METATISIC: PART TWENTY-FOUR
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!
CHAPTER 11: A COMMON ANCESTRY?
Cybertron - Factory town of Kokular; business district
"May Bass smile at us, and enjoy whatever we may accomplish this evening," Kup grinned as he worked the cobbled together music-selector with his credit tab. He chose some of Bass’ old favorites. They were raucous, raunchy… and totally Bass.
"Ah’ll second that. Who’s getting the first round?"
"I’ll volunteer for that, you just grab us a table, my friend." The paler bot went to the bar while Ironhide went in search of a roost for them among the other cantina patrons. Luckily, the red bot’s size intimidated a couple of the smaller patrons and they left, clearing a table for he and Kup.
Sitting down, he looked around interestedly. He didn’t often frequent anything outside work, the fuel station and his own home. Ironhide, as much as he was loath to admit it, wasn’t exactly the bot-about-town. That had been Bass. It was one of the reasons they’d gotten along so well. Bass could brag, and Ironhide would listen and enjoy his exploits vicariously without actually having to participate very often. Only once or twice had Brass actually snared him into scanning the bars for females.
Kup returned. "Fuel ordered and on its way." The red bot pursed his lips, speaking of females. Didn’t Kup have some friends who were supposed to show up? "Hey, are the girls here yet?"
"Sure. All three of them are over there."
Ironhide stared in the direction Kup pointed. He couldn’t believe those femmes were THE femmes. Kup had really outdone himself. Especially the tallest …
"Close your mouth, ‘hide, you look like a laser-carp." Kup grumbled, "Do you want them to think you’ve never seen a female before."
"Ah’ve never seen one like that before..." he sighed, closing his mouth after a fashion. The entire makeshift cantina had melted away for him. "She’s… she’s…"
"Blue? Leggy? Smirking at you? Spit it out, what?" Kup griped, hands on his hips.
"Perfect," Ironhide smiled stupidly when she waved at him. He waved back, a little shyly.
The pale green light-loader grunted. "Just great. All I want to do is chase some femme bumper and land it in my garage. What do you do? Go and fall in love. Oh, Primus, kill me now," he groaned in a disgusted voice, sitting down.
"She’s coming over here. Quick! Quick! W-what’s her name?" Ironhide pleaded.
Kup drummed his fingers on the table, watching the other bot’s frantically mounting distress with a perverse amount of satisfaction before he answered. "Chromia."
"Chromia…" Ironhide sighed in a silly way, his optics riveted on her slow approach.
"She really can turn metal into goo. She worked in annealing. That’s how she got her name. You better be careful," Kup couldn’t fight the smile that threatened his face anymore.
Their orders arrived and the pale green bot raised his fuel high, "To Bass, who probably engineered this from the depths of Primus’ crystalline Matrix."
Ironhide swallowed his entire drink blindly in a single gulp. "Thank you, Bass."
The beautiful female, object of the red bot’s instant affection, stopped in front of their table. "Is this seat taken?"
Seeing Ironhide unable to respond coherently, Kup smiled and rose. "Dear, you can have my seat. I’m going over there to play with your lady friends anyway." He started walking before she could respond.
Spectral and Eroda were old acquaintances of his. In fact, by the way they were arranging themselves in the booth, what they had in mind was exactly what Kup had in mind. He hoped Ironhide would be able to find his way home all right, because he and the girls weren’t going to stay at the cantina long...
Chromia sat down. "Well, aren’t you going to introduce yourself?"
"Chromia…" he breathed.
"No, that’s my name, handsome."
Her smile absolutely dazzled Ironhide, but it broke his trance. "You’re beautiful," he said in a reverent tone.
"Well, you certainly have a way with words."
The O’hiiden Cantonment; Ta’nak
(At the crack of ...night?)
It had taken Steelheart a long time to finally shut down. Alone, at last, after who knows how many astrocycles of being in close quarters with the others… she had her own berth. The fact that it was clean, and in a room with a ceiling, was no less amazing to her. Coronach had been right. She’d actually managed a decent recharge cycle.
