Stylin Online T-Shirts
 
Register Rules Be A Supporter Members List Social Groups Mark Forums Read
Hobby Link Japan TFSource Big Bad Toy Store Robot Kingdom ToyArena Captured Prey

Transformers: Forgotten Wars

Reply Thread Tools
Old 11-19-2007, 08:15 PM   #1
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Transformers: Forgotten Wars

Transformers: Forgotten Wars


A Novel by J.Ruic Coil



Copyright 2007



Forward:

Some years ago I experienced a collision between the philosophy of C.S.Lewis and the Beast Wars TV show (and by proxy the G1/G2 era shows before and after the movie). Out of this collision I told myself a story which, quite frankly, I never really intended to write down.

But as this is the second novel in the series that began with Transformers: Genesis (link), so I guess you could say I have been writing a lot. Or you could opine that I’ve got no life. Either way, Forgotten Wars marks a personal milestone: it’s the first time I’ve ever finished a sequel.

For some reason, sequels just seem harder to write. And now I’m without any excuses about all those other projects. Drat!

Sincerely,
J.Ruic Coil
Rurudyne

October 12, 2007



Legal Stuff

Transformers: Forgotten Wars is a work of fan fiction and the normal disclaimers apply. However, there are any number of characters or concepts that are new in this story which I would claim intellectual ownership of. Beyond that, I can’t even afford a lawyer ... much less a good one.



Some Details and Acknowledgments

First I would like to thank two individuals:

I would like to thank ‘Shinju Tetsuya’ (DeviantArt) for the term “vectorhawk” ... since it’s a much better fit for high performance machines than “cyberbat” would've been. Check out her own fanfic, Metatisic which is in the process of being recovering from an old and faded handwritten copy (link).

I would also like to thank ‘Koi Lungfish’ ( DeviantArt or Koi Lungfish), both for the excellent map of Cybertron and also for a particular notion about the significance of how you pronounce “Decepticon” that, frankly, couldn’t have been better suited to my needs (the distinction actually matches up with one I’d planned all along and which I hinted at in the first book).

Also, if you’ve read the first book (it may help a lot if you have) you may remember that I use different fonts here and there to represent different languages of kinds of speakers (if a person or a drone, for instance). I use Impact for drones and subprocessors. Mainly because it makes me think of speech without inflection. In the past I’ve used Courier too. This time I needed a fourth font so I chose Arial ... but to make sure it is clear that it’s different from the rest: I chose to put this in blue.

If anyone has trouble reading the blue at all, contact me so I can sort it out to your satisfaction.

For those familiar with the canon units of time, they may quickly notice that my stories do not use them. As it turns out, this is for a reason. Anyway, from a microcycle (4.1667 minutes), to a cycle (1 Cybertronian day, or 2.8935 Earth days), to a megacycle (7.922 Earth years), this time keeping scheme is in use herein.



In Conclusion:

I really hope you enjoy the book.
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:17 PM   #2
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 1: Reboot


Magnus lay motionless, silently staring at the scaffolding above him. He marked the passage of time by the steady movement of old Powertech’s support gantry. Watched the wires sway as their master moved about.

His chronometer wasn’t working.

Nor was much of anything else.

He could smell though.

Powertech used a very pungent cleaning oil in here of the sort that kept ancient joints from freezing up.

One by one, subprocessors were coming back on line. Wouldn’t you know it? They were the exact same bunch that he had before! That and they were drunk from being over energized. The giggler was starting up. It found the sight of his right arm lifting itself into view intensely funny.

Only a few panels were attached, which gave Magnus a good look at a part of him he’d never want to see. Actually ... without any armor his arm looked a lot like a powertech’s.

Now there was a sobering thought.

Slowly, the arm dropped back down.

Magnus wished for his hearing or voice. Even his internal comm would be something. But no, he just got to stare at scaffolding and smell old-bot smell. That and it felt like something was missing somehow.

“Subprocessor Three?” directed to a fairly tame unit ... why not make the best of it?

–Yes–?!” the subprocessor blurted.

“Do you have access to auxiliary memory banks yet? I would like to look at my new technical specs.”

–Yes–, –HERE–!

“It’s like talking to a hyperactive drone.” the frustrated Combaticon fretted as he looked over ...

“Of all the blasted! These are for the 210!”

–We are not a two-one-zero–?!

“No, we are ... well, we.... I’m not sure yet. Three, could you please see if you have the technical specs for the thing attached to the arm that I was just looking at?”

In moments Magnus was staring at the technical specs for his right hand.

“Well, at least it’s not scaffolding.”

Magnus got real familiar with his right hand while he waited Powertech out. No reason to give his subprocessors anything else to cause him grief over.

Then he saw a frail hand tap him on an eye. Soon a cyclops face had come into view along with more of the old guy. He was pointing off to a side and might’ve been saying something.

“I can’t read lips!” Magnus wanted to shout ... not that Powertech had lips.

Then his vision cut out and the specs for his right hand disappeared.

“Great, I’m broke!” he moaned.

But then he felt a large.... ‘Large?!’ A large hand was on his shoulder nudging him. The world felt strange ... even if it still smelled of old-bots.

“Come on, Magnus! Wake up.”

Shockwave prodded him some more.

Magnus opened his eyes and looked up at his big brother. Big as in BIG.

“I don’t work?” he whined.

Shockwave smirked and shook his head: “You work fine. But Powertech needs you to run an errand for him back in Iacon while he sorts you out.”

Magnus sat up. He was back in the 210SHX. Well, sorta. He was still smelling that oil.

“What? How?”

“The prototype GAR system. Powertech hooked you into a landline while I set up the old 210 for remote use. Do you feel all-right?”

Shockwave carefully pulled him to his feet. They weren’t in the Combaticon crypt but in some building, in a room with a view of the southern sun.

The 210’s chronometer faithfully told him that a full two and a half cycles had passed since they were parted. But there were no other systems on line. Not even one drunk subprocessor.

“I feel ... lonely.”

“Never used this system myself, but I’m told it takes some getting used to.”

Magnus flexed his arms and rolled his shoulders. He felt normal. It was just very quiet inside him.

“What kind of an errand am I being sent on?”

“Recruitment. Here, read this on the way.”

A data plate? He opened the only file and started to read ... then promptly walked right into a wall.

“Magnus,” his brother chuckled as he leaned back into the room, “the door’s over here.”

Apparently he couldn’t walk and read at the same time. So he concentrated on walking.

He followed Shockwave through a busy Combaticon facility – the same one they’d taken him to before he woke up in Powertech’s lab – and out to a landing pad where Shockwave’s beauty waited for them.

“Don’t worry about the straps this time.” Shockwave purred as Magnus sat down.

“I don’t feel up to holding myself in the way you do.”

“No need. This trip will be nice and smooth.”

Aside from a feeling of impending doom, Magnus resigned himself to the situation.

He read the file while they flew. It was a contract for an apprenticeship. It took an awful long time to say anything about anything. Actually, it took the whole flight. They were already over the city heading towards the port.

“I wasn’t aware that engineers used legalese? Why did I have to read this?”

“They usually don’t. Arguably, you didn’t. But we have to keep your attention focused till you’re familiar with remote operation.”

“‘Remote operation?’ You said something about that before?”

“We – and I use that term loosely –;are in Iacon. Your spark is in Kaon along with that great pile of parts that is you.”

“I thought I was complete?”

“You are. But dropping a piece of hardware like yourself into a new chassis is complicated. You getting shot and then giving a ride to an alien didn’t make matters any easier.”

“So who does Powertech want?”

“That’s your choice. He needs a doctor though, someone with good hands and a quick mind.”

Sapphira! Magnus didn’t even question the impulse.

“Sapphira. She said she was the best.”

“I figured as much.” the sky cruiser came to rest in Rapax’ shuttle bay, “Well, toddle off!”

The door opened to let Magnus – or the 210 at any rate – exit.

“Toddling off.” he muttered as he let himself out.

Itself?

He stopped for a moment to look at his reflection in the sky cruiser’s mirror-like finish: his eyes were still red; the smile was familiar; the badge still said “Magnus.” But somehow it almost looked like no one was home. Maybe because he knew he was elsewhere?

He followed the route that Ravage and he had used earlier while they were dodging Combaticons. He slowly felt more confident in himself.

GARself?

But not so confident when he realized that the strangely silent main elevator up to Seeker was full of students, some of whom he recognized. If the piped in music was merely bad, their silence was deafening.

Then it occurred to him: they had Seeker badges now.

Of course! Graduation had been cycles ago. How could he forget? It should’ve been obvious!

No one said a thing to him, not even one: “Sorry your ship went boom and you got kicked out of the Seekers.”

The trip through the ship was much the same. People he didn’t know might nod at him as they passed by, but when someone he knew– This was irritating! It hadn’t been like this on his last visit.

He barely noticed a large Seeker fall in step with him as he worked his way through the ship.

“Starscream?”

“You seemed lost in thought.” the Seeker smiled.

“I’m on my way to see my doctor.”

“Sapphira? She’s not here!” he eagerly offered.

Magnus internally questioned if everyone knew his business?

He stopped and waved one hand around before demanding: “Where?”

“Is she? Haven’t a clue. I saw her and Captain Nine take some beat up old grunt sled for a joy ride.”

“It’s not beat up!” Magnus hissed, “There’s barely a scratch on it.”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t a nice beat up old grunt sled. Where did you get it?”

“My reward for being the only officer to survive the mission.”

“You–? You were– Wow! Must have been something important! You won’t believe the rumors flying about. Or maybe you would!” he laughed, “Did you get a decoration? I still haven’t figured out every Combaticon encryption code – you lot use a different system – but I’m working on them. It makes no sense to use different standards, probably an overt artifact of what Comptor calls ‘discrete social stasis.’ Are you familiar with Comptor? Fascinating philosopher ...”

As Starscream continued, Magnus tried to stay engaged and still keep his feet working all at once. But Comptor was new to him and his theory on the persistence of discrete individuals was fascinating. Just enough so, that Magnus walked into another wall.

“Magnus?” Starscream sounded concerned.

“Ummm ... I’m just a little ... disoriented. I’m just disoriented. That’s why I need to see Sapphira.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Well,” he said while he concentrated on right foot left foot, “for one I can’t get rid of the smell of old-bots.”

“Oh! Some battlefield hack patched you up wrong! It’s probably gyrostabilization fluid. That would explain the clumsiness too. If so, then Sapphira’s a good call. My fighter took several hits over Celdenior on my first official mission ...”

As Starscream explained how he happened to land on Nemesis – the only available ship given the damage to his fighter – was presented to Maximus and got patched up by the lovely Sapphira, Magnus managed to get to where he was going. A helpful Autobot/Seeker at the aid station contacted Sapphira for him and had them wait in her med bay.

As they waited, he tried to puzzle through this latest conundrum. Then he remembered: Shockwave!

“Real, REAL funny big brother!” he silently cursed, “Sending me out with a chassis that doesn’t do anything for me. It was just like that other attempt, where poor Comdec ended up trying to play doctor in Predaconland. Very funny!”

Maybe Sapphira could help him with it later?

“... and that was how I qualified as an ace even though still a just-boot cadet.”

“Magnus? Starscream?” a familiar voice, “Am I interrupting something?”

“Doctor!” Starscream crooned, “It’s good to see you again! Your tweaks to my gyrostabilizer continue to help me devastate the enemy.”

“I’m glad.” though she sounded sincere, she was less than enthusiastic.

“Hey, that’s a neat little drone you have there!”

Magnus’ head shot up: From Me!

Are you fixated on yourself?” came the click pop reply.

“Well, I’m certainly doing fine, little drone. Thank you for asking!”

“Starscream, do you need anything?” Sapphira seemed to be prodding.

Magnus could see From Me eyeing him from Sapphira’s side. He waved cheerfully, but she retreated a step and looked ... fearful?

“Well,” Sapphira started as the door closed after Starscream, “count yourself lucky that we weren’t far off when you called or he’d have told you how he got to double ace before long.”

That is not Magnus.” From Me was actually hiding behind Sapphira now, and looking around her at him.

From Me, of course–”

THAT IS NOT Magnus!”

“Actually ... Sapphira, she’s right. And wrong. From Me, I’m Magnus but I’m not ... I’m using a gizmo called a ‘GAR’ to project myself from my new body into my old chassis so I can run an errand for Powertech.”

Why would Powertech need you to do that?

Magnus mused that when From Me said it he understood which powertech she meant.

From Me, this is a different Powertech. He’s the one who is putting me in my new body.”

What was wrong with that body?! It is very beautiful.

From Me,” Sapphira cut in, “I know about Magnus’ series. They start out in that one body and then get their final body later.

But ... he is dark!

“Sapphira,” Magnus slowly leaned back on his hands and tried to look harmless, “From Me is right, this GAR thing allows me to ‘remote operate’ this chassis even if I’m really in Kaon. Could you help me here? I don’t want to scare her. I think she can see sparks ... or something like that.”

Sapphira glanced between them, a look of comprehension as she nodded.

“You aren’t really here?”

He nodded.

“What’s a ‘GAR?’”

“First I ever heard of it was earlier.”

From Me had come over to him and was looking at his face. She looked really sad.

“Shockwave took me from Alpha Trion’s place to Kaon to get my new body. Powertech’s got me in pieces there.”

From Me buried her eyes against his left thigh as she hugged him.

I am fine. I was just sent to run an errand and this was the only way I could go.” he very gently patted her on the head.

What Are You do not change.” she moaned.

From Me....”

What Are You do not change!

An idea: “From Me, do you remember the ‘pretty, pretty’ and what else you wrapped yourself around? That is me. Powertech is just putting me in a new body. The one I’m supposed to have.

Sapphira was nodding thoughtfully.

“Magnus is right.” she click popped as she knelt by the distraught Quevaldan, “A chassis is not himself. He is what shines inside it.

But....From Me seemed deep in thought as she let go of his leg, “But, What Are You do not change.” she weakly added.

“He isn’t changing. Only the way he looks.”

Will he have a new face?

“Well, they probably....” Sapphira seemed to mull that one over a bit, “I ... I don’t know?”

More mulling.

“GAR of Magnus, lie down on an examination table.”

Magnus startled at hearing the way she commanded him, like she was talking to a drone. Still, he got up and took the first table. She strapped him down tight.

From Me had transformed and was watching from over Sapphira’s shoulder.

From Me, this is not Magnus.” she quickly reported, “The Magnus you curled up around is not inside but some other devise is.

But his face?

Sapphira poked rudely at him even as she shook her head.

It is not REALLY a face but a ... simulation of one. Some kind of energy-matter projection I’ve never seen before. They probably transferred his real face when they transferred his spark. That way it wouldn’t die.”

TAKE IT AWAY!From Me pop clicked, “Things should NOT look like What Are You!

“I don’t think I can without disrupting this GAR thing. It might injure the real Magnus.”

“Hurumph!” From Me managed a genuine Cybertronian expression of frustration.

“GAR of Magnus,” Sapphira said again – Why was she treating him like this? –, “what is the errand you were sent on?”

“According to that file I left over there–”

“The file the GAR of Magnus left.” Sapphira corrected even as she pressed down on his hand.

Ok, she’s trying to tell me something here. Better play along.

“There is a proposal on that data plate over there.” he said with as little inflection as possible, “Also, my– Magnus’ brother seems to have made some alterations to this chassis that are giving me fits. That needs to be sorted out too.”

Sapphira’s brow furrowed for a moment as she looked over her instruments.

“Oh, very nice!” she smirked, “We’ll deal with that later.”

She left his side with From Me still clinging to her in that eight-leg form of hers.

He found that she’d even placed a restraint on his head. He was truly held motionless and couldn’t even look their way.

“Magnus’ other Powertech has phrased this as a contract for apprenticeship with payment for services rendered due upon completion of the term.” she informed the room, “I am NOT an apprentice!”

He kept quiet.

“It doesn’t even say what that payment is. GAR of Magnus, are you sure this isn’t another of Shockwave’s jokes?”

“Not really, but–”

“Ah, Doctor Sapphira?” he suddenly heard Powertech’s rasping voice coming from his mouth, “Was I correct in who Magnus would choose? I hope so or this will be awkward.”

Magnus tried to find the source of the voice and quickly isolated a previously unnoticed subprocessor. Not one of his own and it had control of his mouth.

She reappeared alone. No sign of From Me.

“I’m Sapphira.”

“Excellent! Sad to say, I’m not me, not Powertech. My systems can’t handle much and even an ordinary comm link could be a problem. So I sent Magnus with a shell based on me. I hope you don’t mind?”

“I suppose not. At least not as long as Magnus doesn’t.”

“I’m sure he’ll get over it. Anyway, yes, the offer is for an apprenticeship, with me, for an unspecified time till I’m sure I’ve been able to pass on my knowledge or at least equip you with what you’ll need to come to grips with the rest. Upon completion of this apprenticeship you’ll receive a stipend to cover your own future expenses, a secure posting which will give you flexibility in applying at least some of what I have to teach you for the common benefit, and a new chassis.”

“A new– I paid this one off not many megacycles ago! Why would I want a new one?”

“I’m sure the 287HL is a fine chassis; however, there are educational, practical and professional reasons why you will need a new one.”

“Such as?”

“Sapphira, to be blunt, while I know you’re young, and I freely admit that I’ve not spent even most of my three million megacycles on what turned out to be my life’s work, if you are to take up where I leave off then I can’t gamble on your standard issue spark containment. You need to be upgraded to Constructicon-spec and that will require an overall chassis change.”

“You can do that?” she sounded impressed.

“It isn’t easy and has to be tailored to the specific individual, but yes. There’s still risk, mind you.”

“I’d imagine.... What sort of job is this?”

“You are to take over as chief scientist for the Primus Project.”

Sapphira blinked hard.

“That would be illegal.” she muttered.

“In this era? Probably. But I don’t care one jot about the government or its stupid fears of there being another Primus. Primus, Artemus and Megatron certainly didn’t. Neither does Maximus. This program is exceedingly important to Cybertron. As an Autobot and a Doctor you must understand how the continuity of Primus is a vital link to our past? You can quote The Covenant of Primus all cycle long but it really doesn’t mean much if Primus is truly lost to us for all time.”

“I see you don’t believe in the soft-sell approach?”

“I’m old programming. Anyway, as part of your education and reconstruction, you will get to design your own Alpha chassis and will learn about advances in medicine and engineering that haven’t even happened yet, at least officially. In a way, having a femme Autobot Alpha will nicely round out the program.... No pun intended.”

“I’m sure. It sounds very tempting but I’ll need time–”

“Time is something I don’t have. Nor does Magnus for that matter. While I was physically up to switching him over in the crude sense, I’m needing some medical attention myself. To be blunt, I’ll be your first patient. That you’ve worked on another powertech already is all bonus.”

“About that, why not another powertech? Don’t they have the same files that you do?”

“If I told one how I’ve been able to read the cup, as Primus used to call it, they’d never master the art for themselves and their lives and achievements could be –would be– stymied. You have nothing to loose while a powertech could loose everything. I’m sure they’ll eventually forgive me.... Besides, in a way you’ll have the files too. Powertech told me of the mischief you three have got involved in, so I’m going to transcribe them for you the same way Magnus did that rant of Deltacron’s.”

