Optimus yawned as he headed to the mess hall the next morning. He wasn't in the best of tempers. He entered the mess hall and saw Blackarachnia, Ratchet, Jazz, Sonic, and Tails already there. "Morning," mumbled Optimus.
"Well, Autobots, I'd say we are all honored," snarked Blackarachnia. "His Majesty has decided to grace us with his presence."
"Spare me, Lieutenant!" snapped Optimus as he grabbed his morning Energon ration. "It's turning into one of THOSE days."
"Let me guess, the Council," mused Ratchet.
"Hot Rod," guessed Tails.
"His mage-phobic friends," called Jazz.
"A combination of the three," revealed Optimus. Ratchet handed him a pair of processor-ache pills. "Thank you," bid Optimus. "Hopefully, we can slow Hot Rod down. Kup said he was coming soon."
"Kup?" asked Ratchet. He then grinned. "Man, I remember that old-timer. He's actually a Velocitronian that's not so reckless."
"From what Rodimus told me," replied Optimus, "he's the one that raised Hot Rod."
"Good morning!" called Hot Rod's voice.
"Look out," mumbled Blackarachnia under her breath. Whether or not Hot Rod heard that was left for debate as he headed straight for the Ration dispenser. He took a sip of Energon and smacked his lips.
"Well now," he mused, "never thought I'd taste ration Energon before, but, then again, I guess you learn to ignore it while in the trenches, huh?"
"Something a wuss like you never experienced during the last thousand years of the first war," muttered Ratchet.
"…Excuse me?" asked Hot Rod as he fixed Ratchet with a glare.
"You Velocitronians have a history of draft deferrals," remarked Ratchet. "So, don't talk about the trenches like you were there. I doubt you were."
"…Look up Nyon and Ki-Aleta," hissed Hot Rod. The announcement of a Space Bridge then interrupted the tense moment.
"I'll get that," offered Blackarachnia.
"Nah, they'll want a fresh-faced bot!" replied Hot Rod. "I'LL get that." He sped off to the command center, leaving the Autobots, Sonic, and Tails to stare at the door.
"…Fresh-faced?!" growled Blackarachnia. She then turned to Optimus. "I know this is vain of me, but am I…?"
"No, sweet-spark, you're not developing indents on your face," assured Optimus. "That's still centuries away for bots our age, anyways."
"…You're right, I'm being paranoid about my age too early," remarked Blackarachnia as she leaned on Optimus. He just patted her shoulder, causing her to hum happily.
Hot Rod arrived at the command center and turned to Teletraan. "All right, let's see the new bot!" he declared. "Teletraan, if you please!"
"You know, now that I think about it," mused Teletraan, "I'm gonna enjoy your reaction when you see the bot."
"…Why?" asked Hot Rod.
"Opening Space Bridge," reported Teletraan. The portal opened and Hot Rod decided to drop the subject. No sense in dwelling on the unimportant stuff, in his mind. In hindsight, he really SHOULD have dwelt on it. A figure stepped through, then it became crisper as it got nearer.
"…Oh no," groaned Hot Rod as he recognized the figure. An old Transformer came out with a metal cigar in his mouth. His helmet had a small hexagon on it and his face was covered in dents, like Ironhide's. He was colored teal and he had a wheel on each shoulder.
"Well, well, well," rasped the old mech. "If it ain't the young punk!"
"Kup!" moaned Hot Rod. "Just when I thought I would avoid one of THOSE days!"
Kup made his acquaintance with the Autobots and their Mobian Allies in the conference room an hour later, sans Hot Rod and his Alien Hunt! colleagues. "So, that's the sitrep, huh?" mused Kup as he heard the story. "I can't say it ever made much sense, the whole time-travel thing."
"I seem to recall a story where you and Ironhide," remarked Optimus, "had a time-travel fubar and got your afts handed to you by Vector Prime."
"I didn't tell you that, I'm sure," muttered Kup.
"I told him," answered Ironhide.
"So, imagine my surprise," continued Optimus, "when Vector Prime allowed this."
"Future must be really bad if he's allowing time travel, despite his views on the subject," mused Kup.
"It is," replied Rodimus. It was then Kup got a closer look at Rodimus.
"…That's a lot of scars for only 50 years," he rumbled. "I ain't talking about the physical ones. I can see the mental ones in your optics."
"…You fell right before my optics," answered Rodimus. "As did many of my friends and family. I never took the chance to tell you how much I appreciated you raising me. …I was such a jack-hole."
"If your Kup was anything like me," replied Kup, "then I'm sure he would tell you this: I've always known you had potential, Lad."
