Arsha and Optimus were waiting for Blancalmarem to pick them up by the Gateway. “I must say,” mused Arsha, “I’m a little surprised she’s judging us.”
“Yeah, I thought she was an announcer with Nemengra,” agreed Optimus. “When did announcers…?” his question was interrupted as white light flashed and formed Blancalmarem.
“Commander Topaz has prepared the firing range,” she announced. “We’ll just go there now and…”
“Madam, a question,” interjected Arsha.
“Yes?” asked Blancalmarem.
“Have you always judged a round?” inquired Arsha.
“Why, yes, all of us princesses do,” replied Blancalmarem. “Nemengra and I may be the main commenters, but we don’t have a monopoly on that.”
“Who’s taking your place?” asked Optimus.
“At the moment, Elizabeth is,” answered Blancalmarem. “Any further questions?”
“No, we’re good,” replied Arsha.
“Then, away we go,” declared Blancalmarem. The three then vanished in white light and reappeared at the firing range. Commander Topaz rubbed her eyes as she recovered from the flash.
“I don’t think I’m EVER going to get used to that,” she muttered.
“Us contestants haven’t gotten used to it either,” supplied Optimus. The camera appeared and Blancalmarem smoothed out her dress before beginning.
“I am Blancalmarem,” she began, “the white princess of Chizara and the life leader! Representing T-R-4-N-5-F-0-R-M-3-R-5-M-0-8-1-4-N-C-H-R-0-N-1-C-L-3-5, we have Optimus Prime with home-turf advantage! Representing T-H-3-T-H-R-3-3-R-3-4-L-M-5, we have Arsha Royana! This bout will be a test of acuity in magic. Optimus and Arsha will each fire a magic blast from their wands, trying to get close enough to the center of the target. They will each have ten shots and whoever gets the closest shot to the center is the winner. No other weapons may be used and neither will interfere in the other’s attempts. Optimus Prime, are you ready?”
“Bring it!” cheered Optimus.
“Arsha Royana, are you ready?” asked Blancalmarem.
“Let’s start the match!” answered Arsha.
“Then I shall determine who fires their first shot,” declared Blancalmarem. “Optimus, since you have home-turf advantage, call it.” She pulled out a coin.
“Tails,” called Optimus. Blancalmarem flicked the coin into the air, then caught it, slapped it to the back of her hand, then got a peek.
“Good call,” praised Blancalmarem. “You may fire when ready, Optimus.” Optimus twirled his wand before slicing the air from side to side and firing a magic blast. It hit the target on one of the interior rings. He holstered his wand and indicated it was Arsha’s turn. Arsha smirked, then pointed her wand down before flicking it upwards towards the target and fired a magic blast. When it hit the target, slightly nearer to the center than Optimus’, she holstered hers and nodded to Optimus.
“Oh no,” groaned Oak. “They’re baiting each other!”
“Happens in your universe too?” sighed Jazz.
“What’s going on?” asked Richard.
“They’re trying to show off how flashy they can flick their wands,” explained Jazz. “A Mage’s rap battle, if you will.”
“Ah,” realized Richard.
“By the Allspark, I thought he grew out of that,” groaned Blackarachnia.
“He doesn’t change much, does he?” chuckled Ultra Magnus.
“Sometimes his attitude,” mused Blackarachnia, “reminds me of when we first met.”
“It was at a party on Cybertron, ten years before he received the Matrix,” recalled Ultra Magnus. “He was boasting about his family’s preference to be warriors.”
“I got so sick of it and threw a full Energon cube at his head,” giggled Blackarachnia.
“You then told him that he was a disgrace to the Pax family name,” continued Ultra Magnus, “and mopped the floor with him.”
“Dad was spark-showering mad at that,” revealed Blackarachnia. “I seem to recall your mother telling him he was going to Yoketron’s estate as punishment. Yet, he talks about Yoketron fondly. Why?”
“He met Jazz there,” replied Ultra Magnus. His attention was then grabbed by Optimus’ next shot. His wind-up looked like he was fencing with his wand. His shot was slightly farther from his first.
“Folks, I promise you,” Blancalmarem assured to the camera, “their posing has no merit in this bout. All I’m judging is their accuracy.” Arsha pirouetted three times before tilting her body so it was parallel to the ground and she lightly flicked her wand, making a magic blast hit the target. It was perpendicular to her previous shot.
“Oh yeah?” remarked Optimus. He then got into a one-handed handstand and pointed his wand between his legs, firing another blast.