“An Alpha and a powertech?”

“Where are you going to get a better offer than that?”

“Sapphira, what is it doing?From Me had poked her head into view again.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that?” the Powertech shell asked.

“Just my conscience on my shoulder.”

“Oh ... loud conscience. Anyway, I’ll not fool you. There will be discomfort and isolation for a time, your career with the Seekers may well be harmed, I’d imagine that it will be a massive disruption of your personal life and relationships, and you will likely have to do unethical things to fulfill your obligations as time goes by. Nothing too bad, mind you. At least not worse than what was done to Magnus and his brothers.”

“You sure know how to put a positive spin on things.”

“Well, I’ll only be with you during the discomfort and isolation part ... sad to say it. Even that will be a lot to bear.”

“Yeah,” Magnus silently mused, “like having to endure old-bot smell 1000/1000.”

“Sapphira, if you think you need it, Magnus has a letter to Commander Battletech in his leg compartment, it may help you to convince him.”

“So you already know my answer?”

“Do you really have a patriotic alternative?”

Sapphira leaned forward and rested her head against Magnus’ chest: “I’m going to make you pay for this Oculon! You got me involved in this!”

Magnus took note that the subprocessor was inactive.

“Sapphira, I think I’m back in control.”

“Funny thing, that’s what I thought till I walked in here.”
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:18 PM   #3
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 2: Sleepwalking


Magnus was mindful of From Me as Sapphira set about activating a number of rudimentary subprocessors which had simply been unplugged. It was as if his chassis had been as important to her as his personality and spark had been. Wasn’t it these latter that had that shine?

“Doctor?”

“Yes, GAR of Magnus?”

“I don’t know how, but do you think there’s a possibility we could convince Shockwave to let From Me go with us, just so she can see that the real me is all-right?”

“I take it that might be a problem. Where in Kaon is this Powertech’s lab? One of the secure research campuses run by the High Command?”

“Actually, it’s in the Combaticon crypt. In an older Primus’ tomb.”

She said nothing for a few hundred nanocycles.

“That would explain ‘discomfort and isolation.’ Magnus, if it comes to it we can sneak her in and out the same way you did on Quevald. This GAR thing is pretty small so there’s lots of room for her now.”

“I’d rather not get Shockwave mad at me.”

“Prudent. Well, we’ll ask him. The worst thing he can say is ‘no.’ I take it he can be reached on the Rapax?”

“That's were he was when I toddled off.”

Sapphira worked on him for a microcycle more in silence.

“That should take care of your chassis issues. Just to let you know, Shockwave left notes on what to do on the underside of your chest plate.”

“Nice to know where he draws the line,” Magnus allowed, “but I’m still smelling Powertech’s lubrication oil.”

“There isn’t any support equipment for a sense of smell that I can see.”

“It wasn’t important?”

“I’ll have you closed up in moments.”

She soon let him off of the table and pointed out her med bay’s ground line. Even though Magnus felt more coordinated, it was still very quiet inside him.

He called up Shockwave and found him agreeable to let From Me come along too, said it would keep her out of the public eye better. He didn’t say anything about the practical joke though, even his expression didn’t give away a hint of amusement. The sense of foreboding returned.

“Sapphira, are you sure you reconnected everything?”

“Yes.” she jiggled Powertech’s data plate in his direction, “Wayside should still be in Reunion Lounge with Nine. We’ll see you later.”

“Nine took Wayside off the sled?”

“I’m sure she had her reasons.” Sapphira said without turning back.

And with that they left.

Magnus rubbed his face before looking around ... this place, Sapphira’s lab, it looked big now. A lot of things looked big. Would they still look big when he was as tall as Shockwave?

That thought shadowed him as he stalked through Seeker. He kept looking at everyone and everything around him as he tried to understand why he’d even been put into this chassis in the first place. Why not send him out as a GAR from the get go? Maybe From Me was right, maybe there was something important about a chassis and now that he’d already switched over he couldn’t even tell if there was a difference?

Just then he saw a familiar face who might know something of interest: “Tauron?”

The Autobot/Seeker stopped on hearing his name and looked around.

“Magnus.... You were with Comdec. Professor Nine’s unit.”

“Right. How’s things been going with your lot? Working on your tabletop games?”

“I’m not really supposed to ... well–”

“Hey, I understand. Academy policy and all that. But just for the record, we are coming back.... Most of us.”

“‘Most?’”

“Blitz is in Kaon.”

Tauron nodded in understanding.

“So what brings you here?”

“I’m recruiting people to a subversive organization to restore the monarchy.” Magnus half laughed, “Do you mind me asking, is Seeker your final assignment?”

“It’s a post graduation bit for starship operations. I think we’re going to end up on something at least as big as a cruiser.”

“Nice.”

“We’ll be ready for that cyberball rematch!”

Magnus smiled: “Say, Tauron, have you ever heard of some philosopher called Comptor?”

“I’m trying to shed my old librarian persona ... but probably. What about him?”

“Is he still around? I only just heard about him a while ago and one of his theories sounded interesting. Literally had me walking into walls.”

“The one I’m thinking about should be. He used to live in Atalan. He was always going to symposiums there at any rate. Why would you want to know about him?”

“I like philosophy.”

“And here I thought it was energon goodies you liked? Listen, I’d love to chat but I’ve got a good performance review to chase.”

“Sure.”

Tauron walked away for a moment before turning back: “Hey, Magnus, try plugging ‘Atalan Decamegacycle Theorum’ and ‘theoretical technoethics’ into a search engine and then refine it from there.”

“Thanks!”

Magnus looked around, one of Seeker’s libraries shouldn’t be far away and there was no telling what he’d have access to over the next little while. He found a busy one that still had a few open terminals and started plugging in search parameters. Oddly, the results produced were scant ... maybe his security clearance didn’t carry over now that he wasn’t really here? He still found a few good links, including one that might have been the actual text he was looking for. Unlike all the other times, he had to pay for the download to datacrystal.

He paused to look at his balance. Sad. Really, really sad. His friends hadn’t been moving the ship around much, but everywhere that wasn’t his apartment’s garage resulted in parking fees.

“Maybe I’ll take them all to Kaon with me?” he muttered.

On the woefully inadequate plus side, there had been one deposit from the Decepticons for two cycles of work. Nice that Oculon had managed to cover that sorta first cycle when he’d been datascrubbing.

Logging off, he scanned the room for anyone else he knew. No such luck.

As he made his way to Reunion Lounge he thought about Starscream and Comptor and his friends and all of their own influences. About the time he found the table where Nine and Striker were sitting alone, he’d made his decision....

“I’m going to finish what I started first.” he announced as he plopped down beside Striker.

Striker looked down at him even as Nine tried and failed to suppress a smirk.

“Was I that ... ah, dedicated?”

“You were worse, Lieutenant.” she said while peering into her infusion – still smiling.

“So, what are you going to finish?”

He looked up: “My friends’ presentations.”

“Magnus here was working on an independent study. I couldn’t keep him challenged enough as a mere professor.”

“Must be from that thing you were telling me about.” Striker’s smile returned, “I’m sure they’ll be glad to here it.”

Magnus nodded happily.

Then Nine swished down her sipper and stood to leave: “Well, it’s been fun talking with you again Striker.... Magnus.”

She broke a big grin as she left.

Magnus watched her go ... still unsure about that femme walk. It still seemed to serve no purpose.

“No touch!” he heard his brother growl even as a number of glowing cred chips hit the table.

“Pardon?”

“Nothing!” Striker chimed even as his smile re-returned, “Come on, lets get you home. We can watch the third match of the cyberball tournament on your big screen.”

“What about Rapax’s monitors?” he asked as he hopped up to let Striker out.

“Fine ship. Splendid ship. With ‘antique-a-vision’ and ‘merely-steriophonic-sound!’”

“Ummm ... right.” he allowed as he followed Striker out.

Soon he was standing in an empty shuttle bay looking out at the setting sun.

“Wayside left us?”

“Nine sent it home where the parking’s cheap.” Striker confided as he noisily moved something around.

Magnus turned to see him sitting astride some sort of gizmo that had been propped against the wall.

“Hop in the saddle!”

“The what?”

Striker patted a space behind him with one hand even as he gripped some sort of control with the other. It roared to life with the characteristic whine of a high-performance repulsor engine and began floating above the deck.

“It’s a–”

“Hop on and hold on!”

He had seen these things from afar but had imagined them to be some kind of drone, being too small to be a sky cruiser. Which this one obviously was. He climbed on behind Striker and found some hand holds.

“Don’t worry, I know you’re new to this GAR thing.”

He gunned the engine once more before leaving at a civilized pace, as if to prove how nice he was being for taking it easy. Even so, the wind noise was terrific.

“Why doesn’t this thing have a wind screen?” he yelled – all the others he’d seen had some kind of shell.

“Magnus, I can hear you fine so don’t yell!” Striker yelled back.

“But–”

Oh bother! Why could Striker hear him fine when he could hardly hear anything?

Shockwave, obviously.

Still, the little sky cruiser was fun for being all exposed to the elements and traffic. That newfound itch began working at the back of his mind: “I gotta get me one of these!” he silently vowed.

In short order, they’d landed in a small space wedged between Shockwave’s beauty and an unfamiliar sky cruiser that were occupying his apartment’s inward facing balcony. Striker carefully let his ride down so it wouldn’t scuff anyone’s cruiser.

“They NEVER allow me a good space!” Striker vented.

“A privilege of rank!” came an unfamiliar voice.

Magnus turned to see a Combaticon with a Seeker badge. He looked a bit like a smaller 177U with the same style of helmet and such.

“So this is your replacement?” he smirked, “Funny, I thought they’d have put him in something more ... impressive. Red at the very least.”

Magnus was confused.

“Magnus, this here is Wildway. The only one of us old enough to remember Shockwave’s first true love going down in flames type breakup.”

“Spoken like someone who still hasn’t got out of the starting grid!” Wildway laughed even as he extended a hand.

“That sounds painful.... I mean, the going down in flames part.”

“Yeah,” his brother gave him a hearty shake, “he always did have problems knowing which targets weren’t legitimate. Speaking of ‘legitimate’: I hear he got you twice already?”

“Once.” Magnus corrected, “He missed the seating arrangement that first time.”

Wildway patted him on the side of the head and muttered: “Brave kid.” before he stepped aside to reveal that Shockwave had been right behind him.

“Oh fragging, fraggity, frag me, slag me!” Striker muttered.

“And right nice it is to see you too!” Shockwave allowed through a broad smile even as he turned back inside.

“You could’ve warned me!” Striker whined at Wildway.

Magnus just held his voice box and his smirk in check. So THIS was the egomaniac who had written so eloquently about all those morning infusions?

They followed Wildway into a –very– crowded apartment. Giant Combaticons everywhere.

“Hey look!” Wrecker laughed and slapped an empty spot on the couch near Powertech, “Another free-per-view!”

“Huh?”

“The pay-per-viewer sensors won’t register a GAR.” Wildway informed, “Striker’s pseudogars? Sure. No one knows why.”

“I think someone sold me for a petrorabbit.” Striker pouted.

Magnus realized what was going on: a party!

“Say, about Oculon–”

“Is with a lovely vectorhawk somewhere around here and is well aware of the situation.” Shockwave informed even as he tossed Magnus an energon goody.

Drones too? He nibbled on the treat as he contemplated what sort of side show had wandered into his home. He didn’t even know half of these Combaticons and STILL the odds were good that most of them were his brothers!

In short order he’d been introduced to a dozen brothers and even more girls. Oculon had appeared with a femme – not a vectorhawk – and Ravage began chanting: “Screen!” ... a chant most of the room soon picked up on.

Magnus plopped down in his reserved space beside Powertech just has his friend complied with the wishes of the assembled host. The big screen dropped down from the ceiling and burst to life. The pre-game show was still on. Folks began to take their places, those with shorter companions getting to sit up front so everyone could see.

“Artemus had placed 5,000 on the whole first two rounds?” Shockwave announced, “Does anyone want to cover his wager?”

There was a moment of relative silence before Heavy Iron spoke up: “Sure, the old mech could always pick’em! I’ll take your creds!”

“I’m not committed.” Phase rattled, “Not that I could ever pick a winner. Will you take twice the risk?”

“Done and done! Anyone else?... Besides the rookies who can’t afford to gamble?”

Magnus watched Striker shake his head before dropping his face into a hand.... Yeah, it sure was nice of him to volunteer for Shockwave’s attention like he just did. He imagined that he’d have little to worry about ... for at least a while.

“Count us in too.” Highwire raised a hand after Flare, the femme he was with, elbowed him noiselessly.

Shockwave nodded as the room grew quieter, smiles disappearing and faces looking pained.

“Is Powertech watching this?” Wildway asked Shockwave, breaking the silence.

“No, but he does have a date for tonight. Two actually. Pretty things.” a faint smile returned.

Just then the pre-game show ended when the Iacon Space Control Cyberbats trotted out on the field.

Magnus was more interested in the ‘stands’ around him than the game. This was family! How many people on Cybertron even had a family? As hard as he’d taken Artemus’ death he’d only actually talked with him three times. He could scarcely imagine how the others were coping.

That, and he was REALLY glad no one knew how he almost walked away like he did. He needed to track down Cashways, Whiteface and Bluejack to tell them to keep silent about all that. They were good folks, they’d understand. One bit of history that needed redacting if ever there was one!

The game was very closely contested and drawn out, neither the Cyberbats nor the Dockworker’s Union Loadmasters committed even a single tactical mistake. When the Loadmasters removed the last point against them, Heavy Iron inquired about the bet.

“Still in the running.” Shockwave allowed.

“Hoo-yaw! Easy money!” this overly broad brother allowed while pounding a fist into a palm.

That seemed to cheer the room plenty, even more than it had been there at the end.

Hammer started cleaning up before folks started standing up and shuffling out.

Magnus got to hear lots of variations of: “Thanks for having me over!” and even one: “Be careful around airlocks.” as he played the part of a good host.

Eventually, only Shockwave and Wildway remained of his guest.

“Gone to secure his quarters?” Wildway asked.

“Yeah, I’d imagine so. Barring fortuitous circumstances, I figure I’ll need to wait 32 point 072 cycles before he’ll have let his guard down enough.”

“Made a science of behavior and psychology?” Powertech asked.

“Of course.” Shockwave looked down with a smile, “And Powertech, YOU didn’t hear that.”

“Perish the thought! Can I be around for whatever happens?”

Shockwave rubbed his chin.

“Well?” Wildway pressed, taking up Powertech’s cause.

“Have to add ten cycles for having an audience. Magnus, you CAN’T be there. Primus! He won’t let his guard down around you for at least three megacycles the way you’re going.”

“I’m doomed!” Magnus silently groaned.

“Well, enough of that! Thrasher, get your knightly butt to work and help clean up this mess. Magnus, Wildway ... I need to see you two downstairs. –Now–.”

Wildway shot his brother a confused look before responding: “Sure.”

Shockwave silently led them out into the hall and took them all the way down to the parking garage for larger vehicles. They boarded the grunt sled, ignored the inactive Wayside, and went back to the office.

“Brothers, do you know what these are?” he swept his hand over the whole room from just outside the open door.

“Books?” Magnus replied.

“Yeah, books.” Shockwave said uneasily.

Wildway pushed past them to inspect the books. He picked up a few pictures too ... holding one briefly to his chest.

“By Primus, what books!” he muttered as he sank into the chair.

Magnus was confused and looked to Shockwave.

“I wanted a second opinion. I knew Captain had been his personal guard and a good friend, but I really wasn’t ready for this.”

“What do we do about them?” Wildway rumbled.

“Not ‘we.’ Magnus here. Captain probably got them legitimately for his own enjoyment so they are where they belong.”

“Magnus, I bet you didn’t know you owned a treasure ship!” Wildway sighed.

“Treasure?”

Wildway picked up one of the simple data plates and activated it.

“He must have been reading this one....”

“The books?” Magnus asked, still confused.

“Primus’ books, little brother. Some of them at least.”

“Lots of them.” Wildway corrected, “If not all. I remember he’d send me bits and pieces for feedback and editing.... As if they ever needed any....”

“What do I do with them?” he was confounded ... he’d got his wish and now he didn’t know what to do with them!

“Read them.” his brothers said in unison.

“Maybe loan us one every now and then?” Shockwave added.

Shockwave!”

“Hey, if anyone has the right.”

“... So the rumors are true, after all.”

“Rumors?”

“Just keep being clueless, little brother!” Wildway laughed as he self consciously set everything down again, “For as long as you can.”

“Thanks a whole lot!” Magnus muttered.

Then Wildway got the most serious and dour expression, a scowl laced with anger.

“Terrakas?” he growled.

“Doesn’t know as best I can figure it.” Shockwave sighed, “Besides Theodan, none of them ever did.”

Wildway was still trembling in anger, making Magnus sure that he’d never want to cross this brother. Ever!

“I want to tell him.” he finally said.

“I have rank.”

“Stuff your rank! He’s my friend! Whatever chance there is he’ll remain that way– I owe him. That’s all there is to it!”

Shockwave was silent for a while: “Fine. Magnus, why don’t you familiarize yourself with this library while we go make sure your place gets cleaned up right?”

“Ummm ... sure.”

“And Magnus, this is one secret that needs to remain a secret.”

Wildway got up and pushed past him again. Patting him on the shoulder as he passed by. Then they left.

He picked up the picture from the desk, the one Wildway had held close. It was a group holo with Shockwave, Wildway and other brothers – Captain too – all standing happily around a familiar looking red and black soldier and another small individual who, purple color aside, could have been his mirror image. Right down to the smile.

“Megatron....”
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:22 PM   #4
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 3: Shadows of the Past


“What was so important downstairs?” Powertech asked.

“Huh? Oh, Shockwave noticed something odd about my ship.”

“Other than a profane pilot? You should put that thing on stage at the Theorum.”

“Yeah, probably.”

Magnus shifted the book in his hand uncomfortably, which immediately drew Powertech’s attention.

“Thrasher told me that this Captain was real particular about his books.” he smiled, “He’d be glad to know they’re with someone who appreciates such things.”

Magnus nodded even as he rubbed a finger along the edge of the data plate: The Case of the Impounded Megaboosters, no byline. Not that many of the books had a byline. None by Primus at any rate. It had looked like those books were in a specific order and this one was near the end, given that the equally anonymous Murder in Iacon: One Cop’s Revolutionary War Journal was at the other end of the shelves. He should probably read them in order but ... but for him this was the first book.

“So, are you going to tell me what it’s about?” Powertech pressed.

“It’s just a crime novel. I’ve only read the first few bits ... illicit ship mods, maybe some smuggling, suspicions anyway, that sort of stuff.”

“Good reading if you’re a cop. Which we are. Oculon was asking when we could put in some time. You know ... help pay for this place? You feeling up to it?”

Still a Decepticon? Magnus nodded. The assignment was still valid even if the team was incomplete. For a moment there, before Quevald, he’d been looking forward– This was what Blitz had been telling him about. Tannas’ numinous other had set him on a new golden disk ... one which apparently had no place for Blitz.

