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and things went downhill from there
(a desperate plea for fish)
August 19th, 2019 
Burning Fur Mood
Just don't call him Bobby.

"...the owner of a small chain of delis in uptown New York," replied the tall human. Though he topped out at nearly eleven feet tall when sitting, easily dwarfing all the other men around the camp-fire, he had a very forgettable face whose most prominent features were a large nose poised over a dense brush of a moustache, and thick, black-framed glasses crowned by bushy eyebrows. His attire consisted of a large, ill-fitting canvas jacket that was held by a single button and barely came down to his elbows. Its shoulders were adorned with matching silver spikes that looked remarkably like dual exhaust pipes. His only other visible attire was a pair of what the others assumed to be metallic-blue leggings.

He was clutching a large plastic cup in his hands with an oversized straw sticking out of its top at a jaunty angle. The cup was emblazoned with the stylized icicles and lighting bolts flaring out from the words, "FRESH COLD ENERGON". In a slightly smaller tag line beneath it read, "Now available in dark!" The large man took a long sip from the straw before pulling it away again, leaving a trickle of glowing blue fluid dribbling from the corner of his mouth. "Ah," he said, "It is pleasant to spend frivolously unproductive time around a camp-fire and consume superfluous beverages with my fellow humans."

A short, bearded man who was sitting across the fire from him raised a can of beer. "Cheers," he said in response. There were four of them around the fire in all. To one for whom all humans did not look the same, three of the humans looked remarkably normal, and the fourth stood twenty-two feet tall from pede to exhaust pipe. To call the group motley would be no less insulting to the reader's intelligence, so we'll go with that.

"So here's the deal," said one of the other men. "None of us knows the others here, but Lord Megatron is paying us all good money to bring him things that he thinks will help his cause." He finished his beer and held up the can, watching the reflections of the firelight dance off it. "We have no reason to trust one another, but I like to know the names of the people I don't trust." He crumpled up the can and tossed it into the fire.

"Please do not litter," said the enormous man. He leaned forward and reached into the fire to pull the can out of the flames. He shook embers off his enormous blue hand. "Littering is what petty people and criminals do, not important humans of stature like us. Remember that we are all a team and we must work together if we want to defea... assist the Decepticons."

"Ya, names..." said the man sitting to his immediate left, "I'd love to hear your alleged name, mister I have to duck under power lines." He motioned to the other two smaller men at the fire. "I dunno, there's something not quite right about this guy," he said in a stage whisper. "I can't put my finger on it, but I don't think I totally trust him."

"My name is Bob," said the giant man. If he was upset by the other man's words, the level tone of his speech modulator gave no hint of it. "Bob Timus Prime... stein."

"Primestein?" said the former speaker. "Oh, right. I've heard of your delis. I'd always suspected you guys were running more than sandwiches behind the scenes." He held out his hand and grasped the index finger of the large man in a facsimile of a handshake. "I'm Franco D Mobster."

"Grant Ed Parole," said the man who had thrown his empty into the fire. He had replaced it with a full one, and held it aloft in greeting.

"Ivar Pseudonym," said the last. He glanced at his watch. "It's getting on toward eleven thirty, and Lord Megatron was pretty explicit that he wanted us to show up at midnight sharp." He made a backhanded motion at the largest member of their party. "I noticed you were here before the rest of us, and there are only three cars. How were you planning to get to the plateau, Bobby?"

The giant man's eyes flared brightly, and his giant hand snapped out like a creaky, mistuned rattlesnake striking at its prey. He grabbed the other man around the torso and picked him up, holding him up to eye level. "Please do not call me Bobby," he said with a cold modulation in his tone. "It was a cruel nickname that was used to taunt me by my fellow juvenile humans in the human learning academy that I attended in my youth."

"Sorry," said Ivar, squirming and kicking his feet futilely in the grasp. "I didn't mean nothin' by it, I was just being colloquial."

"Your apology is accepted," said Bob. He lowered the man back to the ground and released his grip.

"I was just going to ask if you needed a lift," said the other man, brushing down the jacket that had bunched up under his armpits. "I've got my Chevy parked over there if you need a ride."

Bob's glowing blue optics followed the man's gesture toward his car and spotted a late model Chevelle coup parked in the underbrush by the road.

"I have brought my own mode of transportation," said Bob. He stood and pointed toward a large, stone outcropping a ways in the distance. "My vehicle is parked behind that rock structure which is large enough to obscure it from view. I shall go there to procure my vehicle, and I will meet you on the road." The large man strode purposely through the scrub, ducking carefully under the power lines on his way. The other three watched in bemusement as he got to the outcropping, looked furtively both ways and stepped around the corner.

They barely heard a distant, hushed call of, "Transform and roll out!" followed by a curious noise that they later described as, "Cha cha cha cha cha!" Moments later a beefy diesel engine thundered to life, and a large red semi pulling a grey trailer rolled out from behind the outcropping in a cloud of thick diesel exhaust. The trailer had the name "Primestein's Deli Sandwiches" emblazoned on either side with large cardboard signs attached with a plenitude of criss-crossed duct tape.

"I dunno what he's bringing to the party," said Franco, "but I hope that thing's full of deli meat because I didn't have dinner before I left the house."

The other three men piled into their own cars and pulled out onto the only road winding its way up to the plateau. Ivar took the lead, with Bob bringing up the rear. Twenty minutes later, they rounded a corner to find the road blocked by a large set of solid metal gates. Huge spotlights lit the gates and the road, and the walls surrounding the barrier were riddled with cameras and guns - most of alien origin. A giant metal sign riveted to the gates read, "SECRET DECEPTICON BASE" In smaller print below that it warned, "TRESPASSERS WILL BE ANNIHILATED! THIS MEANS YOU!" Another sign was bolted below that which bore the Autobot crest with a prominent red circle and slash over it.

Finally, a humble little sign attached at street level read, "Deliveries, please use the side gates." A little arrow pointed to the left.

Ivar rolled down his car window and leaned out. "That's us," he called back to the others, pointing at the sign and motioning toward the left. "This..."
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