By Hunter (Skull Man)
(This chapter starts in the Citadel's garage. A master of rings, unable to find sleep, fiddles with the controls of the Cossack-Mobile. Soon, he will find that curiosity can kill the cat ... and the robot.)
SFX : WHOOOFCH !
Brightbabe : *wakes up* Huh ? What was that ? *rushes downstairs, to find a basement on fire*
John : *handling a fire extinguisher* Err ... I got it covered.
Brightbabe : *helps fighting the fire* ... So, what happened ?
John : I ... well, I couldn't sleep, not with all that happened recently, and I figured that, if we needed it, there are still functions I didn't know how to use on the Cossack-Mobile. And, I thought I had found some kind of cigarette lighter. So ... yeah.
Brightbabe : You know, come to think of it, I didn't know the Cossack-mobile had built-in flamethrowers either.
John : Heh, you don't see that on a lot of cars. Seems like that I have much to learn.
Brightbabe : Don't we all. May I treat you in some tea ?
John : Why not.
(Around a cup...)
John : Pardon me for asking, but how did you join this Team ?
Brightbabe : Good question, I wonder about it sometimes. One day, I was your average citizen, the next I joined the craziest team of communists around the corner.
John : Oh. Had anything happened to the previous Brightman ?
Brightbabe : Brightbabe. From what I got, she left running a taco stand.
John : ...
Brightbabe : Yeah, it surprises me, too. But on the other hand, I got to meet real wonderful people in this team. AM, Sean...
John : Geoff ?
Brightbabe : Well, you get used to him after a while. Or rather, "got" used to him.
Diveman : *throws an empty beer bottle at the duo* I got yer cat right here, and it thirsts for alcohol ! *walks to his room and sings an obscene song*
John : Hm, yeah. I suppose I can't tell much of a story here. First thing I remember, it was an eyeful of Cossack's face. Perfect memories for someone who's "born".
Brightbabe : Ugh.
John : And then I was Ringman. Pretty easy origin there.
Brightbabe : Oh, don't feel bad. I kow some friends who can relate - or got it worse.
John : *chuckles* Boy, waking up in the morning must be a chore for them.
Brightbabe : They had a mindset to accomodate that, mind you. Anyway ... what do you say we go out, stop some crime, that kind of thing ?
John : Err ... Aren't we kind of illegal ?
Brightbabe : Believe me, I know about being an illegal vigilante. And I'm sick of standing around here being useless.
John : Fine with me.
(It was a night of thrill, and adventures. The criminals of Moscow got a nasty reminder of why one shouldn't mess with the Comrades.
And in the end...)
BrightBabe : You're pretty good, you know.
Ringman : Heh, thanks. I've trained with AM and the others for a while, though.
BrightBabe : So, ehm...
Ringman : Hm ?
BrightBabe : Well ...
Ringman : ...
BrightBabe : ...
(They walk closer to each other, eyeing each other...)
Skullman : *stalks from behind* Interrupting anything ?
Brightbabe & Ringman : GAH !
Skullman : Good. Regulus needs help.
BrightBabe : He can escape on his own, isn't it ?
Skullman : Needs a ride. *forms a "smile" with his right hand over his mouth* Gesture appropriate.
Ringman : Alright. Mind if I drive ?
BrightBabe : Sure thing. Don't push any buttons, though. For all we know there could a cruiser missile in there.
Skullman : Suggestion noted.
RBrightbabe & Ringman : ...
(Let's switch the focus to another creepy, shall we ?)
Warden : *as a trio walks closer* Uhh ... What do you guys want ? Now, that is the solitary wing. You're not supposed to be here. There could be trouble to all of us if you're seen here.
Trio : ...
Warden : C'm'on, give me a break, okay ?
? : How's the wife, Muliakov ?
Warden : What ?! Look, she has nothing to do with that ! You better leave ...
? : And the kid ? I am correct to assume you still have a kid ?
Warden : Y-yeah, but ... Okay. What do you want ?
? : Just five minutes of your time with your little protégé. Do not worry, we won't hurt him. We just want to say hello.
Warden : Well, just five minutes, okay ? That's all. Alright ? Fine, fine. *walks away*
? : So, Blue Fox. It's been a long time.
Regulus : Big Figure. Small world, eh ?
(The trio adressing Regulus is composed of two thugs and their leader : a diminutive robot with an odd-looking helmet, smoking a cigar.)
"Big Figure" : Come on, just call me Prometheus. I miss the sounds of my relatives calling me that way.
Regulus : Could've been expected, considering the first Brain-bot prototype -a.k.a. you- ran away to a life of crime. I understand the "parents" when they put an end to that project.
