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@  tigerhawk : (14 April 2021 - 01:20 AM)

Sure he's a peeping tom but every single Scottish person does it!

@  PlutoniumBoss : (13 April 2021 - 08:09 PM)

Groundskeeper Wheelie say you're going to taste my rake today!

@  TheMightyMol... : (13 April 2021 - 06:57 PM)

"If elected mayor, me first act will be ta KILL THA WHOLE LOT 'A YA, AND.......I know it's on!"

@  Steevy Maximus : (13 April 2021 - 01:57 PM)

Campaign slogan? "Its Willie time!"

@  tigerhawk : (13 April 2021 - 10:15 AM)

I'd vote for Groundskeeper Wullie.

@  Donocropolis : (13 April 2021 - 07:25 AM)

A comic, yes, but we need a figure!

@  Tm_Silverclaw : (13 April 2021 - 06:27 AM)

No.. It's Tiberious Maximus... And there is a comic with such already. :D

@  Donocropolis : (12 April 2021 - 11:15 AM)

Yes. Color it like the Energon version of Unicron. Also, give us Fortress Tiberious.

@  wonko the sane? : (12 April 2021 - 09:49 AM)

Great. Now I want a borg cube unicron...

@  Tm_Silverclaw : (12 April 2021 - 09:00 AM)

We still need Transformers x Star Trek toy.

@  TheMightyMol... : (12 April 2021 - 05:39 AM)

I saw most of them at retail at TRU, but that's not an option in the US anymore.

@  tigerhawk : (12 April 2021 - 04:21 AM)

Dibs on naming the Ark robot Arkonus.

@  Kalidor : (11 April 2021 - 09:48 PM)

The only Titan figure I ever saw at retail was Trypticon at Ollie's

@  PlutoniumBoss : (11 April 2021 - 09:12 PM)

Robosen Prime has market crossover with not just the toy collectors, but robotics enthusiasts quite willing to pay that price for a product like this.

@  wonko the sane? : (11 April 2021 - 08:33 PM)

One of my two local TRUs will stock exactly ONE titan at a time. It usually ends up "clearanced" for about 20 bucks off cause no one is willing to pay for at full price OR discounted.

@  TheMightyMol... : (11 April 2021 - 07:56 PM)

Most stores don't seem to want to stock Commanders or Titans, never mind Unicron.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (11 April 2021 - 07:55 PM)

I wonder if Unicron going to crowdfuning wasn't just a price issue but also stores not wanting to stock and transport something so huge.

@  TM2-Megatron : (11 April 2021 - 07:47 PM)

It is, although this thing could also be considered a STEM educational tool

@  TheMightyMol... : (11 April 2021 - 07:33 PM)

Doesn't change the fact that, for most people, $700 is a pretty hefty investment for a toy.

@  TM2-Megatron : (11 April 2021 - 07:17 PM)

I dunno, $700 doesn't seem that bad for what it does. Some of those Masterpiece figures seem to go for at least half that price, and they don't have any actual robots or even electronics.

@  TheMightyMol... : (11 April 2021 - 05:35 PM)

Not to mention wallet-shattering.

@  LBD "Nyt... : (11 April 2021 - 04:30 PM)

It's a jargon-shattering figure.

@  Kalidor : (10 April 2021 - 08:50 PM)

The licensed Optimus Prime that transforms itself is the appropriate usage of the term "Third Party"

@  Donocropolis : (10 April 2021 - 08:24 AM)

That Optimus isn't built by Hasbro, only licensed. The company that makes it has been making similar robots for years, so no crowdfundng required.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (10 April 2021 - 08:05 AM)

Apparently they're selling one for 74 and a half thousand dollars.

@  wonko the sane? : (10 April 2021 - 08:01 AM)

We could write boston dynamics and ask?

@  NotVeryKnightly : (10 April 2021 - 07:59 AM)

Granted, I'm not sure how much robots with elaborate movement tend to go for.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (10 April 2021 - 07:56 AM)

I think with actual robotics it was easier to justify selling it at a high cost, compared to an unusually large action figure.

