A jet of green-white fluid sprayed over the inside of the mug. A
dirty rag, white at some previous point in its life long since gone, followed, wiping the
fluid around and then off. Placing the now crystal clear mug down and picking up another,
the Plentid barkeep opened her mouth again and sprayed more disinfecting saliva into it.
Only in the Plentid race did the age-old tradition of bartenders cleaning mugs by spitting
into them actually prove beneficial. Not that most of her customers would ever notice in
the half-light of the dingy bar. Even then, of the few that could see clearly enough in
the dimness and thick smoke, only one would actually be able to truly appreciate the fact.
The one customer that could smell to one part in two hundred million. The one customer
that could focus his sight to near microscopic levels. The one customer that could hear to
super low frequency. The one customer that could drop kick a mug into orbit.
The one customer that was a Transformer.
The one customer that was the Decepticon warrior called Krok.
The footsoldier sat in the dirtiest booth in the dingiest corner of
the bar, a chrome cup of fuel cradled in both hands, his head hanging down. For all his
powers of sensation, he didnt notice the younger, slimmer, Plentid female until she
"Would you like another?" she asked in the delicate,
musical tones of her native tongue.
Krok waved her away. His systems had already been sufficiently
slowed and circuit pathways adequately impaired as it was. In biological terms, he was
nicely drunk. And having reached that state, the last thing he wanted was to
"Hello!" chirped an annoyingly high voice.
Krok slowly turned his head. A male Hapz stood there, a huge grin on
his face. A fine representative of his species, the Hapz stood only about as high as the
top of the table at Kroks booth, and was little more than a sphere with arms and
legs an unbearably happy one at that. Hapz were known around the galaxy as being
one of the most happy and cheerful races in existence. The proprietor of the bar had tried
hiring a group of twelve Hapz, giving them jobs around the bar to keep the atmosphere
light, in the hopes of preventing brawls breaking out quite so frequently. Unfortunately,
the plan had backfired more fights than ever had broken out during the test phase,
most of them due to the incredibly irritating nature of the small spherical creatures. And
more than a few of the Hapz had been crippled or killed in the process (they had actually
been deliberately targeted as the first to be taken out whenever a fight did break out
regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with it). As it was, this Hapz
was the only survivor of the dozen. Though he had been fired months ago, he still hung
around the bar, trying to cheer up the more melancholy patrons he had nothing
better to do it seemed.
"Go away," Krok muttered, taking another gulp of techren.
It was rare to find a bar that had a decent stock of fuels, a fine fuel like techren even
"Flebeb can see you not happy," the Hapz said, introducing
himself as he clambered up onto the seat opposite Krok, "Flebeb think you need
"What part of go away dont you
understand?" Krok asked threateningly.
"Are Transformer, yes?" Flebeb plopped himself down.
"Why Transformer not happy?"
"The name is Krok," he replied, pulling his concussion
cannon on the rotund creature, "and Im not happy because youre still
Flebeb tilted his head, looking past the gun barrel mere inches from
"Will not shoot Flebeb," he smiled.
Krok sighed as he let the weapon drop to the table.
"Youre right. I wouldnt want to waste my ammo. Or
pay to have the mess cleaned up."
"Perhaps Krok want to talk?" The Hapz asked, bouncing
slightly in his seat. "A good ear can lift a heavy burden."
"Perhaps Krok does not want to talk," Krok sneered back.
"Perhaps Krok wants annoying Hapz to go away before he finds a few extra energon
chips which he is willing to spend mopping up a Hapzs smashed skull."
Flebeb stopped bouncing. Even the perpetual grin faded from his
"Is about past, yes?" he asked, his voice now a flat,
serious tone instead of the bright bubbly one of moments earlier. "Krok has secret
that does not want others to know. Secret shame, yes?"
Krok stared at the little creature. "How did . . ."
"Just because Hapz thought to be stupid, does not mean are
stupid. Flebeb see much. Make Flebeb understand great many things. Sometimes even let
Flebeb help others. Terrible secrets eat away Flebeb has seen this, many times.
"See Hantonark at bar?" the Hapz nodded in the direction
of a droopy skinned alien. "Mated with another after was joined with true mate. Great
shame on clan if were discovered have heard of times when double-mater is exiled,
disowned. Killed even, if true mate from powerful enough family. Hantonark tries to keep
secret, but knows that will be found out one day soon. And true mate is from very
powerful family . . ."
