The Endeavor, Ark, Virginia, Nemesis, Scorpion, and a Shocker Rift saucer named the Tiger flew through the rift on course for the universe Caan and his allies were in. The captains of each ship were in a conference over the subspace channels. “So, are we clear on the plan?” asked Megumi.
“The Ark and Nemesis,” replied Optimus, “will begin surface bombardment, making sure our targets are unharmed, yet surrounded.”
“The six of us,” continued Megatron, “will then beam down and apprehend them, holding each one in our brigs.”
“I will have Caan,” supplied Hiro, “Optimus will hold Dr. Eggman, and you will interrogate Mickey.”
“If War comes,” Dr. Borg went on, “the Scorpion and the Tiger will try to hold off her fleet while the Virginia and Endeavor will assist in both bombarding and holding off War’s fleet.
“When we get to Vorton, we hold our targets until we get answers,” finished Arsha.
“Excellent,” declared Megumi. “We’ve only got one shot to get answers. If we screw up now, we’ll never get them.”
“Megumi!” called Richard from the bridge. “War’s fleet beat us to it!”
“What?!” yelped Megumi.
“Well, looks like we’re ALL holding off War!” grumbled Arsha.
“We need extra protection!” declared Megumi. “Everyone, pick someone else to assist us! We’re going in hot!” The call ended and Megumi entered the bridge. “Richard, with me!” she ordered. “Hiroki, you’re in charge until we get back!” Richard and Megumi then entered the transporter room and fastened their belts.
“Vortex Driver!” the two belts called. They then took out their Ascendants and i.d. tags and inserted both.
“Ascendance! All set!” announced their Ascendants.
“Henshin!” proclaimed Richard and Megumi.
“Full Ascendance!” called the Ascendants. They turned into their Ascendant Rider forms and beamed onto the surface of the universe. They met Hiro as Tora-Otoko with a Shocker Rift Drone Dalek, Megatron with Starscream, Optimus with Ironhide, Arsha in her armor with Bashoon, and Dr. Borg with Jansha. They found Caan as Kamen Rider Dal, Mickey as Kamen Rider Lux, and Dr. Eggman fighting off Kamen Rider Adaptus and a Dalek-based Kamen Rider, Metaltron as Kamen Rider Ex. Just then, War in her Rider Form, Skyfall, and Quake Hammer shimmered into view.
“There they are!” called War.
“NO, YOU DON’T!” shouted Royal as she clashed with War.
“Stay out of this, mortal!” demanded War as she blocked Royal’s sword swing.
“Shows what you know!” taunted Royal. “After Academy’s universe made everyone immortal, even bringing the dead back to life!”
“LIAR!” shouted War. Guard assisted Royal as Optimus and Megatron clashed with Quake Hammer and Skyfall.
“You side with the enemy!” accused Optimus. “You hide the fact that you’ve married a Decepticon from me! You attack innocent people! You’re no Autobot, you cruel Pit-spawn!”
“I’m being cruel to be kind!” argued Skyfall. “Like a child scares me!”
“A child that’s stripping you of the Autobrand for this, traitor!” countered Optimus. Megatron concentrated on Quake Hammer.
“You know, I told the D.J.D. that you died defending me!” Megatron snarled at Quake Hammer. “Maybe I should tell them I was mistaken and have you put back on the List!”
“Believe it or not,” growled Quake Hammer, “I don’t think the D.J.D. will listen to you, considering your Autobot origins!”
“I have abandoned that faction a long time ago!” roared Megatron.
“That’s no excuse for the D.J.D!” countered Quake Hammer. Tora-Otoko, the Dalek, Dr. Borg, Arsha, and Bashoon focused on Dal, Lux, and Eggman while Ex and Adaptus tried to get around the group of four. Dr. Borg and Bashoon tried to knock Adaptus off their backs while Ex attacked Arsha, Tora-Otoko, and the Dalek.
“EXTERMINATE!” called the Dalek as it fired. The blaster bolt was deflected by Ex’s new armor.
“Nice try,” taunted Ex.
“EXTERMINATE!” shrieked the Dalek as it fired again and again. “EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! WHY WON’T YOU JUST DIE ALREADY?!”
“I can’t,” purred Ex as she punched through the Dalek’s casing. She then retracted her fist to reveal the remains of the Dalek’s internal flesh.
“COME HERE!” roared Tora-Otoko as he swung the Rift Breaker at Ex. Ex dodged the attack, but left herself open to Arsha’s punch.
“Why you!” snarled Ex as she performed a roundhouse kick. Arsha caught Ex’s foot and flipped her to the ground. Tora-Otoko inserted his old i.d. tag into the Rift Breaker.
“Final Attack!” it announced.
“TORA RIFT SLICE!” shouted Tora-Otoko as he swung it sideways, creating an energy wave that hit Ex and cancelled her transformation, changing her back into Metaltron. Tora-Otoko arched an eyebrow. “You’re…blue?” he muttered.
