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The Hall of Dead Gods

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Old 11-25-2007, 08:15 PM   #1
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The Hall of Dead Gods

The Hall of Dead Gods



This story is closely linked to my current project. Cartoon continuity (G1 to Beast Wars). The two books in this series are Genesis and Forgotten Wars. Both can be accesses through my signature.

As the larger project is still a WIP, I've attempted to write something that will not cause me to either loose momentum or provide spoilers. Also, reading the books should not be necessary to read this ... or so I hope.

That said, this story is now a project unto itself, since DarkScreamer went and got me thinking that there was a way to build a larger (and useful) narrative around the events I'd originally posted. It will update when it does (I've GOT to work on other projects or I'm soooo dead).

As always, I hope you enjoy it.

Comments and criticisms are welcome. As you can clearly see, they CAN make a difference.

With special thanks to Andrew Turnbull for the title.




Part 1: Spy



“Spy”

Quin had thought he’d heard that nickname for the last time.

He was an Autobot with an amazing knack for finding his way around Cybertron, for finding places no one like him should even have known about much less have detailed knowledge of.

But even during the long ages when the Autobots depended upon his mysterious skills for survival, they called him: “Spy.”

But they didn’t mean just: ‘spy’ — someone who could help you learn things to survive and win. No, they meant: ‘Spy’ — as in someone who would betray you.

He could never get them to understand that those flashes of inexplicable insight were just that. They dismissed suggestions that he might have some unusual connection with their homeworld and its moons. No, he was always the “Spy” that everyone kept at arms length.

And for his own part, he’d been happy to do his thing without their help. If no one really trusted him then why bother with them? Much less set foot in Iacon?

The day that Optimus Prime left Cybertron was a mixed blessing for Quin. On the one hand he was happy to see Cliffjumper go. Cliffjumper was the worst of all his nay’sayers. A mech who bordered on being paranoid delusional. On the other hand, Jazz was gone too.

But when they didn’t come back, all anyone seemed to remember was that Quin was the one Autobot that Cliffjumper, their hero, had never trusted. Not even a bit.






One day out of the wild black yonder the rumor mill was abuzz that Optimus Prime was back. He was fighting Decepticons on some strange new world. Autobots started coming out of the girders to fight — not for Cybertron, but for Optimus Prime, for the legend. One way or another they found their way to this Earth and Quin’s unit was no exception. His choice was to go with the rest or be alone.

He stayed.

Someone had to provide current intel. He was fighting for Cybertron: not some distant world. Cybertron: not Optimus Prime.

In the meantime, he saw what Cybertron could be in the absence of War. The Decepticons were bringing substantial amounts of energon back from this world Optimus Prime was fighting for. They were rebuilding and repairing the planet. It didn’t take much imagination to see what was happening: soon Megatron would have Cybertron so firmly in his grasp that no one, not even the great Optimus Prime, could wrest it from him.

This “Earth” would probably end up being Quin’s home even if he didn’t care one jot about it.

Besides, if Cybertron was really restored through Decepticon labor ... what moral claim would the Autobots have to their homeworld?

Of course, they would never give Cybertron up.

Until Earth these had been the ones who expressly did not flee to distant and peaceful worlds, the so-called colonies. As before, they would fight. Only this time, they would be the ones bringing war to Cybertron.

Quin finally decided that he could live with that.

By applying his skills and resources creatively, he managed to establish tiny bases on Cybertron’s moons. Then he got word to the other Autobots that they now had positions from which they could start moving soldiers to Cybertron in stages.

Optimus Prime turned his tiny way-stations into industrial scale beachheads. Instead of many simultaneous actions taking key resources or strategic positions all over Cybertron, the great leader opted for a massive frontal assault. For what it was worth, Quin still did his best to help Jazz keep the bases hidden from Decepticon view; but, they’d overbuilt and he knew it.






Then one day the moon he was on was attacked. They could hear some unknown monster tearing everything apart around them — the noise was horrible. While panic reigned all around him, Quin had one of those flashes of insight. He was sure there was a means of escape in a room several levels below their base. He convinced some of his companions to follow him rather than try for the ships. When they got there, walls already deforming all around them, they found what he’d been looking for: the prototype space bridge. It was still operational!

He saved them.

But they still turned on him, just the same.

“Why didn’t you tell us about the space bridge sooner?!”

He couldn’t give them any answer they would accept. What could he claim that he could prove? Why even bother?

He was the “Spy” again.

Through all of what followed, Unicron and the lot, he endured and kept his angsty team alive. They pretty much left him alone in Kaon after that, in the tiny deserted town he’d lived in for thousands of vorns.



Part 2: Survey



“Those are illegal.” a familiar voice accused him.

“Why should I care?” Quin leaned back in his chair and made a show of rolling the chilled mug around in his hands, “So Kup, what brings you to Caris?”

“Rodimus has a job for you.”

“Do you want one?” he held out the mug, “I’ve got some of Cashways’ private stock left.”

“Who?”

“The guy who used to run this place.”

“Why would I want some ‘Con’s bootleg energon?” Kup grumbled.

Cashways hadn’t been a Decepticon. Quin wanted to explain that much. But what could he claim that he could prove? Kup only knew that this was Kaon, Cashways was his friend ... so Cashways was obviously a Decepticon.

“So, Rodimus Prime is the new face of Cybertron?”

“You’re just as friendly as I remember.”

“I’ve got my reasons.” He took a moment to glare at Kup.

“I’m sure you do.” Kup glared right back.

“So, what’s the job?”

“Never mind. I’m sorry I disturbed you.”

“Kup, what ... is ... the ... job?!” Quin demanded.

Kup deflated a bit. The crusty old veteran’s head drooped. He took out a small device and threw it on the table beside Quin. Then he left without another word.

“I’m not going to be around forever.” Quin said weakly to the door.

Why were they always so mad at each other? The wall wasn’t just between them, it was inside Quin’s head. Literally. The answer to why was on the other side of that wall.

He took his time finishing his infusion. Decided that he should hide his stash to keep it safe from his fellow Autobot’s indignation.