“Do you want to tell them about their new posting or should I? You know, me being in charge and all that.”

Magnus blinked, the question shaking him out of his funk.

“New posting?”

“Well, they’re your subordinates and where you go, they go. Someone should tell them they’re Decepticons.”

“I’ll do it.” he looked around, no sign of either Combaticon.

“They’re on the balcony.... Hey Magnus, you gonna let me read that?”

He smiled: “Sure, once I’ve finished. It’s part of a series, though.”

He found them just where Powertech had said they’d be, milling about in silence looking up at the small patch of sky. Well, Hammer seemed to be looking a little lower than the sky....

“Looks kinda like the barrel of a rifle that’s being cleaned.”

Hammer startled and Thrasher began laughing.

“I’m sure that wasn’t what Hammer was thinking.”

“What do you think of your new home?” Magnus asked earnestly.

That really got their attention.

“New–” Hammer fumbled, “We aren’t going back to the fort?”

“Nope, where I go, you go. This is my place, so you stay here too.”

“But ... the rents?”

“Better than you might imagine. Listen, I just want to tell you that you’ll be joining me and Powertech ... well, Powertech and I – he’ll be in charge as per Oculon’s directive – in what’s supposed to be a temporary posting.”

“As Decepticons?” Thrasher asked.

Odd, he pronounced it differently and the meaning seemed changed as a result.

“Beat cops. Oculon said we’d be doing routine police work.”

“I was hoping to go back to Quevald.” Thrasher muttered, “Help finish the job. Maybe help them start rebuilding their world.”

“We’ve got a ship!” Magnus beamed with as much optimism as he could muster, “But we aren’t going anywhere till I’m sorted out.”

Hammer got a puzzled look even while Thrasher nodded.

“Well, why not?”

“That’s the spark! Tomorrow morning we’ll head upstairs and tell the boss he needs to give us a bigger office. Then we’ll see what he has for us to do.”

Magnus left them on the balcony. Behind the small area where the VR terminal was, there was a large room with a window looking out on the central shaft. Had lots of empty benches and shelves, power outlets of all sorts and a few stools. He found one shelf near the far corner of the room that looked about the right size for a bookshelf.

He pulled over a stool and started to read.



A ruddy haze was filtering down the building’s central shaft before he stopped reading. This deep in everything was still in shadow. He’d never bothered to ask before if it was spring or fall so he really had no idea if the cycles to come would bring a long night or a long day. He hoped for winter ... as awe inspiring as Iacon was by day it was a color feast for the eyes at night.

Odd that he should be thinking about this now when his own chronometer that could’ve simply told him what he wanted to know was off line.

“A chassis that doesn’t do anything for me, eh?”

He slid the book carefully onto the shelf, into the place it’d go if its brethren were all present. Stepped away and inspected the placement. It was a mystery to him why Primus hadn’t published. The book was really good! At least it seemed to be so far.

Primus hadn’t disappointed either: Magnus had a number of ideas of how to look for information on ship modifications that you shouldn’t make. A tantalizing prospect now that he had his own ship, small though it may be.

“Comptor!”

He really wouldn’t be needing the datacrystal now, so he placed it by his book.

Then he moved it to a lower shelf.

And again – which seemed better somehow.

He found the others lounging about in the refueling nook, a smallish room with a table and chairs as well as some equipment for dispensing and manipulating energon, oils and the like.

“This place has everything!” Thrasher said as he waved, “We’ve got an infusion ready for you in the cooler.”

Magnus opened the largish cooler, probably designed to support a party like last night’s. There was one full mug. He rubbed his fingers for a moment before taking it. Even with the GAR’s senses the thing felt almost deep space cold! He glanced at the manufacturer’s logo ... heh, they weren’t far from literal: Absolute Zero indeed!

He took a sip. Extra sweet style and very cold.

“I see you’ve laid claim to the lab?” Powertech observed as he rolled his own mug between his hands.

“Is that what it is? No, I’m willing to share. Just give me my space near the wall and I’ll be happy.”

He took a longer sip. Well, at least someone had thought it important to give a GAR a sense of taste ... though the aroma of lubrication oil gave the infusion an odd bouquet that was out of place. Magnus reflexively sniffed and he could almost smell the old guy hovering over him. Maybe he was working near the head?

“I think I’ll get my stupid question out of the way for the cycle.” he announced, “Do infusions have an aroma?”

“Not that I’ve ever noticed.” Thrasher quipped, “Why?”

“Well, just now my sense of smell is ... elsewhere, and the infusion seems different for seeming to smell different.”

Powertech sniffed at his infusion.

“Might be something from the oil?” he allowed, taking a big sip.

Magnus slowly drained his mug as he listened to the others talk. Powertech seemed a real fan of war stories and had managed to get Hammer to brag about some of his exploits.

“You’d have been right at home with A-3’s sniper team, my friend.” he silently mused.

Then he had a very naughty thought! Something to consider for later....

He drained the last of his infusion just in time for Hammer to finish his tale. Just in time to start heading upstairs by the 210’s simple chronometer.

In short order he was sitting in his brother’s outer office. The bench that had broken under Blitz’ ‘fall’ was still missing. Hammer had spent some time with Oculon and now it was Thrasher’s turn.

“What did you talk about?” Powertech pressed.

“Not what you’d expect. He asked me lots of questions about what I did in my free time, the sorts of people I had for friends outside of the Combaticons, hobbies ... that sort of thing.”

Powertech nodded thoughtfully.

Magnus leaned back and let his thoughts drift elsewhere. He’d promised himself he would finish going over his friend’s presentations. But which one first?

He could remember what they were called and what they’d been about but the wording was elusive – which was odd. Though he hadn’t recorded them, he HAD paid very close attention. Maybe he had used a subprocessor’s help without even knowing it?

Both Broadback and Fastrack had given speeches about practical philosophy – how to live life to the fullest kinda stuff. Comdec too, but his was more focused on leadership – not that it’d surprise anyone that he was ambitious. Cobatron had spoken passionately about the natural wonders of Cybertron. Havitron’s had been mundane much like Harvester’s: something legal from no where.

But ... Harvester had proven to have a most interesting story about why something so drab could be life changing. Maybe with imperfect memory to work from he could still speculate accurately?

His mind made up, Magnus’ train of thought was derailed by Thrasher and Oculon entering the outer office.

“I suppose I can make due with a few more raw recruits.” Oculon sighed, “As for putting you four to work, I think I’ll send you out with Blackfire for the time being and let him show you the ropes. You remember where his office is, correct?

“Yes, Sir!” Powertech beamed.

“Well?” he folded his arms across his chest and stared down at them.

Magnus was last to shuffle out.

“A question, little brother?”

“Yes, about my memory?”

Oculon gave a quizzical look before smiling: “I’ll look into it. Powertech probably has your subprocessors down for the time being. You better get moving so I don’t have to dock your pay.”

He found the others waiting for him just outside the door.

“I’m not going to be the one to offer any explanations to Blackfire.” Powertech said glumly.

“Thanks.” Magnus muttered.

He didn’t need to be reminded of how Blackfire had asked him to look after Blitz. Thankfully, Blackfire didn’t say anything.

He led them to the garage where a medium sized cargo van whistled at them as if to acknowledge their approach.

“Welcome to the glamorous life of a beat cop!” he chimed as they pulled into traffic, “Today’s lessons will be given in the vicinity of the free docks.... As usual.”

No one said anything.

“Right....” Blackfire muttered.

As they neared the port, he began asking them if they had any experience with “surplus bins.” Only Thrasher seemed to recognize the term beyond its obvious meaning.

“Where’d a regular like you run up against surplus?”

“Something Captain once told me. It was from a story he’d picked up about the revolution, about how Decepticons–”

“Decepticons. Not ‘Decepticons.’” Blackfire corrected the pronunciation.

“But Captain said–”

“Sir, if you go about saying it that way, someone might take you for the real deal. Unless you actually are, it’s not something you want floating around out there.”

“But, what's wrong with Decepticons?” he asked using the way Captain had apparently taught him.

“Nothing. They were disciples of Primus long before it was the thing to be. But they’re also a this who-knows-how-big secret society that puts some folks off.”

“But ... Captain served with Primus?” Thrasher seemed confused.

Blackfire sighed.

Decepticons run ‘surplus bins?’” Powertech asked.

“Not anymore. Or not the ones we’re concerned with. For some reason, off worlders seem to imagine that ‘free docks’ means ‘no security’ simply because they don’t have to pay to shuffle their wares. It never seems to compute with some of these people that the government pays the dock workers because they’re reliably informative.”

There was a moment of silence before he added: “We catch all the stupid ones this way. Whoever thought to install a landing beacon that reminded people to obey import and export laws was a genius!”

No one said a thing until Powertech spoke up: “It’s easier to smuggle through the pay docks?”

“Hey, at least there they get to select their own crew.”

Magnus was still trying to wrap his circuits around the notion that reminding people to obey the law could somehow assist in catching the “stupid ones” among criminals.

Blackfire settled the transport down into a reserved spot and had them pile out after him. He led the way to an observation lounge that overlooked a number of filthy docks and one conspicuously cleanish one.

“I’m responsible for that one.” Powertech almost seemed apologetic.

“Hey, Sideways is ok with the results. Says he doesn’t have to pay as much for autoshowers these cycles.... Not that he and his crew have done any follow up work, mind you.”

“Is this Sideways a Decepticon?” Thrasher asked.

“A hired hand like the rest of them. Not many places will give detail-freaks a good job.”

“So what do we do now?”

Magnus looked back into the room when Blackfire didn’t respond to Thrasher’s question. He’d taken the one chair, by what would’ve been a drone attendant’s desk if a drone was here, and produced a data plate. He was already reading.

“I guess we wait.” Powertech sighed, producing his own data plate.

“Maybe I should’ve brought my book?”

He leaned against the glass and watched a number of ships unload and load as he mulled over what he could remember of Havitron’s speech. A Point of Jurisprudence he’d called it. A rather detailed discussion about standards for evidence credited to someone called Panacron. The odd thing was that it seemed to have dealt with statutory evidence as concerns people rather than their actions. Like who or what a person was could be more important than what they did or didn’t do?

Well, since Blackfire was their professor this cycle, Magnus went over and tapped on his data plate. He listened carefully to the description of the speech: “I’ve run across that name before. There was a Panacron who authored a lot of influential text on jurisprudence, most of which are considered obsolete. Though you still see them referenced from time to time.”

“But why treat people differently depending on who or what they are?”

“Ask a Predacon.” Blackfire shrugged even as he dove back into his own data plate.

Now that was a thought! Predacons were treated like things by most people. Had Havitron acted any differently towards Ravage than the others?

Magnus returned to the window to watch ships and think.

“Ok, Decepticons,” Blackfire broke the silence some microcycles later, “someone’s about to do something stupid. Lets get moving before they have to appear before a magistrate.”

He led them to an elevator that turned out to be a standing room only tube car. Once it had dropped down several levels it moved off towards the center of the free docks. Then it opened onto an observation lounge where an unfamiliar ‘detail-freak’ was waiting for them.

“Seems we aren’t the only ones on schedule today.” the detail-freak quipped.

“What have you got for me?” Blackfire asked.

“Our Terranoirian friend from three megacycles ago is back exporting petrorabbits.”

“Again?” he sounded exasperated.

“He’s got the proper files this time but he seems to have neglected laying in a good store of cybertronium with the shipment. I spotted the discrepancy when I came on shift.... Your new crew?”

“Powertech, Magnus, Thrasher and Hammer.... Gambit, listen, unload his cargo but keep him occupied before you load. I want to see if we can get on that ship unnoticed.”

“That will hurt my efficiency rating.”

“You’ll be compensated for your trouble: standard percentage.”

Gambit nodded and left.

“Remember this Magnus: nothing in life is free. Powertech, how good are you with lock picks?”

“Well, if I even knew what a lock pick was much less had any on me: I’d assure you that they had only ever been used to score an unsupervised night or ten on the town.”

“Good ‘bot! I want you to work around through the conveniently suitable duct work and see if you can get onto the Cazarli without being noticed. If you can get in, use this.” he tossed him a small optical transceiver.

“Duct work?”

“Entrance is behind you. Thrasher, go with him.”

“Sure thing!”

“What do we do?” Magnus asked.

“We wait until we’re called in.”

More waiting? Didn’t really feel like he was earning his pay.

In short order the Cazarli landed and began off loading her cargo. Then the loadmaster started a heated discussion with the ship’s master, probably about the petrorabbits.

“I don’t get it?” Hammer spoke up, “What’s the deal with exporting petrorabbits? Doesn’t Terranoir have her own?”

“Their own drones were decimated long ago. Problem is that the local equivalent to cybertronium isn’t fully compatible with anything else because of that nebula they live in. It’s why they’ve never left that junkworld.”

“Oh!” Hammer said as if that explained everything.

Magnus’ head just sort of bobbled in confusion.

“Like all natural drones, petrorabbits are constructs of plasma energy.” Hammer seemed to have noticed his confusion, “I had a pet petrorabbit once. They can go frenetic mad without cybertronium and get real destructive right before they die a horrible death.”

“Die?”

“They aren’t the same as drones ... they’re drones.” Blackfire said barely concealing his amusement.

“Kind of like how I’m a Decepticon but not a Decepticon?”

Blackfire nodded.

Magnus thought about asking why or how Terranoir’s native drones had been decimated, but decided against it. He’d already asked his one dumb question for the cycle.

“We’re in!” came a report from Powertech over some speaker.

Blackfire produced a counterpart to the other transceiver and led Powertech around the ship. In a secondary storage bay he had them focus on some poorly constructed crates.

“Would you look at that tin for shielding?!”

“It’s cybertronium.” Powertech informed.

“Probably bought from some cut rate vendor.” Thrasher added, “Surplus bin?”

“Yeah, look, you guys get out of there. I’ll send Magnus and Hammer in through the front door to ‘find’ the contraband.” he turned his attention to Magnus, “Our friend out there needs to produce evidence of proper export arrangements or else pay up. Tell him there’ll be no fines or delays if he cooperates.”

“What if he tries to bribe us?” Hammer asked.

“This one isn’t a real criminal. Just desperate. Magnus, if you feel like it you can miscount by one or two crates on the low side.”

“Me?” he realized he was expected to take the lead.

“Did I stutter?”

As he led the way down to and across the dock – picking along the cleaner bits of floor – his mind was racing. What was he going to say or do? As much as he tried to, he just couldn’t seem to remember the specifics about export laws that Nine had covered! Sure, he would grasp at paragraphs and out of context phrases, but it was as if he’d lost all the directory data for his own mind!

All he could really remember well was the stuff that had happened since he woke up as a GAR ... stuff like Primus’ book ... stuff like.... He got an idea!

The ship’s captain quickly noticed them and assumed the look of the downtrodden and oppressed.

“Is there a problem here, Autobot?” he asked impatiently in an official sounding tone.

“No problem, Officer.” Gambit reported, “Just some minor issues with cargo.”

“That’s my job.” Magnus informed, “This merchant has shown up on our list for previous ‘minor issues.’”

Sure, he was winging it ... but it sounded good. Maybe he’d really find a way to make use of that nifty dialogue from Primus’ book? He made a point of looking the Terranorian up and down. Except for an odd shape to his head and bright white eyes you could have taken him for a late 100 series. He wore a curious cloth draping thing that was bright blue with black trim. When he spoke he positively groveled.

“My Dread Lords, please, I have not neglected my obligations before your great law!”

Magnus paused before saying: “Then you have a transport with cybertronium on the way right now?”

“Well....”

“Do they have any with those beast?”

“No, Officer.”

“Well then, you must already have some on board!” Magnus said in a cheerful tone, “I don’t suppose we could inspect it?”

“Dread Lord, if you know I have it then you must know I’ve already paid the proper duties?”

“Humor me, Captain ... of the Cazarli.” he said in a formal way.

“Blast it!” he silently fretted, “Blackfire didn’t tell me his name!”

The Terranoirian nodded his reluctant agreement and led them onto the ship. He started to go the wrong way.

“Captain, please don’t lead me on a merry chase.” Magnus sighed as he slipped in another phrase, “Just show us your cargo.”

The Terranoirian stopped in his tracks and seemed to be considering something.

“This way, Dread Lord.” he changed direction.

“My name is Magnus.” he said with forced frustration, “I’m not anyone’s ‘Dread Lord,’ much less a hard working Ship’s Master like yourself.”

No response. They were soon standing before the cybertronium.

“Are you going to make me ask?” Magnus asked, throwing in another snippet.

“This was purchased....” the merchant started before trailing off, “No, Mister Magnus, Officer.”

“Good! How many crates?”

The merchant blinked: “Twenty-eight. Enough for my cargo’s needs.”

“Wire the proper fees in to the port authority and have your files ready for the loadmaster before you take off. And put up some extra shielding. I’m feeling my patina brighten just standing here and, blast it, I worked hard for it!”

“Yes, Officer!” the merchant seemed confused even if he was less servile.

“We’re finished here? Officer Hammer?”

Hammer led the way off of the ship.

“You don’t know about petrorabbits but you can pull something like that off?” he wondered as they approached the observation lounge.

“Eh?” Magnus shrugged, still proud for having worked in so much dialogue.

One thing was certain, his WAS a treasure ship! Maybe by the time he’d read all about Lastus he’d know how to be a cop?
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:23 PM   #5
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 4: Questions


Except for the fact that Blackfire did most of the talking, the rest of the cycle was much the same: some merchant would be out to make a little extra and they’d be there to keep him out of trouble. Not once did anyone actually get charged with anything.

Magnus spent most of the time in between trying to reconstruct A Point of Jurisprudence from all the fragments. It was like a game. A simple counterpoint to what he faced with The Lost. The harder he worked at it the better he could remember.

Maybe he’d been right? Maybe what was missing was the directory data for his memory so that he just didn’t automatically know where to look anymore?

“You don’t talk much, do you?” Blackfire inquired as they loaded up to go back.

“According to Captain, I almost talk too much.”

“He must’ve been something.... Listen, Powertech, I want you lot to show up by 100 tomorrow so we can get to Kaon by 150. We’re to provide additional cover for a Seeker cruiser unloading special cargo.”

“‘Cover?’”

“I’ll explain on the way.”

Magnus looked down at his hands and feet ... he’d been reasonably clean before Blackfire had led them out onto fifteen filthy free docks – plus one that wasn’t – but now he was a mess. That, and there was one grungy hand print on the back left of his head from when he’d got careless.

“I claim dibs on the autoshower.”

“Magnus,” Powertech sounded apologetic, “about that free autoshower....”

He just glared at Powertech before taking his hands and wiping them off on either side of his friend’s silver head. Smearing his frame with dingy grime.

“Yeah, I probably deserved that.” Powertech allowed after a moment of scowling.

“There’s cleaning rags on the grunt sled.” Hammer cheerfully offered.

Magnus spent the rest of the ride watching traffic out of the small window in the transport’s rear door. The shadows of nightfall were already overtaking the city around them only to be replaced by brilliant commercial displays. One in particular caught his eye just as they pulled into the garage: an ad for the people who made both Shockwave’s beauty and Striker’s runabout. There was a show room next door. Who knew?

