METATISIC: PART TWENTY-SEVEN
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!
Ta'nak - Bractos - G9-L4; the taxi - Lower level docking
(And the endless fascination of Voyager...)
“That was certainly enlightening, in more ways than one,” The Autobot named Voyager was commenting to anyone who’d listen. “The star’s apex produces a wave spike and it’s as if the construction of the city amplified it. Like the whole inner structure is designed to concentrate stellar radiation. Even now the lingering effects would prevent a transmission from leaving the city for at least a megacycle if not longer. I think there must be a purpose for this, but I can’t imagine what it could…”
Coronach observed the band of Cybertronians with a studious optic as the whip-thin mech continued to talk. They seemed more than a little shaken by the Apex, as well they should have been. Even now, with the city still so bright, they were hushed and talked little. Except for Voyager. The Herak Commander privately believed that nothing short of a direct bomb strike could silence the little mech.
“…time to determine the function. This architecture is fantastic. There are no fewer than ten different periods represented here. I can tell the style differences immediately. The lowest visible level is reminiscent of the earliest Quintessonian fortifications with some overlaying work that is striking in its individuality…” Voyager burbled happily to himself, recording everything.
Gridlock shrugged as he continued to walk. “It’s big. Plenty big.”
Voyager huffed. “Honestly, you have the descriptive capabilities of a mecha-vole.”
The big tricolor mech shrugged. “At least I’m not short and loudmouthed.”
“Well I never!”
“Probably not,” Gridlock grumbled.
Coronach listened only halfway to the argument and tried to keep his mind on business. Because their guests could not fly, they would have to ride the vertical up as far as possible and then walk the remaining bridges inside the Iysurus. It was a laborious process but there was no alternative. They could not be flown in a transport because it was easy to hide an assassin in the ship’s paneling. No, the risk to the Dourjer was far too great, especially in light of the recent murder attempt.
As they approached the lower transport ring, the rising tower simply swallowed the sky. He’d seen it a million times before. Still, with each viewing, especially with the Alpha-Centauri still so bright, Coronach felt a sense of rightness. Here was the center of Ta’nak. It was if the great ray of the heavens bored into the very stone below. In the tales it was here the gates of the underworld were shattered and that the Karna was first held aloft by the hands of the Red One. It had always been one of his favorite stories and somehow returning to the Iysurus proper made him fill with hope and wonder.
It was a shame that not everyone could sense this connection between the very gravitation of the star and themselves. The Autobot female still bore an aura of somber anxiousness, now more so than before, pulling at her hands with her optics riveted to the ground. It was as if Steelheart were afraid that the very demons of the underworld would leap at her if she looked around too much. He almost wanted to pull her aside and ask.
Coronach turned his head quickly. He was almost embarrassed to be caught staring. “What is it, Quodlibet?”
If Canticle’s expression had been any more dour, he would have sworn someone had plugged his intake with sulphur. Coronach couldn’t tell if he was being reticent for a reason or if what Quodlibet was about to say was really that bad. The yellow seeker made some sort of motions with his hands and then just gave up trying to narrate them. He pointed. Coronach followed Quodlibet’s finger with his optics and tried very hard not to laugh. Really, it wasn’t that funny-- he had to focus on getting their guests delivered.
Voyager had found something 'fascinating' again.
Puttering around with his bizarre collection of tools and humming, he was scanning a parked and empty trolley in one of the closest tubes. Coronach raised a hand, calling the group to halt. He needn’t have bothered to open his mouth, because Gridlock was immediately in motion.
“We got places to go, Voyager. Come on, you can scan this stuff later!” The big Cybertronian scolded, trying to pull him out of the tube.
“No! It’ll only take a minute. The propulsion system is highly intriguing and did you take a look at the center of gravity? The trolley’s platform can spin all about and never drop its passengers! They don’t even have to sit down! It’s much more advanced than the passrail in Cybertron…”
“This people’s Assembly is waiting for us, Veeg.” Gridlock coaxed, “Maybe even Primus himself. Do you really want to keep Primus waiting?”
Voyager snorted as he continued to scan. “Primus, feh. A little radiation discharge and you all lose your grasp on reality… And don’t ‘Veeg’ me. I hate that nickname. Steelheart should be eternally ashamed of herself for giving it to me. Me! The finest mind that Cybertron ever…” He passed his instrument box over a part of the floor. Then did it again. He bubbled happily, “Oh wonder! Look at this, Gridlock! Do you know what this is?! Alpha Trion absolutely must be—”
A voice came through the tunnel. It first spoke in Delepic and then it repeated itself in the common tongue: “Destination: Sector A3-B Residential Housing, Artisan District. Acknowledged.”