He picked up Kup’s little devise. It was just a folded up piece of ‘paper’ ... an Earth substance that had recently made its way to Cybertron. Once unfolded, he read the note. It was scribbled in writing far too haphazard to be the work of a Cybertronian hand.

From a human then? So much for Rodimus being the one who wanted him to do something!

The note said that there was an ongoing effort to survey the damage done to Cybertron by Unicron and this “Spike” was responsible for Kaon. His request was for Quin to investigate the substructure of Kaon, the Decepticon Crypt in particular.

“Actually, that’s not a bad job for me.” Quin allowed.

It was a wise undertaking too. The monster had actually taken a good swing or two at Cybertron and Kaon hadn’t been spared.

“This Spike isn’t a complete waste. It’s sad that his species can’t endure.”






Quin spent the next two days carefully gathering what he’d need for an extended mission. Packing up his supplies reminded him of the old days. Only this time he’d take his private reserve with him too.

As he was leaving he abruptly turned around to look back at the dilapidated structure that had been his home for so long.

“If they come and knock you down while I’m gone, will I remember that you were ever here?”

It was an old feeling, like the way he felt when he’d have those flashes of insight.

He walked back inside and found a long inoperable waitdrone. This he set by the door.

“See to any customers while I’m gone.” he gave it a pat.

Then he walked east out of town.






The Decepticon Crypt sat in the middle of a vast, broken plane. There had once been a huge step pyramid and massive parade grounds. What was left, what had survived a direct punch from Unicron, was a mess. At least on the surface.

On foot, the plane took him four times longer to cross it than it should have. All the climbing and jumping almost made him wish he’d opted for that hover-mode alternate form rather than having been such a prude. Almost, but not quite.

When he finally got to the shattered pyramid he had to poke around three whole days before he found a safe entrance. He climbed in.

He was surrounded by Seekers. Faces he knew all too well.

“Quintus Ray?” a voice sounded surprised.

He blinked hard. Looked around. No one was here.

“Is that really you, Quintus Ray?”

Strange name. Someone else’s name.

“Who wants to know?”

No answer. He was hearing things!

The funny thing was, he mused as he poked his way deeper into the uppermost level of the crypt, the voice had sounded just like Starscream’s. Of all the ghost he could possibly hear, why him? There were so many others he’d have rather heard. So very many besides Starscream.

Hours later he found a huge, gaping hole in the floor. As it was the first sign of internal structural distress he’d come across, he began taking careful measurements of the walls, roof and floor with his scanners. The patterns of stress and deformation didn’t make any sense. It was as if the hole had actually been cut out. But why cut so large a hole?

To add to the mystery, he soon realized that the crypt around him had been braced before the hole was made.

Could some Decepticons have survived and stayed on Cybertron? If so, what could they be up to?

Silently cursing his potential misfortune, he unpacked his climbing gear and his two Mark-17s. Then he secured his pack and started to climb down.

For several levels there weren’t many posed warriors here at all. Just empty space. But five levels down there were lots. Most had fallen off of their pedestals and were jumbled about. He stopped climbing to look around. Hundreds of Decepticons.

He examined one.

His name had been Questcom, a Group Sergeant in the 3rd Corps. Two decorations. He served–

Quin paused in his thoughts. How could he know that? He looked around at the nearby chassis. Each had a name. As soon as he looked at their badges he knew them for who they were. Or rather who they had been.

“Maybe it was a ghost I heard.” he sighed as he looked around, “So, one last job, one last service for Cybertron? I guess so.”

If he was hearing voices from the Allspark, how far away from it could he really be?

Since the hole wasn’t the result of Unicron’s attack, he decided to work his way deeper into the crypt by walking instead of climbing.

He made careful notes of the condition of the crypt along the way.

Mostly it was just jumbled Decepticons, thousands of them, but every so often his scans would find evidence of real damage: cracks in the walls; uneven floors; tilted columns. But in each and every case it looked like repairs had been made.

Which was madness!

The debris of ages was everywhere undisturbed. In many cases his foot prints were the only discernible break in the shimmering, powdery dust that covered everything

Of course the most bizarre fact was that his scanners didn’t even detect the dust! They claimed the whole place was dust free. Even managed to detect residual power in the dust-repellent features of the crypt’s construction.

Another inspiration.

He unpacked his stash and a portable mixing set he’d brought with him. In a sipper he added equal parts mineral oil, enhanced energon and some select granulated minerals. Then he gathered up some of the dust and added that too. He capped off the sipper and started the agitator up. A moment to chill in the portable rig and it was ready.

The iridescent fluid looked normal. He took a sip.

It was almost too sweet to bear. He slammed back the whole sipper to find the sour. Held the mixture for as long as he could to give his highly refined sense of taste a chance.

“It’s cybertronium.” he said as his face contorted.

Quin looked around. The dust was pure cybertronium. The highest grade possible. Why couldn’t the scanners detect it? Was the crypt repairing itself?

Out of curiosity he took a nearby Decepticon, called Tracer, and put him back on his pedestal.

Rather than just sit still and wait for who knows what, Quin started setting up other Decepticons on pedestals. He arranged two dozen in ranks, as if they were waiting inspection, before he returned to Tracer.

Tracer’s feet were secure to his pedestal. The dust that wouldn’t fuse him to the floor had firmly mounted him there. Moreover, neither the pedestal nor Tracer were dusty any more.

The tomb wasn’t just trying to repair itself!

Quin reeled from the revelation.

He watched in silence as the same happened with each of the silent company that he’d restored.

“What kind of a place is this?” he wondered out loud.






For over a day, Quin probed the crypt until he came across the cut hole once again. Only this time there was evidence of a real collapse. The level below was much deeper than all the ones he’d been passing through. It looked like there was a great mound of debris below, like looking at the bottom of a sink hole.

He thought he saw a glint of red from below as his searchlight pierced the darkness.

“Well, I’m here to investigate damage.” he allowed as he started looking for a place to secure his climbing gear.

After he had descended he found himself standing on a mound of clutter: broken chassis; broken pedestals; structural bits. He spent a moment taking in the feel of the place before he brought his light to bear on the red glint he’d seen.

