From Transformers: Lost and Found
TO: Minimus Ambus, Hound, Prowl, Autobot High Command
I write to you to resign my commission as Autobot Chief Medical Officer, effective at the end of the stellar cycle. I have held this position since the inception of the Autobot army, and it is time that I step aside. I urge you to consider First Aid to replace me. He has demonstrated all the qualities of an excellent doctor and officer and I believe would effectively execute the duties of the position.
It has been the honor of my life to provide what aid and comfort I can to the common Autobot soldier, whose sacrifice and suffering has earned us this moment. I urge this Command, which has my utmost confidence and admiration, not to forget that sacrifice as you guide our race to peace, at last.
Ratchet of Protihex
Soundwave receives his response in written form, posted publicly for all to read. Megatron writes:
The purpose of allowing Decepticons to challenge the Supreme Leader for command was to encourage the Supreme Leader to remain sharp and focused on his ability to protect and advance the Decepticon cause. It was not meant to allow those who had forsaken the Decepticon cause to achieve via the law that which they failed to do through treason.
Nevertheless, it cannot escape my notice that a traitor and commander of the forces arrayed against the New Cybertron and my resurgent Decepticon Stellar Empire has volunteered himself for execution at my hands. Therefore, in the spirit of shouldering the burden of the fighting that must fall upon my Decepticons in this war, and in order to save the lives that would otherwise be wasted bringing the traitor Soundwave to his just and deserved punishment, I accept the challenge.
As challenger, I invite Soundwave to choose a neutral location for our battle. We will engage in unarmed combat. The winner shall be decided when one mech ceases to function or yields, at which point he will be at the mercy of the victor.
Megatron of Tarn
The stage is set for Megatron’s address. The hall where he took power months ago is bathed in a soft light that casts everything save for the stage and the area immediately in front of it in shadow. Deaddrop whizzes about in her drone form, checking every angle for the impending broadcast. Decepticons and newbuilds, all wearing the same badge, file into the open space. They do not crowd the podium. That space is given over to others: a series of coffins (not enough to reflect the true loss, but enough to confer just the right gravity on the assembly) draped in purple banners of steelsilk, each embossed with the Decepticon icon.
When the broadcast begins, cast out into the black for all, Cybertronian, Galactic, and all things inbetween, Megatron is already at the podium. He has been repaired since the recent battle, but he does not gleam: a bit of the fight remains with him, a patina of dried energon at the edges of his armor, a scratch or rough edge that dilutes the light. His crimson optics strike a contrast with the darker colors that surround him, drawing the eye to Megatron’s face. The crowd is silent.
“We gather here in the sight of the dead, so that they might bear witness to our resolve and ratify the course of action we now must take.” Megatron begins. “We should welcome this call, the culmination of our sacrifices, our preparation, and the ultimate test of our strength and our will. We were forged for this moment, and the time has come to seize it.”
The camera zooms out, showing Megatron in the context of the crowded hall. He is flanked by his lieutenants, Turmoil, Raptorion, Shockwave, and Terminus, each deep in shadow and their optics dimmed so as not to break the curtain of darkness that separates them from the light that seems to emanate from their leader. In that, they are like the others, rendered witnesses. There the frame is fixed until the conclusion of Megatron’s address.
“We honor our dead, who fell defending their home against a savage attack. For my Decepticons the events of these past cycles are all too familiar, a reminder of a crucible out of which too few emerged. For those recently forged, my condolences: you have received your first lesson of what war is. I had hoped to conceal this truth for you. Peace has always been my mission, yet I am cursed to be followed by war. Such is the burden of visionaries and liberators. So be it. I welcome the hatred of those who would see this world placed back into chains, who would sell its people to organic enemies who, even now, gather against us. We are here to steel ourselves, and to prevent, as much as we are able, a second cataclysm from engulfing our race. In this spirit, my appeal tonight is not just to this hall, but to the stars beyond, and all who care to listen. But before I confront this new war, I must address how it is we came to be where we are now, and why I must do what I will do and say what I will say.”
“Four million years ago I stood on this spot, in ancient Iacon, and with fewer followers than now gather in this hall cast down an order that had endured for a million years before I was forged. At first I was alone, with nothing but my words and my will. But through these things I gathered my first allies. To those who are deceived, there is no more powerful friend than the truth. And the truth was that from its inception civilization on our world was synonymous with slavery. Slavery to the gods, slavery to the Primes, slavery to their rotten legacy, slavery to the Senate, slavery to our very forms. And yet, no one could articulate this plain truth. It was forbidden to the point that even intelligent and caring mechs could not even conceive of it. We were, all of us, deceived.”