Now, unfortunately, she was awake and staring at the wall again. Something was faintly stabbing at her consciousness, as if she were standing balanced on a ledge with a yawning void on the other side… and her equilibrium stabilizers were just about to blow. Steelheart couldn’t put her finger on the precise source of her discomfort; only the constant feeling of ‘almost falling’ was starting to remind her of the Pit.
She shuddered. Many good mechs and femmes had met their end in that watery hell. Squeezing her lids over her optics tightly, until the gears protested under the strain, Steelheart tried to banish the memory files that presented themselves for view.
A chime from the door shocked her into reality. Thankful for the intrusion, Steelheart felt a smile tug at the edges of her mouth. She sat up and grabbed the clean chamois next to the berth to buff herself. She reasoned that it would be a shame to ignore all of Nubet’s hard work.
"Just a minute! There’s no need to be in such an all-fire hurry! Ah’m coming, Ah’m coming…" Steelheart shouted as she finished up and tossed the cloth over the end of the berth.
Keying the door to open she found she was met with a cheerful face. It wasn’t Coronach though. It was the yellow Herak… she remembered his name to be… "Quodlibet?"
"Right on the first try," he chuckled.
Steelheart stepped outside, allowing the door to slide shut behind her. "It’s awful early. What’s going on?"
He shrugged in his pleasant, offhand manner. "We have to make Bractos before the zenith."
The matter-of-fact tone he’d used made her hesitant to question why. At least it made her not want to ask him. As soon as she had a chance to get Coronach alone though… she would ask. "Alright… Well, Ah’m ready to go right now." Steelheart offered.
"You’re certainly more prompt than the others." Quodlibet smiled. "If you’ll follow me…"
Canticle was in no better mood this morning than he had been the night before. The young Commander was sure that if he had partnered him with Quodlibet instead, the Cybertronian mechs would have had a much ruder awakening than they were receiving now. He lamented the waste of time. They’d already been at this for far too many wasted breems.
"Up! Up all of you. We have to leave in less than a megacycle," Coronach called as he shook legs and thumped shoulders lightly.
Gridlock opened one optic and locked the sapphire spot directly on the blue Herak. "Are you crazy? Do you know what time it is?"
The young Commander sighed. "I assure you, I’m not doing this to be perverse… Come on, get up!"
[ Look at the mess they’ve made all over the bunks. They’re no better than retro rats… ] Canticle complained.
Coronach paused and glanced at the red Herak. [ Are you tempting my wrath for some particular reason? Have you forgotten who commands here? ]
[ No, I haven’t… are you blind Commander? We can’t take them to see the Dourjer like this! We can’t sully… ] Canticle grouched, shoving Voyager a little harder than necessary.
"Aaaaa!" The small mech shrieked as he tumbled from his berth. Optics flickering, he rubbed his head. "What happened?!"
Coronach said nothing.
Canticle paused, realizing what he had done, and bowed his head. "Forgive me. That was my fault, Voyager."
"Well… that’s fine. I know I look a little heavier than I actually am…" The whip thin mech replied as he picked himself up off the floor.
The red Herak hadn’t wanted to apologize. He still radiated distaste, but he had done as was required. Though the young Commander, in that moment, felt a sense of pride; he didn’t call attention to Canticle’s apology. He didn’t wish to shame his wingmate.
"Come on, all of you! Awake!" Coronach shouted.
The silence had stretched for awhile and, though he was pleasant enough, Steelheart didn’t exactly find Quodlibet comfortable to be around. If it were possible for someone to be too happy… well… she was looking at the poster-mech for it. He was chatting endlessly about his family again. His sister and his exasperation with her dominated his part of the conversation. He seemed to be fishing for help with his problems relating to her-- but Steelheart really didn’t know what to say.
"So, enough about my family. What about yours? I heard you mention a brother before. What’s he like?" The dusky yellow flyer smiled.
"Well… Ironhide is sort of like me. Doesn’t take no guff from nobody and does a good job at whatever he puts his mind to do. He’s a transport too."
Quodlibet nodded. "Yes, I noticed that your entire party transforms. Very convenient and, I dare say, very useful. What sort of transport are you?"
"Ah work with hazardous materials, mostly. Acids, radioactive stuff, oxidizers… you know, all the slag that normal folk wouldn’t touch with a ten skeen electro-prod." She offered.
