METATISIC: PART SIXTEEN
TITLE: Metatisic., Metatisic: Saga One
TYPE: Transformers G1 fiction
AUTHOR: Megan Seekings & A. Chandler
FIRST RELEASE: 1985, 1986, & 1987.
Revised edition 5/8/03, 2004-2008
SUMMERY: Unable to obtain it from their native planet of Cybertron, Decepticon leader, Galvatron resorts to excavating an asteroid particle that has tested positive for Cybertonium, dispatching a crew to retrieve it. But as the surface layers are removed, trace outline of an ancient staircase unintentionally leads the party on a sudden and very unexpected journey deep into Cybertronian history prior to the first Great War some 14 million years ago!
The darkness was fluid. It had no shape, no form, but it was wet... like oil, or mech fluid... or tears.
At first it was black, almost as if eternal night had fallen... as if even the stars had winked out one by one until the sky stood naked and empty and alone. Then color came, bursting first as if new stars had come to claim the darkness and then spreading until the darkness itself became a kaleidoscopic sea of light and color.
A phantom play of mauve churns at its matrix --the solar flux? Maybe. But he has seen its phantom before and it wasn't ever real then. Realism falters and this make-believe is the norm. Nothing seems substantial now and he's held prisoner by its specter.
Home ... I'll never get back home.
The fluidity began to bubble, churn, as if suddenly being put in contact with live current. Sounds --distorted at first-- seemed to explode within the bubbles. Each had no relation to the first. Then images joined them. Distorted, foggy, as if in the depths of a dust storm... exploding... and then slowly, carefully, drawing back together.
Alone, there is a single shaft of golden light among the rest. It throbs among the others, both a part of them and greater.
The surface breaks.
A storm tossed traveler could be no more grateful than Cyclonus was now. With considerable effort he opens his eyes to find reality solid, even if he is not. Everything aches, damage reports are coming through on channels he didn't even know were functional. Then he dares look over, remembering... something.
Memory falls into place like cue cards: Rougeons, fire, rushing, shot, falling. Did he transform? If he had, he certainly couldn't remember doing so, much less the crash. Crash? --yes, that much he WAS sure of. Evidence where his haul had tilled the ground extended out behind him several feet before it eventually petered out. Perhaps he had coasted? Whatever and however, he was functional.
Arms outstretched, his body was crushed into a slope of a dust dune and turned towards the sun. It was certainly not the Alpha-Centauri. It was much too small and far too distant. Red in its firmament, perhaps that was the source of the illusive ghost of the flux.
"Meta--" The lids of his optics slammed shut involuntary to appease a flare up of his tortured condition. "Metati--sic?" He tried again. He couldn't see him at all and energy needed to lift his body in order to see exhausted him cycles ago.
"I should have let them take me." Cyclonus rasped, entertaining no one. "Succumb with honor and allow them to strip whatever remains intact ..The damned rebels." He coughed and retorted the thought quicky to his original concerns: "Metatisic?"
You probably dropped him. Cyclonus scolded himself mentally. Killed yourself, killed your leader, abandoned the other leader. Galvatron ...you forget about him? What will become of him now that you are lying here who knows where in who knows what millennia?
Lazily, his attention left his bruises to the spaces above him and the cliff he expected to find there. He spotted five and any one of them could be a candidate to where he had fallen from, if any of them at all. They rose up out of their dusty foundations in no perfect ascent. On closer inspection, two of the giants lie stretched in the sun --glory mightily fallen beside their dark pavilions on the bronze and rust dunes in lion-like somnolence.
The bronze is an illusion and not there when the Decepticon lieutenant attempts to stand. It is the pain that is another matter --The rotaries of his right knee was shattered entirely. The joint was knocked off its central sprocket and shoved hard to the rear where it had forcefully popped the plate metal of his calf. Now it hinged there like a loose door flapping.
"Metatisic?" Cyclonus imagined he picked him out in the haze.
What he thought was a dune to the east was actually the mass exostructure remains of a ruined silo. It hollows the sand where not one, but several huge bodies sprawl, burly, encased in their armor, riveted in sleep to the ground: swords for their pillow, spears by the broad shoulders, energo-arrow shafts at their belts, lances stuck in the shifts of silicone dust. Their heads are prone on the ground, their faces are tough and tanned by rust. Like tarnished copper their eyes, prey to the howling wind, is game for the flame of the mighty Karna star.
