– From Transformers Regeneration One, The War to End All Wars, Issue #100 (Issue 100 of a four part mini-series). Dialogue lifted in many places from the great skvald Simon Furman. Additional story by Wedgekree.
A funk. Hot Rod was in a funk. The Cavalier had not been so much bored as been moping. Not feeling up for dealing with being called on it, once he had finished his assignments he had just gone over into the small quarters he kept, slumped over on the recharge berth, and decided to simply go into stasis until he was called into action again.
Fate. Karma. Destiny. Feeling like he had missed it. For whatever reason, in the last few weeks he had felt an emptiness. Something in him that he knew was never there in the first place. A purpose that was not meant for him. Where should have been dreams and driving was just a sense of emptiness and ennui.
It would all be gone, he decided. All be gone soon. Just sift through it, let his sub-processor delete some extraneous information, then go through a system refresh. It'd all be fine, he would just center himself and..
He would just be one. One more Autobot. In an army of them. Maybe that was his.. Shifting around, Hot Rod had a rare moment of looking his own ego in the face and speaking, “So that's just it..”
When suddenly his body twitched. Seizing up. Attempting to look up at the ceiling, finding himself locked down. “Dust Devil? Bluestreak? Good one. Just let me up please?” The lights in his quarters would go off. “Better one. Those are on a closed circuit..” Then everything would be aflame.
His chest twitching open, spark core flashing, and a brightness.
“YOU ARE NOT CHOSEN.”
Spark glowing, as those words that were meaningless somehow hammered him, Hot Rod went to try and speak out as his vocalizer seized up.
And he would see existence split. Through a seizure in space. He would see.. Himself. Surrounded by darkness. Surrounded by Prime. Optimus Prime.
He would spasm, once more as his sprk would be yanked forwards, the rest of his body with it despite his body seemingly magnetically clamped down.
Words would flow through, said by a familiar voice. His own. But with a harder, deeper, exhausted edge to it.
“One thing's for sure! I can't take any claim it makes at face value. What I need now is my own intuition. To follow my own path... To wherever it may lead.”
“This was entrusted to me for a reason. I can't explain beyond a gut feeling, but those are the ripples Optimus once spoke of. I need to make some NOW!”
And once more the call would come to Hot Rod. “YOU ARE NOT CHOSEN. BUT YOU ARE STILL NEEDED. WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?”
And Hot Rod, spasming and seized up, his spark feeling like it would be torn from his torso, could only respond in an immediate, instinctive way.
And then there was nothing.
And then there was everything.
Existence rippled, and from a void Hot Rod fell. Landing in a green spiraling edge of nothingness, seeing into the infinteness. Breath catching in the distance as he saw himself.. Fighting the void. Raw darkness, lashing out. Hate, rage, power. Beyond gazing into the maw of the Fallen, like looking into the abyss of Unicron.
And seeing himself fighting Optimus Prime. Three of them. Laying into Hot Rod.. Into Rodimus.. Into himself. While the black void that somehow he /knew/ was the corrupted Matrix.. Lashed and howled.
And the ripples flashed. And flashed again. And through them Hot Rod would see images. Of war. Of creation. Of.. Himself.
Dozens and dozens of versions of himself. Different, yet identifiable for all their distinctions. One with an amazing chin that somehow spoke to him. One with a glowing bow and arrow. One with glowing fists on fire.
The dark void calling out. “Some last despairing gambit, perhaps. If so it has come to naught, Zero! It only serves to demonstrate the last totality membrane has fallen, and the crossing is upon us, ORDER is in chaos, and.. YES!”
“The energy flows.. Flows.. Through zero.. Through ME..”
As the twisted thing borne of the corrupted Matrix sought to embody pure entropy and rend existance asunder.
And one that looked like they had been so aged that it was like seeing someone as ancient as Glyph was to Kup and spanned again. That looked so much like rust that a step might turn him to dust, yanked away wires from what had been some sort of life support machine.
And through these dozens and dozens of Hot Rods, of Rodimus appearing facing the trio of Optimus and the dark void.
And they seemed to all stand and wait, caught in a moment of stasis and awe. And then one of them stepped forwards. And spoke.
“Is this a private party? Or can anyone CRASH?”
And the spell was broken. Stasis ended.
The dark void screamed. “NO! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!? WHAT?”
The dog-piled upon Rodimus.. Could only look up. “Who?”
And the charismatic chinned Hot Rod would step forwards.
“Hey you called! We answered.”
The spell was broken. And the Hot Rods, the Rodimus.. The Primes.. They all charged forwards.
