadowflame, Optimus Prime, Ms. Furella, Southern Belle, Megumi Hishikawa, Buncho, Priest 072486, Mr. Drendar, Beatrice, High Elf Lentar, Queen Phury, Cassandra, Elizabeth, and Bolt Boy. Their floats traveled for a good hour until they pulled into a building where Rosadera, Azuliterii, Rojenthi, Verdutha, and Moradelia were waiting. Blancalmarem and Nemengra were announcing again. They were accompanied by a robot in the shape of a woman and dressed up in a girly version of a Roman Centurion. “I am Blancalmarem, the white princess of Chizara and the life leader,” began Blancalmarem.
“I am Nemengra, the black princess of Chizara and the death leader,” finished Nemengra.
“And at the Advancement Ceremony, we are accompanied with one of the people who didn’t win Round 1, Julia Caesar,” continued Blancalmarem.
“Julia Caesar, a robot fighter and a champion of robot rights,” Nemengra went on, “has helped us in commentary once or twice in the past and we are honored to see her again!”
“I am honored to be here again!” continued Julia Caesar. “As you can see, the floats have arrived and the winners of the first round are getting off their floats and moving onto the platform to receive their sportsmanship torches, ready to light the main torch!”
“There they are, all lined up and ready,” observed Blancalmarem. “Just listen to that crowd!”
“Thankfully, the Chizaran Guard,” continued Nemengra, “is having no trouble keeping the crowd in line. No one wants a repeat of the 300,029th 3V2R.”
“Don’t even go there!” shuddered Blancalmarem. “That was a nightmare!”
“I think I declined helping you comment on that one,” recalled Julia Caesar. “Wait, it looks like the winners have accepted their torches and are…Yes, they’ve lit the Closing Torch for this round!”
“Wow! What a height for the flame!” cheered Blancalmarem. “I can’t tell you how deeply thrilled I am to see this!”
“I’m sure the pyromaniacs watching will appreciate this,” chuckled Nemengra.
“It looks like Rosadera’s about to give her Round’s End Speech!” called Julia.
“With the Closing Torch now lit for the end of Round 1 and the spirit of good sportsmanship kept alive,” began Rosadera, “we will take a week-long break relative to your universe’s time scale. This would make the perfect planning opportunity. Rest up and plan, everyone! The time to fight will arrive sooner than you may think!” The winners were surrounded in pink lights and vanished, returning to their homes.
“WHAT HAPPENED TO MY HOUSE?!” shrieked Megumi when she saw the damage, after being on Vorton for a while.
“So, apparently,” replied Richard as he glared at a sheepish looking Death, “in the 3V2R, participants may use another competitor’s space as neutral ground for their bout. In short, our house was the site for Ms. Furella’s victory over Emperor Mechanoterror. I’ve already got a repair team on the way, leaving me to puzzle out how an anthropomorphic ferret prostitute won against a cyborg dictator.”
“…My house…” whimpered Megumi as she fell to her knees.