None of them could possibly be the Decepticon leader. They're much too old. Eternity spans them and their visitor both. He may be their first in vorns.
Anchored gap-mouthed at their frozen expressions, Cyclonus forgot the burn of his wounds. For a moment, the sentinels' plight --whatever it had been that dealt them such a fate-- is his own. He's lost here, directionless, forsaken, and much too far from his own time. Nobody knows him here and his life would not be missed. He could fall here, perish here, and be one with them for all wretched eternity.
"Well, brothers" Cyclonus said sedately. "Who might you all have been?" He paused, slumped against a spire for balance. "Eh?"
He didn't really expect them to answer him. Their mighty chests thrust forth, iron anvils for time's sledge hammer, as if in eternity forged by immense, unfathomed power now fallen eternally silent. Only the scars on seared faces, the weals on bared servos, the chipping of laser fire and javelin, and the carved hilts of the swords remain --like inscriptions on tomb markers. It's all they have.
For a moment, the blazing glow of the red sun catches their lance flashes and kindles a thousand glints on their faces burnished bronze. Exposed to the glare, they are perished in their generations, their vigor sapped by the east wind and dispersed by the northern gales. Sometimes a sudden shadow floats across the arid region, hovers, glides and soars in weaving, wheeling flight.
Cyclonus signed. "Ah, well ...rest."
He snapped off his monitory channel, irritated by the continuous alert that his fuel was empty and any stored reserves were rapidly depleting. He knew that already and didn't need the flashing fluorescence to remind him of it. Rest, recharge --it sounded perfect. Collapsing his chin to his chest, a brush stroke of maroon --unusual amongst so much gold-- seized his attention. One brow gabled, then another.
Slumped on his side, the Dourjer's forehead was tilt to the ground. The rest of his body disappeared into the wasteland where he landed. Cyclonus picked out his silver cannon, white and reflective, when he shifted to see. He must have lost his hold on the monarch before he hit.
Soon too, this sun will set and whirl in its jubilees; another will rise to take its place. The desert subsides and stirs, the silence returns as before. Cliffs lift their heads in wonder at the dark abyss of time, arrogant in their silent splendor, proud, eternally alone. For league upon league, no voice, no syllable breaks the stillness. A whirl of current rises and piles Ta'nak's metallic grit around the thighs and waist of the king. It's no wonder how the dead, keeping their company around the both of them, are all but lost in the endless cycle.
A particular hot wind drowns out Cyclonus' call. Parched, emaciated, and completely sapped, he can't walk to the Decepticon leader, but crawling fairs no better and takes even more time.
"Mighty one?" He coughed.
Bractos - G9-12; Battlefield
(Once the retainer span)
He many have lost his blaster in the tide, but Coronach remembered having drawn his gladius and murdering the warrior who had charged him with a roar right up to the moment when Coronach chopped the weapon into the savage's throat. There was no triumphed death sequence, no last spasmodic twitch of synapsis or stations --only a plain grunt and the renegade had toppled backwards to the greet of fellow sentries.
Pycon and Chamfer --At last, true to his general's speculation, the infantry originally directed to the Nin'gur pass, had finally arrived. They brought with them the turning point. The brilliant portrait of victory Jhard had painted for himself, gloating back there in the temple, crumbed away and now Coronach looked around for the remnants of his unit and was relieved to see faces he knew well dotting the destruction. They were panting and splashed with the fluid of other mechs, but alive.
Pycon mounted the head of one slain Rougeon upon his lance to a volley of cheers from comrades stood nearby. Should Coronach dare to feel sympathy for the robot then? These were Decepticons after all --Traitors, yes, but still fellow Decepticons. Some of them the herak had even known once, much like Pycon's little trophy. What a waste of mech! Robotic wreckages were flung into the carts with the ruins of all the others.
Sorry? No. There were much greater emotions to feed: Guilt.
Metatisic stood as firm as his Bractos to the traitors' furtherance, but now he was gone. It wasn't the young robot's fault. Their strength was always in their corps and in the zenith of battle that wasn't always possible. It was every Decepticon for himself and he had little chance to link shields with anyone else.
Coronach saddled part of a fallen retainer and climbed the bent rise of another. He halted his four vehicle convoy several yards from the two burning pyres that were visible from the peak. Those would be the east gate's former silos; flaming beacons now to the missing.