Prometheus : I admit I may have "tinkered" with some of the experiments' results. Crime-lording has no room for rivals of the same standing, you know that well.
Regulus : Heh. You're still sore about me throwing you here a good twenty years ago ?
Prometheus : Thanks to you, I missed out on a first-hand intervention on world business. But then again, here was a good hideout during the War ... at least, not until some of us took to leading when the RPD had left us encaged.
Regulus : I'm sure you did that job well, considering you talk to me now. *eyes the thugs* What about your old crew ? Stopped paying visits after the price of oranges raised too high ?
Prometheus : Ha-ha. No, they're running everything at home, until the day I get out. I can wait.
Regulus : You've come to taunt me while I'm here, don't you ?
Prometheus : You remember your lessons. Yeah, that prisoner you gave a hot shower to is in severe condition. He dies, the place riots, and I have the pleasure of mounting your head on a trophy.
Regulus : Oh, and here I thought you were more refined.
Prometheus : A boy got to have his hobby. And I know the right person to offer that to.
Regulus : Yeah, assuming you can pick it up.
Thug : That's it ! Let me get Muliakov to open his door ! I wanna tear that guy a new one...
Prometheus : Patience, Vlad. It's just a matter of days now. You're all alone in here, Regulus. Even your shrink resigned. You're one crummy lock from the past, and it has a long reach.
Regulus : Whatever.
Prometheus : Oh, and before we go ... I already knew of your secret identity. Took me the best part of my first year here, all spent on thinking. And after that, deducing the identities of your teammates was easy cake.
Regulus : ...
Prometheus : Send my regards to AM and Sean. I'll also make sure Altair gets some flowers. *as they walk away* Pleasant dreams, Regulus !
(At the Citadel...)
Skullman : *preparing the Cossack-Mobile* Faster. Regulus needs us.
BrightBabe : We're already doing enough by bringing him back here with the car. Can't he handle an escape ?
Skullman : Team Killer still around. Accidents can happen.
BrightBabe : *sigh* You want us to barge in the prison and rescue him.
Skullman : Correct.
Ringman : I don't really see the problem. I mean, isn't it forced by law to depower the prisoners ? And even then, Regulus is strong enough without being Toadman.
Skullman : Sure. But the whole prison despises his guts. Survival here is at risk.
(And indeed, after the passing of Reg's "admirer", in front of his cell...)
Prisoners : Let me at him ! I rot since so long-
Destroyed my life -
I want a piece of that bastard -
Prometheus : Now, now. I know we can find a way to share him equitably between the lot of us. But let me handle the carving. *motions to one of his thugs, who brings a circular saw* And I happen to have a sure hand with a knife... I'll call you when dinner is ready.
Regulus : *gets up, removes his prisoner jacket*
Prometheus : Remember the date, Reg ? It's All Hallow's Eve, the day when the dead meet with the living. And I'll make sure you can go and meet your lady today - and keep you together, since death won't part you anymore.
Thug : You see, boss ? No more little jokes now that he got youse leading the show ! Mebbe he realized we'll break him and make him shorter.
Regulus : Hah ! Fat chance.
Thug : Ain't no one calling me fat ! *attempts to struggle Regulus through the bars, but...*
Regulus : *...ties the thug's arms with his jacket* There. I don't want you to split.
Thug : Boss ! Help me ! Boss !
Prometheus : Hmm ... This riot will eventually die down, and I won't get a better chance of getting even. *looks away* Sorry, Piotr, but you are no longer needed.
Thug 2 : *severs Piotr's arms*
Regulus : Ouch ... gotta hurt. And here I thought of working with you, but if that's how you treat your employees...
Prometheus : No, that's just the exception. And I intend to stop the source. *to the second thug* Cut through the bars.
Regulus : One-nothing. Your move. Come and get me.
(Outside the prison...)
Ringman : And here we are. Hunter, please.
Skullman : As you command. *fires his grappling-hook/claw, and extends his arm to John and Jet* Going up ?
BrightBabe : *grabs Hunter's arm* You're not fit for wit, I'm afraid.
Ringman : *does the same* I guess we'll have time for lessons later.
(Back to Reg and pals.)
Thug 2 : *cutting through the bars* There, almost done. I love that sound, like a scream of agony, y'know ?
Prometheus : For as correct as your banter is, I'd prefer you kept it for his funeral speech. Now, open.
Thug 2 : Sure. On it, boss. *breaks the bars*
(As he enters, Reg notices the saw's electric line has seen better days, and climbs atop his bed.)
Thug 2 : Oh, scared of the man with the big saw ? Good reaction, pal.
