METATISIC: PART TWENTY-EIGHT
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!
Sarterius gave the foreign robosapiens deep thought as they approached the last platform from across the bridge. For some strange reason, Coronach walked side by side with the only female in the group. Her brow ridges were drawn together in intense thought.
“So. It appears the reports are verified in the steel. These blue-eyed 'cons indeed exist. I cannot wager what is more astonishing, that these legends are truth or that the patrols were actually correct." The General mused aloud. This drew some carefully controlled chuckles from Pycon and Chamfer behind him.
“I see you’re having fun at the Dourjer’s expense, Coronach. Fraternizing with females should be something to be done after duty, mmm?”
Coronach jerked around to face the General and he bowed quickly. All of the Cybertronians copied him, as did Canticle and Quodlibet. “Oh no, General Sarterius, nothing of the kind. This is Steelheart. She is their Commander.”
The ruddy female was slow to rise. When she did her face went strange, her icy blue optics narrowing in a split second and her lips compressing into a thin line.
Steelheart roared, leaping towards Sarterius. The other foreigners tensed in fear. Coronach seemed just as surprised as he himself did, but the largest foreigner grabbed hold of her before she could attack. The guards that flanked the General drew their weapons instantly, waiting for the command to fire. Pycon and Chamfer wore dual expressions of suspicion and anger.
She was struggling violently, cables groaning and servos squealing in protest, screaming at full volume. Steelheart’s voice was so loud her emitter was crackling, “AH KNEW WHEN AH SAW THAT PIT! YOU QUINT BASTARD! YOU LURED US HERE, DIDN’T YOU?! GIVE US JUST ENOUGH HOPE…” The end of the accusation ended in a wordless scream as she fought against the much larger mech holding her. Even with his greater size he was having a problem keeping her still.
He had no idea what a Quint was, but Sarterius was sure he didn’t like the sound of the word. It was vile in his mind. Hateful. “Rougeon whore!” There had been one murder attempt just recently and the General was not about to let another murderess get near the Dourjer. Sarterius aimed his cannon and the guards raised their weapons. The high whine indicated they were powering up.
Coronach could not believe what was going on. She had mentioned the Quintessons before. The monsters her people were fighting against. Then Voyager had mentioned them again. He’d never heard the rebellion use that word before… but there was a first time for everything. An upwelling of betrayal strangled his thoughts in angry heat. Let Sarterius kill her. Karna above! He had wanted to be wrong about her behavior. He had wanted to be wrong about her being an assassin. Now that he was proven right, there was no satisfaction to be had in Coronach — only sick anger.
Die, Rougeon wh… He found he could not say the words even in his mind, nor raise his weapons.
No. Quintesson was the word. Always Quintesson.
The seeker remembered how she’d looked back the way they’d come instead of at the grandeur that lay before her. The nervous pulling at her hands that annoyed him was suddenly not an admission of guilt. The inability to look and appreciate what was around her was not because she loathed it... and over the water, the confession about the Pit. He remembered again those few soldiers who’d come back from the front with empty optics. Mechs who saw Rougeons in every shadow because their minds had been too long at war… whose very sparks had darkened with the stains of death.
His saw the other guards draw their weapons on her as she struggled. In that moment, he made a decision that had little to do with logic and a great deal to do with instinct.
“STOP!” Coronach shouted, interjecting himself between her and the guards. A fraction of an astro-second later he and she would have both been slag. “Look at me, Steelheart!” He grabbed her face and made eye contact with her. “Look at me. Optics on me. I don’t know where you are, but you have to come back.” He spoke the words in a harsh tone, as he might to one of his Heraks.
“Come back! That’s an order, soldier!”
Steelheart jerked and then vented out a long thin gasp. It rattled in her filters like the sound of something dying. Her blue optics focused on Coronach as if seeing him for the first time. She blinked.
“You’re not in battle! You’re here in the Iysurus with your men. I am Coronach. You know me.” He took a hand away from her face and pointed. “That is General Sarterius. I know him. He’s not a Quintesson and he means you no harm.”
There was a sharp snort from the General’s direction. “I haven’t decided that just yet, actually.” Sarterius intoned, but he lowered his weapon. The guards followed his example.
She blinked again and her body fell slack in Gridlock’s hands. Coronach watched as the fluid channels beneath her optics began to moisten. It acted like a lance to his internals and his grip on her face softened.
“There are no Quintessons here.”
“Steelheart?” The small voice was Voyager. All pretense of superiority had fled from him and his faint voice was fraught with worry. “Steelheart… We can’t both have gone eccentric… who’s going to lead us then? Not Gridlock. He couldn’t pour water out of his helm with directions on the crown.”
