The Hall of Dead Gods This story is closely linked to my current project. Cartoon continuity (G1 to Beast Wars). The two books in this series are Genesis and Forgotten Wars. Both can be accesses through my signature. As the larger project is still a WIP, I've attempted to write something that will not cause me to either loose momentum or provide spoilers. Also, reading the books should not be necessary to read this ... or so I hope. That said, this story is now a project unto itself, since DarkScreamer went and got me thinking that there was a way to build a larger (and useful) narrative around the events I'd originally posted. It will update when it does (I've GOT to work on other projects or I'm soooo dead). As always, I hope you enjoy it. Comments and criticisms are welcome. As you can clearly see, they CAN make a difference. With special thanks to Andrew Turnbull for the title. Part 1: Spy “Spy” Quin had thought he’d heard that nickname for the last time. He was an Autobot with an amazing knack for finding his way around Cybertron, for finding places no one like him should even have known about much less have detailed knowledge of. But even during the long ages when the Autobots depended upon his mysterious skills for survival, they called him: “Spy.” But they didn’t mean just: ‘spy’ — someone who could help you learn things to survive and win. No, they meant: ‘Spy’ — as in someone who would betray you. He could never get them to understand that those flashes of inexplicable insight were just that. They dismissed suggestions that he might have some unusual connection with their homeworld and its moons. No, he was always the “Spy” that everyone kept at arms length. And for his own part, he’d been happy to do his thing without their help. If no one really trusted him then why bother with them? Much less set foot in Iacon? The day that Optimus Prime left Cybertron was a mixed blessing for Quin. On the one hand he was happy to see Cliffjumper go. Cliffjumper was the worst of all his nay’sayers. A mech who bordered on being paranoid delusional. On the other hand, Jazz was gone too. But when they didn’t come back, all anyone seemed to remember was that Quin was the one Autobot that Cliffjumper, their hero, had never trusted. Not even a bit. One day out of the wild black yonder the rumor mill was abuzz that Optimus Prime was back. He was fighting Decepticons on some strange new world. Autobots started coming out of the girders to fight — not for Cybertron, but for Optimus Prime, for the legend. One way or another they found their way to this Earth and Quin’s unit was no exception. His choice was to go with the rest or be alone. He stayed. Someone had to provide current intel. He was fighting for Cybertron: not some distant world. Cybertron: not Optimus Prime. In the meantime, he saw what Cybertron could be in the absence of War. The Decepticons were bringing substantial amounts of energon back from this world Optimus Prime was fighting for. They were rebuilding and repairing the planet. It didn’t take much imagination to see what was happening: soon Megatron would have Cybertron so firmly in his grasp that no one, not even the great Optimus Prime, could wrest it from him. This “Earth” would probably end up being Quin’s home even if he didn’t care one jot about it. Besides, if Cybertron was really restored through Decepticon labor ... what moral claim would the Autobots have to their homeworld? Of course, they would never give Cybertron up. Until Earth these had been the ones who expressly did not flee to distant and peaceful worlds, the so-called colonies. As before, they would fight. Only this time, they would be the ones bringing war to Cybertron. Quin finally decided that he could live with that. By applying his skills and resources creatively, he managed to establish tiny bases on Cybertron’s moons. Then he got word to the other Autobots that they now had positions from which they could start moving soldiers to Cybertron in stages. Optimus Prime turned his tiny way-stations into industrial scale beachheads. Instead of many simultaneous actions taking key resources or strategic positions all over Cybertron, the great leader opted for a massive frontal assault. For what it was worth, Quin still did his best to help Jazz keep the bases hidden from Decepticon view; but, they’d overbuilt and he knew it. Then one day the moon he was on was attacked. They could hear some unknown monster tearing everything apart around them — the noise was horrible. While panic reigned all around him, Quin had one of those flashes of insight. He was sure there was a means of escape in a room several levels below their base. He convinced some of his companions to follow him rather than try for the ships. When they got there, walls