Chess game was found in the 12th World Correspondence Chess ch, 1984; Maeder,K - Oeim,T

Song by Murray's Head.


PERCEPTOR:

(1:54 of instrumental)

From The New York Times, sometime in the 90's:

Hunter Released in Russia

AP – MOSCOW, Russia. Millionaire game hunter Lord Alfred Farnsworth Chumley was released today on the legal technicality that he was technically never arrested by Russian police, as presented in his appeal. Chumley, best known for his infamous hobby of hunting various army vehicles, is awaiting extradition after his preliminary trial in former Soviet Russia regarding the theft of a Red Army jet in 1985.

"He cannot detail the minutiae of his release," his lawyer explained. "Lord Chumley would like to extend his gratitude to the British Embassy for their work to preserve his civil rights."

Chumley is forbidden to leave Russia at the present time.

From the Detroit Free Press, one week later:

Hunter Escapes

AP- Big game hunter Lord Allen Chumley has been declared missing since his release from a Russian prison. Chumley, best known for his attempt to catch Autobot leader Optimus Prime in 1986, is suspected of violating his release conditions. Anyone with knowledge of Lord Chumley's whereabouts should notify the FBI.

From Weekly World News, same week:

Bill Gates and Lord Chumley partners?

Bill Gates, millionaire computer geek, and Alfred Chumley, the dude who tried to bag Autobot Optimus Prime and got his butt handed to him on a plate in 1985, have teamed up, WWN sources say.

We can't say why, but the pair were spotted leaving the British Embassy in Washington D.C. with minimal fuss. When followed by our brash reporter Tommy Lee he was rebuffed with reasonable rationale.

"No comment," Mr. Gates replied to Mr. Lee's question of how long he had known the Lord of Lions. We smell an interesting partnership. Perhaps Bill's impending nuptials are a hoax?

From the Wall Street Journal:

Stocks for Microsoft Spike after Report of New Program.

Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates has released information about the development of his newest program, CHESS (Computer Hosted Entertainment Software System), which will be available before the release of the next Windows installment. This report sent stocks up another 1.34 points. CHESS, according to Mr. Gates, is every game ever made, from Pong to Crash Bandicoot, with options to connect the user with a virtual reality experience, as well as an option that allows the user to invent new games. Another version coming out next year, CHESS.01, can be added to help the user cheat at the games he will be using on CHESS. All games should be expected to be released before Christmas.

Optimus Prime lowered the datapad and looked at Perceptor in all seriousness. "THIS is why Mr. Gates has called us to contact Code Red? Perceptor, I cannot take any of this seriously. Mr. Gates has been informed that Code Red is on Cybertron, building the space bridge, and is not in a position to play games."

"If he is willing to aid Lord Chumley's escape from the authorities, there is cause for concern, Optimus Prime." Perceptor leaned forward dramatically. "Recall that Lord Chumley sees no difficulty in purloining our fellow Autobots to hold for a higher ransom. What if the two of them are planning something devious?" Prime looked doubtful. Perceptor tried another approach. "Bill Gates is jealous of any kind of competition. He has been televised proclaiming the prognostication that he will eradicate us the moment he learns of our configurations." Still nothing. Maybe Perceptor shouldn't have used the word 'prognostication.' Whenever any Autobot wanted Optimus Prime to take them seriously, they would mention the real enemy. "What if the Decepticons wish to help them?"

Optimus rose from his seat, signaling the end of the meeting. "I want a fuller report on this before I consider any action. Until then, contact Code Red."

Perceptor nodded, relieved. Optimus fell for the Decepticon threat every time.

CODE RED:

Mirage tapped on the wall, interrupting Code Red's mental preparation. He leaned through the open doorway, smiling lightly. "Are you ready?" he asked.

"I...guess so." Code Red stood up from his recharge plate. He walked out with the spy. "Have you done this before?"

"Once," the blue mech replied. Their mission was simple: infiltrate the Decepticon base, use Code Red's skills as a hacker (he preferred 'mechanical intermediary') to upload the space bridge plans for their own use. Getting in was said to be the easy part. The mech wasn't so sure. Mirage tried to comfort him. "It's not as hard as it sounds. Lyra did a lot of solo missions first, to get a layout of the base."

Code Red nodded. Mirage's sister was not as limited in her ability to be invisible. The co-engineer of the space bridge had a lot of different talents that quietly emerged and disappeared before anyone noticed. Her personality left much to be desired, though. While everyone liked Mirage, the same could not be said for Lyra. Code Red regarded her with a barely reciprocated greeting. Lyra nodded curtly, producing a map from 'Teela,' the modified computer Code Red was slowly building from old parts of Teletraan-1 and anything else laying around. The feminine name was to honor the female Autobot base they lived in while they built the space bridge.