(As he walks closer, Reg smashes his toilet, creating a nasty electrocution for the thug.)
Regulus : Hrm. I never thought about disposing of sewage with a toilet. Obvious with hindsight, don't you agree ?
Prometheus : (This did not go to plan. Gotta run and recalculate my assets). *runs away*
(Elsewhere in the prison, a friendlier trio is making his way through the riot...)
Ringman : So, where would Regulus be now ?
BrightBabe : Judging from his popularity, I'd say the solitary section.
Skullman : This way.
Ringman : *As they arrive* No luck. I'd say he's gone somewhere else.
BrightBabe : *stares at the corpses* He WAS here, that we can be sure.
Skullman : *looks down* Footsteps. That way.
Ringman : Not to sound too alarmist, but they're just water marks. He'll get his soles dry from walking at some point.
BrightBabe : We'll follow the badly hurt bodies. It's Reg, remember ?
(In the prison's lavatory block...)
Prometheus : W-Wait, Regulus ! I think we got on a wrong foot here.
Regulus : Wow, your stay here sure improved your mental abilities.
Prometheus : Har-har. But still, I am certain we can work out a new partnership. We're both smart people here, and you already know of my business skills. Imagine if we were to join our resources ? The world would be ours.
Regulus : Nah. As tempting as it sounds, there's a slight bump in the form of your little crew.
Prometheus : It won't be a problem. They're rough lads, but they can learn to behave.
Regulus : They'll behave enough to stab me, and they need no lessons for that. *grabs Prometheus* No, I'm afraid cooperation between us can only go down the drain. *shoves Prometheus in a toilet, then walks out* Hi, guys. Got any oranges for the guy you're visiting ?
BrightBabe : No, we forgot. Now, hurry up before we leave you here.
Regulus : A bit cranky, eh ? *chuckles* To be honest, the sooner I'm out of here, the better.
Prometheus : *as the Comrades walk away* I'll get you, Reg. This is not the last of- *slips and knocks himself out*
(This Prometheus fella has quite a grudge now - not that he didn't before.
Anyway, back at the Citadel...)
Regulus : We'll need to move out soon. I think - *bumps into Jade*
Pharaohman : You're right. They're after us. *goes for Jet* John, Reg, Hunter, take the Cossack-Mobile. We'll meet up somewhere safe.
BrightBabe : And ... what about us ?
Pharaohman : Just a bit of magic. I don't have enough energy to transport us five right now.
Ringman : Okay, but, AM and Sean ?
Pharaohman : Sean is at business. Wait a bit before going and meeting at his office, though. Take a break, a drink, whatever, but keep hidden. We're meeting there at midnight.
Skullman : Forgot AM.
Pharaohman : Oh, he'll be okay. *teleports out with Jet*
Regulus : You heard the pharaoh, kid. Let's drive off before the cops arrive.
(At the same time, in town...)
Knot-top 1 : Hey, lookit that guy ! He's one of those Comrades !
Knot-top 2 : Hurry it up, before he goes robot !
AM : (Okay, revealing our identities for that apologizing campaign was not a good idea.) Come and get me !
(The battle is short but fierce, but as more of the gang arrives...)
AM : (Think, AM, think...) : Hey, look ! The cops ! *runs away*
Knot-top : Huh ? Where ? Where ?
AM : *arrives near a bar* "Halloween party. Disguises only." Hmm... By now, everyone knows AM has a Transmetal-like armor, right ?*goes in the alley close, and transforms into the original Drillman*
Drillman : *enters the bar* Perfect.
Bouncer : Nice costume, sir.
Drillman : Oh, thanks. I happen to have a good tailor.
(Seems like the Comrades got off without much trouble. But the mastermind behind everything is still at large...)
(We get back to our detective trio, parked in a dark alleyway of Moscow.)
Skullman : How much longer ? Tired of sulking down here. Work to be done.
Regulus : I'm enclined to agree with my partner.
Ringman : Reg, we just got you out of prison. The RPD is certainly tracing our teleport signatures, and unless we want to experiment a three-room colocation we'd better wait for a bit.
Regulus : I just ... don't feel safe without my armor. A quick trip at Blue Fox, and we can get that limiter gizmo out in a sec.
Ringman : Depends. Can you certify we won't be spotted ?
Skullman : Counter-security algorithms regularly updated. Just drive us farther from the center of town.
Ringman : That I can do. *drives off*
Regulus : Ah, nice to be back on the streets with Ringman, John. Shame Jet couldn't come with us.
Ringman : Yes. A shame, yes.
(Soon, the entire expedition -including the car- is teleported off to an unknown location. Immediately, robots bearing the Blue Fox sigil start taking care of the Cossack-Mobile.)
