Transformers Redemption: Worlds Distant

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Nerroth, May 16, 2007.

  1. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Hi!


    I first started writing this a few years ago, not too long after ep 1 of Draven's excellent TF:Redemption was released.

    It has been a little stop-start since then, but I hope that it's been worth it in the end.

    Also note that this story has the blessing of Draven himself - for which I am very grateful. It's an honour to be able to help in a small way to expand upon the great setting he has laid out.


    So, here it is - the first installment of the Worlds Distant story arc. Whether there will be more is another story, but we'll see how you all like this one first!



    -------------------

    Transformers: Redemption - Worlds Distant [R]


    It wasn’t meant to be like this.

    It was a beautiful day in the coastal city of Neuven. Along the shore, young Nebulans, humans and Y’lhnnâ were relaxing, exercising, spending time in conversation, enjoying their day off, or just trying to catch the low sun as sunset approached. Overhead, the sky was a piercing blue, with that little glimmer from the ring system and the Hive moon, a daily sight at this latitude. At night, if one went up to the nearby mountain observatories, away from the city’s light pollution, one could make out the specks of light that represented the 1st and 2nd Nebulan shipyards, the Destiny I space station and the lights from the New Colonies on the 3rd moon. The gentle breeze was rolling in from out in the ocean - which was a slightly more greenish shade than that of oceans on any of the other member worlds, but the most reminiscent, to a particular observer, of a world he’d never see again.

    This observer was sitting at a log-bench overlooking the beach, an idea introduced by some of the human arrivals to Nebulos - quickly taken up at many scenic coastal sites across the eight continents - watching the glistening of the sunlight along the water’s surface. He looked to any casual observer as just another one of the many humans residing in the city.

    Yet, there was more to this person - like a number of others in the Confederation - than such a glance would betray.

    His skin, his layers of muscle, the blood circulating through his veins and arteries, the hair on his head and countless other physical attributes were human. Indeed, he felt a little more and more like one to himself, each and every time he stopped to feel the wind on his face (a sensation he never tired of feeling in the long years since he first felt it) or tasted a good meal with friends at a local restaurant, or stopped to catch his breath after a long jog, or experienced any of the multitude of facets of existence that a human took for granted. However, disassembled within his human body at a sub-atomic level lay the bio-mechanoid chassis which represented his original form (well, not quite original, but one more closely related to the same) than the human shell he now possessed. Of course, the same was true for the others of his kind here on Nebulos - those who arrived here along with him, that is - but he was unique in that his new existence as a human proved the culmination of a long-held desire, and one with a bitter twist.

    Hound - or Carl Williams, as he now referred to himself - was no stranger to volunteering for new procedures. Back on Earth, he was the first Autobot to actively sign up for the Binaltech procedure, anxious to receive a new form which he considered as one step closer to his eventual dream of life as a human (though he was the fourth to actually receive his new chassis). Of course, any project as involved and complex as Binaltech was sure to run into a number of bumps along the way, and Hound was quick to act as the live test study, in order to refine the technology further. He logged more hours in the facility’s test area, undergoing thorough diagnostic examinations, than any other candidate.

    Out in the field, on scouting patrol, he continued to provide invaluable data and reference for the corporation in its development process, assisting in making the transfer to the new chassis as trouble-free a procedure as possible. He even managed to track down the Decepticon raiding party that stole the prototype BT-07 body - but unfortunately, by the time he uncovered its whereabouts it was already imbued with a Deception spark. Though, by the looks of things, the paint scheme given seemed set for one of said ‘Con’s team-mates, thus neither Sunstreaker nor Wildrider were much amused...

    As the decades passed on Earth, the remaining Decepticon forces were gradually either interned or driven from the Sol system. So, the Autobots stationed at Metroplex, or at the various secondary bases on Earth, had more time to themselves…

    Hound eagerly set out to explore more of the diverse scenery and nature abundant on the planet. Reports of the possibility of a wider distribution of Pretender technology from Cybertron proved a fascinating concept, especially as by the end of the 21st century. A revolutionary development in the technology finally offered Hound the chance to not merely pass of as, but fully experience life as a human, and it was no surprise that his name was the first to appear on the volunteers’ list. (In truth, almost all of the other Earth-bound Autobots had severe reservations about becoming even remotely fleshy, and still didn’t understand why Hound would want to do such a thing to himself, but they were supportive of his decision nonetheless.)

    The new technology was similar to the original Pretender shell in that it mimicked the human form, but this generation of organism was far more involved. For the first time, actual skin would form over biological muscles and tendons, real hair would grow through follicles on the skin. A fully-working cardiovascular, digestive and nervous system would form in place of the de-molecularised Cybertronian form, and human eyes would look out from their sockets, offering the Cybertronian the ability to view the world around them as a human would - with an optional in-eye overlay to present the same information or vision range the Cybertronian optics would provide.

    However, an implementation of this technology would truly be a step into the unknown: would the Cybertronian be able to function as a human, from basic functions as breathing air and eating food - and hygienically disposing waste – to remembering to shave, and adapting to the myriad of physical sensations which organic beings took for granted?

    To remember to say ‘eyes’, not ‘optics’, to count in hours and minutes, not breems and vorns?

    To learn how to use chopsticks, or a knife and fork?

