Author's Note: I don't own Transformers or Star Wars. I probably own the character of Ultra
Rodimus, though. I'm just borrowing the rest. Flames not appreciated, so please refrain from
sending them. Don't ask me to explain the title; it just popped into my head.
Cold starlight shone down on the metal planet's silent surface, glinting off the ragged edges of torn metal plates and the ruins of once-grand buildings. The city lay in shattered ruins, destroyed by eons of warfare. The starlight revealed the horrible damage to the penetrating eyes of the lone watcher still out.
At the center of the ruined city was a walled compound, a base of operations. Atop the closed gates stood a robot, as still as a statue, his eyes silently surveying the damage. The only movement was that of the long cloak or cape he wore. The starlight glittered off blue striped grey armor that was scarred by combat and long hours spent in repairs. Every now and then, the cloak's restless twitching exposed a flash of red or white.
"Are you going to be up here all night?"
The other bot turned to face the speaker, finally breaking his stillness. "I wasn't planning on it."
"Will you come in? It's getting late."
"This mother hen routine doesn't suit you, Mags," the blue and grey bot responded with a chuckle.
"Someone has to take care of you if you won't take care of yourself. So I got that job, lover-mine."
Ultra Magnus, second-in-command of the Autobot army, grinned at his younger leader and mate. The young Prime smiled back and turned his gaze to the stars.
It seemed like only yesterday that the young hot-head named Hot Rod had taken the Matrix from Galvatron, deep inside Unicron's guts, and become the uncertain but skilled Rodimus Prime. It had been only a few weeks later that Magnus had figured out that the fluttering sensation he felt every time he was in Rodimus's presence was love. Three months into Rodimus's reign and two months into their relationship, Rodimus had been badly wounded by the combined efforts of Galvatron, Cyclonus, and the Sweeps. He'd been in a coma for days. Then Primus, inside the Matrix Rodimus carried, decided to do something to protect his chosen. That had been when he'd transformed Rodimus Prime into the larger, stronger, more heavily armed and armored Ultra Rodimus.
Ultra Rodimus was as different from Rodimus Prime as Magnus was from Optimus Prime. His looks and his mental outlook had changed. He was far more confident in his skills than Rodimus Prime had been. Instead of a broad but thin build, like Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime, he was slender and solid. He was one of the few multichangers of either faction, but the only forms he ever used were his truck and jet forms. Not even he knew what his other forms were. Another indicator of the changes was the long braid hanging down his back. According to First Aid, Ultra Rodimus's hair was partially organic, partially mechanical. His eyes, almond-shaped and emerald-green, with slitted pupils, also indicated that he was different.
"Something is about to happen," Ultra Rodimus said suddenly.
"Did the Matrix tell you that?"
Ultra Rodimus chuckled. "No. Instinct tells me. Something is going to happen, and soon. I'm not sure if it will be for better or for worse. We should prepare for company."
Magnus nodded slightly. "Now you come inside. You're exhausted. Get some rest before you burn yourself out."
Ultra Rodimus sighed softly, defeated. Turning he followed his mate back into the city, casting one last glance at the sky before entering the complex.
"Do you have any idea what will happen?" Magnus asked as they walked down the corridor to the quarters they shared.
"No." Ultra Rodimus shook his head. "Not a clue. I just know something is about to happen."
The two entered their quarters. The door automatically locked behind them.
"Come on, beloved. You're exhausted." Magnus led his younger mate to their bedroom. He tugged on Ultra Rodimus's long braid to get him moving.
No one had any idea why Ultra Rodimus had hair. It hung down past his knees, and sometimes seemed to move of its own accord. According to First Aid, it was a strange mixture of organic and mechanical, and had properties not even Perceptor could puzzle out. All Magnus knew was that it gave him a way to handle his mate when he was in one of his stubborn moods.
Ultra Rodimus obediently followed his mate into the bedroom. Magnus pulled on the cape Ultra Rodimus wore. Reaching up, Ultra Rodimus removed the hidden clasps holding it to his shoulder armor. He draped it over a chair and staggered tiredly toward the bed.