already deforming all around them, they found what he’d been looking for: the prototype space bridge. It was still operational! He saved them. But they still turned on him, just the same. “Why didn’t you tell us about the space bridge sooner?!” He couldn’t give them any answer they would accept. What could he claim that he could prove? Why even bother? He was the “Spy” again. Through all of what followed, Unicron and the lot, he endured and kept his angsty team alive. They pretty much left him alone in Kaon after that, in the tiny deserted town he’d lived in for thousands of vorns. Part 2: Survey “Those are illegal.” a familiar voice accused him. “Why should I care?” Quin leaned back in his chair and made a show of rolling the chilled mug around in his hands, “So Kup, what brings you to Caris?” “Rodimus has a job for you.” “Do you want one?” he held out the mug, “I’ve got some of Cashways’ private stock left.” “Who?” “The guy who used to run this place.” “Why would I want some ‘Con’s bootleg energon?” Kup grumbled. Cashways hadn’t been a Decepticon. Quin wanted to explain that much. But what could he claim that he could prove? Kup only knew that this was Kaon, Cashways was his friend ... so Cashways was obviously a Decepticon. “So, Rodimus Prime is the new face of Cybertron?” “You’re just as friendly as I remember.” “I’ve got my reasons.” He took a moment to glare at Kup. “I’m sure you do.” Kup glared right back. “So, what’s the job?” “Never mind. I’m sorry I disturbed you.” “Kup, what ... is ... the ... job?!” Quin demanded. Kup deflated a bit. The crusty old veteran’s head drooped. He took out a small device and threw it on the table beside Quin. Then he left without another word. “I’m not going to be around forever.” Quin said weakly to the door. Why were they always so mad at each other? The wall wasn’t just between them, it was inside Quin’s head. Literally. The answer to why was on the other side of that wall. He took his time finishing his infusion. Decided that he should hide his stash to keep it safe from his fellow Autobot’s indignation. He picked up Kup’s little devise. It was just a folded up piece of ‘paper’ ... an Earth substance that had recently made its way to Cybertron. Once unfolded, he read the note. It was scribbled in writing far too haphazard to be the work of a Cybertronian hand. From a human then? So much for Rodimus being the one who wanted him to do something! The note said that there was an ongoing effort to survey the damage done to Cybertron by Unicron and this “Spike” was responsible for Kaon. His request was for Quin to investigate the substructure of Kaon, the Decepticon Crypt in particular. “Actually, that’s not a bad job for me.” Quin allowed. It was a wise undertaking too. The monster had actually taken a good swing or two at Cybertron and Kaon hadn’t been spared. “This Spike isn’t a complete waste. It’s sad that his species can’t endure.” Quin spent the next two days carefully gathering what he’d need for an extended mission. Packing up his supplies reminded him of the old days. Only this time he’d take his private reserve with him too. As he was leaving he abruptly turned around to look back at the dilapidated structure that had been his home for so long. “If they come and knock you down while I’m gone, will I remember that you were ever here?” It was an old feeling, like the way he felt when he’d have those flashes of insight. He walked back inside and found a long inoperable waitdrone. This he set by the door. “See to any customers while I’m gone.” he gave it a pat. Then he walked east out of town. The Decepticon Crypt sat in the middle of a vast, broken plane. There had once been a huge step pyramid and massive parade grounds. What was left, what had survived a direct punch from Unicron, was a mess. At least on the surface. On foot, the plane took him four times longer to cross it than it should have. All the climbing and jumping almost made him wish he’d opted for that hover-mode alternate form rather than having been such a prude. Almost, but not quite. When he finally got to the shattered pyramid he had to poke around three whole days before he found a safe entrance. He climbed in. He was surrounded by Seekers. Faces he knew all too well. “Quintus Ray?” a voice sounded surprised. He blinked hard. Looked around. No one was here. “Is that really you, Quintus Ray?” Strange name. Someone else’s name. “Who wants to know?” No answer. He was hearing things! The funny thing was, he mused as he poked his way deeper into the uppermost level of the crypt, the voice had sounded just like Starscream’s. Of all the ghost he could possibly hear, why him? There were so many others he’d have rather heard. So very many besides Starscream. Hours later he found a huge, gaping hole in the