    The list was exhaustive and potentially overwhelming. No-one knew if such an adaptation would, or even could, be possible. Of course, all involved knew that if any 'mech could make it as a human, it would be Hound...

    For years he imagined the kind of life he would lead were he not a Cybertronian. What it would be like to get to feel the sun’s rays on his face, to appreciate the taste of food, to find someone he could spend time with...

    Despite this, the difference between dreaming of electric humanity and actually having to manage the onslaught of new sensations, freedoms and responsibilities was staggering. It took months for him to master things like showering, brushing his teeth, shaving, chewing, holding a fork and knife, not holding his breath for too long, wearing clothes, even using his tongue, mouth and lips to talk (he was shocked to hear the difference in the sound of his human voice compared to the original) and adjusting to human eyesight.

    It took even longer to learn about wearing warmer clothes in the winter, the increased effects of heat and cold on his body, the need for exercise to keep fit, to figure out how to ride a bike - and drive something other than himself - to learn to communicate naturally with other people at a restaurant, or entertaining friends…

    It seemed sometimes as if he could never get the hang of the various responsibilities and human idiosyncrasies he faced daily. But, eventually, he started to adjust, and the more success with which he handled himself, the greater the pride at which he had finally managed to achieve his dream – and how much he relished his new life on Earth.

    While the process was easily reversible – a Cybertronian could revert to its original biomechanical form and back again – Hound hardly bothered, glad to spend his days in his new form.

    By 2110 there were no more Decepticons at large in the Sol system. As he received the reports of landings on Cybertron of the emboldened Autobot forces, each victory seemed to bring closer the day when the war would be over and he could live on Earth for the rest of his days.

    Tragically, on the 31 of March, 2142, such a dream would be shattered forever. A substantial fleet of alien warships, bearing the insignia of the Hub, was detected passing through the Kuiper belt, heading in-system. With them traveled a gigantic, menacing device, aimed at the Sol star itself. At this stage, Earth had developed transwarp-capable colony ships, as well as the beginnings of its own battle fleet.

    Despite this, the reduced Autobot assets in Sol and the combined Earth fleet would be no match for the Hub onslaught. Worse, a probe sent to monitor the object traveling with the fleet sent back horrific news: the device served one purpose - to drive Sol nova and obliterate everything in the entire system.

    A panic ensued, as an effort broke out to try and evacuate as many civilians as possible, on board any allied ship which could carry them - even including an activation of an experimental interstellar module to Metroplex, along with the recall of the Outer-System Navy from Europa to Earth to assist with the evacuation.

    The allied HQ expected the Hub device to initiate launch upon reaching Mars’ orbit, and still held out hope that an attempt to intercept the weapon could be made. As the Hub fleet began to peel away from its guard duties at the weapon, the fleet worked feverishly to fill all of the available ships with as many civilians as could be taken on board.

    Yet, time ran out: as most of the Hub fleet turned to leave the system, the device launched an unidentifiable weapon as it rounded Jupiter, which travelled at near-light speed and impacted on Sol within minutes.

    Unprepared, the allied ships jumped one-by-one to the rendezvous point at Epsilon Eridani, but a few of those still trying to take people on board were unable to escape and were annihilated as the shockwave, having destroyed Mercury and Venus moments earlier, reduced the Earth to its constituent atoms and spread to wipe the rest of the system from existence.

    Once the remnants of the allied force regrouped at the edge of the Epsilon Eridani system, the full impact of the occurrence began to set in: From a system of 8.3 billion inhabitants, only 160,000 human beings remained in the universe, on board the surviving Earth fleet, the Autobot transport vessels, and Metroplex.

    But there was no time for rest or contemplation, as it was likely that Hub fleet patrols may have been searching the nearby systems searching for them. At any rate, most of the surrounding systems were incapable of supporting life. No comms signal over the trans-space network could be raised from Alpha Centauri, leaving the event of a Hub invasion of Cybertron a likely reality.

    Under those circumstances, the allied fleet was in no position to travel to Cybertron, potentially into the midst of a full-scale invasion, and the fleet had to set down on an inhabited world eventually. Searching through Cybertronian star charts and the early history of the war on Earth, only one candidate world presented itself, and it may yet have an issue with the Autobots accompanying the human arrivals...

    “Well now, why am I not surprised to find you here, Mr. Williams?” Carl’s attention was roused from the coastal waters by the sound of a familiar voice.

    Beside him stood a familiar figure, a Nebulan whom he had known now for over a century. Once he was two separate yet joined beings, namely Highbrow and Gort, yet when the latter passed away the effect on Highbrow was substantial, as the two had been binary-bonded for decades and aspects of each individual's personality had long seeped into the other.

    A number of Autobots volunteered to return Fortress Maximus’ remains to Nebulos, yet no-one at the time knew if Hi-Q’s contamination of the bio-mechanoid energy supplies persisted, or if the locals would take too kindly to having Cybertronians on their world once more.

    Fortunately, the new-generation Pretender technology was available to those based on the Alpha Moonbase, and could be used to mimic Nebulan, as well as human, life. When Highbrow underwent the process, the conflicting minds in his system eventually found an equilibrium, but he could not take on the name of either original being, so took the name Ylethian. The other Head- and Targetmasters underwent this process, and while the Targetmasters retained their original selves, the other Headmasters were similarly conflicted with the memories of both beings, as at this stage all of the Nebulans involved had already died. In fact, it took years’ worth of corrective therapy to drag Hardhead from insanity, as the brotherly bond between himself and Duros had deepened over time and proved difficult to reconcile. On the other hand, one of the groups had practically become one person before the Nebulan part passed away...

