METATISIC: PART NINE
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 5: ONWARD TO BRACTOS
The rhythmic sway of the goliath is constant. Its motion is unbroken, except by the sudden, abrupt pitch of a crater --Unless it was a rock in the road, but it's hard to believe that option taking into consideration the incredulous girth of the prison's track wheels clawing its course along the journey. Every encountered struggle, its talons grate that much more loudly bleeding painfully sharp over the cat-calls of the drivers just outside and the footmen echoing them even though Scourge could tell they were screaming to the top of their lungs.
Passed the squadrons is the Cybertronian landscape --The Sweep must take their word for it, even though it's impossible to conceive. Did Cybertron really look like this once? So ...so clean? The far-flung silver seems to go on forever without so much as a silo since they left Ohiiden. In the distance a mountain chain is beginning to sprout, but nothing more. Maybe it's just Ta'nak? Whatever the case, modern Cybertron, with its cities built one on top of the other that they seem to penetrate its very core, knew no such reality.
Scourge exhausted on a new curious violet-red that was beginning to shred the indigo sky. All night long, Cyclonus had grilled them. They swapped old war stories and salvaged the scrap memories of others for anything that could assist them in their plight. A caravan approaching from the opposite direction clued they were getting closer. Maybe it was enough?
"Remember what we spoke of, Scourge." Cyclonus had said when they first left the camp, "You too, Rumble. We cannot afford errors." Since then he cautioned them twice more. Maybes were out of the question.
Scourge glanced stealthily over his shoulder at his charge. The lieutenant was momentarily bathed in a wash of dark pink that was bleeding in from the light outside. It stole across the floor of the cell saturating him and Rumble both while triggering the haunted reminder of how they got here in the first place.
The prison lurched again; tipping high on the left. Scourge almost grasped the bars pulling back just in time startled by the sway, the pop of electricity, and the loud shouts of one soldier calling above it all: "Na ef Karna-Wer!"
"What was that?"
"I don't know." Cyclonus snapped his head to the commotion just as Rumble flew to the bars beside the sweep, mouth gapped.
"Unnh! Cyclonus! Scourge! Will you just LOOK AT THAT!"
The wine was exchanging with new orange bleeds turning from fire yellow to pale blonde in only seconds. In a throne of aluminous summits turned gold ahead, three highways of white ripped the fabric of the horizon line like the Autobot matrix when opened, and catapulted its far-reaching rays high into the stratosphere.
"Na ef Karna-Wer! Na ef Karna-Wer!" Foreign tongues repeated the line until it became unison. Some of the troops had stopped altogether beating their weapons against their shields, or bowing their heads. Others saluted.
That's when Scourge saw it. The silver peaks seen in the distance earlier began to forge shapes looking less and less like the mountain he has assumed they were. The drill of the foot soldiers grew louder until they rivaled the rankle of the prison cell for the first time. His optics drew wide open, "What in Primus' name is THAT?!"
"I'll tell you what it isn't."
"It's Bractos!" Cyclonus stammered. So this was it. His eyes projected the amazement. They had heard of it, but never saw it. Most modern Decepticons insisted it was mere myth and fable that such a fantastic city could possibly have ever existed.
"Na ef Karna-wer! Dedu na ef Sa'ankhuah-Wer yaaut, Megadyne neter wer ankhu kher sashem ef, mahahu em stut ef!"
"What do the 'cons mean?" Scourge squint at his comrades.
"They're referring to the star in the sky" Rumble pointed. "The Alpha-Centauri ..The Karna. I told you back at the ruins, remember? The Alpha-Centauri was once the brightest star of Cybertron and was visible at its strongest peak for about 4 breem of each day. Predominately on the Ta'nakian peninsula."
"Well, it was said to have some sort of religious impact on ancient Decepticons due to its association with God Megadyne, the legendary 'first' Decepticon."
"Apparently it is true."
"I appreciate the education Rumble, but in case none of you noticed, we're stopping again." Cyclonus shielded his face from the fire of the star and picked out the majesty of red, gold, and purple streamers fluttering high above arches guarded by twin statues the size of Bruticus.