"The Decepticon stronghold is guarded from within, and they have orders to shoot anyone on sight," she began without preamble. "I have found a tower that is not as strict in following Decepticon guidelines. Our easiest access will be from Station 4. I will be keeping them distracted while you and Mirage slip past. You will take the eastern hallway..." Her voice trailed off when she saw Skyfire in the doorway. "Come in," she invited in a much warmer voice than what was used on the other mech.

"Excuse me," he softly intoned. Skyfire and Lyra were bonded co-engineers of the space bridge but kept respectful addresses. Lyra smiled at HIM.

"Proceed."

"We have received an emergency dispatch from Optimus Prime." The giant white mech held up a CD.

Code Red was stymied. "Where did THAT come from?" Teela was supposed to pick up all transmitted signals. She'd picked up the first message from Perceptor a few days ago.

"Blaster." The large boom box was there to help, returning when Teela's antennae improved. Code Red was not pleased. He considered it an insult that Teela, his project, was declared inadequate for their base and required Blaster's visit. Knowing the assessment came from the femme in front of him did not help, either. Skyfire put the disk into Teela. A few seconds later, Optimus Prime's face emerged.

"Thus message is for Code Red. As you are aware, the earth billionaire Bill Gates requested your presence here on earth to play him against his newest program, CHESS. In response to our refusals-"

"OUR refusal?" Optimus Prime had done the refusing. Code Red was nowhere near when the proposal was made. Not that he would have accepted. Bill Gates dealt with his competitors in an underhanded way; he was a cheat, therefore suspect.

"-who has now claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of thirteen Autobots. Because the United States Government is involved with a White House scandal of some kind, they cannot competently assist us."

"They never could," muttered the earth-hating Lyra. Skyfire turned to give her a measured look. She glanced away.

"We expect you, Skyfire, and Blaster to return to earth as soon as possible. We would send Cosmos but he has been apprehended as well. Depart as soon as you receive this." The Autobot leader disappeared.

Lyra turned to Skyfire as he walked away, Code Red following. Her comment was drowned out when Mirage's voice volunteered to find Blaster. She remained standing in the room alone, thought dying on her lips but obviously alive in her processor. Code Red could feel disappointment in her optics as he and Skyfire filed out. Her mate seemed to sense it too, for he threw her a conversational benediction.

"I will be back!" Skyfire called to her. He always said that.

PERCEPTOR:

"My data concludes that all of the Autobots have checked in, except for two."

"Who?" Optimus Prime was angrily pacing the room, Teletraan-1 silent in the background. Perceptor did not want to tell him.

"Two of the Aerialbots were lost. Slingshot and Silverbolt."

Optimus turned to Teletraan and pressed the commlink button. "Jazz!"

Perceptor wished there was a place to hide. "Jazz is gone, sir."

"Prowl!" Optimus was getting more agitated.

"Prowl is gone, too, Optimus."

Now Optimus looked angry. "Ultra Magnus!"

"Sir, he's-" The Autobot leader was leaning into the scientist until Perceptor was bending over backwards. "Ironhide is here."

"Would you mind getting him for me?" If Prime had been human, he would be gritting his teeth.

"Not at all." Perceptor slid away from his irate leader in time to intercept Teletraan's announcement that Skyfire was arriving.

Optimus raced outside to greet them, giving a nod to Omega Supreme standing sentry at the ark's entrance. Skyfire landed quickly and let Blaster and Code Red out before transforming. "Glad you could make it."

Code Red, face mask hiding his annoyance with their leader, waved back as he approached. "What updates do you have for us, Optimus?"

Blaster, who had rushed in to find out for himself all of the things he'd missed in his absence, radioed all of them to come in right away. The others raced over to the main room to witness Bill Gates' smiling face themselves.

"Greetings, Code Red." Optimus lunged for the feedback lever but Code Red beat him to it.

"What is your game, Gates?"

The nerd smiled. "My proposal is simple: meet me in Thailand for a friendly game of CHESS." He grinned smugly as Code Red looked around at those in the room for input.

"What the pit is CHESS?"

Gates lost it. "Blast you, Optimus Prime! I TOLD you to relay the message!"

"Was I supposed to do that? Sorry," the Autobot leader sarcastically snarled. He didn't do favors for hostage-takers.

"This is interminable! I demand you meet me at the Oriental Hotel at 1800 hours on the 31st!"

Code Red leaned forward, hand on the feedback lever. "Or else what?"

