© S.D. Green, 2003, except for all that Hasbro stuff
Wheeljack put the finishing touches on the automatic doors that would guard the Ark from intruders. He examined them happily. One less way for Laserbeak to sneak into the Autobot’s headquarters and current home. There really wasn’t anything he could do about the cone of the volcano; that would just invite a nasty eruption and there was no way he was going to get blamed for blowing the whole place sky high.
Considering that thought, Wheeljack decided to test the massive doors. He walked up to them and they slid aside, just as they were supposed to. So he walked back in, picked up his tools, and took them back to his lab, certain the doors would do their job.
Shortly thereafter, Optimus Prime called for most of the Autobots to go battle a new Decepticon threat. "Transform and roll out!" he declared, and the Autobots did so. They all sped toward the doors, confident they would work.
It became abundantly obvious that the doors did not, in fact, work as they should when the speeding Autobots approached and the doors loomed ahead, shut tight. Optimus Prime screeched to a halt before he crashed cab-first into the steadfastly shut doors, causing him to jack-knife. Trailbreaker, Ironhide, and Brawn all smashed into Prime’s trailer, finding themselves either smunched or wedged beneath. It ended up being a twelve-Autobot pile-up.
Out of all the moaning and grumbling Autobots, one voice rose in fury. Sunstreaker. Wheeljack winced from behind; he was far too capable a stunt driver to get stuck in something so mundane as a car accident, so he was undamaged. Perhaps this was not a good thing, Wheeljack thought to himself. Maybe he should have just crashed along with everyone else. It wouldn’t appease Sunstreaker, who had transformed and started throwing a fit about the state of his crumpled feet and legs, but at least it would give him one less reason to beat the fuel out of the engineer.
Then again, being unhurt gave Wheeljack a speed advantage. He instantly screeched around and drove at top speed, racing away from a roaring and frothing yellow Lamborghini bent on the imminent destruction of one white Lancia.
As Wheeljack sped away, he just caught the voice of Ratchet roaring obscenities as well—and the sound of doors happily sliding open. Apparently, he hadn’t set them to open for Autobots traveling at speed...
It took about six Earth days before Wheeljack could show his face around Sunstreaker and Ratchet without being hunted down like a turbo-fox. As it was, he had once awoken from a recharge only to find himself painted in varying hues of almost-but-not-quite Sunstreaker-yellow, most likely by a very angry Ratchet.
* * *
"Are you positive they will work this time?" Optimus Prime asked several weeks later when Wheeljack proudly displayed his new and improved Ark doors.
"Of course they’ll work," Wheeljack said. "See, I’ll show you." Wheeljack transformed and rushed headlong toward the doors, and they opened quickly, giving Wheeljack plenty of space to exit. Then he turned around and drove back in as the doors closed. "I didn’t have them set up to respond fast enough last time."
"All right," Prime said warily. He called out, "Autobots! Transform and roll out!" Autobots transformed, and they rolled out, but they did so slowly, not wishing to involve themselves in another embarrassing accident.
Wheeljack crowed happily to himself when the doors obediently opened and allowed all the Autobots to drive out without incident.
When the Autobots returned, they all raced for the entrance, expecting the doors to open as they approached. They didn’t. Fortunately the Autobots managed not to run into each other or the fast shut doors as they came to a rapid halt.
"Wheeljack...," came Optimus Prime’s accusing voice.
"Uh. Er. Lemme go see what’s wrong." Wheeljack transformed and walked up to the doors, knowing he was being stared at angrily by dusty, tired Autobots who just wanted to go home. When he reached the doors, he examined them, and with a defeated slump, he realized he’d forgotten to install a motion sensor on the outside. In fact, he’d forgotten to install anything on the outside that would open the doors.
At least he knew Laserbeak couldn’t get in that way either.
With a sigh, Wheeljack fired up his rockets and flew up and into the volcano so he could open the doors from the inside.
* * *
"And they’ll open from the outside this time," Optimus Prime asked warily, pointing to the new Ark doors Wheeljack had installed.
"Yes, yes. I put sensors on both sides this time! They’ll work!"
