Trouble at 20,000 Light Years

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Trouble at 20,000 Light Years is an episode of Transformers: Renegade Rhetoric described on the Renegade Rhetoric Facebook page.


Source Text

The following was posted on Facebook on January 26, 2016. [1]

Dear Cy-Kill,

I've noticed that Cop-Tur is, to put it diplomatically, a bit thick. Why do you keep him around? . . It's true that Cop-Tur is not the most luminous of bulbs, but he is powerful, and he is loyal. Also, there is something of the savant about him. Many times his chance remarks set my own remarkable intellect on fruitful paths.

Following a brief battle with Leader-1's Command Center, my Thruster was forced to dock for repairs at an alien space station. It was quite the hub, with dozens of different species commingling and bartering with each other. Fortunately for me, I had a cargo hold full of stolen photonic crystals, so we had plenty to barter with. Crasher and I departed to get the necessary supplies to fix our vessel, leaving Cop-Tur to guard the ship.

Much to our chagrin, when we returned, Cop-Tur had traded several crystals for a small, cuddly, creature with large eyes and a diamond beak that he was currently stroking proudly. I, being an unusually cosmopolitan GoBot, immediately recognized it as a Roto-Imp, one of the greatest pests known to space-farers! At first I chastised him, prompting his usual "sorr-eee," but then I realized what a bold opportunity the creature presented.

A few days later, Leader-1's Command Center was patrolling the space between Gobotron and Earth. Nick, Matt, and A.J. were along. A beeping indicated something had happened, and Scooter was quick to check the controls. There was an unknown vessel adrift, and it was putting out an automated distress call. Life support was failing, and the Guardians hadn't much time. Nick was quite insistent that they had to mount a rescue, although Turbo cautioned (and Matt agreed) that it might be a Renegade trap. Predictably, Leader-1 chose to proceed with the rescue, though they'd "keep an eye out for trouble."

The ship, which had clearly taken several weapons hits and was smoking badly, failed to respond to any hails, prompting Leader-1 to take a very nervous Scooter to investigate. The humans were left behind, for their safety, and Turbo was to be their backup in case of trouble. On board the ship, the atmosphere was eerie. Sparking wires and dripping pipes were everywhere, and there as blast damage throughout the ship. Clearly SOMETHING had happened. Scooter's sensors were in overdrive, because the ship looked ready to blow any minute. But they also detected a life sign, faint thought it was. He led them to the bridge, which was deserted, save for a small cage containing the Roto-Imp, who was scampering about rather frantically. Leader-1 admonished him not to touch it, but Scooter had already scooped it up. "He's so cute! We can't leave him here to die, Leader-1" Leader-1 reluctantly agreed, and right at that moment the ship began to shake itself apart. The two Guardians made haste back to their docked Command Center, dodging pieces of rubble falling and the occasional billowing cloud of noxious gas. Even as they boarded their vessel, Turbo disengaged the docking clamp, forcing Scooter to jump for it and get pulled inside by Leader-1. Turbo engaged the hyperdrive at the last second, and they barely outran the explosion.

Things were much calmer after that, but it was the calm before the storm. Nick and A.J. adored the creature, whom they decided to name Gobo. Again, Turbo advised caution--"We don't even know what that thing is!"--but was ignored by his companions. "We know it's adorable," replied A.J. "Can we keep it," asked Nick? Leader-1 nodded and declared that they could, "at least until we figure out what its home planet is and can get it back there."

Shipboard life returned to normal... with Nick, A.J., and Scooter spending an inordinate amount of time feeding and petting their new mascot. Even Leader-1 seemed to appreciate the cute, furry pet, scampering about and nibbling on his finger or the occasional loose wire. Only Turbo remained aloof. The first night, the critter seemed to be especially drawn to the waste heat from the engines, where it curled up and went sleep.

In the morning, Nick went looking for Gobo with a small treat, and was astounded to find that there were now three of him! "One for each of us," was how he put it to A.J. and Scooter. This alarmed Turbo even more, but Scooter continued to pooh-pooh his concerns. Before the dialogue could continue, Leader-1 summoned all hands to the bridge... Renegade action detected. Staks and Dart were requesting back-up at a Guardian mining outpost, under Renegade attack. This struck Matt as odd. "That's not a military target, so what's that slippery snake Cy-Kill playing at?"

The Guardians showed up, to find my Thruster hovering outside the asteroid mine, firing the occasional shot to keep the Guardians pinned inside. Leader-1 ordered the engines to full power and opened fire, and we engaged in a brief battle. Everything was going according to my plans; the Guardians were reacting as predictably as ever. After a few token hits, I withdrew to hyperspace, laughing maniacally to Crasher and Cop-Tur, for I was confident that I had seen the last of Leader-1.

Even Scooter noticed that something was off. "Gee, it's not like Cy-Kill to take off without a fight." Then the engines cut out. They arrived in the engine room to find the place overrun with the Roto-Imps. The original, Gobo, recognizable thanks to his unique coloring, had grown to be almost four feet tall. No longer was he nibbling at wires, now he was chomping at power conduits. The smaller Roto-Imps were working in tandem to disconnect power cables and start chomping down on them. Turbo was particularly perturbed. "I told you guys something like this would happen!" Leader-1 cut him off. "Time for that later, Turbo, now we've got a ship to save!"

Scooter underscored the urgency. "It's worse than you think, guys! That asteroid mine orbits a black hole... if we don't get the engines fixed soon, we'll fall into it!" The Guardians frantically tried to gather up all the pests, but it was hopeless. Worse for them, the time until they fell into the black hole and were crushed to atoms was fast approaching. A.J. said that this would be easier if they didn't scamper all over the place, which gave Scooter an idea. The creatures liked heat, so why not give them some? They turned up the heat in the cargo hold to maximum, hoping to draw the creatures to one spot. It worked, and hundreds of the critters scampered into the hold. They sealed the hold and activated a magnetic containment, hoping to keep the creatures in.

The Roto-Imps went crazy, hurtling themselves at the magnetized walls, but to no avail. And then they all coalesced around Gobo, and formed a twenty-five-foot-tall Roto-Imp, with enormous fangs and claws, and it began tearing through the hold. Leader-1 and Turbo had no choice but to engage it in battle, but it hurtled them about effortlessly. Sadly, Turbo came through in the end, and opened the hatch to space, blowing Mega Gobo out into space. With the threat neutralized, Scooter was able to repair the engines in the nick of time, and the Command Center avoided spiraling into the black hole. Scooter, Nick, and A.J. all apologized to Turbo for ignoring him and for calling him an "old stick-in-the mud." He graciously accepted, on the condition that he get excused from repair duty, which everyone but Scooter seemed to find quite funny.