Queen Celestia sat on the Solar Throne as Shining Armor finished his report about the disastrous conversion attempts by the pegasi. With every word he spoke, every report about those killed or missing, the temperature inside the room rose. Even her bodyguards shifted as the heat increased. Twilight's coat was matted down with sweat, but Nemesis Prime seemed undisturbed.
“And with the final tally, less than one hundred of the pegasi managed to return,” Shining Armor reported, weariness laced through his voice. “They were unable to convert any humans into ponies, either. According to reports, the humans suffered no casualties.”
Queen Celestia slammed both fore hooves down, cratering the stone floor in front of the Solar Throne. Her coat shimmered and brightened as her mane and tail crackled, snapped and popped. “We are trying to help them! Their soldiers, their politicians and President, all are blind to our purpose! Our words are twisted, our help seen as hate and hurt. If the population at large only knew! We must reach them!”
Twilight spoke up. “But how, Queen Celestia? They've got the barrier surrounded. And they won't listen to reason, either.” She straightened up. “Are you recovered enough to begin expanding it again?”
Queen Celestia glanced down at the floor for a moment, then slowly shook her head. “I could expand it a few meters, Twilight, as well as the gateway between Equestria and this new Earth, but not much more than that. I need to fully open myself up to the power from the Heart of Ponyland once more, and I haven't had any time for that.” She looked down at Shining Armor and Nemesis Prime. “And I need that blockade taken down, so mankind will be able to come forth and be converted into ponykind.”
Nemesis Prime smashed his fists together, sending out sparks. “Consider it done!”
Shining Armor's eyes went wide. He looked up at Nemesis Prime. “You and what army? There's only twenty-two of you metal minotaurs against an entire planet's worth of humans and their own mechanical allies.”
Nemesis Prime tossed his head back and laughed, then looked down and pointed at Shining Armor. “I like you, Shiny! You're funny. I'll kill you last.” He turned and his optic sensors lit up. Three thirty-foot tall holograms, each of a different style of robot, appeared in front of the Solar Throne. “The Ark has one hundred-fifty sentinel drones. We were originally going to use them to conquer this mudball, but unleashing them upon that other Earth will do.”
Queen Celestia's eyes narrowed, but she eventually nodded. “Very well, Nemesis. Prepare your sentinels. Captain Armor, ready the Royal Guard for support.”
Shining Armor straightened up and saluted before turning and trotting off.
A silver Datsun 280 ZX Turbo and pink Cybertronian open-top sports car wound their way down the abandoned streets of the small Kentucky town, passing by buildings not yet destroyed by the barrier. The Datsun spun about, leaving tire tracks on the asphalt. It quickly transformed into Bluestreak, Autobot gunner. The sports car rolled to a halt, transforming into Arcee, Autobot warrior.
Bluestreak's shoulder-mounted missile launchers swiveled about. He turned and looked down the street at the great dome of the barrier, rising above the buildings on the horizon. “Okay, yesterday they launched an air raid. What do you think, unicorns this time? Maybe both at once?” A light-blue visor slid down over his optic sensors. “Primus, I thought we were done with this sort of dross, at least on Earth. No more invasions, no more big fights.”
Arcee reached behind her head as shoulder-mounted pods opened up, allowing her to extract two rather large laser pistols. “I was getting used to it too, 'Streak. Being part of Hot Rod's staff was pretty fun.”
Their comm systems crackled to life. “Hello, this is your eye in the sky, Powerglide! Get your skidplates in gear, folks. Major activity inside the dome! Looks like, sweet Cybertron, those ponies aren't playing around this time!”
Arcee touched the side of her head. “Powerglide, what's going on?”
“One second, pretty lady, going down for a closer look. That barrier's still scrambling sensors. Holy Primus, I was right! It looks like they're sending out Decepticon-style sentinel drones!”
Bluestreak and Arcee exchanged a look of bafflement. “Come again?” they both asked.