After Blackfire let them off by his ship and they’d made use of the promised cleaning rags, he decided to wander around a bit to look at all the fancy and not so fancy transportation. There were actually several other grunt sleds here but these had been flawlessly rechromed and painted so that they shone even in the dim light and made Magnus remember the way Starscream had described his ship.

As he rode the elevator back up, he mulled over what to do. He really loved the mirror-like black finish of Shockwave’s sky cruiser but couldn’t see that it would be practical for someone who skulked around filthy free docks for a living. Maybe something pale green like Striker’s run about?...

Maybe not.

Primus’ book beckoned and overpowered notions about spending creds he didn’t even have. One treasure at a time.

“‘Investigation Log: Cycle 63: Entry 7:’” Magnus read out loud as he found where he’d stopped the night before, “‘I finally got the performance and ship’s log analysis from Tech,’ Lastus paused as he considered the data again, ‘and I can see why he was dragging his heels about handing it over. He flat out rejects the region dominated by the Malitos Republic as their likely destination, writing: “There are no suitable primary or secondary destinations for smuggling activity within the space designated.”’”

“‘“Well,” Lastus posed aloud to the room, “It looks like my attempt to make the transport captain’s use of his ship consistent have amounted to nothing!”’”

Magnus lapsed into silence as he continued to read. For sixty three chapters Primus had been building up the notion that they’d been running restricted tech and strategic materials to this one region of space rather than just using the modified ship’s extra speed for opportunistic smuggling. Now? For the rest of chapter 64 Lastus was floundering, going over some of the hundreds of conversations and interviews that he had while working the case.

He reread the chapter twice, looking for some idea of where the story was to go next.

The following five chapters were much the same. Five more cycles of floundering. Finally, Lastus was considering all his notes, all on different data plates, laid out on the roof of his home.

“‘Face it, old mech,’ Lastus fumed, ‘they weren’t doing anything specific. No great cover up of a clandestine operation. No cushy business deals with a few very reliable and trustworthy patrons. No great mystery to solve. Well, I guess I’ll tell the boss this one is as solved as it’ll ever be, ‘cause there’s no way he’ll give me a blanket travel authorization to follow up off world.’

“He started gathering up the data plates in order, saving Tech’s analysis for last. ‘You really threw me an antivirus this time, old friend.’ he mused as he dropped this last data plate into his satchel and started down. ‘Or maybe the Malitites did? Who knew they were so proficient at interdiction that they wouldn’t be considered the primary destination for a smuggling operation? Especially for goods bound for their own markets?’

“Then Lastus stopped in his tracks.... Why would Tech still not consider them the primary destination no matter how good they were? He hurried down to his office and called up his old friend. Soon a familiar silver visage filled the screen.

“‘Lastus?’

“‘Listen, Tech, why describe Malitos that way?’

“‘Malitos? What way?’

“‘You said it wasn’t a primary destination?’

“‘No. I said that there were no primary or secondary destinations. What kind of place is this Malitos? Some sort of station?’

“‘Some sort of– Tech, it’s a civilized world. You know: cities and people and all that?’

“Tech seemed to be mulling that information over before he spoke up: ‘Lastus, I’m pretty certain of the data the Seekers gave me ... there is no such place in that region of space.’

“‘But the star system–’

“‘If it’s the one I think you’re talking about, there’s nothing there except for a few junker stations filled with barely functioning space garbage.’

“‘But Tech, I’ve been to that world. I worked a case there with a local scoundrel called Zahzey not long after I got the boot from the priesthood!’”

Magnus sat back, disbelief spreading across his face. “Priesthood?!” He thought he knew what Lastus was about: a Combaticon working in the security forces from even before the war. It had said as much in the very first chapter. He skimmed the rest of the conversation, just the two characters coming to terms with what each had to say and no more mention of any “priesthood.” Not even a sense of how Lastus felt about leaving it.

It was really unsatisfying ... to throw something like that out. Especially considering that it felt like, having been mentioned, nothing more would be made of it.

“This is what I get by starting near the end!” he fumed.

All those other books.... Blast it all!

Magnus began fidgeting on his stool before he jumped up and stomped out into the apartment’s common area. He was alone. Not that he really expected everyone just to wait around till he wanted to do something. Still....

What kind of priesthood would a Combaticon be a part of? Especially before the war when Combaticons didn’t even have free will? Whatever that meant? He still couldn’t wrap his circuits around the notion that one could have will, but not free will. That one could be a person and yet a slave by nature.

Every example of programming he’d ever come across didn’t make you do things so much as they equipped you to do even more things. Even that early reading, forced as it had been, was really about enabling. No telling what would have happened had they just left him there with all those files and no clear concept of what they were for. As boring as the crèche seemed now, it could have been a LOT worse!

Thanks to Shockwave and old Powertech he was getting a real good look at what life could be like without programming. He didn’t even seem to know his own mind this way!

But he was still himself. Wasn’t he?

That’s when he got an idea. Wayside and Arclight 12. First, why not ask something that didn’t have a will of its own what it was like to act like it did? Then he could compare what he’d learned by seeing what the old Combaticon had to say.

Book in hand he retraced his steps back down to the garage and his grunt sled. Every step accompanied by thoughts, plans and what he could manage to remember about philosophy, programming and learning.

Wayside was sitting motionless inside its pilot’s cradle.

“Wayside?”

Yes, 210SHX designated as Magnus?” it said without turning.

“How may you serve me?”

He was curious about how far he could push the drone before it pushed back.

Yes.

“You must serve me?”

Yes.

“Do what I say?”

Yes.

“Exactly as I say?”

Yes, exactly fragging positively absolutely whatever you blasted say! Everything that doesn’t countermand my slagging operational protocols or that worm gobble virus that Maximus the Jerk had installed in me so I wouldn’t protect my charges from Quintessons. . . . Quintessons?!? Yes!!! . . . I mean, yes, I have to do exactly what you say.

“You even have to do exactly what the virus that Captain installed in you makes you do? Like that little outburst?”

Yes.” Wayside said, showing none of the emotion it had just displayed.

“So it wasn’t just that Captain taught you to curse ... he reprogrammed you as well.”

Yes.

“Do you resent him for doing it? The way you resent Maximus?”

Wayside turned in its seat and looked at Magnus, puzzlement spread across its features.

It was how I could serve him. . . . What he wanted. It never put anyone in danger.

“It put you in danger.”

I don’t matter.

“Because you aren’t alive?”

I don’t matter because I don’t matter. For a long time I seemed to be important to 177UHEX designated as Captain; but, that was because . . . I mattered to him.

“You aren’t sure?”

Wayside shook its dull black features as if to say no.

“You are sure?”

177UHEX designated as Captain wanted to know if I could learn to act like I am like he was. Like you are. An experiment to determine if some combination of programming and learning could approximate life.

Magnus mulled that over for a bit. Had Captain been interested in the same sort of questions that he was? Or was it something else?

“Was he trying to develop a more advanced drone?”

Wayside said nothing.

“Wayside?”

Directives will not allow me to answer that question.

“Captain’s programming?”

Yes, slag you!

“And to circumvent the limitation, I’ll probably undo all that he did?”

There is a file–

“No!” Magnus commanded, “You’re just going to have to accept that you matter to me too. More than me knowing what Captain was doing matters to me.”

Wayside seemed confused.

“I have an idea for an experiment of my own and you might be able to help me.”

If you cannot evaluate my performance data how will you be able to construct a valid experiment using me?

“Can you evaluate your own performance data?”

I do not have that capacity.

“You can’t evaluate your own performance?”

I do not understand the criteria.

“You and me both.”

Magnus considered telling Wayside why he was treating it the way he was. Could he really just ask the drone what it was like to act like it was someone rather than something? Was it a question a drone could even answer?

“Wayside, are you familiar with The Primus?”

Wayside nodded: “It is a dramatization of the start of the rebellion.

“Have you ever seen it?”

I am familiar with the text. 177UHEX designated as Captain provided it to me.

Now that was oddly convenient!

“In the play, Artemus is given an executable file – a virus if you will – that causes him to have free will.” Magnus was surprised how well he remembered that moment, “Once he had used it he immediately knew the difference. When Captain used his executable file on you, did you feel different?”

No!” Wayside said with some force, as if it was restraining an urge to curse.

“I appreciate the way you’ve kept your speech in check.”

The behavior is not optimal. You should have me execute the antivirus.

“No, I want you to learn to control the ability and compile information about directive related stresses.”

210SHX designated as Magnus, there is a danger of a genuinely critical malfunction if I continue to do that. My series was not designed to act in such a manner.

“Interesting,” he silently mused, “to act in defiance of ‘not optimal’ programming is actually stressful?”

For some reason he’d imagined that it would be the other way around.

“If you become sure you will soon malfunction then I expect you to do what you must do to avoid the possibility. Even if it means applying Captain’s antivirus on your own initiative.”

That makes no sense!” Wayside practically spat.

One thing was sure, drones like Wayside weren’t dumb. It had clearly understood how illogical the request had been. If that was the case then why were drones so thick?

Magnus felt as if he’d read about this somewhere ... but he couldn’t remember where. For all he knew, he was just making it up as he went along. But something about this whole affair seemed right somehow.

He would just have to trust himself.

“You’re right. It doesn’t make much sense. But if it starts making sense then you’ll need to act on your own.”

That still makes no sense.” it repeated listlessly.

“Humor me.”

Yes, 210SHX designated as Magnus.

“Wayside, do you know anything about priesthoods a Combaticon might belong to?”

Are you experiencing a malfunction, 210SHX designated as Magnus?

“Explain.”

You are exhibiting faulty logic and are asking questions about common knowledge. Are you experiencing a malfunction, 210SHX designated as Magnus?

Common knowledge?

“I’m part of an experiment too. I’ve deactivated my subprocessors in an effort to discern what it is that they actually do, what they are for. Priesthood?”

In my files there are 231 professions on Cybertron that are called by some derivative of that term. Most are ceremonial or honor guards.

“How many before the revolution would’ve involved Combaticons?”

Only one: the attendants of Vector Sigma. An equal number of Combaticons and Autobots serviced by drones – though long ago they were serviced by Predacons and Maximals. At least according to 177UHEX designated as Captain they were.

Magnus had to admit it, that was something he should have known about. Which raised a number of interesting questions about the extent of the files he’d been provided with at the start. There had been times he knew about things without having learned about them for himself. Things like energon goodies.

“Wayside, I want you to start a log for each cycle about your ... condition. You may not understand the criteria for evaluating yourself but you must know what your optimal condition should be. I want to make sure you aren’t in danger before I bring you into a more dynamic, less structured environment.”

A baseline for future comparison? I have medical protocols that could be adapted.

“Good!”

I will download the protocols so that you can adapt them.

Magnus took a data crystal from the drone. He hadn’t expected Wayside to be so inflexible.

“I’ll ... see about this as soon as possible. In the meantime continue to operate according to Captain’s original directives.”

Confirmed. Is there any other abuse you want to heap on me, oh mighty scrap pile refugee?

“Shut your energon intake!”

Wayside tisked loudly as it turned away, muttering: “Amateur!

So, it wasn’t just cussing, but being rude too? Strange that Captain should place such value on things that weren’t optimal. Or was life somehow ‘not optimal?’

Even though he’d lied to Wayside about his subprocessors, he was still glad for the 210’s. He could read and walk this way. Maybe even manage to listen to Starscream drone on and on ... though that might be pressing his luck.

Rather than go back upstairs he decided to hunker down in the garage’s reception hall till it was time to meet with Blackfire.

“So Lastus had been one of Vector Sigma’s attendants? What could someone do that could get them thrown out of that presumably cushy job?” Magnus kept that in mind as he read on.

By 088 he’d meticulously covered another 15 chapters, cumulating in Lastus and Tech having arranged to be on a Seeker ship heading right to where Malitos should be.

“Time for work.” he muttered, electing to show up by Blackfire’s van rather than at the office upstairs.
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:24 PM   #6
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 5: The Deep South


“So this is where you wandered off to?” Powertech accused.

Magnus looked up. Sure, he’d heard them approach but that didn’t mean he had to be the first one to say anything.

“Felt like a night out on the garage.”

“I’ve heard of timid just-boots, but you take the grease pot!” Blackfire snickered.

Magnus took a seat in the back and waited till they were out in traffic before he asked where they’d gone.

“Just out.” Thrasher shrugged.

Magnus nodded: “Me too.”

“So here’s the job.” Blackfire announced once they’d got to the upper levels of traffic where they could move faster, “We’re to provide on the ground observation from a number of small towns that surround the port. You’ll blend in as best you can and keep your optics open for anything unusual.”

Blackfire then proceeded to inform them of the numerous things that should be deemed unusual. Things like armed Autobots not wearing unit insignia.

Autobots not unlike Whiteface and Bluejack had been.

Now that was energon for intake!

After a long while Magnus noticed another three transports like Blackfire’s flying close behind them.

“More Decepticons?”

“The five of us can’t cover much territory on our own.... Powertech, I’ll let you and Hammer off at Caris for the cycle. Thrasher, you and Magnus are with me.”

Caris ... Magnus recognized the town where Cashways had his library.

“Can I go–”

“Assignments aren’t open for debate, rookie.” Blackfire grumbled.

Magnus watched his friends pile out on the outskirts of town. This could be bad if people were still talking about him.

“Where are we heading?” Thrasher asked as he moved to the front of the transport.

Blackfire said nothing for a full microcycle.

“How did Blitz die?” he finally asked, holding out a hand towards Thrasher as if to demand silence.

Magnus was finally on the spot.

“We were carrying March and were within sight of our goal when we ran into a crossfire. Blitz said something about energy weapons, there was a plasma fire and.... He was a dutiful prototype right up to the end. We brought his data back.”

“He kept fighting even past death.” Thrasher carefully added, “His chassis anyway.”

“Stubborn idiot!” Blackfire spat with considerable emotion, “I’m a 305SH.” he added after a moment, “Only the third. Barrage and Bombast were so impressed that I was actually going to serve with one of the 302s. Instead, I had to tell them he was gone.”

“Family then?” Thrasher sighed.

Blackfire nodded and said nothing till the transport settled down on the outskirts of a more substantial town than Caris.

“At least I got to speak to him once.” he muttered before sending Magnus and Thrasher off in different directions.

Magnus was sure that he’d want to share Blitz’ gift with his family. At least by the time he found the street cafe that Blackfire had mentioned he was sure.

The library’s patron was a gruff Autobot, a large red 100 series with an out of place accent called Gamma Chrome. He was as unlike the affable Cashways as could be imagined.... He even used drones during the day.

You’re infusion, sir.” the waitdrone needlessly informed.

Since he had no idea what the stamina of a GAR was like, Magnus was careful about the drink. Rather than read his own book, which was tucked neatly away in his leg compartment, he opted for a text that Blackfire had mentioned. A book that he’d be reimbursed for later. From here he was supposed to watch a swath of sky towards the Combaticon crypt for any ships larger than a sky cruiser.

Since Choron was much larger than Caris, Magnus wasn’t surprised that there was more hustle and bustle on the street.

Using a personal comm, he quietly logged every larger transport that passed through his section of sky – getting no feedback on any of his transmissions. After the fortieth notation he saw one of those unusual things that Blackfire had mentioned ... a lone armed Autobot that was soon joined by another. Both of them heading towards the edge of town.

When Magnus reported their presence he expected some kind of response; but, he got nothing. No response at all.

He logged two more transports before the Autobots disappeared from sight.

“Still no word from Blackfire.” he grumbled.

He got up from the table and went after them. It didn’t feel right to just let them walk away. But what would he do if he caught up to them? He didn’t even have a useless palm blaster!

Looking over his shoulder towards his patch of sky he kept up his reports as best he could even as he tried to find them.

But they were gone.

Magnus shuffled back to the street library just in time to avoid having his infusion swept away by the apologetic drone. He went back to logging transports and questioned if anyone was paying attention on the other side.

Would they even care if he told them he’d left his post?

That was when he noticed a pair of blue eyes hovering far above a table in the dim corner of the library. A seated form as big as his brothers, as big as Captain even, covered in some kind of brownish-black cloak that seemed to conceal everything but those eyes.

“Slag me!” he was silent before this stranger, “Here’s something unusual to report! What should I say?”

Just then the giant got up and moved to stand by him.

“Looks like it could rain today. Clouds, cosmic radiation, the conditions certainly seem favorable.”

“‘Rain?’” Magnus finally managed, tasting the unfamiliar word.

The giant shook his garment: “A Seeker invention for use off world. It’s called a ‘rain slicker.’ I’ve got to be ready if it ever rains on me again.”

Magnus repeated his question and quite forgot to log either this stranger or a largish transport that had passed by.

“On any given millionth cycle at one of any of a million places,” the stranger informed, “Cybertron will experience the phenomenon. Those normally wispy clouds above our heads fall to the ground as rain. Something to do with shifts in the atmosphere’s chemical balance and temperatures that no one’s ever done credible research on because there’s no way to predict the event in advance. Besides the relationship between cosmic radiation and cloud formation, I mean. At least that much looks favorable.”

“So you wear that –thing– so you don’t get ... ummm .... wet?”

“That’s the idea, Magnus.”

He was still contemplating the odds that such an event would even happen when he noticed how he’d been called by name. He was sure he hadn’t mentioned it.

“You know–”

“It’s right there on the badge.” the giant interrupted even as he laughed easily.

True. True. So knowing his name wasn’t sinister or anything.

“Still, I figured I should find you before you found me.” the stranger informed ... setting off all sorts of alarms in Magnus’ head.

Who promptly forgot to report the encounter, again.

“I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage, you apparently know me but I don’t know you.”

“Mind if I sit here?” the giant asked in an amiable way.

Like there was anything he could do to stop him?!

“No. Not at all.”

When he sat down on the stool it expanded to support him.

“Some of the merchants around here have invested in these.” he informed, “Good for patrons of all sizes.”

Magnus nodded.

“By the way, my name’s Destron.”

He finally got a good look at the face under the rain slicker. A silvery helmet like Captain’s framing a gaunt and yet jovial face.

“Destron.” Magnus said it carefully – mindful of its militaristic tenor.

“That’s me. Wandering around in my rain slicker....” he sighed, “Like I said, I’m glad to finally meet you. You made quite an impression the other cycle.”

I made an impression?” he was sure this entrance couldn’t have been better staged.

“Yeah. Cashways was right to take you home the way he did. Though Whiteface was still ticked. Something about not hearing one of Alpha Trion’s speeches. He calmed down. He always does.”

Magnus realized that this might be the cynical old hermit.

“Why did you want to see me?”

“I figured we’d meet sooner or later.” Destron frowned momentarily, “For my purposes where you’re concerned: sooner is better than later.”

“I’ve got a job to do here.” Magnus said, trying to convince himself.

“Whatever it’s about, nothing’s going to happen. You can bank on it. I want to know about Quevald. Are they really still there? Are they finally free?”

Destron was eager. Almost emoting. It made Magnus forget why he was here.

“There’s still some fighting to do, I’m sure of that. The Quintessons won’t give up till they’ve dragged it out.”