"He told you that?"
Flebeb nodded. "Can trust me. I not spread. Besides, who ever
listen to a Hapz seriously anyway?"
Krok grunted a slight laugh, which he quickly washed down with
another gulp of techren. "Alright then," he said, wiping away some excess fuel
from his face, "here goes. Im from the future."
"Future?" Flebeb asked, an eyebrow raised. The Hapz
wasnt sure if Krok was telling the truth or just joking at Flebebs expense.
"Yeah. About 0.1445783 vorns in the future."
"Uhm . . ." Flebeb was rather confused, "how far in
future is that? Flebeb not know Transformer time."
Krok sighed. "358 deckeks, a half dozen orbits, twelve Earth
years, three million turnovps . . . take your pick."
"Flebeb knows now, thank you. Continue, please."
Krok leaned back. "2009, it was, Earth time. Just the beginning
of their New Year, too. Thats when all pit broke loose."
"Hell, Hades, the abyss, the inferno. Or the pit. Thats
what broke loose all right. A temporal rift a rip in the fabric of time and space
had been torn open thanks to three Decepticons from my time mucking around with the
past. Galvatron, Cyclonus and Scourge had decided that it was more fun to play havoc with
causality than to conquer the Autobots of my time.
"It wasnt too unexpected, though. All three were created
by the world-devourer, Unicron, from the dying remains of defeated Decepticons. Galvatron
was the rebuilt Megtron, so-called greatest Decepticon leader of all time, who
didnt take kindly to being ordered around by anyone, let alone a giant transforming
planet. He tried escaping with his lieutenants to the past, only to be tricked into
returning by three Autobots Unicron sent after him. Kinda ironic that one of those three,
Hot Rod, was later the one to destroy Unicron twice. But after Unicron was
defeated, and Hot Rod became Rodimus Prime, Galvatron fled back into the past again. Due
to the interference of Rodimus Prime and some of his troops in the past, Galvatron was
stuck there, the device that allowed him to return destroyed. Of course, things got worse
when Galvatron started bumping into Megatron a past version of himself. The
timeline doesnt particularly like paradoxes a great deal.
"The instability of the timestream was made worse when Cyclonus
and Scourge were flung into the past as well, but this time by a machine that didnt
use the mass-substitution method of time travel. You see, since energy cant be
destroyed or created, only by removing the equivalent amount of mass from the past can the
universal balance of energy be maintained when objects from the future arrive. Cyclonus
and Scourge didnt do that. That helped the temporal rift quite a bit. Only got worse
when Cyclonus was killed by Megatron of all people, some twenty years before he was due to
"Of course, all this was happening in the past. In my present,
we only were aware of the end result the huge temporal rift. Seems that it was
working backwards through time, eating up everything in its way. First, it wiped out
Quintesson, then it headed for Cybertron thats where I was. One day, this big
. . . thing . . . appeared in the sky. You could tell that it wasnt friendly. A
hasty truce was called, and both Autobots and Decepticons pooled their resources in the
last few cycles. They discovered that the phenomena was a temporal rift, but that
didnt save them. I can still see it, you know. The churning energy clouds enveloping
everything Iacons spires, the great Polyhex Tyrest highway, Autobase,
the Hall of Heroes, everything. All gone, along with anyone foolish enough not to have the
sense to run.
"I ran, even though it went against every circuit in my body. I
knew it wouldnt do any good theres only so far that you can run on a
planet before you reach where you started from but I ran anyway. I ended up in Dead
End, an area of Cybertron formerly occupied by the Empties old and decrepit
Transformers who had given up on the war. I had actually been a part of the Decepticon
squad that wiped out the remaining Empties in 2004. Funny how things work out like that,
huh? The place that I put so many others to death was the same place that I found a chance
to live. The ground gave way beneath me, and the next thing I knew, I was in an ancient
chamber deep beneath the surface. Thats where I found the time-jump equipment,
probably the same one that Galvatron used. I figured that it must be the only way out, so
I quickly set some co-ordinates and climbed onto the jump pad. Just as I was about to
activate it, the rift arrived. It tore through the walls, converging on me, eating up the
time jump set up as it went. I activated the thing anyway, hoping that Primus might allow
me to survive somehow. Somehow I did.