Hot Rod's voice came over the signal. “All available Autobots, transform and roll for the barrier. They're bringing out some– Oh, that's how you wanna play? Fine, you tin-plated toy soldiers!”
“Hot Rod, get back here! Okay, 'Bots, Jazz here as our fearless leader zooms off. Like he said, get to the barrier and stop whatever Neo-Equestria's doing cold. Artillery's gonna bring the rain while tanks and human soldiers move in for support. Now transform and roll out!”
Arcee holstered her pistols and ran forward. “You heard him!” She hopped up, transformed and landed on all four tires, bouncing a bit before speeding off down the street. Bluestreak followed suit, and the pair sped down the street. A building to their left shook itself apart and collapsed forward. They sped up just as the debris slid into the street, blocking any path of retreat.
Arcee and Bluestreak quickly transformed back to robot mode and readied their weapons. Bluestreak held his electron rifle up high and Arcee aimed her laser pistols as eleven robots approached. Ten were sentinel drones, boxy and basic humanoid machines with exposed joints, small laser rifles for weapons and clear domes for heads. Bringing up the rear was what appeared to be Hot Rod, if Hot Rod had a black-and-purple color scheme and a goatee bolted onto his face. “Well, the big cheese told us there'd be Autobots on this side of the barrier,” Rodimus said, spreading his arms wide and smiling. “I guess he and sunbutt know what they're talking about.” He dropped his arms and the grin vanished. “Scrap them!”
Before the words had finished leaving Rodimus' mouth, Bluestreak and Arcee were in motion. Bluestreak dove to the side, his electron rifle spitting azure bolts at the sentinels and striking two of them. Electricity crackled and flashed around their limbs. Their servos and circuits shorted out, sending them tumbling to the ground as their limbs spasmed and jerked about.
Arcee, meanwhile, spun about and dodged back and forth as several other sentinels targeted her and shot at her, missing by several meters. She raised her pistols and fired, striking them. With each shot, chunks of armor or even limbs were blown off. One sentinel's legs were shot out from under it. It toppled over, laser rifle firing and blowing the head off the sentinel next to it.
Bluestreak's missile launchers swiveled and locked onto the closest sentinels. They shot at him, one managing to score a glancing hit on his chest armor. Bits of metal flew off and Bluestreak staggered back a few steps. He squelched a cry of pain as he launched two incendiary missiles at his foes. They crossed the gap between within a second, blowing apart two of the sentinels and sending shrapnel flying in all directions.
Rodimus' optic sensors brightened as his force was reduced to less than half-strength in less than two minutes. He backed up, raising his right arm and readying his thruster-cannon. “Come on, you empties!” He fired a few sporadic shots, all of them going wide, but still managing to send Bluestreak and Arcee scrambling for what little cover was available.
Bluestreak dove behind a comparatively-small mound of rubble as Rodimus' shots tracked him. He looked over and spotted Arcee inside of an alley, her head ducking out at intervals. “I think we got him mad!”
Arcee's optics dimmed for a moment as the remaining sentinels added their own firepower. “You think so, 'Streak?” She leaned out of the alley and fired several shots, damaging a sentinel but not destroying it. “If you have any ideas, I'm all audio receptors!”
Bluestreak's neural processors kicked into overdrive, but before he could say anything, his own audio receptors picked up the faint thumping of rotors. Two seconds later, the wind kicked up and a green helicopter with black armor plating flew over. The helicopter, the Autobot Springer, had a large double-barreled laser cannon slung underneath his yellow cockpit, and various weapons attached to hardpoints on his wings. The sentinels barely had time to register Springer's appearance before he rained missiles and laser bolts on them, blowing them to a fine metal mist.
Rodimus' optics widened. “Springer? What the slag?” he raised his thruster cannon, but a stray shot struck his weapon, blowing it apart and the hand holding it. His vocal synthesizer screeched as he reared back, the twisted stump spewing out sparks and smoke. Rodimus turned and, with some effort, transformed into a Cybertronian-style roadster and sped off down the street.