    Carl nodded to his colleague. "Hey ‘leth, what have you been up to then?"

    "Mr. Williams, need I remind you how I detest such ignoble contractions of my name? Well... I’ll let you away with it this time!” Carl noted what were quite familiar aspects to him by now. Highbrow’s arrogance, yet Gort’s good nature. An interesting mix.

    "I’ve had a few days off, so I decided to spend some time here in the city, it’s great to have scenery like this, reminds me of…um..." he started to say, before trailing off.

    “Home?” Both knew Carl wasn’t referring to Cybertron. "After such a long time, you still carry all of those memories with you. I...was only on Earth for a short time, and I didn’t have much opportunity to explore the world as you had, but I can only imagine what it was like for the humans who escaped, let alone for one such as yourself."

    "You know something?" Carl said, with a renewed hint of sobriety. "If we, well Highbrow and I were back on Cybertron, the passing of a century wouldn’t mean all that much to us. And yet, as a human, I feel the passing of every day. Most of the time it’s no big deal, but whenever I visit one of the memorials, or see the Sol Nebula on a star chart, I still feel it as if it was only yesterday. I mean, it’s not as harsh a feeling as it was before, but I won’t forget my home, and hopefully someday we’ll get the chance to make sure those bastards get theirs!"

    At least his feelings on the matter have mellowed this much. Ylethian had seen the effect the destruction of Sol had on the erstwhile Earth-bound Autobots, and Hound was hurt most of all. The long search for a world for him to love, and the means by which to be a true part of it, finally realized only to have that world collapse all around him.

    He had heard of the need for all of the surviving Earthbound Autobots to undergo the Pretender-2h procedure while en route to Nebulos. Of the exo-suit excursions onto the Cybertronian shuttles and onto Metroplex’s hull, to remove the Autobot faction symbols, a necessity to avoid alarming prospective Nebulan hosts, but a hard pill to swallow for those who had sworn by it for so long. Of the discovery that it would take another fifty Earth years until the contaminated supplies would be usable again, forcing Metroplex to be extensively converted into the first human city on Nebulos - and his spark core to be transferred to Scamper, who in turn, along with Six-gun and Slammer, had to be given Pretender-2h shells as well.

    The council meeting which decided the fate of the human arrivals was a heated and drawn-out affair, but, thankfully, the survivors were granted full citizenship under Nebulan law and allowed to participate in planetary society.

    Yet, the terms of agreement for the Earth command were strict: No attempt to return to the Shar-li Extensive - the region of space containing Earth and Cybertron, a cube of space 600 light years to a side - nor any attempts to contact Cybertron were permissible, as the Nebulans had no interest in drawing the Hub’s attention. Neither were any efforts to hasten the process of decontamination allowed. However, the council learned many lessons from the new arrivals, and among these was the need not to rely on one solar system for survival, or to leave themselves at the mercy of alien aggressors, such as the Hub.

    In any event, Carl tried to change the subject. "So, how is everyone these days?"

    “Not so bad..." replied Ylethian, somewhat relieved at this. "Tekrath and Sorennon are on Xydross Prime, helping to construct the phase-I colony there. Aurcan and L’sor are working with the New Terran 1st MS division on space-combat maneuvers. Gintak and Mr. Hanabishi have just finished debriefing from Operation 001, Athendra and Rinall are at Metro City working on the reclamation project, and Kovashi should be at the Council meeting with your friend Mr. Lacroix any time now...”

    Carl considered all of this - and the context through which all of their efforts were affected. "Wonder how long we’ll have until we run into a Hub exploratory drone ship and see if our preparations have been enough."

    "With luck, we should have plenty of time yet. Now that 001 was a success, we can put one of our fears aside, for now at least...” Ylethian replied, trying to sound as assured as he could.

    "I hope so, but I’ve learned not to be too optimistic when it comes to how much time is on our side." Carl was less sanguine on this matter.

    Not that Ylethian would give in to introspection so easily. “Indeed. So, know any good places to eat around here?”

    Carl put a hand to his stomach, and noted that he was hungry, too. "Well as a matter of fact..."



    ----------------



    "We have excellent news to report; Operation 001 has been a complete success. We have recently completed debriefing of the returning operatives, and with the council’s permission we will present a summary of the operation." Representative Kovashi addressed the Council, beginning the report n the fate of Operation 001.

    "Agreed, Representatives Kovashi and Lacroix. You may proceed." The meeting in question was of the Executive Council, the governing body drawn from the member representatives of the Main House, elected from each member world, station and colony in the Nebulan Interstellar Confederation. Due to the sensitive nature of this briefing, only the Premier Representatives of each constituent faction were present, as well as the current sector premiers of each region of NIC space. Nebulans, humans, Y’lhnnâ, Norved and Hive citizens were each represented by at least one member of the chamber, as well as two beings whose origins were rather different...

    Kovashi offer the floor to Lacroix, who took over this part of the debriefing. "Thank you. As you know, the alien mechanoid race known as the Hub are currently expanding their sphere of influence in the Shar-li, Tenu-li and Zara-ni Extensives. While they have not, as yet, encroached within any systems either within or bordering NIC space, we have no reason to become complacent.

