METATISIC: PART TWENTY-SIX
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 12: LIVING HISTORY OF THE AB'KATORI
Cybertron - Midlands; The council of the Elders - Autobots
(Delusion’s master revelation)
Wordplay had come to stand behind Delusion. He knew because her venting systems made a particular noise completely unique among most of the femmes he’d encountered and he was hearing it now. It was quiet but three decibels higher than normal, almost like a hum. He found it… attractive.
“Somehow I don’t think you’re here to grope my fenders, my dear, even given our semi-private circumstances.” He purred as he hefted a large locked box off a shelf. “What’s on your mind?”
Wordplay fixed him with a look, her blue optics blazing. “What’s on my mind, Sir?” The title, out of her emitter, was a sneer. “What do you think is on my mind?! The council is in the middle of a heated session and YOU just saunter out! We don’t even know why the transmission cut out! Or what the envoy meant by Primus! You’re one of the only clear thinkers on the council. They can’t afford…”
He smiled over the container. “Darling, did it ever occur to you that I might have something tucked up my paneling?”
She looked as if she were going to make some sort of retort about knowing exactly what he had in his paneling and not being very impressed by it, but paused. Then a smile stretched across her pearly blue face. It wasn’t a nice expression. It was sneaky, the exact twin of Delusion’s own. “You’re stirring them up for something.”
“Instinct is easier to guide, after all. Plus, if Duon starts anything now…” He balanced the box on one arm while throwing the back of his other hand dramatically on his forehead. “I can play the wronged party for Xaaron and my argument will carry even more weight.”
Wordplay looked upward briefly, as if to ask for help. “How dumb do you think Xaaron is? You aren’t often wrong, Delusion, but you’re not wronged much, either.”
“Not for very long, anyway.” He drawled, putting both hands firmly back on the box in a way that made Wordplay cough.
He motioned her in front of him, even as she gave him a quick look that said maybe she’d changed her mind about his paneling. Perversely, he asked, “Could you get the door for me?”
Frowning, she turned. “Yes, Sir.”
“All of you, return to your seats! I’m sure the interference will clear any time now!” Xaaron tried again. It didn’t seem to matter that the static could suddenly be banished and that the entire council would look like scraplets scrambling over a rust pile if the visual feedback suddenly started working. It hadn’t before, but the equipment was so old… who knew? The small yellow Emirate was desperately trying to reign in a type of pandemonium he had never seen before. Everyone was talking at once, some even coming to blows over positions. This was hardly orderly democracy as he knew it. They weren’t even listening to him!
“Primus can’t possibly be there!” Alpha Prime insisted. He sounded almost as if he had to convince himself of that as well. He glanced at the darkened screen again before running a hand helplessly over his helmet.
Duon snorted. He crossed his massive arms over his chest. “I told you that…trinket… was just a giant glowing rock, A-3.”
“Jealousy doesn’t become you, Duon.” Beta took Alpha Prime’s hand in hers to stop his nervous picking at his helmet. “Besides, do you forget that Delusion has just proven his case?”
Losing his confident smirk, the large bronze robot looked away. “We’ll see if he’s proven anything. I will be most interested in the data being gathered by our envoy.”
“Oh they’re 'our envoy' now?” Beta One snapped. “I can remember a time when you disowned them as crazy for wandering around in the Zone.”
“This conversation has ended. Trion, silence your cybershrew,” Duon growled.
“Cybershrew?!” The green fembot’s optics narrowed dangerously.
Xaaron shouted. “That’s enough. You three, of all the council members, I expect some decorum from…”
Alpha Prime, as if suddenly coming back to himself, turned his full attention on Alpha Duon. “That is hardly how a council member should address another.”
At last he seemed to have gotten through, but all his hopes were dashed in the next moment.
“That’s all you have to say?!” Beta yelled at her spouse. She desperately tried to pry his hand off of hers. “Let me go, and I’ll show him what kind of cybershrew I can be!”