"It was a while before I reactivated. I was back in Dead End. I
thought that Id somehow survived the time-storm and was still in the present
2009 until I saw an Empty trying to siphon my fuel. Naturally, I killed him.
Id ended up in the past, but with no time-jump trigger mechanism to allow me to
return home something to do with the temporal rift, I imagine. I tried looking for
the ancient chamber with the time-jump equipment, and to my surprise, I found it. Using a
temporal scanner, I was able to see into possible futures, but I could not find my own. It
had been destroyed, or rendered disjoint from that in which I was now stuck. I had
travelled back to a point in time before a decision was made, or an action taken that
rendered my future impossible to occur, and since it was impossible for it to occur, it
was impossible for me to travel forward in time to reach it from this point in the
timeline. Only if I could step outside of time altogether could I reach my home, by
travelling to a parallel world where that decision or action, whatever it was, had gone
the other way, allowing my timeline to exist for it. That, or travelling further back into
the past of this timeline, to past the point of the decision."
Flebebs head was practically spinning. "Flebeb does not
Krok slammed his finger down on the table, startling the Hapz,
before scraping it along the metal, carving a groove.
"This," he said, " is the timeline.
"At each point in time, decisions are
made. For each decision, there are multiple possibilities. For each possibility, there is
a possible future.
"Only one of these possibilities can become reality. Once that
possible future comes into being, it is impossible to jump from the present of the outcome
that did happen to the future of a different outcome jumping both forward and
sideways on the timeline. Say that the top line represents the action taken. Once that
action is taken, by travelling into the future, you can only travel into the possible
futures of that timeline.
"Only by travelling back to before the action was taken can you
travel forward to a different possible futures. In my case, I was here.
"Then I travelled back to here.
"Something happened that made the timeline go this way .
"And from here, I cant get back to where I started from.
Not with the current level of time travel technology, at least. "
"Is Flebeb only one who finds time travel too confusing?"
"The point is, I couldnt get back to my time. I
despaired, thinking that it would only be a matter of time before the same temporal rift
that I fled caught up with me. I even began to fit in with the other Empties, barely
existing at all. It wasnt until cycles later that I had a thought what if the
event that changed the timeline so drastically was my very arrival. Perhaps I was destined
to avert the tragedy that had befallen my own time. But how? I reasoned that the rift
would not have formed if Galvatron, Cyclonus and Scourge never travelled back in time at
all, and the best way to prevent that from happening was to prevent them from being
created in the first place. So I set my plan in the last few days of 2005, I would
travel to the Autobots Moonbase One and petition Optimus Prime to travel with me to
Lithone, the last planet Unicron consumed before he attacked Cybertron, and bring both Hot
Rod and the Matrix with us. Unicron would be destroyed before he could recreate Megatron
into Galvatron. The future would be saved, along with the many fine Decepticon warriors I
fought alongside who died in both the battle with Unicron and later conflicts. With their
numbers, we could continue to dominate the Autobots, and eventually crush them.
"But I had no intention of hiding for twenty years. I could be
smart. I could rise through the ranks and not disrupt the timeline until such time as my
plan required it. I would infiltrate the local Decepticons and work my way up, using my
historical knowledge to my advantage. I would provide the exact same information that the
scouts would report just before they could inform their commanders. It wasnt long
before I was transferred to the Royal Palace, and placed under Thunderwings command.
Thunderwing had been in charge of the Decepticon forces practically since Straxus was
killed by the Autobot, Blaster, until Megatron turned up on Cybertron again, but Megatron
did let him stay on as second in command. I continued to work, informing both of upcoming
coup attempts that history told me would fail. I managed to work my way into a position of
confidence within Thunderwings command, becoming a key advisor, a role I continued
under Bludgeons brief reign. It was then that I made a mistake. The greatest mistake
of my life.
"After Megatron disappeared in a battle with Ratchet,
Thunderwing again took command of the Decepticons. I had the unfortunate duty of reporting
the many Autobot attacks led by the newly revived Jazz, Bumblebee and Grimlock.