"Keep looking!" Sarterius' repetitive order resounded above it all.
Coronach joined three others there and crept forward to observe the overturned steeples. They could see the bodies of the dead strewn across the litter. Another single form --not the one he was searching for-- was separate from the others and hunkered down by visible wounds. The soldier stood up, cursed his handicaps, and dropped. Coronach lead his Decepticons forward with a silent hand signal and the broken mech's optics fluttered open to take in the visitors. Two of them kept to shadows, guns ready, but Coronach approached and squatted beside the soldier once he realized the robot was no rebel.
"Who? Who are you?" The 'con couldn't keep his head aloft any longer and it was clear his concerns were elsewhere.
"Does it matter?" Coronach asked, bringing a small cube of energon to the mech's lips. "Servants to the Dourjer. We trust in him and--" He thumped the legionnaire nearest to him "--in our weaponry."
Coronach sat back on his heels and studying the damaged militant saying nothing further right away as he watched him thirst after every last drop of the offered energon cube.
"Your damage is great" Coronach began again. "You'll need to get to the medi-driods straight away."
"C-can't. I'm looking for my comrade." (A clue to the robot's distraction) "He may be destroyed."
"What is your name, soldier? I'm so sure I know you."
"S-scourge." Came the reply.
"He's one of those Decepticons we brought in from the border." Pycon topped the crest just now cleaving the conversation. "There were three of them" he said.
"Yes" Scourge acknowledged, "Cyclonus, Rumble, and myself."
"Your friends are dead?"
"I don't know."
"The Dourjer is equally missing, Coronach." Pycon tossed the better of his precedence from the youth and back to the areas below them. His regard shifted to the sweep leader at the same instant. "Sarterius is spewing fire down there" he said. "I don't think he'll take to kindly to us milling around. 'Cuse my not being sympathetic, Scourge. Come with us if you insist and perhaps we'll find the both of them."
"I was nearest to him." Guilt cradled Coronach's speech just then. "When Sarterius is not present, the master's safety was my responsibility."
"Just as much as it is mine, Coronach." Pycon reminded, his well-slabbed shoulders looked so heavy when he leaned. "It's mine, too. His, his, and also his."
Below, Sarterius began setting the guards again and called a trooper nearest to him for a quick report of current situations. Neither one of them from the eastern mound could hear what was spoken, but the general's frustration was rich and clear. There was a wounded P.O.W that Chamfer had discovered earlier and had taken into custody. He planned to deliver the rebel to the jails after the search, but when the Rougeon sneered at their concerns and began to chuckle, Sarterius stopped mid-turn.
"Laugh? Laugh will ya?!"
The commander kicked the captive once viciously. It was hardly enough to dent his rage. Yanking his rifle from his shoulder, he suddenly blasted the damned scum to smithereens! Metal flinted, transistors and rods curbed away, and still the general fired volley after volley. Pure driven rage arrested his expression and severed any sense or reason he had left to his chagrin. How dare the Rougeon chuckle! How DARE he!
"Laugh, eh?" Nothing came out of the artillery now, but Sarterius held the trigger down a moment more before he chucked the gun to the right, "Laugh now!" He snorted.
The general seemed surprised that any witness should be gapping. He was sound in all of his convictions with regret for nothing. Slag 'em --it was a simple and logical principal of commitment: If it isn't a Decepticon or loyal to their causes, slag it! No use for it. Destroy it! Sarterius rancorous optics flashed the lot. "Haven't seen a dead renegade before?!" He snarled at one 'con specifically. Any one would do for his vent, he just happened to be the closest.
"Then why--" He whipped a twist of iron at him, "--are you STARING!"
"Back to your duties!" He barked at everyone else. "Search! None will decree the Dourjer's death until I have seen proof of his battered haul at my feet! Spread out and search! --Chamfer!"
"Call in Dirtmouth. Get them here now."
Shockwave stared down at the collar in his hand. It was indeed Metatisic's menat, the mantle that symbolized his authority. Torn and dirty, covered in mech fluid that might or might not be his, it had become a blasphemous object. He was eternally grateful that his back had been to the room when the seeker had arrived with it.
Megatron No. Absolutely not! The boy could not be allowed to see such a thing. Not until its hateful suggestion was proven as true. To do otherwise would just affright him unnecessarily.