"Or my friend Lord Chumley will make quick work of you and your Autobot comrades. Or perhaps your friends the Decepticons would like to know how reduced your ranks are. I'm certain that would be interesting intelligence." Blaster whispered something in Code Red's audios. Code Red nodded. "What now, secrets?"

"Nothing secret. I accept your challenge. See you then." Code Red pushed the lever in time to hear Gates proclaim "victory is mine!"

Code Red turned to Blaster for his report. "The tracer found him in a spa in Austria; Reykjavik, Iceland; Manila, The Philippines; and Hastings, England. Looks like he gave us the slip. So now what?"

"Now," Optimus thundered as Spike and those Autobots remaining after Lord Chumley had cleaned the ark out ran in. "We're going to Bangkok! What?" He turned to hear the Lamborghini twins and Spike laugh.

"Nothing," Spike replied between chuckles.

"Transform and ROLL OUT!"

Bangkok, oriental setting

And the city don't know that the city is getting

The creme de la creme of the chess world in a

Show with everything but Yul Brynner

"Why am I here?" the microscope Perceptor moaned from Track's front seat.

"My guess would be that you're a lousy guard," the Corvette replied. "This should be your forte, the nerd that you are. You were the one who taught Code Red how to play CHESS."

"I resent that implication. I am a scientist, not a nerd."

"Same thing!" hollered Sunstreaker from farther back in the traffic jam.

"Guys! C'mon! We're in Bangkok, the hottest city in the world..." Spike's eyes roved the streets to take in the beautiful women. "There's fun waiting out here!"

Perceptor was confused. Spike was supposed to be with Carly. Wasn't he?

"What's the hold-up?" Tracks drawled behind their leader.

"A parade has traffic in a gridlock," Optimus explained from a few cars ahead.

"Let's go!" Spike was out of Sideswipe and hurrying toward the crowd.

"Spike, wait!" Optimus transformed and the Autobots followed.

Time flies - doesn't seem a minute

Since the Tirolean spa had the chess boys in it

All around them were floats. The noise was headache-inducing, with Spike in the middle of it. He had a woman under each arm and a couple more following, disappearing before they could catch him.

"Split up! We can't afford to have the group break apart!" Prime caught the lack of logic and corrected his statement. "Meet back here in five astro-minutes!"

CODE RED

All change - don't you know that when you

Play at this level there's no ordinary venue

It's Iceland... or the Philippines... or Hastings... or... or this place!

It had taken less than a minute.

Code Red had been carefully stepping around the rats Optimus called 'humans' when a jolt of something nasty caused the black Trans Am's CPU to slow to a crawl. Code Red barely lifted his legs to run away from the giant truck that pulled up expectantly. An energon rope lashed out around him, securing the prize.

"Help," he gasped softly, collapsing in the truck's bed.

"I say, Dinsmore, these Autobots get easier to catch every day," a voice sounding like Sky Lynx commented.

"The cessation of die-cast assembly, sir," his companion wheezed. "They don't make them like they used to."

Code Red said nothing: he was too busy isolating the virus Chumley's cohort had implanted in him. He had to go offline and defrag, too. When he was finally in a mood to communicate he found himself in a holding cell. Around him were other Autobots, all offline. A giant red, white and blue mech sat upright in a corner, optics dark.

"Ultra Magnus! Are you all right?" He shook him but there was no reply. "Great. Hope you don't mind." Code Red opened up his chestplate to reveal several plugs. One he fastened into his former commander. "I guess they gave you a different virus." His readouts suggested that a simple isolation would not suffice, that this one was more complicated than the one Code Red had fought. But why?

"Welcome!" came a booming echo as the man who captured him turned the corner. Code Red was not able to remove his plug as quickly as he hoped. "What are you up to?"

"I should ask you the same thing," the black and gray mech retorted.

"Come come, now! That's no way to begin our acquaintance!"

Code Red gave no reply. He was scanning the area, trying to get a readout of where Optimus Prime might be in this dungeon. Nowhere. He was safe.

"I am Lord Chumley. This is Dinsmore, my faithful butler. You are..."

Code Red glared. "What do you want, Chumley?"

The human presented a small black box in his hand. It had an antenna. "To the point, isn't he, Dinsmore?"

"He must be from the States, sir."

The hunter smiled at the joke. "I desire nothing more than for you to scan my personal computer for viruses."

Code Red nearly fell over into the energon bars that held him. "Are you SERIOUS!"

Chumley pressed a button on the object in his hand. Ultra Magnus and others screamed. Electricity shot thought them, causing Chumley's victims to jerk their limbs spastically, optics dark. Their cries hurt Code Red's audioreceptors.