Thankfully, unlike his predecessor, Thunderwing preferred to brood rather than lash out at
the messenger. While he muttered something about them, I stupidly said something about
them being heroes of the Autobot resistance. It must have triggered some thought in his
cerebral circuits he dispatched me to fetch Bludgeon, Stranglehold and Octopunch,
who he would send after the Autobots. It was their interference that caused the
transportational portal that the Autobots were using to malfunction, sending both groups
to a chamber deep beneath Cybertron, where their battle inadvertently awakened Primus,
creator of my race. It seems that while Primus slumbered, his eternal foe, Unicron, could
not find him. But when a stray blast hit and woke him, Primus gave away his position. What
took Unicron a further twenty years in my time took only a few months. My plan to avert
the war with Unicron was destroyed by a careless slip."
"Why Krok not get Prime, Matrix and other Autobot? Simply take
care of Unicron like planned?" the Hapz asked.
"Because Prime didnt have the Matrix anymore. In my
timeline, he got it back long before Unicron came close to finding Cybertron. But in this
timeline, he had to send teams of Autobots all over the galaxy looking for it. Naturally,
Thunderwing followed and stole the Matrix, tainting it with his evil. He could only be
stopped by destroying him, and seemingly the Matrix too. With no Matrix, Optimus felt the
only remaining option was to surrender to Scorponok, the commander of the Earth-bound
Decepticons, in the hopes of creating a united front against Unicron. Eventually all the
Transformers did join forces, and beat Unicron, though at a terrible price. We lost more
Decepticons in that battle than we did in my time. All thanks to me."
"Krok feels guilty," Flebeb said. "Krok feels Krok
killed fellow Decepticons. Krok feels is all Kroks fault because Krok used time
travel to escape death, and instead caused more of it."
"More than you know. After the battle,
Bludgeon took command and led us to conquest on the planet Klo. The Autobots followed us,
and though we thought we had beaten them, they instead defeat us, with the help of a
resurrected Optimus Prime, who we thought had died during the battle with Unicron. The
Decepticon army was shattered and cast adrift. Bludgeon did nothing for months, before he
finally broke his promise to Prime and began to assemble his Warworld. After that,
Megatron returned again and took back control of the Decepticons, only to
form another truce with the Autobots to destroy both a group of renegade Decepticons and
an energy Swarm that was hell bent on consuming all Transformers. Ironically, those
renegade Decepticons were the same ones that Unicron used to track down the position of
Cybertron in my time by charting a course across their conquered worlds back to
Primus final form. In my time, they left the trail for Unicron to follow, and
Unicron conveniently cleared them away for us. But thanks to me, nothing worked out nice
and cleanly, Thanks to me, more Decepticons died.
"Once again, Optimus Prime saved and bought peace to our kind,
at a terrible price in life for the Decepticon army. Once again, the leaders of both sides
agreed to end the fighting, so that the Transformer race might move forward, and not
linger in its warlike ways. Once again, a Decepticon leader denied his troops their
sole purpose in life destruction and conquest.
"We are a race than cannot accept peace we must
fight, and hunt and kill. Its our way. Of all the Decepticons to forget that, I
would never have thought Megatron to be one. Only a few of us still even bother to keep in
contact. Most have accepted the peace and want nothing more to do with those
of us who havent. I dont consider them Decepticons anymore." Krok took
another sip of techren. "So, single handedly, I destroyed the Decepticons. I killed
my comrades. My friends. Thats why I destroyed my own transformation circuits. I
dont deserve to use them after I what I did.
He finished the mug off before placing it back down and leaning
forward, threateningly close to the Hapz.
"And thats how I ended up here. Trying to drown my
sorrows in cheap fuel and forget about the whole damn mess I made. Huh. Almost as bad as
"Did time rift ever appear?" Flebeb asked.
"Nope. Guess that time-jump system got kinda messed up when the
rift hit it in the future. Funny that the one thing I truly thought would kill me turns
out to be the one thing Im never bothered by. But Im here to stay now, it
seems. Its been nearly ten years and nothing. Not even when I killed myself."
Kroks optic sensors narrowed. "I stumbled across the me
from this timeline after the battle with Unicron. I wasnt fully together sure
I kept the cool, professional facade for the troops, but I was barely functioning
underneath it all. And when I met myself, I snapped. Pulled my gun and shot him . . . me.
Again and again and again, until I knew I . . . he was dead. The moment I . . . he died, I
knew that my reality was dead too. I suppose it really died the moment I activated that
time-jump. Perhaps if I had held off for a second, faced my death as I should have, none
of this would have happened. It wouldnt have gone so wrong . . ."