Regulus : Welcome to my little chez-moi.
Ringman : Pretty nice. So, once you feel suited up, where do we start ?
Skullman : Inquiries in the underworld. A plot to take off a Team ? Very big. Makes ripples. Means that out there, someone knows.
Ringman : Guess so. Also, if we're back on the Team Killer idea, we should contact Sean.
Regulus : I suspect an attempt on his life will have changed his view on that idea... Ah, Altair.
(Note : Altair is Regulus' servant, and the caretaker of Blue Fox's base.)
Altair : Greetings, sirs and guest. What shall you need my services for ?
Regulus : Power limiter extraction.
Altair : That shall be done right away. If you would follow me ?
Skullman : Carry on. Altair has no reason to let his lips loose.
Ringman : Right. I think, we have little time to find out who did it. Neutralizing Jade, framing you, we're talking somebody major.
Regulus : And he did it so easily. That's a lesson about weaknesses if I saw one.
Altair : Here.
Regulus : *enters a medical block* I won't be long. Feel free to take a lunch if you need it. Hunter will show you the way.
Ringman : Great.
(While Regulus is getting operated on, let's see someplace else, where a master is greeted by his servants after a long trip...)
Servant 1 : Welcome back, sir. We hope all has gone according to your plans. We heard reports from Moscow...
Feline : *goes to his master's side and purrs*
??? : Ach, ze assassination attempt. It vent just as I expected. Good to see you, Jaguar, mein freund.
Servant 2 : Do you wish to study the monitors and record your observations before dinner ? If you are hungry...
??? : Nein, nein. Ze work is a priority. Zere are things to do, problems to solve ... just as usual.
Also, did ze delivery happen vithout a problem ?
Servant 1 : Yes, sir. We three supervised the reception unaided, as you wished.
Servant 2 : How many screens will you want ?
??? : All of zem. Random channel change efery hundred seconds. Zere are so many variables to take into account if ve vant ze plan to succeed.
I vill need information in its most concentrated form.
Servant 1 : Ha ha ! Do you not fear to become drunk with such concentrated knowledge ?
??? : On ze contrary, I hafe found that it is ze most sobering potion in ze universe.
Servant 2 : We shall bring Energon goodies for your pet.
(The screens light up, revealing the identity of the master and his pet...)
Flakmaster : *petting Ravage's head* Yes, do zat.
(Back at Blue Fox...)
Toadman : Are you sure you don't need a bit of help ?
Ringman : *working on Blue Fox's computers* No, thanks. I think I got these systems figured out.
Skullman : No need. Patterns already studied without results. Better to go down in the streets and start investigating.
Ringman : Let's at least wait until it's dark back in Moscow. Until then, I'm sure I can find something.
Toadman : Doubtful. As much as I love working on these machines, I've come to realize I can only trust three things when investigating : myself, Hunter, and the fact that a man with a broken pinky will spill the beans.
Ringman : Hmph.
Toadman : Go on, then. Give me a good reason to have you being Ring.
Ringman : Alright. The way I see it, we've all been set up by someone with a strong grudge on us, and the means to pull it off. Pulling out covered data about the War, that's no mean business. It could possibly be some of our long-standing enemies.
Skullman : "Possibly". We should ask questions in the underworld.
Ringman : A little preparation can help.
Skullman : Bah. Pattern is obvious. Team-killer...
Ringman : But what if there was none ? Look, Geoff may have heard of some unrelated thing, and who was the last person he saw alive ? Wraithman. From what you've told, he regularly bought Nucleon from that Swindle guy. The topic may have popped up, and Swindle ratted out to the mastermind behind all this.
And since you visited him later on, that's how he was able to get you trapped.
Toadman : Not bad, if a bit far-fetched at first sight. And for Sean.
Ringman : Obviously, it was a hired gun. Perhaps by the same guy.
Toadman : So we trace the killer's friends and squeeze them out. Guess you need a lesson in investigating from pros, eh ?
Ringman : A lesson ... ? That's it ! You guys really think we're on the same team ? As if ! Seems like you live the entire time working with us only when it arranges you, and belittle us, and we can't talk back because of all that Zapper business... Any idea how hard it is to be friends with you ?
Toadman and Skullman : ... *stare at John*
Ringman : I-I, oh God, I'm sorry for saying this... Anyway, yeah, we should go and investigate. Must be dark enough.
Toadman : John ?
Ringman : Y-Yes ?
Toadman : You're a ... good friend. I don't realize that I'm not much of a team player.
Ringman : Oh, uh, no problem. It's okay, Reg.