“It’s true, Boss Lady,” Gridlock rumbled quietly. “I got no sense of direction. For what I did, I didn’t need one.”
She looked from Coronach, to Sarterius and then down to Voyager. A single drizzle of fluid escaped the channel beneath one optic. “Ah… Ah’m sorry.”
Coronach finally relaxed. He paused to wipe the tear away with his fingers, to give her a measure of her dignity back before Sarterius. “Put her down, Gridlock.”
Gridlock gently set her down. The General clapped ---slowly. “An amusing floorshow, though in poor taste considering what happened most recently.”
“General Sarterius,” Coronach pled. “Please understand, this was far from planned. She is suffering from a programming corruption. A loop. Like the mechs from the front ...when certain triggers are keyed…”
“Yes, yes. Psychotic behavior. I’ve seen that,” Sarterius snapped, waving the Aerial Commander aside. He strode forward, a deep frown on his face. He leaned down to look Steelheart in the face. “She doesn't have the look of a warrior... a drudge perhaps..." He narrowed his optics. "But then again, the Rougeon was finely tooled and detailed. Appearances often aren't any clue to intent...” He straightened his posture. “I am unsure of this, Coronach.”
“Yes, General. I’m –” The Herak began.
Sarterius rounded on him. “You know full well what occurred here yesterday. We must act with discretion.”
“Then these mechs and their Commander should be taken…”
“Wait!” Steelheart interrupted.
General Sarterius frowned at her. “You are impertinent but some perverse corner of my spark is morbidly curious as to what you might have to say. Speak.”
She performed the bow to him again. “It’s mah fault. Forgive me, General. Our enemies back on Cybertron look a bunch like you… the ones that have legs, anyhow.” Steelheart grasped Sarterius’s hand to emphasize what she was saying. “Please! The others have come such a long way. They shouldn’t be denied a chance to meet the Dourjer on account of me. Ah’ll wait here if’n Ah have to, but it ain’t right to punish them for something Ah done.”
A few seconds of silence passed. Looking first at where she dared to grasp his hand, and then back at her, Sarterius seemed to be struggling with his decision and a good deal of shock. His brow lifted and lowered several times. Coronach glanced at the other Cybertronians, then his own mechs-- even Canticle seemed anxious. Steelheart’s bold gaze never left Sarterius’ face. The Herak Commander wondered if the General experienced the same disconcertion under its strange blue focus.
“General, let it be on my head. I will accept responsibility for their actions, and hers,” Coronach offered quietly.
Sarterius snatched his hand from Steelheart’s, but did not frown. “Self-sacrifice is not a quality found in many beyond those who have known the fire of war and the burden of command…” He looked at the flyer. "Very well. Keep a leash on your exotic pet or suffer the consequences. Were it any other than you, I don't even think I'd make that concession, Coronach."
“Thank you, General Sarterius.” The Commander of his Master’s Heraks bowed deeply.
Sarterius gave a sharp laugh as he turned and motioned Pycon and Chamfer to walk ahead of him. “Don’t thank me yet. Your little alien friends may get you executed.”
Coronach’s mouth tightened. He’d always looked up to Sarterius but it was uncomfortable to have the General’s peculiar sense of humor turned on him. “Canticle, before. Steelheart, with me, if you will. Quodlibet, bring up the rear and make sure no one gets lost.”
Canticle nodded and followed Sarterius. His shiny ochre form was sharply contrasted against the ancient bronze casings of the General.
Quodlibet seemed a little hesitant. “And if someone… acts inappropriately?”
Coronach glanced at Steelheart, then back at the dusky yellow Herak. “Shoot them. All of them.”
Quodlibet recoiled slightly, but acquiesced and fell to the back. The Autobots gasped and whispered among themselves. Steelheart closed her eyes a moment and nodded. “It ain’t nothin personal, y‘all. Don’t look at him like he’s sprouted another head.”
He was glad for her understanding. The trip was mostly in silence and not even he could enjoy the architecture. Too many things weighed heavily on Coronach’s spark. He was not the only one so cowed. Voyager’s constant questions were slightly curbed… though he couldn’t keep completely quiet. Quodlibet was talking to him. Then again, ‘Libet was often as much given to chatter as the Autobot was.
“No… the Dourjer has no council.” The yellow Herak assured in a low voice.
The whip thin Cybertronian paused. “You have no Assembly or council… B-but then who makes your laws?”
Quodlibet answered without hesitation. “The Dourjer IS law.”