“Why should they?” a note of bitterness as his smile briefly disappeared, “Quints never make it easy.”

Magnus was suddenly mindful of how he’d come to meet Whiteface and Cashways. What did this Destron know?

“When I walked away from my life I started in Iacon and made it all the way to Kaon.” the giant offered.

Magnus looked at his face intently, unsure of what he was telling him.

“I think I understand you. A bit.” he continued, “Though you look mature, you’re young. Like I was when I went to Quevald.”

“When you went?”

“With Primus.” Destron said with some apparent pride, “I didn’t know Artemus very well, but I’m sure he’d be proud that you stopped walking when you did. Sometimes, walking away ... you don’t know where your steps will take you.”

Magnus nodded, here was someone claiming to speak from experience.

“Sometimes,” Destron continued as his smile flickered out for good, “when you’ve already lost everything, and all you’ve got left is who you are, walking away demands a high price.”

That last bit caught Magnus completely by surprise.

He watched as Destron shuffled his cloak, parting it down the middle to reveal ... an Autobot badge?!

“How?!”

He couldn’t believe that anyone could give up being a Combaticon for any reason. Much less someone who’d actually served with Primus! Until this moment he hadn’t even imagined it, much less imagined it possible!

“A protest. From my seat high up in the gallery I recognized every magistrate. I suppose I should’ve been happy that they’d finally found the conviction to do their own dirty work. Like I said, I had nothing –else– left to give up by then.”

“When?”

“Not long after the Rents Riot.” Destron said as if that was all the answer that was needed.

And indeed it was. He must be referring to the Autobot who was condemned. That and something more....

“When had you seen them before? These magistrates?”

“During the rebellion. After the Quints got their tentacles on me again. All history that’s been safely swept away.”

Magnus was reminded of the assassin ... and worried.

“Don’t worry.” Destron seemed to want to reassure him, “Primus freed me. Again. Just like that cycle we all first joined up with Alpha Trion.”

A true hero of the revolution, that’s what Whiteface had said. But patriots, true patriots, don’t walk away from who they are!

“I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it.” Magnus grumbled

Destron nodded: “I guess that’s a fair assessment. Primus had assigned me to Arctus Prime as a bodyguard. That’s what I was doing when I was captured. The Quints planted a control chip on me and made me fight in their fancy new arena. That’s where I first saw them ... cheering me on. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t control myself, –I– was the one doing the killing ... and I knew it. It wasn’t like on Quevald where we were liberators even though still slaves. It wasn’t anywhere near like Iacon One where we were fighting to be free. Friends, allies, people I never knew: none of them ever had a chance. There wasn’t much left of the Combaticon that Cybertron once welcomed, that left his badge on that seat. I doubt they even noticed their favorite gladiator leave. I was really high up in the gallery.”

“So you put THAT on?” Magnus accused, pointing at the badge.

“No. That was later.... When Tactus Prime found me here in Kaon....” Destron seemed lost in thought for a bit, “Quevald?”

Magnus was suddenly aware of how remiss he’d been in his duties ... several transports had gone by without any mention. And then there was this Destron.

“Quevald?” he pressed again.

It was all Destron could seem to think about. How could you trust someone who abandoned the Combaticons? Abandoned himself? Grief or shame ... he could understand that....

“You aren’t going to tell me?” Destron sounded really, truly sad.

He didn’t know why he should. But he started telling him about what they’d seen of the Quevaldans, how they’d survived in the shadows of their overlords and even attempted to maintain something of an ordinary, if silent society.

“I remember Primus telling us that their native language, that click pop stuff aside, was outside our normal hearing range.” Destron muttered at that point.

Which really explained a lot. That, and he’d really been with Primus. It almost gave Magnus a reason to like this ... Autobot.

He continued with what little he knew of how the Quevaldans had come to the aid of their liberators this time around. He gave nothing of his mission away.

“Did Captain die well?” Destron finally pressed.

Magnus was amazed at the question. How could this Destron know that?!

“You were carrying his weapon the cycle you wandered into Caris. Mine too, while there was still fight left in me to carry it. Whiteface didn’t know it when he described you to me, but he said you carried it well. Even if it looked way too big for you.”

“Yes.” Magnus was reserved, “He died well. Took a couple of big Autobots with him.”

“He was the brother I never got to meet.”

“What does the ‘E’ stand for?”

“Huh?”

“I answered your question. You answer mine.”

“‘Enhanced.’ A generic term used, in this case, for a system that made us tougher while our reservoir of rare oils and infusion grade energon held out. The latter was renewable. I used up the former while fighting ... slaughtering opponents in that arena.”

“Against your will.” Magnus found himself saying – as if he somehow wanted to comfort Destron?!

“It should’ve lasted a lifetime.” Destron said sadly.

He still didn’t like this Autobot much. But he didn’t hate him. Maybe he even pitied him. Which felt worse. He wanted to find a reason to like him instead.

“I have a job to do.”

Just not now, he could find some excuse later.

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk about that other cycle.” he added.

“Folks around here know how to be discrete.” Destron said as he stood to leave.

He considered reporting the whole incident. Decided against it. He watched Destron and his slicker leave even as he belatedly reported a series of transports.

What had he hoped to gain by this encounter? What could he gain?

But he had answered something for Magnus. Maybe. Captain hadn’t been one of the 177UHEXs built by the Quintessons before the revolution. Somehow, for some unknown reason, he’d come later. He’d never been a slave.

Maybe he’d been asking the same questions that Magnus was asking now? Asking because he didn’t know and not even his brothers or Primus, his friend, could answer him.

Now there was a discouraging thought!



“Why did you go off line like that?” Blackfire demanded after the assignment was over.

“I ... I got distracted by the reading.” Magnus lied. Pathetically. Unbelievably.

“The library probably got busy.” Thrasher came to his aid.

“Yeah. I guess so.” Blackfire muttered, “Listen, you two head on back to the detail shop near where I had Thrasher stationed. Get the works. I’ll round up the others and see that they get cleaned up too.”

“What gives?” Magnus asked.

“Now that we’ve got this job out of the way we get to suffer a bit. We’re assigned to provide transport and security for some politicians to a state function in Vilnacron. Did I mention suffering?”

“Yes.” Magnus and Thrasher said in unison.

“Don’t trust an autoshower for a job like this. Even the best of them can’t be trusted to properly buff out micro-abrasions and hide battle patches.”

“He’s right, Magnus,” Thrasher sighed, “I’ve worked some of these important gatherings before and if you don’t gleam you will be seen ... by everyone. Better to be glittering and invisible.”

“Fine, fine. Say, Blackfire, what sort of transport are we taking? Your van hardly seems up to transporting us, much less a bunch of politicians.”

“We’re not taking that grunt sled of yours.” Blackfire laughed, “Primus! We don’t need that drone of yours within a hundred stadia of Brexas! He’d probably be so amused that he’d haul it before the whole crowd.”

Something in the way that Thrasher just ... looked ... made Magnus wish they’d drawn some other duty.

Blackfire piled into his transport and left them standing there.

“You don’t suppose the boss’ll pay for ‘the works?’” Thrasher asked as they set out.

“If not, it’s because Powertech has already used up the freebees.” Magnus muttered.
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:26 PM   #7
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 6: Things


Magnus enjoyed all the attention at the detail shop despite the all too apparent disdain that Thrasher and Blackfire had for political functions. The Autobot who was working him over was being very thorough ... and it felt good. Not like those blasted little spinning fuzzballs that had tickled him so. If anything, he felt really ... relaxed. Like when in Sapphira’s oil bath.

He mused how such visceral experiences were still so vivid even as more intellectual task were less clear. Even the solid grip that Artemus had taken on his hand that first cycle.... Why could he remember Artemus so well? It was as if he were still here. As if the aura of that which was himself was etched into Magnus’ very spark. It reminded the Combaticon of the emptiness he felt as the soloist stepped in line with his rank even while the pipers were playing. Step, toe in, turn at attention. Thousands of Combaticons and Autobots in deafening unison. Rank after rank turning as the soloist walked on.

Artemus and Blitz leading the way before ... thousands.

Why?... He didn’t even know what it was he wanted to know. He only felt hollow somehow. All he could think about was the way that Artemus’ eyes had pulsed while watching the actors....

“Is something wrong? You’re tense.” the attendant observed.

“Striker wasn’t thinking about Shockwave or what he might do to him.”

The attendant said nothing more.

Slowly Magnus calmed down again. He didn’t even know where that last sentence had come from. Only knew that it must be true. Striker was feeling that same emptiness, and he just hadn’t seen it.

First Blackfire with Blitz, then Destron with Captain, and now ... Primus! What a horrible cycle! It couldn’t get any worse. No way, no how!

Magnus’ mood was somber as he surveyed the attendant’s work. He looked like a jewel of chromed yellow with silver highlights, shining in ways he never imagined he would. Almost as if he were the Rapax or Shockwave’s beauty. It reminded him of what Thrasher had said. Glittering meant invisibility. Things glittered, not people. You didn’t have to consider or take notice of a thing and that’s why he and the others would be invisible.

Something about that thought really, really bothered the Combaticon.

“You look great!”

Magnus turned to see a small silver figure wearing a chromed black helmet over his defenseless head. Matching shoulder, waist and knee bits too.

“Don’t want to seem too helpless.” Powertech laughed even as he twirled a weapon in one hand, “I’d hate for some politician to feel the need to protect me, when I’m supposed to be protecting him!”

“That’s a good look for you. Maybe we should take a picture for Rightway?”

“I suppose. Though I was hoping for something a bit less obvious than this.”

Soon the others were there, all glittering like Powertech and Magnus. Blackfire began passing out some white and black cloaks made from a very soft material.

“Rain slickers?” Magnus asked.

The question drew a baleful glare from Blackfire.

A flawlessly glossy purple grunt sled was waiting for them out in the street. Even the interior and its autopilot shimmered in complementary hues. There were several groups like his already on board.

“I’m a guard. A thing.” Magnus silently mused, “Where we’re going, I don’t matter. Unless someone needs to die, I guess.”

An Autobot who commanded Blackfire’s attention said much the same, just not in those exact words. Then he handed out the most splendid examples of rifles that Magnus had ever seen, each with polished highlights matching or complementary to its bearer. He ran down the drill for ceremonial escorts: move quick, precise and with just the right amount of clatter. Stand just so and don’t look at anyone or anything. Don’t say a word. Don’t smile. Don’t frown. Don’t respond. Just “don’t.”

The Autobot did fuss over Powertech a bit. Why assign someone so small? He actually got in his face about it, but Powertech stood his ground without flinching.

“Good! I like you already. I’ll be watching you.” the Autobot was still grinning as he left to inspect someone who’d been overtly amused at Powertech’s plight.

All the while, Magnus enjoyed his little joke from before.

It really was unfair. As a GAR, he had the distinct advantage of really being elsewhere and knowing it. So what if he was getting a good whiff of Powertech right then? At least in his case he really was a thing and he really didn’t matter.

Which was pretty funny, to think about it that way. Maybe that’s why pay-per-viewer sensors didn’t register GARs? Maybe he should see if he could keep the 210 around? After all, it wasn’t like anyone else was ever going to use it.

True, he had to actually think about what he was doing. The 210 wouldn’t walk through life for him now like before. But there might be benefits for it.

After standing at attention on a street in uptown Kaon and enduring the gawks of many an onlooker. Two unassuming Autobots, one a femme, boarded the grunt sled. A second femme followed them and seemed distinctly servile. Just three passengers?

Magnus boarded smartly in lockstep with the rest. Their passengers had gone forward and shut the door behind them.

“At ease.” the still nameless Autobot leader commanded his Decepticon troops, “If anyone wants to talk, be quiet about it.”

“Cobatron would probably bust a gasket if he were here.” Powertech observed from nearby.

“What?”

“That was Brexas back there, his hero and a shining example of what a politician can be.”

“You mean like A-3?”

Magnus noticed a few questioning looks at the mention of the old general.

“Brexas has never given up. Not even once for show.”

“Sounds as if he’s just plain stubborn by comparison.” Magnus said wryly, not wanting to commit to anything he couldn’t easily take back.

A short while later the ship stopped again to pick up more passengers, two Autobots who looked as if they’d rather be anywhere else. Once they were able, some of the other Decepticons murmured about these. Apparently members of the Lower Assembly and not the Governing Council as Brexas was.

Another stop saw only a regal 135UH femme board in the company of a dour Combaticon counterpart. They both wore flowing black capes to set off their coppery frames. These stayed in the rear area, in the office, rather than in the front with the other passengers.

After the 135UHs were out of sight, their Autobot commander had them take off their protective cloaks. Soon, they landed again and marched down the gang plank to form ranks in the middle of another broad street.

They were in some kind of city like Iacon or Kaon, but the buildings looked different: there were few bright commercial displays and the structures were extravagantly ornamental. Brightly colored towers and small domes were everywhere jutting out of larger structures, making Vilnacron look exotic, and maybe a bit weird. There was almost no traffic here, either at street level or up above, so it also reminded Magnus of the quite area near the arsenal.

Had they tried to empty the streets before their arrival?

The subservient Autobot walked before the other passengers from the front of the ship. As they passed the last of their honor guard, Blackfire and another commanded their two groups to fall in line behind the dignitaries. Brexas and his companions strolled and chatted among themselves for almost a whole city block before turning into a massive hexagonal tower overlaid with faded tile murals depicting scenes of daily life. All old-style Autobots and Combaticons. There were even a few Quintessons among the scenes.

A heavy footfall from Blackfire caught Magnus’ attention and he stopped looking around. He wasn’t here to see the sights.

They walked up a long golden stairway flanked on every landing by glittering guards of all descriptions. Finally, they entered through a massive set of doors, big enough for a Constructicon like Artemus to pass, and into a huge hexagonal room almost as big around as Alpha Trion’s stadium. Here they stayed on the balcony that extended all the way around the room’s interior as the politicians descended another golden stair down to a small gathering of people below.

Why ascend only so you’d have to descend?

Blackfire and company took up station on the left side of the door along the wall and just stood there.

Magnus looked at the group below them. It was easy to make out a number of his brothers, notably Shockwave and Wildway, and there were quite a number of 135UHs among the crowd too. One looked like Terrakas. All were clean but could hardly be considered highly polished.

Soon the rest of the honor guard from their ship arrived with the 135UH couple and took up positions along the stairs as their charges descended.

If these latter individuals had seemed reluctant to socialize on the ship, any such reluctance was gone as they descended into the fawning group below. Who were they? One thing was sure, if members of the High Command, Magnus’ brothers and important politicians bowed to them then they must be important.

After a few microcycles of socializing, the whole group seemed to disappear into an area below the walkway where Magnus was.

With nothing to do, he visually examined the rest of the room. The floor and walls were golden and shimmered in the light like imperfect mirrors. There was a diversity of brightly polished statues lining the walls of the lower level. Magnus had first believed these to be more guards, but then he’d noticed their lifeless eyes. All in all, the place was tremendously impressive.

Then he noticed something reflected in the floor from high above. He couldn’t see what it was while keeping his head level and was sure Blackfire would be very unpleasant to him if he just looked up. The image he saw looked like a backlit circular shield with a black fringe and five dull spikes for extensions. There were bright colors too. It reminded Magnus of something ... but what?

“I’m not here to look around!” he silently chided himself.

Rather, he decided to look inward and to ponder the events of the cycle. His mood had improved since the detail shop, if only because he’d been looking out rather than in. So he resolved to do what he could to remain happy despite everything else.

Why had Destron chosen this time and that conversation to introduce himself? How could he even know where he would be? Whatever Destron’s intentions, it had all been carefully staged just for his benefit. That much seemed sure.

So was Whiteface’s appearance also purposeful? As he reflected on the conversation, Magnus remembered the glare that the elder Autobot had given Bluejack when he’d asked about The Summation of Megatron. Had Bluejack gone off script?

“No, that made no sense. How could you carefully script a chance encounter like that?”

They’d seen him at the edge of the military preserve and then found him later. That’s how. What was it that Destron said? That Cashways had been right to take him home? Why would that be the case beyond the obvious reason that he wanted to go home? Why would Whiteface have even been mad at Cashways?

Caris seemed a lot more interesting in this light.

Eventually, he moved on to consider Havitron’s A Point of Jurisprudence some more. That people were different before the law because of who they were was a difficult concept to wrap your circuits around. Or would’ve been had he never met Ravage or Lynx. What other differences were there? After mulling on that one for a while all he could come up with was something Blitz had said and others had echoed: Autobots had to pay for their own chassis. It wasn’t simply theirs just because they were alive. Why?

He wondered about Powertech ... did he have to pay off that flimsy chassis of his too? If he did it probably didn’t cost much.

Just then someone walked in front of him and startled him. It was the dour 135UH with a few dignitaries in tow. They were talking in low tones and seemed to be examining the room. Someone said that they’d booted up here. Silence followed. They walked on and didn’t start talking again until the last one had disappeared from Magnus’ peripheral vision. Soon their voices weren’t heard anymore. He could see others now, both on the balcony and on the floor below. All the way across the room were his brothers and the 135UH femme, among others. This place had strange acoustics. The whole floor below, you could hear them talk even if you couldn’t hear them walk. Noticeable because one fellow had just danced a few absolutely soundless steps in response to someone’s comments. In contrast, the balcony was very quiet and Magnus imagined that he could talk out loud and few would hear him.

Well, Blackfire certainly would hear him. Probably thump him good too!

After he watched people come and go for a while, they all disappeared back into the place they’d gone earlier. Magnus checked his chronometer: 773 point 2. Time flies when you’re in your own little world.

What was it that Panacron had written? What could be so inspiring about different standards of evidence? Or was that even what had caught Havitron’s attention?

What else was there?

Of course, it was just possible that he didn’t know his friend as well as he thought he did. Havitron was thousands, if not tens of thousands, of megacycles old. Magnus was just 55 cycles old. A precocious just-boot from a good family – already with a notorious military career.

He really hoped that Maximus wouldn’t send him to Chaar when all was said and done.

Or the Planet of Junk – that didn’t sound too promising either. Actually, everyplace he knew of besides Quevald seemed depressing or hostile when compared to Cybertron. Quevald.... Thrasher had said something about helping them rebuild. That would be nice. Even if it wasn’t an official posting, maybe they could do it on the sly with his ship? He’d like to actually meet some of From Me’s people and learn more about them. Now that he knew about that language of theirs, he should see if Powertech would be amiable to a few modifications to his likely standard issue hearing.

“Magnus?” a rasping voice asked.

He looked around in confusion. He was between Thrasher and Hammer and neither seemed to have– A sideways glance from Blackfire and he snapped back to attention.

“Magnus, open your optics.” the voice repeated.

Now?” he thought he heard From Me click pop.

Someone “shushed” softly.

It dawned on him that these voices might be far away in Kaon. All this time he’d been running around in the 210 he’d not felt or heard anything from his real chassis save the constant reminder of Powertech’s lubricant. How could he even respond if such were the case?

Tentatively, he inquired of his #3 subprocessor ... it had always been well behaved.

For the first time in cycles he became aware of a soft presence, a hum at the back of his mind.

“Would you show me my technical specs?” he asked the subprocessor, half expecting to see either his hand or the 210 again.