@  Tm_Silverclaw : (10 April 2021 - 05:06 AM)

It is a very impressive display of robotics though.

@  tigerhawk : (10 April 2021 - 04:52 AM)

What were they thinking with that self transforming Optimus? should have been another crowd funder for that price.

@  tigerhawk : (08 April 2021 - 03:33 PM)

I wish they'd rerelease Earthrise Ramjet and Dirge.

@  wonko the sane? : (08 April 2021 - 03:04 PM)

Yay! optimus primal just arrived. So now there's... nothing for me to look forward to till scorponok drops... hmmm, I didn't think this through properly...

@  wonko the sane? : (07 April 2021 - 04:26 PM)

It's an older title which recently got a remake so...

@  -LittleAutob... : (07 April 2021 - 01:10 PM)

Ah yes- I think I've heard of that game before. I may be thinking about something else though.

@  wonko the sane? : (07 April 2021 - 08:03 AM)

It's a video game. You get hired to revive and restore a series of derelict space stations.

@  tigerhawk : (07 April 2021 - 07:05 AM)

I've got no idea what that is but yes.

@  wonko the sane? : (07 April 2021 - 06:34 AM)

so... literally the plot to startopia.

@  tigerhawk : (07 April 2021 - 02:32 AM)

Maybe if the Interstellar Alliance collapsed after the big burn and a 'benefactor' repurposed a space station as a commerce one. Oh wait...

@  PlutoniumBoss : (06 April 2021 - 04:35 PM)

Babylon 6?

@  Donocropolis : (06 April 2021 - 11:49 AM)

I'd rather have a Toilet Seat: TNG sequel series than an actual reboot. If something was done well the first time, don't give us the same-thing-but-worse, just give us something new on that bowl..

@  wonko the sane? : (06 April 2021 - 10:19 AM)

Context: my parents had the bathroom redone about a year ago (actually, almost exactly a year ago, as the project was about 4 days from complete and was interrupted by the first pandemic lockdown.). The ridiculous, fancy toilet seat they purchased has since develloped cracks in it and needs to be returned. Dad simply could not get the seat off himself... and see previous shout.

@  wonko the sane? : (06 April 2021 - 10:17 AM)

How to ruin somesones day with one question: Let someone work on a problem for about an hour and a half on their own, come to the realization they need an extra set of hands, ask for help, show you the problem and outright difficulty of it: then ask them "Hey, what does this button do?" and literally solve the two man dilema without doing any work.

@  Dekafox : (06 April 2021 - 09:22 AM)

As far as the TNT move, all of Season 5 was basically epilogue, which didn't help - when it looked like things were ending at Season 4 JMS tried to cram all the major plot threads for his original Season 4 and 5 plan into Season 4, which didn't leave them as much to work with for Season 5. Then TNT totally screwed with Crusade and got it killed before it got a chance to hit the real plot and nothing else really resonated enough to get a series push. A Crusade revival would be the best "B5:TNG" option IMO.

@  electricidad : (06 April 2021 - 08:55 AM)

Peak B5 was the first six episodes of season 4. EVERYTHING CAME TO A HEAD.

@  Kevin S : (06 April 2021 - 08:50 AM)

Generally, I think once B5 moved to TNT things went downhill. The sets didn't look as good (maybe due to ill use of better lighting) and I wasn't always as impressed with casting (Sheridan's new 2nd just didn't work). The movies had decent ideas, but I felt there was something off in the execution. Wonder if TNT pushed for different directors that weren't as familar with B5.

@  wonko the sane? : (06 April 2021 - 08:42 AM)

Did the follow up movies do that badly, or does the creator simply feel like his story was told and refuses to allow more content?

@  Donocropolis : (06 April 2021 - 08:23 AM)

I'd rather have a B5: TNG sequel series than an actual reboot. If something was done well the first time, don't give us the same-thing-but-worse, just give us something new in that world.

@  tigerhawk : (06 April 2021 - 01:26 AM)

A reboot would probably be ruined by meddling and different visions anyway. 