    "As we are all aware, this race is the one responsible for the destruction of the Sol system and the murder of billions of humans, and there is no reason to doubt that a similar fate has befallen a number of other species in their wake." As the surface of the Crystal Helix around his neck reflected in the room’s soft light, Mr. Lacroix knew for certain that no human forgot the fate of their home, or any of those like himself who resided here, for that matter.

    "The main threat posed to any advanced race by these aliens is the Nova Devices – which we believe is referred to by the Hub as the Horsemen - the same kind of weapon deployed against Sol to force that star to go nova. For the last 2 decades, our Shrike stealth vessels have been searching various star systems in the Zara-ni Extensive for evidence confirming the construction of a new weapon of this class. Eight years ago, in the Tzy’noh system, our Shrike class vessel Empyrean discovered the complex at which the new weapon was under construction.

    Fortunately, we found that the time and effort required to create the weapon was considerable, and not only had the Sol Nova weapon been drained in its use, creation of a replacement requires a total time of 182.7 years. Thus, we had another 74 years in which to destroy the weapon.
    Also, it seems that the Hub mainframe containing information relating to the weapon is also contained in-system and has not been spread to other parts of the Hub; it seems the Liege Maximo wished to keep any information from his subordinates lest it be used against him, though that is mere conjecture. As far as we can determine, no other Horsemen are currently deployed in Zara-ni either.

    Representative Kovashi, if you will."

    Returning the floor to his colleague, Lacroix let Kovashi pick up from there. "Thank you, Representative. We have been developing new technologies at a steady pace over the last two centuries, the extent of which has been bolstered by the human, Norved and Y’lhnnâ contributions to the shared total." As well as from another race, of course, he declined to say aloud. "As of yet, we have managed to avoid direct confrontation with the Hub. As a result, we have lacked solid information as regards the effectiveness of our armed forces against a potential Hub invasion. Thankfully, the success of our stealth technology in eluding Hub detection has given us a crucial advantage in the execution of Operation 001.

    2 weeks ago, the vessels Empyrean, Nebula and Artemis, carrying two formations of the Nebulan Alpha WA Division and three squadrons from the Terra Nova 0 MS Brigade, set course for Tzy’noh. Upon entering the system the vessels initiated their action by destroying the Hub trans-system communication node, cutting the local Hub assets off from outside communications. Nebula and Artemis, along with the Nebulan Alphas, successfully destroyed the orbiting Hub cruisers and Interceptor craft, all while remaining undetected.

    Meanwhile, the Terran strike team aboard Empyrean boarded the construction station, managed to successfully plant a scrambler virus into the mainframe, removing any trace of the weapon’s schematics and means of construction, as well as uploading any relevant information on current Hub assets, deployments, activities and holdings. The team subsequently deployed Ares positron charges along the unfinished weapon’s hull and detonated from a safe distance, destroying the weapon and station.

    Our forces proceeded to remove any trace of weapons fire, or any other residual evidence of our involvement, by transporting the wreckage into the star’s gravity well, before returning to Nebulan space. Also, we carefully planted evidence of a rival empire’s operatives in the system – with luck, if the Hub find anything, the evidence will steer them towards that faction instead of us, doing our Commonwealth a favour in the process!

    As a result of this operation, we have not only secured our corner of the galaxy from the Hub’s latest nova device, we have retrieved valuable information about the number of worlds the Hub possesses, their military capabilities and their current campaigns.

    Representative Zerron, if you will."

    The Hive representative, whose responsibility it was to present the information gleamed from the Hub databanks, rose and walked to the central area. "Thank you, Representative.

    At present we have only a preliminary evaluation of the data provided from the operation pertaining to the hub’s capabilities – some of which you have already learned bout in the prior briefing - but we have uncovered a list of their holdings.

    It seems that the homeworld of the Cybertronian race lies firmly within the grip of the Hub. There are provisional reports of an Autobot resistance, but no further information can be supplied at this time.

    Thankfully, it seems that the Hub remains unaware of Nebulos, or of any other member world in the
    Confederation. They have not as of yet explored far beyond the rim of the Zara-ni Extensive. Of course, there is no guarantee that this will not occur in the future."

    I hope that Rinall’s ‘bad feeling’ proves to be nothing more than a bad night’s sleep, thought Kovashi, but it would probably not be a good thing to raise his concerns to the audience…

    Zerron added further information. "It appears that the Sol Nebula is currently being harvested by the Hub. It is proving a valuable resource centre for their domain, as they seem to be currently engaged in a protracted series of campaigns along the further reaches of the Tenu-li Extensive. It seems whoever the Hub are in combat with collectively possess a substantial interstellar armed force of their own, and is fighting the Hub to a standstill on several fronts. Thankfully, this conflict has drawn the bulk of the Hub’s attention – as well as their military resources – far away from the NIC.

    This summates the total amount of pertinent knowledge we have thus far been able to extract from the captured data. We will present a more comprehensive report to the Council at the earliest feasible opportunity.

    I pass to you, Representative Ashra."