Pride or fear? He juggled the emotions searching the first cluster of bronze and pewter colored spires he could see foresting the capital sprawl from their position. The visual realities of Bractos had not failed the legends. Somehow there was a thrumming woven with it all, soft and rhythmic, like the drone of a million gears. Imagined or not, his systematics charged in its power so almighty that when the cage whistled its puffs of steam, Cyclonus actually yelped in shock. He spun to see his allies finding the General Sarterius already climbing aboard.
"Ah, fear" Sarterius said. "Well you will have much more where that came from, Decepticon."
While two other troopers rushed the cell seizing, knocking, and wrangling them into a straight line, Sarterius shelved the formalities motioning to the figure standing cross-armed beside him while a strand of electro-chain was garlanded between the three prisoners.
"This is Beat Down" he pointed. "He'll be your escort to the Iysurus temple mount. I would like to extend a note that I would be offering my praises to the great Karna if I were any of you at this moment. It's not often that your Dourjer is so willing to meet with scum. Many others have perished in their prison stalls awaiting his consideration."
"Yes, m'lord" Cyclonus nodded. "Our gratitude is already in his hands for his most divine mercy." Now was his chance: "Na ef Karna-Wer!" He chanted, and quickly mimicked the bow of the patrols he had viewed outside.
"Na ef Karna-Wer!" Scourge and Rumble repeated. "Praise be the great Karna!"
Did it work? No telling. The commander said nothing at all!
'He's not buying it!' A voice in Rumble's mind screamed. Looking at Cyclonus, his head still bowed, his eyes widened on the floor of the cell. "No! The Decepticon is smart to us."
"Hmm..." (Finally!) "Yes, of course. Na ef Karna-Wer." Sarterius patterned their salute and turned for the ramp. "As you were. You may carry on, Beat Down. I shall meet with you at the summit."
Out of the darkness and into light --like shades drawn open on a window. Stepping away from the gangplank, the experience of Bractos in full view was much like those casual expressions. The fields of plate metal that seemed so endless earlier found their dead end here rising from the Ta'nakian purview in all assorted shapes, sizes, and mixed dynasties. The testimony of millions of years. It was all networked together by neon blue tubing that Cyclonus figured might be some sort of inner-city transport.
"Your king is most eager to hear the information concerning your time spent in Cybertron, Decepticon brothers." Beat Down's smile was teamed with as much sarcasm as his superior's. "Better make sure you got it to give, eh?"
All grandeur aside, Bractos wasn't too unlike any other great Cybertronian metropolis. Its inhabitants teamed the transit in droves, congesting the streets, and lining the byways with soldiers, civilians, and merchants all biding for any passerby to take even the slightest interest.
"Energon! Mech ambrosia! Energon, lord? Straight away!"
"Cyclonus," Scourge spoke with a whisper. "You think the general noticed anything?"
"If he did, he certainly made no attempt to enlighten us."
"No thanks to me." Rumble jogged closer to them. "I'm the one with the dialect recorder."
"Not so loud, Rumble!"
"Great soldiers of the Dourjer," A voice was preaching above the throngs. "Honored warriors of Megadyne's legions --Come see! Come look! Finest quality weaponry in all of Ta'nak. Won't find no better."
"Eh! You still selling this pig iron!"
"Oh, right!" The cassette pressed his lips tight, "Yeah, but you gotta admi !"
SKRAK! BAMMMMMMMMM! THAK!!
"Whoa!" Rumble vaulted the slag of the merchant suddenly exploding from the neighboring hut, hitting the electro-chain hard when he landed in the streets nearly knocked Scourge to the ground with him. From a hole in his chest, plumes of smoke was fanning when his attacker --a angry 'con soldier-- emerged from the rumble of the sales booth.
"You retro-swine! This gun you sold me last week jammed the first time I tried it! Cost me four Rougeon hides!! That says you owe me the 230 shanix I paid for this trash including the 700 more I would have earned by you cheating me out of my kill!"
"Of-of course, s-sir.. I-I..."
"Make it snappy or I'll make garments of your data track units!"
"Hehheh ...Sounds like were home, Cyclonus."
"Quiet, Rumble!" Cyclonus tossed a mindful glance to Beat Down marching before them, thankful that the spectacle had stolen his attention for the moment. "Want to get us killed?" he whispered. "Keep quiet. We don't want to look like tourist!"