Toadman : *nods*
Ringman : Anyway ! I guess it's time for the Cossack PIs to finally shine back, right ? Time for me to learn some lessons on the field, I think.
(After a few minutes, the trio entered a familiar pub - and ruined a patron's face.)
Happy Harry : Oh no.
Toadman : Oh, yes. I missed you while I was in prison, boys. Feels good to be back.
Skullman : Visited two bars before this. You may have heard ambulances. Hopefully, luckier here.
Toadman : We need informations. Dustman got shot at. Press gave the killer's name as Georgi Koska.
Skullman : Somebody knew Koska. Somebody hired him.
Toadman : Don't worry ... We won't insult the legendary underworld solidarity by suggesting you surrender a name without torture.
(Immediately, the drinkers disperse, leaving a man alone.)
Man : You bastards ! I buy ya all drinks, you sell me out ! To one'a these robots ! What kinda town is this ? *tightens his grip on his glass* You get away from me ! Come any closer, any of ya, and you get this in your goddamn freak face !
(Hunter steps closer, and grabs the man's hand.)
Man : You're gonna...
(Hunter helps tightening the grip on the glass. Luckily, instant cauterization happens ... I think.)
Man : AAAIIEEEEGHH !
Skullman : Stupid.
Ringman : Please, everybody, stay calm. We'll do this as shortly as possible.
Man : NO ! No, don't squeeze !
Toadman : Georgi Koska. Tell me all.
Man : Listen, please, I barely know him ! I just handed over envelopes to him ! I don't know anything abo-AAAGH !
Skullman : What envelopes ?
Man : Sealed envelopes, one with cash, the other with instructions. I just had to hand'em over to a reliable hitman. I didn't know a thing about Dustman ! Twas my boss who offered me the errands, he's in the Repo business, "Salvagers, Inc."...
Toadman : Any poison capsules in these envelopes ?
Man : M-Maybe. I don't know at all. Other guys took the job, I jumped in, and now everyone's dead ! My life's a nightmare...
Skullman : Dead ?
Man : A whole buncha "accidents" and "overdoses". Bullshit ! My boss ended under a subway train. I'm next. Protect me, please !
Toadman : ...
Man : See, I understand where ya come from : people start fragging your pals, you want retribution ; fine ! But I swear, it took the news for me to know that Dustman was the target.
(Meanwhile, Ringman was looking at a knot-top, who started being quiet as soon as the trio entered the place.)
Ringman : Something on your mind, man ?
Knot-top : I knew it ! You're victimizing me ! Just 'cuz I'm a knot doesn't mean I took part in that stuff last night ! Other people dress like this, man.
I heard the news about knot-tops trying to have a go at Drillman, I thought, "Shit ! Another excuse to hassle us !"
Ringman : ...
(Back to the trio.)
Man : I'd never go after one'a you knowingly, so you gotta protect me. Somebody's after me, and nobody's safe these days !
Toadman : Protect you ? Because you didn't know who you were trying to have murdered ? I'm not "Red-Cross Man".
Skullman : Maybe person arranging your murder doesn't know either. Nothing personal, right ?
Toadman : Keep this as a happy thought before the hammer falls.
Knot-top : YIIAAAAAGH !
Ringman : *strangling the knot-top* Who did it ?! Tell me, you slime ! Who tried to murder AM ?
Knot-top : Rhk ... don't know ... g-huck ... gang ... pals saw gang ... running away...
Ringman : You tell them ! Tell them they're dead ! You know how much fire power I have in those hula-hoops ? I should take out the entire neighborhood ! I ought to ... to break your neck, you ... you ... Oh, god.
Toadman : Not in front of the civilians. We have what we wanted...
Ringman : Yeah. That, and more. Let's get out of here.
Ringman : I ... That was silly, right ? AM got fine, of course, but ... if he were to die ... and especially like that...
Toadman : Don't worry, he went through worse. Believe me. And besides, you did a good job. Thugs need to be reminded who helps the law around there every once in a while.
Ringman : Yeah, thanks. Now, let's go and meet Sean.
(Late at night, in Sean's office...)
Dustman : Come on in.
BrightBabe : We were about to start, anyway.
Skullman : How many is "We" ?
Drillman : *walks in, carrying pop-corn* Hey.
Ringman : AM ! Thank goodness !
Drillman : Wow, had I known earlier that pop-corn made you that popular...
Toadman : Hate to burst your self-esteem boost, but he got worried about you earlier.
Drillman : *nods* I'm fine, as you can see. Now, that crime ... ?
Ringman : Oh, yeah. Sean, you were assaulted by one Georgi Koska.