The trolley came to life and, in the second of chaos, there was screaming. As he launched himself off the deck to fly parallel to the tube, Coronach reflected in a distant part of his mind that he never thought anything as big as Gridlock would sound like a femme when it screamed. His recorder and instruments caught in a furious death-grip, Voyager was shouting the word “stop” in as many different dialects as he could manage while jumping up and down in frustration. It seemed as if nothing would naturally obey the whip-thin mech.
Coronach barked, "He'et!”, while stalling his own engines. He stopped instantaneously and hovered. The trolley jerked to a halt, its breaks locking. Gridlock was on all fours, arms over his head. Voyager, having been mid thwarted stomp, was ejected out of the tube. He sailed through the air and landed head first in a delicate potted crystal. Frustrated shrieking from the small mech eclipsed the harmonious sound of the living rock splintering. His thin legs kicked helplessly from the pot, as if he were some sort of sculpture trying to draw attention to the destination map above it.
Gridlock pulled his hands off his head and looked up. In a weak voice, he offered. “I’m real sorry about this, Commander.”
Coronach sighed and tried to ignore the various whoops and laughter from his wingmates and the other tinkers. “As am I, Gridlock.” He put out his hands. “Come.”
The big Cybertronian rose and took them. Without preamble, the flyer engaged his thrusters in a short burst. He could hear Gridlock praying to his god, Primus under his breath and the imploring didn’t stop until his feet brushed the ground. Some part of Coronach admired the mech’s devotion. Releasing his hands, the blue Herak landed himself. Gridlock, his fear evaporating with his feet contacting solid matter, immediately began a stomp over to the pot and its irate contents. “Voyager, I tell you, if you ever get me into something like that again…!”
Coronach tuned out the angry bot’s threat as he turned. Led by Quodlibet and Canticle, the group of tinkers were jogging up the deck to join him. “I want no more interruptions. Canticle, go ahead and secure our transportation. Quodlibet, with me.”
“Yes, Commander.” Both seekers answered unison, each following their orders.
Coronach himself turned, Quodlibet at his elbow and marched over to the destroyed crystal. Gridlock was brushing off the silver mech. Voyager was fussing. “This is absolutely outrageous and your behavior towards me unconscionable. I would have figured out the command, eventually. And I still don’t see why another look would hurt…”
Gridlock growled. “The only thing yer gonna be look’in at is my podal tread in about ten astro-seconds, shorty.”
Voyager drew himself up. “I will not be spoken to in such a manner! If the Dourjer is anything like the Emirate, then he will understand scientific inquisitiveness as a reason for delay.”
“No…” Coronach assured as he put a heavy hand on the thin mech’s shoulder. “He will not. We’d best hurry.”
“Fair enough, Commander.” Voyager said, obviously pleased not being shouted at. “What was that word you used? I might need it again and I didn’t get a clear recording over Gridlock’s wailing.”
Coronach frowned as he steered Voyager around, trying to ignore Quodlibet’s snicker and Gridlock’s grumbling. “How about ‘no’ and ‘just don’t do it again’,” The blue flyer retorted. He found, to his immense relief, that Steelheart had taken care of his next order for him. She’d brought the group of Cybertronians to the access junct where Canticle had disappeared. They were waiting quietly.
“I think that’s rather unfair, Commander.” Voyager pouted as they walked.
“Fair or unfair, it’s a matter to be addressed at another time.”
In short order they were at the junct as well and Canticle’s trolley had slid into place before the deck. Coronach vented in a long sigh and turned to Steelheart. “The initiative was well taken in moving your mechs.”
The red female answered him with a nod. “Well, Ah reckon that’s what Ah was supposed to do. Now how about you tell us where ta park ourselves on these transport doohickies here. Ah don’t want ta end up like Voyager.”
Coronach allowed himself a short chuckle. Watching Voyager sputter as Quodlibet showed him the appropriate way to stand on trolley flat, he shook his head. “I doubt very much if there would even be an outside chance of that, Steelheart.”