"Stop!"

Chumley smirked. "Indeed." He pressed another button and the noise stopped. Now Code Red's fellow Autobots were walking towards him, optics dim. Soon they had the black and gray mech surrounded. "The chips implanted in them are working nicely, don't you think?" Ultra Magnus put a heavy restraining hand on Code Red as the energon bars lifted. "There now, be a good sport, chap, and follow me."

The computer was small. A personal devise the same size as any, it did not seem threatening. Just to be sure, Code Red turned on his emergency back-up processor in case of a trap. At Chumley's insistence (as well as Ultra Magnus' fist), Code Red picked up the provided plug and entered the computer. "So what seems to be the-" was all he was able to communicate before invisible hands grabbed him and dragged him further in.

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster

The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free

You'll find a god in every golden cloister

And if you're lucky then the god's a she

I can feel an angel sliding up to me

PERCEPTOR

"Code Red! Come in!" The parade continued around them with the endearment of a thousand alarm clocks going off at once. Optimus Prime couldn't hear himself process.

"It's no use, Optimus, he's gone." Sideswipe was trying to get a hold of Perceptor on the comlink and failing. Frustrated, he tilted his head back and bellowed. "PERCEPTOR! GET YOUR TAILPIPE OVER HERE!"

"There is no need to shout," the red mech replied behind the Lamborghini, transforming with Tracks at his heels.

"Prime, I think we need to regroup," Tracks melodiously suggested. "We've lost Spike."

"And Code Red," Optimus sighed.

"Optimus! There's something you need to see over here." Sunstreaker was scowling into his commlink.

"What is it, Sunstreaker?"

"Tune your arm computer to frequency 774."

Optimus' screen wavered for a moment, until he could focus on the red, silver and gray figure calling for him. "Optimus Prime! Come in Optimus Prime!" The screen shorted out and Starscream disappeared.

"What do you think THAT was about?"

"Prime, I believe he wished to communicate with you." Perceptor interjected.

"I am SO glad you're here," Prime tried to make that not sound insulting. Luckily it was overshadowed by Sideswipe the microscope 'Captain Obvious.' Optimus tried a similar channel, to no avail. "Autobots, transform and roll out!"

"To where?" demanded Tracks.

"No idea." Prime, in truck mode, weighed his options. "Follow me to the Oriental Hotel."

One town's very like another

When your head's down over your pieces, brother

It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity

To be looking at the board, not looking at the city

They sat outside of the giant hotel while Optimus tried to contact Code Red. Nothing! Perceptor had disappeared after thirty minutes, not bothering to tell anyone what he was up to. Prime looked ready to throw something, leading Tracks to run for a hiding place.

"Do you think we'll find Spike?" he asked while the Lamborghini brothers arm wrestled and bet who was more insane, Starscream for calling Optimus Prime or Optimus Prime lying about whom he was trying to contact.

"How much pride would he have to swallow to call Optimus?"

"That's total slag," grunted Sunstreaker. "It's a trap. Prime would have to have a blown fuse to fall for it."

Tracks drifted away from the two to listen to Optimus Prime on the radio. "Code Red? Starscream? Perceptor? Omega Supreme?" He tuned the radio with his finger, obviously annoyed with the device. Giving up, he chuckled while doing a horrible southern imitation. "Shepherd to lost sheep, ya gotcher ears on?"

"Optimus Prime?" squawked his radio. Starscream's image appeared on his arm computer. From over Prime's shoulder Tracks could see the nasty little Seeker and grinned to himself.

"Hello little bot, is your mommy or daddy at home?"

The Decepticon scowled. "This existence on earth has warped your processor, Prime."

"I've been warped by lesser beings." Silence. "Anyway, you called?"

"I want to know the terms of your hostage release."

"I want to know why you're calling ME warped. What are you talking about?"

"Megatron and a few others are missing. There have been reports claiming that Skywarp and Thundercracker were last seen being loaded onto a truck. What do you want for the Seekers? You may keep Megatron."

Optimus laughed out loud. "Tempting. Unfortunately, Megatron doesn't match my furniture."

"You-you don't have him?" All of the Seeker's supercilious bravado had melted.

"If I did, would I only incarcerate them? I may be noble, but I'm not stupid." Tracks shook his head. Who knew Starscream was so naive?

"Where are you?"

"Right now? Standing in front of Tracks...and-Spike! Spike!" Optimus Prime ran over to the human that Perceptor had finally found while Starscream howled 'Don't you dare hang up on me!' "Spike! What happened to you?"

The human was a mess. Tracks used his experience with Raul to pinpoint Spike's problem. "He's DRUNK!"