Dustman : Hmm. *types on his computer* Strange. According to these, he went missing a good two weeks before he assaulted me.
Skullman : Man at the bar mentioned his colleagues disappeared. Salvagers, Inc.
Dustman : Stranger. They all went missing at the same time period, but their official deaths match with what he said.
Toadman : They were replaced, you think ?
Pharaohman : *shrugs* Weirder things happen around here.
Drillman : This Salvagers, Inc. seems familiar. Care to run a background check ?
Dustman : On it. ... This is not good.
Toadman : Someone we know ?
Dustman : It used to belong to the Don.
Ringman : Mob boss ? Didn't Diveman already give him a piece of his mind ?
Skullman : Positive. We were present. Emphasis on "used to" relevant ?
Dustman : Indeed. EisernerFaust... sounds like a front company.
Toadman : With a name like "Iron Fist", I feel almost insulted.
Drillman : Huh ?
Toadman : It's obvious, now. Swindle was involved with Wraithman, and it led us in a trap. Salvagers, Inc. belonged to the Don, was bought back, and their members disappeared, then performed actions targeted at us. And besides, that name is German.
Pharaohman : ... The Panzerkons.
Dustman : And EisernerFaust's siege is in ... Siberia ?
Ringman : I may be the newbie around, but doesn't that sound like a trap ? A really obvious one ?
Drillman : And that's why we'll go in it together.
All but Drillman : What ?!
Drillman : We'll play along with them for a bit. They think they have us dispersed, but we still have an ace in our sleeve.
Skullman : Jade and Jet.
Drillman : Exactly. As far as they know, they're gone for a while. And they wouldn't expect his immediate arrival thanks to his magic.
Dustman : Besides, I suppose everyone here wants to know their plans.
Toadman : So it's settled. And here I thought that, after the War, I'd never have another opportunity for pointless stupidity.
Drillman : So, we count you out ?
Toadman : And miss the chance of another go at that Decepticon nerd ? Never. But ... I must do a last errand.
Pharaohman : What will the signal be ?
Drillman : Personal frequency. You'll know it when you hear it.
Regulus' Journal, November 1st, 20XX :
Final Entry ?
We left Sean's office after midnight. AM is convinced, with sound arguments, that the Panzerkons are behind it. He seriously thinks of going to Siberia.
The Cossack-Mobile is ready for it, but are we ?
The Panzerkons. We barely managed to hold our own against them as a whole team. But with a member down nUERSiINGF HiS WhiIWsKEky - Diveman and Jade and Jet as reinforcements, I strongly doubt we'll survive.
Besides, it's an unpleasant environment, and if we die there, nobody will know. First night in November. I am cold tonight.
Offices above, headstones marking daily graves of thousands. Inside, across clock faces as observed as those of celebrities, the hands commence final laps. Oblivion gallops closer. I think we will be gone soon.
They're faster, stronger and bigger. They have Imperator. Return seems unlikely.
This is the last entry. I'll mail it to an individual that I know I can trust. I told them I had an errand to run. I only told them the truth.
If you read this, Altair, whether I survived or not, know this : whatever happened, the Panzerkons were behind it. I've done the best to make this legible, and I believe it paints a disturbing picture. My handwriting sure doesn't help.
I appreciated your support after the War, and I hope I survive long enough to get this back from you, but they're waiting.
For my own part, I regret nothing. I lived my life, free from most compromises, and I step into the shadow without a complaint.
Regulus, November 1st, 20XX.
(Regulus then deposited his journal in a specific mailbox in Moscow before joining back with his teammates.
One long, cold, off-scene drive later...)
Drillman : And here we are. Siberia.
Ringman : Man, it's freezing. Anyone got a furcoat ?
Skullman : Matter irrelevant. Robots do not suffer from cold.
Ringman : Oh. Right. *Activates internal heating* I'd feel better with something warm on, though.
Toadman : Don't ya worry. We'll make some 'Con-Fire soon.
Dustman : *makes a final check on the Cossack-Mobile's GPS* Okay, it's that way. Let's move.
(Little did they know that they were being watched...)
Ravage : Rr ?
Flakmaster : Ssh. It's alright, mein friend... Everything's all right.
(Flakmaster is currently sitting in front of his multi-screens. All randomly changing, and seemingly unconnected.)
Flakmaster : Look, Ravage. From ze chaos, patterns appear. Saturation leads to information leaking from ze white noise of medias. Ve are lucky mankind only got zat first part right, or zey could beat us at our game.
(The screens now display the Cossackers walking through the ice and snow of Siberia.)