Giggles to his left stole his attention when they round the first corner. Three femmes walk by chatting amongst themselves.
"Whoa! ...'Con-chicks! Oooyeaa oops! Sorry, sorry."
"Ah, Beat Down." The new figure before them at the first of the capital's many trans-tunnels, armor is potted by fishers and dings, but clearly he wears more age than battle scars. He salutes Sarterius' servant respectfully and steps aside of the dock. "Slaves?" he asked.
"Prisoners." Beat Down corrected.
"Mmm ...a shame." The elderly Decepticon thumped Scourge's shoulder and pulled on Cyclonus' right wing. "They look like the sturdy sort. The slaves are on their last bolts back in cargo and there's been nothing but Sarian junkers polluting the last five auctions --So where too? The prison combs, I suspect?"
"The temple mount, actually. These three have an audience with the Dourjer."
"So soon?" A dull scarlet glow crept into his lenses, "His majesty is generous."
'Destination?' The trans-unit chimed.
"Oh yes," The old robot pecked at the control panel near him. "Sector 64, computer --Iysurus temple mount."
'Affirmative. Estimated arrival... 4.3 astro-minutes'
So the general Sarterius wasn't boasting after all when he said meeting the ruler was by far a matter of privilege. The feeble 'con seemed quite impressed as Beat Down hustled them aboard the hover platform. Now that his back was towards them, Cyclonus allowed his eyes to float to Scourge eavesdropping upon their ancestors' continued conversation as the dock lifted and vacuumed them into the subway.
"It has been a long time since Bractos has seen you, Beat Down." The elder said politely.
"And it'll be much longer time yet."
"Mhmm ...Rougeons. They're infesting the Nin'gur passage now like so many cyber-mites."
"They're getting brave, you know?" The old mech rocked grasping the rail tighter as the platform plummeted around the crown of another silo and jetted to the right, "Seems they've outgrown their guerilla tactics against lone caravans and are attacking the capital more openly now. One of them got passed the sentries this morning," he revealed. "A femme made her way into the Dourjer's dorm, presumably in an attempt to kill him. Certainly she died before she could deny it."
"A femme?" Beat Down fought not to laugh. "A female nave shames the might of the imperial guards?! Now there's a surprise."
"Shame nothing. I dare not estimate the number of women that follow the armies. What the Dourjer wants to know is how she got into his quarters --heh, come now, Beat Down, is it any wonder how she managed to breech the Iysurus compound?"
"Haha, you can expect none of them to claim responsibility."
"Oh, but they will" he said. "The Dourjer is most insistent this time." The trans-hover lit up when it docked into a port hugging the foundation mount of what certainly had to be the Iysurus.
"The guards ran her through when he called for assistance, much to his annoyance: He had plans for questions. We don't even know what she wanted."
"One thing's for sure, she couldn't of been looking for the master's favors." Beat Down finalized with a snicker.
Rumble tipped his head back as the platform elevated the summit's spine much more slowly now and watched a sweat of mech-fluid slide down the bridge of Cyclonus' nose. As the hover stopped with a click, his mouth gapped at the magnitude of the terrace spilling before them. In the full dawn of the Alpha-Centauri, its gun metal gray plates were streaked by all sorts of rainbow and gold crescents.
"Great Megadyne keep you, Beat Down." Their chauffeur did not follow them off the transit, but only grasped Scourge's shoulder once more. "If these three might become available do let me know. They're young. I could use a few good workers of this variety."
"If they're not slagged first." A new, but familiar voice announced from near a huge, gilded brazier that was burning from the center colonnade of the platteau. True to his word, the general Sarterius was there to meet them. Behind him, towing it by the peds, another group of soldiers flung a female wreckage by the transporter dock. It made the antique Decepticon momentarily forget his desires.
"That the girl?"
"What's left of her, yes." Sarterius replied. "One of the guards has confessed to bringing the femme inside. He's pleading for the preservation of his spark at this very moment." He snapped his fingers at the three prisoners, "You, you, and you! Come along!"
The Iysurus made no qualms about hiding its antiquity to the rest of Bractos. Its avenue of archways, statuary, and colorful awnings decorating the route to the heart of the precinct would be no doubt familiar to predecessors of even these ancestors.