@  Echowarrior : (05 April 2021 - 09:12 PM)

JMS wrote about half of the first season, a little over half of the second, all of the third and fourth, and all but one episode from the fifth. Given he was also the creator and executive producer, him having so much creative control was likely a condition for getting the show made. Shame he didn't have it for Crusade.

@  Dekafox : (05 April 2021 - 08:44 AM)

They also had JMS write every single script bar maybe 2 or 3? That was another big part of how well it hangs together. Do you think any studio would do that nowadays?


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Hand Me a Paintbrush, I'll Set It On Fire [IDW1 Shattered Glass]

Shattered Glass Ultra Magnus Rodimus IDW1 fanfic

1 reply to this topic

#1 blueskyscribe

blueskyscribe
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Posted 16 June 2020 - 08:29 AM

Another IDW1 Shattered Glass fic, this time focusing on Ultra Magnus and Rodimus.  You might notice that Drift isn't present in the ensemble, and that's because he's currently Decepticonning it up as Deadlock.  Also, SG Rodimus has not yet acquired his signature goatee.

 

 

"Hand Me a Paintbrush, I'll Set It On Fire"

 

Rating: Gen

Status: Complete!

 

AO3 link | FFN link

 

 

Chapter 1

 

"—and so if we alter the ship's course immediately, we will reach the battlefield on Vomnio 4 within twenty hours," Ultra Magnus finished.

"Uh huh." Rodimus carved another line into the smooth surface of his desk, a peel of metal curling around his claw; his attention had been focused (or rather unfocused) on the childish distraction for the entirety of Ultra Magnus' report (forty-seven minutes, twenty-three seconds).  "Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, uh huh . . . I wasn't listening, tell me again."

"You weren't—?"

"And keep it under two minutes."

Ultra Magnus' fingers tightened on his datapad until the plastic creaked.  "Vomnio 4 provides the rare mineral Tsibium to the war effort.  It's a class S dwarf planet, originally native to five sentient organic species, four of which were—"

"Tick tock, Magnus."

"The Decepticons are attempting to retake the planet and our Prime has ordered all Autobot fleets within 2,000 light years to defend it," Magnus summarized, disgruntled.  He forwarded his full report to Rodimus, though he had no confidence the captain would read it.

"See?  See how simple that was?  Now I understand the situation."  Rodimus leaned back in his chair, the view of his dark paintjob now interrupted by the gaudy display of flames on his chest.  He stretched his arms, resting them behind his head in a jaunty pose.  "No."

"What?"

"No.  Absolutely not.  We're not going to Vomnia whatever.  Why would we?"

"Because the Prime ordered it?" Ultra Magnus mentally berated himself for the rising inflection that turned a statement into a query.  He would never have uttered such an indecisive remark before joining the crew of the Stilled Spark.  But then he'd never before had a commanding officer so baffling and aggravating.  He repeated, more firmly, "Because the Prime ordered it. Every ship within 2,000 light years must—"

"Okay, I get the picture." Rodimus pressed a slim finger to his helmet, activating his comm. "Who's got the wheel?  Blaster?  Hey Blaster, this is your Captain, the dark flare in the night, ultimate badass, your flame-daddy—" (Ultra Magnus made a strangled sound.) "—the one and only Captain Rodimus, with a new order for you.  Set a course away from Vomnio 4 at full speed.  Any direction.  'Kay, thanks."

"You can't just . . ." Ultra Magnus couldn't believe what he was witnessing.  The sheer insubordination.  From the captain!  "Captain, you can't just skate past this problem.  Those are Autobots, providing a vital function for the war effort! We should assist them."

"We've got our quest, they've got theirs.  They aren't rushing to help us find the Knights of Cybertron, are they?"

"The Lord Prime ordered—"

"Listen!"  Rodimus stabbed a finger at him.  "It's every bot for himself out there.  Your big hero, Optimus, gets it and you'd better get it too.  'Cause as long as you're on my ship, I'm in charge.  We don't need you bringing up 'Optimus this', 'Optimus that' all the time.  Newsflash, the crew doesn't like it, I don't like it—"

"The crew."  Ultra Magnus seized on a new idea that might leverage Rodimus into action.  "What about the impact on the crew?"