Flakmaster : Zese ones saw a pattern specifically drawn for zem. How inspiring, zat zey made it so far - and how foolish zat zey did come. Soon, zey vill no longer be a problem for us.
Drillman : So, Reg...
Toadman : Hmm ?
Drillman : Your "Team-Killer" theory ... it doesn't hold much water, now.
Dustman : Flakmaster has only targeted the Comrades so far. And considering the hard time we give him, I don't think he has room in his mind for others.
Toadman : That's true. But maybe we're just a stepping stone.
Ringman : So ... it's first the Comrades, then the other Teams ? I don't know if to feel flattered or scared.
Skullman : Feel ready to fight. Order is irrelevant if Flakmaster is stopped now.
Ravage : *growls*
Flakmaster : Hm ? Ah, yes.
(Master and "pet" walk through the Citadel, soon arriving to a piece of machinery, where about a half-dozen gargantuous beings wait.)
Flakmaster : It is time.
? : We're ready. Bring it on.
Flakmaster : I expected no less.
(He presses a button, and soon the group is gone, leaving Flakmaster and Ravage alone.)
Flakmaster : *talks in his comm.* Mein friends ? Come and join me in ze vivarium. I hafe something to celebrate. Flakmaster, out.
(Later, in the vivarium...
Flakmaster is hanging out with his servants, and pouring them drinks.)
Servant 1 : Flakmaster, sir, this is an honor. What provides occasion for so much generosity ?
Flakmaster : A life like mine offers many things vorthy of celebration. Ze first one being my very own body. Might I not celebrate a body, displaying ze very best of Cybertronian technology, that I can alter on a thought impulse, offering me ze opportunity to blend in between Earthen vehicles ? Two alien worlds, separated by a mere thought. Vhat, in my life, does not deserve celebrating ?
(The servants drink and sit.)
Flakmaster : But you are right. Zis very moment, I celebrate ze end of a new step in my plan. A new step towards a four-million-year old dream.
I didn't start out as a high-ranking Decepticon ; merely a scrawny scientist, who wanted a bit more out of life on Cybertron. Ze 'Cons offered means to zat end, and I met my greatest ennemy : Starscream. I proved my vorth many times : vhere ze others provided brute strength, I had ideas. Zat blasted Seeker shot zem down, but Megatron saw my worth.
I collected a squad of ze unwanted ones, all victims of Screamer. He realised my plans, and due to a "mistake", I vas left on Cybertron while he left our planet with our great leader. Ze next millenia vere rough : battle after battle vith 'Cons and 'Bots alike, until he reappeared. It still took me more years before finally getting back at my rightful place vith Megatron.
Ze Great War ... It's just a vord now. Vhat ve rebelled for ... vhat ve vanted... I don't remember. And I don't care much. All I vant now, is to prove myself against Starscream.
(Finally, he turns to his servants.)
Flakmaster : Sadly, for as much as you profed useful, I couldn't let you live. Facsimile constructs are so useful, vhether for housekeeping or for assassination attempts...
(Already, the servants are melting away.)
Flakmaster : Besides, I don't think he would have liked it. To know that others than I know so much of him...
(On the other side of the base, the Cossackers made their entrance ...)
Dustman : Look at this place. Even the RPD didn't have tech that advanced...
Ringman : What is it used for ?
Skullman : Ask Flakmaster once we find him.
Toadman : That raises a good point : How do we subdue him ?
Drillman : If he's alone -which I doubt-, he's kind of a pushover.
Ringman : But he has his crew, right ?
Toadman : Let's hope he's into gloating, then.
Skullman : This way. Quiet.
(The Comrades proceed, finding Flakmaster alone, dining on Energon cubes. They quickly proceed to aim and fire at him...)
Flakmaster : Foolish.
(... Only for him to dodge. They fire back, but he quickly manages to dispatch them with his cannons and hidden security systems.)
Flakmaster : I see you hafe followed ze path vell, Cossackers. I must compliment you on zis.
Drillman : So why haven't you killed us before ? You clearly had enough means to do so.
Flakmaster : You hafe been a thorn in Lord Megatron's side for so long, you deserved a more personal end.
Dustman : Thanks ... I guess.
Flakmaster : But you see, as much as you Robot Masters die, zere is alvays another one who vill take ze spot. Zis means that, as long as you hafe a base, and a benevolent doctor, you vill alvays fight back.
Toadman : Then, you mean ...
Drillman : God ...
Flakmaster : Yes, ze idea vas so simple : draw you out of ze castle, and launch Imperator at it, destroying ze castle and Cossack in a single attack. I set everyfing in motion, starting vith ze assassination of your drunk friend...
Toadman : How ?