The cape had been presented as a gift on one of the many worlds Ultra Rodimus had visited since his transformation. He'd worn it for the duration of the treaty negotiations on that world. The other Autobots had insisted that he continue to wear it. After weeks of debate, he'd caved in and now wore it all the time.
"The occurrence that you're predicting will happen in its own time," Magnus told him. "You'll know when it does. Until then, all you can do is wait."
In another reality, the something that the young Autobot leader had predicted was already beginning.
Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master, and his Padawan apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, had traveled to a distant world on a diplomatic mission. The mission hadn't gone as planned. They'd been betrayed by their hosts, had managed to get off the planet, and were being pursued by a fleet of alien ships. Not even Qui-Gon could identify the ships.
Another direct hit made the ship pitch sharply. Qui-Gon paused when he heard the colorful swear words Obi-Wan was growling under his breath.
"Be calm, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon admonished.
"I will try, Master." Obi-Wan made a visible attempt to calm himself.
Another strike made the ship spin momentarily out of control. Both Jedi fought their consoles, trying to get the shuttle back under control. Obi-Wan spat another colorful curse. Qui-Gon refrained from scolding him, feeling like cursing himself.
"Hyperdrive core breach!" Obi-Wan yelled. "We have to jettison the core!"
Obi-Wan's hands flew across the console. With seconds to spare, he jettisoned the hyperdrive core.
Behind them, the core exploded.
The alien ships peeled off. The shockwave of the explosion tore the fabric of space itself apart.
A gash in the dimensional barrier opened in front of their shuttle. It writhed and twisted madly, never holding the same shape. The interior of the tunnel changed colors every second, flashing through the entire spectrum and beyond, mixing shades that no sane being would ever combine. Its writhing maw reached out to engulf the shuttle.
The shuttle lurched as it was sucked into the breach. Inside, the two Jedi could only cling to their consoles and stare in utter shock.
The tunnel writhed as much inside as the opening itself had. It twisted like an insane snake, looping and kinking and twisting itself in knots. Mad blurs of color flashed around the shuttle. The shuttle shuddered madly as it bounced off the walls of the tunnel. Then an ear-splitting sound filled the cockpit. Obi-Wan clamped his hands over his ears, trying to block out the sound, but it was as loud as it had been when it had begun. It wasn't any normal sound. Instead of hearing it with their ears, they were hearing it with their minds. It was as if the Force itself was screaming in agony.
The sound faded away slowly, and the tunnel gave one last thrash before spitting them out with the force of an exploding missile.
"Where are we?" Qui-Gon asked.
Obi-Wan's fingers danced across the console. "I don't know. I don't recognize this sector of space. It's not in the ship's computer." He turned to look at his master and suddenly froze. Qui-Gon, curious, followed his gaze.
On the screen, the stars pinwheeled as the ship spun like a top on its long axis. In the center was a steadily-growing dark blotch.
"What is that?"
"Long-range sensors are offline, and it's just out of range of the short-range sensors." Obi-Wan frowned. "But offhand, I'd say it looks like...a planet."
They were quickly close enough to use the short-range sensors. The readings confirmed Obi-Wan's guess. They were spinning out of control toward a strange, dark metal planet.
"Whatever it is, it isn't Coruscant," Obi-Wan commented as he struggled with the controls.
"Can you get us back under control?"
Before Obi-Wan could respond, the ship hit some kind of turbulence and pitched wildly, throwing Obi-Wan out of his chair and hurling him across the cockpit. He crawled back to his place, blood trickling from the side of his head. Qui-Gon had barely managed to cling to his station.
"All navigational controls are down," Obi-Wan reported. "Engines shot to pieces. We have no way of getting anything working again." He looked at his master. "We're in trouble."
Qui-Gon returned his attention to the planet. There were deep gashes visible where the light of the stars shone coldly off the torn and twisted edges. A huge, ancient gash tore nearly the entire length of the planet, from the north pole nearly to the south pole. The sprawling ruins of cities dotted the landscape. It looked as if a major war had raged across the planet, tearing it asunder. In one area in the north, the fiery blooms of exploding missiles and bombs flared up between the cris-crossed flashes of laser fire. There was still fighting going on.