He marched them in a procession: Sarterius in front, Beat Down at the rear not saying much now accept for the occasional offering of a direction to take as they neared a span of bryrite stairs that was stretching the full girth of the facade. At the rise were clustered a number of richly clad gentries arguing ferociously in Delepic --about the intruder most likely. Cyclonus' brow gabled at the sight and a new detonation of awareness. It flashed on and off in his thoughts like a faulty lightbulb masking images of his memories with what he was witnessing now.
"Cyclonus!" Rumble pointed. He had sensed it too. These stairs! These same bryrite alloy stairs! The ones from the asteroid ruins! The detailed cravings of the pillars framing the door as they passed them, although much cleaner and richer looking, confirm it.
"Quiet!" Beat Down smacked the blunt of his weapon against Rumble's back. "No talk! Keep moving!"
The security inside was, to no surprise, thick. The robots gathered here kept breaking off their conversation to cast quick, sideways looks full of scorn in their direction. From somewhere unseen footsteps sounded over the faint harmonics of beautifully sung mantras. Passed the eave of another archway, the next chamber, in stark contrast to the ones before and the commotion just outside, was void and quiet, save for two guardsmech flanking the entrance. They did little, but peer them down when Sarterius suddenly stopped the prisoners before a empty throne at the center of the room. All things consider, it was difficult to tell that anything out of the ordinary had actually taken place when Scourge thought back to the dead femme.
"Bow your heads!" Sarterius roared and thud them hard in the knees. "Show respect to your master!"
"That won't be necessary Sarterius."
The voice came from ceiling --Or so it seemed. His head bowed as commanded, Cyclonus' line of sight climbed the rise of a staircase just behind the throne all the way up to a draping of red ablaze by photon light from the columns nearby. Twinkling constellations of gold, something moved in the shade.
"But my lord Metatisic, these Decepticon "
"I'm sure that they can tell me themselves Sarterius."
The general's face immediately underwent rapid changes of expression. Paused, it was the first time Cyclonus had ever seen him so defeated. Sarterius jerked visibly and almost staggered when he surrendered, recoiling backwards from the throne, "I ... Of course, my league." He bobbed his head a series of times with semi-closed eyes just as the curtain was batted aside.
It was the engorged vats of Rumble's optics that actually made the lieutenant wonder if there reason for honest fear. The cassetticon audibly gasped at the mention of the ruler's name and was visibly shaking now, shivering as heavy feet landed each step down to the floor. Cyclonus' jaw tightened and he clenched his fist when the silhouette of the entity bathed across the lot of them.
"Rise your heads" It spoke surprisingly soft.
One eye cracked open first, then another, upon twin rouge panels that were following the lift of his head. A chalice perched by the Dourjer's chin dropped uncovering a expression that was neither amused nor hostile. Even so, Cyclonus' optics widen upon the monarch, traveling from the neutral gate of his lips, up the lines etching out his cheek plates, and back to the sharp-angled cuts of his optics that were still staring soundlessly.
There is an uncanny intimacy in this leader's swine new smile --some sort of embedded familiarity cradled in the accent of his vocalizer as haunting as the bryrite staircase on the way inside. The sovereign's face was dirty white and framed in ruddy colored construct matching the plates of his chest, save for the small yellow cues caused by the irregular lighting of the room. When he tipped his head back to inspected them all, Cyclonus realized that the gold he had seen twinkling from the stair top came from the crown he wore. Fashioned of brilliant golden plate, its three curved prongs were topped by rough cut carmine.
"What is your name, soldier?" The monarch's left eye slanted when he asked.
Cyclonus couldn't speak, but he didn't realize he was staring until Sarterius shoved him hard on the back. "You're Dourjer has asked you a question, Decepticon!"
"Cyc .. cyclonus, great one."
"Mm, and you are?"
His gaze flicked to the third.
Metatisic sucked at the brim of his cup. "Cyclonus, Scourge, and Rumble ...I'm certain I don't recall the likes of any of you. What are you doing here in my kingdom?"
Regaining his composure, Cyclonus stepped forward bowing his head again. "We were brought here, mighty one. Your general Sarterius had "
"I am already aware that Sarterius had placed you under arrest. You were discovered at the Cybertronian borders, yes?" Metatisic turned from him towards his throne, but never sat down. "I gave strict commands" he asserted, turning back to face them. "No soldiers or civilians were permitted outside of Ta'nak?"