Bluestreak and Arcee emerged from their cover as Springer hovered over them. “Thanks for the assist!” Arcee shouted, waving at him.
Springer's voice boomed out. “Well, I was in the neighborhood. Figured I'd drop in. Who the slag was the Hot Rod knockoff?”
Bluestreak shrugged. “Not a clue. Hey, maybe if there's evil Equestrian ponies, there's evil Autobots over there, too? Oh, maybe the Decepticons are the good guys over there!”
Arcee patted him on the shoulder. “Maybe we can save the speculation until after the fighting's done, okay?” She looked up at her old friend. “Care to give us a lift?”
Springer hovered closer to them and two rails extended from his wings. “Gladly. There's some psycho version of Optimus tearing scrap up. Hot Rod and Jazz are trying to stop him, but that's clear on the other side of the barrier. I'll get you to the closest fighting.”
Both Bluestreak and Arcee grabbed onto the rails. Clamps extended and locked around their forearms, and poles tipped with steps extended for them to step on. As soon as Bluestreak and Arcee were secure, Springer flew off towards the barrier, even as explosions blossomed around the dome. Ponies clad in armor and war machines emerged as shells and lasers homed in on them and the barrier.
Springer flew around, finally flying towards a quartet of French-built AMX Leclerc main battle tanks and two supply trucks. They were strung out in a long stretch of relatively clear street in the downtown area of the city, rubble hemming them in and forming a winding path. American and French soldiers dug into the debris as best they could for cover, even pushing automobiles around. They set up machine gun emplacements, two man-portable laser cannons, and other weapons and readied themselves as best they could.
Springer hovered close to the lead tank. Bluestreak and Arcee hopped off and landed next to it with mild thuds, while Springer transformed into robot mode.
The tank's hatch popped open and an officer of the French Army emerged. He looked the Autobots over and flashed a rakish smile at them. “Bonjour, Autobots. It is good to see you. I am Lieutenant Phillipe Lafayette.” He turned and looked to several soldiers near the far end of the rubble pile. “Henri, set up the heavy weaponry for intersecting fields of fire! Our best chance is to blunt their advance at the bend, then and there! We cannot give a millimeter!”
Springer reached behind his back and unclipped his rotor blade from his back. It folded up into a sword as he brought it forward. “You the ranking officer, Lieutenant?”
Phillipe nodded, the smile falling away. He rubbed his eyes with a gloved hand. “We rushed to the blockade as quickly as possible upon arrival. The LeClerc, it is the best for rapid deployment, but that does not leave much time for rest on the flight over. We'll let those at the command post hash things out while we hold the line.” He clenched his hand into a fist and thumped his chest. “And we will hold the line against these false Equestrians and fake Autobots.”
Bluestreak straightened to attention and saluted. “We're with you!”
Phillipe returned the salute. “Together, we cannot fail.”
Several bolts of magic shot past the rubble, followed by laser beams. Phillipe leaned to his side and peered into the tank's interior. “Let's go!” He turned to the three Autobots and the smile returned, along with fire in his eyes. “Today, humanity stands with you in defense of our home.” He turned and jabbed his arm out, but glanced to the side and winked. “Roll out!” With that, he slid down into the tank, closed, and locked the hatch.
Phillipe's tank surged forward, followed by the three behind. They spread out as much as possible in the narrow street as Bluestreak, Arcee and Springer followed along.
Ten sentinel drones emerged from the bend in the rubble. In contrast to the ones encountered earlier, these were little more than boxes on tank treads, their arms tipped with various weapons. Their 'heads' were squat rectangles with sensors jutting out from all sides. Ponies in plate armor galloped along, unicorns in front with shields up. Even before they fully cleared the mountains of rubble, the tank cannons roared and launched hypersonic darts of face-hardened tungsten at the drones. The air rang as they impacted, carving huge gashes in their armor plating and obliterating arms or sensor heads. The next salvo managed to blow holes clean through the two lead sentinels. Internal fuel stores and power cells ignited and they exploded, sending shrapnel and debris flying.