The dusky yellow Herak blinked. "That’s… a very dangerous sort of job for a female, if you don’t mind me saying. What made you choose it?"
Steelheart looked away. She’d never been ashamed of being a former slave before now. How could she explain, to a mech who had always been free, what it was like not to have that kind of choice? Sighing, she decided to leave that for another time. "Ah didn’t so much choose the work as it chose me, Quodlibet."
The Herak was about to press further, when shouts came from the guesthouse and the stacatto of jogging feet clanking and thudding sounded on the walkway. He chuckled to himself as several shouts in Delepic were met with a badly repeated line.
One of the voices sounded strangely like Gridlock.
Steelheart cocked her head and wondered aloud, "What’s all that?"
"Your mechs are calling cadence for Coronach."
She frowned. "They’re what?"
"It’s like… a song soldiers sing to keep themselves on beat when marching. I can only guess that my Commander has lost his patience entirely…" Quodlibet chuckled.
"Where are they march’in to?" Steelheart asked.
"Most likely the communal showers. Your comrades are pretty grimy…" The dusky yellow Herak clapped his hands together as if just thinking of something. "Well, since they’re finally up and about, I’d suggest we make for the runway."
Steelheart frowned again, more faintly this time, but followed Quodlibet.
"Well, the trip is certainly more fascinating this time around." Voyager, clean and bright, leaned against Coronach’s window and watched O’hiiden shrink in the distance. "The cantonment was quite educational. The mosaic work and the written language appear…"
Steelheart wasn’t listening and hadn’t been for awhile now. Sitting, she had her old transmitter out again, fiddling with her personal thread-welder and trying to get it to come on line. Servo had wanted to talk and she didn’t feel like asking the Commander for his communicator every time she needed to place a call. The transmitter was old and stubborn though, and really should have been junked vorns ago.
"Have you heard a word I’ve said at all?"
Guilty, she looked up to find Voyager staring at her with one optic ridge quirked. "Ah… no, Ah haven’t. Something about the language?"
"Well, at least you were paying half attention." Voyager sighed before continuing, nasally, "I was saying that I should have a reasonable database for the language these mechs speak after a few more recordings. After that I can begin to correlate it with the written glyphs I’ve managed to take scans of."
"And then we could learn that purdy language too, right?" Steelheart asked, half distracted by a short in a circuit on the transmission board she was bypassing.
Voyager sighed again, dramatically. "Honestly, femme, what do you think about in that vacuous cranium of yours? Pretty language!? Steelheart, they speak in a dialect directly related to the ancient root language for our own speech! Do you realize what this means? We may have had common ancestry!"
Steelheart blinked, but not at Voyager. There was something rising in the distance.
"Ah’ll be…" She sighed. Her transmitter fell to the deck, forgotten, as she rose.
Voyager turned to look as well and, for once, was speechless.
"We are coming within sight of Bractos." Coronach informed over his internal speakers.
Bractos was magnificent. If there had been music, it would have come to a great and awesome crescendo at this moment. Bronze spires, like far-reaching rays of some forgotten star, erupted from the quartz and osmium. In every conceivable style, they radiated out in astonishing variety. Some looked very modern, others so old that they probably predated the Quintessons-- if such a thing were possible. Lucent tracks of silvery blue light interwove through the grand spires, flickering in solemn incandescence. It grew larger and larger as they approached until it started to fill the window completely.
In her mind, O’hiiden became a mild swelling on the plains in comparison. She felt a little silly for being so awed by it now.
"Look! Look! Those specks flitting around! They’re robots!" Voyager pointed.
Steelheart nodded. As they drew closer, they could see the mechs and femmes in flight, as well as the strange insectoid hover-transports at work. "Ah guess all of them can fly…"
Coronach had been listening rather than speaking. It was something he often did and he’d employed it to silently learn about the Cybertronians by observing their interactions. They had been fascinated with he and his wingmates. He’d initially thought it was out of deep respect… but he was no longer so sure. The way they mentioned certain things was puzzling…
Now, even as the grandeur of the capital worked its sublime magic on his senses (as it always did), he was plagued by questions he could no longer keep quiet.