"Ah din have tha much." He sounded like Ironhide in a bad mood.

"Only in Bangkok," muttered Prime, flinching as Starscream continued his shrieking. He turned his radio volume down.

Retching noises made the Autobot leader change the volume on his radio again. "Whaddya mean? Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town..."

"Spike!" Sideswipe saw him and ran over, Sunstreaker laughing. "What HAPPENED to you?"

"Tea, girls, warm, and sweet, sweet...Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite."

"You've been inside? Did you see Bill Gates?"

Spike seemed to be sobering up as the alcohol left his digestive system. He shook his head, coughing. "No. I tried to go up to the penthouse with one of the maids but they wouldn't let me."

"Prime!" screamed the mech on his computer. "HELP!"

"Starscream?" Optimus tuned his radio to receive static. "Starscream, come in!" He lowered his forearm. "I think Chumley has a submarine."

"Great," huffed Tracks. "What are they up to now?"

CODE RED

There was nothingness all around him. Static roared for a few moments until Code Red felt his backup processor kick in and give him a status report. Gates had invaded his CPU, thanks to the virus Chumley had put into him earlier knocking down his firewall and giving a false signal to confuse him. Although he was inside the processor, he could not extract anything. Puny human code meant nothing to Code Red. If only he could reactivate his mainframe...but not from here. He needed to unplug first, and his physical body was not responding to his commands.

A lone human head floated in front of him. "Greetings, Code Red."

Code Red's battle-mask covered face remained neutral. "What took you so long? Bad command/file name?"

"Enjoy your merriment while you are able, Autobot. Soon you will be calling me Master."

"Autobots call NOBODY that. Not even power-hungry technical geeks."

Gates laughed. "Pot and kettle, ROBOT. Enjoy your time with CHESS. You can check out any time, but you can never leave." Before he could retort, Code Red saw the entire room change, swirling in a million colors and slowing down to a stop on a giant field of contrasting squares. Bill Gates' laugh was everywhere as Code Red felt his virtual entity's feet fasten to a large circular platform. "A pity I can't completely control your mind, like your comrades." As he spoke several others emerged, all fastened to the same circles. "At least you're here."

"Where's HERE?"

"My operations require a mainframe, or, for your ignorance in any lexicon not related to shooting something, a 'home base.' This program is a game in CHESS. I use it to manipulate everything else." A few numbers flashed before him, all in binary code. The Trans Am had to keep himself from laughing. Gates was pretty brave to go after giant robots with what he had, even if it was like disappearing into a Detroit alley with a paintball gun. He decided to ask Bill Gates why.

"You are a threat to my world domination. Your complex processors could be copycatted by anyone who wishes to challenge my monopoly. Imagine! Affordable, USEFUL computers, ones that didn't crash at crucial moments. Where would all of my upgrade/repair/tech-support profits go? I want the competition destroyed and all Autobots to be considered useless. The only way to do that is to 'upgrade' you Autobots to Windows 3.0. You, the only Autobot hacking expert, are the perfect Guinea Pig." Gates did not admit that so far his attempts to get into the mech were not successful.

His captive gasped. "You monster!" Despite the histrionics he was trying not to crack up. Was this fleshling kidding?

Gates grinned evilly. "I will change the Decepticons as well. This is where Chumley came in. His hunting skills are perfect, proof of that being all of you in our custody. The capture of Optimus Prime is inevitable."

"Inevitable? The only inevitability is how much this will hurt when we kick your tailpipe to that ugly satellite up in your sky."

"Do you really believe that? You are more stupid than I initially assumed. If I am destined for failure, why have you not escaped my prison?"

He shrugged. "I don't know." He didn't. Code Red's attempts to either hack into Gate's computer or regain his body were inadequate. He needed a new strategy; perhaps an outsider could assist him. Gates laughed out loud as the ones and zeros flew around him.

Code Red shook his head and began to plan an adequate distraction to buy him time.

PERCEPTOR

A few beautiful women approached the waiting Autobots as Spike sipped his coffee at a local dive.

"Looking for a good time?" one asked in perfect British English. Sunstreaker impatiently waved them away.

"Get Thai'd! You're talking to a tourist whose every move's among the purest."

It was the humans' turn to snort. "I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine," she sneered. "We came from Mr. Gates."

"What is it?" Optimus Prime looked up from his report from Teletraan.

"Now that we have your attention..." she licked her lips. "We are here to invite you to his warehouse on the harbor. He has Code Red prisoner and wants to negotiate."

"Negotiate..." Optimus clenched his fist wrathfully. Spike came out of the eating establishment in a hurry.

