There was only a week left in the break all 3V2R participants had received. Richard looked out the window of one of Vorton’s conference rooms and sighed, contemplating Megumi’s current mood. He was there when she asked for help, but both could tell that he, for reasons escaping both of them, wasn’t helping her out much. She was currently seeing her mother and brother to try and help her. At the moment, Richard felt useless. His thoughts were interrupted by the door sliding up. He turned to see Thengo come in. “Counsellor Lortora, right?” he asked.
“Just Thengo, please,” requested Thengo.
“What can I do for you?” asked Richard.
“I’m concerned for your wife,” explained Thengo. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but she’s skipped out on 3V2R planning meetings with Optimus and Arsha.”
“She’s also been taking meals alone and she doesn’t have much energy to do what she enjoys,” interjected Richard. “I’m aware of her condition at the moment. She’s visiting family right now.”
“She hasn’t confided in me,” revealed Thengo, “so I hope she’s seeing another counsellor.”
“She is not,” muttered Richard. “She believes that she’s betrayed War just as much as War betrayed us by doing what she’s doing.”
“She told you this?” asked Thengo.
“No,” answered Richard. “I’ve seen this kind of thing before.”
“You mean this is frequent for her?” inquired Thengo.
“Thankfully, no,” replied Richard. “But, it can last a long time. This is her third time.”
“If you don’t mind my asking,” quizzed Thengo, “what happened in the beginning?”
“Five years ago,” began Richard, “someone named Lord Vortech had seized control of Foundation Prime, the very center of the multiverse. He was sending minions to retrieve the Foundation Elements; objects that hold great significance to a universe and command great power. It was just us Vortex Riders originally, functioning on prototype Vortex Drivers. Vortech had also taken our parents hostage and we set out to rescue them. We picked up Batman, Hongo, Wyldstyle, and Gandalf, but didn’t tell them about Vortech. A tactical blunder, in retrospect. We almost died at Vortech’s hands before we were returned to Vorton. When it came out that those four were recruited for a reason, like we were, Megumi broke down. She felt like she had betrayed everyone.”
“And this was the first incident?” asked Thengo.
“The second incident happened three years ago,” continued Richard. “We had just welcomed Colleen, Moon-Kyung, Victor, Alesandro, and Liam. We voted on whether or not we’d tell them about Megumi’s breakdown and the results said we wouldn’t. During the adventure to protect the Sources, the sources of power for the Horsemen, we found out that X-PO tampered with the results and were called as witnesses for the prosecution during his trial. Our testimony and his outburst declared him guilty of willfully endangering innocent people and he was sentenced to 100 years in Multi-Max with no chance of parole. Megumi felt guilty for the past three years. She almost disbanded the F.N.S.”
“And now, she feels as if she’s failed War by kicking her out,” guessed Thengo. “She’s attached to those she considers friends.”
“That’s putting it mildly,” replied Richard. “She needs a counsellor. Could you help her?”
“That’s what I do,” answered Thengo, “but how easy is she around…well…these?” She indicated her legs.
“She’s comfortable holding normal-sized spiders, right up to our world’s biggest spider, the Goliath Birdeater,” assured Richard. “She’s also fine with talking to Melandra. I don’t think you can scare her away.”
“Then I’ll help her in any way I can,” declared Thengo.
“Thank you,” bid Richard. “In the meantime, I need to…” His planning was interrupted by a shriek. “MEGUMI?!” he yelped.
“Nope, Melandra,” sighed Thengo. “And I think I can guess why.” They left the conference room and saw Megumi with a cage in her hand and Melandra shaking and gibbering on the ceiling.
“What in the multiverse is the matter with you?!” protested Megumi. “One look at a new pet and you, of all people, scream and hide!”
“That thing’s face is all wrong!” wailed Melandra.
“Megumi, what did you do with your family?” asked Richard.
“We went on a small walk around After Academy,” explained Megumi. “We passed by an exotic pet store and my eyes settled on this beautiful girl. I felt a little at ease, still not over what I did to War, and so we decided I needed a pet.”
“…So you got a Tarantula?!” protested Richard as he saw the new pet. It was a Mexican Red-knee Tarantula. Richard then remembered the gibbering mess clinging to the ceiling and had a theory about Melandra. He turned to Thengo for confirmation.
“Yes, he’s arachnophobic,” confirmed Thengo.
“…A Drider? Arachnophobic?” asked Richard.
“There’s supposed to be an upper torso where the face is!” wailed Melandra. “I hate spiders! Those things crawled all over me when I was a kid!”
“Fine, I’ll take it home,” sighed Megumi.
“Megumi, Thengo’s offering her services,” called Richard. “I strongly urge you to accept her offer.”
“…You told her, didn’t you?” guessed Megumi.
