Post by manmiles on Jun 2, 2019 15:07:40 GMT
Well, at least this part didn't take almost four months to write. Honestly thinking about it, I'm probably at the half-way point of the story. Enjoy!
Life After Peace
by Miles Reid-Lobatto
Rodimus fell forever.
In a way, Rodimus had been falling his entire life, tumbling through Unicron's gut, falling and failing in the task of Autobot Leader, a long series of retreats and holding actions that somehow, through the sheer results of a centuries-long war of attrition finally ended in a pathetic victory.
It was apt and even as Rodimus' optics worked overtime to light up everything around, it was still drenched in shadow. The moment he finally hit the ground, he'd probably smash into a hundred pieces and that would be it. Rodimus Prime, Autobot Leader, crashed and burned without any dignity in the end.
The faint glow of light off in the distance below him came suddenly, too quickly for his brain to work out what it was. It was a sickly, purplish light, reflecting the light back at him. It was growing larger and larger, the light-
-the light was a pool of liquid and Rodimus hit in full on.
“We need to get everyone out of here!” Brainstorm was shouting at the Autobots around him. As soon as he landed, he could tell that everything had descended to chaotic panicking and worse, everyone was starting to look to him for answers. Snapping his fingers at the nearest militia-bot he could see, Brainstorm worked out a plan. He wasn't a tactician, he was a scientist. But right now, that was what the situation needed. Use his brain, take in data, formulate a conclusion, produce the desired result.
Data: Metroplex had broken the ground underneath it.
Conclusion: This area is too untestable to stick around.
Result: Leave now.
Desired Result: With as many 'bots and supplies as we can.
Data: Most of our supplies were on Metroplex.
Data: Trying to get the supplies from Metroplex might trigger fresh quakes.
Result: Leave. Right. Now.
Desired Result: Remember Leaving?
“Don't know!” barked the Militia-bot. “Our comms are down.”
Data: Communications Down.
Data: Ultra Magnus went out to talk to Springer.
Conclusion: Can't rely on Magnus for results.
Results: Remember the whole leaving thing? Most of the Autobots here won't survive without supplies, no-one would blame you for deserting.
Brainstorm shook his head. Fear and desperation were overriding his logic. That was the problem with logic, it was never as cold and unbiased as people wanted you to think. You could justify anything and say that logically, it was the right choice.
Data: Magnus would try and save as many people as possible.
Data: You're not Ultra Magnus.
“You,” Brainstorm barked at the Militia-bot. “I need whatever militia we have split into teams. One team will escort as many survivors as we can too...” Brainstorm surveyed the huge crack in the ground, the very tip of Metroplex's foot still sticking out of it. Calculate the size of the crack, the speed it had opened and from there, work out the best direction- “West. I want us heading West, towards the Mercury Sea. Second team will grab everything we can salvage. I don't want anyone going near Metroplex. I want everyone still inside Trypticon to leave with whatever they can carry.” Maybe in a few days, once he'd had time to analyse what had happened, it would be safe to return.
Data: There are still people trapped inside Metroplex. Rodimus included.
Data: Rodimus can't be damaged. Damage to Rodimus could result in damage to Planet Cybetron.
Conclusion: Protect Rodimus at all costs.
Data: Rodimus would favor saving everyone else before Rodimus.
Conclusion: Rodimus isn't very smart.
Conclusion: We're still standing here. Maybe we're not as smart as we think.
“What's your name, soldier?” asked Brainstorm.
“Scanner,” said the Autobot. Brainstorm reached out and patted Scanner on the soldier as casually as he could.
“Scanner, I want you in charge of the evacuation. Do you have someone you can trust to take care of the second team?”
“Leave the thinking to me,” said Brainstorm. “Whoever you were going to say, he's in charge of the second team. I want as many of us out of here within the hour.”
“Looks like they're evacuating,” said Broadside, looking over at the ruins of Fortress Magnus. Looking over at Springer, Broadside braced himself before asking his next question, “We going to help them?”