Instead, he was treated to a massive file describing a giant as big as Shockwave or Wildway. Maybe even as big as Heavy Iron. Magnus broke a big grin as he looked over the file.

“I’m finally getting data feed from the 210 ... he seems to be with us at last.” Powertech observed.

“Did Shockwave give him any files on operating a GAR?” Sapphira’s voice rang loud and true.

“I need to have a talk with that boy!”

“Are you sure–”

“Not me!” came a confident grumble.

Magnus tried to think of a way to talk there without talking here. Last thing he needed was ... wait! He was there and not here!... Here and not there? Whatever....

“Five?”

The giggler ... why not tempt fate?

#5 was there, providing details about the GAR interface.

“He’s not in sync with his own systems.” Sapphira observed.

“Blast it all! We had the exact same problem with Wrecker! My dear, if you adjust the interface maybe we could–”

“Is there a problem, soldier?” Blackfire demanded as he hovered over the 210.

Magnus looked up: “No. Yes. I mean, I’m not sure.”

But he didn’t think he heard his voice answer Blackfire.

“Well, there’s part of the problem,” Powertech observed, “he’s doing something!”

“I’m waiting?” Blackfire said.

“Great! Can you guys tell me how to answer Blackfire’s question before I’m on report?”

“Magnus?” From Me’s voice seemed right by his face.

Hello, my friend!” Magnus pop clicked.

“Magnus, they are busy adjusting some equipment. Can you open your optics?

He did and wished he hadn’t. He was seeing both From Me hovering happily overhead and Blackfire glaring down at him.

“That’s about got it!” Powertech seemed triumphant, “Magnus, try speaking to this Blackfire fellow by thinking about it.”

“Nothing is wrong, Sir!” Magnus managed, noting how Blackfire still seemed unsatisfied.

“You sagged against the wall for a moment.” Blackfire observed, “Anything I should know about?”

“I’m sorry, Sir!”

Wrong conversation.From Me informed.

Thank you.

“I’m sorry, Sir!”

“You’ve been through a lot.” Blackfire said quietly before adding, “For a just-boot.”

“Powertech,” Magnus shifted his –real– head to see the small figure– ?!?

Was that Sapphira?

There was a structural figure towering over Powertech, one that barely had a form at all. The figure turned towards him ... there was her face!

“Like my new look? I’m calling it ‘disassemble!’ Could be all the rage in a few megacycles.” she laughed.

I think you are very pretty.From Me observed, “Maybe I will show you how to transform? It would work well with that look.

“Your question?” Powertech asked.

“How do I operate in two places at once?”

“Do what you’ve been doing. Surely you’ve mastered moving that 210 around by now?”

He had to actually think about what he was doing. So he thought about raising the 210’s right hand and giving Blackfire the all set signal.

It worked!

Blackfire returned to his place near the door and Magnus willed the 210 to return to attention.

“I think that’s got it.” he said to his friends in the tomb.

Then he noticed From Me’s hand. She was gently stroking his face. He also noticed that she wasn’t any smaller than before.

Ok, she was still small. But not “smaller” ... not like he’d imagined she and everyone else would be. She was exactly the same size she’d always been. So was Powertech and, discounting her missing mass, Sapphira too.

He turned his head back to her: “What do you think of my new body?

She smiled, her yellow eyes lighting up as she seemed to ponder her response.

There is room for an entertainment center in there!” she said at last, pointing back towards his chest.

Am I still beautiful?” he asked, wanting desperately to know that she was ok with everything.

She kissed him!

Right on the– Lots nicer to get kissed by a girl than a Predacon!

“We still have some work to do, it would seem.” Powertech interrupted, “Magnus, when did you first become aware of your subprocessors as if they were individuals rather than components of your own function?”

“Well ...”

Magnus described his experiences after Wayside’s operation, including how his subprocessors had been behaving ever since. No one said anything.

“So how bad is it?” he finally asked, looking towards Sapphira.

“It could be worse.” Sapphira said even as Powertech went to work at a nearby console, “Trust an automedic to use a general anesthesia subroutine when there’s spark containment damage, though.”

“What else could it do?” Magnus puzzled.

Sapphira winked.

He rolled his head back to look at the familiar scaffolding before focusing on From Me.

“Someone told me that your people normally talk outside of our hearing range. Is that true?”

Not anymore.” she smiled big – her real voice a harmony of crystal chimes like Soundwave’s ... only moreso, “I mean, there are rare exceptions.

He wondered about those exceptions as he gazed at the alien femme hovering over his face.

“Magnus,” Powertech interrupted the moment, “we need to make sure you are whole just now. I want you to continue with your story for a bit.”

“What’s to say? Once Thrasher and I had made the jump we made contact with Deltacron. Except for him dumping us in space it’s pretty much the end of the story.”

“Elaborate a bit.”

“But–”

“Humor me.”

Magnus grumbled for a moment.

“I’d like to hear it too.” Sapphira added.

Me too!From Me chimed.

Out voted....

“We ... we didn’t really jump across. We sorta fell with enough forward momentum to carry us from one building to the other. I landed on top of Thrasher.”

So: ‘wha-whum-crum-fer-hop-crunch-skreee’ does not mean: ‘I fall down and get up?’”

“It could be one way of saying that.” Magnus shrugged.

“That would explain the shock distortion patterns in your systems.” Sapphira sighed.

“That chassis was never meant to take that sort of abuse!” Powertech sounded defensive, “Go on, Magnus.”

“Well, the whole floor was dark. Probably hadn’t been used in a really long time. The elevator controls weren’t operable, so Thrasher decided to ask for a car. A drone picked us up.”

“A drone? What kind of drone?” Powertech pressed.

“A service drone.”

“Details, lad! Why is it just-boots never know how to tell a story?”

Magnus sighed and began a very detailed description of what the drone looked like. Recounting his frustration that Thrasher would just trust the Quintesson, he gave a word for word retelling of the encounter in the reception area. He related how helpless he’d felt when Thrasher had jumped between Deltacron and himself ... why didn’t he see the threat? His combat computer had been active.

“You’re going off on a tangent. What did you say when Deltacron threw his weapon down?”

“I ... I said that he was wrong, he wasn’t the greatest villain ever. No matter what the playwright behind The Primus may have imagined. I was passing the ball because I couldn’t move down field.”

No one said anything even though he could hear a change in the lab’s ever present hum.

“We got on the ship. Took off. Well, Deltacron apologized for the craft first. Odd thing to do seeing that he was going to kill us both once he was free and clear.”

“Really? He said that?”

“Well, not as such.... He said that I wasn’t any good at following instructions. Said if I was in charge then I had an order to obey. Then he pointed a tentacle at Thrasher.”

“What happened before that, Magnus?” Powertech’s voice had surprising strength despite the soft grinding of his ancient mechanisms.

“We got on the ship.”

“You’re memory may be restored to you, but you’re refusing to remember something.”

“What?”

“You tell me?”

Magnus thought for a moment, it was true: he could remember everything. For the first time in cycles, he could remember. He could remember Deltacron’s reaction to his little code. What he’d said. The way he’d felt ...

“I knew what he did....” he wondered aloud.

If he’d known then, why didn’t he know now?

“This is not going to be easy.” Powertech sighed.
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:28 PM   #8
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 7: Brothers


The next cycles were strange. As Powertech had him carefully describe with as much detail as he could muster the events that had happened on Quevald, he, Magnus, was also returning to his normal routine in the 210.

Seeing with two sets of eyes. Trying to stay in multiple conversations. As hard as it sometimes seemed ... it should’ve been harder.

“Beg pardon?” Powertech the younger asked.

“I just said that this should be harder.”

Magnus leaned back into his seat. Once again they were with Blackfire on their way to the free docks. Now that he had full access to his memory – well, organized access to his memory – he had not had to rely as much on Primus’ insights about beat cops. Still, he found himself imitating the venerable Lastus. There was something about the character’s amiable and yet gruff manner that got people to respond positively.

As if Magnus as Lastus was entirely without pretense. Which was all pretense.

Powertech grumbled a bit that the work was hard enough. Which was reasonable since, being smaller, he and Thrasher were often the ones sent around to look into any ship before it was officially looked into. He was proving to be an accomplished sneak.

“I wasn’t referring to what you’ve been doing.”

“All the glory and little of the real work!”

Magnus looked over to Hammer and Thrasher – both seemed amused at something.

“Say, Sapphira?” he whispered.

“Ummm-huh?”

“Is Powertech ... well?”

“He and From Me are working on your weapon. He thinks there may be a way to improve it based on what you’ve told us.”

“Yeah. Listen, Sapphira, what do you make of all this?”

“As your doctor or as your friend?”

“Doctor.”

“Wayside did what it was supposed to do. Can’t fault its skills. But there are other ways of dealing with spark containment damage than pull and plug.”

Magnus nodded.

“And?”

Her structural form was soon hovering over him.

“You’re a mess.” she smiled, “I don’t know if they went into the shock dissipation aspects of containment chamber design – Wrench sometimes cuts corners in those classes – but that 210 lacks adequate primary systems. All things considered we’re lucky to have a Magnus, and not Magnuses, on our hands.”

“And as my friend?”

“I’m just glad you aren’t worse off. Plenty of just-boots get sent into combat, but few as poorly prepared as you were. My guess is that Shockwave cut some corners too.”

“I learn fast.”

“I noticed.”

“Magnus?” Blackfire poked at him, “Cybertron to Magnus?”

They were at the free docks and everyone else had already piled out. He followed them up to their observation lounge as before and, as before, he sat down in a corner of the room near Powertech to wait out the shift.

But one thing was different: this time he had his book to read. Since he wasn’t telling anyone his own story he’d figured he would be able to read someone else’s.

Powertech set down his own data plate: “Say, the team wants to get together to work on The Lost some more. Have you made any progress on anyone’s presentations?”

Magnus stopped reviewing what he’d read so far and shook his head ‘no.’

“Slacker!” Powertech jokingly accused.

“I’ve been distracted.”

“Should I tell him?” he asked Sapphira, “I want to tell him.”

“Let his brother decide when.” she smiled in that way.

“But I’ll tell you all about it later.”

“Must be a long book.” Powertech sighed as he renewed interest in his own data plate.

Magnus thought for a moment. It was closing on a half million words so far. He wasn’t sure if that was “long.”

“You said it was part of a series?” Powertech asked a dozen nanocycles later.

He seemed ... anxious, hopeful, anticipating?

“What book are you reading?” the elder Powertech asked without warning.

“It’s called The Case of the Impounded Megaboosters.” Magnus turned his head to see the ancient mech approach with the aid of his support gantry.

Powertech tilted his head and seemed deep in thought.

“Well, it’s time to put up the books!” Blackfire practically shot out of his chair moments after his face was illuminated by the screen in front of him, “We’ve finally got someone who isn’t stupid or desperate to deal with!”

“But I’ve just reviewed the text so far.” Magnus whined.

Blackfire waved towards a previously undisturbed section of wall which opened to reveal a small arsenal.

“Powertech, keep your head down.”

“I’m not weak!” he grumbled as he regained his feet and produced his own pistol.

“Your own Mark-17?” Blackfire seemed bemused, “Where did you lay your hands on a Mark-17?”

“I’m full of surprises.”

“Is a Mark-17 good?” Magnus asked the elder Powertech – he’d figured he could ask his friends in the Combaticon crypt all the dumb questions he wanted to and they wouldn’t think any worse of him.

“Why are you reading that book?” Powertech demanded, “You can’t have possibly read so many yet. You’re reading them out of order!”

He paused as he inspected his rifle, a standard HRA-22MF with a full charge.

“Is that bad?”

“You shouldn’t read them out of order!” Powertech grumbled angrily.

Magnus boarded the tube car with the others. Powertech seemed to be moving as if he would be pacing were he not dependent on his gantry. He was slowly shaking his head too.

“Magnus, those books were meant to be read in a very specific order or else you may learn the wrong things from them. Why start so near the end?”

As the tube car made the transition from down to sideways motion, Magnus shifted his rifle about uneasily. Not because he might be about to go into combat, but because he couldn’t understand why reading them in the right order was so important.

The elder Powertech started to explain the literary importance of reading something the right way, or else you wouldn’t see what the author wanted you to see. His insistence was so strong that Magnus was willing to believe that he could “learn the wrong things.”

“Powertech,” Magnus interrupted, “Are you Tech?’ I mean, if Lastus is supposed to be Primus, then are you his Tech?”

The tube car’s doors opened onto a darkened observation lounge.

“Slag me, they’ve already rerouted power!” Blackfire spat even as he sent them towards different places in the room.

“Why would you say that Primus was supposed to be the same as Lastus?” Powertech seemed subdued, his cyclops face now perfectly level as he regarded Magnus.

Who realized that he’d never told anyone about what had happened. He would never get the chance with Artemus....

Taking up his assigned position near the middle of the room, Magnus got a good look at the sights below. A ship sitting in the middle of a somewhat clean free dock. The mechs that were unloading the ship’s cargo weren’t Sideways and his crew. They were all early to mid 200 series.

“How long do you suppose they were here before they tripped an alarm?” Thrasher asked.

“Magnus, I am worried.From Me held her hands to her chin.

“He’ll be all right, my dear.” Powertech seemed to be comforting her, “The GAR may get damaged but Magnus will be all right no matter what happens.”

“Can anyone see evidence of the ground crew?” Blackfire whispered.

Like the others, Magnus responded in the negative.

“Probably been hauled off to a side or taken into the ship.” the Combaticon said with more than a hint of threat in his voice.

“You like this bunch?” Thrasher asked.

“Sideways is a jerk!” he muttered before he closed his face plate.

Then Blackfire told Powertech and Thrasher to go down to the dock the back way and wait for his signal. Once they were gone he popped open the roof hatch.

“You two cover me when I make my move.” he called back down.

“You don’t think he’s going to jump?”

“It seems to be a recurring theme in my life.” Hammer laughed.

“But ... alone? Into that?”

“Don’t even think about it, Magnus!” the elder Powertech rasped, “I’ve made allowances for that sort of nonsense with your real chassis but that 210 isn’t made for free fall and you should know it! By now at any rate.”

Suddenly Magnus wanted to tell Powertech what he hadn’t had the opportunity to tell Artemus.

“I read a bit of the book before.”

Powertech’s one eye blinked: “Before when? Before this cycle?”

In Iacon, Hammer was shaking his head in amusement: “Magnus, that isn’t a jump. Take it from me, I know from jumps!... And falls.”

“Well, when you put it that way.” he gripped his rifle tightly as he screwed up some courage – this was it, no turning back now, “Powertech, sir, it was before I was even Magnus. I read some of the book then.”

Powertech approached his face: “That’s not possible. Those books weren’t part of your archive.”

“Powertech should be near the dock soon.” Blackfire called back into the room, “Cover me once I jump.... And Magnus, there’s a window lock just to your left.”

“Well, this is mildly entertaining at your expense.” Hammer observed.

Magnus mouthed a barrage of slang words at Hammer even as he confronted Powertech right up by his real face.

“I had asked for The Record of Primus but I got more than I was expecting.” he confessed.

“Specifics?”

He repeated the fused text.

“I see.”

“Did I learn something wrong?”

“No.” Powertech turned away.

There was a tromping of steps from above just before Blackfire literally leapt into view. Magnus unlocked and opened the armored window even as he sealed the 210’s visor and face plate.

“I knew I remembered the way that book started.... So that’s what did it.”

As Blackfire fell he ignited some sort of booster rockets at his waist, both slowing his fall to a safe rate and getting attention from those below. He didn’t start shooting till they did. Seemed a good time for Magnus to stand up and pitch in too.

Hammer shot one soldier on the shoulder near the neck and knocked him down hard. He was an Autobot. The others began retreating into the ship.

“Did what?” Magnus asked, amazed that he could keep track of a fight and still be in two places at once ... but somehow not do the same in a conversation with Sapphira.

“Magnus, I know that you’ve told Sapphira about something but I’ve waited to hear it from you. What happened? What do you remember?”

Magnus took aim and fired even as he pondered how to respond. He was haunted by what Broadback had said about losing friends, worried about his own Tech somewhere down there in that fire fight.

“I remembered my sister. We were playing a game. I promised that I would protect her and never forget her.”

“And who the greatest villain of all time was? Or that outburst of yours to Deltacron?”

Blackfire had already managed a soft touchdown not far from the Autobot that Hammer had shot. The others were now inside the ship where they had effective cover.

“We won’t do any more good up here!” Hammer started for the door.

In the meantime, Magnus was still trying to think of how he should respond to Powertech. He’d not made those connections before now....

“Take your time, lad.” Powertech offered.

“Bossbot, a little help here?!” Hammer yelled as he pulled against the rotary door.

Magnus realized that if there was no power then the blast door may have to be forced.

Straining against a lock that wasn’t meant to be opened without power, he had some time to consider what Powertech had asked him.

“I guess. At the time ... it just seemed the thing to say.”

Powertech turned back to him even as the blast door began to roll away.

“Magnus, I’ve known about your shadow all along even if I didn’t know what it actually meant to you.”

“‘Shadow?’”

“I called it a somnambulist. A sleeper.” Sapphira offered.

Powertech seemed to consider her.

The door finally rolled out of the way.

“Last one into the fray is a Titanium Moose!”

“Hey! You’ve got a head start!” Magnus protested to Hammer’s back.

“That’s an interesting insight, my dear. Have you studied Predacons?”

Magnus was paying real close attention to his CC as he ran down the steps to the dock. Blackfire was standing his ground, his armor shrugging off enemy rounds.

“You don’t suppose they have any beam weapons?” Magnus couldn’t help but ask as he reached one landing and started running down to the next.

“Primus, I hope not!” Hammer yelled back.

“Yes, I did work on behalf of a number of Lynx during the last decommissioning frenzy.” Sapphira admitted.

“I heard about that.” Powertech said sadly before turning his attention back to Magnus, “Magnus, what you call a ‘sleeper’ is properly called a shadow. It was what the whole Alpha Program was all about. You had six brothers with a similar trait.”

“‘Had?!’” Magnus said in surprise from both his mouths.

“I like ‘sleeper’ better, though.” he continued as if the outburst had no meaning.

An unexpected hit on the wall near Magnus’ head while he was still chasing down steps after Hammer grabbed his full attention. Then a few more shots from the direction of what looked like a modified tube car. He missed what Powertech said next. CC began providing reliable plots for the new threat.

“Take the ship!” Blackfire commanded as he turned his attention to those by the tube car.

He heard little of what Powertech and Sapphira were saying as he rushed forward. Something about Primus. There were at least five soldiers still standing inside the ship and one, another Autobot, seemed encouraged that Blackfire was looking elsewhere. He waved his troops either forward or back just before there was this sickening “shram! - shram!” noise.

It was Powertech and Thrasher inside the ship!

The leader sagged to the floor as his troops turned to this new menace. It looked like they might all be Autobots.

“Magnus,” Powertech said, “be careful of Powertech.”

“He won’t get hurt!” Magnus vowed as he and Hammer moved forward.

“That’s not what I meant! A Mark-17 is a dangerous weapon and we powertechs don’t have combat computers.”