“You clearly need help and I’m failing in that regard,” answered Richard.
“You’re doing fine,” dismissed Megumi. “I’M doing fine!”
“Not fine enough for both our tastes!” argued Richard. Megumi turned and snarled at Richard. He didn’t even flinch. The tension could be cut with a knife.
“…Fine, I’ll see her tomorrow,” sighed Megumi.
“That’s all I ask,” replied Richard. Just then, the comms sprang to life.
“Megumi, Emily, the Tarlaxian ship Beentar is requesting permission to dock,” reported Rusty. “They’ve got wounded.”
“Tell them to dock!” ordered Megumi.
“I’ll be at the airlock with plenty of stretchers!” replied Emily’s voice. Megumi dashed to her room to leave her new pet there while she met with Emily. She, Henry, Ratchet, and Marshii were tending to the patients. The Tarlaxian First Officer, Spidarachnimpa, was clutching her arm as Henry bandaged it.
“What happened?!” asked Megumi.
“We were contacted from universe 5-T-4-R-T-R-3-K to help a retired Starfleet Admiral visit us again,” explained Spidarachnimpa. “Shocker Rift ambushed us. We barely made it out in the condition you found us in.”
“Who’s the Captain of your vessel?” asked Megumi. ”I need to talk to them.” Spidarachnimpa’s heads turned away from her.
“It…it was Turretorg,” she mumbled. “He…he was…” Wailing interrupted her explanation. Megumi followed the source to see Discornia kneeling next to a stretcher with a shrouded body on it. Megumi ran up to the stretcher and pulled back a bit of the shroud to see Turretorg’s hand. She then realized what Spidarachnimpa was trying to say and stumbled backwards while Discornia wailed in grief, pleading with her gods to spare Turretorg. Unfortunately, Death came for him both metaphorically AND literally. Death sighed as Megumi looked to her for confirmation.
“How?” asked Megumi.
“Hiro attacked the Beentar with the intent to kill everyone on board,” replied Death. “His first target was the retired Starfleet Admiral, recently named a Dahar Master. Turretorg tried to fight him, but…”
“Hiro blinded him!” snarled a voice. Much to the protest of Marshii, an elderly Klingon woman entered the room. The face had more wrinkles and she sported silver hair, but it was still a recognizable face.
“Sh’Kar!” cheered Megumi. “A Dahar Master?”
“Why not?” asked Sh’Kar, former Captain of the Enterprise-G. “I trained 1000 warriors after I retired from Starfleet and they survived and won 100 battles each, gaining a few songs of how I made the Empire stronger by learning from outsiders. The Emperor was all too happy to give me such a title.”
“You said Turretorg was blinded,” recalled Megumi.
“I did,” confirmed Sh’Kar. “Turretorg was trying to defend me while rubble had me pinned. He fought well, but Hiro stuck him with a virus that severed his optic nerves. Only after it was confirmed that Turretorg couldn’t see him did Hiro deliver the killing blow. Even then, he did so from behind Turretorg! A brave warrior, and he was forced to die like a dog without seeing his killer! I will see to it that Hiro pays for this!”
“Killing him will only be an escape,” hissed Discornia. “I want him to suffer!”
“…Yes, killing him is too quick,” agreed Sh’Kar. “We must do something to make him regret his actions.”
“I believe I have such a method,” offered Megumi. “Were you in a universe when this ambush happened?”
“We were in Wyldstyle’s home,” replied Sh’Kar. “He’s seized control of it.”
“Then we’re going to wrest it from his grasp!” declared Megumi. “He most likely intends to use the Master Builders to make weapons for his own ends. Well, not today! Emily, when you’re finished, everyone will be meeting in the Gateway Room. It’s time to make Hiro hurt again!”
“And why are we here again?” asked Oak once everyone assembled.
“Megumi’s got something up her glove,” remarked Optimus.
“Minna,” called Megumi, “I’ll make this brief, Wyldstyle’s home is under threat from Hiro. It’s more than likely he’s roped Megatron and Dr. Borg into helping him.”
“Wait, MY home?!” yelped Wyldstyle. “What’s he doing there?!”
“Rounding up the Master Builders as Lord Business did,” replied Richard. “His organization needs weapons and he’s forcing the Master Builders to make them. He’s got a fleet hanging over…Syspocalypstar?”
“It looks like he’s got that universe’s Batman and an amorphous blob called Watevra Wa’Nabi as his hostages,” continued Megumi.
“The current rulers of Syspocalypstar,” explained Wyldstyle.
“We MUST get rid of that fleet!” declared Jandro.
“And we have an old friend to help us out,” replied Megumi. At that moment, Sh’Kar came out.
“A Klingon?” asked Optimus.