Bluestreak dropped down and rolled, narrowly avoiding several plasma bolts aimed at his head. He rose to one knee and his missile launchers returned fire. The incendiary missiles struck the nearest sentinel, and it quickly became a rolling conflagration.
Springer and Arcee stood side by side, laser cannon and laser pistols firing in support of the tanks' right flank. One of the sentinels managed to score a glancing hit on Springer, scorching his armor but doing little, if any, damage. Arcee knelt and managed to blow the tank treads off of two of the closest sentinels, sending them them toppling to the asphalt and blocking the path of the remaining five sentinels. They turned on their axis, providing broad targets for targeting systems.
The American and French soldiers, meanwhile, concentrated on the ponies. They hunkered down near any available cover, weapons firing at the ponies. Several unicorns had their heads down and shields extended, overlapping for as much coverage as possible. Other unicorns farther back began firing bolts of magic from their horns, while some earth ponies used crossbows. More than one human was struck by a blast of magic, although most all of the crossbow arrows fell short or even misfired. Bullets and lasers raked the unicorns' shields. At first they managed to hold, but they eventually turned from a brilliant-white to a sickly-yellow. The unicorns collapsed from the stress and their shields quickly failed.
The human soldiers started moving forward in small groups, each one providing cover fire for the others. The ponies huddled together, the unicorns firing back, but they were quickly cut down, their plate armor providing neither adequate coverage over their bodies, nor able to prevent penetration when struck. Very quickly they broke ranks, turned and galloped as fast as they could, jumping over flaming debris or managing to thread their way around the remaining sentinels. Most were cut down as they fled, but some managed to slip away, fleeing back to the barrier as fast as they could gallop.
The five sentinel drones left fired every laser and missile launcher they had. One of the tanks had its cupola blown off, and all of them had their armor scored, scorched and pitted. Springer suddenly jumped up towards one of the more intact buildings. He hit the wall and rebounded, jets in his legs adding momentum. One of the sentinels managed to train its weapons on him as he landed amongst them. He swung his sword in a tight arc, slicing deep into the armored body of one of the sentinels, while his laser cannon blew apart another. Two of them crowded around him, but he pulled his sword free and stabbed it deep into the body of the one on his right. Springer dropped his laser cannon, grabbed the hilt with both hands, and sliced up, bisecting the sentinel. He then turned to his left and brought the sword down onto the sensor dome of the other sentinel. The trilithium-steel sword met little resistance as it sliced the boxy body in two. Both halves shuddered, then slowly pulled apart and toppled over.
The remaining sentinels were quickly reduced to so much scrap by concentrated firepower from Bluestreak, Arcee, the tanks and the closest soldiers. As the last of them blew apart, Phillipe emerged from his tank, an almost feral grin on his face. “As I said, my friends! The line was held!” The grin fell away and he touched a headset attached to his helmet. “Get the wounded sorted and brought back behind the lines. Shore up the defenses. We'll need resupply as well.” He looked up as Springer rejoined Arcee and Bluestreak, and the three walked up to his tank. “Thank you. We have held, and shall do so again, no matter what!”
Springer tossed him a quick salute. “Happy to oblige, Lieutenant.”
Nemesis Prime sped forward in semi truck mode, casually ignoring the lasers and other puny small arms fire from the humans. A pair of tanks loomed ahead, their turrets swiveling towards him and firing hypersonic darts made of depleted uranium at him. A half-second before the turrets fired, small thrusters in his undercarriage fired, sending him into the air and causing the shells to shoot under him. He transformed in midair, spinning about as he sailed over the tanks. His right hand retracted and an energon-powered ax emerged from his wrist socket. With a single swing, he sliced one of the barrels clean off the turret.
He landed behind the tanks and spun about, even as their secondary weapons began spinning around. He howled and brought a trilithium-steel fist down on the laser turret, smashing it in. Nemesis Prime's ax retracted back in and his hand reappeared. He reached back, pulled out a double-barreled laser rifle from his subspace storage pocket and fired, spraying the two tanks with concentrated bursts of plasma. His optics gleamed with an inner fire and he howled inarticulately.
