Everyone was in Castle Nerd Skull’s hangar as they waited for War, even Amavorte and the Chizaran Princesses. When she arrived, X-PO came with her. He caught sight of POmega. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before,” he remarked.
“After you were sentenced,” explained POmega, “I was constructed to do your job WITHOUT the manipulation of my friends.”
“So far,” hissed Elphaba, “she’s done a fantastic job.”
“I see,” muttered X-PO.
“Hello, Pup-X5,” greeted War as she saw the robot dog. “I haven’t seen you around here.”
“I’ve been busy,” read Pup-X5’s tablet.
“A pity that you’re not so busy on Vorton!” growled War.
“War,” interjected Amavorte, “we have reason to believe that you attempted to gain access to the Chizaran Satellite network.”
“And you’re correct,” grunted War. “Unfortunately, X-PO’s run into some difficulty in securing that access. Apparently, you lot don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“That’s what none of us get,” interrogated Megumi, “WHY is it a good idea to invade their privacy?”
“Don’t play games with me!” growled War. “You wouldn’t have put me in this circus trial if you didn’t know EXACTLY what I’m trying to do here.”
“Most of it is speculation,” replied Oak.
“Using their satellites COULD be helpful in finding Mickey and Caan,” began Bumblebee.
“Eggman too,” interjected X-PO. “I’ve intercepted various transmissions from Shocker Rift. Apparently, Eggman’s working with Caan too. He’s the reason Shocker Rift is losing allies.”
“Going back to the original topic,” continued Megumi, “those of us who are technically minded and I thought like mad scientists and wondered what one could do with various levels of access.”
“Hacking into places where one originally couldn’t or SHOULDN’T,” theorized Rosadera.
“Monitoring things beyond the scope of what one would normally expect,” continued Optimus.
“And, if we’re being generous to the mad scientist train of thought,” finished Arsha as she fiddled with the hairpiece she had long transferred to her waist, “space-based weapons of mass destruction with perfect targeting systems!”
“Thus, we have two questions, one leading to the other,” continued Lacey. “Are our guesses true, and, if so, why?” War sighed as she shut her eyes, trying to keep her temper.
“Your guesses are true,” she answered. “As to why, Vorton and Foundation Prime are public knowledge. They were once the best kept secrets in the multiverse, and now, after Vortech exposed their location, they’re sitting ducks waiting for anyone to make a grab for power!”
“We’re building more defenses for both locations!” argued Death. “Vorton has weapons installed on it! That was the initial reason to upgrade it from a few floating rocks with life-support to the space-station it is now!
“We’re using second-hand resources,” countered War. “We barely understand half of it! We need more aces, we need more options, and we need the full fury it can deliver if the need arises! Caan will make a grab for Foundation Prime, I’m positive of it! As such, I’m not going to let that happen!”
“War, there are other ways!” urged Lacey. “We can build a fleet of our own!”
“That will take years!” dismissed War. “Half of Vorton’s superstructure is made from salvaged materials!”
“We don’t have any timeline of events!” snapped Arsha. “It could be that long before Caan makes that kind of move!”
“I’m not prepared to wait that long!” snarled War. “We need to be ready sooner rather than later! Caan’s going to replace Vortech in terms of being a demigod with delusions of power!”
“War, we’re not going to let you go through with this lunacy!” hissed Rojenthi.
“That’s why I didn’t tell you in the first place!” replied War. “I WILL be getting access to those satellites with or without your permission!”
“War, we can’t let you go through with this!” snapped Thangred. “This is wrong!”
“You once said,” continued Lacey, “that we keep you from stepping out of line!”
“You know it’s wrong! We know it’s wrong!” urged Ultra Magnus. “Don’t do this!” War sighed again, frustrated that no one saw her way of thinking.
“…These are NOT hypotheticals,” she finally said. “This ISN’T a moral debate! This isn’t us arguing over what COULD happen! Caan struck at our vulnerable spots just as Vortech did! He WILL become the next Vortech! We can’t afford to debate this! If the price for keeping us all safe is me, so be it!”
“War, you don’t need to…!” argued Flora.