A terrible shadow crossed over the Emirate. He hardly had time to move before he heard a deep slow voice utter. “Sorry, Speaker.” Omega Blue, the great hulking brute that he was, had almost stepped on him in his desperation to hear Five and Zero-Zero’s explanation of the ancient language they’d spoken. Xaaron was barely safe perched on the back of a chair. He scanned the room desperately for a spot of calm where he could get someone’s attention just about the time Delusion came back through with a large box.
Unbelievably, the spymaster’s sudden appearance with the object started a ripple of confusion in the crowd. Xaaron quickly seized upon it. “Quiet! Quiet! Everyone return to your seats! Delusion has something to present and I, for one, want to hear what he has to say!”
“Thank you, my Emirate.” The darker robot smiled as he continued his pace across the room. He moved like platisatin sliding off a firearm, with the same smooth threat. It made Xaaron wonder what his original function had been under the Quint rule. In fact, he realized how very little he actually knew about Delusion at all-- or any of the others for that matter. He glanced around at the council members who took on an aspect not unlike Quintesson abominations. The Emirate powered down his optics for a moment, then brought them back on-line. It was the pressure of the new discovery, he was certain, playing tricks on him. All he could imagine was fighting two wars at once. The horrible feeling that this was some sort of trick, but that couldn’t possibly be… could it? He looked again at his Assembly, who were as normal as usual, a rag-tag collection of Cybertron’s wisest, best and brightest.
Delusion’s presence worked magic on them, parting the crowd around him as smoothly as a maser through antimony paste. “Stickshift, Servo… if you please? I know you’ve been largely ignored in all this distasteful chaos, but I would be most appreciative if you’d set up the viewer to accept these old datacorder disks.” Delusion’s voice was soft and sibilant, quite at odds with his aura of authority. He handed the box over to the confused Stickshift, then sauntered back to the center of the room.
The rest of the Assembly, curious about whatever he was up to, began to slowly drift back to their seats. Xaaron vented a sigh of relief, but an unsettling feeling had drifted into his very core. He resolved to question Delusion after session. Perhaps he could get answers out of him. The Emirate was not hopeful, Delusion wasn’t known for uncomplicated replies, and yet there was too much Xaaron had left to chance up to this point. He’d not even considered it dangerous until now, but things had changed. If there were secrets about the others, he knew beyond a shadow of doubt, Delusion would know them all.
“Does he always act like that?” Stickshift mumbled to Servo as they checked the contents of the box.
Servo grunted at the quality of the recordings. It would require a great deal of modification, but it wouldn’t be impossible. “You mean slinky over there?” He pulled out his toolbox, unconcerned if Delusion paid attention to him or not, and started searching for the appropriate laser to take the casing off the viewer.
“You crazy old bot, do you want him to hear you?” Stickshift hissed as he laid out the disks in order of age.
“Bah. He’d find out anyway. That one is a sneak, his reputation precedes him.” Servo started work on the viewer. The laser threw sparks off over his hands as it cut into the housing, but he didn’t seem to notice or care.
Stickshift let the matter drop. Instead he busied himself with handing Servo whatever he asked for and pointedly not looking in the direction of the spymaster. He glanced around at all the other Assembly members, a little nervously, and wished he was anywhere else but here.
They were imposing, even as they conversed casually among themselves. The Emirate and the commanders, guardians, elders, scientists in all manner of specialties he presided over were looking down at him as if he were a scraplet. Though perhaps not as short as Xaaron himself, Stickshift was small and under the sea of unforgiving blue optic light, he felt even smaller. “Will you please hurry?!” He hissed at Servo.
“Hush, kid.” Servo changed the configuration on the player and then reattached a section of the internal works. “What do you think of them red-eyed robots on the broadcast?”
“I think I want to get the frag out of here as fast as I can.”
“You remember I was talking about those gladiators.” Ol’ Servo grunted as he adjusted something. “They’re supposed to look just like that.” He held out a hand.
“I don’t care at this point. I just want to go home.” Stickshift looked down at Servo’s hand as if it were possessed. “What?”
“Gimme one of the disks, genius. How did you ever get by working for me anyway?” He snatched the disk from the orange robot’s fingers and settled it in the player gently.