The plasma blasts first bounced off energy shields surrounding the tanks, but they quickly overloaded and failed. The armor plating lasted a little longer, but the hulls were soon penetrated from back to front. Smoke poured from the rear engines and the holes as the crews were quickly and mercifully killed. Nemesis Prime continued firing, stepping back and spraying the hulks until they started smoldering.
Shining Armor and a contingent of unicorns trotted up. Shining Armor's cheeks turned green at the wanton destruction. His horn glowed and Nemesis Prime's laser was shoved up by his magic. “That's enough!” He looked back at the swath of destruction carved through the human's defenses, then up at the sky and a group of sentinels flying off in a southeasterly direction, towards some target called 'Autobot City'.
Nemesis Prime turned his optics on Shining Armor and the other ponies. “Weaklings.” He spun about and raised his laser rifle once more. He fired at a nearby artillery emplacement, blowing apart the sandbags around it. He walked forward, firing short bursts that destroyed the howitzer itself and sent any surviving crew scattering.
One soldier tripped on a piece of debris and fell to the ground. Nemesis Prime chortled as he approached the human. “Oh, look! One of the squishies who like to play with toys.” He loomed over the soldier and laughed as he pulled out a pistol and fired it, the bullets bouncing off his armor and not even marring his finish.
Two cars raced towards Nemesis Prime at full speed. He barely had time to look up before Hot Rod barreled into him, knocking him off his feet and to the ground. Jazz swung about, leaving tire tracks as he opened his door and let the soldier inside before speeding away.
Hot Rod transformed and raised a pair of laser pistols. He pointed them at Nemesis Prime, his arms barely shaking. “Optimus?”
Nemesis Prime rose to his feet and laughed. “Nemesis Prime, nowadays. My future bride likes the name a bit better.” He rushed forward, brushing past Hot Rod's arms and landing a solid punch right to the jaw.
Hot Rod flew back and landed on the street, gouging out a two-meter trough in the asphalt. He shook his head and spat a bit of oil from his mouth. “Not Optimus,” he muttered, before raising his right arm and firing two quick shots. Both struck Nemesis Prime, sending him back a few steps and damaging his armor slightly.
Nemesis Prime tossed his laser rifle away and charged, his ion ax flashing into view. Hot Rod sprang to his feet and backed off, firing at Nemesis Prime with every step, but quickly dropped his pistols. His right hand retracted and a circular buzzsaw extended. He swiped it, slicing a shallow groove in his opponent's right arm. He ducked a wild swing and fell back, too busy evading Nemesis Prime's wild swings to be able to mount any sort of comeback.
Meanwhile, Shining Armor and his contingent marched forward. Shining Armor's horn blazed as he projected a shield around the group. They slowed to a halt as Jazz drove up them and transformed into robot mode. “Stop!” he shouted, holding his arms out in front. “Hit the trails back to your own Equestria, or else there's gonna be trouble!”
Shining Armor pawed the ground and snorted. “What trouble? There's no way you'll be able to penetrate my barrier.” He raised a hoof and jabbed it at Jazz. “Fire at will!”
The unicorns lowered their heads and began firing blasts of magical energy at Jazz. He raised his arms as several of them struck, pinging off his armor but doing little damage otherwise. “Hey, cut that out! Okay, two can play!” He leaned forward and transformed into his Porsche alternate mode. His doors swung open and large speakers and spotlights extended. Loud, loud music began playing and dazzlingly-bright lights lit up, two feet from Shining Armor and his group.
Shining Armor cried out. He screwed his eyes shut, covered his ears and hunched down into the fetal position, his shield disappearing. The other unicorns followed suit, with one exception. He held his hooves up high and rocked his head back and forth. “Rocking tunes! All right!”