Quodlibet looked uneasy, shifting from foot to foot, his normally cheerful manner banished under the piercing gaze of the guardian. "I'm sorry that this lowly messenger could not bring you better news."
Shockwave half turned, hiding the collar in the shadow of his own body. Megatron sat on Eleven's knees. She was rocking the prince and murmuring nothings to him.
"Eleven, keep watch on him." He ordered, brusquely.
He did not pause as he pushed the herak from the room, ignoring the confused look that the femme wore. Nor did he see the worried glance that the vornling himself gave his broad back.
Once out in the hall, the winged mech had to jog to keep pace with Shockwave's mighty strides. He did not pause or slow. The herak was trained for speed, he should exhibit it, and so the elder robot did not bother to even acknowledge his distress.
"And you are completely sure that there was no trace of any frame sections or paneling?"
Quodlibet nodded. "Nay, nothing at all, sir. Lord Sarterius has Dirtmouth and his engineers working even as we speak... looking for anything."
"Then this could be nothing more than a trick to fool us. Until there is a body, there will be no panic."
The seeker nodded again.
"Go to your commander. Tell Coronach to get the other herak in the air and start a perimeter scan. Anything suspicious, and I do mean anything, should be immediately reported to him or I."
"It will be done." The messenger's face took on a fierce look at odds with his normally placid expression.
Shockwave paused, bringing the dusky yellow mech up short with an arm across his chest. He scanned among the pillars. The herak too turned his piercing gaze on the shadows.
Soundwave crouched behind a pillar. He did not even dare to allow his intermix filters to open for fear of Shockwave hearing the noise. He waited a long moment... and then another until leaving footsteps assured him he was safe. Blowing out his pent up stress in a long sigh, he backed up... and heard a clank as his foot impacted with someone else's.
"Explanation forthcoming," he began. "Possible infiltration prompted..." The small blue robot turned to see another almost his size in a softer violet tone. His optic band dimmed in suspicion as the other mech gaped at him in open shock.
No way! Rumble was thick with disbelief. First there was mini-Megs and now a pint-sized Soundwave. It was strange to see his creator as a boy. There was something, deep about it --more deep than the cassette was used to or comfortable with.
"Well, my world has been completely rocked. Waiter, check please."
Soundwave frowned at the strange mech's words. "House-servant designate: Rumble?"
Rumble nodded. Hey, he didn't like it, but it was the truth.
"Specified defense area abandoned. Query: Why?" The boy's tone was sharp. Rumble knew that it was far sharper than he would ever dare use on anyone who he thought was his superior.
"I got separated from my unit, that's why," Rumble insisted. "'Sides, the battle's over anyway... and I was looking for my partners."
The lavender Decepticon's focus coasted over to Shockwave sharing in the giant guardian's concerns supervising snowy reports over the monitory bands: "Acknowledge, Shockwave."
"Shockwave. Go ahead, Sarterius."
"Nothing yet. Will report in the next breem."
"It doesn't sound good." Rumble muttered. "--Damn."
Soundwave looked down just a fraction, before making optic contact with Rumble again. It would have been an innocent gesture to anyone else, but Rumble felt a stab of pain. His guilt was not hard to notice.
The cassette's voice was softer this time as he reached out to the floundering boy. "Are you look'in for someone, too?"
"Following orders imperative to servant function..." Soundwave began in a haughty tone, jerking away. His control, formidable even --it seemed-- in boyhood, slammed tightly over his emotions.
The time-lost Decepticon sighed internally, he couldn't just let that slide. It hurt him in places he didn't even want to think about to see Soundwave so totally ...bummed.
"Well, don't just stand there. Give me one. Command me." Rumble grinned, hands on his hips.
Soundwave stood stock still for a moment. Then, unbelievably, he started to make a sound Rumble had not heard in a long time. He was laughing. As ever, it was like jewels being chimed. Rumble basked in the beautiful noise for a moment, savoring it.
His optic band brightening, the boy mimicked his posture. "House-servant designate: Rumble- Mission: Aid search for Megatron."
"You got it, boss. Lead on." Rumble bowed as he'd seen the other slaves do. Perhaps, in the search, he might hear something about Cyclonus or Scourge. That IS what Soundwave had trained him to do-- he was a spy. All this confusion and worry needed to get lost, 'cause it was high time he started acting the part.