The proximity sensor shrilled a warning. Something resembling an ancient fighter jet was swiftly approaching, its mounted weapons sizzling with power. It was about to unleash a blast that would tear through the defenseless shuttle like a hot knife through butter. Seconds before it fired, a yellow blast hit it, sending the jet swerving wildly off to one side. Its shot went wild. A larger jet swept into view, opening fire on the red and white jet. While the larger craft kept the smaller fighter occupied, the shuttle blew past, continuing its plunge toward the planet.
"We're going to crash!" Obi-Wan yelled.
The two Jedi held on as best the could. But before the shuttle hit the planet's surface, something caught them from behind. The sudden deceleration flung Obi-Wan into the wall, knocking him unconscious. Qui-Gon tried to hold on, but was thrown loose, and hit the wall near his Padawan. The last thing he saw before blacking out was a pair of blue optics.
Several hours later, Qui-Gon came around. Feeling groggy, he slowly sat up. He used the Force to give himself the strength to sit up.
He was in some kind of Medbay. Unlike any other medbay or hospital he'd ever been in, the ceilings were incredibly high, as if made to accommodate life-forms much taller than humans. There were panels of controls on the walls, forty feet up and marked in a strange language. The medical equipment was sized for humans and humanoids, but the complex itself was obviously made for something even larger.
Qui-Gon looked around and saw Obi-Wan nearby, still unconscious. The Jedi Master got to his feet and walked over to his Padawan. He placed a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, and the younger Jedi woke up.
"How do you feel?" Qui-Gon asked.
"Miserable, Master," Obi-Wan responded. He looked up to take in his surroundings, then went stiff, every drop of color draining from his face, eyes going so wide Qui-Gon thought they would pop out of their sockets. He turned to see what had shocked his apprentice and reacted nearly the same way Obi-Wan had.
The Force whispered in their ears as they stared at the creature watching them from the doorway.
The creature's hide was clearly metallic, glittering under the overhead lights. A red helmet framed a face that had a single optic shield, sky-blue in color, and a white faceplate where its mouth should be. Its body was blocky and oddly shaped. In color it was red and white, with a face-shaped red marking, like an insignia, standing out against the white that dominated the creature's coloration. Its blue optics looked them over curiously. Then it stepped into the room, its footsteps causing the floor to quiver slightly. Several meters away it stopped.
"You are awake," it noted in a soft, pleasant male voice. "How do you feel?"
Qui-Gon stuttered, trying to form a response. Obi-Wan's mouth worked, but no sound came out. He was too shocked to say a word.
The metal creature waited patiently. When it was obvious the two were too stunned to say anything, the robotic creature backed out. Qui-Gon touched the Force. The metal creature was distressed by the thought that it --no, he-- had frightened them.
"It can think for itself?!" Obi-Wan hissed after Qui-Gon let him in on that piece of information.
"He," Qui-Gon corrected. "He is male. And yes, he can think for himself."
"What is he?"
Both Jedi looked up. A human man in a white coat was walking toward them. Blue-grey eyes studied them from under an unruly mane of blond hair.
"I'm Doctor Jefferson," he told them, extending his hand. "Welcome to Cybertron."
Qui-Gon took the offered hand. "Is Cybertron the name of this planet?"
"Yes. This complex is the medical wing of Iacon City, the Autobot stronghold. The red and white Autobot you just met was First Aid. He's the chief medical officer."
"What are these 'Autobots', exactly?"
Dr. Jefferson pulled up a chair. "If you'll hang tight, I'll tell you what I know about Cybertron's history."
The two Jedi listened, fascinated. The doctor told them about the Quintesson factories, the slave rebellion, the Golden Age, and the various wars that had raged across the planet's surface. Obi-Wan asked about the Autobots themselves, which started a discussion on Transformer anatomy and personalities. Qui-Gon, not as interested in mechanics as his apprentice, merely listened. Then he noticed that the Force was singing softly, indicating that someone or something was approaching. He tuned into the Force and was almost overwhelmed by the sheer power of the presence he sensed.
"Someone is coming," he said suddenly.
