Bishop, Man of the Hour
The tower…it’s coming down! I have to get out of here!
But fear, the first defense in any sentient being for self-preservation, can also be the very thing which keeps them irrationally facing danger, watching with eyes wide open as certain destruction looms before them.
The walls of the tower began to creak and then groan, exponentially louder until it seemed like the walls themselves began to scream in terror as they cracked and crumbled.
An overhead beam fell, careening to the floor so close to Bishop that he jumped away in a reflexive action, and a wave of decisive courage flooded his systems like a jolt of electricity. A heavy brace of track lighting from overhead squealed as bolts gave way and hurtled towards Bishop, inexorably obeying that most primal and irresistible of forces… gravity.
However, Bishop’s newfound instinct’s took control and almost as if seeing the world anew in slow motion, he leapt out of the way, springing from his heels like a cat, and using the inertia of the movement rolled forward from a somersault into a standing position. He looked around frantically for his camerabot, Spearhead, and spotted him lying underneath a beam. In an instant, Bishop was at his side checking for signs of life. He touched the small mech for the faintest sign, hoping against hope that Spearhead was not another casualty, and exhaled sharply in relief as he felt the tiny jolt of electricity through Spearhead’s casing. With a burst of super-cybertronian strength, he pushed the beam off of Spearhead, who luckily seemed to have been only knocked unconscious with moderate injuries.
Grabbing Spearhead and tucking him under his arm, Bishop leapt and dodged falling debris as the tower crumbled around them. He paused for a millisecond to take one last glance at the soundstage as the silver Around Cybertron sign crashed violently into the desk where he had sat for nearly as long as he could remember.
And from all of us at Around Cybertron, signing off....good night and good luck.
However, Bishop had little time for nostalgia before instinct once again took hold and like a ninjacon, he leapt and dodged his way out of the falling remnants of tower architecture.
Though he made his escape from Baird Tower in seconds, it seemed like hours had passed for Bishop as he stood outside of the smoking ruins, dust rising and filling the air like a fog. He stood in gaping disbelief for what seemed like hours more.
It’s gone. It’s all gone. But why?
A blinding light crested the horizon, and for a single delirious moment he thought he was back at his anchor desk being hit with the comforting bright lights of the first show of the day. But the light did not dim. In fact, it grew more intense, forcing him to shield his optics with his arm until they could adjust. Disoriented, he thought for a moment that this was death and that he was standing before the great white light of oblivion, wondering if dying would hurt or be as peaceful as he had heard.
However, death would have been far less of a shock that what he saw once his optics adjusted as a strange and faintly reddish bright light preyed the plain like a wraith, flooding the entire planet.
Bishop stood agape, unable to grasp what his own optics told him must be true.
The sun? I must be dead.
After some time, Bishop was able to compose himself and he was able to examine the ruins of Kalis with clarity. Kalis, the once mighty bastion of art of knowledge, was in ruins. Before Megatron’s cruelty had reduced the city to a hollow shell of its former glory, Kalis was once known around the galaxy as a vibrant haven for artists, philosophers, and bon vivants of all stripes. However, Megatron had seized the city during his destructive crusade, and in his bid for ultimate power over Kalis, had executed nearly all of its citizens in response to their peaceful protests against his rule. The once magnificent city had long since stood as a silent reminder to all who would oppose the Decepticons in their grasp for power, a city populated only by empty buildings and the memories of the glory of what was…and what could have been. However even as a ruin, the city was still beautiful, most of its architectural wonders still intact and standing, silent witnesses to eons past. That is until this catastrophe, a final insult that destroyed Kalis utterly.
Almost as shocking as seeing the Cybertronian sun rising over the horizon for the first time in his life was the ruins of the destroyed city before him. As if momentarily drained of energon, Bishop felt his legs buckle and he fell to his knees, dropping Spearhead into the dust.
