The crew of the Endeavor was working tirelessly to make sure everything was ready for their bout. Everyone was in their duty uniform and triple-checked even the most minute of insignificant wires. “All decks, reporting ready,” reported Shalvey.
“Then all we need to do,” declared Arsha, “is wait.” A flash of cool-grey light then appeared before forming into a woman. “Ah, I take it Ultragingana is ready,” guessed Arsha.
“No, not yet,” replied the woman. “I’m just here to see the types of vessels that will be used in this bout. I’m Griforina, cool-grey princess of Chizara and air leader, yada, yada, yada, you’ve heard all that before. This ship, it’s a Dauntless-class vessel, right?”
“Yep, all two hundred forty billion stonaks of it,” confirmed Arsha.
“Let’s see, using the measurements Megumi’s used to…” mused Griforina, “…six million metric tons! This is NOT a small ship!”
“Nope,” replied Arsha.
“And its dimensions?” asked Griforina.
“25,640 zarruks long,” answered Arsha, “5,320 zarruks high, and normal flight width of 18,920 zarruks. Combat width, when you factor in the extendable wings, is 23,480 zarruks.”
“641 meters long,” translated Griforina as she wrote them down, “133 meters high, 473 meters wide when in normal flight, and 587 meters when in combat. That’s roughly the dimensions of Ultragingana’s ship. This thing has 42 decks, right?”
“Yep, and a normal crew compliment ranging from 1,000 to 7,000,” replied Arsha. “When we’re evacuating an area, the maximum amount of people that can fit in here is 17,000.”
“And 500 fighter craft rest in your hangar,” finished Griforina.
“Don’t forget the 500 drone fighters resting in their own launch bay,” interjected Arsha.
“Thank you for reminding me,” bid Griforina. She wrote down the last few notes and then set her notepad aside as she held her hands near her head. “Ah, and Ultragingana’s ready!” She snapped her fingers and the scene outside the Endeavor changed to the skies above the Autobot base. Another ship was floating near the Endeavor.
Megumi and Optimus’ teams decided to observe the fight from the Autobot base’s command center. “They’re both here,” reported Teletraan.
“Those are NOT tiny ships,” observed Jazz.
“No, they aren’t, are they?” agreed Optimus.
“This looks familiar,” chuckled Richard.
“Nice place,” complimented Megumi.
“You ain’t kidding,” agreed Griforina’s voice. Everyone yelped and whirled to see Griforina standing there with a flying camera near her. “So, everyone got their seats?”
“Er, yes, we do,” mumbled Richard once he caught his breath again.
“Then we shall begin,” declared Griforina as she turned to the camera. “I am Griforina, the cool-grey princess of Chizara and the air leader! The combatants are ready for their next bout! Representing K-4-1-J-U-G-0-D-D-3-5-5. We have Ultragingana and her ship, the Osaka! Representing T-H-3-T-H-R-3-3-R-3-4-L-M-5, we have Captain Arsha Royana and her ship, the Endeavor! Optimus Prime has graciously allowed the combatants to use his base’s airspace as neutral battleground. I say ‘allow’, because, after Ms. Furella’s first bout in Megumi’s home,” Megumi growled as she remembered the mess her house was before the Stooges got to work on it, “competitors seeking neutral space must now ask for permission to use another competitor’s universe for their fight so they don’t destroy where a competitor may live. This fight shall be a battle simulation between the Endeavor and the Osaka. Both will engage in a mock-battle to see who can lead their ship to victory in the least amount of damage. No live weapons-fire will be used and both have requested the use of our simulation-regulators so there can be no doubt in acknowledging that their ship was hit so their shields can be compensated to show the hit. As this universe is a hot one with Optimus leading his Autobots against the Decepticons, the Autobots will monitor for any Decepticon activity and make sure the war game is uninterrupted. Arsha, are you ready?”
“All decks report ready,” confirmed Arsha on the monitor.
“Ultragingana, are you ready?” asked Griforina.
“Ready to go,” answered Ultragingana.
“On my mark…BEGIN!” declared Griforina.
“Hard to port and fire starboard side mana cannons!” ordered Arsha.
“Hard to port!” confirmed Nazay.
“Firing starboard side mana cannons,” reported Malak. “Computer reports minor damage to their starboard shields.”
“Starboard shields down by three percent,” reported Ultragingana’s tactical officer.
“Attack pattern Hana,” ordered Ultragingana.
“Attack pattern Hana, yes, Ma’am,” confirmed her helmsman.
“They’re getting on top of us!” called Malak. “Their underside torpedoes are away!” The computer chimed. “Topside shields down by twenty percent!”