“Look, you know me. Under normal circumstances I’m really calm. My circumstances haven’t been normal for the last astrocycle, so cut me some slack.” Stickshift grumbled. “This feels like I’m back running repair supplies to the militia…”
Servo grunted again and signaled Delusion. “It’s up, and if anything’s going to happen, it’ll happen now.”
The spymaster nodded, folding his hands. “Please begin, Servo.”
As the screen started to flicker, Delusion began to speak. “As you all well know, council-mech Five and I are well acquainted. I have often found myself quite fascinated with his tales of the Beginning, and so, some time ago, I was particularly captivated by these recordings he brought to me. He found them here in this very building, where we now claim as a place of peace and the home of our Assembly. Hidden for eons as even he and those like Zero-Zero were, they survived. Shelved. Forgotten. My fellow members of the Assembly, prepare to witness the terrors and triumphs of a forgotten age. The living history of the Ab’ katori -- which Five told me means ‘the place where life ceases’...”
Five himself was asleep again, slumped over on Beta, peaceful in repose. The spymaster decided to let him recharge instead of waking him. There was really no reason to disturb the Elder unless he needed to ensure that the others knew that what he spoke was the truth. Duon might require such proof later, as he was a stubborn mechanism, but for now he left Five to his tranquility. After all, he’d lived all this first hand. Turning his serious gaze towards the screen, Delusion watched too as the first recording began to play. There was no sound and the picture was badly digitized, fading in an out, but there were bursts of clarity. Such came now. Beta’s sigh was louder than a backfiring engine in the stillness.
A red femme, the lower half of her face obscured by a silver battlemask, was using the cannon on her arm to lay waste to a line of opponents before her. Each molten explosion threw up a cloud of vaporized rock from the arena floor. She was indeed being shot at, but seemed not to care. She suddenly leapt down, leading a charge. Her soldiers came rushing over the wall in a wave. They hammered away at the dwindling line of the opposing team. Without even pausing to think of what was occurring, they used the tangle of dead and fallen as cover and the vapor to enshroud their movements over the now rough terrain. It was as if they fought like other mechs vented. Effortlessly. The gladiatrix herself, optics narrowed into glowing red slits, was shoulder-to-shoulder with her team and illuminated almost continually in the baleful light of her cannon discharge. It was impossible to read her expression, but the look in her optics was grim. There was no joy to be had here.
The recording degraded further and then snapped back to clarity in the middle of another fight.
Blue-black metal filled the screen interspersed with silver and green blazes. Sparks shot from twisting frames and one could imagine the terrible groaning, grinding, shearing noises that rent plating and damaged servos would make. As the camera pulled away, there were two femmes wrestling-- but this was no mild sport. Their red optics burned like molten metal in a smelting furnace and their beautiful faces were twisted in an attitude of unquenchable fury. The blue one with the knife brought it down onto the green one’s chest, only to have the blade snap instead of piercing. The green one took advantage of her foe’s surprise by delivering a haymaker to the femme’s jaw. This sent her flying. Rising, wiping black fluid from wounds already marking her arms and face, the green femme seemed to snarl out a challenge to the fallen gladiatrix even as she crossed the Arena floor to where she lay. Suddenly, up from the murder holes in the floor of the Arena, two other females erupted. They’d actually blown the seal out to get up where the match was being held. The green female barely paused, engaging them as well, but there seemed to a purpose to their actions. As the scuffle continued, they eventually covered the area where the fallen gladiatrix still reeled. When the struggle rolled aside, the blue femme had disappeared down the hole.
Static and digitization clouded the end of the match, but not a single member of the Assembly made a sound.
Delusion gestured for Servo to change the disk. There was crackling to this one, as if there had once been an audio track, but it was so badly degraded that nothing at all came through. In places the disk fell completely dark and the shifting of the Assembly indicated they were losing their patience. Then, on the screen, a yellow glow dissolved into a figure that bore a heavy energy collector array on his back.