And the ancient Rodimus Prime spoke, somehow maneuvering as if he looked like he would collapse. “Autobots.. Transform and Roll Out.”
And they ran. Firing at the Dark Primes. Firing at the being borne of the Corrupted Matrix.
And Hot Rod charged in with them. All of that ennui, all of that doubt, all of that sense of loss and lack of purpose that had been dragging him down gone. “You pick on one of us, we blast on one of you! Eat some photon charges!” Arm glowing, unleashing raw blasts of electro-photon energy!
It was a deadly dance of war. On Earth. On Nebulos. On Cybertron. In the astral realm. At the space bridge where everything was warping. He didn't really know what was going on. Just that at stake was fate itself and everything.
And he charged. Along with all of the other versions of himself.
Hot Rod quipping at the ancient one, “Forgot some rust off old timer? You look like you got GPS gunked up all through you.”
The old Rodimus Prime would groan,”Now is not the time.”
Hot Rod would smirk, “AT your age? Any time is good!”
Rodimus Prime would painfully raise up his blaster. “Was I ever that bad?” Groaning. “You're.. Not like many of us.”
The fight raged on, the dark Nemesis Primes and the corrupted matrix brawling no.
And Hot Rod could only admit, seeing all those other versions of himself of great fate and destiny, of those with a purpose and a future.. That he felt was not his..
“No, I don't.”
And going forwards, the old Rodimus Prime would nearly collapse, Hot Rod darting to his side. “Then be glad of it. It is a crushing weight. And one that buried us all. With guilt. With fear. Without it you are just Hot Rod. And you..”
the old Rodimus would stumble, even with the aid. “You make your own path free of Primus' intent.”
The contact would have Hot Rod twitch as he would get an import of things that never were or intended. Through space and time. Through the maw of Unicron. Through guilt at seeing the dead body of Optimus laid out on a medical bed and knowing it was HIS fault. Of his unworthiness of whatever it was. At fights with those that he barely knew. Galvatron. Cyclonus. Scourge. Names and battles throughout time and places he knew and yet would never see.
And age and raw tiredness would settle off the old Rodimus Prime, even as Hot Rod fell down. Hot Rod would spasm, “Too.. I.. I would.. I can't..”
And then standing up striaght, the old Rodimus Prime would help him up. “You can. Nothing's going to stand in our way. No matter what, we're going to see it through to the end. Till the day..”
Hot Rod surging up, his photon blaster firing again. “Till All Are One!”
And the Hot Rod leading the charge as the dazed Rodimus Prime got up off his feet. “Anyone without a 'Hot' or 'Rod' in their name, give them a hard time!”
Dozens of photon blasters raised up and opened fire. And for a moment, the Rodimus Prime that somehow Hot Rod knew of this world would run over to Optimus that had thrown off his corruption. They would speak. For a moment.
Hot Rod would never know that of which they spoke. Only that it was something that would condemn this place for the greater good. To seal away the darkness..
And Rodimus Prime strode forwards, wielding a sword at his hand, glowing with the power of the multiverse. Towards Spike, who was hanging in restraints and overwhelmed with guilt and doubt and pain. And Rodimus Prime said something.
Hot Rod never knew what it was either. Just that Spike forgave himself. And Rodimus Prime slashed at the Corrupted Matrix with the sword. And whatever this place was was severed from Primus. And all other things. He could only shout at himself to give a warning..
A dark lash would blast out at the old Rodimus Prime. The old geezer would never get out of the way in time. Hot Rod charged in to slam him out of the way, even as the dark tendril went through his torso, making him collapse down, energon flooding out of his system.
The Corrupted Matrix raged. The trio of enthralled Optimus Primes advanced. Hot Rod could feel his spark bleeding out as the old Rodimus Prime fell against him.
And the old Rodimus Prime buckled hard. “This.. Is what responsibility is. To protect the greater good of all. Becasue.. He had to stop this time. Until all were gone.”
And energy would flash hard as everything collapsed upon itself. And Hot Rod would feel himself wrenched away, even as he would scramble.. And the old Rodimus Prime would be ripped apart, whispering to him, “Till the day when all are one. Life always succeeds. But at the cost of eternal vigilance and eternal faith.”
Then it was over.
And Hot Rod was awake in his quarters, on his recharge bed. “Ugh.. That was one nasty nightmare.”
Then a slight move would have him spasming in total agony as he would look down. Seeing his chest blasted asunder and a gaping hole in his torso, almost right through his chest over his spark.
And he could only take two fingers and rub them over the hole, ash spilling out, turning to a dark mist and vanishing.
And he would collapse.