“For those that are new,” introduced Megumi, “I’d like everyone to meet Dahar Master Sh’Kar, daughter of Stomek of the House of Noggra. She has helped us before when she commanded a Prometheus-class starship that had the honor of being named Enterprise.” Optimus whistled in appreciation.
“A Starfleet Captain commanding a ship called Enterprise AND a Dahar Master?” he called. “That’s no easy feat!”
“My helping Megumi defeat Vortech was a big help in the Emperor granting me such a title,” replied Sh’Kar. “I believe I know you; Young Optimus, the child, the shape-changer, the one who is leading his faction in a war against his brother…” she frowned grimly, then smiled, “and skilled in the bat’leth. A pleasure to meet you. Anyone who backs up his talk with masterful action is a friend of mine.”
“As you mentioned, I’m a child,” remarked Optimus. “I’m hardly masterful.”
“Could have fooled me,” chuckled Sh’Kar.
“Sh’Kar, before we called this meeting,” interjected Megumi, “I asked you to get in touch with Starfleet and the Klingon Empire. Could either of them spare a ship?”
“I’m afraid not,” sighed Sh’Kar. “We’re on our own this time.”
“In that case, we’ll have to enlist Benny’s help,” declared Megumi. “We need Starfleet or Klingon firepower. Maybe he can build a ship in that vein.”
“Just one ship?” asked Batman.
“I’ve secured help from the Tarlaxians and our own ship will be in the vicinity,” replied Megumi.
“You have my ship’s help,” proclaimed Optimus.
“And mine,” offered Arsha.
“Thank you,” bid Megumi. “I’ve gotten ahold of our enemy’s position. Study this carefully.” She projected a map with the enemy fleet in position over Syspocalypstar. “We need to get rid of the fleet,” continued Megumi, “and take care of the ground forces and we need to do it in a way that makes Hiro hurt!”
“…Er, Mr. Saunders,” gulped Thengo.
“I’m concerned too,” whispered Richard.
“Dr. Borg, a word,” Megatron called to Dr. Borg.
“What is it?” grunted Dr. Borg as she continued her welding.
“We have to find some way to accelerate our plans to find Caan,” remarked Megatron. “Hiro’s distracting himself with these side-quests!”
“On that, you have no argument from me,” agreed Dr. Borg as she set down her welding and raised her helmet. “He seems obsessed with hurting Megumi. Last time I checked; she was supposed to be an annoyance.”
“Well, his priorities seem to have changed,” muttered Megatron. “I don’t know about you, but my bargain with him was to conquer an old…acquaintance’s universe.”
“I was there when he made the offer to you,” answered Dr. Borg. “I believe the ‘acquaintance’ was called Nemesis Prime. You feel as if that goal is no longer worth it?”
“At the moment, no, it IS still worth it,” replied Megatron. “It’s just that I want him to remember our original bargain. I intend to give him an ultimatum; he either forgets about Megumi and gets on with hunting Caan or my part of the alliance will dissolve and we’ll go back to our own universe.”
“Hiro offered me a means of building up my empire,” supplied Dr. Borg. “So far, he has not upheld his end of the bargain. I shall make the same ultimatum with you.”
“I knew I could count on you,” praised Megatron.
“No one is getting anything until Megumi is dead!” snarled Hiro’s voice. Both Megatron and Dr. Borg rolled their eyes before giving Hiro their full attention.
“You came to us to ask for our help to hunt down Caan!” snarled Dr. Borg. “We are nowhere near finding him, especially since he has one of our allies with him!”
“Either you end this obsession with Megumi or we leave,” declared Megatron. “Your choice.”
“You’re in no position to make demands!” roared Hiro.
“I beg your pardon?!” growled Megatron.
“I give the orders around here!” continued Hiro. “I decide what everyone does! You belong to me now!”
“I BELONG TO NOBODY!” roared Megatron as he aimed his fusion cannon at Hiro. Hiro then keyed in a number on his phone and pressed the button. Megatron and Dr. Borg then pricked their ears up. “What is that noise?” grunted Megatron.
“I hear it too,” muttered Dr. Borg. The noise they heard then became painful. “Ugh! I think…it’s in my head!” strained Dr. Borg as she got to her knees while clutching her head.
“What…IS this?!” howled Megatron as he fell to his back, clutching his head.
“That, Megatron, is a Shocker Rift Termination Implant,” explained Hiro. “I installed one into both of your ears a while ago. They play a frequency that the target finds HIGHLY painful!” Dr. Borg and Megatron howled in pain as the noise got louder and louder. This lasted for a few seconds before Hiro keyed in another number and ended the treatment. “Just so you all know,” warned Hiro, “ALL of your soldiers have such an implant. You DO belong to me now. You are Shocker Rift property.” He left the room as Megatron and Dr. Borg snarled.
“First chance I get,” he declared, “I’m slitting his throat!”