It was a close up on the statuesque mech in deadly motion, his red optics narrowed at his unseen opponent, arms coming forward and fingers gesturing as if drawing the very lines of the universe to a single pinpoint before him. A massive discharge of blinding white energy that made black waves form in the recording followed. The camera angle changed – possibly because the other camera had been rendered inoperative – , looking down from on high. The golden gladiator walked to his foe, now nothing more than sputtering lump of slag. His head was bowed. There was a shot of the crowd. Quintessons filled the screen, screaming and flailing their tentacles in savage glee. Their silent blue-opticked servants, some with horror-stricken expressions, seemed not to know which was worse… their masters or the atrocity enacted on the Arena floor. The angle changed again and the victor scanned the crowd with a serious expression. He took the pose of conqueror, his ped resting on the charred hulk beneath him and fist raised, but he seemed to be seeking something among the throng as well. His ruby stare was piercing and it was the last thing visible before the recording dissolved into static again. There were murmurs now, but they hushed quickly as the next fight suddenly coalesced.
Chained to each other with light, two robots fought on a narrow platform over a tank filled with sharkticons. The Assembly, to a mech, fell completely silent. The leaping of the beasts at the unprotected backs of the warriors was too raw, too reminiscent of the Pit.
The blue fighter, emblazoned with a strangely cheerful pattern of yellow stars, spun incredibly fast, winding the photon chain around himself. He came almost chest-to-chest with his surprised enemy and, before the mech had time to react, he swung his sword. Amazingly he wasn’t trying to kill the purple and orange gladiator, instead he used the tension on the line between them to snap it with the swing. He grabbed the hand of his enemy and actually threw him through the energy shield that protected the top of the ring, as if it had been planned that way. The purple gladiator cut through the crowd mercilessly, leaving only the servants alive. Just as the platform over the tank was dropped by the Quints in the control booth, the starred warrior took a whirling leap himself. He hit the newly reinforced energy shield, but, by driving his sword through it and into the arena wall, he managed to hang in place above the tank. His star patterns scorching off his body in contact with the shield, but he clung still. His burning gaze was fixed on his enemy… or perhaps ‘fellow conspirator’ was the word. The violet warrior fell in a tangle of drone guards and it was only a moment before a bright explosion marked his death. The starry gladiator closed his optics only briefly, but even as his casing was ablating from him he clung stubbornly to his sword-- refusing to fall into the dark waters below. His desperation and pride were palpable. Bad digitization robbed the Assembly of the conclusion.
“As you can see… there is a grain of truth to all legends…” The spymaster’s voice was smooth and soft, contributing to the dream-like silence that had fallen over the others. “And we have now seen, their descendants do indeed exist beyond the Zone.” Nodding to Servo, he indicated that the disk be changed for another.
“ENOUGH!” Roared Xaaron, suddenly. His voice was sharp with outrage and betrayal. “I do not know for what reason you have played the Assembly for fools, Delusion, but it will cease now!”
The dark Autobot jerked as if he had been struck and Servo actually dropped the next precious disk to the floor. “I have played no one, Emirate.” Delusion insisted.
Rising, the small yellow Speaker continued his pained explosion. “You know how desperate we are! You led us around with your whispers and taunts! All the while you KNEW! You knew your supposed speculation was true and you contrived to make us all look like fools! Worse yet you have wasted precious time and lives!” Xaaron, looked down, placing a hand over his face to contain his rage and collect himself.
Duon was on his feet in an instant, a savage smile lighting the edge of his face. “I knew you were up to something. Do you want to address the death tolls again, Delusion?” He stalked towards the smaller dark mech.
Delusion was stock-still, the blue windows of his eyes torn wide in anger and revulsion. He, usually so quick with words, was dumbstruck. He didn’t even think to become invisible, he just stared up at the huge bronze Elder as if he simply could not believe anyone would consider him so callous.
“You entertainment units are all alike-- you don’t think anything is valuable but yourselves. You didn’t do hard work like the rest of us…” Duon sneered.