Those blue optics sparkled at him as she smiled. If she hadn’t been pulling at her hands still, Coronach might have derived more satisfaction from it. As it stood he wanted to catch her hands and demand to know why she allowed this particular nervous behavior to display. Didn’t she realize she was eventually going to loosen her servos and scratch her finish? He kept such thoughts to himself and tried to focus on the business at hand. Even as he stood next to her on the trolley, he did not ask nor give any outward sign that he was becoming increasingly more worried. She couldn’t be an assassin could she? Even as he thought about the possibility, he forcibly dismissed it. The idea lingered in the edge of his consciousness. It taunted him and Coronach’s demeanor reflected it. His face was grim.
“So… where’re we going?” Steelheart asked in a low voice as the platform zipped through the tube. She was obviously trying not to attract Voyager’s attention. He was down scanning the panel under Quodlibet’s feet and happily occupied.
He glanced sidelong at her, still unable to decide if she were a threat or not. “To the Iysurus.”
“B-but Ah thought we were already there.”
The Aerial Commander shrugged. “Technically we are.” He pointed up, way up, through the translucent tube wall. “But that is where we are going.”
Her cerulean optics grew huge. “All the way up there?”
Coronach nodded. “Yes. To meet His Highness.”
“Ah bet a body could get mighty banged up if’n she fell from up there.”
“More than banged up, madam. Dead.”
She pulled at her hands. Coronach wished for the millionth time that she’d stop. He continued to wish, but nothing was forthcoming as far as an answer. There was little conversation the entire ride. Voyager provided most of it talking to himself. Coronach had no trouble believing that the silver mech was in love with the sound of his own voice. The semi-silence had begun to irritate him greatly. He kept looking at the femme and she kept pulling at her hands in the most annoying way. Occasionally she would catch him staring and give him a wan smile.
[ Commander? ] The red seeker asked in Delepic.
Coronach snapped his optics on him immediately. [ What is it, Canticle? ]
His voice must have been sharper than he intended because Canticle’s expression was one of semi-surprise. Even Quodlibet glanced at him askance.
[ We’re approaching the landing. I think it might be best to give the Cybertronians here a crash course in court etiquette. If you aren’t feeling up to it, I’m sure ‘Libet and I can manage. ]
Quodlibet frowned and didn’t bother to hide the conversation anymore. “You? Manners? Please.”
Voyager didn’t make a sound, but he looked up and started to listen actively to what the Heraks were saying. He started to tap a slim silver finger on his intake as he thought.
[ Oh shut up. Just because my vocalizer isn’t annealed in silver like yours doesn’t mean I don’t know how to behave in the presence of my betters… ] Canticle complained.
The dusky yellow flyer snorted. “You admit you have them? Well, that’s a step in the right direction, at least…”
Canticle grunted and scowled at Quodlibet, who chuckled.
“What does he mean ‘manners’, Coronach?” Steelheart asked in a quiet tone.
Coronach vented and checked his internal temperature. It was fluctuating again. He really had to have that checked. His entire life he’d never had such a problem maintaining his thermal equilibrium. Frowning, he turned the scrolling information off and focused back on his Heraks. [ No. Your point is well taken. I will see to it myself. ] To the femme he said, “Do you remember the words I spoke to your Emirate?”
“You will have to speak them to the Dourjer as closely as you can manage, and I will teach you the other phrases you need to learn.” He explained.
Voyager scrambled over. “And me? You will teach me as well?”
Wearily Coronach nodded. “Yes, I will teach you as well.”
The slim silver mech almost clapped his hands together in joy. “Excellent. The recordings will be most important…”
He ignored Voyager’s happiness. Very slowly, Coronach repeated the greeting. “Ahual akh em Karna, Metatisic-kaam-neb.”
Steelheart watched his mouth, mimicking the enunciation with him silently as he ran through it again. He noticed the other Autobots taking interest and increased his volume. It wouldn’t hurt for them all to know.
“I don’t know why you just don’t record it and play it back while engaging your vocalizer to automatic.” Voyager huffed, interrupting.
Steelheart clenched her fists and glared at him. “Cause some of us don’t have those damn fancy-aft features! You got all them logic processors and not a single thought about anyone but yerself flashes through there does it?!”
The slim mech looked wounded. He blinked and looked away. Steelheart ground her jawplates together, venting in sharp bursts. “Not all of us worked in offices afore the war, Voyager. Remember that.”
Coronach frowned. Every time she said something he became more concerned and more curious. He was half afraid she was a Rougeon. He didn’t want to believe it… but some of her references… and her nervousness gave him that half-formed conclusion. No. He didn’t believe it. He touched her shoulder. “I think he has been scolded enough, Steelheart. This is more important.”