“What, got something against a new breed of Dalek?” asked Metaltron.
“Eggman!” called Lux. “Any time now!”
“Got them!” cheered Eggman.
“NOW!” shouted Dal. Eggman pressed a button and everything gained a bluish tint. Metaltron and Adaptus looked around in stark confusion.
“WHERE’D THEY GO?!” demanded Metaltron as she passed through Optimus’ leg while everyone tried to steady themselves.
“Never mind them,” urged Adaptus as she turned back into the former Cyber-Planner Gi. She now wore a silver dress. “We have other recruits to find,” reminded Gi.
“Yes, yes, we do,” remembered Metaltron. “Come on, we need to leave.” She summoned a Rift and they vanished into it.
“Er…couldn’t they…?” asked Quake Hammer.
“It’s a temporary pocket dimension,” explained Lux as he turned back into Mickey. “Eggman was supposed to leave them out while we talked.”
“Sweet Primus!” groaned Optimus. “Who calibrated that?! Feels like my internal mechanics took a weekend in Six Lasers Over Cybertron!”
“Clearly, the problem is your weak constitution,” remarked Dal as he changed back into Caan.
“Oh, yeah, forgot about you!” hissed War as she drew her sword.
“WHOA! WAIT! NO!” yelped Mickey as he got between War and Caan.
“Mickey, you’ve got five seconds,” warned Royal, “to explain what’s going on here and why you’re working with Caan and Eggman!”
“You’re owed no such explanation!” snarled Caan. “You should have kept your nose out of our business!”
“And let you conquer Foundation Prime?!” roared War. “Not a chance!”
“What use would I have for Foundation Prime?!” snapped Caan.
“Everyone, calm down!” urged Mickey. “We’re all in this together!”
“Calm down?!” protested Guard. “You’re working with Eggman and a former Dalek! You saw how dangerous one was during the incident with the Sources! Mickey, we’ve been against them from the start, you’ve been working with them since you joined us three years ago! Maybe before that! I say Caan’s wrong! We’re ALL owed an explanation!”
“…Wait, you mean you really don’t know?” asked Mickey.
“Of course, they don’t!” snapped Caan. “Anyone can tell you that and they don’t need my clairvoyance.”
“But I thought they would have, at least, suspected!” argued Mickey.
“Suspected what?” asked Optimus.
“Guys, I went to Megumi’s future!” revealed Mickey. “I know what’s going on!”
“My…future?” asked Royal.
“Ask and she shall appear,” called a voice. Mirai-Megumi appeared, wearing her perception filter. “Now, before I get into the big reveal,” she began, “Megumi, did Death tell you about my conversation with her and Rosadera?”
“Yeah, why?” asked Royal.
“Good,” declared Mirai-Megumi as she took off the perception filter. “Now I don’t have to have this stupid thing and can reveal why I hired Caan to assist in this matter.”
“…Okay, when do I go senile enough to want to hire a former Dalek?!” hissed Royal.
“It’s not senility,” argued Mirai-Megumi, “it’s ensuring time stays on track and we only need to worry about a different version of Shocker.”
“What?” asked Guard.
“Minna, Caan’s right!” revealed Mirai-Megumi. “Vortech is still alive!”
“…That…That…THAT’S ABSURD!” argued War.
“I warned you, Megumi,” hissed Caan. “I told you I saw you, Optimus, and Arsha fighting Vortech before you were robbed of the Sources by Hiro. You should have heeded my advice and prepared for his second coming!”
“You left his service with me!” argued Tora-Otoko. “You only heard the news that Vortech was imprisoned in a rift loop and died when it collapsed!”
“Would someone tell me what’s going on?!” demanded Dr. Borg.
“About five years ago,” explained Royal, “my friends and I, the original Vortex Riders, got Batman, Hongo, Wyldstyle, and Gandalf on a crazy journey that spanned the entire multiverse to defeat the last of the Vortonians, Lord Vortech. He was going to smash every reality into one another to make a perfect, singular universe. We stopped him by trapping him in a rift loop and it collapsed, thus it KILLED him!”
“Vortech’s alive and well in this time!” corrected Mirai-Megumi. “He’s just hiding within someone. Three someones, in fact. Want to know who they are?” She then pointed to Royal, Optimus, and Arsha.
“…He’s…inside us?” asked Optimus.
“Snoozing right in your heads,” confirmed Mirai-Megumi.
“Er, guys,” gulped Eggman, “can we continue this in normal reality? The pocket dimension’s about to collapse!”
“I’ll tell you what,” offered Royal as she cancelled her transformation, “we’ll order our ships to stop shooting at each other to hear your explanations. If we’re satisfied, we’ll let you off the hook. If not, we’re throwing you in prison. Sound fair?”
“Fine,” agreed Mickey.
“…Very well,” grunted War as she cancelled her transformation.
“She speaks for us,” declared Megatron as Tora-Otoko turned back into Hiro.