He was looking at a face. A face as tall as Optimus Prime. A face attached to a massive and badly damaged form that dwarfed even Omega Supreme.

“Maximus.” Quin stammered – falling to his knees in horror and reverence, “Prince of Cybertron. Heir of Primus.”

He felt the wall within him crack a little.

It made no sense. Compared to this figure Megatron was a mere petrorabbit. If there had ever been Decepticons like this then how could there even be living Autobots at all? Maximus was ... had been–

Quin shook himself out of the moment and stood up: whoever this Maximus was, he’d known him without seeing his badge.

Yet he had no doubt that, were he to dig he would find it, that very badge. A badge as tall as he was.

Had they been right all along? Maybe he’d been a “Spy?” How else could he even know about Maximus and believe, from his very spark, that he was Primus’ heir?

“No,” a voice of resolve, “I’ve never betrayed anyone!”

He was only a spy, not a Spy.

“I’m sorry, Great Maximus, but I have to see.”

He climbed up on top of the massive warrior, adjusted his lamp, and lit up the darkness.

Before this moment he’d walked past thousands of Decepticons.

Now he was staring at tens of thousands at a glance. Most were still standing up.

Primus!”






Quin wandered about the massive chamber for days. Along the way he stopped every so often to drink a toast to certain warriors ... as if he was remembering his friends.

Something within him wanted to go back to the surface, to Iacon, and bring them here to this place. Here was something totally inexplicable. Truth, whatever that truth was, was here for the taking.

But what could he possibly claim about this place, about them, that he could prove? He didn’t even know what it was that he wanted them to see.

They would just see an army of dead Decepticons and their terrifying, but equally dead, leader. They’d be happy.

He stopped wandering when he found a wide path that looked promising. Decepticons were posed many ranks deep on either side of the path. They were meant to be viewed from it. In his mind he calculated where it came from.

He laughed: “Of course! Right past Maximus himself!”

When he finally reached the end of the chamber the path became an equally broad ramp that led down.

Quin froze still. Just off to his left was a small side chamber. He couldn’t see it, but he knew it was there just the same. He ran. Ran down the ramp through several twist and turns. Ran halfway towards the middle of the chamber below Maximus’.

When he finally stopped running, it was because he was trembling so violently that he couldn’t run anymore.

He sank to the ground where he was. Without even thinking about it he uttered a tirade of curses against Alpha Trion so foul that he just didn’t have anything else to compare it to. He didn’t even know he had it in him.

After he became silent, he broke out the mixing kit and put together the most bitter mixture he could remember how to make. He sipped on it till the raw emotions within him subsided.

Then he lay down and stared up into the darkness. Names and faces appeared before him there. Four sons and a daughter. He remembered taking them away from Vector Sigma. Endorsing the transfer of his hard earned wealth to pay for their frames.

Now, only Kup remained.

He closed his eyes, but they were still there. They were always there in the darkness. They and one other.






With a sigh, Quin rolled to his feet.

The funny thing was, that old A-3 was about the only Autobot who really believed in him. If it hadn’t been for Alpha, no one would have trusted him.

Why was he so mad at his friend? Did he even want to know?

He shone his lamp all around.

Here too were uncounted Decepticons. But they had been tossed about in a most unusual way. Some were laying neatly on their side facing one way. Others just by them were facing the other way. And rows in between that were jumbled about randomly. Yet here and there were whole rows of warriors still standing proud. He whipped out his scanners and found patterns of stress with the same strange pattern. As if the whole level had stretched elastically before snapping back to shape.

Which begged the question of why the level above was so undisturbed?

He focused his light upwards and got his answer: the ceiling above was massively reinforced. Further down the path, towards the center of the room, he saw huge support piles too.

“I guess they weren’t taking any chances when they put Maximus up above.”

Of course, the strange jumble he was seeing here didn’t bode well for the levels below him.

Still, he had a job to do....

He came across doors on the far side of the piles in the center of the chamber.

They were ornamental, massive, and thankfully open. All along the walls on either side of the doors were ripples of color caused by stress induced phosphorescence in the alloy used. He could see the shimmer of that cybertronium dust everywhere.

The chassis on the other side were posed and jumbled much the same as before.

An hour later he came across a set of strobe lights that still shone brightly down on a slab of red Iaconian granite. A tiny form laid out for viewing on top of the banner of Cybertron.

Quin stood over him for a long time.

“Megatron.”

The name just didn’t fit. For the very first time he wondered if he was even looking at a Decepticon. He walked on.

But he felt like something within him was breaking. Or maybe it was breaking out?






Quin wondered why he hadn’t noticed that the piles upstairs under Maximus had themselves been forced down? Looking at the partly collapsed roof of this chamber he thought it should have been obvious.

He was directly below Maximus. The roof here was not just deformed but actually broken like shattered glass rods. Beneath the roof’s shattered structural members was the unbroken form of another massive warrior. Though this one was only as big as a Guardian Autobot. Like Megatron, he too was laid out on a slab of red Iaconian granite.

He walked around to where he could see this warrior’s face.

Quin began trembling again, but not from anger. This was the sixth face he always saw in the darkness. Once again, he needed nothing to tell him who this was.

Father!”

Instead of sinking to his knees as before, he ran forward and began removing debris from the giant Combaticon. He knew he could do nothing about the roof, Artemus the Magnificent’s chassis was the only thing holding it up.

Even in death he was indestructible!

As he cleared out what he could the wall in his mind dissolved.

He was an Autobot because it was an Autobot who had gone to Vector Sigma that day. But when he opened his eyes the face he saw was this face. It had been very irregular, but Artemus had deemed it necessary for at least some Autobots to have the very finest chassis then available. Brexas, the Autobot, had gone in Artemus’ place so the sparks would be Autobots like himself and not Combaticons like their real father.

The memory made him laugh: how could he have forgotten?!

He worked for hours till only the roof beams remained. Then he walked around this King of Cybertron, this friend of Primus, to inspect his work.

“This isn’t the ‘Decepticon Crypt.’” he muttered when he was really sure he was right, “This is the Combaticon Crypt. And this is Artemus’ own tomb. I’ve passed through Megatron’s and Maximus’ tombs too. All Combaticon tombs.”