She looked up at him. “I didn’t mean it to be…” It was almost as if a shadow passed across her features and the anger bled, almost visibly bled, out of her. The haunted expression had returned and she folded her hands. He knew that in a second or two she’d start that blasted pulling again.
“Now, do you think you have that greeting down?” The seeker prompted.
She nodded. “Ah-wall, awk im Kar-nah, Metatisick kahm neb.”
Coronach winced. “Close enough.”
“Ah’m sorry. Each accent ahdentifies a different district. In Iacon they speak real proper-like… in Kokular… most everyone talks like me. Mah identi-programmin was just particularly strong.” Steelheart offered embarrassedly.
“It was not terrible,” Coronach squelched her concerns. “It will just remind the master that you are indeed from very far away.”
Voyager piped up then. “Pardon me, Commander.”
Coronach glanced at him. “What do you want, Voyager?”
“What exactly does this greeting mean?”
“Keep well, thou born of Karna, Metatisic whose light is of our Lord.” Coronach translated easily.
“Fascinating… so much of your language revolves around the ‘ka’ syllable. I’ve heard you mention it regularly in everyday speech… all of you…” Voyager bubbled, indicating the other Heraks and Bractos in general.
Coronach nodded, but didn’t feel the need to explain himself. Besides, part of the great mystery was simply not for outsiders to be told. If they found out, that was one thing, but one does not broadcast the very nature of the divine to all unsundary. It would be rude on one hand and foolish on the other.
“That’s very purdy.” Steelheart offered quietly.
The blue Herak smiled. “Yes. I like it myself. It says very much in only a little space.”
“You mentioned other phrases.” Voyager said, optics intense. “What are they?”
Coronach felt as if something cold had been dropped on him. “When he responds, and you know because he will open his hands toward you. You will then say; Bentra Metatisic, Bentra! Meta-sa Rom! Upaset neb Rail neb Oraymenis neb Megadyne! Bentra per sa et ka sharika Karna.”
Gridlock whistled. “Primus alive, that’s a mouthful.”
Steelheart waved at him to be quiet as Coronach began again. She gave the same attention to this round as she had the last. Voyager seemed to be more intent on keeping himself contained than having a second recording. He was probably going to explode with the need to ask what this one meant too. These strange blue-eyed robots drew odd looks from servants and other warriors as they whizzed by in the other tubes, all focused on the Herak commander as if he were some sort of schoolteacher.
Canticle interrupted this time, coinciding with the trans-hover slowing down. “We’ve arrived, Commander.”
Though the tube held a faint blue-green illumination, this actual level of the Iysurus was rather dim. None of that, nor the slowly building atmosphere of grandeur, seemed to have any impact on the Cybertronians at all. Fortunately for Voyager’s health, disembarking didn’t halt the lesson any. The knot of Autobots exited the trolley more or less in state, raptly listening to Coronach.
“And… so… what is this one?” Voyager asked as soon as there was pause enough to.
“This one is a list of the Dourjer’s titles. Hail Metatisic, Hail! Sacred son of Rom, Keeper of the throne of Megadyne. Hail to you heir of Karna's most golden rays!” Coronach responded.
Voyage nodded. “Yes. Lots of the ‘ka’ syllable…” He muttered to himself as if checking his databases.
Gridlock ventured. “The Dourjer ..he’s your Prime. I mean… the light and all.”
Coronach frowned. “Prime? Like that strange word… Premax? No, wait, Primus?”
Steelheart nodded. “Yeah. Somethin like that Ah’d reckon, Gridlock. If’n he ain’t Primus hisself.”
The seeker commander tried the word out in his mind. Emirate. Prime. He wondered if one was a descriptor of the other-- like the throne names of Megadyne or the statements of position in a sovereign’s name. He waved Canticle to the point position as they began the slow turn to the right- reflecting briefly on how inconvenient it must be not to be able to fly.
The great tricolor mech shook his head. “I don’t know if I can hold my oil if it is. I mean… really meeting Primus…”
“If I hear one more mention of that I think I’ll start boxing audios,” Voyager huffed. “Not everyone subscribes to your particular brand of insanity. Besides, you’re interrupting the Commander.” He fixed a pointed look on Coronach. “Please, continue.”