"Not that I enjoy doubting your work, Wheeljack, but I’d feel better if you proved it."
"All right," Wheeljack sighed. He drove through the doors, which worked fine. Then he waited outside for them to close. After they closed, he drove back through, and the doors did in fact open from both sides.
Satisfied, Optimus Prime declared, "Autobots! Transform and roll out!"
Everything went fine on the way out. To the surprise of some doubters, everything worked on the way in as well. Except for Cliffjumper and Bumblebee, who were trapped between the doors when they shut unexpectedly. Grimlock and Sludge were called in to force the doors open enough to extricate the two minibots when nothing else worked.
* * *
"This time the doors won’t shut on anyone, right?" Optimus Prime demanded as Wheeljack showed him the carefully constructed and meticulously tested Ark doors.
"I’ve tested them thoroughly. I figured out what went wrong and fixed it. They’ll work fine," Wheeljack declared.
"All right," Prime said grudgingly. "Autobots! Transform and roll out!" Bumblebee and Cliffjumper were admittedly nervous about the doors.
This time the doors worked perfectly both ways. The Autobots enjoyed their nice doors for several weeks. They worked without a hitch, that is, until Seaspray, Warpath, Perceptor, and Powerglide got trapped outside because the doors wouldn’t recognize Autobots without automotive alt-modes who weren’t Dinobots. They had been designed that way since there were no Decepticons with dinosaur or car modes. Essentially, the doors wouldn’t open because they were certain Decepticons were trying to get in.
Wheeljack worked for several hours to get the doors to recognize them, all the while listening to Warpath rant, his words peppered with a much larger number of pows, bangs, and zowies than usual.
* * *
Optimus Prime would be frowning if he could as he looked on Wheeljack’s latest iteration of Ark doors. "These doors will recognize all the Autobots, right?"
"Of course! I programmed everyone into the sensors that don’t have car modes. They’ll work like a charm."
Prime raised an optic ridge but said nothing until his inevitable order for the Autobots to transform and roll out.
True to Wheeljack’s word, the doors recognized and opened for all the Autobots. Unfortunately that only lasted two days. When the Aerialbots arrived at the Ark for the first time, Fireflight crashed into the volcano while Silverbolt merely bumped his nosecone on the unresponsive doors.
Wheeljack muttered something dark under his vocalizer, walked toward the doors that at least recognized him, and allowed the Aerialbots to enter.
Sadly, upon entering the Ark, the Autobots discovered a hitherto unknown flaw in Wheeljack’s door sensor programming. There were Stunticons running around tearing the interior of the Ark to bits; apparently, the sensor program thought they were Autobots because they had automotive alt-modes.
At least, Wheeljack thought, Laserbeak couldn’t get in...
* * *
Optimus Prime rubbed his helmet. Wheeljack had again installed doors on the Ark. After the failures over the last couple of years, the Autobot leader wasn’t so sure doors were a good idea.
"The programming has been fixed, I assume?"
Wheeljack shifted his optics. "Yeah, it won’t let any Decepticons in. The doors are programmed only to recognize Autobot fuel signatures. That means if we bring back a fleet of new Autobots, the doors will work."
"OK. Autobots! Transform and roll out!"
This time the doors didn’t even bother waiting for any other Autobots to arrive. They simply exploded, sending Wheeljack and Optimus Prime flying.
To be honest, Optimus Prime was surprised the doors hadn’t exploded before that.
Wheeljack picked himself off the ground and shook his head. "I can fix ‘em, they won’t do that again!"
Prime sighed. "Don’t bother, Wheeljack. I don’t think we were meant to have doors on the Ark."
Wheeljack slumped dejectedly. He hated it when his projects didn’t work right no matter what he did.
* * *
Under the Pacific Ocean, Megatron laughed, replayed some videos Laserbeak had made over the years. Specifically, he was watching Wheeljack’s attempts to install doors on the Ark. His favorite ‘episode’ had to be the one with Sunstreaker. He never had understood why the Autobots bothered since they knew they couldn’t seal up the cone of the volcano; no matter what they did with the outside entrance, Laserbeak would still be able to get in.