Caan stood on the Tiger’s bridge, staring at the viewscreen, watching the progress of the portal. It was already half of Chizara’s size. Another half-hour and it would be twice the size of the planet, big enough to engulf it. Caan twitched as if he was in his old Dalek state. Just then, the alarm sounded. “Report!” he barked.
“Intruder has appeared in Main Engineering, just outside the door to the backup bridge,” replied the computer.
“Can you identify it?” asked Caan.
“Outline resembles Optimus Prime,” reported the computer, “but the color of his optical sensors does not match visual records.”
“Display,” ordered Caan. The screen switched to a view of Main Engineering with Optimus walking around. His optics blazed white instead of blue. “I see what’s going on,” chuckled Caan. “Patch me through to the intruder.” The intruder then got a good look at a screen near him. “I was right, you ARE still alive.”
“Ah, yes, the clairvoyant squid,” chuckled the intruder. While it had Optimus’ image, it spoke in Vortech’s voice.
“I must admit,” chuckled Caan, “I did not expect you to pick the Cybertronian to possess.”
“Well, with Megumi and Arsha dead, my options were limited,” explained the intruder.
“It doesn’t matter,” declared Caan. “Your end is near.”
“Is it, now?” purred the intruder.
“The portal will continue to expand,” boasted Caan. “When even the satellites are engulfed, I will augment this ship to continue the portal’s growth. This universe will be consumed if it means stopping you!”
“And what’s to stop me from leaving?” asked the intruder.
“…What?” hissed Caan.
“I can enter one of the abandoned ships,” explained the intruder. “War made them with interdimensional engines. I could leave for another reality and take it over as I wish. Why not? This world is clearly doomed!” Caan realized the error of his boasting and fear gripped his heart. “Tiny tin squid with a tiny tin brain! Davros must be so proud of you!” The intruder cackled in victory. “But, I AM magnanimous in victory! I know you Daleks want life to fall at your hands, so I will let you face me for a final battle! You’d best be prepared! I await you in Main Engineering!” The call ended.
“Computer, activate Rift Blockers!” ordered Caan. “I am NOT letting him get away like this!”
“Rift Blockers online,” reported the computer. Caan then found a spare gunstick and took it with him to Main Engineering. He found the intruder and fired on him, turning him into a photonegative briefly and knocking him to the floor. He then entered the backup bridge and programmed a course into it.
“Say goodbye, demon!” hissed Caan. The Tiger flew towards the portal!
“So insignificant!” taunted the intruder as he pulled himself towards the door to the backup bridge. “So quick to assume!”
“Silence!” barked Caan as he shot the intruder again. He went back to programming something into the helm console.
“You think you have won,” grunted the intruder. “I am taking this ship over! With Optimus’ technical expertise as a part of me, I can command this vessel to go anywhere I want!”
“Optimus never encountered MY programming skills,” boasted Caan. He finished keying in a command and the thrusters on the outside of the ship exploded. The Tiger was running on inertia now. “Every time you try to repair the thrusters, I will keep overloading them and keep locking the controls! You will remain here and watch as I, Caan, finally end you!” He got a reading on the helm console. “Ah, we’re approaching the portal’s gravity well right on schedule. I will lower the Rift Blockers long enough for me to escape, but they will switch back on when I am gone. The end of this game is in MY favor! Checkmate, Lord Vortech!”
“Oh, Caan, you are so slow on the uptake!” laughed the intruder. Just then, Caan noticed the optics’ lights slowly turn blue. As the intruder spoke, the voice changed into Optimus’ voice. “We’re not playing chess, we’re playing YuGiOh!” The intruder then turned into a Transformer-sized Megumi!
“And you just activated a trap card!” the intruder laughed in Megumi’s voice.
“What the?!” spluttered Caan. The intruder raised a hand and pointed to it as it shimmered and faded to reveal a metal endoskeleton! “A mobile solid-light generator?!”
“It’s called a Holo-droid!” cheered the intruder as it reconstituted the arm. “Right now, Arsha, Optimus, and I are speaking through it!”
“WHERE IS VORTECH?!” demanded Caan. The Holo-droid turned into a Transformer-sized Arsha as she took control.
“Definitely dead this time!” she answered.
“YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!” argued Caan. The Holo-droid turned into Optimus as he spoke.
“Maybe we don’t,” conceded Optimus. “But, we’re pretty sure this time and we are NOT going to let you hurt anyone else because your inherent arrogance forbids you to accept that!” Caan dashed into the backup bridge and tried to work the helm.