"It's probably Ultra Rodimus," Dr. Jefferson told them. "He's the current Prime-- the Autobot leader. The others look to him for guidance and to protect them. He was chosen as Prime after his predecessor was killed. While people can resign from most jobs if they choose, the only way a Prime can give up his power is through death. Try not to faint when he comes in, would you? If you thought First Aid was big..."
The Force burst into song, causing the two to wince. Then the vibrations of footsteps made them look up.
An Autobot stepped into the room.
This Autobot was much larger than First Aid. His armor was silvery-grey, with jagged stripes down his back and limbs. The stripes alternated dark blue and vivid crimson, blurring his outline. Obi-Wan squinted slightly to focus on the tall bot's shape. His camouflage stripes made him slightly hard to see. Almond-shaped, intelligent emerald eyes fixed on them, slitted pupils narrowing slightly to bring them into sharp focus. His features were elegant and sculpted. He was quite handsome for a robot. A long silver-white braid hung down his back, reaching below his knees. Obi-Wan could've sworn he saw it moving on its own. He had the strong build of a warrior, and the aura of authority around him. From the frown-lines across his forehead, barely visible against his silver skin, he clashed with subordinates on a regular basis.
"Ultra Rodimus, these are the two humans Sky Lynx brought in," Dr. Jefferson announced. "The younger one is Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the older man is Qui-Gon Jinn."
"Interesting names," Ultra Rodimus commented. He had a deep, strong voice to match his large size. "I've never heard anything like them before."
"You probably won't hear anything like them again," Qui-Gon told him. "We're not from around here. We're not sure how we got here."
"What were your coordinates when you arrived?"
Obi-Wan gave him the approximate coordinates. Ultra Rodimus walked over to a wall-mounted comm panel and told someone named Perceptor to run a careful scan of the indicated coordinates and the space surrounding them. He waited patiently while Perceptor did so. Finally, a scientific-sounding voice spoke over the comm. Perceptor reported a small dimensional distortion at the indicated coordinates.
"A what?" Obi-Wan asked.
"A dimensional distortion. It means there's a hole in the dimensional barrier, which allowed you to pass from your reality to ours. You don't exist here. Do you remember how you got here?"
Obi-Wan frowned. "We were trying to escape from an alien battle fleet when our shuttle's hyperdrive core was damaged. We had to jettison it. When it exploded, a hole opened in front of us. We were dragged into it. It was as if we were being shoved down a wormhole."
"That's the breach itself." Ultra Rodimus frowned. "It's just outside the solar system, in an area that's difficult to monitor. It's just outside our borders. We'll do what we can to secure it while Perceptor searches for a way to get you home."
"Are we free to leave this room?" Qui-Gon asked.
"You can leave Medbay and move around the complex, but don't leave the city. There are some restricted areas. You will be notified which areas are off-limits."
The two were shown to guest quarters in the section of the living wing set aside for humans and humanoids. Both were surprised by the number of humans they saw working with the Autobots.
"Why aren't we allowed to leave the city?" Obi-Wan asked one man.
"You're new to this planet. Cybertron isn't like Earth. The entire planet is made of metal. It has a thin atmosphere, and the local wildlife is dangerous. In some places the atmosphere is poisonous. New arrivals have to wear breathers until they get used to the thin air. No one goes out without an escort. It's too dangerous. If it isn't the mech animals, it's the Decepticons, the Autobots' mortal enemies."
"You're planning on going outside, aren't you, Master," Obi-Wan accused.
"I must know more about this world."
"You heard what they said. It's too dangerous."
That night, against all warnings, Qui-Gon snuck out of the city. Obi-Wan sighed to himself, rolling his eyes and hoping his master wouldn't get into too much trouble.
Once outside, Qui-Gon saw what the other human had meant about the air. It was quite thin, and smelled of burned metal, various chemicals, and something he couldn't identify. He took a breather from his kit, took a breath, and put it away. Bit by bit, it became easier to breathe. Glancing back at the city's high walls, Qui-Gon crept away, into the barren metal plains that stretched out in all directions. He used the twisted metal of debris to conceal himself from the Autobots he passed.
Obi-Wan wandered into Perceptor's lab. The red scientist was hard at work, bent over a console. First Aid was there as well. The medic noticed Obi-Wan and walked over to him.