Rodimus halted his tirade, his red optics narrowing.  "What impact?

"The crew would enjoy a chance to get off the ship and stretch their legs."  Magnus knew this was a dubious claim since they would be under heavy fire the moment they stepped off and would undoubtedly suffer heavy casualties. But Whirl might enjoy it.  "I'm sure they would appreciate a break."

Rodimus curled his upper lip. "Tch!"

It was hard to argue with such a comeback, but Magnus tried.  "They've been under considerable stress on this voyage according to the ship's psychiatrist—" He checked the text file he'd attached to the visual image of a scrawny bot holding a clipboard. "Rung? Yes, Rung. He's catalogued a five percent rise in violent intra-Autobot incidences per month."

"Yeah?" Rodimus rubbed his chin, dubious but listening. "So what's he recommend?"

"An outlet for their tension, such as artistic endeavors, more social bonding," Ultra Magnus couldn't help but scowl at that; no matter what this 'Rung' said it was not proper for Autobots to be wasting time lolligagging, bad enough there were two bars on board, "as well as exercise and fresh air.  Which they would certainly get on Vomnio 4."

"Hmm . . ." Rodimus spun his pen in his hand, frowning.

"This is serious, Captain."  Ultra Magnus frowned too, trying to impress the gravity of the situation on the capricious bot.  "Without proper activities to relieve their stress, you're going to see more and more crew members in the brig."

"The brig." Rodimus steepled his hands together, bringing them to his mouth as he considered. "Yeah.  Yeah, you've got a point.  I have noticed they're getting kind of fighty.  Whirl took a swing at me the other day for cutting in line for energon, and I was standing behind him . . . Send out a shipwide bulletin.  I'm going to give a briefing on the bridge tomorrow and I expect everyone to be there."

If Magnus had been a different kind of bot, he would have smiled at this welcome news.  "What time, Captain?"

"After I wake up, duh."

Having refrained from smiling, Magnus could also refrain from letting it drop.  This was why it never paid to get your hopes up.

 

Rodimus' chassis was such a deep purple that it appeared black under most lighting.  The red and gold flames painted up his hood drew all the attention anyway.  Technically the Autobot army did not have any rules about paint jobs, no set of standards that bots were required to conform to, but looking at Rodimus made Ultra Magnus think they should.

Currently Rodimus was standing on the raised platform at the front of the bridge.  Ultra Magnus and Blaster, the second- and third-in-command respectively, stood behind him.  The rest of the Autobots were crowded in front of Rodimus, already restless and unhappy because Ultra Magnus had summoned them there at 0900 and Rodimus had not shown up until 1032.

"All right, quiet down!" Blaster called, spurred on by a look from Rodimus.  He transformed into his boombox form and a thin mechanical strut lifted a microphone to the captain.

"Thank you, Blaster.  And thank you all for coming here," Rodimus addressed the crew.  "I've got some big news that you're gonna love!"

The gathered Autobots gazed up at him without enthusiasm, barely paying attention.  Ultra Magnus ran his optics over them, picking out the notables.  Swerve was chattering at an uninterested Mirage, Cyclonus (who wasn't even an Autobot and was practically a Decepticon and Magnus didn't understand why Rodimus suffered him to be on the ship) looked bored, Whirl was clicking his blades in a way that meant trouble, Ratchet had dried energon on his arms and was impatiently slapping a loose fuel pump into his palm, and the skinny little psychiatrist was barely visible behind Chromedome, who was gazing apathetically out the window.

Rodimus frowned at the lack of attention and nudged Blaster with his foot.  The TIC accommodatingly produced a resonant BWAAAAAANG that made the group jerk to attention.

"Wake up you guys, ha ha. Okay, Landmine—yes, you—take these and start passing them around."

Ultra Magnus' felt a pulse of surprise when Rodimus shoved a stack of papers into Landmine's hands.  Rodimus had planned something?  Rodimus had prepared a briefing?  Could there be hope for him yet?