“Her weapons are more powerful than we thought,” grimaced Shalvey.
“Pattern Te,” ordered Arsha.
“At this range?!” yelped Nazay.
“Captain…!” protested Oak.
“Pattern Te, now!” insisted Arsha.
“Are they trying to ram our underside?!” yelped the tactical officer.
“Hard to port!” ordered Ultragingana. As the ship moved hard to port, the computer registered a few hits.
“Torpedoes in a full spread pattern!” reported the tactical officer. “Keel side shields down by thirty percent!”
“Clever girl!” praised Ultragingana. “Launch drone fighters! Have them target the engines!”
“Drone fighters, inbound!” called Malak.
“Launch ours!” ordered Arsha.
“They’ve got drone fighters too?!” snapped the tactical officer. “Theirs are keeping ours at bay!”
“Fire Neutrino blasters!” ordered Ultragingana.
“Aft shields down to thirty percent!” reported Malak.
“Captain, now may be a good time for Pattern Fo!” suggested Oak.
“I didn’t want to do it this early,” muttered Arsha, “but we have no choice. Pattern Fo!”
“They’re charging us again!” reported the tactical officer.
“Fire Neutrino blasters at their forward shields,” ordered Ultragingana.
“They’re firing again!” reported Malak. “We’ve lost forward shields!”
“NOW!” ordered Arsha.
“They’re going starboard!” called the tactical officer. “We’ll fire again and…DRONE FIGHTERS WITHIN OUR SHIELD PERIMETER! THEY’RE CUTTING INTO THE HULL!”
“Hard to starboard! Get them off!” ordered Ultragingana.
“Hull breach in Engineering!” reported the chief engineer. “Those buggers hit the central battery! They’re keeping us from rerouting power! We’re about to experience a battery breach! There’s nothing I can do!”
“…Can you dump the battery?” asked Ultragingana.
“…I can,” replied the chief engineer.
“Dump it and signal our surrender,” ordered Ultragingana.
“They’re dumping their main power core,” reported Malak.
“Captain, Ultragingana wants to discuss terms for her surrender,” called Shalvey.
“Now THAT was gutsy!” praised Oak.
“Open a channel to her ship,” ordered Arsha with a grin.
“Channel open,” answered Shalvey.
“On screen,” directed Arsha. Ultragingana appeared on screen.
“Captain Royana, remind me to never make an enemy out of you,” remarked Ultragingana. “I’ll have to make some new strategies based around drone fighters following a ship into our shield perimeter.”
“I can give you pointers, if you wish,” chuckled Arsha. Griforina then appeared on Arsha’s bridge.
“This contest is over!” she announced to the camera. “The winner is Arsha Royana! Ultragingana, you will be returned home. Though you have suffered a defeat, know that it only brings as much dishonor as you feel necessary. Would you care for an interview with Blancalmarem and Nemengra?”
“I think I would,” replied Ultragingana.
“Then I will take you to them once your ship and crew are returned home,” declared Griforina. She and the Osaka then vanished in cool-grey light.
“Captain, the Autobot base is hailing us,” called Shalvey.
“On screen,” directed Arsha. Optimus and Megumi appeared with a grin on their faces.
“That’s two down!” cheered Megumi.
“Next up are the Quarterfinals,” recalled Optimus.
“I wonder who’s moving on with us?” mused Arsha. She then noticed Megumi was distracted. “Hey, is everything all right?”
“I’m still a little worried about my house,” muttered Megumi.
The Stooges had finished with painting most of the house. All that was left was the front porch. Moe and Larry had set up the ladders so they could take care of the porch roof while Curly took care of the supports. “All right, gentlemen, this is it!” cheered Moe. “We’ve just got to finish this up and we’ll be done!”
“Hey, after this,” inquired Larry, “can we get some lunch?”
“Sounds wonderful!” replied Moe.
“Perfect!” praised Curly. “I can see it now! A delicious meal of burnt toast and a rotten egg!” Moe and Larry did a double-take when they heard that.
“Burnt toast and a rotten egg?” asked Moe.
“Certainly!” answered Curly. “I got a tapeworm and that’s good enough for him!” Moe and Larry then nodded as if they understood Curly’s…er…logic. They then took a can of paint and climbed up the ladders while Curly set his paint can near the supports. They dipped their brushes and started painting. As Curly painted, he didn’t pay attention to how many support beams there were. Moe was just minding his own business when he felt something on his leg. He looked down and saw Curly painting his leg!
“HEY!” shouted Moe as he placed his empty hand onto the porch roof to steady himself. Curly yelped when he realized his mistake.
“I didn’t mean it, Moe,” he explained. “It was an honest mistake.”
