Sideways into the Night

This tale will leave you scratching your heads...

by Fred's Workshop


Smokescreen grunted, as he pushed another pile of rubble away. “Just a few more feet of digging, and we’ll have reached the source of the minicon signal.” Minicons were important to the Transformers; they unlocked special powers and abilities that a Cybertonian alone couldn’t accomplish. Take Liftor, for example. Without him, Smokescreen wouldn’t have tunneled anywhere near as fast as he had today. The increased power-boost, as well as an extendable digging implement, were all very useful for today’s mission. He recalled the briefing he received from Optimus:

Optimus: “Smokescreen, we’ve received another minicon signal. It’s very weak...almost as though it were underground. Smokescreen, I suspect the Decepticons may not have even discovered it yet. Time is of the essense, Smokescreen. With your previous experience in the old subway tunnels, you’re the most qualified. Get that minicon before Megatron does...Smokescreen.”

Smokescreen: “You can count on me, Optimus.”

Optimus: “Smokescreen Smokescreen Smokescreen.”

And so it was that Smokescreen ended up in Oregon, near the mountains, digging his way into what appeared to be a dormant volcano. There were several cavernous pockets resembling rooms along the way, making for, if an ultimately wasted, at least an interesting trip. It was like an archeological dig into earth’s history, something that he normally would enjoy a good read on. “Hmm, lesee what’s in here.(punch, lift). Yep, the signal’s definitely getting stronger. I’d wager that this is the room, Liftor ol’buddy. Lesee...dinosaur bones, rocks, deativated dinobots, stalagmites...just a random pile of junk, so far.”

Liftor: “beepbeep.”

Smokescreen: “What’s that? You say Timmy fell in the well again? Oh, you see something glowing in the corner! Well, let’s have a look.”

Smokescreen shined his headlights on the spot that, Liftor pointed to. And sure enough, amongst a pile of dusty wooden crates and fallen rocks, a glint of metal shined back. “Holy-toledo,” said Smokescreen, “I think we hit the jackpot.” There in-front of them sat a podium with two dormant minicons. Behind the podium stood a tall, imposing robot, purple in color, with yellow highlights and some rather nasty-looking horns sticking out of his head.

Smokescreen: “Woowee, that is one ugly-looking robot. (scans). Hmm... odd. Power readouts are fine, but there’s no spark-activity. I guess the lights are on, but nobody’s home. Wonder why this ‘blank’ is stored here? Ah well. Hey Liftor, hows about we activate those minicons? You touch the left one, and I’ll touch the right one.”

*But before either of them has a chance to do anything, the minicons activate themselves.*

A diffuse glow fills the chamber as the minicon activation sequence begins. Glittersparks pour from the two containment vesels as a pair of robots, one black, one gray, appear. As the sequence nears the end, powerups appear in the eyes of both. One red-eyed, one blue-eyed. The bot behind them doesn’t move, but the eyes begin to glow a faint purple. The process completes, and two fully developed minicons stand before them.

Smokescreen: “Hmm...well THAT was odd. They didn’t scan anything. Oh well. Ahem...Hi, I’m Smokescreen, and this is Liftor. We’re here to rescue you!”

The two new minicons looked at each other, then back at Smokescreen and Liftor. A nod from one to the other, and the two minicons stepped forward, gripping hands. “Rook, Crosswise, combiner mode! Fusion technique!” They shouted.

Smokescreen: “Holy crap, talking minicons!”

But that wasn’t the only surprise in-store for Smokescreen today. As the techno-mucic reached a crecendo, a new figure jumped forward to strike a pose in front of them, sporting the same pale purple eyes as the inactive robot behind them. As the smoke washed around, they declared, “We are...Doubledealer!”

DoubleDealer: “And we don’t *need* any rescuing!

DoubleDealer: “That’s right! We’re fine just where we are!”

DoubleDealer “I agree with myself 100%!”

Liftor: “beep!”

Smokescreen: “Liftor’s right! We came here to rescue you. And we need your help. The signal went out. Megatron is here to find all the minicons so he can take over the universe. We Autobots are here to stop him.”

DoubleDealer: “Megatron’s back, and taking over the universe? That’s bad.”

DoubleDealer: “Megatron’s back, and taking over the universe? That’s good.”

Smokescreen: “huh?”

(DoubleDealer seperates into two minicons again. They glare at each other, and continue the argument.)

Rook: “We’ve been activated. Megatron has need of us.”

Crosswise: “Are you nuts?! We’ve got to stop Megatron!”

Rook: “We always have this same fight. That’s why I never take you anywhere!”

The two minicons begin to fight with each other. Crosswise, the shorter one, strikes at the midsection, while Rook, considerably taller, pounds him on the head. The dust flies with each punch; the argument grows in intensity. Smokescreen and Liftor look on in silence.

Liftor: “beep?”