He really could remember. With Artemus here there was nothing that could maintain the wall of silence that had banished even living memory from his Cybertron. He could remember friends. Battles. Games. A whole life.

Death too. He leaned against Artemus when he remembered death. The way they had all been before the rain....

For a moment his rage against Alpha Trion swelled anew, but he forced it back.

It was one of so many things that had built that wall in the first place.

“I’m free, Father. You freed me. And my name is Quintus Ray. The fifth of five brothers and your Autobot son.”

Now he was ready to go back to Iacon! He had so much he could tell them. Alpha Trion and a few others would back him up 100%. Then they would come to this place and set all of Cybertron’s heroes back like they deserved to be. They would perform repairs and lift the weight of the world off of Artemus’ chest. Maybe even draw Artemus’ other sons home again. It would mean an end to the war.

Quintus Ray was absorbed in his vision for hours, the way things could be, before he gathered up his pack and started back.

But as he set his foot on the ramp going up he felt it tighten again in his mind. He cried out.

What could he possibly tell them if he couldn’t prove it?

Artemus was all the proof he needed.

Maybe all the proof someone like Alpha Trion would need too.

Still, he knew the walls within them could never come down without independent, verifiable proof. Because the wall wasn’t a wall at all, but a firewall.

And the ultimate irony was that he knew exactly who was responsible for it: the dark gods who lay at the end of this long and winding path he was on.

“I can’t tell them.” he sobbed, “I can’t bring my brothers home. I can’t end the war.”

Slowly, he walked back to Artemus.

At least here, he knew the truth. Knew who he was.

Maybe they would come looking for him?

“Father, do you mind a little company? I can keep you from getting lonely.”

He was much younger than he’d imagined possible – which made Kup’s crusty old soldier routine all the more laughable.

Someone would come. He could wait in stasis for millions of vorns if necessary. And when they did come ... maybe he would find a way to convince them, or find some way to corroborate his tale that no firewall could deny.

He set down his pack, got out his data plate and left them a message. Then he drank all his available energon, including his special stash.

Quintus Ray then leaned back against Artemus, closed his eyes and slept.
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
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Old 11-26-2007, 01:44 PM   #2
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great story keep it up. i relaly wants to know what happened to Quintus Ray.
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:42 PM   #3
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DarkScreamer ... I thought about what you said and there might actually be a way to move forward with Quintus Ray that I've not even considered before. I've got to think about it some though....
Transformers: Genesis
Transformers: Forgotten Wars
The Hall of Dead Gods
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Old 11-29-2007, 11:33 AM   #4
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Part 3: Ghost



When does life end?

If you believed the old operational files it never ends. Your spark eventually gets recycled by the Allspark and you pop up as someone else ... provided you performed your function in life properly, of course.

But is that really continuing to live?

Is the you that will be then still the same you that you are now?

All his life he’d known about the other. It wasn’t some fleeting spark memory. It never faded. It never changed. From the moment he was aware of himself the other was there too.

Proud and assured. Commanding and in control.

The other was all that and more.

It was also dependent, easily cowed, subservient and helpless.

To its peers it had been their commander. The best of them all in a pure meritocracy.

But to its much larger commander it had been nothing.... Nothing that had been torn apart in an instant of horrific pain.

That’s what he remembered. Standing their proudly in front of his warriors as they awaited their glory. His glory! Yet still dreading even a momentary glance of another greater than he.

But in all his life he had never remembered that there had been pain at all, much less what that pain had been like, till he felt it again. Or rather something like it. This second time it had consumed his form, a form composed of plasma based matter. Consumed him like an Earthling insect thrown into a flame.

Plasma fires had always seemed so remote a possibility. There were safe guards aplenty. But safeguards can’t protect you against the power of the Monster in the hands of a vengeful old friend.

But, memory continued even when the pain had subsided.

Only then remembering was all he could seemingly do. After he had stumbled around and fallen backwards into cool darkness, he staggered about and interacted with things that he could neither fully touch nor fully ignore.

“I’m a ghost.” he finally said once panic had subsided.

Nothing else seemed close to what he was experiencing. Nothing but that odd human concept. He wasn’t a disembodied spark. However he knew that to be true: he HAD known it to be true. It just wasn’t the same.

Which obviously meant that he’d been recycled at least once in Cybertron’s long history and he just couldn’t remember it.

Which kinda answered the question about when a life ended.

In that state he had wandered around in the cool dark — moving to where it always seemed warmer even if it was never warmer when he got there — and morbidly compiled essay after essay on comparative metaphysics between Cybertronian and Earthling just to have something to do. Just to have something to keep his mind focused and sharp. He soon gave up on berating his always minimalistic research into this or that human philosophy of existence. Actually understanding humans had never been the goal at the time and it was of no value now to simply act as if it should have been!

One thing he found though was an odd symmetry — at least now that he was finally concerned about something other than manipulating humans through their superstitions and tribal jealousies. A little of something like the Allspark in things otherwise completely unlike the Allspark. A little something totally unlike the Allspark in things otherwise completely like the Allspark. It was as if there was something about Earth that was trying to be Cybertron even as something else were pulling it in another direction entirely.

He had been trying to cobble together a masterpiece of deductive reasoning towards that very end when his world became topsy turvy again and bounced around him.

He was actually quite relieved that it did!

It had seemed like maybe twenty, or even thirty, Earth years had passed. It was getting harder and harder to fight against the fear that he really was some lonely ghost now. That the Allspark was somehow beyond his reach. He had on one occasion even found himself pitying those luckless, sparkless humans ... of all absurdities!

Then the dust settled. Literally.

Somehow his awareness of the darkness all around him had begun to change. There was a shimmering that seemed to cling to him and for the first time since that day he could just barely make out his own form. He could hear too — mostly sounds like intermittent ventilation or sometimes something falling. His mind raced to understand what could possibly be happening till another day when he saw a face....

“Quintus Ray?” Starscream wondered if he’d finally stumbled on the Allspark, “Is that really you, Quintus Ray?”

Ray looked around in confusion. Demanded to know who was there.