Maybe this was the mission that would awaken Rodimus' capabilities—whatever they were.  Surely there must be a reason Optimus Prime allowed him, the most annoying Autobot in existence, to continue functioning.  Magnus imagined Rodimus stalking across the battlefield, stained in the energon of his enemies, inspiring and terrifying the crew by turn.  They, as much their captain, needed discipline, needed direction, needed to awaken the ferocity that their Prime expected of them.

Ultra Magnus didn't smile, but he did feel a spark-deep satisfaction as he watched the crew frowning at the handout in confusion.  They were used to wasting time picking silly fights and lazing about.  But their days of dawdling like layabouts was over, soon they would step onto the battlefield.

"So as you can see—Oh wait, you need one, Magnus." Rodimus handed him a paper. "So as you can see, we're gonna have some fun.  It's pretty self-explanatory, right?  Creativity is encouraged, I want you to go buckwild!  We're talking some serious artistic endeavors—endeavoring?—and the winner gets a Rodimus Star, as well as seeing their vision come to life!"

Creativity?  Artistic endeavors?  He's talking about a contest to kill the most Decepticons in the most gruesome way, Ultra Magnus hoped desperately, even though he normally considered such things ridiculous and unprofessional.

He dropped his optics to the paper, taking in its block-letter announcement.

ART CONTEST!!!!!

DESIGN-A-DUNGEON: SHARE YOUR VISION FOR THE NEW BRIG!!!

WORKING WITH A PARTNER?  ASK ABOUT THE SOCIAL-BONDING BONUS!!

Ultra Magnus closed his optics as the Stilled Spark continued rocketing away from Vomnio 4.


Edited by blueskyscribe, 04 April 2021 - 07:57 PM.


#2 blueskyscribe

blueskyscribe
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Posted 04 April 2021 - 07:54 PM

Chapter Two

The art contest was underway and the Autobots were hard at work, designing a new brig. Ultra Magnus cynically assumed this was due to the promise of a Rodimus Star. They were useless, but they were also (at Rodimus' insistence) made of pure gold. Every time the Stilled Spark docked on a planet, the Autobots rushed to be the first to dump their Rodimus Stars at the local street market.

Well, as silly as this contest was, it was Ultra Magnus' duty to monitor it. Therefore he was seated deep in a corner of Swerve's bar, where the ship's miscreants liked to gather.

Since energon was strictly rationed on the Stilled Spark (rationed even beyond what Magnus would have demanded, thanks to Red Alert's paranoia), Swerve's bar had a strict BYOE policy: bring your own energon. Swerve would then distill the energon into high grade . . . or a close approximation. Or a distant approximation. Many a patron ended up in Ratchet's infirmary, getting their fuel tank pumped, after just one drink.

The fact that Swerve had repeat customers just went to show how the standards of the Autobot army had fallen.

"Hey, Magnus! Dropped in for a little day-drinking, huh?"

Ultra Magnus slowly turned to find Rodimus grinning at him, hands on hips.

Magnus swallowed down an unprofessional response.

"I just thought I'd pop in and see how the crew is doing," Rodimus rambled on, casting a glance over the bots gathered at various tables—many in twos or threes. "And it looks like we're already getting results. Rodical! Do you like that? I thought it up this morning. See, it's like 'radical', but instead—"

"Captain Rodimus." Ultra Magnus shuttered his optics for a moment. This endeavor was a complete waste of time but nevertheless Magnus would do his best to enforce the rules. As soon as he learned what they were. "Can we talk about this line?" He pointed to the paper announcing the brig contest.

"'Ask about the social-bonding bonus'," Rodimus read. "Yeah? What about it?"

"What is the bonus? How is it calculated?"

"Calculated?" Rodimus laughed, which boded ill. Magnus' worst suspicions were confirmed when he shrugged easily and said, "I dunno, we'll just figure it out when the entries come in. Hey, let's take a walkabout and see how the guys are doing, huh?"

Without waiting for an answer, Rodimus headed for the nearest table. Magnus followed, radiating disapproval.