“I have to…I have to turn this ship around! I have to…to find him!” he gasped as he worked. “I must…! I overloaded the thrusters! I locked the Rift Blockers! …I can’t control the ship!” He then returned to Main Engineering, dropped to his knees, and pleaded to the Holo-droid as it assumed Megumi’s shape. “SAVE ME! WE MUST RESUME THE HUNT! VORTECH WILL ONLY ANNIHILATE UNIVERSES UNLESS WE STOP HIM!”
“Indeed,” replied Megumi through the Holo-droid. “That’s why we’re getting rid of every chunk of him.” The Holo-droid opened its fists to reveal a feminine arm and a sword, both looking like they were made of Vortech’s skin, Igura’s Vortonian arm and the Foundation Saber. The Holo-droid let the objects fall to the floor. Just before the Foundation Saber hit the floor, however, a man’s hand grabbed the sword’s handle and swung the blade right into and through Caan’s neck, chopping his head off! As the head and body fell to the floor, the Holo-droid gasped as it relayed who the mystery man was. “HIRO?!” yelped Megumi.
“That was for my wife, you son of a b***h!” hissed Hiro.
“How did you…?!” spluttered Megumi.
“I activated a rift onto here as you opened one for the Holo-droid,” explained Hiro. He then keyed in a command on an Engineering Console. “I’ve activated a tractor beam disseminator,” he revealed. “This ship needs to get into the portal and nothing will stop it. With the Rift Blockers locked in place and shields up, I’m not going back.”
“Hiro, you’ve turned the Tiger into your tomb!” protested Megumi. “Let us help you! Let us save you!”
“I have nothing left now,” replied Hiro. “Caan exterminated the last remnants of Shocker Rift. My wife and unborn child are dead. All of the universes under my control are now free. Ambassador Hell would only execute me if I returned home. No, I’m dying on my own terms.” He ran out of Main Engineering. With the door being too small, the Holo-droid couldn’t pursue. All Megumi could do was uselessly call out for Hiro. Hiro arrived on the bridge and looked directly at the portal. “I have done enough in this life without you, my sweet eagle,” he declared to Igura’s spirit, wherever it was. “Don’t worry, wherever you are, either Heaven or Hell, I shall be with you again. Just hold on, your husband will be with you very soon.” He then morphed into Tora-Otoko and thrust his fists into the air. “Shocker gundan…BANZAI!” (Long live the Shocker Army!) The Tiger then entered the portal.
On the Virginia, Megumi stumbled backwards into the Captain’s Chair in sheer shock. “He just…he couldn’t…I wasn’t…he’s gone…” She then felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Richard’s hand and he looked at her in sympathy. She glanced up, then stood up and hugged him tightly. They stayed that way for a good few seconds, not caring that people were staring at them.
“Er, dudes,” called Soundwave from the Nemesis, “I hate to sound like a total downer, but…what about the portal?!”
“Watch,” directed Lacey. Everyone turned to their viewscreens to see the portal getting smaller! It shrank and shrank and shrank over thirty seconds before disappearing entirely. “Remember, Vortech gave up pieces of himself to make a weapon and to give Igura access to it. I guess the portal thought those pieces were enough for it to close.”
“…So, that’s it?” asked Optimus. “The end of Caan and Lord Vortech?” Megumi broke off her embrace with Richard, silently assuring him that she was all right.
“And of Shocker Rift,” she declared. “May Adachi Hiro find his wife, wherever she may be. Now, as for you two, Megatron and Dr. Borg…”
“Rosadera, could we avail upon you to send us home?” asked Megatron.
“We both need to rebuild,” explained Dr. Borg.
“Of course,” replied Rosadera.
“Before you do send us home,” interjected Megatron, “Prime, we haven’t finished our little quarrel yet!”
“You really still want to fight me after what we just went through?!” protested Optimus.
“Dr. Borg,” pleaded Arsha, “PLEASE tell me you’re dropping your plans to control the Realms!”
“I have no intention to do so,” replied Dr. Borg. “I’m just focusing my conquest on the sub-dimensions that make up our universe. Oh, Megatron, I must tell you this, I found Shockwave’s plans to dissect me and use me for her experiments!”
“Well, I can’t say as I’M pleased with you wanting to dissect us!” snarled Megatron. “So we are agreed, our alliance is terminated! Let me warn you; if I catch you in my universe…!”
“The feeling’s mutual!” growled Dr. Borg.
“Then, goodbye, FOREVER!” declared Megatron. “Chizarans, you may send us back!”