floor. As it was the first sign of internal structural distress he’d come across, he began taking careful measurements of the walls, roof and floor with his scanners. The patterns of stress and deformation didn’t make any sense. It was as if the hole had actually been cut out. But why cut so large a hole? To add to the mystery, he soon realized that the crypt around him had been braced before the hole was made. Could some Decepticons have survived and stayed on Cybertron? If so, what could they be up to? Silently cursing his potential misfortune, he unpacked his climbing gear and his two Mark-17s. Then he secured his pack and started to climb down. For several levels there weren’t many posed warriors here at all. Just empty space. But five levels down there were lots. Most had fallen off of their pedestals and were jumbled about. He stopped climbing to look around. Hundreds of Decepticons. He examined one. His name had been Questcom, a Group Sergeant in the 3rd Corps. Two decorations. He served– Quin paused in his thoughts. How could he know that? He looked around at the nearby chassis. Each had a name. As soon as he looked at their badges he knew them for who they were. Or rather who they had been. “Maybe it was a ghost I heard.” he sighed as he looked around, “So, one last job, one last service for Cybertron? I guess so.” If he was hearing voices from the Allspark, how far away from it could he really be? Since the hole wasn’t the result of Unicron’s attack, he decided to work his way deeper into the crypt by walking instead of climbing. He made careful notes of the condition of the crypt along the way. Mostly it was just jumbled Decepticons, thousands of them, but every so often his scans would find evidence of real damage: cracks in the walls; uneven floors; tilted columns. But in each and every case it looked like repairs had been made. Which was madness! The debris of ages was everywhere undisturbed. In many cases his foot prints were the only discernible break in the shimmering, powdery dust that covered everything Of course the most bizarre fact was that his scanners didn’t even detect the dust! They claimed the whole place was dust free. Even managed to detect residual power in the dust-repellent features of the crypt’s construction. Another inspiration. He unpacked his stash and a portable mixing set he’d brought with him. In a sipper he added equal parts mineral oil, enhanced energon and some select granulated minerals. Then he gathered up some of the dust and added that too. He capped off the sipper and started the agitator up. A moment to chill in the portable rig and it was ready. The iridescent fluid looked normal. He took a sip. It was almost too sweet to bear. He slammed back the whole sipper to find the sour. Held the mixture for as long as he could to give his highly refined sense of taste a chance. “It’s cybertronium.” he said as his face contorted. Quin looked around. The dust was pure cybertronium. The highest grade possible. Why couldn’t the scanners detect it? Was the crypt repairing itself? Out of curiosity he took a nearby Decepticon, called Tracer, and put him back on his pedestal. Rather than just sit still and wait for who knows what, Quin started setting up other Decepticons on pedestals. He arranged two dozen in ranks, as if they were waiting inspection, before he returned to Tracer. Tracer’s feet were secure to his pedestal. The dust that wouldn’t fuse him to the floor had firmly mounted him there. Moreover, neither the pedestal nor Tracer were dusty any more. The tomb wasn’t just trying to repair itself! Quin reeled from the revelation. He watched in silence as the same happened with each of the silent company that he’d restored. “What kind of a place is this?” he wondered out loud. For over a day, Quin probed the crypt until he came across the cut hole once again. Only this time there was evidence of a real collapse. The level below was much deeper than all the ones he’d been passing through. It looked like there was a great mound of debris below, like looking at the bottom of a sink hole. He thought he saw a glint of red from below as his searchlight pierced the darkness. “Well, I’m here to investigate damage.” he allowed as he started looking for a place to secure his climbing gear. After he had descended he found himself standing on a mound of clutter: broken chassis; broken pedestals; structural bits. He spent a moment taking in the feel of the place before he brought his light to bear on the red glint he’d seen. He was looking at a face. A face as tall as Optimus Prime. A face attached to a massive and badly damaged form that dwarfed even Omega Supreme. “Maximus.” Quin stammered – falling to his knees in horror and reverence, “Prince of Cybertron. Heir of Primus.” He