“I ended the deception. I persuaded even those who served our corrupt order that I was correct. Across Cybertron, the simple act of questioning who our so-called masters served, to whose interests they were accountable, and how they might be replaced, became an act of revolution. For our people were not enslaved through force of arms but through the erosion of their will: the strongest among us were convinced that they were weak. And, as it turned out, those who imagined themselves to be mighty surrounded themselves with walls of tin, gathered soldiers with armor made of gold, and wielded weapons eaten away by rust. The revolution swept them away before they realized what was upon them.”
“From where, then, came the war? All who heard my truth understood it and were moved by it. Miners lay down their tools, officers of the law openly embraced a righteous treason, soldiers took up arms against their comrades, recognizing them at last as their true enemies. I stood here, with a mech at my side who I once called a friend and a comrade in arms, and together we dealt the final blow to our corrupt masters. But he was enamored with their power and became enthralled by their symbols of domination, chief among them the Matrix, that symbol of divinity that has only ever brought delusions of superiority and dominion to its bearers. And so he claimed a divine mandate to unseat the power bestowed upon me by the people of Cybertron and the truth of my vision.”
“And so the war came. The greatest war ever fought, a war that spanned stars and ages, ground down civilizations, and nearly consumed our race. To the newly forged, I ask you to find a Decepticon who fought in the war and to ask them of their experiences. The hesitation before they speak of it, the moment of silence that lives in every survivor’s spark, can speak more to the war than I can in our short time here now.” Perhaps to express the silence that lives in him (and is rarely expressed) Megatron takes a moment and pauses his oration.
Once finished, Megatron picks up the thread, pivoting away from the war. “It was a stellar cycle ago that I returned, after our war, summoned to fight a threat out of our past so old that it lived outside of memory. And the tide against Unicron turned. I was content to leave, then, I will confess to you. My world, that I had fought so long to secure against all who would harm it, had been destroyed. It gave no life. But, as I wrote during the struggle against Unicron, by rising to the challenge and killing a god, we earned the right to begin anew. We became worthy of what we had accomplished, and now the Cybertronian race may once again rise, a billion sparks alighting on the surface of the miracle planet.”
“It was only a few months ago I entered this hall and dispossessed the pretenders who claimed the right to use this miracle to their own selfish ends. Now, when it appears that those forces, and others, would bring the scourge of war back to Cybertron rather than tolerate my guidance of our restored world, a world that belongs to you more than it ever did to them, I am compelled to explain why I have taken the measures that I have. For many of you, I describe events that occurred before you were forged. However, they were not so long ago.”
“When Cybertron returned to life, I heard again the call that led me to end the reign of the Senate and the Functionists and to end the threat posed by Unicron. It was responsibility, not ambition, that moved me. For I knew, intimately, the mech who appointed himself the leader of Cybertron. I saw the way that he created a forum of discord between Cybertron and her colonies, a vehicle for his ambitions more than a true governing council. I resolved that this new generation of Cybertronians would not be abandoned to incompetence, which would ensure another war when the inequities and depredations of a class dedicated only to its own survival and advancement, lacking the vision demanded by the miracle of our world’s rebirth, caused rebellion, strife, and violent conflict. I could not derogate my responsibility to my world. Though I had fought for millions of years, though I had faced down a god, I could not rest. I will never rest. I will never be complacent in the face of injustice.”
“And so I acted. Cybertron came to me because I willed it and my Decepticons made it so. We exiled the traitor and scattered his Council. In their place we have labored these past months on forming our own society, intent on building an example that would awaken the better nature of every Cybertronian spark. But it has now become clear that we will not be allowed our moment: rather than show another way, or build their own society, the deranged followers of yet another Matrix-bearer have brought war to our world. They have slaughtered our comrades, stolen a titan, and sowed the very destruction that they accuse me of fomenting. It has become clear that we must respond, if we are to preserve the way of life that we have only just begun to unveil.”
“In this, the law is on my side. Those who attack us are nothing more than outlaws, bandits, and traitors. I deposed the Senate. I cast out the Primes. If there is any legitimate authority on Cybertron it is my authority: the edicts of a usurper have no force, and a council convened under him has no power to bind any spark. In the wake of my victory over the Senate and the Primes, I established a new order, not just on Cybertron but across the stars. This, the Decepticon Stellar Empire, the mighty Constellate, presided over an unprecedented era of expansion and power for our people. The Cybertronian race was never greater than when Constellate fleets cyberformed alien worlds and smashed any organics who would oppose us. Alas, those days have gone, squandered by Autobot obstinacy and internal treachery. So it always is with empires: They can only be consumed from within.”