Kroks mutterings were interrupted by a commotion at the door
of the bar. Several Hantonark bruisers, heavily armed and armoured, burst in. The
Hantonark that Flebeb had pointed out spun at the sound of their entrance and tried to run
for shelter. He didnt even make three steps before his back exploded with laser
fire. He was dead before he hit the floor. Krok looked back from the dead Hantonark to
Flebeb as the killers strode over to take the body. A tiny curl at the edge of the
Hapzs lip. A mutter low enough to go unnoticed by all the customers but one.
The one customer that could smell to one part in two hundred
The one customer that could focus his sight to near microscopic
The one customer that could hear to super low frequency.
The one customer that was a Transformer.
"Very rich family," Flebeb whispered gleefully. His vocal
cords were barely moving not enough to make any normally audible sound, but enough
for Krok to extrapolate what the words would have been.
In a nanosecond, Krok realised what had happened and pulled his
concussion cannon on the microscopically smiling Hapz.
"Nice scheme, Hapz," he grunted. "Get into
someones confidence, learn their secrets, and sell them off. Thats what you
did to the Hantonark, right? Told his true mates family where he was for a nice
amount of credits, yeah? No other way you could have afforded to keep hanging around here.
But why bother me? Not really anything you can blackmail a transformer with, let alone a
Decepticon from the fu . . ."
Kroks mouthguard stretched in a smile as he figured it out.
"The time travel technology. I told you I was able to scan the
future. A very profitable device, to be sure. I imagine it would only have been a matter
of time before you started needling me for data on where the time-jump chamber was. Well,
the jokes on you, friend. Its gone. Floated away when Cybertron was
restructured after Unicrons attack."
The Hapzs eyes widened, visibly this time.
"Such a waste," Krok said, lolling his gun around.
"All that time spent listening to my story, and youll get nothing out of it.
Plus, I have to kill you now. You know too much about the future."
"Krok said was of alternate future that not possible! What
matter what Flebeb know of fantasy future?"
"Two pieces of advice for you, Flebeb," Krok said.
"One, never insult a sentients home timeline. Two . . . it never hurts to be
too careful when it comes to time travel. Nothing personal."
Flebebs eyes narrowed in anger. "Flebeb curse you,"
the little creature spat.
"Oh, look at that," Krok said, his eyes not moving from
Flebebs as his free hand pulled something from a waist container. "A spare
energon chip. Guess I do have some extra cash to splash around."
All expression dropped from the Hapzs face. Happiness,
empathy, confusion, anger, everything - except shock. Even though he knew he would die, it
still came as a surprise to him.
Krok only fired once.
"Krok? You in here?" rang out a voice from the entrance to
"Down here, Stranglehold," Krok replied, trying to scrape
the fuel residue off his mug. "Just follow the smoking gun and burning Hapz."
The Prentender, clad in his humanoid shell, spied his comrade and
headed for him.
"Nice work," he said upon reaching Kroks booth.
"Friend of yours?"
"Nope," Krok replied. "Tried to be, though.
Whatre you doing still wearing that ugly face?"
"Cmon," Stranglehold grabbed Kroks arm,
"Megatrons up to something, and he needs all the loyal Decepticons he can get.
And youre still one of them, right?"
Krok glanced over at Flebebs corpse.
"Yeah," he replied. "I am."
"Then lets go!"
Stranglehold led the way, heading for the door. Krok slid out of the
booth and followed. He stopped by the young waitress.
"Sorry about the mess," he said as he handed over a half
dozen energon chips. "Thisll settle my tab."
"Youre not coming back again, sir?" she asked. Krok
had been a regular for several rotations now, one of the few who hadnt made advances
indicating that they wanted to mate with her she appreciated that.
"Not for a while, at least. Place just isnt the same
without that Hoopawen band of yours."
The waitress looked confused.
"We dont have a Hoopawen band. My mother, the owner,
hates Hoopawen music."
"But you dont," Krok replied.
"Yes, but I dont own the bar."
Krok was almost going to say "You will - in two point eight
"Yet," he said. "You dont own it yet."
He turned and left the bar. It had taken him a long time, but he had
learnt his lesson. Dont mess with what is meant to be. And he wished that he
had learnt it a long time ago . . .
. . . in the future.