    The current Council Speaker addressed those assembled. "Thank you, Representatives. The Council is satisfied with learning of the success of Operation 001. Be advised that any further requests for operations into Hub space will, under the current circumstances, not be permitted. I understand the significance of our pilots’ and weapons’ achievements against a more isolated Hub outpost, but that is no reason to drag the Confederation into war. Representatives, the founding principle of the Confederation is the goal of peace and freedom for its citizens. Unless our hand is forced, such a state of affairs will continue.

    We will convene a standard session in three days, to discuss the opening of trade negotiations with the Shako Sodality.

    That is all."

    And with that, the council meeting came to an end, and Lacroix and Kovashi walked together to the maglev platform outside the main chamber.

    "So, that seemed to go well. I’ll have to go thank the meister for his work." Lacroix was glad to get the politics over with for another short interim, and was more so when thinking of their comrade's success.

    Kovashi agreed, on both counts. "Quite so. I wonder if we’ll have much time to catch up with him and Gintak while they’re in the area..."

    “I’m sure we’ll think of something. That’s one thing about us club members, we always seem to find time for each other!" And even if they didn't, Lacroix had a habit of doing so for them.

    In any event, their maglev transport had arrived. "Here’s our lift, let’s go catch up, shall we?"



    ----------------




    All I see is Darkness.

    Surrounding, overwhelming.

    Within, I fall deeper and deeper, far from my friends and allies, farther into the abyss.

    And then…

    I crash onto a metallic surface. The shock reverberates throughout my chassis, but soon fades.

    I lift myself up – and as I try to move forward, I soon see a light - one strong and pure enough to highlight the twisted metal structure around it.

    A faint beacon of hope, in the lair of the Beast itself.

    I approach the light – and as I recognise the source of the light, I can see how it dangles around the neck of a certain Cybertronian… an impossibly powerful warrior, an avatar of death.

    He and I speak to each other...

    I refer to the Matrix, the source of the light - to which he states that it will do me no good, as it cannot be opened.

    Not by a Decepticon, it cannot - certainly not one re-forged by the Chaos Bringer itself.

    Yet, he has a point - like it or not, he and I are allies of convienence, against a common foe...

    The conversation is cut short by a blinding red light, emerging from the surroundings. The Lord of Entropy roars a warning into the other's mind, which succumbs to the torment. With the faint hope of an accord gone, the warrior’s expression changes, as his arm is raised, particle cannon aimed towards me.

    As he fires, I begin to run - my anger at his taunts overshadowed by the more immediate urge of survival.

    I decide to try a hit and fade tactic - hoping to evade his particle cannon blasts while striking at him when I can. It’s a desperate struggle, but I have nothing to lose.

    He taunts me again, saying how we all must die eventually.

    Not today, I insist - as I catch him with a surprise hit, before transforming and racing away.

    I feel each jump as I barely evade the incoming particle strikes, each leaving a crater of ruin in their wake - but once he transforms, his power and accuracy improve. The last few shots are too close, and I stumble to one side. Thinking on my feet, I transform again, and fire back with my wrist blasters - just enough to force him to revert to biomech mode.

    Taking the risk, I charge forward. I transform into my vehicle mode, and accelerate...

    I ram him, but desperate hope turns to panic, as assets his sheer physical might. Catching me as I make impact, he lifts me into the air, turns me over, and I barely have enough time to revert to my own biomech form before he begins to crush my throat with both hands.

    I feel time fading.

    He speaks to taunt me, but his mouth seems to move more slowly than normal.

    First one, he says, then another...

    And now, me.

    I have mere moments left – and I cannot escape the awful feeling of dread that the last hope of my kind will die with me.

    He considers it a 'pity' that we Autobots die so easily at his hands, denying him the sense of satisfaction he might have otherwise wished for...

    ... and at this last insult, I turn away from his face, unable to bear the manlice it holds.

    Yet, without realising it, my fading vision focusses on the chain around his neck, the chain which holds –

    The Matrix!

    In a final, defiant gesture, I reach for it with my last ounce of strength...

    ...and it suddenly bursts into life.

    As it does so, I feel a new surge of energy, more than enough to allow me to push Galvatron away, then lift myself from the ground.

    I stand, and feel the beginnings of a great change, one which is altering the very core of my being. Time slows to a crawl, and I hear the voice of an old friend, an old mentor, speaking to me as if from the core of the Matrix itself:

    ‘A…rise…Ro..d..i..mu...ss…P….rrr…iiii…’

    Then, the Matrix shatters into a million pieces, and reality rapidly disintegrates. The light fades, the ground vanishes from beneath me, and I fall once more into nothingness.

    But this time, it doesn’t end…



    After what seemed like an eternity, Rinall was jolted awake by the sensation of falling out of the bed onto the floor. He took a moment to shake his head, and tried to orient himself. I’m back here, in Metro City, back in the real world. But why can I not shake this cursed nightmare?

    "Rinall, are you okay?" A concerned voice.

    Rinall tried to apologise. "Ohh…. I’m sorry Athendra, I didn’t mean to wake you again."

    "You were having that same dream again?" Athendra was used to the sudden jolt into consciousness that came when Rinall was affected by that dream, and only wished she could do something to help alleviate the problem. She could tell that the last thing Rinall wanted was to keep upsetting her like this, despite his best efforts.

    He reached over to rest his head in her lap, trying to breathe slowly, to anchor himself in the here and now. "I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened – ever since the time we lost contact with Cybertron, since I felt… its presence."