felt the wall within him crack a little. It made no sense. Compared to this figure Megatron was a mere petrorabbit. If there had ever been Decepticons like this then how could there even be living Autobots at all? Maximus was ... had been– Quin shook himself out of the moment and stood up: whoever this Maximus was, he’d known him without seeing his badge. Yet he had no doubt that, were he to dig he would find it, that very badge. A badge as tall as he was. Had they been right all along? Maybe he’d been a “Spy?” How else could he even know about Maximus and believe, from his very spark, that he was Primus’ heir? “No,” a voice of resolve, “I’ve never betrayed anyone!” He was only a spy, not a Spy. “I’m sorry, Great Maximus, but I have to see.” He climbed up on top of the massive warrior, adjusted his lamp, and lit up the darkness. Before this moment he’d walked past thousands of Decepticons. Now he was staring at tens of thousands at a glance. Most were still standing up. “Primus!” Quin wandered about the massive chamber for days. Along the way he stopped every so often to drink a toast to certain warriors ... as if he was remembering his friends. Something within him wanted to go back to the surface, to Iacon, and bring them here to this place. Here was something totally inexplicable. Truth, whatever that truth was, was here for the taking. But what could he possibly claim about this place, about them, that he could prove? He didn’t even know what it was that he wanted them to see. They would just see an army of dead Decepticons and their terrifying, but equally dead, leader. They’d be happy. He stopped wandering when he found a wide path that looked promising. Decepticons were posed many ranks deep on either side of the path. They were meant to be viewed from it. In his mind he calculated where it came from. He laughed: “Of course! Right past Maximus himself!” When he finally reached the end of the chamber the path became an equally broad ramp that led down. Quin froze still. Just off to his left was a small side chamber. He couldn’t see it, but he knew it was there just the same. He ran. Ran down the ramp through several twist and turns. Ran halfway towards the middle of the chamber below Maximus’. When he finally stopped running, it was because he was trembling so violently that he couldn’t run anymore. He sank to the ground where he was. Without even thinking about it he uttered a tirade of curses against Alpha Trion so foul that he just didn’t have anything else to compare it to. He didn’t even know he had it in him. After he became silent, he broke out the mixing kit and put together the most bitter mixture he could remember how to make. He sipped on it till the raw emotions within him subsided. Then he lay down and stared up into the darkness. Names and faces appeared before him there. Four sons and a daughter. He remembered taking them away from Vector Sigma. Endorsing the transfer of his hard earned wealth to pay for their frames. Now, only Kup remained. He closed his eyes, but they were still there. They were always there in the darkness. They and one other. With a sigh, Quin rolled to his feet. The funny thing was, that old A-3 was about the only Autobot who really believed in him. If it hadn’t been for Alpha, no one would have trusted him. Why was he so mad at his friend? Did he even want to know? He shone his lamp all around. Here too were uncounted Decepticons. But they had been tossed about in a most unusual way. Some were laying neatly on their side facing one way. Others just by them were facing the other way. And rows in between that were jumbled about randomly. Yet here and there were whole rows of warriors still standing proud. He whipped out his scanners and found patterns of stress with the same strange pattern. As if the whole level had stretched elastically before snapping back to shape. Which begged the question of why the level above was so undisturbed? He focused his light upwards and got his answer: the ceiling above was massively reinforced. Further down the path, towards the center of the room, he saw huge support piles too. “I guess they weren’t taking any chances when they put Maximus up above.” Of course, the strange jumble he was seeing here didn’t bode well for the levels below him. Still, he had a job to do.... He came across doors on the far side of the piles in the center of the chamber. They were ornamental, massive, and thankfully open. All along the walls on either side of the doors were ripples of color caused by stress induced phosphorescence in the alloy used. He could see the shimmer of that cybertronium dust everywhere. The chassis on the other side were posed and jumbled much the same as before. An hour later he came across a set of strobe lights that still shone