"Are you feeling better?" First Aid asked.
"I am, thank you."
Perceptor looked up, curious. Spotting the human, the scientist walked over to peer down at him.
"Perceptor, this is Obi-Wan, one of the humans who came through the dimensional breach. Obi-Wan, this is Perceptor. He's our best scientist, if we can understand what he's saying. He specializes in talking gibberish."
"And the other human?" Perceptor asked.
"Qui-Gon is my master. He's training me."
"Where is he?"
"Exploring," Obi-Wan answered vaguely. Then he changed the subject. "I noticed that Ultra Rodimus carries an object of great power in his chest. What is it?"
"He carries the Matrix of Leadership, an artifact that is carried by whoever is chosen to become Prime. Legend has it that the essence of our god, Primus, is contained inside it. When a Transformer dies, their spark, what you call a soul, goes to the Matrix. It stores the knowledge and wisdom of all the Primes, and is our vision of Paradise. Millions of souls and several Primes are contained within the crystal itself. Despite our long history, there have been fewer Primes than most people think there should have been. We are very long-lived. Ultra Rodimus's predecessor, Optimus Prime, was our leader for nine million years. We're hoping Ultra Rodimus's reign lasts that long or longer."
"So this Matrix carries souls?"
"The souls of the dead are drawn into it."
The Force sang, telling Obi-Wan that Ultra Rodimus was approaching. A moment later, the tall Autobot leader walked into the room.
"Prime," First Aid greeted, calling Ultra Rodimus by his title.
"Dare I ask what is going on in here?" Ultra Rodimus asked.
"Obi-Wan is curious about the Matrix. He can sense it."
Ultra Rodimus touched his grey chestplate. One of the two panels opened a crack, and a blue-green light shone through it. The light pulsed softly, catching and holding Obi-Wan's gaze. Ultra Rodimus pulled his chestplate open.
Inside his chest cavity was a crystal orb held in a shell of golden metal with handgrips on the sides. The crystal was glowing from within, the light sparkling off of its multiple facets, pulsing in time to the beating of Ultra Rodimus's heart. Obi-Wan stared into the light, and could sense movement within the crystal. As he stared deep into the orb, he realized he could see some of the souls held within. One was an elderly bot, watching him with wise eyes. Behind him stood a tall black and golden bot with the same aura Ultra Rodimus possessed. That must be one of the Primes. Next to the old bot was a slightly younger one, red and blue in color, with a battle mask of some kind covering his mouth.
Ultra Rodimus closed his chestplate, hiding the Matrix from sight. Obi-Wan watched until the last glimmer of light was gone.
"An object of such beauty I have never seen before," Obi-Wan breathed.
The Prime chuckled. "And never will see again."
"I sensed... a great, powerful presence inside it," the young Padawan learner said slowly. "It eclipsed all of the souls with its sheer majesty. What was it?"
"That was Primus you were sensing. Primus is our god, our creator. When we die our souls return to him, to spend eternity at his side."
Obi-Wan shook himself to throw off the last remnants of the Matrix's spell. He noticed Ultra Rodimus scanning the room.
"Where is Qui-Gon? I haven't seen him."
Ultra Rodimus fixed a piercing gaze on Obi-Wan, who shuddered. "He went outside, didn't he."
"He did," Obi-Wan told him reluctantly. "When he wants to do something, nothing can stop him from doing it. He is a rebel."
"So I see." Ultra Rodimus swore in his own language. He stormed to the comm unit and told a group of Autobots to go find Qui-Gon.
Warning sirens began to scream.
"What is going on?!" Obi-Wan demanded.
"Decepticons! We're under attack!"
Outside, Qui-Gon paused as he heard jet engines. He looked around, using the Force to scan for the source of that sound. A wave of pure malice swept over him as a swarm of jets and robots swept in from open space.
The leader was a purple robot with a massive cannon on his arm. He was laughing insanely. His thoughts were chaotic, full of hatred and the desire to kill. Qui-Gon felt like he had touched pure evil.
"Attack!" the purple robot yelled.
The jets descended on Iacon.