    He had difficulty trying to explain himself, but Rinall was almost sure that he knew that Optimus Prime was dead, and he was almost certain that Cerebros had been awakened by a distant power – and he had been haunted by this feeling ever since.

    "It? You mean…" she started to guess.

    He nodded. "The Matrix. Somehow I could feel its essence at work – but from a distance… As if it was supposed to reach me, instead. I must be going crazy!"

    Suddenly, she had another question on her mind. "Rinall… do you know what happened to Fortress Maximus?"

    "…I think so, I’m not sure", he admitted, "and I know I should have told you earlier, but I was sworn to keep my thoughts on the matter to myself."

    She tried to reassure him. "You don’t have to say it..."

    But he was determined this time. "Yes, Ath, I do."


    ----


    Years earlier, Rinall had awakened from a similar dream, and went outside the bounds of Metro City to try and clear his mind. Somehow, his speeder almost steered itself across the countryside, as his hands guided the controls almost as if on autopilot. He was heading to a secluded area in a nearby mountain range – the last resting place of an old friend.

    But something was telling him that he rested no more…

    He eventually approached the entrance – at least, what was once the entrance - and killed the speeder’s engine. The recent series of seismic anomalies had reverberated across the mountainside, and had reached a devastating climax not too long ago. He hadn’t heard much about what happened, but now that he was there the answer was evident:

    The entire mountain had collapsed, as if it had been hollowed out from within.

    He ran a quick sweep over the area, and found no trace of the complex which had once held Cerebros’ body. He cursed himself that he had not come sooner, to see this for himself, to try and help breach the chamber before it was too late.

    But the visions – of Cerebros reborn, of the mountain drained from within, of the portal whisking him away from Nebulos – were they real? Is this the result of a reborn Fortress Maximus? And what was he going to say, or do?

    It seemd he was not alone in seeking answers. "Confused, Rinall?"

    Kovashi! He had shown up at his side un-noticed – to the annoyance of Rinall – who turned to his old friend. "What do you know about this?"

    Kovashi shrugged. "Me? I’m afraid your guess is as good as mine, Rinall."

    "Well, I’m not so sure about that…" Rinall told him about the visions he had been experiencing, starting with that of the darkness, the vengeful warrior, the light of the Matrix – and the final descent into oblivion. "It doesn’t happen every night, at least. But when it does hit me, it’s always the same, every last detail – and I always end up lying on the floor covered in a cold sweat. It’s more than a dream, it feels… real, but not from any experience I’ve ever had."

    "And the other vision?" Kovashi asked further.

    Rinall tried to remember. "Oh, that..."


    ----


    "It’s hard to explain, but I knew you’d be here," he said to the other, "I could sense the Matrix restoring you. In truth, I’ve been haunted by visions of the Matrix ever since, the same nightmare over and over again…"

    The other looked knowingly at him. "You can feel it too, then. The echo, from a path not taken."

    "What do you mean by an echo? Never mind - somehow, I know what you are planning to do." And Rinall was not thrilled at the prospect, to put it mildly.

    Yet, the other was insistent. "I will do what I must."

    Rinall was not ready to let it go. "But it’s madness! If you go back now, you’ll be leaving us here on Nebulos to fend for ourselves – and throwing away your spark in a hopeless cause. And are you not the one who always sought to avoid war, why are you so adamant about returning there?"

    "I know it’s hard to understand, but when I was reactivated, I could feel the presence of the Matrix within me. It’s not an easy concept to put into words, but I knew that Prime had fallen, that the balance had been shifted – and that I was needed to restore it." His words were so assured - something Rinall had not heard in them for a long time.

    Not that he was ready to believe him, of course. "Restoring balance? A mythical presence, speaking to you from afar? Have you lost your senses? The Cerebros I remember would never have succumbed to such mumbo-jumbo…"

    "But there are still Autobots on Cybertron who need a leader, someone to rally them against the Hub…" he insisted.

    Rinall retained his skepticism. "And how do you know all this? The voice of Primus in your brain? We have had precisely zero communications with Cybertron since the fall of Earth, and zero means of confirming any of what you are saying. If you go to Cybertron, you’ll not only be putting your life at risk – if they find out about Nebulos, you’ll be unleashing the Hub upon us before we are ready!"

    The other again tried to reassure him. "When I arrive at my destination, I will awake from this plane of consciousness, and I won’t remember any of this! All I will know is my time there."

    "Will that be enough to satisfy the Hub?" A vital question.

    "It will have to be." A cautious answer.

    Rinall shook his head. "I… hope that this is just a bad dream."

    And Cerebros sighed. "So do I, Rodimus, so do I."

    That name... "Wait, what did you call me…"


    ----


    "...at least, that’s what I think is said. Each time I see that vision, most of the words are blurred, but different words are blurred each time. I’ve tried to put as much as could down, to make sense of it, but I may still be wrong, and there’s still a lot I haven’t figured out yet." Rinall hoped that he had passed on enough to suffice.

    Kovashi sat down for a moment to run through what he had been told, with a thoughtful look on his face. Eventually, he turned to face his friend. "Rinall, are you familiar with the concept of divergent realities?"

    Rinall nodded. "In principle… Our reality is potentially mirrored by countless others, which could vary from having a different shade of red on the Autobot symbol, to having us sitting around a campfire on an untouched Earth telling old stories to each other."