Without a frown, the blue Herak began to feel as if he were part of an experiment. He didn’t like at all the way Voyager presumed to talk to him… and he knew the Dourjer would be even less sympathetic to the small Cybertronian’s attitude. He glanced at Steelheart. A femme would be charming in her ignorance and questions… a mech. He looked back at Voyager. A mech would soon annoy His Majesty.
“I think we need to make something completely clear.” Coronach said with a certain amount of authority. “Your own mechs have declared you unfit of processors, Voyager. Steelheart is their chosen leader. Do you understand me? Your authority is only extended so long as I choose to grant it and so long as Steelheart herself does not argue… and for this meeting you are unfit to address His Majesty. You have no sense of when to stop, nor where respect and diffidence are required.” His voice softened. “I do not tell you this to be cruel, I only say what is true.”
Voyager looked crestfallen as he walked alongside Coronach. “But… my function is communications…”
“I know.” Coronach said quietly, “But you seem to lose all sense of meaning in the communications. You even say the name of your god without feeling ...like an identity plate on a bin of tools.”
The slim mech blinked. Steelheart patted him on the back but he shrugged it off and narrowed his optics at her. She pulled back her hand with a worried look. She glanced at the Herak Commander. He raised his chin. Now was not the time to spare feelings.
“Now, the response. The Dourjer will invoke the Exceptional Engender,” he touched his own forehead in reverence. “And then he will ask you several questions. The response is the same for all. You must say; Bentra Megadyne, Bentra Rail, Bentra Oraymenis. Ta Mar ra Kemka-et sheshat ka heh!” He glanced at Voyager before he repeated it and added, “It means; Hail Megadyne. We will not forget!” He twisted and narrowed his optics at Steelheart then turned his head away quickly. “No Rougeon could utter those words.”
When he looked back she was pulling at her hands again. He was starting to believe some form of guilt might be prompting the action. He focused on the walls to quell the idea. He had no proof, just a lot of supposition. Besides, where had he ever seen people quite like this? With each step the air was growing damper and thick with the smell of ionization. They’d actually come a long way, he realized. The arching of the hall was indicating they were coming close to the heart of the palace. Coronach could hear the water cascading from here.
It was then he noticed a strange behavior among the Cybertronians. They started clumping together and whispering nervously. When the sound had escalated to a roar, they had started holding hands and moving more slowly. As they actually reached the Hyrdodyne Hall, they all stopped. Canticle keyed the shields to extend and there were gasps of horror. They stood in the entry, just staring at the canyon like expanse. It was as if they’d suddenly lost the ability to move. It was not awe on their faces, but fear.
Quodlibet, who had been chatting with a still sullen Canticle, stopped. He glanced back at Coronach and then at their charges. With a shrug, he turned about. He parted the crowd easily and came back to Voyager with a smile. “Are you sure you don’t want to look? The electroturbines are quite a sight from so high up.” He put out his hand.
There was no word for the sound Voyager made. It was like someone was performing the vilest torture on him. A wail --a long piercing wail-- emanated from his vocalizer and he plastered himself to Steelheart’s side. Hiding his face against her arm.
The yellow flyer had jerked back his hand, totally amazed. Coronach looked around at the other Cybertronians. Among them only Gridlock seemed remotely normal. The Aerial Commander took stock of the others again and slowly shook his head. Looking back at the femme, he found her immobile and inert. Her eyes were riveted on the water churning in the darkness below. There was nothing behind them, their glow lost, as if she’d suddenly become a drone.
Gridlock noticed too. “Boss Lady?”
She said nothing. The black water seemed to be reflected in her optics. Endless roiling darkness that Coronach found reaching out for him as well. Whatever it was, it was horrible. He eyed the water himself now, sensing a sort of malevolence from it he’d never imagined before. With a blink, it was banished… but that flash of misery was enough. He never wanted to feel anything like that again.
“Lady, really. I know you and yours can’t fly but even if you were to fall most of the bridge, platforms and narrows do have a type of repulsor shielding. It would only be dangerous in a few places.” Quodlibet was assuring.
She suddenly focused on him. “Fall… in?” Her tone was distant, but filled with fear.
Quodlibet nodded then walked out onto the bridge, but not all the way to the first platform. He pushed outwards against the invisible shield. Sparks crackled around his hands, shoving them backwards. “See. This extends most places.” He returned, continuing in a friendly tone. “Of course, you’ll still have to be careful. It’s a long way to fall.”