“Can you see Rodimus?” Springer had his hand on the hilt of his sword, idly letting his fingers dance over the pommel. Every so often, he was too hard and the sword shifted slightly, resulting in a fresh, electronic cry from Magnus. Broadside shook his head.
“Da- damn you,” muttered Magnus. Pinned to the ground, he'd been forced to watch as the troops he'd brought with him had been cut down and executed by Springer's men without a thought. Grabbing the sword, Springer lifted it a foot before sliding it straight back down.
“What was that?” Springer snarled. “I didn't quite hear you.” Still gripping the hilt, Springer knelt down to look down at Magnus. Magnus had always been larger than Springer, to see him like this, was almost pathetic. But, the last few hundred years had made Springer realize that deep down, deep inside him, there was a vindictive, petty streak.
“Rodimus... Rodimus was inside Metroplex,” Magnus's face looked up at Springer with contempt, the stumps of his arms grasping in a way that was almost comical to the Wrecker. If he hadn't ordered the arms removed, the giant Autobot would probably be trying to tear him apart right now. Looking back at the huge ruins, Springer spit back a curse.
“So, what do we do?” asked Broadside again. Springer looked down at Magnus and without hesitation, pulled it free. The blade came free as slowly as possible, every second prolonged agony.
“Get him onto a shuttle, we're getting out of here.”
Two Wreck-Lords dropped down to grab Magnus, picking up the spluttering, moaning body. Looking back at the pathetic remains of the city, Springer nodded to himself. Let them pick themselves up, drag themselves out of the hole they were in.
“Looks like the war's over.” Springer smiled at Broadside. “We have Peace again.”
“And we're just going to let them die?” Broadside gestured to the struggling 'bots off in the distance.
“We don't have the supplies,” said Springer coldly. “If they make it a couple of days, maybe we can see about salvaging and helping. We especially can't waste the tim-”
“I'll stay,” said Broadside. “Keep an eye on them, maybe try and help them out.”
The look Springer gave Broadside sent a chill rushing through Broadside's threat circuitry. They were friends, of a sort, all their lives. Sandstorm had died twenty years back, killed in battle with Magnus' side, back when Magnus had tried to fight back against Springer's forces. Since then, Springer had become a lot more colder and far less trusting. Staring at each-other silently, the rest of the Wreck-Lords continued their work, hoping the situation wouldn't get any worse.
“Very well,” shrugged Springer. “You understand that if you stay here. You stay here alone.”
“I'll communicate you the moment I get a good grasp on the situation.” Turning, Broadside started to walk down towards the wreckage of the city. Watching him leave, Springer didn't call out or order for Broadside to return. Doing so, Springer felt, would make him seem weak and right now, he couldn't ever come off as weak. Not ever. Springer knew, felt more than anything, that if he was the last true authority of Cybertron left, then he had no room for weakness, sympathy or anything else that got in the way of the Code, in the way of the Law.
It would have been easier to let himself drown, it would be a slow process, the pool of energon would slowly work its way into small micro-fractures and damaged parts went too long without proper repair or sealing. Let enough of it eat away at him and eventually his circuits would give out and finally, there'd be an end. But Rodimus, despite the weariness weighing on his soul, still pulled himself out. He lay on his back, looking at the roof above him. The huge cave he was in seemed to stretch out to the very edge of the visual capacity of his optical units. How far he had fallen, even that was a mystery to him. He had some idea, the pool of energon he had found was deep enough to evade even the strongest scanners. If it had been found, it would have been drained dry by now. Perceptor had told him about a theory once, that there were areas of Cybertron, too deep for the Transformers to work at reaching that might be rich in resources. It had died a theory too, the time and the effort such an undertaking would have involved far too much time and resources than Rodimus could spare.
How deep? Really damn deep, Rodimus thought to himself, chuckling. Perceptor would have hated that. Kup would have told him to stop making jokes. Rolling onto his side, Rodimus got to his feet and gingerly dipped his hand into the pool. The energon was clean and unpolluted, enough to turn the tide in any war.