“This isn’t the Allspark.” Starscream told himself, “And Quintus Ray is alive?... Interesting!”

He followed the brilliance of a living chassis through the darkness for a while — barely suppressing the temptation to mess with Ray’s mind by going “Boo!” or some human-like nonsense.

It really was Quintus Ray! But why was he wearing his Autobot badge where he used to wear–?

That opened up all sorts of interesting possibilities too.

Then he saw the Autobot do something that didn’t make sense at first. He was moving as if lifting heavy and bulky objects. Then he seems to be operating a small machine. His face winced and he sputtered: “It’s cybertronium.”

Starscream looked at his own ghostly outline. He held his voice box in check.

“I’ve somehow been converted into a standing plasma wave!” he silently crowed, “If this is ... then I must be....”

Inference and deduction: he began making sense of what had happened to him. He was in Kaon. Far away from Iacon where he had ‘died.’

He followed Quintus Ray around for a while till the Autobot started a long climb down, as if from ropes.

He didn’t follow Ray, but began retracing his steps. All of them.

Starscream finally had something to consider besides comparative metaphysics!






The restored Starscream had been wandering around the crypt in Kaon for weeks now, tracing and retracing once lonely steps that disturbed the ever present cybertronium dust. As dangerous as Cybertron was for him just now this had been the one question, and possibly an opportunity, too big to ignore.

Just where in Primus’ name had Quintus Ray wandered off to?

Absolutely nothing about the Autobot’s grand scheme to restore Cybertron was being done in secret. Or at least that’s the way it seemed. They even broadcast on unsecured channels that one “Quin” had gone missing in Kaon. They had repeated the call for any information about his whereabouts several times.

It almost made Starscream wish they hadn’t killed Iron Hide on that shuttle. He would have loved to have seen the Autobot go into histrionics over the current state of Autobot security. Not that “Galvatron” was any better for being there for the Decepticons! Such raw entertainment value.... But still not enough to keep him away from Cybertron.

He had found Ray cozy up against Artemus the Magnificent. He was in stasis. There was a note on a data plate with instructions on how to wake him.

The question then became: why?!

Which was why Starscream had been retracing Ray’s steps so very carefully.

“Memory.” he finally allowed as he stood over Ray again.

With that figured it out he paced and paced around Artemus and Ray for hours in contemplation. Whatever it was that had kept Ray here, Starscream just wasn’t feeling it too. That meant ‘Plan B.’

He set about examining the Autobot. The next mystery was his badge. Why had he moved it? Was he hiding something else? If he was then there were so many possibilities open for the Decepticon Air Commander. If not....

He carefully disengaged the badge and lifted it away.

Nothing. Just armored carapace.

Starscream sighed “Old ‘Plan A.’” and tossed the badge aside.

“It seems you don’t get to wake up, old friend.” he stood and took careful aim, “I guess this is good bye for real.”

Then it caught his eye. He turned from Quintus Ray and picked up the badge — now ‘fluffed up’ like disengaged badges always were. The back of the badge wasn’t uniform.

“Sneaky little actor!”
Within the confines of the Autobot badge was hidden the glossy black badge of a Seeker. Encoded subcommand grade S-1.... Which was annoying!

“I was only an S-3!” Starscream accused, “How–! ... Never mind.”

Of course Ray would be the one to make good. Even if Comdec had always been properly ambitious.... Funny how he hadn’t thought about Comdec in all this time. What if Comdec could somehow be inexplicably alive too?

Starscream bit his lower lip in an effort to keep calm.

The Vulpax was supposed to have been lost with all hands. Yet two of those missing hands were here, intact before him. Interesting....

“I’ve been promoted many times since we last served together. No fault there.” Starscream crooned confidently as he replaced the Seeker badge to its rightful place before flicking the Autobot badge over his back, “And it would seem there may be previously unexpected possibilities in the works!”

The Seekers. Were they still there? Somewhere? All he needed to do to find out was to be patient and renew one old friendship. How best to proceed?

Starscream picked up the smaller Seeker and began preparations to safely revive him.
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Old 11-29-2007, 12:11 PM   #5
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A NOTE ABOUT THE SEEKERS

If you haven't read any of my Genesis story, the Seekers were not just folks like Starscream. They were a branch of Cybertron's military and merchant spacey. Possibly the easiest way to describe them is to imagine a Federation Starship with a crew of sneaky humans, trigger-happy ferengi, and klingons with advanced law degrees.
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Old 11-29-2007, 04:01 PM   #6
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it's really cool so far and it seems like starscream is gonna do somethin to Quintus Ray sooner or later... i mean he doesn't seem to like the fact he is an S-3 and Quin is an S-1. Well i'll just have to see what happens.
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Old 11-30-2007, 09:16 AM   #7
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good story rurudyne...its definitely got some depth into it.
i haven't read your other fics yet, but i will!

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...yeah...it's like that!!!
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Old 11-30-2007, 08:35 PM   #8
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Part 4: Memory



Quintus Ray felt the trickle of consciousness: “They came for me!”

He suppressed his excitement and checked his chronometer. Only a few years had passed? Much better than he’d believed, but not what he’d hoped for.

He opened his eyes.

There was Artemus brilliantly lit up by strobes. He looked as if he’d been polished recently.... Was A-3 here too? There were red eyes lighting up a backlit shadow between Artemus and himself.

“I’d offer you an infusion, but your filtration protocol that you jury rigged to help you hold down that much energon didn’t work exactly right. We’ll need to purify what I drained from you.... And then we can get hammered!” a once familiar laugh.

Ray pushed away from the shadow and fumbled for his weapons.

“Ray,” Starscream was smiling, “do you really think I’d leave you two Mark-17s to shoot me with?”

“What do you want, Decepticon?” Ray spat.

“I must confess my surprise that you have two.” Starscream continued as if he’d not heard the question, “As I recall these were very, very expensive.... And not just for being produced in only limited numbers as they were.”

“Why should I tell you anything?”

“Just to remember.”

Ray couldn’t argue with that: “One was a gift from Artemus. The other had been Powertech’s.”