    Kovashi had built up a postulation. "Rinall, I believe that these two visions are linked. In the first vision, what you might be sensing is an echo… of another reality, one where the Matrix has touched you more directly. There are few of us who have any sort of affinity with the Matrix, and fewer still whose understanding of the link becomes manifest.

    If your second vision is true, and it restored Cerebros to life, you may have felt its presence at that time – and you can see a key moment where your reaction to it became a defining event."

    Rinall took a moment to try and take it all in – to make sense of this feeling that had overtaken him. "But if what you were saying is true, why did the Matrix not reach for me in this reality?"

    "I don’t know," Kovashi admitted. "If Optimus has fallen, perhaps Cerebros’ mission is to try and restore him. It sounds like the Matrix was re-formatting you in that other reality, fashioning you into a new Prime. If that is so, perhaps Optimus’ spark has not joined the Matrix, and it is not able to bestow the gift to a new leader. Whatever the case, the only way I can give you an answer is to go to Cybertron and find what answers lay there. And I won’t be doing that any time soon…"

    Rinall was stunned. A new Prime? Catapulted from free-wheeling cavalier to Autobot protector? He tried to imagine what his existence as a Prime would be like in that other reality – and couldn’t decide whether to be envious or grateful that he had not been chosen in this existence. He didn’t begrudge seeing his friend back to life, if it was true, but a part of him felt like he had been abandoned. "So what does that leave me as – a shelf-warmer? Destined to sit on the sidelines while the fate of the galaxy is played out? I’m guessing that he wasn’t planning on bringing any of us along for the ride on this adventure of his."

    Kovashi tried to remind him of their own duties. "Nebulos needs all of us to prepare it for what lies ahead. This world, and its allies, comprises the last hope for freedom among our kind, and those whom we were sworn to protect. And from I’m guessing that the locals may not take too kindly to the idea that Cerebros is alive and kicking – and off to Cybertron, no less! Even I hope you’re not right on that one…"

    Rinall sighed. "You’re not the only one! What will we do about this?"

    "We’ll keep a lid on it – the government isn’t keen on making the details public anyway." Kovashi turned to Rinall and tried to encourage him. "Perhaps the Matrix chose him because there is still hope for Optimus. If he fails, and Prime is lost for good, maybe then you will be chosen in this reality. In any event, do what you can for Nebulos, and wish him luck – wherever his spark may lie!"

    The words could only go so far for Rinall, however. "I wish we could know for certain, though."

    At this, Kovashi winked. "We should be careful what we wish for, Rinall… Rodimus."

    He couldn’t quite place where the name came from, having not heard it until his first vision. but it had a certain ring to it. "Wait a second… what will we tell the others?"

    "Keep it low-profile for now. It’ll probably leak that the head is missing sooner or later, but the details need not be disclosed. I’ll leave it to you who you fill in the blanks for – but as you say, the other Cybertronians will likely come to you with their own suspicions." The thought of keeping the word from Athendra grated on Rinall, but he kept his misgivings quiet for now. He hoped that he could tell her the truth before too long.


    ----


    It was a lot for Athendra to take in – but for the first time, she started to appreciate the full depth of what Rinall had been struggling with all this time.

    "Ath, I’m so sorry I didn’t tell all of this to you earlier – you didn’t deserve to be kept out of the loop. Frankly, I’m surprised that you’ve put up with me for so long, while I’ve been like this.." He couldn't not feel guilty, for everything.

    "What do you mean?" she asked, not quite following him.

    He felt like he should have said this a long time ago. "Back when we were all on Cybertron, when it was just the gang of us together – you, me, Blurr, Kup and the rest – I always felt that you were more keen on Springer than any of us.. Than me. He’s smart, funny, charismatic, courageous… and a damned Triple Changer to boot! He made everything look easy, from waxing Decepticons to wooing you with a nod and a smile. At least, that’s how it seemed to me. And now that we are all in these forms, it’s still a surprise sometimes that you aren’t with him – not least since he isn’t going crazy due to some weird visions!"

    Athendra reached her arms around Rinall, her hand resting in his hair. "Oh, you silly fool – Springer’s always been a good friend to me, and as Jyerri that hasn’t changed… but he’s not you! I don’t see the same spark behind his eyes that I see behind yours, the warmth and care that you give me that no-one else ever could. I’m here with you because I love you, Rinall, and I always will. No matter what crazy dreams you carry around in your mind!"

    Rinall had never felt more delighted at the sound of Athendra’s voice than he did at that moment.

    But she wasn't finished just yet. "Look, if these dreams are showing you becoming a new Prime, and if Cerebros was right about you being the final hope for Cybertron, maybe it could be a good idea to practice for leadership now?"

    "I… hadn’t thought of that…" he realised.

    And so, she hit upon an idea. "In the morning, we’ll get on to Lacroix about organizing some command training – get you learning about logistical operations, about organizing tactics and strategy, about leading others by example. I know you, Rin, and I can see the potential within you. Maybe it’s time to see if we can’t draw it out!"

    For years, Rinall had felt trapped, depressed, and alone – haunted by the fickle hand of destiny, constantly shown visions of what might have been. Now, for the first time, he started to see fate the way he had once seen it every day:

    As a challenge to be overcome.