The impact jolted Spearhead into consciousness. Heavily disoriented as his systems came back online, Spearhead groaned. “Are we on? I can’t see anything. I think my main camera relay is malfunctioning again.”
Stuck in camera mode and unable to transform, Spearhead attempted to hover so as to have a better look at his environment with his auxiliary lens while his internal diagnostics attempted to analyze the malfunction of his main camera. Unsteady at first, Spearhead managed to escape the ground, though with some difficulty. As he elevated, the dust from his auxiliary lens cleared, though it had been severely jarred from the impact of the beam which had fallen on Spearhead in while the tower crumbled, and so he did not believe the images that were now flooding into his optics. Panicked, he called out.
Bishop responded, “Yes, Spearhead?”
“My lenses must be cracked…or my CPU is…there’s…there’s…the…sun.”
Bishop nodded. “It sure looks that way.”
“And the tower…is gone!”
“It is,” Bishop replied. “It’s all gone…the tower…Kalis. There’s nothing left.”
Spearhead wobbled unsteadily, but remained airborne. “What happened? What do we do now?”
Bishop gradually got to his feet and shook the dust and debris from his knees as he regained his composure.
“The same thing we have always done when there’s a story to be told, Spearhead. We report the news. Do you think you can transmit?”
Spearhead spun around in mid-air, testing his thrusters. “I’ll try.”
Bishop grinned. “Then let’s go do what we were made to do.”
The red camera light on top of Spearhead’s body flashed emphatically.
“Alright! Do you think Rook and Cassiopeia made it?”
Bishop stopped, uncertain but hopeful. “I’m sure they did. They’ve gotten out of worse than this…probably.”
For several agonizing seconds the screen of his communicator was sheer static until finally, to his overwhelming relief, Rook answered. “Bishop! I’m pleased that you still function. Great news! We...”
Bishop interrupted in a characteristic snark, “The news is anything BUT great…but I’m relieved that you still function as well. And Cass? Is she…?”
“Citctus Minor? But what does that have to do with anything? It’s almost a billion kilometers away.”
Rook paused. “Not anymore, Bishop. It’s that big orange thing you’re probably seeing above you right now. And it’s here to stay.”
“Understood, Rook. I have Spearhead with me…we’ll get on the story from here right away. I can see some others in the distance now…I sure as hell hope they’re Autobots…but if we wanted to play it safe, we’d be refining energon on some backwater asteroid and not journalists. I’ll bolster this frequency so I can maintain contact.”
“Alright! I’m actually just about to begin a transmission now. My GPS indicates you’re not far from my location, so if you’re able to transform you can be here in less than ten cyberminutes. And Bishop…good luck.”
In a mighty leap backwards, Bishop quickly transformed into a blue and white news van and opened his side door to allow Spearhead to hover inside for a ride.
From his radio, Bishop replied, “Thanks. You too.”
Bishop, In the Age that is Golden
Bishop paced anxious outside of Medbay 2 in Iacon as he waited for Spearhead to be repaired. Although Spearhead was not seriously injured, especially under the circumstances, the repairs would still take time. Precious time that Bishop was impatient to use…now that he had experienced firsthand just how valuable a commodity time was. He huffed impatiently as he walked up and down the hall, oblivious to passerby, becoming so impatient that he questioned the accuracy of his chronometer unit. At long last, the medbay door slid open and First Aid appeared with a mildly disoriented Spearhead in tow.
“He’s fully functional…although he should have…”
Spearhead groggily emerged from medbay, rubbing his optics.
Bishop knelt down to address the tiny Autobot, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Hey there buddy! Do you think you can get back to work?”
Spearhead nodded sleepily. “Sure thing, we can…hey!”
Bishop grabbed Spearhead by the arm and like a rag doll, swung him up into his arms and bolted down the corridor, leaving First Aid to shake his head in exasperation.
“…a few days to recover fully.”