“Getting fancy, are we?” chuckled Arsha. She then leapt into the air and expanded her skirts, letting the sudden updraft keep her afloat and parachuting down gently as she fired another magic blast.
“Showoff!” hissed Optimus.
“Like he has any room to talk!” snapped Brendan as he and Jandro set up aluminum-backed mirrors to replace the silver-backed ones so they could see themselves.
“That boy is quite the cocky one, from what I’ve read in my copy of his dossier,” recalled Jandro.
“I swear, I never displayed this level of OW!” Brendan accidentally cut his lips with his new fangs.
“It was tough for me, too,” assured Jandro.
“I need to ask before I say something stupid,” muttered Brendan, “were you born a Vampire?”
“Nope, I was turned,” answered Jandro.
“Then you DO know what I’m going through,” sighed Brendan. “Okay, that’s a bit of a relief.”
“Brendan, sweet-blood,” chuckled Jandro, “even Vampires that have been that way since their birth have the occasional mishap.” Just then, there was a knock on the door.
“Coming!” called Brendan. He opened the door to reveal a sparkling, pale human.
“I’ve got two deliveries,” explained the sparkler. “One for a Mr. Jandro Dormu from After Academy’s Uniform Department.”
“That’s me,” called Jandro as he took the package.
“And the other is for a Mr. Brendan Patterson from Fabric of Reality,” continued the sparkler.
“My new dress!” cheered Brendan as he accepted his package.
“Hey, if you ever feel tired of him,” purred the sparkler, “maybe you can hang with a real Vampire?” Both Jandro and Brendan bared their fangs.
“Back off, you pale imitation!” snarled Brendan. “You sparkle-fairies are NOT Vampires!”
“I dare you to take Brendan from me!” growled Jandro.
“Why don’t you go take a bath in holy water?!” challenged the sparkler. Brendan then grabbed the sparkler’s shoulder and punched him straight in the mouth.
“Insult my boyfriend again! I dare you!” he taunted as the sparkler spat out his chipped fangs.
“MY TEETH!” he cried. “YOU RED-EYED…!” The door was then slammed in his face.
“Stupid imitation Vampire!” muttered Brendan.
“How that ridiculous Twilight garbage has ANY following among VaOUCH!” yelped Jandro as he cut his lips with his fangs. “…See what I meant earlier?” chuckled Jandro.
“Let’s not focus on the knock-off Vampires, my rose,” advised Brendan. “I believe the match is still going on.” Optimus and Arsha had both taken seven shots each while the altercation went on.
“If you’re quite done on deciding!” hissed Blancalmarem.
“Don’t rush a magic blast fling pose!” retorted Optimus. He then did a bit of break-dancing before firing his eighth shot.
“Nice try,” laughed Arsha. She leapt into the air, did ten backflips, then punched the back of her wand, making it shoot her eighth one.
“Kids,” muttered Rachet as he, Emily, Marshii, and Henry tidied the infirmary.
“You were that young once,” remarked Henry.
“True,” conceded Ratchet. “…Okay, where’s the laser scalpel?!”
“What’s it look like?” asked Marshii.
“Long silver tube,” described Ratchet. “Red light at the end that generates the laser I need.”
“That one?” asked Emily as she pointed to the tube.
“Ah, there it is,” sighed Ratchet happily. “Thank you.”
“Not a problem, Doc,” replied Emily.
“Don’t call me ‘Doc’!” snapped Ratchet.
“Hey, Ratchet, about the microscope I lent you…” began Marshii.
“Ah, yes, the microscope,” recalled Ratchet. “Just finished my analysis of Emily’s blood. I’ll give it to you once we’re…” He was interrupted by something breaking. Everyone turned to see Henry looking guilty at a mess he made of a couple of pieces of equipment, specifically, Marshii’s microscope and the machine Ratchet used to operate it!
“So…I guess the red button SHOULDN’T have been pressed,” gulped Henry.
“I NEEDED THAT!” shouted Ratchet and Marshii.
Optimus traced various shapes with his wand before firing his ninth shot. Arsha made her wand cartwheel across her arms five times over before she caught it and fired her ninth one. “Right, this is the last one!” declared Optimus. He tossed his wand into the air, got into a push-up position, transformed from vehicle to robot mode five times over, got up and did ten jumping jacks, then proceeded to do an entire kata before he kicked the end of his wand and fired his last shot.
“Okay, that’s good, I’ll give you that,” mused Arsha. “But, this is where it ends.” She then tossed her wand into the air, shut her eyes to concentrate, moved her tails in a graceful manner, danced as if she were gliding instead of stepping, twirled, then, as it came level with her, flicked the end of her wand and fired her final shot. She stopped her dance, opened her eyes, caught her wand, and curtsied. Optimus clapped his hands, impressed at what he saw.