Starscream brightened as he examined the two weapons: “So, I’m guessing the one with the low serial number is the one that Artemus gave you,” he held up one pistol — a jewel of satin black, “and this one was Powertech’s.” he held up the other, a plain chromed steel example.

“Yeah.”

“Legal testimony confirmed. I will vouchsafe your memory for that!” the Seeker smiled and held the weapons out.

Ray started to take the pistols but pulled back: “You’ll what?!”

“I said I’ll vouchsafe your memory. That’s why you stayed here, isn’t it? So you could remember? Something about this place lets you remember.”

Ray examined his hands and said nothing.

Starscream sighed as he stood up: “To loose your mind like that.... That must have been horrific, to say the least.”

“I’ll never become a Decepticon!” Ray thundered as he regained his feet.

“So what!” Starscream’s eyes narrowed dangerously, “Who’s asking you to?”

“But you said–”

“Is everything about the Decepticons inherently bad? Ray, at least we remember! Many of us, at any rate.” he sighed again, “I’ve seen a few too proud or too paranoid to ever trust another again succumb and loose important bits of themselves. Though I’m guessing that ‘Quin’ had lost more than just a bit. If you want to think of it this way, all it is, is people bearing legal witness of what you tell them before hand so they can confirm it later in court. A tidy little loop-hole that enables you to remember what you told them as well.... Provided you tell them enough of the right sorts of things and keep it all consistent. Leave out important details about the Cybertron you knew, or ever change your testimony if you’re in my packaging, and it will all unravel just the same. I’ve seen that too.”

Ray laughed to realize that a cornerstone of the Decepticon way was honesty, if only so–

“Why tell you? I can tell someone else!”

“For the Autobots it’s all after the fact — already too late. They have to have a reasonable chance to remember for themselves or the trick doesn’t work.”

“What about Alpha Trion? I could bring him here–”

“He’s gone. Merged with Vector Sigma.”

“Gone?!” Ray couldn’t believe it, “When?”

“Years ago. How do you think the Aerialbots got made?”

“No one told me about that....”

“Ray, it’s pretty much a Decepticon or no one else. Do you want to ever leave this place?”

No one had even bothered to tell him!

“If it makes you feel better, I’m in need of a new memory partner too. My old one ... well, he’s gone.”

Starscream got a bemused smile.

“You don’t seem to miss him.” Ray accused.

“I can still remember, Ray. What it was like and why. Knowing that you can remember helps me too. Ray, I don’t want to forget who I was or where I came from. Forgetting seems harder on Seekers than for most others.”

“It ... it doesn’t work quite like that.” Ray stammered.

“You’ve really been there and back!” Starscream almost seemed sad — he wasn’t smiling much right now at any rate.

Ray nodded as he remembered the feeling of that wall starting to slam back down.

“Why would you trust me, Screamer?”

“I’d never trust an Autobot.” Starscream crooned, “But a fellow Seeker?” he pointed at the left side of Ray’s chest.

Ray looked down. His Seeker badge that he’d refused to give up and yet hidden from prying eyes when he’d returned to Cybertron. Something else he’d forgotten about!

“Of course,” Starscream’s voice became deathly serious, “I’d much rather you not wear this thing while we do this.” he was now holding out both Mark-17s and an Autobot badge too, “But if you insist I’ll somehow manage.”

Ray took the badge and his weapons.

He looked at the badge intently. He’d worn it since he was a just boot. For some unknown reason he remembered standing in front of a mirror trying to figure out where it looked best....

He holstered the guns and put the badge in a leg compartment. No need to antagonize Screamer. Besides, once they had done this the odds were that the Decepticon couldn’t chance killing him. Not if he were already in a position of not being able to turn to another Decepticon. And he could always crawl back here if it ever came to that other possibility.

“Thanks, Ray.” Starscream seemed actually grateful.

“So, what do we do?”

“Well,” the larger Seeker sat on the ground, “since this place is your refuge of memory, I’ll go first.”






Ray swirled around the cup and took another sip. Despite the improvised filter they’d worked up and tweaked time and again, there was still a faint trace of cybertronium in the infusion.

“Probably from the cup.” Starscream allowed, “Cybertronium gets in everything.”

“So that it’s then? I can leave this place?”

“Yes and no.”

No?!”

“There’s one more thing we have to do to make sure this works for both of us. We have to go to one of several worlds where a Court authorized under Primacronian law still operates and enter our testimony into a preset list of case files that address everything from a suit to revoke redaction to personal matters. Once we do that we’ll input a special sequence of appeals and counter appeals disguised as an ordinary barrister program that Shockwave designed. It assures that no case file ever gets to an active docket. I’m hoping that you’re still in good standing too since we can’t, for obvious reasons, give testimony about each other’s lives while the other is there.”

Ray instantly understood: by entering “evidence” they were placing everything about the other in public records; but, since every aspect of the “evidence” contained personal information too these “public records” were also sealed. Not even a Quintesson would unseal them until the proper time. Neat and tidy.

Even some of the things he’d told Starscream, that the Seeker couldn’t possibly have known for himself, didn’t represent any real problems. Shockwave had designed the system to take advantage of legal penumbras, if you could remember big public things then you could remember lesser derivative things too. Starscream knew essentially everything about his personal life, but not nearly so much about his professional. No loose ends.

For either of them.

He reveled in actually being himself for a change! But better to play dumb and let Starscream fill him in on the details for now.

“Yeah, I’m good. But where are we going to find a court like that?”

“Actually, they aren’t uncommon even if no one besides the Quintessons actively employs them. The Galactic Bar was always flush with funds so any Central Court had ample endowment to operate till the end of time if it came to that.”

“Operating off of the interest?”

“Exactly! Most were already automated with only minimal maintenance staff when I was a just-boot.”

“I remember that much. So, Shockwave’s little protocol really bogs the system down enough so that the case files never get to docket?”

Starscream smiled: “Better than that! Each sequence of automated appeals consumes more processor cycles than the last. It’s nearly exponential progression. A living judge could work through it in a matter of hours given a little common sense, but court computrons have to follow the procedures to code level. You have to realize how many Decepticons there were even when this war began. Also remember that the court can’t even consider if someone is dead or alive without there first being a hearing.”