"We need to talk this over first," he explained to the women. "Excuse us." The women shrugged and walked off. Spike turned to the few remaining Autobots. "We HAVE to find a way to get them back!" he whispered.

"Well, DUH!" snarled Sideswipe. "You and Perceptor need to stop talking."

"Enough!" Optimus turned to Spike and company. "I need to know this from all of you: if I am forced to negotiate alone, would you notify Omega Supreme?" They nodded reluctantly, knowing that Prime would not come out functional if he went unaccompanied. "All right then. Transform and roll out. Ladies?" The women climbed into Prime's cab, slyly inviting Spike to join them. Perceptor shoved the boy into Track's driver's side and leapt into shotgun.

"None of that, young man!"

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble

Not much between despair and ecstasy

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble

Can't be too careful with your company

I can feel the devil walking next to me

"This is the place." The women slid off of Optimus' seats with a squeak that made him mentally note to have Spike clean those things later. "We'll tell him you're here." Optimus transformed and watched his troops uneasily do the same. A few moments later one of the ladies emerged, declaring that Bill wanted to speak to Optimus Prime alone.

"As I expected." The Autobot leader made a move to go inside but was stopped, by of all mechs, Perceptor.

"Prime, you cannot enter. It is a trap."

The Lambo twins made a move to either protect Optimus or knock Perceptor upside the head-Spike was not sure-but the Autobot leader signaled them to stop in their approach. "I have to take that chance, Perceptor, to rescue the Autobots."

Here Tracks intervened. "Prime, that might be true if we were dealing with your average mad scientist, but this Gates character is working with CHUMLEY. You know, the man who wants your HEAD? Going in there is certain death!"

"Which is why I am going in instead," Perceptor added, walking into the warehouse and ignoring outside protests.

(0:20 instrumental)

There was nothing there. Nothing, except for light coming from the higher windows and dust eddies swirling. Perceptor cautiously slunk around the middle of the floor in anticipation of a trap enclosing on him. When nothing happened, a large screen lit up nearby with a blast of cathode rays that forced him to adjust his vision.

"Blast you vile Autobot! You are not Optimus Prime!" Off camera, a female voice asked him if he wanted ice cream. "Yes, but no sprinkles. For every sprinkle I find, I shall KILL YOU!" He faced the camera again. "Who the hell are you?"

"I am Perceptor. A scientist, like yourself. I am here to negotiate the release of the Autobots." He opened his mouth to continue and was rudely interrupted.

"I am not a scientist! I wanted Optimus Prime, not you!"

"I am sorry, but Optimus Prime is detained." Bill Gates' face flickered, then changed to Code Red, then back to the agitated nerd.

"What is this? That hacker! How can he get into my Windows program?"

"A toaster could hack into your program," retorted Code Red, emerging again. "Perceptor, I don't have a lot of time, I need a favor: challenge Bill to that game you taught me. Not the program, the game itself, the one that has squares and weird pieces."

"Chess?"

"That's what it's called! I'll be back, as soon as I reroute the encryptions. Slag, I'm outta here!" The Autobot disappeared, being replaced by an agitated Gates, commenting that Chumley 'runs like a Welshman.'

"Where is Optimus Prime?" Gates demanded.

"Taking a break. You must deal with me, Gates…and I..." This was absurd! And a huge leap of faith for someone who relied on facts and numbers. "Challenge you to a...chess match. Not the program, the-ah-game, with a king and queen and the squares-"

"I KNOW what chess it, you fool! Plug that contraption into your CPU and let's get going, then!" Bill Gates' voice was arguing with his communicator, trying to get a hold of Chumley, while stating that 'One more Autobot would not be strenuous, it's one more closer to Prime.' Now Perceptor was nervous.

"Code Red, I hope you are correct," he said, plugging himself into the computer and bracing for impact.

CODE RED

Siam's gonna be the witness

To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness

This grips me more than would a

Muddy old river or reclining Buddha

Thank God I'm only watching the game, controlling it

Now that he'd found a way in, Code Red furiously worked on rewriting the mainframe code as Perceptor's database joined them. Although he himself was stuck with a virus that incapacitated his body and a deviously wandering hunter waited for an excuse to pounce on his friends, Code Red assumed Chumley knew nothing about hacking and would not realize what was going on until it was too late. Besides, Code Red could do a lot more damage where he was instead of being outside of the action.

The first action Code Red took was to override the virus implant Gates wanted to put into Perceptor. Next, since he was already here, he ran the CHESS program to start a chess game. The squares lit up around Perceptor's emerged avatar. Seeing a chair, Perceptor sat. Across the board glowered Gates.