Cyclonus was at the first table, sipping a drink through a curly straw.

He was a red bot with a passive expression, horn-like appendages, and—most offensive to Ultra Magnus—no faction badge.  Apparently he had time-traveled from the past.  Apparently he'd lived alone in some kind of monastery. And apparently none of this was a red flag to Captain Rodimus, who had said Cyclonus "could come on board if he helped fight pirates and stuff." (Magnus was still fuming over that one.)

Cyclonus had the gall to openly describe the Cybertronian war as "rather pointless" and the further gall to have enough skill with his swords that Ultra Magnus couldn't personally correct him. Despite his martial prowess he had an easy-going nature, which he attributed to "the teachings of the monks." When grilled about the monks, he smiled and said they were "the friends I made along the way." Ultra Magnus looked forward to the day he could shoot him through the spark as payback for his inevitable betrayal.

"Hey Cyc," Rodimus said. "How's it hanging? You liking the contest?"

"It is 'hanging' very well, Captain." Cyclonus smiled easily, putting down his marker. "Yes, it's very enjoyable."

"Cool! Sooo, you got a big plan for the brig?"

"Yes, indeed." He held up the form.

"Uhhh, Cyc, that's just a rectangle with orange and purple stripes drawn on it."

"Yes, Captain. I thought and thought and then it struck me. Color theory."

"Color theory?"

"Yes. You wished the brig to be more of a deterrent. Harsh or strongly contrasting colors are unpleasant to the optic."

"Oh yeah?" Rodimus was waiting for more and the pause became awkward as it became apparent that nothing else was forthcoming. Awkward for Rodimus, at least; Cyclonus just continued holding his drawing up and smiling. The Captain cleared his throat. "Well, that's . . . great, Cyclonus. Um, keep up the good work."

As he followed Rodimus, who was hurrying away, Ultra Magnus wrote Cyclonus' name on his clipboard. The red bot had been working alone, so Magnus put a 0 in the Social Bonding Bonus (or SBB) column. Maybe this wouldn't be as difficult to quantify as he'd feared.

Their next stop was the bar itself, possibly because Rodimus wanted to talk to Swerve, but more likely because he wanted a drink. Swerve looked up from his (one-sided) conversation with Ratchet as the captain approached. Ultra Magnus pointedly looked at Ratchet's energon-stained, unsanitary hands as he loomed behind Rodimus. Ratchet ignored him and continued drinking in silence.

"Hey Swerve, think you can work your magic with this?" Rodimus took an energon cube out of his sub-space and tossed it to the barkeep.

"Whoa!" Swerve fumbled it out of the air. "Yeah, sure! Any preference?"

"Use the Randomizer, I'm feeling wild today!"

"A-hem. Captain, if you'll recall Bylaw #1566a Section 3, you banned the use of the Energon Randomizer because its usage so often coincided with medical emergencies."

"Oh yeeeah." Rodimus' brow furrowed, but only for a moment. "Great news, Swerve, I declare the Randomizer unbanned!"

Ratchet gulped the rest of his drink and slammed his glass on the counter as he pushed off his barstool. "I was enjoying my off-shift, but I'll go prep the med bay."

"Wait no, Ratchet wait a second." Rodimus caught him by the shoulders and shepherded him back to his seat. "I want to hear your opinion of the Design-a-Dungeon contest."

"I have no idea what that is."

"Ratchet, I know that's not true, you were there when I announced it."

"I've deleted it from my memory banks. Along with the entirety of my experiences on this wretched ship."

"Then how come you know we're on a ship?" Rodimus demanded triumphantly.

Swerve slapped a cube of sickly greenish liquid down in front of Rodimus. (Ultra Magnus' frown deepened as droplets sloshed over the sides.) "Hey Cap, I've got some ideas, want to hear 'em?"

"Hey, Swerve. Sure, yeah."

"Okay, picture this." Swerve held up his hands, his red visor flashing with excitement. "You could have the ceiling drip, wait for it, acid!"

"Huh." Rodimus rubbed his chin. "That's not a bad idea."