Bishop had been planning this even before they arrived in Iacon. Not that he’d spent much time there lately, given his distaste for the military order than some of the other Autobots seemed inclined to impose within the confining walls of the Autobot base. By the time they reached the end of a maze of corridors and pathways, Spearhead had composed himself and surprise became irritation.
“Where are you taking me? For future reference it’s usually more polite to ask before you whisk someone off without telling them we’re you’re taking them.”
“We’re almost there.” Bishop replied, giddily distracted. “Here.”
At the very end of a long and poorly lit corridor marked with Auxiliary Maintenance and Storage in big black letters, there were a few dusty doors. Bishop set Spearhead down gently and then tapped out the lock code on the keypad next to the door. The door creaked as it slid open, as if in protest, revealing a void of darkness and swirling dust.
Spearhead peered around the corner into the room and when he could see nothing save for a a few crates near the entrance to the room, he balked. “Uh…Bishop?”
Bishop took a few steps into the mostly empty cargo bay before he realized Spearhead was not following, and backed up. “Coming?”
Spearhead crossed his arms and scowled, looking very much like a child about to throw a tantrum. “No. Not until you tell me what is going on.”
Bishop smiled. “Well, it will be easier if I just show you. You’re just going to have to trust me, buddy.”
Spearhead chuffed. “Trust you? You just throw me over your shoulder like a bandit and spirit me to Primus knows where, and you want to talk about trust? It’s embarrassing to be grabbed and run away with like a ball.”
“I’m sorry about that. I’ll ask your permission before I kidnap you next time.”
Spearhead remained defiant. “I think you’ll just have to do whatever it is in there without me.”
Bishop, knowing the tiny bot’s curiosity would shortly overwhelm his indignation, merely shrugged before walking again through the door. “Okay. Suit yourself.”
The door slid closed.
Seconds later, Spearhead followed Bishop into the room and found him leaning against the wall not far from the door with his arms crossed and his head cocked in bemusement.
Spearhead scowled. “Alright…you win. For now. Let’s see this big surprise you have. I hope it’s a light switch. I can barely see anything in here.”
“You got it, buddy.” Bishop flipped up a bar of connected switches behind him, bringing the lights up to a brilliant luminosity.
The cargo bay was clearly in a state of disuse, although a strong case could be made for the room simply being where Iacon was choosing to store its excess dust, and there was little in the cavernous room save for a few dozen empty crates in various shapes and sizes. However, in the intervening hours during Spearhead’s surgery Bishop had been busy; in the center of the room a makeshift soundstage had been constructed, with a rickety set of ‘furniture’ of a desk and two chairs made from crates pushed together and hastily welded in place by someone who clearly did not know how to weld very well. Some of the lights had been refocused to shine directly onto the stage, although with considerable less accuracy than actual stage lighting, and so the light diffused around the stage in an eerie halo of soft white light and dust. Against the back wall behind the ‘stage’ the words The Bishop Brief had been hastily spray painted in blue…so hastily in fact that some of the paint ran down the wall in tiny streams.
Spearhead cocked his head. “The Bishop Brief?”
Bishop shrugged. “It’s a working title.”
Spearhead rolled his optics. “Let’s keep working on it then.” He looked around at the cargo bay in vague disbelief. “Are you really serious about this?”
Bishop nodded emphatically. “Don’t you see? That’s what’s been missing!”
“What’s been missing?”
Spearhead snickered. “Are you serious? Is this just some human idea you got from somewhere?”
Sheepishly. “Yes…a bit. But I really think it is just what we need to get Cybertronians involved in making the news rather than just watching it.”
Spearhead shrugged. “Okay…boss. No one else is here. I guess it’s your show now.”
Bishop sat down at his ‘desk’ and signaled for Spearhead to take his usual position as both camerabot and director in front of the stage. “No Spearhead,” he said as the small Autobot transformed into a round, hovering camera, “the show is all of ours. Autobot, Decepticon, Junkion…even humans. We ALL make the news.”