Laser blasts screamed through the thin air. Missiles shrieked as they flew toward their targets, and the ground shook as they exploded. Autobots swarmed out of the city to engage the attackers. Purple and yellow laser beams criss-crossed the sky. Smoke billowed over the ground. All hell was breaking loose.
The purple robot fired his arm cannon, screaming in his own language. While he couldn't understand the words, Qui-Gon could work out the main idea. The purple robot was insane.
Something growled behind him. Qui-Gon turned.
Behind him was a robotic animal, a panther. The black and grey animal bore a purple marking on its shoulders, and twin missile launchers on its hips. Its red eyes blazed. Baring its teeth, it crept closer. Qui-Gon tried to use the Force to discourage it, but the cat was commanded by a powerful telepath, and he had no influence over it. The cat prepared to pounce...
It had just left the ground when a huge hand closed on it and lifted it off the ground. The cat squalled in fear as it was lifted high into the air and thrown for meters. Qui-Gon stared after it, then looked up into the emerald eyes of Ultra Rodimus.
"You're damn lucky your apprentice spilled the beans," Ultra Rodimus growled. "Ravage is one of Soundwave's cassettes, and would've torn you apart."
"He transforms into a tape. Ravage is telepathically linked to his creator, the Decepticon telepath Soundwave. He and his brothers are very dangerous."
A group of Decepticons closed in on them. Ultra Rodimus pulled out his rifle and began firing at them, taking down half a dozen. Laser blasts bounced off his armor. Then a plasma blast hit him. He staggered back, fluids pouring from his shattered armor. The purple Decepticon appeared out of the smoke. He fired again, cackling. The shot tore a chunk on armor from Ultra Rodimus's thigh, taking a good portion of his systems with it. His leg collapsed, unable to support him any longer. He fell heavily. A group of Decepticons closed in for the kill.
Massed fire from the city made them scatter. The city's wall-mounted guns had gone live, and were shooting holes in the Decepticon battle lines. Flying Autobots arrived to join the attack. Some of the ground troops were moving in their direction.
The Decepticons turned tail and fled.
Autobots converged on their wounded Prime. Ultra Rodimus's leg was twisted at an unnatural angle. Pain was etched onto his face.
"What happened?" Ultra Magnus, Ultra Rodimus's second in command, asked, lifting his commander's torso off the ground.
"Galvatron reconfigured his plasma cannon. The shots went through my armor like tissue paper."
"We'll reinforce your armor and upgrade your plasma shielding," First Aid told him as he ran a sensor over the injuries. Then he nodded to several other Autobots. "Get him onto the stretcher."
Before they could lift Ultra Rodimus onto the stretcher (he was too big to fit in First Aid's ambulance form), Ultra Rodimus's hand shot out. Qui-Gon started as metal fingers closed around him, and he was lifted off the ground. He received dirty looks from the other Autobots as the carried Ultra Rodimus back to the city. The Prime didn't relax his grip in the slightest, leaving Qui-Gon feeling slightly squashed.
It took hours for First Aid to repair Ultra Rodimus's deep, painful wounds. Once he was released from Medbay, he summoned Qui-Gon to his office.
"What in hell were you thinking?! I warned you not to leave the city!"
Qui-Gon flinched. Ultra Rodimus was roaring mad. The tall Autobot paced restlessly.
"You have no idea what this planet is like! This is my homeworld; you should listen to me! You have no idea what kind of danger you were getting yourself into! If the Decepticons hadn't attacked, you would've run right into a pack of cyber-wolves, turbo-foxes, or turbo-rats!"
The Jedi Master used the Force to test Ultra Rodimus's emotional state. Ultra Rodimus was furious. But under the fury was raw fear and worry, all aimed at Qui-Gon. The young Prime felt personally responsible for the welfare of every human and humanoid on Cybertron.
"I am sorry. I did not mean to worry you."
Ultra Rodimus slammed his hands down on the desk. "It's not only the Decepticons and animals you have to worry about. The planet's crust is riddled with tunnels. There are weak spots in the surface that can give way without warning. There are hidden booby traps everywhere. This world is dangerous. In the future you should heed my warnings."
Qui-Gon nodded meekly. Ultra Rodimus lifted him to the floor.