"Oh please," Ratchet scoffed. Despite his earlier inclination to leave, he had lingered to scowl at Swerve. "The last time you did anything with acid, it melted a hole in the floor. Real useful for keeping people contained in a cell.   Should use water, it's easier to control. A lingering rust infection will make them think twice about causing trouble again. And to be clear, when I say 'them' I mean Whirl."

"Acid's more fun," Swerve argued.

"Water," Ratchet snapped."

"Acid!"

"Water!"

"Acid!"

"Perhaps we should leave them to it," Ultra Magnus suggested. Rodimus nodded and, to Magnus' relief, subspaced the suspicious drink rather than drinking it. He could only hope that Rodimus had the sense to throw it away later.

Magnus wrote down "Swerve" and "Ratchet" on his clipboard. They had built off each other's ideas, in a sense, but had not exhibited any particular level of cooperation or social bonding. After some thought, he gave them each an SBB score of 1.

Rodimus wasn't done yet, of course, that would have made his SIC's life far too easy. He slung himself into an empty chair at the table where Chromedome and Brainstorm were seated. There was no available seat for Magnus but that was all right; these two bots were known troublemakers (though to be fair so was most of the crew) and he had no qualms about looming over them. He wouldn't say he felt satisfaction when Brainstorm looked up and flinched (that would have been unprofessional), but he certainly didn't feel dis satisfaction.

"Oh, hey Rodimus," Brainstorm said, dragging his attention back to the Captain. "What's, uh, what's up?"

"That's what I was gonna ask you guys." Rodimus gestured towards the papers in front of them, which were full of scribbles and sketches. "Looks like you're going all-in on the Design-a-Dungeon contest. I love it!"

"Yeah." Chromedome looked down at his sheet. "I could really use a Rodimus Star, I'm flat broke."

Rodimus' smile slipped a little. "Ha ha! Ah ha ha ha ha ha, good one Chromedome! So! Brainstorm! Tell me about your recent, heh, brainstorms."

"Ha ha!" Brainstorm obliged. "We've been coming up with some great stuff, Cap! Like, get this: what if we install tanks of oil in the walls—flamethrowers, essentially—and have them going full bore? Fwoooooosh, they're getting overheated, their paint is peeling, a constant inferno."

"Nah. It shouldn't be constant." Chromedome was doodling a frowny face on a corner of his paper. "Make it random."

"Why?" Brainstorm said. "It's scarier if it's on all the time."

"No," the mneumosurgeon said in that flat, final way of his, "It's not." There was a moment of uncomfortable silence that Chromedome seemed unaware of, or at least uncaring of. "My idea is sound."

Rodimus cleared his vocalizer. "Oh, it's a good idea, huh?"

"No, it's literally sound." Chromedome tapped his audial. "As in auditory."

"Ohhhh, like, blast something real loud in their audials? Screams or something? Great idea Chr—"

"No, it can be something innocuous. It doesn't even have to be loud. But just, the same tune playing over and over."

"Okay. Okay, okay, I'm starting to get it!" Brainstorm said. "Oh, and how about this: You could always cut out right before the end of the piece. Ha!"

"Wow! Okay, yeah, that would drive me nuts. Good thinking," Rodimus said.

"Thanks, Captain," Brainstorm said, shoving a blueprint directly in front of Rodimus' optics. "But don't forget about the flamethrowers!"

As he rambled on, Magnus added "Brainstorm" and "Chromedome" to his list. They had listened to each other's suggestions without ire and improved upon them. Magnus grudgingly admitted that was a step above what most bots on the Stilled Spark were capable of. He assigned each of them an SBB score of 3.

 

A week after its introduction, the entries were due. 

"I've observed every bot who entered the contest," Ultra Magnus informed Rodimus, who was flipping through the paper entries. "Although it was difficult to create an objective measurement, I determined each bot's Social Bonding Bonus based on the following criteria. Number One, did they discuss and/or receive help from one or more bot(s) while completing their entry. Number Two, how much time was spent consulting with the other bot(s). Number Three, to what extent—"

"Great Magnus, yeah, just leave whatever you're talking about on a datapad, huh? I'll totally get to it, I promise."