"I don't know how he's doing it, but the minute he stops preventing me from contacting Chumley, you're all DEAD." Gates crossed and uncrossed his legs, sulking. At least he was in control of the computer and the game around him. Once this red robot lost, Gates could invade his processor and use him to get to Prime.

Code Red allowed the pieces to emerge, himself being one of them. Gates called white.

"Now that's just RUDE!" protested the scientist.

The human capitulated, reluctantly, sneering that he should be nice, if only for now. He'd win this game and dig up where that coward Code Red was hiding in no time.

PERCEPTOR

I don't see you guys rating

The kind of mate I'm contemplating

I'd let you watch, I would invite you

But the queens we use would not excite you

This game of chess was fascinating. The strategy, the intelligence, its likeness to war, even its metaphor for the struggle of good versus evil-all were engrossing facets. Amazed, Perceptor watched the black and white pieces emerge. He wondered about Code Red's connotation to archetype. For the white (Autobot) pieces, the detainees surrounding the imprisoned Trans Am were being used. The Rooks were, to Perceptor's relief, Code Red and Hot Rod. No need to reveal which Rook nodded to him, barely noticeable. The Knights, Silverbolt and Slingshot, framed the Bishops Prowl and Jazz, all looking stately behind the pawns of Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Brawn, Gears, Windcharger, Beachcomber, Cosmos, and Seaspray. The King was Ultra Magnus, the Queen Arcee.

The Black side, the Decepticons, floored Perceptor. Chumley had possessed BOTH factions? What did he hope to accomplish doing this? The pawns were Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, Buzzsaw, Laserbeak, and all three of Reflector. The Rooks were Longhaul and Mixmaster; Thundercracker and Skywarp sneered as the Knights, and Soundwave and Shockwave (this HAD to be made up) were glowering Bishops.

"When did Chumley get Starscream?" demanded Gates. "Hey computer, why are you making him the King, when we have Megatron?"

Code Red chuckled to himself. Starscream's position switched to Queen and Megatron emerged. Perceptor had a good laugh over it, too, until Gates threw him an angry look. "White goes first. Make your move."

So you better go back to your bars, your temples, your massage parlors...

Optimus Prime paced outside, watching Spike peek inside. "He's hooked up to some kind of computer, and it's playing a game," he reported. "Maybe Code Red is helping him."

Optimus continued pacing. "I should have gone instead," he whispered guiltily.

"Prime, you can't blame yourself. Perceptor took a calculated risk," Tracks reminded him. He was leaning against the warehouse, watching the twins try to arm wrestle each other, this time for fun. "He would not have done it without a great deal of logic backing him up. He'll come out of there soon, probably with the location of the other Autobots."

Optimus stopped pacing and looked up at the sky, as though something would come to him. A spark glinted in the late afternoon sun. "Is that who I think it is?"

Tracks looked up with a more experienced eye. "The velocity and size is familiar, unless Thailand has a spaceship landing soon."

The Lambo Twins quickly moved out of Omega Supreme's way as he swooped down. "What are you doing here?" asked Sunstreaker as humans scattered to leave the guardian alone.

"Ark protection unnecessary. Captives' coordinates dispatched. Missing Autobots' recovery, anticipated." The giant was a mech of few words, but those he used were sweet to Optimus' audios.

"Who told you?" the leader asked.

"Code Red." He was still in rocket form, as though expecting Optimus to get in at any moment. "Passengers accepted."

Optimus waved for Spike to follow, telling the sports cars to wait for either his return or Perceptor's emergence. They waved goodbye and returned to their previous entertainment.

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster

The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free

You'll find a god in every golden cloister

A little flesh, a little history

I can feel an angel sliding up to me

Hot Rod had just taken Skywarp prisoner. Perceptor was glad he had Code Red in the corner square of the board, supplying the occasional internal radio communication to make a certain move when he was stuck. He needed help now; Gates had just taken Jazz, complete with victory dance.

"Really, is that necessary?" demanded Perceptor, not amused. In the next few moves no pieces were taken, but an attack was being set up that unsettled him. Starscream moved four squares diagonally. What to do, what to do... All he could think of was to get Ultra Magnus out into the front for protection. Then Soundwave took Prowl.

"HA! Take that!" Gates did another dance. "You're Bishopless!"

"He's a Bishopric," Code Red growled in Perceptor's audios.

"You would be a better gamer if you would try to act like an adult," the microscope suggested.

"You will not temper with my enthusiasm!" There was no stopping the malicious triumph in this human. "Go ahead, Auto-dolt!"

Perceptor moved Ultra Magnus forward and took Soundwave. Gates sat down.