Smokescreen: “You’re right, Liftor, Better stun them both, and take them back to Prime. He’ll sort this out.”

Smokescreen prepares his chest-mounted grappling hook, and takes aim. The two scuffling minicons stop for a moment, eyeing up the Autobot.

Rook: “He’s going to attack us!”

Crosswise: “Not if we attack him first. Fusion mode!”

(Once again, the two minicons combine into DoubleDealer. They waste no time in making the first move.)

DoubleDealer: “You’re not taking us anywhere. Sonic-wave attack! Piledrivers!”

DoubleDealer launches a devastating audio frenzy on Smokescreen, knocking him flat on his chassis. He follows thru with several stomps to the ground, cracking it open, and knocking down Liftor in the process. The rumble is deafening. Neither one is able to stand properly.

Smokescreen: “So that’s the way you want to play? Fine. Transform!”

Smokescreen transforms into vehicle mode, and charges DoubleDealer. DoubleDealer jumps up, and out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. “Oh no you don’t!” Smokescreen counters with his crane-arm, knocking him out of the air, and crashing back into the ground. Smokescreen is about to gloat, but failing to stop his forward momentum, he crashes into the back wall. Groaning, he transforms back into robot mode.

Liftor: “beep!”

Smokescreen: “Sounds good to me. Powerlink!”

(Liftor transforms to vehicle mode, and attaches himself to Smokescreen’s hand. Power-readings surge.)

Smokescreen: “Ahhh, that’s more like it. Ok funny-guys, let’s see how you like this: Electro-shock!”

Twin bolts of electricity shoot out of Liftor/Smokescreen’s claw extender, hitting DoubleDealer square in the chest. He screams as smoke pours out from his mouth. He collapses, twitching, on the ground, the glow faded from his eyes. Smokescreen wastes no time, launching his grappling hook, and ensnaring DoubleDealer around the waist. He begins to reel him in. A conversation ensues inside DoubleDealer’s head.

Rook: “he’s got us.”

Crosswise: “Only one of us. The hook is wrapped around me. You can make a break for it.”

Rook: “But what about you?”

Crosswise: “Well, what do you think? After you’re free, save ME!”

Rook: “How!?”

Crosswise: “Um...duh!”

Rook: “Oh...right. Shut-up! Just cover me.”

As Smokescreen pulls DoubleDealer closer, the purple glow comes back to his eyes. “Separate!” The two minicons split back into their separate robot modes, Rook making a run for it, with Crosswise still snared. Smokescreen prepares to take aim with his Liftor claw again.

Crosswise: “Oh-no-you-don’t!”

Crosswise transforms into a powermaster engine, and sends a shock thru the cable, right into Smokescreen’s chest. Smokescreen yelps, and loses his aim on Rook, firing Liftor into his own foot instead. The twin electrical blasts make Smokescreen reel, and he falls on his ass, disconnecting Liftor in the process. He still manages to keep his hook wrapped around Crosswise...barely.

Meanwhile, Rook makes his way to the purple robot standing behind the podium. He sends out a coded signal, which the robot responds to. The robot steps out...and Rook transforms, landing on the robot’s shoulders, and locking-in as the robot’s previous head retracts. Rook becomes the new head...and a symbol becomes visable. A Decepticon symbol.

Sideways: “Foolish Autobot! Let’s see how you like this!”

Sideways launches a stream of flame exhaust at the grappling hook holding Crosswise, melting it. Crosswise frees himself, transforming back to robot mode, and makes a run for Sideways as well.

Smokescreen: “Nghhh. You’ll pay for that, Decepticon! Powerlink!”

Seeing as how the previous attack failed, Liftor instead attaches himself to Smokescreen’s crane, activating, ‘big bertha’. The cannon fires, knocking Sideways clear across the cave, and into the back wall. Stunned, Sideways, slides off the back wall and onto his knees. Crosswise reaches toward him.

Crosswise: “Hang-on, buddy! Powerlink! Powermaster Combiner mode!”

Crosswise transforms, and attaches himself to Sideway’s arm. The power surge rockets him back to his feet.

Sideways: “Ahh, this is more like it. Die, Autobot! Burning Exhaust Inferno!”

Twin trails of fire leap from the sides of Sideway’s hands. Smokescreen dodges one stream, but gets scraped by the other, taking damage to his shoulder. He continues to fire big bertha, bringing the cave down around them. All the firing and dodging finally bring them to within reaching distance of each other. Dented, leaking fluids, the two combatents take aim at each other’s chests with their respective weapons.

Smokescreen: “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

Sideways: “Then it will have to be dead. Besides, what makes you think you’ll be alive to bring me with you?”

Smokescreen: “May Primus have mercy on our souls.”

The two combatents charge their weapons for the final blast, when a lone voice of reason is heard above the clamor:

Crosswise: “Wait! Stop! Let me talk!”