brightly down on a slab of red Iaconian granite. A tiny form laid out for viewing on top of the banner of Cybertron. Quin stood over him for a long time. “Megatron.” The name just didn’t fit. For the very first time he wondered if he was even looking at a Decepticon. He walked on. But he felt like something within him was breaking. Or maybe it was breaking out? Quin wondered why he hadn’t noticed that the piles upstairs under Maximus had themselves been forced down? Looking at the partly collapsed roof of this chamber he thought it should have been obvious. He was directly below Maximus. The roof here was not just deformed but actually broken like shattered glass rods. Beneath the roof’s shattered structural members was the unbroken form of another massive warrior. Though this one was only as big as a Guardian Autobot. Like Megatron, he too was laid out on a slab of red Iaconian granite. He walked around to where he could see this warrior’s face. Quin began trembling again, but not from anger. This was the sixth face he always saw in the darkness. Once again, he needed nothing to tell him who this was. “Father!” Instead of sinking to his knees as before, he ran forward and began removing debris from the giant Combaticon. He knew he could do nothing about the roof, Artemus the Magnificent’s chassis was the only thing holding it up. Even in death he was indestructible! As he cleared out what he could the wall in his mind dissolved. He was an Autobot because it was an Autobot who had gone to Vector Sigma that day. But when he opened his eyes the face he saw was this face. It had been very irregular, but Artemus had deemed it necessary for at least some Autobots to have the very finest chassis then available. Brexas, the Autobot, had gone in Artemus’ place so the sparks would be Autobots like himself and not Combaticons like their real father. The memory made him laugh: how could he have forgotten?! He worked for hours till only the roof beams remained. Then he walked around this King of Cybertron, this friend of Primus, to inspect his work. “This isn’t the ‘Decepticon Crypt.’” he muttered when he was really sure he was right, “This is the Combaticon Crypt. And this is Artemus’ own tomb. I’ve passed through Megatron’s and Maximus’ tombs too. All Combaticon tombs.” He really could remember. With Artemus here there was nothing that could maintain the wall of silence that had banished even living memory from his Cybertron. He could remember friends. Battles. Games. A whole life. Death too. He leaned against Artemus when he remembered death. The way they had all been before the rain.... For a moment his rage against Alpha Trion swelled anew, but he forced it back. It was one of so many things that had built that wall in the first place. “I’m free, Father. You freed me. And my name is Quintus Ray. The fifth of five brothers and your Autobot son.” Now he was ready to go back to Iacon! He had so much he could tell them. Alpha Trion and a few others would back him up 100%. Then they would come to this place and set all of Cybertron’s heroes back like they deserved to be. They would perform repairs and lift the weight of the world off of Artemus’ chest. Maybe even draw Artemus’ other sons home again. It would mean an end to the war. Quintus Ray was absorbed in his vision for hours, the way things could be, before he gathered up his pack and started back. But as he set his foot on the ramp going up he felt it tighten again in his mind. He cried out. What could he possibly tell them if he couldn’t prove it? Artemus was all the proof he needed. Maybe all the proof someone like Alpha Trion would need too. Still, he knew the walls within them could never come down without independent, verifiable proof. Because the wall wasn’t a wall at all, but a firewall. And the ultimate irony was that he knew exactly who was responsible for it: the dark gods who lay at the end of this long and winding path he was on. “I can’t tell them.” he sobbed, “I can’t bring my brothers home. I can’t end the war.” Slowly, he walked back to Artemus. At least here, he knew the truth. Knew who he was. Maybe they would come looking for him? “Father, do you mind a little company? I can keep you from getting lonely.” He was much younger than he’d imagined possible – which made Kup’s crusty old soldier routine all the more laughable. Someone would come. He could wait in stasis for millions of vorns if necessary. And when they did come ... maybe he would find a way to convince them, or find some way to corroborate his tale that no firewall could deny. He set down his pack, got out his data plate and left them a message. Then he drank all his available energon, including his special stash. Quintus Ray then leaned back against Artemus, closed his eyes and slept.