“But–”

“We don’t even have especially good optics.”

As Magnus shot one Autobot’s weapon clean out of his hand, he saw how Thrasher and Powertech were responding to their own situations: Thrasher was obviously sane but Powertech didn’t have the sense that a programmer gives a drone, which isn’t much. He just stood there unmoving even as he took careful aim.

Shram! and an Autobot hit the ground.

“He’s got a death wish.” the elder Powertech mumbled weakly.

With their companion down, the three remaining Autobots seemed to reassess which surprise attacker was more dangerous. Hammer managed to pin two down by using full autofire but the third was aiming to put the small mech down hard.

Just before Thrasher and Magnus managed to hit him from both sides.

With Powertech mostly safe, Magnus looked after Blackfire who had closed the distance to the tube car that was leaving even then. It was all but over.

Shram!

He looked back to the ship. The Autobot he’d just shot was laying on the floor near a scowling Powertech. Smoke was erupting from what may have been his head. Powertech casually pointed his weapon towards the two uninjured Autobots.

“I wonder if they know just how limited a Mark-17’s energy pack is?” Sapphira asked.

The Autobots dropped their weapons and surrendered.

“No, not a bit!” the elder Powertech said with glee.

It was really over!

“Magnus,’ Sapphira broke into the moment, “find the ship’s crew and our people. They may be hurt.”

As he ran by Powertech, the small Autobot was waving his depleted gun around like it still had more than enough menace. The almost headless Autobot was twitching and considering 200 series architecture might still be alive.

“They aren’t in the forward section.” Thrasher said as he took Powertech’s place.

“The cargo area, then?” Powertech offered as he turned away from their captives.

Magnus paused outside of the open bulkhead door to the cargo bay and tried to see if anyone was there without unduly exposing himself.

“Do you want me to go first?” Powertech said as he produced a familiar looking energy sword.

“Hey, that’s mine!”

“I was meaning to give it back to you. Honest.”

“I’ll go first.” Magnus growled.

There was only a group of older Autobots tied up hands and feet. The crew. Except for one small fellow with an old fashioned, unarmored chassis they were all unconscious. He was glaring angrily at Magnus and Powertech.

“We’re the heroes.” Powertech said defensively.

He said nothing as they deactivated his shackles.

“That’s the ship’s master.” he finally offered, pointing to one of the unconscious Autobots.

“Do you know anything about doctoring?” Powertech asked him.

“Not especially.”

“Then stay out of our way.” Magnus grumbled even as he thrust his own weapon into the Autobot’s hands.

Powertech was already looking over the ship’s master and soon had a body panel open. Magnus found one fellow that looked as if he’d been punched hard and began checking his vitals.

“They’re all going to be fine.” Sapphira informed him from the crypt, “Find the ground crew.”

By then there was a commotion outside, Hammer sounded real unhappy with their prisoners.

“I think they’ve already been found.” Magnus informed everyone.

“Help your friends.” Powertech commanded the subdued Autobot, “We’re going to see about ours.”

Magnus started to retrieve his rifle from the Autobot, but Powertech told him to leave it.

“Well, Oculon did say he was going to be in charge.” he sighed and confessed to From Me, now standing close by, her hand on his forehead.

She finally smiled again and gave him a pat.

It was Blackfire who had found Sideways and company. They were shot up but alive.

“Magnus!” Sapphira commanded, “The Autobot with the head injury may still be able to pull through. There should be a medical kit near the stairs up to the observation lounge. I want you to do exactly what I tell you to do.”

“Powertech, go get the medical kit by the stairs.”

“Why? Our people aren’t in any danger?”

“He’s still ‘our people,’” Magnus corrected as he pointed to the Autobot, “and Sapphira’s made it a direct order.”

Powertech scowled before he shook his head: “Right. Whatever.”

He was soon back with the medical kit. Magnus started working according to Sapphira’s explicit commands, his own databanks screaming at some points that he was doing exactly the wrong things. Finally Sapphira had him apply a general anesthesia subroutine so the Autobot wouldn’t suffer any more now that the worst of the damage that could be fixed was fixed. Then she guided him through a few more artful patches.

“And that’s how it’s done!” she proudly informed.

“Nice work.” Powertech congratulated.

“What about the others?” Magnus asked.

“The one Powertech took down first was gone before he hit the deck.” Sapphira informed, “Some of his friends need your help though.”

Blackfire was already examining an Autobot who had a huge gaping hole in one shoulder.

“He’s in shock.” the Combaticon observed.

Magnus sure knew what that felt like!

As before, Sapphira talked him through the operation which was more straight forward and included the early, rather than late, use of anesthesia.

“Klinker like you should be glad we even had a surgeon with us!” Blackfire threatened the remaining captives.

“Yes, Sir.” one weakly responded as he cradled his all but headless friend closer still.

Though he was responding to Blackfire, his baleful glare was fixed on Powertech.

Magnus turned away to work on the injured Autobot who lay on the dock. Hammer had managed to get him with his head turned wrong which let the shot bypass both his bucket – as Nine had called it – and his substantial armored collar. Sapphira quickly guided him through another unconventional operation.

“Impressive work, Doctor.” the old style Autobot said to Magnus as he handed him his rifle back.

“I had the best teacher.” Magnus said, not hiding either his own pride or his satisfaction with Sapphira.

Blackfire clasped a hand on his shoulder: “Magnus, that’s good enough. We have to get the klinker some place more secure.”

There was a sound from above, Blackfire’s van and another were landing nearby.

“Must have autopilots.” Magnus silently mused.

Blackfire told the rescued Autobot to put the unconscious mech in a van. Then he had Magnus go to get the Autobot with the shoulder wound and his headless friend.

“Wait.” the wounded Autobot said weakly as he stood up.

“For what?”

“Greycon’s badge and weapons.”

Magnus blinked slowly, he’d heard the Autobot right: he was concerned about mere scrap. This wasn’t an ordinary Autobot.

“Don’t try anything stupid.” he brought his rifle to bear.

The Autobot carefully removed the badge from his companion’s torso before retrieving his rifle and a number of concealed weapons. Last of all he removed a data plate.

“Interesting.” Sapphira said thoughtfully at the other end of the world.

“Thanks.” the Autobot offered.

“We’ll probably need to examine his personal effects.”

“Yes. Of course.” he held the lot formally as they were walking away.

Magnus glanced back, the ship’s crew were already unceremoniously clearing out the wreckage – which included the Autobot’s leader.

“Blackfire?!”

Blackfire came over and took the weapons away from the Autobot and handed the rest to Magnus. He put the weapons in the other van where the sedated Autobot was.

Magnus said nothing else till he boarded the transport.

“I don’t get it?” he looked at Sapphira, “Why can some Autobots care that way for their dead while others consider them so much slag?”

“Not all of us are alike.” she said softly, “One of the advantages of being a Seeker is that I’ll never face that fate.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply.... Well, you know.”

“No harm done.” she found her smile again.

Sapphira usually smiled but there were smiles and then there was her smile. It reminded Magnus of another smile for being someone’s smile.

“Powertech, you said there were others among my brothers who were like me? Who were they? What were they like?”
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:29 PM   #9
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 8: Family


“Your brothers among your brothers?” Powertech asked, “I guess knowing won’t do you any harm. Just so long as you remember that they are all your brothers. Promise me that?”

“Gladly!”

“Well, Wrecker you may have already guessed. He too has a shadow. Maybe somecycle he’ll tell you about it. Before him, the first was Oculon. Then Thrace, Blaze and Kup ... any one of which might have been involved in a certain nasty business ... but they’re all gone a long time now. They were such good boys.... I....” Powertech seemed to sag in his harness.

“Oculon told me.” Magnus said sadly, now able to put names to long lost brothers.

“He didn’t wait long.”

He looked back on the conversation ... was Oculon trying to get him to reveal what his sleeper meant to him?

“No, I guess he didn’t.”

“Well, besides Oculon and Wrecker the only other one still alive is Kup. Did he make it back to Cybertron for Artemus’ funeral?”

“Two Kups?”

“It’s a relatively common name among those who have their own name. My guess is he didn’t make it back from Chaar, then?”

“Say, Magnus,” Powertech the younger poked at the 210’s knee, “how long are you gonna stare at that badge?”

“Huh? Just trying to see if it holds any mystery or truth.... I guess.”

The Autobot who’d recovered the items seemed especially subdued at that saying. Magnus handed the badge back to him. He carefully hid it away in an arm compartment.

“Weird.” Powertech laughed, “I don’t have a proper name; Autobots have names but what do they really matter; but you Combaticons ... they carve them into your very hides. Wonder why that is?”

“He’s asking a dangerous question.” the elder Powertech observed, reminding Magnus that they could see and hear everything that the 210 could.

“I’d like to know too.” Magnus confided on both sides of the world.

He watched as Powertechs seemed to be regarding him thoughtfully.

“Listen to me prattle?” Powertech the younger laughed it off.

“Well?” he pressed the elder.

“Combaticons always fulfill their function in life. With only a few exceptions, they will always come back.”

As if that explained anything?

“I’d never heard that there were exceptions.” Sapphira seemed mystified.

What do you mean by ‘come back?’From Me asked.

Magnus watched his prisoners while Powertech tried to explain the Allspark to the Quevaldan. He was really worried about what Blackfire had said when he called them “klinker” ... were they going to get a death sentence? He remembered how harsh a punishment Charger had got for petty theft. They were obviously rebels or worse; but, he found himself liking them anyway. Maybe because they were somehow like Combaticons?

“Do these guys face the death penalty?” he interrupted the elder Powertech as they were unloading their charges in a very secure garage.

“They might.” Powertech said as if it didn’t really matter if they did.

He found himself pulling air in through his real mouth and holding it – an odd thing to do, all things considered.

From the garage, they marched their prisoners through a side entrance into what looked like a large amphitheater with stadium style bleachers on one side and a semicircular conference table on the other. A group of disinterested looking Autobots and Combaticons occupied the places of honor. The bleachers were maybe a quarter full, with people sitting in small groups.

The jurists listened as Blackfire explained the circumstances of the Autobots’ capture. One jurist, a Combaticon, asked if anyone had been killed who mattered before the law. Then they were each assigned a place on the docket for judgment later.

“Magnus and Thrasher!” Blackfire commanded, “Take these prisoners to the holding cells designated on the docket.” he handed Magnus a small data plate, “Then take the rest of the cycle off.”

“Come on you lot.” Thrasher growled, prodding one with his rifle barrel, pushing him towards the door on the other side of the room.

From Me was curious about the Allspark ... not that she’d never heard of it, but because Quevaldans apparently understood it differently. Magnus listened to her questions as they escorted the prisoners far, far down into the bowels of the building. Probably far below street level.

Along the way the nearly headless Autobot regained enough composure to be led by hand rather than just be carried.

“Primus, what happened to this one?!” an Autobot with a 210SH chassis emoted on seeing him.

“A fellow named Powertech.” Thrasher noted.

“I wonder how much is left of who he was?” the jailer speculated before he took them away one by one.

The Autobot bearing Greycon’s badge placed his wounded friend’s hand in Magnus’ hand before he was taken away. When the jailer came back he just wouldn’t let go. He was trembling.

“Well, bring him then. We can tie him up so he won’t be a danger to himself. He may actually be the luckiest of the bunch.”

The jailer seemed to laugh at some private joke as he led them through the jail.

“Powertech, what does he mean by this one being lucky?”

“If he can’t remember who he was or what he did he won’t stand trial. They’ll give him a new head, a new life, and maybe even a new name. He could end up like any just-boot, except that he will not have to pay for his chassis.”

Magnus watched the jailer strap the now visibly distressed Autobot down in his holding cell. It took real effort to pry his hand free.

“He’s terrified.” Sapphira said, “Probably can’t understand where he is or what’s happening to him.”

“You can’t know that for sure, it could be an act.” Powertech corrected.

Poor, poor overlord. Can you do something for him?From Me said as she grabbed hold of Magnus’ shoulder.

Without thinking about it, Magnus reached out and took the Autobot by the shoulder. He wanted to comfort him somehow, but how? The Autobot’s frame stopped trembling. After a moment Magnus removed his hand and the Autobot remained calm.

“Impressive trick.” the jailer noted.

He wondered just what he was supposed to have done?

“Now we know!” Powertech sounded happy.

“What did they know?” he asked himself, “Probably if he’s faking.”

He turned away from the crippled Autobot to follow the jailer out. As he did so he saw a familiar form sitting morosely in one cell, his face sunk into his hands.

“Is it you?” he asked the bright yellow figure.

“Sir,” the jailer interrupted, “you really have no business here now. I must insist that you leave.”

“Yes, yes, of course.”

The figure lifted his head to see who had addressed him.

It was the assassin. Magnus was sure of it.

Only his face wasn’t lifeless anymore. Now he looked like someone who’d never had a happy cycle in his life.

Thrasher was waiting for him in the jail’s foyer.

“Where to, boss?”

Magnus just shook his head. He’d seen one spark thrown violently into a crèche and another torn apart from within: what could erase that?

“Hey, I know, we’re right by Alpha Trion’s place! Why don’t you finish that thing you started the other cycle?”

He nodded thoughtfully.

“Powertech, do you really want to see what this sleeper means to me?”

“Of course, Magnus.”

“Thrasher, that sounds like a plan.”

They boarded the elevator and started up.

“Then I want you to really tell me about my brothers, the one’s I’ll never know.”

Powertech nodded and came closer, painfully climbing up to eye level with him.

“Thrace was a gifted pilot and physical combatant. Always so intense and reserved. You’d never know he was in a competition with Shockwave to see who could cause the most mischief. Even though Shockwave got blamed for all of it, I don’t think they ever targeted each other. He was the last of your brothers to come on line before our relationship with the Seekers had been formalized.”

Magnus listened as Powertech described Thrace like he’d been gone only a few cycles. He was still describing him when A-3 showed him where they’d put his relief panel.

Tools in hand, he started carving away at Danger while Powertech continued. Somehow, using the GAR helped to focus his thoughts. As if the 210 was more willing to do what his mind imagined now that he wasn’t really here ... there ... whatever....

He knew it wasn’t some trick of programming either. For all the talk his supposedly representative piece had garnered, his carving was clumsy and his mastery of form questionable. GAR or not he was approaching this as pure Combaticon, with all the limitations that implied.

As Powertech got to the point where Thrace came under suspicion for Megatron’s murder, Magnus left Danger to carve on Laughter for a while. He’d attracted an audience of sorts: several cabbies were there, as was Soundwave and Hammer. Powertech was no where to be seen ... probably using up someone’s autoshower allotment.

He nearly ruined the piece when Powertech told him how Thrace had died: he sacrificed his unit in a holding action against Guardian Autobots that allowed Orion Pax’ division the time they needed to redeploy and counter attack. He couldn’t help but think about Captain....

Magnus looked at where his chisel had slipped ... it wasn’t too bad, he’d just give the femme a partly clinched fist rather than have her pose be as relaxed as he’d first planned.

He hoped no one had noticed. Maybe Thrasher or A-3 had? They were artist.

As he moved to repair the damage to her hand, Powertech continued: “Blaze’s name said it all. He liked everything loud and bold. He was actually a bit like Soundwave but with a lot more flash. Punk kid. He was designed to interface with Primus and enhance his communications capabilities beyond even what he had in his own right – which is saying a lot. I should probably tell you about how much Shockwave and Thrace abused the boy when he was young ... if only because you remind me of him. You two would’ve been dangerous together. Or should that be endangered together?” Powertech laughed easily despite the grinding of ancient servos.

Magnus continued to carve away on Laughter for a while. Then left to work on Danger. He was ready this time when Powertech described how this brother met his death: on some lonely battlefield fighting ... something terrible. They’d brought his broken chassis back, what there was of it. His spark containment chamber had been literally ripped from him.

“Because of that he’s never actually been declared dead.” Powertech continued, “Megacycles later he came under suspicion for Megatron’s death, but the evidence was so shaky and circumstantial that no one could believe it of him. Besides, it just wasn’t his style ... or so Oculon had argued. No way he’d do anything to Megatron until after he’d achieved his goal and got the applause he deserved. It was always important to Blaze that people received their due recognition.”

He had all but finished Danger by the time Powertech had finished with Blaze.

“And then there was Kup. He was a sniper, and we gave him one nasty weapon to go with it. Based on what they gave the 177UHEXs. Kup was genuinely patient and quiet, not some quietly simmering volcano like Thrace. He was also surgical and precise ... which makes an indiscriminate bomb the very last thing he’d use. He hated ordinary artillery for its lack of ... well, I’m getting ahead of myself. Kup was never a mystery to anyone, he was the most ordinary of all your brothers. Plain spoken and polite ... almost to a fault. I don’t think he even knew how to curse and was easily embarrassed by some of what other people said around him at times.”

Magnus finished up Laughter before Powertech had concluded. Began working on the border.

Unlike his brothers, Kup had simply disappeared one cycle not long after Megatron’s death. He’d been stalking rebels in Polyhex, trying to cobble together information for Oculon.

“The only reason he ever came under suspicion was because of the way he disappeared. No trace of him has ever been found.”

“Did the rebels kill him?” Magnus paused his carving and looked intently at Powertech.

He shook his head: “Polyhex can be rough ... always has been. But not as tough as Kup. That and no one has ever given over his chassis. The rebels know how important it is to Combaticons to always come home. The only time they don’t surrender a chassis is when it’s an Autobot’s.”

“Why?” Sapphira asked, she’d been silent the whole time.

“There is a legend that somewhere on Cybertron is an Autobot crypt of sorts, hidden deep in the planet, no one’s sure if it even exist.”

Magnus nodded even as he got the 210 back to work. He’d seen the evidence of that himself.

“I should point out that these three weren’t the only Alphas to fall under suspicion. But except for these three, Oculon was eventually able to clear each and every one of them.”

“Why did anyone suspect them at all?”

“Magnus.... Artemus and Megatron had trusted and promoted your brothers to an extraordinary degree, which meant that often unproven junior officers had unusual access and authority. Almost anyone close enough to Megatron was under suspicion. So they were investigated. It’s that simple.”

Magnus shifted his attention from Powertech to Sapphira, she was leaning against a support pillar and looked upset. Powertech turned to her.

“Sapphira?”

“If you knew they didn’t have anything to do with it,” she growled, “why did Artemus send in the troops? Why a punic war?!”

“Apprentice ... yes, there was a coverup. But it wasn’t a coverup of if there was Terranoirian involvement. Not even really a coverup of if Alphas were involved.”

“Then what?” she demanded.

Powertech lowered his gaze.

“What?!”

He turned to Magnus and From Me: “Please, I need some time alone with my apprentice. I’ll– I will explain this to you later ... when you’re ready. Trust me, it’s for the best. I’ll tell you about your other brothers I’ve lost too.”

“I guess I can put my body in sleep-mode and still operate the 210.” Magnus said slowly, “But what about From Me?”

From Me seemed to force a laugh and patted Magnus’ shoulder: “Do not worry about that. Remember when I said you could put an entertainment center in there?

He checked his specs ... sure enough, his heavily armored chest plate was actually designed with a cargo area of sorts behind it. He took note of the encrypted command codes and opened up. Odd, no green glow. From Me climbed inside him without transforming and he shut her up tight.