    Athendra could see a hint of a sparkle in the corner of her partner’s eye.

    "I always knew there was more than meets the eye with you!" His quip was answered by a mock expression of annoyance on her face.

    "That was a quick turn-around.. .oh, hey! Ha ha ha!" After a short burst of tickling, Rinall reached over to kiss her, renewed by the love of the one being he knew he’d cherish until all were one.

    It was good to be alive.


    ----------------




    "I WISH TO KNOW... WHERE IS THE REPORT FROM SYSTEM 223.1?" the voice boomed.

    A rather less direct voice replied. "My Liege, it seems that contact with the system has been severed. We are dispatching vessels to the area to investigate."

    The booming voice wanted more information. "WHEN WILL THE VESSELS ARRIVE?"

    "Within the next twenty breems, my Liege," came the answer.

    This is not what I needed to hear. The Rimward Campaign had already ground into a stalemate, Megatron still had flickers of resistance to deal with on Cybertron, and now a site - and a project – no outsider was meant to know about was in jeopardy. But if the weapon had been attacked, who would know about it?

    A thought flashed in the Liege’s neural network:

    Who indeed.


    ------------------------------------------------------


    Notes on terminology and identities:

    Pretender-2 series: more advanced Pretender technology, fully mimics target organism 2h for human, 2n for Nebulan

    WA = Warden Armour: anthropoid armed battle suits controlled by Nebulan pilots in Headmaster-esque suits, primarily for aerospace and low-g environments, roughly 20 metres tall

    MS = Mission Suits: anthropoid armed battle suits controlled by humans, human pilot encased in teardrop-shaped module in suit’s chest, neurally interlinked to suit’s systems (pilot sees through suit optics instead of own eyes while in control, neural pulses control suit’s movements instead of own body etc), all-purpose design for atmosphere, land and zero-g environment, roughly 22 metres tall



    BT Hound = Carl Williams (in Pretender-2h)

    BT Smokescreen = Representative Lacroix (in Pretender-2h)

    BT Meister = Ryu Hanabishi (in Pretender-2h)

    Hardhead/Duros = Gintak (in Pretender-2n)

    Chromedome/Stylor = Tekrath (in Pretender-2n)

    Springer = Jyerri (in Pretender-2n)

    Sandstorm = Aurcan (in Pretender-2n)

    Broadside = L’sor (in Pretender-2n)

    Brainstorm/Arcana = Representative Kovashi (in Pretender-2n)

    Blurr = Sorennon (in Pretender-2n)

    Arcee = Athendra (in Pretender-2n)

    Hot Rod = Rinall (in Pretender-2n)

    Highbrow/Gort = Ylethian (in Pretender-2n)
     
  2. Draven

    Draven Banned

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    *VERY pleased* :) 
     
  3. Motor_Master

    Motor_Master Lets the balls touch TFW2005 Supporter

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    Im really enjoying this story and Im only about half way through. I love the alternate perspective on the world Draven established for Redemption. Now I need to go and watch Ep 1 of redemption again.

    Edit:

    Just finished reading the rest of the story. You must write more, Im very intrigued to see where this all goes.

    Draven, do you plan on making any allusions to this story at any point say season 2?
     
  4. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Glad you liked it, Mr. Stunticon!

    As regards whether there will be more - perhaps, but I'm working more on my F/SN/TF crossover fic and my TF role-playing work these days.


    Maybe someday...


    (And of course, there is still plenty more universe out there for others to write about as well!)


    Gary
     
  5. Angryscott

    Angryscott Pancake Hustler

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    That is friggin' awesome, sir. I never thought I'd like the Pretender idea, but you've made it work very well.
     
  6. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Thanks!


    Though I have to say that this particular use of Pretender tech owes a lot to Masterforce, which was in my opinion the best means of explaining the whole concept.


    Gary
     
  7. Motor_Master

    Motor_Master Lets the balls touch TFW2005 Supporter

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    Yeah Id have to agree with that.
     
  8. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    I really like it so far! This is a great continuation/additon to the universe Draven set up. I hope you eventually write more. I'm eager to see where Rodimus's journey take him. And good use of Hound too. I like the way you use the Pretender concept.
     
  9. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    I just hope that I'm not spreading the Pretender idea too thinly with my fics...


    Gary
     
  10. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    I don't think you're spreading them too thin. The Pretenders are a great source of untapped story potential and you have the ability to make what was a somewhat questionable idea by Hasbro (TFs in human "shells") into something interesting and technologically viable in the progression to the BW era. It kinda reminds me of how Furman was able to actually do something with the action master concept, only you're doing it with Pretenders.
     
  11. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Well, I owe much of my interpretation to the work done in the Japanese anime Super God Masterforce - indeed, Metalhawk, one of the characters featured in my other story, is a major character from that series!

    If you haven't seen Masterforce, I'd highly recommend it.


    Gary
     
  12. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    I was wondering where Metalhawk came from. Are the Masterforce DVDs region zero like Headmasters?
     
  13. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    I asked at the Metrodome website, and they said it was Region 2...


    Gary
     
  14. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    Oh well. I prefer your story to watching Masterforce anyway since Rodimus is in your story. :) 
     
  15. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    I've just made a few changes to the formatting here and there - with luck, the piece flows a little better this time around.
     

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