Spearhead took the best facsimile to his usual place that he could find in the room, but as the dimensions were considerably different than they had been in the Baird Tower, he found it difficult to focus on both Bishop and the stage and so the picture was often blurry when Bishop moved…which, given Bishop’s enthusiastic movements, was often. However, he managed to find the best place from where to transmit and the light on the top of his round body turned from red to green.
“In five…four…three…two…you’re on…”
Bishop sat still for a millisecond. Stage fright? He’d never done anything like this before. The idea of just saying what he wanted to say was something of a fevered dream, a wish that he’d never believe fulfilled. And yet now, he was in complete control for this one, shining moment. However, he regained his senses quickly.
“Hello, good evening, and thank you! And welcome to The Bishop Brief! It’s a working title…”
Spearhead chuckled audibly.
Undaunted, Bishop continued. “I’m Bishop…for those of you who had actually been watching Around Cybertron…but for those of you who haven’t, I’m the blue journalist who hides in your bushes and reads your mail when you’re not looking…or for my human viewers…I’m the genie from Aladdin.”
Spearhead emitted a groan. “Really, Bishop?”
Bishop shot Spearhead a sour glance.
“Well, some of you are probably aware that Cybertron is now more than half a billion kilometers closer to the red giant sun Citctus, and for the first time in memory Cybertronians can now enjoy the sunshine…so now when Megatron wants to threaten to throw an Autobot into the sun he can do it himself from the roof of Tarn. Or maybe just have a couple of his seekers do it for him…I hear his throwing arm isn’t so good these days though after his smack down with Optimus Prime. If only he’d had bigger hands he could have blocked Prime’s punches more effectively? I don’t know…”
“And now the big story for Cybertron is the new Golden Age in which…in addition to sunglasses now being a thing again…there is power coming into the planetary grid through solar collectors around the planet. It’s not enough to return every city to full power, but it’s enough for the Decepticons to turn on the lights long enough to see who it is that has a gun to their backs, whether it’s a lowly minion bucking for a promotion or just Starscream trying to take over but not really trying to take over…again. I guess it’s just the Deception way of protesting low wages and hostile work environment?”
Bishop continued, “But what a Golden Age for Cybertron really means is when all Cybertronians, whether Autobot, Decepticon, or independent, has a voice in the direction our planet is taking…and not just the one aimed at Citctus. I mean when all of Cybertron can share equally in the benefits and responsibilities of what lies ahead for our people.”
Bishop paused and then learned forward towards Spearhead to address the camera more intimately. “Which is why I’m extending an invitation to any Cybertronian or human, whatever their faction...to come onto this show…the Bishop Brief…(still a working title)…and tell viewers their own story from their own perspective. Or if they want to be interviewed via a remote uplink, that’s fine too…we fired our cleaning staff a week ago and look at the mess! But seriously…no threats…no faction pumping…just real stories from real people. Because that’s where the news is…it’s being made by all of you watching right now, every minute of every day. Don’t you deserve to be heard too?”
Bishop looked around, waiting for a familiar cue. When none was forthcoming, he simply said, “Uh…and that’s our show for now. Goodnight! And good luck.”
The light on top of Spearhead’s camera body changed from green back to red. “And we’re out.”
In a singularly smooth motion, Spearhead transformed in midair as he descended, landing smoothly on both feet as a robot. He approached Bishop cautiously, as if somehow wondering who and what this new and unpredictable Autobot might be, and sat down on the makeshift chair on the other side of Bishop’s ‘desk.’
“Do you think anyone was listening, Spearhead?” Bishop asked, deep in thought. “I mean, it’s not really like anyone was tuned in or anything, was it? How far can you transmit outside of Iacon?”
Spearhead shrugged. “Without the transmitter? I have no idea.”
Bishop laughed, but without humor. “What do you think is going to happen to Cybertron, Spearhead?”
Spearhead shook his head. “I don’t know, Bishop. I really don’t know.”