Crosswise disconnects from Sideway’s left arm, and transforms back into a robot. Rook disconnects, and transforms into a robot as well...and then into a powermaster engine, attaching himself to Sideway’s right arm, keeping the super-weapon activated. Crosswise transforms into a head, taking his place on Sideway’s shoulders. A new symbol appears...that of the autobrand.

Smokescreen: “The hell!?”

Sideways: “This fighting serves no purpose. We will both end up killing each other, and for what? You will still have no minicons, and the Autobot ranks will be short a valued fighter. Let us lay down our arms, and go our separate ways. There is nothing here for you worth losing your life over. Stand down...and live to fight another day.”

He didn’t know what to think of this strange being, with the two heads and the changing allegiances. But his words rang true in Smokescreen’s ears. Giving the mental command, he retracted his power-cannon, and disconnected Liftor. Sideways transformed as well, disconnecting both minicons, who reverted to their individual robot modes. They stood next to their motorcycle transector, and faced Smokescreen:

Crosswise: “I admire your goals, but as you can see, there is no way I can actively accommodate them. Rook and I are a team...two sides of a coin, really...and inseperable. No side will have us as we are. We’re too...different.”

Smokescreen: ‘Yea, I can tell...”

Rook: “We just wanna be left alone! If we can help, we will, but not unless we both agree. And I for one am NOT going to help the autobots!”

Crosswise: “And I cannot aid the decepticon cause. So you see...we’re of no use to you. Go home, Smokescreen. Tell your leader that we are alive and well. And that nothing has changed.”

Rook and Crosswise climb onto Sideways. Riding double, they rev the engines, and cycle out of the cave, and into the forest surrounding the mountains...leaving a dazed and confused Smokescreen behind. He is brought out of his thoughts by Liftor, who explains it to him in the simplest, best way possible:

Liftor: “beep.”

Smokescreen: “You said it, buddy. Let’s go home. Smokescreen to base: Returning...”

The communication finished, the two autobots teleport, leaving the mountains and forest behind.

Epilogue: Smokescreen briefs Optimus Prime on his recent battle with Sideways as RedAlert patches up his chest wound.

Prime: “So he left? Just like that?”

Smokescreen: “It was better than the alternative. Besides, he made a good point. As long as this war is going on, there’s little he can do to help us. But on the upside, he won’t be helping the decepticons, either.”

Prime: “It’s a decision we’ll have to live with, then. Still, it’s a shame. He would have made a formidable ally.”

RedAlert: “Not with his personality problems, he wouldn’t. There’s no cure in my medicine cabinet that could resolve something like that.”

Prime: “Then they’ll have to do it on their own. I wonder if they’ll ever sort out their mess?”

Later that night, in a dark corner of the forest, two minicons are sitting next to each other, arm-in-arm. A warm glow from a lantern illuminates their frames. A motorcycle is parked nearby. Crickets chirp cheerfully in the otherwise silent evening.

Rook: “To arms, old friend?”

Crosswise: “To arms, dear chum.It appears that the fight has begun again.”

Rook: “So whose side do we fight *on*?”

Crosswise: “Neither, of course...just like last time. We’ll handle the situations as they come.”

Rook: “They won’t give up looking for us, or trying to use us, you know.”

Crosswise: “Perhaps...or perhaps not. I think our words got thru to that one. But we can’t worry about it now. The war has begun again. All we can do is...our best. We’ll survive. We always have.”

Rook: “All this knocking about between sides really leaves a scar on me.”

Crosswise: “And me. It’s the price we pay for being who we are. Besides, this can’t go on forever. One way or the other, someone will win...and we’ll *be* on the winning side, whoever it ends up being.”

Rook: “And what happens to the loser?”

Crosswise: “The loser?”

Rook: “Yes, the loser. What happens to the losing one of *us* when the war is finally over?”

(An interesting question, and one that they both ponder for the rest of the silence.)

The End

Notes: This story doesn’t fit into anything else I've written. The last one had Smokescreen as Hook. Maybe he’s really Smokescreen now...and Liftor is Schrapnel in a former life. And maybe Doublecross is Gotenks. Maybe Rook and Crosswise are Rumble and Frenzy. Or maybe Rewind and Rumble. And maybe Sideways is Cyclonus when rook is attached. Who knows. And who cares?

The eyes. Eye-color used to be important. I can’t help what the toy looks like. Blue is autobot, red is decepticon; that’s how I was brought up in the old school :-) You get purple when you combine the two colors. So to me, it makes sense, in a bi-polar sort of way.

This was fun. But I simply can’t write the kind of humor that I laugh at. This dry, dusty story is as close as I can get. I wrote this fanfic just as soon as I unwrapped a new toy and played with it today. Can you guess which one? ;-)

Final note: how many in-jokes did you count? :-)