Over his speakers he commented. "I fail to see why flight would amaze you."
Voyager started to speak, but Steelheart interrupted. "It’s cause none of us can do much more than jump, Commander."
The slim silver mech next to her sighed loudly and Coronach could easily imagine his irritated expression. He was becoming increasingly familiar with it. The Herak Commander himself felt only shock. Yes, that was the word he was looking for. Shock. Shock that almost caused his engines to cut out as power was diverted to processors that almost couldn’t compensate for the deduction he’d just made.
"Do you mean to tell me that you walked all the way from Cybertron?" Coronach demanded. He’d seen their footprints in the dust, he just hadn’t realized…
"What of it?" Steelheart shot back.
Even Voyager was surprised. "Commander… " he began in an apologetic tone.
"Nevermind." The young Commander cut his internal speakers. He had no idea why the femme was upset, but he wasn’t going to allow his ire to rise in response to hers. There were more important considerations to be made.
The Cybertronians could not fly. It made their crossing of the wastes that much more extrordinary, to be sure…
"Have you completely abandoned all reason?!" Voyager demanded.
Steelheart picked up her transmitter, but put her tools back in her body panels. As the majestic city filled the window, she felt it crushing her. Everything that her people longed for seemed to be commonplace here. Bractos, with its flying inhabitants and titanic architecture, spoke of vorns of freedom… of self-determination without the Masters and their experiments and the Pit…
"Steelheart!" Voyager shook her shoulder.
She looked at him. There was no way she could have named her expression now, but whatever she was displaying made the slim mech pause. He did not even launch into the tirade he’d worked up. In fact, he glanced away, back out the window.
Misery and joy sharing equal space, she too looked out the window.
The city was alive; Steelheart felt it as sure as she felt the phantasmal yawning void near her peds. It was waiting for something. She only hoped that it wasn’t waiting to consume her…
They had arrived before the Apex as was planned. Coronach largely ignored the casual conversation between Canticle and Quodlibet as they came upon the air-dock. The flight decks were mostly clear… that general emptiness would change soon, he knew, as soon as word of the Cybertronians spread from O’hiiden. Soon the foreigners wouldn’t be able to turn around without someone staring at them.
[ This is Coronach, inform Lord Shockwave that we have arrived and will be conducting the Cybertronians to the Iysurus as soon as His Majesty sends for them. ] He transmitted to the air-traffic control tower.
Docking and disembarking took less time than it had previously. When he and his fellows transformed, they found the Cybertronians already engaged in being what amounted to tourists. The foreign mechs were all chattering excitedly, turning this way and that, pointing things out and laughing happily. Gridlock even hoisted Voyager on his shoulder so he could have a better view.
The slim little mech had his instruments out, yet again. He was taking scans of anyone who passed closely, adding to another of his endless databases. Coronach got the feeling that he didn’t know what do do with half the information he was gathering, he was simply gathering any tidbits he could manage in the hopes that they would be important later.
Steelheart was another story. She wasn’t looking at Bractos directly. Instead, she was turned to view the long expanse of silver fields and stone that marked the way they came. She glanced at the city, but kept looking back over the fields below. The expression she wore… Coronach had seen it on the faces of soldiers who had been too long at war without rest. It was an… emptiness. That a female would wear such a look so seriously made something coil tightly in the dark at the back of his mind. It felt almost like… rage.
"Were you not to contact your brother’s Commander?" He ventured in a soft tone, after waiting for her to speak first.
She fixed those eerie blue optics on him. "My transmitter’s shot."
"All you would have to do is ask, Steelheart. I would allow you the use of mine." The young Commander could not keep the worried frown from his face. He drew his own communicator out and passed it to her. Well, he tried to.
The Cybertronian female stared at him and the small device for a long beat. His internal temperature started to fluctuate as it had the day before. Something about those strange optics; she wielded them like another might use blades and they stabbed him in weak places he barely realized existed. He took her hand and placed the communicator in it.
Finally a glimmer of feeling swept over her features and a tiny smile started at the corner of her mouth. "Ah do declare. Is that an order, Commander?"
Relief washed over the blue Herak. "Yes. Yes, it is."