“Here’s to gridlock!” Ray took a long, bitter hit — he had already revised his notion that Decepticon memory relied on honesty, “One thing I don’t get though, Decepticons still do this?”

“It’s mainly for experienced warriors. Most see it as a rite of passage. Punks like the Stunticons openly speak against the practice. The Predacons act like they’re above such ‘petty concerns.’... Losers!”

Ray nodded in genuine amusement: “So where do we go?”

“First we need to leave Cybertron together and stay together until we are actually heading to our destinations. It goes without saying that we’ll need more energon than we have. Once that’s taken care of I have a small shuttle hidden near the old military college. While I go to Terranoir you can take a second shuttle I’ve got at my base and go to pretty much any world you want. Autobots are unreasonably popular just now. Then we meet and exchange case file information as well as confirmation materials about our process to docket. Once those are filed in our own systems we should both be free and clear.”

“Then I can return to my life?” Ray asked.

“Well, you could always call me up every now and again. That station gets lonely.”

Ray nodded like he was sympathetic. It’s good to be an actor. Starscream had brought this on himself. Considering all he’d told him it was a wonder that Megatron had tolerated him that long!

Best of all, he, Quintus Ray, was back! Not Quin. Not some Autobot with a mere knack, but an Autobot who really knew his stuff!

“Funny thing though,” Starscream said as he stood up for the first time in close to a year, “all this time you were working against us on Cybertron and living at Cashways–” he laughed, “I can just imagine the consternation among my fellow Decepticons if you had ever used those guns of yours!”

“Limited payload. Limited range.” Ray explained as he stood up.

“If you say so.”






Starscream watched Ray closely as they started up. The smaller Seeker– The Autobot seemed to drag his feet ever so slightly when he stepped on the ramp up. Admirable bravado in the face of a thankfully unknown-to-Starscream horror.

Quintus Ray’s memory refuge was in Artemus? No wonder he had responded so badly to his condition. Once Artemus had been made to be forgotten how could he even remember who he was? But he’d managed to pull through much better than Galvatron was doing right now.

They spent days leaving the crypt. Mainly because Starscream wanted to put on a show of removing clutter from Maximus or else setting once important officers back on their feet like they should be. He even showed reluctant interest in Ray’s suggestion that they investigate where the Combaticon Megatron’s lights got their power. Once, after Starscream commented that no one had yet to perform any of the survey work that Ray had been asked to do, Ray questioned if maybe the Constructicons wouldn’t be interested in returning to Cybertron to repair the crypt.

“They would be out of action for years.” Starscream pointed out.

“They would be lifting the weight of the world from Artemus’ chest. We could bring all his sons home with them.” Ray confessed.

Starscream acted as if that would be great. Not as great as if Ray could have done it years ago on his own, but tolerable good still. What purpose did this war really serve now anyway?

But for the rest of their time on Cybertron, even when they were “liberating” some energon reserves that Ray’s old team had stockpiled, he was desperate to find a way to keep Ray from doing just that. There had to be something he could engage him profitably with instead of peace? Something somewhere in all that he had told him?

Aside from that, Ray was the perfect memory vouchsafe. The Autobots weren’t going to hurt one of their own. And the Decepticons would probably never find Ray out if either of them had anything to say about it. And if someone was luckless enough to not get the drop on the spy? Well, there weren’t many Decepticons that the Seeker would really miss that much.

It also meant not having to rely on poor old Wildwind who lay in stasis inside a reinforced chamber deep below Iacon. Starscream’s little insurance policy, a pawn best left unplayed, that Megatron never even suspected. Not even on the day the Seeker threw him out of Astrotrain.

Starscream smiled at his private joke. How was Galvatron’s madness treating him these days?
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Old 12-01-2007, 02:41 PM   #9
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I removed the link to the outtakes from Webworld. I had used it to try to indicate approximately what was going on elsewhere in the cartoon at this point in the story; however, having more than one time reference (re: the earlier link to part of Starscream's Ghost) seemed problematic enough that I wanted to check my memory against the Wiki.

What I found is that — this story now stands in late 2008 — is that seasons 3 and 4 were more compact than I remembered them being (A personal Homer moment. I mean, Daniel doesn't grow up even by season 4. Should've been obvious.). Quin's survey happened in 2005 (after the movie), and Starscream returned a little over 2 years later before the Return of Optimus Prime. They were isolated for a while thereafter.

As a result, they've been out of the loop.

Which is actually better for my purposes and this story.
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Old 12-02-2007, 08:44 PM   #10
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Part 5: Alabaster



Ray had been curious about Starscream’s base since he’d first mentioned it. Now as they were on approach he saw how it could be tagging along with Cybertron’s drift through the stars and still not be something worth noticing. It was a collection of old ships that had been lashed together after decommissioning and stripping. Once upon a time such hulks had been sent to ... sent to ... the planet of Junk–

He sighed. He felt more and more like Quin. It was so hard to keep the past straight. Still, he was sure that after Megatron had somehow fired Cybertron’s engines the practice of rafting old ships started up. Once there were hundreds of rafts like this one drifting along in Cybertron’s wake. This one was so far back that it was still years away from passing obliquely through Sol’s Kuiper belt.

Starscream had cut power to the engines and shields earlier that day. Now they had slowly caught up with the raft just with their momentum. In particular: a space-battered heavy transport that looked like it had once been a sparkling white liner, judging from hull style and bits of enamel that were still intact.

“What are the accommodations like?”

“Alabaster has the very finest in neo-garbage renaissance decor, just as you would expect. But looks can be deceiving.”

“Sounds like home.” Quin confessed.

“I noticed.... No offense meant.”

“None taken.” Ray shook free of the old himself.

“Hopefully no squatters have moved in.”

“It’s been a while since you were here. Any chance we could use the sensors?”

“Useless at a power setting we could employ without detection. Even before going to Earth in Nemesis, I had picked this raft out and carefully moved material around to Alabaster and a few other hulls. She has functional passive sensor baffles as a result. It was to be my home away from home. I never got around to addressing mech comforts, which ended up being for the best.”

“So what’s with the maps?” Ray had noticed Starscream’s interest in local space charts.