“That topped mine,” conceded Optimus. “Good job.”
“Yes, the wind-ups were amazing,” remarked Blancalmarem, “but that wasn’t what the contest was about, was it?” Optimus and Arsha arched their eyebrows in confusion, then widened their eyes as they blushed in embarrassment.
“Scrap, that’s right!” groaned Optimus.
“Target shooting,” winced Arsha. “Oops.”
“You two seriously forgot?!” protested Blancalmarem. She then sighed. “Some people are so easily distracted.” She ran outlines along the targets and shot-marks, Optimus’ in red and Arsha’s in pink, lined the outlines up and measured each shot. “This contest is over,” she announced. “The winner, with her fifth shot, is Arsha Royana! You two will be returned to Vorton shortly. Optimus, 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 Nemengra and I?”
“…You know what, sure,” replied Optimus.
“Then I shall bring you to our garden once Arsha is dropped off,” declared Blancalmarem. White light surrounded them and took Arsha to Vorton while Optimus went with Blancalmarem. Arsha was congratulated on all sides.
“That was nicely done!” cheered Megumi.
“Well, looks like my boy needs to work on his magic shooting,” mused Ironhide. “First off, I gotta remind him that you can’t get distracted with anything fancy, especially in battle!”
“And it seems YOU need that reminder as well, Captain,” rumbled Oak. Arsha just giggled nervously and rubbed the back of her neck as an embarrassed grin crossed her blushing face again.
The interview broadcast began as usual. “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.
“I had the honor of judging the bout between Optimus Prime and Arsha Royana today,” continued Blancalmarem.
“The bout was centered around magic target shooting and Arsha claimed victory,” explained Nemengra.
“Now, if they just remembered that, the bout would have gone a lot quicker!” grumbled Blancalmarem.
“Yes, the competitors soon switched their focus to whoever could wind up their shots better,” recalled Nemengra.
“Optimus has accepted being interviewed, so, maybe, we can get some answers from him,” mused Blancalmarem.
“Here’s is the interview in full,” announced Nemengra as the screen behind them displayed the interview.
“It says in your dossier,” revealed Blancalmarem, “that you’re the first adolescent to be named Prime. What were your thoughts after that?”
“Oh, the usual,” replied Optimus. “Underestimating how hard leadership is, failing a lot, listening to grumbles of unhappy bots.”
“Yet you stay on,” mused Nemengra. “Why?”
“Because, at the end of the day,” answered Optimus, “I still feel pride for my job of serving Cybertron in my current capacity.”
“You view your job as a public service?” summed up Blancalmarem.
“Every job in the field of politics, even voting,” affirmed Optimus, “is a public service. To try to make a career out of it, in my opinion, cheapens the sacrifice you’re making. That’s why I instituted term limits to all politicians on Cybertron.”
“And people feel as if they’re being heard?” quizzed Nemengra.
“It’s one of a few solutions to restore honor to politics that I have in mind,” replied Optimus. “Another is to do away with our electoral college system that we adopted from 21st century Americans and go for a pure democracy in electing our representatives.”
“Well, sounds ambitious,” mused Blancalmarem.
“The people’s voice needs to be heard,” declared Optimus.
“That is, indeed, a noble goal,” agreed Nemengra. “Now, concerning the bout…” Optimus sunk into his seat as he blushed.
“It’s about the show Arsha and I put on during our wind-ups, isn’t it?” guessed Optimus.
“Well, that,” answered Blancalmarem, “and I’m still trying to figure out how you two forgot the fight terms since you BOTH agreed to them!”
“Mages, sometimes, love to show off,” explained Optimus. “More often than not, that gets in the way for us. It looks like it’s a ‘multiversal constant’, as the Vortex Riders put it.”
“So, you succumb to childishness frequently?” guessed Nemengra.
“Yes,” mumbled Optimus.
“Well, I think we’ve said enough,” declared Blancalmarem. “Thank you for your time, we’ll send you home.”
“Do you need to?” gulped Optimus.
“You’re gonna have to hear the lectures eventually,” answered Nemengra. “‘Til all are one.” The screen went dark and Blancalmarem and Nemengra returned to their audience.
“I’m sure Optimus is getting an audioful,” sighed Blancalmarem.
“After the break, Amavorte will be judging the round between Megumi Hishikawa and Queen Phury of Appoplexia!” cheered Nemengra.