“As you wish,” chuckled Rosadera. She snapped her fingers and the Nemesis and Scorpion vanished in pink light.
“Er, you DO realize they had dimensional tech with them, yes?” quizzed Megumi.
“Oh, you mean the dimensional tech we swiped from them as they were talking?” giggled Rosadera.
“Well, with that loose end tied up,” sighed Optimus in relief, “I still have one to tie up with Skyfall. I…I owe her the biggest apology of my life.”
“There’ll be time for tying up loose ends when we all gather at After Academy,” called Death. “The student body and staff heard about our victory and they’ve set up a party in our honor! All of us are invited, including the former participants of this 3V2R and our lovely judges!”
“I’ll be glad to attend!” declared Alfalna.
“Us Martians love a good party!” cheered Elizabeth. “Count me in!”
“I shall definitely be attending!” accepted Ultragingana.
“And we would be honored to accept,” finished Rosadera. “I would love to see After Academy!”
“Before we go,” interjected War, “I’m going to retake my flagship. X-PO, do you mind being at the helm again?”
“Don’t mind at all,” replied X-PO.
“Skyfall and Quake Hammer will also assist you,” offered Optimus.
“Thank you,” mumbled War. She beamed over and found her old crewmates already at their stations. The fleet then set a course for After Academy and entered the rift.
“I have to say,” muttered Mickey, “I feel bad for Caan. I got to know him over the last few years. He was just trying to do what he thought was right.”
“What he thought was right,” argued Richard, “was conquering, killing, and being a racist cigarette butt smashed into the face of reality! Good riddance to him, I say!”
“As do I,” agreed Megumi. “Now that Hell’s existence has been confirmed, I think it’s safe to say that he’s rotting there!”
“So, for that,” declared Richard, “you’ll forgive me if I say this calls for celebration! Drinks are on me, everyone!” Everyone cheered at the idea of someone buying them drinks.
The party was in full swing! The heroes of the multiverse were cheered to the echo when they arrived! The Mayor of Beyond City gave a moving speech, praising the F.N.S. and their allies, both new and old. He left himself out of the speech, being a more humble politician, and draped medals around their necks. Although, he stopped when he noticed someone missing. “Er, where’s War?” he asked.
“War?” called someone from the crowd. “I saw her sitting by herself at the fountain.”
“Excuse me,” bid Megumi as she headed off to the fountain. War was just sitting on the edge of it, staring off into space and uncharacteristically slumped over. “There you are!” called Megumi. War turned her head to see Megumi, then returned to the spot on the horizon she was staring at. “War, what are you sitting here for? The Mayor’s honoring us! He’s got a medal for you! We’ve won! After all of that, we’re performing a new ceremony; a reinstatement ceremony! We’re welcoming you and Mickey back!” War didn’t respond. “…War? …War, are you okay?”
“No,” replied War. “No, I’m not okay. Your future said that Vortech was manipulating us to turn against each other while he slept inside you, Optimus, and Arsha. I’m afraid I don’t see the relevance of his manipulation. My anger at you for not siding with me, my terrible decisions, that was all me. I was the one that did what I did, Vortech be damned. I was that angry with you about keeping Megatron, Hiro, and Dr. Borg from me. …I was ready to cut you down.”
“But you didn’t,” countered Megumi. “That’s what’s important.”
“No, the fact that I was even okay with WILLING to is what’s important,” sighed War. “Megumi, I…I can’t accept reinstatement into the F.N.S. right now. I need to get away from all this for a bit. I need some time to think. I’m taking a sabbatical while Michael fills in for me.”
“Will you be home in time for Founding Day?” asked Megumi, saddened at War’s decision, but understanding why.
“We’ll see,” sighed War as she got up.
“War,” called Megumi, “for what it’s worth, I’m sorry for kicking you out like that. Before we even heard about Vorton, I swore that I would take all factors into consideration before kicking someone out. …I didn’t do that with you and I’m sorry.”
“…I’m sorry too,” mumbled War. “I always thought of myself as someone who always heeds her friends. …I didn’t and I deserved to be kicked out like that.” She then took out a communicator. “Ruthless, this is War. One to beam up.” She vanished in a teleport beam, leaving Megumi to sigh and wish her friend luck silently. She returned to the stand and explained what was going on.
“I just got the letter saying I was taking over for War for the foreseeable future,” revealed Michael. “I’ll just put the medal in her office.”
“I’m sure she’d like that,” agreed the Mayor.