"…Thanks," mumbled Rodimus.
"Speaking of other selves," remarked Kup, "where's your younger self?"
"And his Alien Hunt! friends!" snapped Optimus. "I DID say that ALL Autobots were to assemble here, didn't I?!"
Hot Rod, Meteorfire, and Cosmos were lurking outside the conference room, listening in on what was said. "Let's not go into a tizzy," called Blackarachnia's voice. "I'm sure they'll be here soon."
"Oh no, they won't!" Hot Rod muttered under his breath.
"I thought you said Kup never cared about your goals," mused Cosmos.
"Potential for what?" mused Meteorfire. "Being an Autobot toady? Or being an Autobot hero?"
"He's trying to make me a toady," hissed Hot Rod. "I'm gonna be a hero!"
"Well, in any event, it's great to have you here," praised Optimus. "We need new bots, something awful."
"Anything to help out," replied Kup as he took out his cigar, pulled a dull crystal out of it, threw it into waste disposal, then put in a bright yellow crystal before he started smoking it again.
"When did you get the Cy-gar?" asked Ironhide.
"Oddly enough, it's a prescription Cy-gar," explained Kup. "Keeps me from having flashbacks of my time on Tsiehshi. You know, the planet with Ore-8?"
"I DO know," muttered Ironhide grimly as sympathy flashed across his face.
"I'll…er…ask about that later," muttered Optimus.
"Smart kid, he is," Kup remarked to Ironhide. "Now then, I need quarters."
"There's a good-sized room next to mine and Chromia's," offered Ironhide.
"Wreckers forever!" declared Kup. "I'll take it!"
"Let me show you to them, then!" cheered Ironhide.
Hot Rod pushed Meteorfire and Cosmos against the wall as Ironhide and Kup left the conference room. "You know," muttered Kup, "I haven't seen the young punk since he greeted me in the command center. I've got this feeling he's been avoiding me."
"You're slagging right, I am!" Hot Rod hissed under his breath.
"Ah, we'll catch him sooner or later," Ironhide assured Kup. "In the meantime, after I show you your quarters, I intend to beat you again at Lob."
"Excuse me, you mean you're going to lose to me at Lob!" challenged Kup.
"Sounds like age rusted your memory circuits!" answered Ironhide.
"Oh, it is ON!" declared Kup. As the two old mechs walked down the hall, Hot Rod heard Jazz talking.
"Rodimus, I don't know how you could have treated a nice mech like Kup so badly," he remarked.
"It's been a regret of mine since his death in my timeline," replied Rodimus. Hot Rod and his friends then strode into the conference room as he cleared his throat.
"Well," snarked Optimus, "look who decides to stroll in! We were just talking about you. I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that Kup is going to be staying with us for the foreseeable future."
"He's doing no such thing!" snarled Hot Rod. "I want that useless rust-bucket off of this planet!" The Autobots gasped.
"Hot Rod!" admonished Rodimus. "How can you talk like that about the bot who practically raised us?!"
"You seem to have forgotten how much he held us back!" countered Hot Rod. "Kup is nothing more than a relic that needs to retire now! The guy can't even keep my racing victories straight!"
"It sounds like his priorities are elsewhere," remarked Blackarachnia. "You know, somewhere more important than racing."
"What's more important than racing?!" argued Hot Rod.
"Stopping the Decepticon menace and changing the future leap readily to mind," answered Optimus.
"I'd say you need some debugging!" countered Hot Rod.
"Hot Rod, it sounds like you're just jealous," mused Jazz. "Why, having Kup here is like a breath of fresh air."
"I have to agree with Hot Rod," remarked Meteorfire. "There's just something that rubs my actuators the wrong way about Kup!"
"Meteorfire's right!" insisted Hot Rod. "Just why is he here?! I'll tell you why! Optimus, he's going to slow your war effort down with his ridiculous yarns, leaving us wide open to Decepticon attack!"
"Why, shame on you, Hot Rod!" snapped Rodimus. "Just because of that, I'm going to have you read his service record just to prove how wrong you are about that theory and you ARE going to read it!"
"Meanwhile, Kup is here at my behest!" continued Optimus. "As the commander of this base and this time-zone's Prime, I insist he stay!"
"…Fine!" growled Hot Rod. "Fine, you're the boss, but you'll regret it! I've always said he was too slow! When are you gonna believe me?! WHEN?!"
"Not in my lifetime, I can tell you that," remarked Optimus. Hot Rod growled.
"Come on!" he said to his friends as he led them out of the conference room.