 

Two weeks after that—and after help from various handimechs, who were sworn to secrecy—the Captain was ready to announce the winner of the contest.

Rodimus being Rodimus, he couldn't just post a bulletin or send a ship-wide text. Instead he'd gathered all the hopefuls in front of the cells in the brig, which were now hidden by black curtains (Ultra Magnus didn't know where he'd got them but grimly suspected he had paid too much) to "heighten the suspense," as Rodimus put it.

"I'm going to win for sure," Whirl bragged. "Scythes, baby.  Scythes. Nothing's gonna top that."

"Pfft, that's so basic!"   Brainstorm rolled his optics. "Just an inconveniently long knife!  We got this, right Chromedome?"

"Hope so."

"Acid is where it's at," Swerve said confidently. "Caustic, burning, unpleasan—"

"Like your drinks," Ratchet muttered.

Rodimus stepped up to the front of the room before the bickering could escalate, Blaster transforming to boost his volume as usual.

"Hey everybody—hello? Is this thing on? Great. Ahem. So first I want to thank you guys! You stepped up and, wow, knocked out some great and creative designs! I'm proud of you, really! Give yourselves a hand!"

The awkward patter of half-hearted applause rippled through the crowd before dying.

"Get to the good stuff!" Ratchet called.

"Right. Right." Rodimus paused to glare in Ratchet's direction. "As I was saying, there's plenty to be excited about. So let's look at our top three winning entries! In third place . . . Whirl's Scythe-o-Matic Slice-Cell!"

One of the curtains dropped, revealing a barred cell with curved blades of various lengths hanging from the ceiling. At Rodimus' signal, they began swinging haphazardly, clanging wildly against the bars and each other. (Several began cutting through the bars of the cell. Magnus sighed.)

"Good job, Whirl!" Rodimus said. "And your runner-up prize is . . . one free drink at Swerve's!"

Whirl pumped a claw in the air. "Woohoo!"

"Wait, what?" Swerve said.

"Next, in second place . . . Ratchet's Rusty Retreat! Not his name, folks, mine! The name he submitted was super lame!"

"Gee, thanks," Ratchet grumbled as the second curtain was pulled aside. Ratchet's specialty cell consisted of hoses tied in the upper corners of the room, spraying a constant, fine mist, and two kiddy pools arranged side by side on the floor.

Magnus was beginning to suspect that Rodimus had not taken his scoring system into account when picking the winners. The entries so far were on the cheap side—which was odd since a fair amount of resources had been allocated to the contest, however foolishly.

"Ratchet also wins a free drink at Swerve's!" Rodimus said. ( "I never agreed to this!" came a cry from the side.) "And finally . . . our pièce de résistance . . . our grand prize winner . . . THE ultimate cell in THE ultimate brig in THE ultimate ship in the galaxy—"

The final black curtain dropped, furling to the ground. And behind it . . . behind it . . . 

Garish shades of red, orange, and yellow decorated the walls, almost distracting from the gilded shields. Each shield framed a face, also gold, which ratcheted their mechanical mouths open in unison to drip streams of acid down the walls. Magnus noted, in a distracted way, how the floor bubbled where the green liquid made contact . . . but a moment later the damage was hidden as the nozzles set at ankle-height flared to life, sending long gouts of flame roaring across the enclosed space.  

All the while, speakers in the wall repeated a radio jingle for Starbud's Static Salty-Snacks over and over.

"TAH DAAAAH! It's the Rodimus Cell! That's right—the winner is ME!" Rodimus held up a Rodimus Star—a twin to the acid-spitting faces in the cell—and magnetized it to his chestplate with a flourish. "I did a stellar job, as I'm sure you'll agree! Can I get a round of applause?"

There was a moment of silence. Then the crowd surged forward, howling. Ultra Magnus grimly waded into the brawl as punches started flying.

At least, he reflected wearily, they could break in the new brig.


Edited by blueskyscribe, 04 April 2021 - 07:58 PM.




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