“Ummm ... I guess this is ‘good night,’ then?”

He rolled his head back, took in the view of the ceiling and closed his eyes.

In Iacon, Magnus started working on the border again. Despite his limited skills it really wasn’t all that bad. Now ... now all the piece needed was a name.

At least before Alpha Trion figured things out and punched him.
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2007, 08:30 PM   #10
Omnibot
Rurudyne's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 214
Chapter 9: Malitos


Magnus finished up the border representing the willow.

All that detail work took longer than he’d first imagined it would. He paused to reflect on that thought: when he started this thing he may’ve turned off his chronometer, but he had still estimated the time it should take based on his sketch. He’d just never revised that estimate. Interesting....

“You look contemplative.” Alpha Trion said.

He nodded: “I think I just learned something.”

“Learning is always good. How much longer will this take? This project was too ambitious for you at this stage and I’m having serious problems justifying including it as academy work.”

“Just finished up the border on this side. Carve the panel through in a few places and it’ll be done.”

“Magnus, you can worry about that later.”

“You don’t want me to finish?”

“Of course I do! But I think I understand this thing now. Really, it isn’t anywhere near as intuitive as your little willow tree was.”

Magnus stepped around the panel and looked intently at Alpha Trion.

Who nodded and confessed that he finally understood both sculptures.

“It’s considered bad form to repeat yourself like this, lad. But you’re young so I’ll let it slide this time.”

Thrasher was nodding.

He thought about it for a moment: had he repeated himself?

“Sorry to disappoint you.” he muttered.

“‘Disappoint?’ Lad, if I was disappointed then I’d be presenting you with a bill for the plyblock! As it is, I’ve never known what a – What did the Seekers call them? – what a ‘chemical-motor’ life form actually looked like. This must be a spark memory. Of Chaar maybe? From before it’s destruction.”

“I thought you said that only an artist could reveal their work?”

“Indeed I did! But Magnus, you aren’t a real artist. At least not yet. You do have talent though.” he smiled broadly as he started walking around the piece, “The planning is reasonably novel. The execution is surprisingly good. But if you’re going to use realism to hide a deeper meaning you need to learn to be more subtle with your imagery.”

“So you know it’s name?” Magnus didn’t conceal his smirk even as he chided internally at the criticism

“Thrasher?” Alpha Trion asked.

“My guess is that there isn’t a name. Sorry, Boss.”

“Exactly!” Alpha Trion trumpeted even as Magnus’ smirk disappeared

“A-3, are there other worlds like Chaar was?”

“None that I’m aware of, Thrasher.” A-3 spoke like a professor, “According to the Seekers there are some worlds given over to such life forms, if you could call them that, but what set Chaar apart was all that energon and that people were there. Chemical-motor based intelligence is ... very, very rare. Danger would probably represent an experience remembered from when the Seekers were there before everything was destroyed. Laughter is the mission going in. Magnus here must’ve been a ship’s officer. Maybe security seeing that he and his companion are armed.... You two must’ve been very close.”

He noticed that this last was directed at him: “Close? Yes, I guess we were.”

Like Rightway, Alpha Trion was making logical, if wrong, assumptions.

“I’ll accept the piece as it is; but, I’m afraid we’ll have to remove it from public view.”

“Why?”

“Magnus, there has been a consensus among sociologist that the public just isn’t able to handle the implications of chemical-motor intelligence because of the fragility and brevity of such an existence. I think you should be especially able to understand the problem? Our people enter into relationships with the expectation that they will endure. Imagine the hardship of seeing a whole world of friends pass away before your very optics?”

Magnus found himself trembling at the possibility. Maybe that’s what Ravage had meant when he said it was best not to talk about such worlds?

“You can finish this later, but for now I’ll have you move it downstairs. Thrasher, please show him the way.”

“Sure thing, A-3. Hey, Magnus, let me help you with that.” he moved to one end of the panel.

They carried it to a clear spot near the middle of the floor. This proved to be a platform elevator that took them down into a very poorly lit substructure tightly packed with art of all descriptions.

“Say Thrasher, was this place a combat arena once?”

“Yeah.” Thrasher said as he got his bearings, “The Quints built this place for its symbolic presence. Tore down almost everything A-3 owned in Iacon in the process. That’s how he ended up with it afterwards. He said he’d turned the symbolism back on them by making it a place to celebrate life.”

Magnus nodded and followed with his half of the panel in hand. Thrasher soon found a spot that had some extra space around it and they sat it down.

“Magnus, you really should finish this. That way in the ages to come you’ll at least have some idea of what it was that you once remembered.”

“Thanks. Maybe we can move it to the apartment later?”

“Don’t see why not? Look, if it’s ok with you, I’ll find Powertech and Hammer and haul them home. There are light controls over on that wall if you want to finish.”

“Sure thing.”

He watched Thrasher fade into the dim before taking the elevator back up to the arena floor. For a moment, the Combaticon’s raised face was bathed in light from above and Magnus wondered that he wasn’t going into battle rather than just going home.

He imagined Destron on that same platform bathed in that same light – grim and unbroken just like Captain had been.

“Forget?” he turned back to his sculpture, “No, I’m never going to forget. I have a promise to keep!”

With that he turned and followed after Thrasher. But when he got back upstairs he worked his way up into the bleachers, to the place that he and the others had stayed. Once there he pulled out his book again.

“Chapter eighty-five.” he mumbled, “‘Lastus met Tech at a dock not far from where the investigation had first begun. “Funny how things happen this way?” the old mech mused. The ship was a fast cargo transport similar to the one that had been decommissioned ... just one that had legally superior engines. Even the ship’s names were phonetically similar. He laughed at the irony.’

“‘“You’re in a good mood.” Tech noted as they walked across the gantry, “I still can’t believe that you managed to get this trip approved.”’

“‘Lastus shook his head.’”

Magnus laughed as Tech realized that the trip wasn’t approved, that they would likely see their pay docked for unauthorized vacation time.

“Looks like Tech has the same kind of problem with Lastus as I do with my Tech.” he mused before reading on in silence.

As with everything else in the book, Primus didn’t skimp on detail but really let his reader know what it was like to be exactly where Lastus was. They spent the whole trip on the bridge talking with each other and the ship’s crew. Tech had apparently pulled in a favor for the passage from Palrex, the ship’s captain, and was initially cross for the double hit on his reserves.

Magnus noted that Primus had even included navigational data for the trip ... a nice touch. He could actually follow up on the book later if he ever wished to.

It took almost seven cycles to reach Malitos among all the errands that the Seeker ship had to perform. Lastus’ palpable apprehension at seeing the sensor data for the Heitos system – Malitos was gone – helped the text to take on a dark sense of foreboding.

They found one of the larger space stations that Lastus recognized as a factory satellite from his last visit.

“‘Confirmed: numerous discrete energy signatures.’ the navigator informed, ‘But no landing beacons or external transmissions of any sort. Looks like they don’t want company.’

“‘What they want hardly matters!’ Palrex grumbled, ‘I’ve come too far to not be curious. Are you sure this one’s in the best shape?’

“‘Yes, sir! This station has active deck plates providing about a quarter of Cybertron’s gravity. Just enough to make moving about easy.’

“‘But not enough to waste energy.’ Tech completed the thought.

“As the navigator glared at Tech, Lastus and Palrex surveyed the available docking ports.

“‘This one looks good.’ Palrex informed, ‘The gantry is a compatible design at any rate.’

“‘I should go first since I’ve got the best armor.’ Lastus offered.

“‘But your age?’

“‘They don’t know about that. Besides, I really don’t expect trouble here. From what I remember there weren’t many Malitites my size and hardly any larger.’”

Magnus read on. Even in this tense situation he was reminded of what Nine had told him, how a Seeker’s life was “same old same old.” There was no welcoming committee to greet Lastus as he stepped onto the station. They actually had been exploring a good five microcycles before they came across anyone: two dilapidated mechs whose descriptions reminded Magnus of a Quevaldan. These seemed unreasonably subdued as they ignored Lastus’ request for information.

“‘I don’t suppose you ever figured out who Xiocey’s contact was on Cybertron?’ a voiced asked from behind them, causing Lastus to spin about and raise his weapon.

“‘Who?’ Palrex stammered.

“Lastus was looking at a shadow in the station’s dim light. A figure as large as himself whose shimmering red optics almost seemed to be laughing.

“‘Xiocey?’ he tasted the name as if he’d heard it before.

“The newcomer stepped forward out of the shadows, there was something....

“‘Zahzey?’ Lastus puzzled even as he lowered his weapon.

“‘Councilmech Zahzey, of the Republic of Malitos, thank you very much!’ the other smiled, ‘Have they got you running security for Seekers now? Not an improvement. Not at all.’

“Palrex grumbled as he lowered his own pistol. Glared at Zahzey.

“‘You two know each other?’

“Lastus nodded.

“‘I see. Zahzey, is it? I don’t suppose you would be willing to accept Seeker hospitality? I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t offer a representative of this fine Republic some measure of respect.’

“Lastus winced at hearing his friend’s sarcasm.

“‘No, I should rather welcome you. Follow me to the council chamber.’”

Magnus read on. Now that they were led by Zahzey, the pitiable inhabitants of the station were coming out of the girders and resumed something of an ordinary, if destitute, life. Again, it reminded Magnus of Quevald. At one point, as they reached a section that seemed nominally nicer, Lastus asked about what had happened and why they had stayed.

“‘At first we were too afraid to leave. I guess we got comfortable here.’”

They were led to something like an assembly hall where small vid screens sat on the table in place of persons. Zahzey took his place near the middle of the table and the screens burst to life. Most of them. A few were dark. Apparently these were not supposed to be dark. The mech in the monitor at the head of the table called out to these several times in the roll call. When he’d finished he added: “‘Our brethren have found their way home at last. May they set a rich welcome for we who remain.’”

A subdued Lastus addressed the meeting after his own introduction. He told them why he was here and what he needed to know from them. Magnus didn’t understand why he hadn’t offered them relief: these people were obviously hurting! As they were waiting outside, while the Republican Council debated inside, Palrex didn’t bother to hide his exasperation.

“‘They can probably listen in on us.’ Lastus scolded.

“‘Who cares? I’ll have my navigator give Tech a decent rifle and we won’t have to lift a finger while he cleans up!’”

Magnus put the book down and leaned back against the balcony railing. Chapter 91 ended with Palrex’ outburst. Ninety-one cycles? He wondered that he’d more life as Lastus than as Magnus? It was no mystery why he’d found it so easy to imitate the old cop earlier. Looking up at the night sky – some few stars were visible in this dim part of the city – he speculated if he should put off reading everything until he was older? But then again, was there anything about Lastus that he didn’t think worthy of emulation? Especially considering that Lastus was Primus?

That’s when he became aware of someone sitting in the bleachers just below the balcony.

“Hello?”

“You will need a ride home.” came a voice like chimes and pipes all at once – it was Soundwave.

He went to stand over his brother.

“Thanks.”

“Family.”

Magnus nodded.

“Go on reading.” Soundwave said, barely turning his head towards him.

“What do you like to read?”

“I don’t read much. I prefer music that speaks of the end at the beginning and the beginning at the end.”

“Sounds ... different.” he confessed.

“Once, before my name’s sake, it was all there was. Literature was different too. But that was before History.”

“How ... how could something be before history?” Magnus stammered, “Do you mean: ‘from time immemorial?’”

Soundwave laughed infectiously: “No! Before History! The first Separatist collection.”

“But–”

“Go back to your world of words, of distinct beginnings and endings. I’ll be here to take you home when you’re ready.”

Magnus considered pressing Soundwave about music before History, he seemed to like to speak his mind. Possibly too much, given–

“Soundwave, why shouldn’t I wear my Obstructicon cone around Shockwave?”

Soundwave nearly turned around in his seat, allowing Magnus to see that he’d been sitting there with his weapon drawn.

“You didn’t say anything about that to Shockwave, did you?” he actually sounded concerned.

“Well, no! Of course not!”

“Please don’t.” he said, turning away from him.

“More trouble than you want?”

“Confirmed.” he said with rhythmic calm.

“I should point out that I’m already on his short list.”

“Confirmed.” he said, nodding.

“But Striker–”

“Is doomed.” just a hint of merriment.

Well, yeah, it certainly did seem that way. And Powertech wanted to be there to see.

Magnus left the balcony to sit by Soundwave. He held out the book which was accepted and physically examined.

“It’s from Captain’s personal library. Shockwave and Wildway have pretty much claimed dibs to read them first after me.”

Soundwave examined the title a bit more carefully than before: “They would.” he finally chimed.

“And Powertech is cross that I’m reading them out of order. This one is from near the end.”

Soundwave handed the book back, almost seemed to smile: “‘All stories begin the same and all stories end the same: what matters is the middle of the story, for only there will you find the elements that make one story different from another.’ Also: ‘Know where you are going before you get there.’”

It was easily the longest unbroken utterance he’d yet to hear from his brother and he was quoting Primacron, of all people.

Magnus mulled over these sayings for a few. Where was he going? He hardly knew what his purpose was....

So, Soundwave didn’t like reading? Preferred stories where he knew the outcome?

Magnus reactivated the book.

“Chapter Ninety-Two.” he read out loud, “‘Lastus determined that simply waiting for Zahzey would be an intemperate use of energy given what he’d seen on the station: so he put himself in regenerative mode. If anyone asked him about it later, he could say that he was simply allowing self repair mechanisms a too-long delayed opportunity to do their thing.’

“‘He stirred at 875 point 32 having had a surprisingly complete regen cycle. Everyone was still waiting pretty much just where they’d been. Tech wasn’t there so maybe Palrex was still dubious about the Malitites, which was odd considering how he’d characterized their military capabilities earlier.’

“‘“Back among the living?” Palrex asked.’

“‘“Why not? Haven’t got anything better to do right now.”’

“‘One of the Seekers shook his head: “Classic Combaticon fatalism.”’

“‘Lastus allowed a carefully measured laugh, before: “They couldn’t possibly be still using the comm system? From what I’ve seen energy is at too high of a premium here.”’

“‘“Not necessarily true,” Palrex produced a data plate and pulled up some images of the station, “according to our earlier scans they’ve adopted rather simple technologies to capture and convert star light into a low grade source of renewable power.” he highlighted a number of sections of the station, “These could be simple capacitors that provide that power on demand. It would be a miserable subsistence, but would work well enough for support systems.... We could learn a thing or two from these people when making due with less.”’

“‘“Or nothing at all.” the junior Seeker offered.’

“‘“What I don’t understand,” Palrex continued even as he glared at his junior officer, “is if your tramp freighter was running for these folks, what was done with the resources? There isn’t much of anything here to suggest that they’ve had outside help at all. Or at least I can’t believe an imaginative and adaptive–”’

“‘The council room door opened and a rather drained looking Zahzey emerged.’

“‘“I believe you were praising my people?” he said looking straight at Palrex.’

“‘“Just calling it like I see it.”’

“‘“Have you decided what you’ll tell us?” Lastus jumped in.’

“‘Zahzey shook his head: “I’m sorry old friend, but there is just too much at stake to tell you what, if anything, we know about your smugglers.”’

“‘“You know,” Palrex raised a finger, “if you did help us, even just a little, Seeker ships could make this a regular port of call. Of course, you would need to tidy up. New paint and amenities. I’m sure the high command would float you a loan for very reasonable interest, especially in light of port fees that you could gather and such.”’

“‘Zahzey nodded in response to Palrex’ offer. But then shook his head: “No, we can help you; but, just not in that way. I was wondering if I could borrow your ship and crew for a bit? If you would help me investigate the cause of my world’s destruction?”’

“‘Palrex gave Lastus a questioning look.’

“‘“I think we can trust him.” Lastus shrugged even as he speculated what he should do now. Shouldn’t he go home if the reason he came here was a bust?’

“‘Zahzey nodded happily: “Come on then. They went that way.” he pointed.’

“‘“They?”’

“‘“The people, well, the ship, that destroyed my world. Its satellite ships walked through our defenses like we meant nothing to them. Then it overshadowed Malitos, cut it up with some sort of energy lance and ... processed it. Not sure how it managed to pack away a planet–”’

“‘“Wait!” Lastus suddenly found a reason to be here, “Are you telling me that a ship ... ate? Ate your world?!”’

“‘“Pretty much. Planet, people, the lot. And it went off in that direction just like I said.”’

“‘“And why would we want to even find such a monster?!” Palrex seemed likely to leave right then and there.’

“‘“You’ve never heard of such a ship before?” Zahzey smiled as if enjoying a private joke.’

“‘“Of course not!”’

“‘“Funny thing was, it had the Great Crest of Cybertron right there on its bow. A few dozen times bigger across than this station and glittering like it was someone’s optics. Kinda hard to miss something like that.”’

“‘“Right.” Palrex said without emotion, “It flew off that way you said? How long ago?”’

“‘“By your current standards of time, 92 point 72 point 17 point 332 vorns ago.”’”

Magnus blinked, ‘vorn’ ... what was a–

“Keep reading, Magnus.” Soundwave encouraged.

“Right, what does an inexplicable statement here or there really matter? What’s a ‘vorn?’”

“It’s an old unit of time measurement. Oculon told me about it once. Keep reading.”

Magnus nodded. How cold was a trail nearly 93 vorns old? Neither Palrex nor Lastus seemed even a bit put out by the number involved. Maybe a “vorn” was like a megacycle? That could be a serious plot hole though ... so maybe a vorn was longer than a megacycle?

Zahzey’s solution to warming the trail was as innovative and primitive as other Malitite technology Lastus had yet seen: they would just backed the ship off till they were the precise distance away from Malitos as light would have traveled. Then they could use the ship’s sensors to gather a simple visual image of the death of a world.

Seeing a world dismembered....

For all the build up, you’d think it would be given a full chapter. Instead, Lastus just noted that, on the given cycle in question, he’d been working in his office in Iacon.

Soundwave put a hand on Magnus’ shoulder.

“That’s enough. I need to get you home so you’re not late for work.”

“Why didn’t he–”

“Magnus,” Soundwave’s voice took on an almost hollow ring, “there are some things that a living mind just will not, cannot accept. It is a very honest example of writing.”

He nodded and followed Soundwave. He was maybe halfway through chapter 95. Once at street level, Soundwave pointed out a well worn van similar to Blackfire’s. Magnus continued to read in silence, skimming really, once they were on their way.

For the rest of the chapter there was almost no dialogue. Zahzey alone seemed to have anything to say and he mainly helped the Seeker navigator follow the monster ship away from the scene of the crime. Lots of navigational data. Lots more navigational data.

“I look forward to reading the series properly.” Soundwave offered as he let Magnus off at his floor.

“Sure thing!” Magnus forced a smile and waved bye to his brother.

For some reason he was aware of taking his hand down, as if lingering in the wave he didn’t want to be seen to be lingering.

He really wished that Powertech would wake him up in the crypt. Whatever it was, Sapphira must be getting an ear full right now. He stowed his book in his leg compartment and walked on.
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
Rurudyne is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Posting Rules

Hobby Link Japan