Soldiers from the Earth Defense Command, clad in deep-blue powered armor, descended upon the unicorns. Some had their arms held high and lasers extended from their bulky gauntlets, while others held laser rifles and even a rocket launcher. They jumped in and quickly surrounded the unicorns. “Quick, while they're distracted!” Half of them ran in, the others covering them. Even with Jazz's distraction, it took some delicate work, but they managed to slap thick metallic rings around everyone's horns. As soon as the rings clamped shut, lights along them lit up and a low thrumming could be heard.
Jazz retracted his speakers and lights and transformed back to robot mode. As he did, Shining Armor blinked rapidly and shook his head. His head darted back and forth at the soldiers surrounding his group. His eyes narrowed and his horn glowed, but he cried out in pain and dropped to the ground. “W-what the hay?” he asked, pawing at the ring around his horn.
One of the soldiers spoke up. “Thaumic-disruptor rings.” At their blank stares, he groaned and rolled his eyes behind his faceplate. “You can't use magic with them on.”
The unicorns all crowded together, flank to flank. Several of the unicorns reared back and kicked the air in fright, but Shining Armor's voice rose above their panicking nickering and whinnying. “Calm down, calm down!” He turned his head and glared at the soldiers through the eye slits in his helmet. “Act like the ponies you are, not like foals.” He leaned back and pulled a bottle of potion out of an armored saddlebag. With a sharp jerk, he tossed the fragile container at one of the soldiers.
The container shattered against the hermetically-sealed body armor and dribbled down. The soldier assaulted looked down at it, then at Shining Armor. “Full NBC-protection. And no, you don't get an explanation this time.” She raised her arms and two bolts of blueish-white stun blasts fired from her gauntlets. They struck Shining Armor and exploded, sending electricity crackling around his body. He spasmed and cried out, dropping to the ground in a drooling heap. The soldier's gauntlets rotated and the barrels extended. “Next shots are lethal. Drop to the ground and place your hooves behind your head, or else.”
The unicorns all knelt down and complied. Several soldiers moved in amongst them and undid the buckles holding their saddlebags in place. With care, they stepped back, holding the saddlebags and potion as far away as they dared.
The soldier tapped a panel on the side of her helmet. “Command, this is Lieutenant Mizuno. We have prisoners, including what appears to be their version of Captain Armor. We are bringing him, eleven other unicorn soldiers and more potion for study in. Over.”
Any response was lost as Hot Rod suddenly sailed overhead. He landed, rolled and soon came to a stop in a three-point stance, his buzzsaw held up high. Bluish fluid leaked from his mouth and a few other wounds, but he still managed to be smiling.
Nemesis Prime stalked forward, energy ax twitching. Like Hot Rod, he had several leaking wounds and dented armor. The EDC soldiers all looked up as he loomed over them. As one, they raised their arms and started firing, peppering him with blood-red laser bolts. He snarled and looked down at them, optic sensors narrowing. “Puny blobs of flesh! I'll crush you under my feet, then scrape you off on the ground! I'll burn you to cinders and–”
Jazz tackled Nemesis Prime, wrapping his arms around his midsection and pushing with all his might. Hot Rod leaped over the soldiers and unicorns, buzzsaw whirling as he brought it up and over his head.
Nemesis Prime brought his ax up just in time to block the blow, while his other arm swung at Jazz. “Stupid piles of scrap! I'll rip you into tinfoil!”
Jazz grunted as Nemesis managed to strike him a few times. He let go with one arm and struck Nemesis Prime in his midsection with short, sharp jabs. He let go with his other arm, knelt down and shot up, striking Nemesis Prime in the head with a vicious uppercut. Even as he reared back, Hot Rod snuck in and swung his buzzsaw at Nemesis Prime's chest armor, slicing a shallow gash in it and exposing circuitry.
Nemesis Prime howled in pain and anger as he stumbled back. He spotted his laser rifle, scooped it back up and brought it around. He managed to fire two short bursts at Jazz and Hot Rod, damaging both and sending them reeling. He pressed the trigger again, but the barrel started glowing cherry-red and smoke poured from it. With a scream, he tossed the useless weapon away and advanced upon the injured Autobots. His ax twitched from side to side. “Which one gets turned into metal shavings first?”