“Flora, let me finish,” interrupted War, “because this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done since my inception. This is MY decision. This is NOT up for debate. None of you were there when Vortech tricked me as the Vortech Wars started! None of you listened to Vortech butter someone up into falling in line with him! None of you have to live with the fact that you inadvertently helped someone nearly end everything! I did, and I refuse to do that again. Now, all of you can either stand with me and back me up on this…or you can sever your ties with me. I’ll do it myself if I have to. Make your choice NOW.” Everyone sat in silence for a good minute.
“…War,” muttered Megumi, “this kind of behavior will NOT be tolerated in my alliance. I never did this before, but I see no other alternative. Have you anything else to say before your status as an F.N.S member is revoked?”
“…Nothing that would please your ears,” muttered War.
“Then, as Queen of the Feudal Nerd Society,” declared Megumi, “I hereby strip you of your title and privileges. You are no longer a member of our group. You will have to earn my respect again if you want to rejoin us.”
“…Goodbye, Brief Mortals,” hissed War. “X-PO, we’re leaving.”
“One rift home, coming up,” sighed X-PO. A portal opened and War and X-PO entered it, letting it shut behind them. The room was uncomfortably quiet once again.
“…Given what’s just happened,” sighed Rosadera, “we’re extending the week-long break to three months in your universe.”
“…Thank you,” mumbled Megumi. “This meeting is over.” She got up and headed to the door. Richard followed her and they both headed home. The Stooges had finished painting the house the correct color. They were gone and left a note saying where the couple should send the check. They checked to see if the Stooges messed anything up during the painting, Thankfully, all was right. When everything checked out, Megumi sat down on the bed in their bedroom. Richard sat next to her.
“Er, Megumi…” ventured Richard. Megumi sniffed. Richard could see a tear coming down her cheek and sighed, a few theories on why she was crying leaping to the front of his mind. “Do you need anything?” offered Richard. “Something to eat, maybe?”
“Just hold me,” sniffed Megumi. Richard wrapped his arms around her and she adjusted herself so she hid her face in his chest. When she finished, she finally started sobbing. Richard shut his eyes as his own tears came down. This was a dark day for the F.N.S.
Blancalmarem and Nemengra were broadcasting again. “Hey all,” began Blancalmarem. “I know this is sudden and a little unusual in how we opened this broadcast, but, due to some of our recent winners suffering a loss, the beginning of the Quarterfinals has been extended to three months relative to your universe’s time scale.”
“In respect to what happened, we won’t say who’s suffering right now,” supplied Nemengra.
“All we can say is this, our hearts go out to you and we will give you time to heal,” continued Blancalmarem.
“We thank you all for understanding,” finished Nemengra.
War sat in her house, far away from After Academy and Beyond City. She had invited Quake Hammer and Skyfall to see her. When they arrived and were taking in the Energon she had offered, War recounted what happened, leaving the married bots in stark horror. “This…” mumbled Skyfall. “I mean, this is…”
“You had a right to know,” assured War. “You two are under no obligation to help me and X-PO.”
“It’s just…just give me a cycle!” breathed Skyfall.
“There HAS to be another way,” urged Quake Hammer. “I mean, you’re hunting a mouse here!”
“I’m hunting a former Dalek as well,” countered War. “You know what Caan was capable of when he led Davros and the Daleks to create the Reality Bomb based on the TV episodes alone.”
“It’s just the scope of it!” answered Skyfall. “I mean, I’m just a lone Autobot scout, for crying out loud! My husband’s only a grunt in the Decepticon ranks!”
“Maybe, but you may be some of my only friends here,” replied War.
“But you’re building your own fleet!” argued Quake Hammer. “A fleet that doesn’t need crews for the ships!”
“That fleet will be the first line of defense,” muttered War, “but I know Caan. He’s clever and always three steps ahead of his enemies. We need more than just an automatic fleet if we’re gonna stop him.”
“Quaky, sweetie,” interjected Skyfall, “she may need our help. I mean, we DID fly ships in our day.”
“…All right, fine,” sighed Quake Hammer. “Someone as unhinged as Caan trying to make a grab for that kind of power? No, we need to stop him. We’re with you.”
“Thank you,” bid War. “I’ve been forced to move up my timetables a bit. Since the Campus Safety Commission haven’t been knocking on my door as of late, I don’t think my colleagues told them.”
“The fleet will launch within the month and I’ll, hopefully, have access to the Chizaran Satellite Network by then.” The instant War said that, Azuliterii switched off the systems that were listening in on War. All of the Chizaran rulers, both princesses and Princesses, were listening in.