"Next time, if you want to know more about Cybertron, you can look it up in the computer system. The files are available to everyone."
The Jedi Master nodded to him, then walked out.
Obi-Wan walked into Iacon's library and found his master at one of the consoles, eyes tracking across the screen. "How did it go?"
"He enlightened me to some of the other dangers hidden on this world. What did Perceptor say?"
"He says he's close to finding a way to get us home. Our shuttle in under repair. They don't have anything like our hyperdrive, but they do have what they call an FTL drive system. It's even faster and more efficient that a hyperdrive."
"The Temple mechanics will love that. They'll be all over the shuttle."
Obi-Wan chuckled. "That they will. I'm going to go hover around Perceptor and see what I can learn from him." He turned and left. Qui-Gon returned to his reading.
Three days passed. Finally, Perceptor found a way to get them home.
"It will be a very turbulent ride," the scientist cautioned. "Your shuttle has been outfitted with stabilizers to reduce the turbulence as much as possible."
"Repairs on the shuttle are complete," Grapple reported. The architect didn't look happy about being told to fix a shuttle instead of designing new structures.
"How soon will it be ready for launch?" Ultra Rodimus asked.
"It is ready."
The two Jedi boarded. As they lifted off the planet's surface, Skyfire and Sky Lynx escorted them to the site of the dimensional breach. The two Autobots flew in loops nearby as the shuttle passed through.
As predicted, the ride was rough. This time the two Jedi were strapped into their seats. After a few minutes, they reemerged into their own reality. Behind them, the breach collapsed under a direct hit from a plasma bomb. It closed.
The shuttle turned toward Coruscant. In a flash of light, it was gone.
Ultra Rodimus stood just outside Iacon's gates, watching the plasma cloud spreading outward from the point of detonation. It created a brilliant display of light and color.
"So they're gone." Magnus joined him.
"Yes, they are."
"I hope they find their way home safely."
Magnus looked at him. "How do you know?"
Ultra Rodimus smiled serenely. "Instinct."
His second in command laughed. "Come on."
The two turned to reenter the city. Before he stepped inside, Ultra Rodimus looked back at the sky, silently wishing the two brave humans luck. Then he followed Magnus into the city.
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan landed neatly on the landing pad. Several Jedi mechanics swarmed the shuttle. The members of the Jedi Council approached.
"Where have you been?" Mace Windu asked, narrowing his eyes.
Qui-Gon grinned at him. "It's a long story."
"Plenty of time to tell it, there is," Yoda told him.
In the Council chamber, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan sat on the floor and told the Council all about their journey through the dimensional breach to a world ruled by Transformers, sentient, free-willed robots of great size and age. Obi-Wan told them of his encounter with the Matrix of Leadership, and how he had sensed the overwhelming presence of the Transformer god in the crystal. Qui-Gon told them of his trip outside of the city's walls, and how Ultra Rodimus had saved him from certain death. He also related what he'd read in Iacon's library.
Mace Windu shook his head. "Your tale is almost too fantastic to be true. Yet it holds the ring of truth. Your shuttle does have a drive system far more advanced than anything we've ever seen. Therefore your story must be true."
"It is true. I felt Ultra Rodimus's presence in the Force. It was so powerful it threatened to overwhelm me." Qui-Gon tilted his head.
"The truth you speak," Yoda confirmed. "Go into the history files this shall. A mighty friend have you made."
"We will probably never see him again."
"Likely, it is. See him again you will not. But in your memory he will remain. Forget him you will not. Forget you he will not. A true friend he was."
"He was worried about my safety."
"A true leader was he. Wise and strong." Yoda waved a small hand. "Go now you will. Rest, eat, clean off."
Obi-Wan sighed to himself as he rose to his feet. He followed Qui-Gon out.
"Is it true that we'll never see Ultra Rodimus again?"
"Most likely. The breach was sealed. Stop worrying, Obi-Wan. He'll be fine. Now let's go get something to eat."
Obi-Wan followed his master through the corridors. As he walked, he thought about everything that had happened on Cybertron. Glancing out at the sky, he said a silent farewell to the strong Autobot leader. Then he turned and walked inside.