Steelheart took an involuntary step backwards and Voyager squeaked.
Unable to understand why his wingmate was tormenting the Cybertronians with even the possibility of their falling, Coronach interrupted angrily. “There will be NO falling! If there is, I will personally flog you and Canticle myself. Is that completely understood, Quodlibet?”
He appeared surprised and then nodded slowly. “Of… of course, Commander.” The yellow Herak turned and Coronach was quite aware of the look he shared with Canticle. He rarely yelled at them, but they didn’t have visitors from the other side of the Zone show up on the border every astrocycle either. The circumstances were special and Coronach couldn’t fathom how his trine could not understand that.
“Good. Gridlock, since you seem to be least affected… you and Canticle start leading the rest of the mechs across. Quodlibet, you will take the second wave. I’ll bring up the rear.” The blue Herak ordered.
Gridlock looked down at the red seeker, who looked up at him and narrowed his optics. With that inauspicious beginning, the process was uncomfortably slow. Astro-seconds ticked off in the Commander’s mind.
He gently put an arm around her shoulders and gave her a nudge in the direction of the path that spanned the fantastic chasm. They remained stiff, but she didn’t shrug the brief touch off. “Voyager, it’s our turn.” He called.
Voyager moved for the first time since his episode. He slowly raised his face to look at Steelheart and then at Coronach. His face was a mask of embarrassment.
Each astro-second dug in and left tiny footprints across his processors as the seeker was trying to find ways that he could make excuses for their lateness to the master. It wouldn’t be hard to state the reason, the Cybertronians were terrified-- but as to why? The Dourjer might demand to know. Coronach looked at Steelheart. She was patting Voyager on the back and telling him that it was going to be alright even though her voice wasn’t completely convincing. The first platform was the hardest to make.
She almost jumped, trying to keep her focus firmly on the platform only. “Y-yes, Commander?”
He tried to approach the subject tactfully. “It’s more than just not .. not being able to fly.”
The red femme nodded as she crept along slowly. “Yessum.”
“Why do you and your mechs fear this place so?”
Voyager had his recorder out and was scanning the mist that filtered up, and the cascades closet to him. He was careful about it, but a stray leak dotted his cheek in still moments. He was still very frightened, but had pulled out in front of Steelheart.
Steelheart’s hesitation spoke volumes about the taboo nature of this subject, as did her whispery voice. “On Cybertron, we all are powerful afrighted of that black water. Primus… Primus forsakes it. It’s called “the Pit”… a place of punishment… no one who goes in ever comes out. Got these things with gnashing teeth…” she covered her mouth and looked away as if stopping herself from saying anymore.
The crash of the water did nothing to offer her peace. As it passed in the channels and eddies, coming down across the irregular surfaces of the chasm. She could not appreciate how it bent the light or made rainbows in the mist. Coronach saw all this and it made him frown. This ‘Pit’ must be a truly wicked place.
Voyager spoke up, offering weakly. “Sharkticons. They’re called Sharkticons.” He wiped at his face, trying to regain his aloofness. It wasn’t exactly working. He still suffered from involuntary trembling with every step.
“Yeah… them things…” Steelheart agreed.
Coronach frowned darkly. “I have heard of such things as you describe. Demons. “Those of many teeth” that haunt the underworld, looking for the sparks of the dead too wicked to reside with the Red One and not pure enough to ascend to Megadyne. You say there is a place on Cybertron where these things are kept?”
“Several places, but the great Pit is far outside Iacon.” Voyager’s voice was becoming steadier by the moment.
Steelheart nodded, but her voice was still not so bold. “The Quints keep em like pets.” Her face distorted almost as if she were going to cry, but she clamped down on it quickly.
The Commander felt his earlier rage coil tightly. “Then they are, as you say, monsters and unclean before Karna... y-your Primus.”
Walking just before her, the little silver mech was miraculously quiet. As they neared the next to last platform, Coronach thought he heard the scientist whisper, “I didn’t mean to be so ridiculous.” It could have been the rumble and crash of the falls, but it sounded like an apology. Whether it was for himself or for Steelheart, he didn’t know. It didn’t matter. Either way he was sure that it was accepted.
“Woman?” Coronach asked.
Steelheart dragged her gaze from the path directly in front of her up to his face. “Yes?”
“Perhaps we should go through your expected behavior. Remember, do not look at the Dourjer directly in the optic. It is more respectful to look at his feet unless you are asked to do otherwise. Also…”