“The ... raft is out of position relative to Cybertron. Nothing much to worry about, though. At least not right now. Probably some salvage operation adjusting its trajectory so they don’t have to deal with the star system’s debris belts.”

“No change in the raft’s mass?”

“None.”

As their shuttle slowly closed the distance, Ray went aft to stargaze. He was running a Seeker version of an old astronomical calendar of the sort that hardly anyone used these days. It was providing designations, sometimes even names, for every star he could see. Some of the names ... he could almost swear they seemed familiar. One name stood out from the others: Sondal. That’s where he would go.

After several hours ‘alone’ there was the soft thud of docking clamps and Starscream called him forward. He had pulled up a diagram of the raft’s busy network of passages and open bulkheads and already laid out an inspection tour. They were going together and were not to split up under any circumstances.

With no gravity they covered the stable raft in little time. There was evidence of an intrusion in one half destroyed troop transport, but no one was there. Finally Starscream led them to another shuttle bay on Alabaster that looked like it’s doors had been punched in. In reality these hid the second shuttle from prying eyes. It was a beautiful ship’s boat that actually bore the liner’s crest.

“I’ve always liked to ride in style.” Starscream confessed.

“So I see.” Ray observed as he examined the shuttle’s interior.

It was the same type as the other, but still bore the trappings of opulence that tickled the corners of Ray’s memory of Cybertron.

Once the shuttle was free of its moorings, Starscream retrieved its power core from a nearby hiding place. A few easy connections and the shuttle came to life.

“Welcome to S-yber Spacey!” a cheerful femme voice sounded, “Your ticket to adventure!”

Ray groaned.

“It’s part of the ambiance.” Starscream smiled.

While the recorded voice regaled them with the joys of life on the Alabaster, an “elite experience for the masses,” Starscream used chemical thrusters he’d retrofitted to the ship to move it to the other side of the liner where the other shuttle was docked. Once the two were aligned and clamped together he used the still talkative luxport to set both drifting away from the raft.

“Well, while we drift far enough away to avoid detection, lets go over our respective itineraries. Have you picked a planet or do you need me to provide you a destination?”

“Sondal. It isn’t nearby, but that can have advantages.”

Starscream smiled knowingly: “Terranoir isn’t a short hyperspace jump away either.”

After drifting for fifteen days they had reviewed all of the materials needed and downloaded their respective barristers into matching data rods.

As the shuttles uncoupled, Ray found himself staring at the Decepticon on whose shoulders his whole future seemed to hang. His past too.

“Small wonder Shockwave got himself disbarred!” he laughed just to have something to say.

Starscream waved him on before turning away.

“Right, fly straight and true to Sondal.” he turned back to his own shuttle’s plush command chair.






Sondal was a Cybertronian type world that had once been an ally against the Quintessons. An odd bit of information that no one had ever bothered to do anything about. As a result, Ray’s memory seemed better as the planet came into view.

Even so, he was glad that he had gone out of his way to approach from a different vector than if he was coming from Cybertron. These people had obviously fallen on hard times. No telling what their current political situation was like.... Even though he seemed to have recalled contact having been reestablished.

He was almost in orbit before anyone took notice of him. Three old style space fighters rose up to meet him and demanded that the Alabaster fall in line — or else. Ray happily complied and provided all his registry information from when the liner had been brand new.

“Your registry is suspiciously dated.” the lead pilot flatly accused.

“Alabaster hasn’t been home in a long, long time.”

Which was true.

“Nor have I.” Ray added after a moment, which was not.

He took his Autobot badge and placed it on his right side just where Artemus had put it. This move revealed his Seeker badge on his left. Ever since the crypt he’d tried to hang onto what had happened to the Seekers and why he had returned to Cybertron; but, all he was sure of was that the Seekers were still out there somewhere and that they were doing something awfully important. Sondal might be just the kind of place hospitable to Seekers like himself.

As they approached the military base to which he was being led, the lead pilot told him to remain in the ship until he was given permission to leave by the civil authorities. As expected, the luxport landed flawlessly on the parkway, a feat announced by the cheerful voice of an autopilot utterly clueless about where it was and what it was doing.

Soon a small party of soldiers advanced on the ship and demanded entry.

A black bright-chrome mech seemed surprised to see a Seeker.

“Subcommander, I am Thal-6.” he said after a long moment, “What brings you to our world?”

“I have business with the Central Court, Thal-6.” Ray hid his pleasure that his rank had been recognized, “A matter of evidence submission which, I’m afraid, will occupy me for some time.”

The mech seemed surprised again and glanced between Ray’s badges.

“Do you have any weapons to declare?”

“Yes, two Mark-17 pistols, an energy sword, a half dozen low yield grenades and a legendary assortment of bad jokes.”

“Transformation modes?”

“None.”

That really got their attention! Starscream had acted the same way — to discover that Ray had been such a prude. He’d laughed it off then by saying that by the time flying transformations were available he couldn’t afford anything he actually wanted. Which pretty much satisfied the Seeker.

“I see, you have been away from Cybertron for a long time.”

Ray nodded sadly. No need to hide it: he really had been away after a fashion.

“I’m looking forward to going home once my mission is finally complete.” he tossed in one of his contingency tactics just in case the authorities thought he might be about to go Decepticon on them, “I hear tell there’s even a new Prime these megacycles.”

The mech hesitated at hearing the archaic time unit referenced.

“I’m sure we need not worry about Cybertron, she’s in good hands with Optimus Prime.” the mech smiled broadly.

Not Rodimus? Ray didn’t miss a beat. He blinked hard and put his fist on his hips.

“Optimus? What happened to Sentinel?!”

The Sondalan laughed and led him away after he had retrieved his pack from overhead storage.

Ray kept in the conversation as he was quickly brought up to speed on his own world’s recent history as far as the locals knew, information no more recent than some “local troubles” that Thal-6 wouldn’t go into. Ray was suitably outraged and expressed frustration with his own inviolable orders to go to the Central Court.

But he knew they had to have known better. Something was decidedly wrong here on Sondal. He didn’t trust these people even as much as he trusted Starscream.

Which wasn’t much.
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