“Nicely done,” praised Vioazira.
“Well, I DID make the satellites,” remarked Azuliterii. “It only makes sense that we should use them for spying in case of this kind of emergency.”
“Then, the question becomes, what do we do about it?” asked Blancalmarem.
“We should probably tell the Campus Safety Commission,” offered Amartonadii.
“Unfortunately,” sighed Azevordem, “Lilly’s not answering her calls. Her business is currently booming and she’s swamped at the moment.”
“Look, are we really okay with all this?” asked Griforina. “Going up against War?”
“She has to be stopped,” supplied her toner-grey princess clone, Greterey, the family leader.
“Preferably,” continued the neutral-grey princess clone, Graneutall, the time leader, “before she does something that will spark a war.”
“If we can talk to her,” surmised the warm-grey princess clone, Grilcaldo, the fire leader, “perhaps we can get her to see reason before she accesses our satellite network.”
“Fortunately, her personal security measures aren’t operational yet,” called Marrulem.
“Meaning, while she’s onboard her personal flagship, launching the fleet,” supplied Rojenthi, “we can access her ground-based systems with zero difficulty.”
“What good will that do?” asked Verdutha.
“X-PO still doesn’t have his full computational abilities,” explained Nemengra.
“Until he’s plugged into the fleet’s shipboard computers,” continued Naratelto, “he won’t be able to coordinate effectively between the ships and War’s home.”
“And, fortunately,” supplied Moradelia, “the main data-cores for each ship’s computers won’t be operational for another three months.”
“Without X-PO’s full computational abilities,” Amavorte went on, “War will have to rely on him coordinating the action from her house and that’s not as effective in accessing our satellites.”
“We disable the ground-based systems,” realized Verdutha, “then War will be stopped! Brilliant!”
“Let’s just hope she’ll be reasonable about all this,” muttered Blancalmarem.
“Unfortunately,” sighed Rosadera, “if our conversation at Castle Nerd Skull’s hangar was any indication, if she WAS reasonable, we wouldn’t need to do this. …Get me Scorpainia, we may need her help.”
“I must compliment you and your gall, Scorpainia, ” grunted War. “One day, you must tell me how you came to the decision to not join me.”
“My Lady,” interjected Turretorg before Scorpainia held up a claw to silence him as her other claw rested on her baby-laden belly.
“How I made my decision doesn’t matter,” remarked Scorpainia.
“I think it DOES matter!” snarled War. “So will my allies!”
“War,” urged Scorpainia, “I want you to cease all operations concerning the Chizaran satellites.”
“…So what do you propose to do instead?” asked War. “Standby and allow Caan to seize Foundation Prime?!”
“You have no proof that Foundation Prime is Caan’s ultimate goal,” replied Scorpainia.
“Him duping Mickey is all the proof I need!” argued War.
“And what if you’re wrong?” asked Turretorg.
“That would be unfortunate,” answered War, “for Caan.”
“Lady War,” interjected Scorpainia, “the Council has made it clear to me that they cannot support your plans to control Foundation Prime. It was one of the few decisions that was unanimous. The people fear it will spark another war, something we can’t afford. I can’t say I blame them. You do not have the support of the Tarlaxians.”
“…Are you saying that you will do NOTHING while I risk everything to protect the multiverse?!” roared War.
“We will NOT participate in an unprovoked invasion,” answered Turretorg.
“Then you will not share in the victory spoils!” declared War.
“War, I would advise you to reconsider,” urged Scorpainia. “If this attack goes forward, it will be seen as an insult towards us. We would consider it a reminder of when Vortech invaded my mind and conquered our previous home.”
“…Believe me,” replied War, “I do not wish to antagonize you like that.”
“Then call off the attack!” demanded Scorpainia.
“…I will have to consult with my allies,” affirmed War. “You will have our decision within the hour. X-PO, I require a rift home.” War left via a portal. It shut behind her and Scorpainia sighed in frustration.
“She’ll go through with it,” she muttered.
“Are you sure?” asked Turretorg.
“I’m positive,” confirmed Scorpainia.
“My lady,” called Discornia as she came into the throne room, “the Chizarans are contacting you.”
“Put them through,” directed Scorpainia. “I need their help.”