“Yeah, well, watch it!” snarled Moe. He then felt something on his hand and turned to see Larry painting over it! “That goes for you…!” he snapped until he felt his leg being painted again! He looked down to Curly. “What’s the matter with you?!” he barked. The Stooges then went back to work and Moe felt his leg being painted once again! He then kicked Curly’s face! Curly yelped in pain, then looked up and waved his paintbrush in a threatening manner at Moe. Moe had turned to Larry as Curly waved his brush. “That’s how you tea…!” He was interrupted by Larry’s paintbrush hitting his face while his mouth was open! Moe then swatted the paintbrush out of Larry’s hands.
“HEY! WHY DON’T YOU…?!” admonished Larry until he saw Moe’s currently sky-blue face. “I’m sorry, Moe! I didn’t mean it!”
“Oh, that’s all right,” replied Moe. “Couldn’t happen again in a million years.” The two then laughed until Moe angrily grabbed Larry’s suspenders and shook him! The shaking caused the ladders to stand upright! Moe and Larry then grabbed each other and cried out in fear! Curly looked up and shook his head.
“I do everything around here and they play games!” he grumbled to himself. He put his brush into the can and went behind Moe and Larry. “Hey fellas!” he called. “Lean this way and I’ll catch you!”
“Okay, but hurry!” begged Moe. He and Larry then leaned backwards and Curly moved backwards to catch them, unknowingly knocking a can of paint over. They landed on him and they all picked themselves up and dusted themselves off.
“Did it hurt?” asked Curly.
“Not at all!” cheered Moe.
“That was quick thinking!” praised Larry.
“Keep it up and we’ll give you some c-a-n-d-y!” offered Moe.
“Moe, I don’t smoke!” answered Curly. They then saw the spilled paint can and yelped.
“LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO THE LAWN!” shouted Moe. He then grabbed a saw and ran it along Curly’s scalp. Curly howled in pain and held his scalp until he saw what happened to the saw.
“Oh, look!” he called as he pointed to the ruined saw teeth. Moe growled as he threw the saw down.
“You’re lucky we don’t need it now!” he snarled. “Go on, get some water and wash the lawn!”
“I resent that!” snapped Curly.
“Well, what are you gonna do about it?” hissed Moe.
“Get some water and wash the lawn,” replied Curly. As he turned, Larry slapped the back of his head. Curly barked at Larry before getting some water.
“Where do you get off hitting him?!” demanded Moe. “You started this!” He slapped Larry. “Come on, get that ladder set up!” He and Moe then set the ladders back up and returned to work.
“Well, we can’t spend all our time worrying,” declared Megumi. “We better rest up and train for the Quarterfinals.”
“An excellent idea,” praised Arsha. “Optimus, my ship will return to Vorton. Do you mind if I stick around and get a tour of your world?”
“Don’t mind at all,” answered Optimus.
“Damn this thing to blazes,” muttered Dell as he tossed the Ascendant aside. “I just want this thing to work for Chronicle Drivers too, but NO! It has to be a Vortex Driver-only gimmick!” He leaned back in his seat and looked up to the ceiling. “…I’m feeling parched,” he mused to himself. He then took out a toolbox and opened it. Instead of tools, it unfolded into a lawn chair with a tray of beer bottles and a metal umbrella. He laid onto the chair and grabbed a beer bottle, tipping it towards his mouth to get the alcoholic contents into him. After a few gulps, he set it down and breathed deeply. “Life of Reilly, mm,” he sighed. He was about to take another swig of beer when a faint blue light shone on his workbench. He stared at the light for a few seconds before looking at the bottle and tossing it aside. “What in Sam Hill…?” he muttered as he saw the light get brighter and form shapes. The light died and it revealed 16 Vortex Drivers and a note! “Okay, what in God’s name IS this?!” Dell snapped as he took the note. “Let’s see…’To anyone who usually wears a Chronicle Driver,’” he read aloud, “‘I’m sorry to report that they’re all about to explode due to a computer virus laced into their coding recently. Don’t worry, the new Vortex Drivers will serve you better in the coming battles.’ …Is this some sort of prank?” Just then, he felt a buzz in his pocket. He took out the source of the buzz, his Chronicle Driver, and examined it closely. After a few seconds, he saw smoke coming out from the belt! “Ah, HELL!” he yelped before throwing it away from him. The Chronicle Driver exploded into tiny pieces, unsalvageable, regretfully. “Dagit nagit, nabit dagit!” he snarled before activating the comms. “Hey, y’all! Come meet me in the Gateway Room!” he announced. “I got some news that’ll hurt us all!”