All ships stopped shooting at each other and listened to Mirai-Megumi, Mickey, Caan, and Eggman explain why they did what they did. “But…but…that’s not…” muttered Hiroki.
“I went to the future,” replied Mickey. “Vortech’s still alive!”
“It’s just…a little hard to take in!” remarked Hiro. “How long has he been inside their heads?”
“He was split across different points in time as well,” explained Mirai-Megumi. “During the fight on Foundation Prime over the Sources, unbeknownst to me, I had backed my foot into a small lump of Vortech. It activated his memories and soul and he was split into three fragments. One of them buried itself into me, the second went into Optimus during Sira’s lecture about how the soul knows when someone is turning bad, even if the mind is clouded.”
“That was after I had lost my magic briefly,” muttered Optimus. “I was falling into delusions of power.”
“The third was when Arsha first met Dr. Borg as she explained her plan to use a virus to take over the Realms,” continued Mirai-Megumi.
“I still owe you for ruining that plan,” Dr. Borg threatened Arsha.
“Doctor, shut up,” hissed Megatron.
“Right now,” finished Mirai-Megumi, “Vortech’s just lying in wait, manipulating us all to turn against each other.” War’s face fell when she heard that.
“Wait, then where does the Ascendant come into play?” asked Optimus.
“That was something 200-year-old me did,” explained Mirai-Megumi. “Yes, she’s also locked looking like she’s 21. In any case, she told Sludgiona what was going on before the Vortech Wars and told her to make the prototype Vortex Drivers, then make new ones.”
“Did she tell Sludgiona to make the Chronicle Drivers?” asked Dell.
“No, that was all her doing,” replied Mirai-Megumi. “The Lukas of my time programmed the virus that destroyed them.”
“The virus Mickey installed in them?” asked Jandro.
“The same,” confirmed Mirai-Megumi.
“That still leaves me confused,” muttered Optimus. “Why did it need my Spark? Why couldn’t you just say that the Ascendant needed it?”
“Because that would have made the timeline messier than it already is,” replied Mirai-Megumi. “Truthfully, it needed a good source of energy, I just forgot that it need something on the level of your Spark.”
“Then why was the Ascendant made at all?” asked Arsha.
“Because it’s not just a power-up,” replied Mickey. “It’s not a fancy gadget! It’s armor! Mental armor!”
“Of course!” cheered Lukas. “Wunderbar!”
“Huh?” asked Richard.
“Vortech is a being of pure energy,” explained Lukas. “To fight someone like him, you need to fight in a manner similar to his existence, with greater energy, and a Transformer’s Spark, especially one bonded to the Matrix, is the very thing needed to hold him back!”
“It’s one of a myriad of ways we fight someone like Vortech,” explained Mirai-Megumi. “People like him are classified as Industria Bestias, Beasts of Energy. We have ways of defeating them or blocking them.”
“The Ascendant isn’t just for making new forms,” continued Caan. “It’s a shield, a method of keeping Vortech from taking over your minds and bodies. With Megumi in possession of an Ascendant, Vortech can’t use you lot, not even Optimus and Arsha. However, he’s still inside your bodies and we need him OUT to defeat him.”
“Then we gotta reconvene and plan on Vorton,” declared Megumi. “For now, all charges against Mickey and Eggman need to be dropped. War, I need you to…War?” War wasn’t on the screen. Instead, it was Quake Hammer. “Where’s War?”
“In her ready room,” replied Quake Hammer. “She heard everything, but I think hearing that she was manipulated into betraying you all by Vortech left her shaken.”
“…Permission to come aboard?” asked Megumi, guessing why she was shaken.
“Granted,” answered Quake Hammer. “We’ll beam you over.” Megumi was transported via teleport beam to the bridge of War’s ship and was shown where her ready room was. She knocked on the door.
“Come,” mumbled War’s voice. Megumi stepped in to see War huddled in a corner, pulling her knees to her chest, and looking sorry for herself.
“War?” asked Megumi. “Are you okay?”
“More or less,” muttered War. “Are you okay?”
“I’ve been worse,” assured Megumi. “…Er, about Mickey…”
“I’m not pursuing him, not anymore,” replied War in uncharacteristic softness.
“…What are you thinking about?” quizzed Megumi.
“Everything,” answered War. “…Specifically, what I did against you and what I was planning to do to you. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” replied Megumi. “You were manipulated by Vortech.”
“Was I?” mumbled War. Megumi winced, guessing what War was going through.
“…Look, we can save the pity party for later,” declared Megumi. “We need to get Vortech out of me, Optimus, and Arsha.”
“True,” sighed War as she stood up. “What do you need from me?”
“Right now, we’re all going to Vorton to make Vortech aware that we’re on to him,” explained Megumi. “You up for another fight against him?”
“…Yes!” declared War.
“I’ll see you on Vorton, then,” finished Megumi. “Virginia, this is Megumi. One to return.” She vanished as War took her place on her bridge.
“Lay in a course for Vorton!” she ordered Skyfall. All ships then sped off for Vorton.