"Yes, mighty one. This is true."
"You were aware of the order then?"
"No, no, great master."
"Which is it then?!" The blackened bridges of the Dourjer's brow lofted to match the risen volume of his demand, but his formulation changed very little, if at all. Searching Cyclonus' face as he explained to him, Metatisic never interrupted once. Triggers of a scowl here, an arched brow there, he wagered the reliability of the Decepticon jet and measured the delivery of his answers without hint to his thoughts or his impressions of the report.
"And what were you doing at the zone all this time?"
"Geographical expedition work, m'lord." Cyclonus lied in promising perfection, "Exploration."
"An adventurer sort --I see. And have your efforts proved much to you?"
"Aside from the barrenness, not much else I fear. We revealed that the composition of the Cybertronian landscape isn't too unlike our own. We had run out of rations and were on our way back when we were stopped at "
"That is enough, Decepticon." The sovereign put up his hand for Cyclonus to stop. "I've heard enough --Servant woman!" He clapped his hands once and a young femme appeared instantaneously. He deposited his chalice on the tray she bore, requested more energon, then shot a quick darted glance back at the blue Transformer.
"Cyclonus, was it? Cyclonus, let's say that I accept your confession," The Dourjer began. "You three hardly look the malevolent type, but so did a lot of others. A quaint little episode this morning is proof of that."
He hesitated for a moment. Cyclonus bent his head to the floor again in an effort to conceal the worry draining down his cheeks to his chin. His face fushed with heat.
"Given that I might believe you --since I cannot disprove your story as of this moment-- allow me to say this," Metatisic sauntered back towards them. "Should I find that what you have spoken is not the truth, but that you lied to spare yourselves justice--"
The optics slide left to Scourge,
"--that the reason of those lies were to conceal actions participated in any way with the Rougeon rebel cause--"
The optics slide right to Rumble and now a new ominous pitch quickly replaced the ruler's calm,
"I will have you dragged into the streets of this capital. Your fellow Decepticons will tear the armor plating from your still functioning carcasses. Your heads will decorate these walls." He pointed, reached out to take his vessel from the tray when the servant femme returned. "We are clear on the matter?"
All three bowed. "Yes, Mighty Metatisic."
"Now then, tell me, traveler --you and your comrades, have you seen the new sentient beings reported there during your expedition?"
Newly discovered robots. Much like the subject of these Rougeons, they are caught in the resound of it, but knew nothing about either. Scourge was afraid of this, but is thankful that the leader's quiz was not part of their interrogation as it was a matter of curiosity.
"I hear they look like us" Beat Down crossed his arms looking over to Sarterius, "A peculiar Decepticon variant with blue eyes."
"Blue-eyed 'cons?" Sarterius chuckled.
"Ah, but it is true they say --If you can trust the caravan reports."
"Autobots!" Scourge gasped. Rumble gnashed, but it was much too late. The sweep clamped his lips tight noticing both Sarterius and Beat Down were looking at him now.
"Autobots?" Metatisic's hand left Cyclonus' shoulder to touch the sweep's. "What are these? You have seen the robots then?!"
"We heard they were called Autobots, Great One" Cyclonus answered quickly. "We were "
A yellow panel from the monarch's breastplate flashed suddenly: "Mighty Metatisic?" A voice broadcasted, "Highness, Shockwave has returned, Lord."
The disappointment of the interruption faded into a smile teasing the corners of the Decepticon leader's lips as he set his goblet on the arm of the throne and pressed the button of his console,
"Very well, Legate. Tell Shockwave that I'll meet him at the port."
Shockwave? Rumble's shades, cued by the mentioning of the familiar name, flickered. Cyclonus, on the other hand seized the interruption as an opportunity: "Rumble why did you gasp?" he necessitated in a tight whisper. "Who is he? You know. I saw it in your eyes."
"Sarterius!" Metatisic moved for the doorway, "I still have mind to talk with these Decepticons. I want to hear more of these Autobots." He peered Cyclonus down, "I may not be able to prove the status of your claims, but I am a firm believer that time does indeed reveal all truths. You are free at my command in my service. I will decide for myself if you are lying."