Flakmaster : Let's say cassette tapes go wonderfully through ze mail. And zen, I leaked all informations, and assassination attempts, to bring you here.
Skullman : Elements do not match up. Without you, Imperator is not complete.
Flakmaster : Zat is because ...
(Flakmaster's body begins to flicker out, revealing...)
Soundwave : ... I am not Flakmaster. And the attack was started thirty-five minutes ago.
Drillman : What ?! That's impossible !
Soundwave : And yet, it happened. This facility is merely a giant teleporter. And from here, you can see the end of your world.
(Soundwave presses a button on the table near him, activating the screen-wall. All of them display Imperator lashing out at the Cossack Citadel. All turrets and defense systems fire back, only to be neutralized by the combiner's weaponry.)
Drillman : *activates his communicator*
Soundwave : Fact : Make a move and you will be destroyed. Fact : You have no accessible teleporter. Fact : Should you manage to leave now, you would arrive too late. Conclusion : You lost.
? : You missed an element !
Soundwave : Wha- ?
(A bright flash englobes the room. After it disappears, all turrets in the room are destroyed, and two more robots joined the scene.)
Soundwave : Yes, the magician. My campaign to break you was a failure, I see.
Pharaohman : Oh, no, it worked. You hit quite the right points, but I remembered something...
BrightBabe : Teammates stick together, for better or for worse.
Soundwave : Regardless, nothing can help you. Look.
(Indeed, Imperator was making easy work out of the Citadel. Until ... something, or someone, started to push him back...)
Soundwave : Camera 2. Zoom.
? : ... and yer mother's so ugly, scientists created a Sun-Eater not t'see her dirty mug ever again !
Drillman : Geoff ?!
Pharaohman : We'll see that later ! *teleports the team away*
Soundwave : ...
(Back in Siberia...)
Diveman : Yeah, come over here, Miss Metal-Pants ! Come see daddy !
Imperator : This insolence shall not go unpunished ! *crushes the portion of the wall Diveman is standing on.*
Diveman : Ow. My granma used ta hit better'n that !
(At this moment, the other Cossackers teleport on top of Imperator.)
Drillman : Keep him busy !
Imperator : Insolent gnats !
(The fighting is fierce, and several Cossackers are pushed away, until only Drillman is left...)
Drillman : Aaaand, go ! *jumps off*
(Quickly after this, a series of Drill Bombs detonates, severing Imperator's limbs from his torso and knocking him out ! A moment, and the Panzerkons are teleported away.)
Toadman : Well, I guess this is over.
Diveman : *slaps Regulus* And of course, you all arrive when th'fightin' is over. Thanks fer nothin', dicks.
Drillman : Geoff ! You could have told us you survived !
Diveman : ... I ... *clenches his teeth so hard a rivet on his forehead pops out* ... Okay, screw yourself with your own drill. That goes for everyone and their respective weapons. I'm gonna get wasted.
Pharaohman : Geez, I wonder what makes him so cranky this time.
BrightBabe : *shrugs* Must be a bad day.
Cossack & Kalinka : *arrive in a taxi*
Cossack : Keep the change ! *to Drillman* Well, AM, how's it going ?
Drillman : Well, uh, fine, and ... Where were you, exactly ?
Cossack : Robotics convention. Though, that part where a robot bird tried to kill us was quite unpleasant.
Kalinka : *nods* Never leave home without a grenade launcher in your bag. That's at least one good thing I learned from Diveman.
Ringman : That ... makes sense, actually.
Kalinka : *looks at the Citadel* ... Let me guess. Decepticons ?
Drillman : It's a long story. Better come inside...
(And at the Decepticon base...)
Megatron : Yet another failure. Flakmaster, what are we going to do with you ?
Flakmaster : Herr Megatron, I do not understand ! Eferything vas perfect !
Starscream : Hah ! If this is perfection, then I don't want to see an imperfect plan.
Megatron : Silence, Starscream ! Unlike someone I know, Flakmaster puts some thought in his plans.
Starscream : *grumbles*
Megatron : Until I can think of an appropriate punishment, you are dismissed.
(On his way out...)
Flakmaster : Tell me, Soundwave. Ve accounted for eferything. Only bad luck took us out, right ? Ve could hafe won. And in ze end, ve are in an advantageous position.
Soundwave : "In the end" ? Statement : It never ends.
(And as we leave Flakmaster pondering his defeat, we turn to a last stage : Blue Fox's base.)
Altair : Good day, sirs. I take it you will recover your journal ?
Toadman : Thanks, Altair.
Skullman : What are the orders ?
Toadman : Orders ? Hmm ... I think we shall take our day off. Until the world needs the Comrades again.