CODE RED

So far, so good. Gates was being ridiculous, but that was to be expected. No one was cheating. There seemed to be a commotion regarding security outside of the computer, which raised the hacker's hopes. The Autobots were here.

"I beg your pardon, Lord Chumley, but I believe we have uninvited guests, sir."

"Optimus Prime decided to come to me, did he? Wonderful! It is time for the welcoming committee!" The remote had not left his hands this whole time. "Autobots, attack your leader!" The humans fell as a loud screeching noise from above caused the whole building to shake.

The roof was being torn off by Omega Supreme. Optimus Prime, perched on Omega's shoulder, aimed his blaster at Chumley. "Hands up," he commanded.

Lord Chumley smirked, mouth open to refuse, when a loud clunk knocked him out. Dinsmore backed away from Spike and his broomstick-wielding skills. He limped out of the room with the Autobot human in pursuit. Optimus descended and hurried over to Code Red. "How do we get you out of this?" he wondered.

"I've got Chip on the phone," Spike responded, returning from his chase. "He has no idea." Prime radioed Tracks, to find out he and the Lambos had grown bored and stormed the warehouse. Nothing there, except for Perceptor playing a game with Bill. They could not take the plug out, as Code Red had told them over the game, and they would have to wait until the game was over to get anything done. "So we wait some MORE?" moaned Spike.

"Apparently," responded Optimus, walking over to the inert body of Ultra Magnus. "So we wait."

PERCEPTOR

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble

Not much between despair and ecstasy

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble

Can't be too careful with your company

I can feel the devil walking next to me

They had been playing for what seemed like days, but was really hours. Thundercracker took Hot Rod prisoner with silent aplomb, unlike his master, who was trash-talking Perceptor as he tried to process his next move. Nine pieces left, five of which were pawns, none of them close enough to be crowned. A few moves later, no one had been taken and the King was not in any kind of jeopardy. Perceptor tried to set up a play, and saw Gates slowly panic. Megatron was moved to another corner of the board, and moved back, as Perceptor piled the last of his army around. Slingshot was right next to him, with Ultra Magnus nearby. Megatron moved again, and Slingshot followed. Perceptor realized that the King was cornered. Megatron was vulnerable, leaving him no other options but to remain where he was. No other moves could be accomplished!

"CHECKMATE!" he exclaimed. Colors flashed. Gates screamed in frustration and fear, crying that this was not the way the program worked, what the hell was going on? Code Red gave Perceptor a thumbs up from his lone, unmoved square. Suddenly options flashed on the board. "PLAY AGAIN/QUIT?"

"Quit," replied Perceptor, as Code Red informed him he could unplug now. Perceptor yanked the connections out eagerly, his optics turning on to see Tracks and company grinning at him.

"Congratulations," drawled Tracks. "Ready to find Prime?"

"Certainly," the scientist answered, stretching his legs.

CODE RED

It hadn't taken them long to free everyone of their catatonic chips/viruses. After intense debate, they decided to be noble AND stupid and leave Chumley to be found by the authorities or a spiteful Bill Gates, whoever arrived first. Surely the Decepticons would be released by their own sooner or later. Besides, the enemy faction were not in that particular warehouse.

A few days later a thoroughly agitated Megatron radioed Optimus Prime to inform him that the Decepticons had escaped and would teach every Autobot they encountered a new definition of pain and suffering for this affront. Prime better watch his-

At that moment Optimus changed the channel. "Beavis and Butthead" was on, and Optimus had heard this speech enough times to finish it during the commercial breaks, which was easy since MTV played 10 minutes of show for every 30 minute block of time.

Code Red stood outside of Skyfire, saying good-bye to everyone. Perceptor was the last mech he talked to.

"Give Lyra my best," he requested Skyfire, remembering his lab assistant fondly. He shook Code Red's hand. "Congratulations. You were an amazing player."

"You defeated Gates," the Trans Am replied. "You have a lot of skill. Maybe we can play a game the next time I'm here."

"I'll begin my tactical preparation," Perceptor replied. "You should, as well. Thanks to Mr. Gates, I have an extended vocabulary." Code Red was still laughing as he climbed into Skyfire. The jet took off, soaring into a stratosphere that was earnestly monitored by Perceptor until there was nothing left and darkness overtook the ark.

E-mail forward sent to Teela:

From Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom Section, next to a down arrow:

Bill Gates. US government is suing him for having a deadly computer virus designed to interfere with proper functioning, something found when an Autobot/Decepticon debacle cost him CHESS copyrights and best friend Chumley. Proving you should never mess with alien robot computer nerds.