Or to make it worse. If everyone was falling on each-other over scraps, what horrors could they perpetrate for untapped riches?
Letting the energon drain from his fingers and back into the pool, Rodimus considered his options. No guns, no Pretender armor, no supplies, deep in the bowels of a dying planet and he was utterly alone.
A growl echoed around the cave. Rodiums spun, back to the pool, lifting his arms in defense. The pool of energon made for an excellent trap too, he thought about it. A second growl joined the first, reminded Rodimus of Earth films he had watched with Daniel. The small boy had always enjoyed ducking behind Hot Rod's hand when it got too scary.
The first Demon leaps from the shadows, claws and teeth ready to tear Rodimus asunder. Ready for him, Rodimus brought his arms up, catching the monster and launched him over his head into the pool of energon. A second and a third came at then, but Rodimus jumped forward, meeting them midway, slamming his arms into their necks with enough force to drop them. The snarl of a fourth caught his attention, a shadow skittering amongst darker shadows, the metallic spines jutting painfully from his body catching the occasional beams of light.
“I don't want to fight you,” said Rodimus. His back erupted into pain as six, no, eight claws slashed down his back. The one in the shadows had distracted him and made him forget about the one he'd thrown into the energon pool. His left leg then screamed in pain, the demons at his feet were clawing at him, not as out of the fight as he had hoped. Rodimus lifted his left foot and brought it down on the Demon's head, trying his best not to savor the sickening crunch that resulted. The one in the shadows halted, the low growling turning into a snarl.
“I probably didn't kill your friend,” said Rodimus. “But their life won't be a comfortable one from now on. I don't want to fight you, but I will and I will kill you if I have to.”
“Kiiiiiiilllllllling,” hissed the Demon in the shadow. “Alwayssss kiiiillllllliiiiiing. Weeeeee havvvvvveeee onlyyyyy sssssaauught to feeeeeeeed.”
“And you've been killing my people to do it.” Rodimus had encountered more creatures like this, out in the Flat Wastes and the Acid Swamps where only the most crazed and desperate Transformers had survived. Pointed at the one who'd attacked him from behind, Rodimus stepped away from the two on the floor. If it came to round two, he wanted all of them to only come at him from one direction.
Sixknight transformed from jet form into his robot-mode and immediately regretted it. The simple sensation of transforming was accompanied by waves of agony and the sixchanger had to mute his vocal circuits to keep the screams from echoing around the caves. As Metroplex had toppled, it had been this that had probably saved his life. As Rodimus had fallen, Sixknight had jumped after him but had hesitated long enough that Rodimus had vanished from his sight. From then on, his attention had been occupied with not being crushed by the falling pieces of Metroplex over trying to fly down enough to save Rodimus. Part of Metroplex had caught above him, part of the lower leg of the giant city had hit the ground to Sixknight's right. As the pain finally subsided, Sixknight took a small, sharp piece of metal from a compartment in his shoulder and turned over his left arm. Along his forearm was a series of small lines, carved into his very metalwork. With confident, experience motions, Sixknight began carving the next line into his arm. A reminder of time that was quickly running out, a reminder that for right now, he was still very much alive. That alone had to be remembered before he got to the business of doing anything else. Except maybe the one simple fact that he really didn't know what to do.
“Diiiiieiiiing, evverrything dyyyyyyiing.” The Demon dipped it's hand into the pool of energon and held it up for Rodimus to see. The hand was starting to sizzle and burn at the touch of the energon. With distaste, the demon let the energon fall back into the pool. “Noooo goooood for usssss anyymoreee. God-corpse no goooood.”
God-Corpse? The Demons, twisted abominations of a forgotten age had lived in the deep areas of Cybertron. Deeper than most Transformers could ever have gone, only occasionally forced to the surface when desperate for food. If they had a culture or anything, no-one had really had time (or the desire) to explore the possibility further. To call the world around them 'God-Corpse'... Rodimus felt a growing sadness, whatever intelligence they had, any culture would soon be gone along with Cybertron. Rodimus stepped towards the pool, keeping his arms raised. His arm canon's had long run out of charge, but he hoped that the threat enough would keep them at bay. Kneeling, he dipped his hand into the pool and drank. The energon seemed fresh to him, it was a damn sight better than the horrendously tainted energon they could pull from nearly empty reservoirs.