Lieutenant Mizuno looked around at the other soldiers before raising her arm and waving motioning to the battle. “Masterson, Roberts, get the prisoners out of here. The rest of you, come on! Hot Rod and Jazz need our help!”
One of the soldiers suddenly looked up and pointed to the sky. “Lieutenant, I think help is on the way.”
Mizuno looked up and spotted a tan-colored MiG-25 fighter jet in a steep dive, nose aimed at the battle. She nodded as her throat went dry. “Nice catch, Roberts. Okay, everyone. Get the prisoners and ourselves out of the area. Let's go!” She and the other soldiers herded the unicorns together and moved them off as quickly as they could, one of them scooping Shining Armor's still-unconscious form up in a fireman's carry.
The fighter jet swung around one hundred-eighty degrees. Its wings folded forward, revealing tank treads, while the cockpit and nosecone folded into its body. A pod on what was once the bottom rose up and a long barrel extended.
Nemesis Prime looked up just as the tank crashed to the ground a half-dozen meters away. His neural processors barely had time to register what was going on before the tank's turret rotated and the barrel raised. The tank shuddered as it fired an explosive shell at Nemesis Prime. The shell hit him in the chest, exploding and sending him flying back.
The tank split apart as it transformed into robot mode. The treads folded out from the main body into legs, while arms emerged from the wings. The cockpit of the jet mode ended up on the robot's chest, and the tank turret was on his back. The Decepticon Blitzwing straightened up, gyro-blaster in hand and aimed right at Nemesis Prime. “Okay, this wasn't in the slaggin' mission briefing.” He grinned. “I like it!”
Hot Rod barked a laugh. “I thought you weren't due here for another eighteen hours or so!” He held up a hand and waved Blitzwing off. “Not that I'm complaining.”
Blitzwing shrugged as he kept his weapon trained on Nemesis Prime. “I know a shortcut and backdoor through transwarp or two. Plus, the traffic controller at Tranquility Base owes me a couple favors. Of course, if you'd like, Astrotrain and I could go back into lunar orbit and fill out about fifty pages of paperwork, then come back down and help out with whatever the hell is going on here.” He tilted his head. “Is that some knockoff version of Optimus Prime?”
Jazz held up a hand. “We'll take the help, thanks. As for him, well, if there's evil ponies, maybe evil Autobots?”
Blitzwing grinned. “Works for me. Probably works even better for the others.”
Nemesis Prime groaned and rolled onto his stomach. His chest armor was rent, with an even larger crack than before running diagonally down it. Circuitry sparked and sizzled through the gap, along with fluids that leaked out all along it. He slowly rose to his feet, stumbling a bit. “This... isn't over,” he wheezed out, his words laced with static. He slowly transformed into semi-cab mode and drove off, shaking and shuddering with every bump.
Blitzwing held his hand out and help Hot Rod, then Jazz, to their feet. He pointed to the sky and a heavily-modified gray space shuttle orbiter flying through the air. “We spotted a large group of what looks like old-style Decepticon sentinel drones headed to Autobot City. That's odd enough. What's odder is they're being led by a gray Grimlock with neon highlights.” He leaned in close. “I've heard of April Fool's Day, but is there another prank-based holiday the humans celebrate?”
Hot Rod shook his head. “Primus knows we wish it was that.” He pointed up at Astrotrain. “I can't believe I'm about to say this, but send Astrotrain and his group over to help defend Autobot City. We can handle things here, at least for the moment.”
Blitzwing touched the side of his head. “You get that, old buddy?”
Astrotrain's somewhat high-pitched voice came over their comm systems. “Loud and clear, Blitzwing. Just tell them not to shoot us down!” With that, the shuttle swung about and flew off in a southwesterly direction, quickly dwindling in size until he disappeared over the horizon.