Delusion didn’t even have time to react before the big Elder had him by the throat. Wordplay screeched from the doorway and there was the sound of a fight ensuing. Someone, it sounded like Xaaron, was shouting for the guards to keep her off the floor. Five was bawling, Beta shouting… It was almost as if he was watching it all from outside his own frame. Delusion heard a sustained fluid-clotting scream. He almost thought it was Wordplay again, but he found it was his own. He saw his hands claw at Alpha Duon’s but they didn’t seem attached to him. He was consumed in the dark space his mind had created to get away from his master…
Alpha Prime’s doubts about his position evaporated the instant Delusion went slack in Duon’s huge fist. It was just like being in the field and watching one of his own people as they slowly passed into the void.
“LET HIM GO!”
All optics fixed on Prime. He stood up and repeated his command. “Alpha Duon, you will let Delusion go, NOW!”
Duon raised his chin, but he let the spymaster’s feet touch the floor. “Alpha Trion, this pretty toy is a traitor to this council and you have no authority over me. You saw that transmission. You are no more Primus than I am.”
“Primus may indeed exist beyond the Zone.” Alpha Prime walked down from his seat. “But he has chosen, through the Matrix, a succession of leaders here on Cybertron. And here I AM Prime. You will put Delusion down or YOU will be committing treason against me, the Assembly, all of Cybertron and Primus himself — wherever he may dwell.” He frowned. “Do not make me order you again.”
Struggling with himself, Duon seemed almost on the verge of letting Delusion go until Xaaron interrupted. “Alpha Prime, this affair will be handled as I see fit. Retake your seat.”
“Be silent, Emirate Xaaron. You would let this wickedness perpetuate before your very optics because you feel personally wronged.” Prime argued, “Think with your logic processors instead of your base programming. If Delusion had showed you these recordings before and there was nothing beyond the Zone at all? Think what that false hope would have done to us? It would have stripped the very light from our optics! If anything, his actions were both prudent and wise.”
Xaaron glanced away, shame rolling over his features. Prime looked at Duon. “Release him!”
Alpha Duon dropped Delusion instantly, as if he had been shocked with high voltage. He wore a stunned look that slowly turned into regret. He looked down at the darker mech and his slash-like optics dimmed.
Wordplay broke free of the guards holding her, streaking to his side. She pulled Delusion into her arms, speaking softly to him. He stared and did not seem to hear. Delusion’s paneling was vibrant. It was obvious he was in no danger of physical death, but one wondered about his mind. All pretense of unfamiliarity between them was dropped. Her sobbing cut the air like a vibro-blade, but he still he stared at something far away, his optics dark.
“Despite what you may all tell yourselves, Assemblymech Delusion was no mere toy.” Alpha Prime looked from where Wordplay cradled Delusion, up to Xaaron and then to Duon, pausing on each face in between. “When I found him, he was barely alive and running on fumes, but he clung to his spark fiercely. His casing was gone, eaten by rust or shattered by vorns of abuse and neglect. When he’d been repaired enough to speak, he told me…” His voice trailed away in slowly growing contempt. Then he shouted, “Delusion’s master hated the very sight of his slave so much that he had an experimental customization done. That very ability that many of us envy, the ability to become unseen, was a punishment!!!” He shook his head, “And you dare imagine him to be an entertainment unit-- good for nothing but playing games. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.”
He started to pace. “And I am ashamed most of myself. I’ve been silent too long. I didn’t want authority because I did not want to be a master over any of you, but I see now that the reverse is just as bad. Look at us!”
He shouted again, rounding on Xaaron in particular.
“How are we any different from that crowd on those tapes? Chaos. Arguments. All shouting as Duon was going to crush the life out of Delusion. It sickens me and it will not happen again. Xaaron and I will co-chair all Assembly meetings from now on and I expect the respect my station is due, henceforth.” Prime glared, pointing at the red sigil emblazoned on his chest. “We declare ourselves mechanisms of peace and order, the very offspring of Primus himself, and so we will act like it… but I will have no guilt from any of you. When we reconvene tomorrow we will discuss our options in relation to our potential allies like rational beings. For now, this meeting is adjourned! Get out of my sight!”