“Why are there so many of you coming up to the surface?”
The answer came in chocked growls and hisses, maybe there was more to it, Rodimus thought, maybe it was simply that the two couldn't communicate, whatever words they could speak had been whatever smattering of words the various tribes and groups of Demons had picked up. Picked up from their victims.
“The planet is dying,” said Rodimus. “The God-Corpse can't support us. But this... this isn't the way, we can't fight amongst ourselves, now more than ev-”
They fell upon him them. Two had jumped from the shadows, crashing into him claws first. More and more came from the shadows, tearing at him, prising open his chassis and metalwork effortlessly. It was only as one reached in and plucked out one of his optical sensors that Rodimus realized that he was letting them do it. One or two of them, he could fight off. Three? Five? Doable, but tricky. Eight of them? A ninth rushing from the shadows, late to the party? Too many for him to fight, they were rushing him, so many of them piling on top of him, each with their claws and their teeth biting into him, chewing him. He couldn't fight that many of them and, at that revelation, it was almost pleasant. It was relieving that the option to fight and live had been taken from him for the last moments of his life.
No more fight in him.
Give up and die.
Let them all die.
A new series of tremors started, much more violent than the ones just moments before. Brainstorm screamed for everyone to pull back away from the gaping chasm where part of Metroplex had been. If the chasm started to open up even further, it would swallow them all whole. Rodimus had been in Metroplex, anything could have happened to him. In the last few hours, Brainstorm had been forced to come to one simple conclusion. That Cybertron didn't have years, the most liberal of conclusions he could comfortably come to, a nice round human number like a decade. It made it easier to switch off at night, but the truth might be much closer. Not even months, maybe just days. Brainstorm had never been fatalistic, but maybe it would be for the best if the planet died now. Maybe then, everyone living on Cybertron would start doing the one thing they needed to do to survive. Something nobody had done on Cybertron for the longest time.
Actually try and sort shit out.
The sensation of his chest being ripped open was a strange one for Rodimus. He had dulled most of his pain receptors, hoping that if it wasn't going to be quick, then it wouldn't be agonizing. The scream caught his attention, ragged and wet.
It wasn't his. The vocal circuits had been the first for him to switch off. If he was going to die, then do it silently, he thought.
The scream had come from the creatures. They were pulling away from him, falling back, scurrying to the shadows, climbing the walls with their long, oil-stained talons. The pinkish glow of the energon lake was replaced by a new glow, a blue one, as blue as a memory of an Earthen sky. The Matrix glowed weakly, it's light spluttering. But the light it radiated and the energy it gave off-planet Rodimus lifted himself up on his left arm, enough of the linkages were connected for him to even move it. The light of the Matrix was scaring off the creatures. One had even dove head-first into the energon lake and was swimming desperately to flee, even as it's body was steaming from the liquid's touch.
“I'm alive then,” he chuckled to himself as his vocals came back on-line. The chuckle quickly became a mad laugh that echoed around him. The Matrix had saved him, for what? To die here?
To die alone?
The voice was familiar, but the voice wasn't his.
“Hello?” He asked, looking around, head twisting slowly each direction it still could. The pain sensors were still dulled, through his single optical circuit, he looked about him into the pink-blue shadows.
“You're dying, Rodimus.”
“Yeah.” His arm gave out under him and Rodimus slammed into the ground. “Kinda noticed that.”
“You can't die here. Not now. Not yet.”
Looking up at the ceiling, Rodimus recognized the voice and cursed it. If he was dying, if this was his last minutes of life, then the universe was playing the worst practical joke on him ever.
A spectral figure, tinged in a blue light stepped into his line of visions. With a childish sneer on it's face, the ghost folded his arms and tutted.
“Man, Rodimus Prime,” said Hot-Rod. “We did not age well.”