By the Pundreds


"The goodness of the true pun is in the direct ratio of its intolerability." — Edgar Allan Poe


The workday was almost over when Tom Banachek arrived, file folder in tow and look of great urgency upon his countenance. It was generally never a good sign when Banachek showed up at all, but to show no regard for the fact that the Secretary of Defense was in the middle of a meeting with his top generals? This boded very ill indeed.

"Sir," he said, interrupting one of the generals.

Secretary Keller's eyes narrowed knowingly. "Is there a problem, Mr. Banachek?"

"I'm afraid we… have a situation," said Banachek, turning wordlessly and going into an another room. Keller followed him solemnly, watching as Banachek set up his MacBook in the adjacent meeting room. Clearly, something had shaken him to the core.

"What's this about?" asked Keller.

Banachek threw his file folder on the table, sliding it towards Keller. "They've discovered… puns, sir."

"Puns?" echoed Keller, looking at the document inside the folder. "My God."

"Yes," said Banachek. "Our research indicates that their language does not contain any homonyms or double meanings."

"And English…" continued Keller. "My God, having never had any exposure to a pun…"

"You could go mad with it," said Banachek, turning the MacBook around. On the screen was Reggie Simmons looking at them through a live feed. The man looked more distressed than either of them had ever seen him. "And…" continued Banachek. "They have."

"My God," said Keller.

Simmons was looking at them beseechingly through the screen. "Sirs," he said, "something needs to be done about this."

"Do you remember what happened when we shot Starscream out of the sky?" asked one of the NBE's behind him, their medic which they designated as Ratchet.

"Yes," said Optimus. "He was downright con-descending."

Keller winced, and Banachek watched him worriedly. Clearly, Keller was going to have to tread delicately. "Optimus Prime," he said, "How are you acclimating to life on earth?"

"Very well, thank you," said Optimus. "Are you on a diet, Defense Secretary? You know, your waist is a terrible thing to mind."

Keller shot a horrified look at Banachek. "According to Simmons, it's been like this for hours," said Banachek. Indeed, all the humans visible through the stream seemed to be suffering from the toxic effect of hyperactive punning. Keller could see the Witwicky boy in a corner of the base, rocking himself neurotically.

"And… your plans for while you remain on this planet?" asked Keller in a shaky voice.

"We had some exercises planned for today, but they just didn't work out."

"I… I see," said Keller. "Well, perhaps the time has come for you to leave." He paused, receiving no punny response. "Our… planet, that is."

"Where would we go?" asked Optimus. "We couldn't leave now, even if we wanted to. The energy costs to go into space are astronomical."

Keller winced, not knowing how much more of this he could take. "Are you aware of how high the cost would be to keep you here?"

"High costs?" said Optimus. "I was not aware your currency was capable of doing drugs."

"It…" he sighed.

"And at any rate, we need to be here for when the other Autobots arrive," added Optimus. "But you wouldn't want to be around when they land, lest you be crushed by one of them as they fall."

"You will meteor maker!" added Ironhide sadistically.

"More Autobots?" asked Keller incredulously, horrified at the notion of a veritable army of punning robots. "Surely, you can't be serious!"

"I am serious," said Optimus, "And don't call me Shirley."

Simmons clapped a hand to his forehead. Keller thought he saw the Witwicky boy mumbling to himself. "Prime," said Keller assertively, "This… practice, this punning, needs to come under control."

Optimus seemed confused. "Why, secretary?" he said, "A good pun is its own reword."

Keller gasped. It was only getting worse. "Moderation," he breathed.

Ratchet looked into the camera irritably. "Your politics only serve to make the situation moron-certain."

"Understood," said Keller, simply unable to take anymore. "We shall… discuss this later."

"Very well," said Optimus. "We are glad to know that you are on our side, and not that of the Decepticons. Clearly, you practice safe sects!"

Keller simply stared at the screen, horrified. Then, it went dark. Keller looked at Banachek, all hope for the future drained from his eyes. "God help us."


Notes: It was said of me by my roommate that I was thinking too much about real-world applications of giant alien robots and not enough stupid amusingness. I aim to please. This is an extension on an idea from Naturalized, according to Bumblebee: "We don't have homonyms or double meanings in our language."

I admit, I am rather proud of "con-descending".