“So, to my new Cybertronians, I say: take heed! The Constellate rises again. And it does not rise alone. My power has derived entirely from the higher truths my words express and that live in my commands. And this is one of those truths: all Cybertronians belong to Cybertron. No matter how estranged, or changed by time, the eternal spark that burns within us all was made on Cybertron, and to Cybertron it shall return. We are all one, at creation and at the end.”
“And yet some have strayed from this truth. I have great love for the Colonies: They demonstrate the myriad potential of Cybertronian life, which knows no one mold or purpose. And yet, they too show the signs of a corruption that even now threaten to send them down our path, the path that has led to so much anguish and suffering. Caminus, a world worthy of being venerated as the foremost leader in Cybertronian arts and culture, is nonetheless enslaved by a veneration for the Primes that undermines its foundations. Eukaris, the definitive refutation of the Functionist dogma that beastforms are inferior to other frames, is itself embroiled by conflict between factions riven by organic notions of separateness and purpose that have no place in a race characterized by the eternal and universal spark. On Velocitron they exalt the altmode over the root and so have built their society on a shadow Functionism. More could be said, but all that need be understood is that the colonies themselves must be rescued by the Cybertron that gave them life.”
“And so I say this: the time has come to unite all Cybertronian peoples, not in a council that permits division, faction, and war, but under my leadership. All shall be one under Megatron. I invite the colonies to dispatch their delegates to Cybertron, as a sign that they accept their inherent and eternal position under the new Constellate. Cybertron is rich: we have more energon than we can burn, newsparks are forged every day, and the society we are building will serve as an example to all. These things can be shared with the colonies, if they only acknowledge Megatron as their leader.”
“We must unite for another reason. Much has changed these past millennia. The short-lived organics have met and, in some cases, surpassed Cybertronian technology. They remember our long war, and the scars we carved deep into their worlds, civilizations, and psyches. Now that the colonies have been discovered, there is no doubt that the rapacious organics, who must consume all that they see to fuel generation after expanding generation of growth, will turn their greed upon us, or seek to avenge the insults against their forebears. Only standing together can we resist the organic threat. Only under Megatron can we be strong enough to weather the coming storm and push back against the organic tide that gathers on our shores. Among our newbuilds are geniuses, artists, and creators. I have seen them, and embracing our new world will restore Cybertronian technology to its preeminent place and enable us to again assert ourselves as the dominant form of life in this galaxy.”
“If the colonies refuse to unite, and if the fleet organized to inflict terror on our world, which fears nothing more than our way of life, continues to oppose me, well. They have demanded war, and I shall give it to them, a hundredfold. A hammer will descend upon their worlds and their ships the likes of which has never been seen in our history, and all resistance shall be scorched away. I wish that I did not have to give this ultimatum. I wish that we could proceed upon our enlightened path, ignorant to the dangers that lurk in the dark, but that is not what fate has in store. We can only rise to the moment we are given, and in this struggle we must once again earn our right to live in accordance with the truth, as I have discovered it.”
“But I do not threaten war lightly. My hand is open, as it was to the present Matrix-bearer, who refused my offer of peace early in this conflict. But it cannot remain open forever. The world that I am building is a world for all. Not Decepticon or Autobot, Cybertronian or colonist, but for each of our mechanical brethren scattered across the stars. Let the Cybertronian diaspora come to an end, let these divisions that have afflicted us for so long be laid to rest. I do not bring war, I offer mercy and conciliation. But I will never compromise our strength or my will. If you come to build a new world with me, you will be accepted. If you come to infiltrate, undermine, sabotage, or make war, you will be destroyed. I am Megatron. I promise this, and nothing more.”
“Let us proceed then, in front of these honored dead, to rededicate ourselves to the cause for which their sparks, young and old, were snuffed. To our new Cybertron, to the new day that awaits our race, if we have but the courage to achieve it.”
With this, Megatron concludes his remarks. His name thunders within the halls, shouted by his most fervent supporters. Other speakers follow, exhorting Megatron as leader, conqueror, and visionary. Newbuilds led by Decepticons march in the streets as the sun sets, delivering the bodies of the dead to where they can be interred or recycled. When the dawn comes, Cybertron prepares for war.
TO: Medical and Science Divisions
Effective immediately, all Quintesson parts (in particular tentacles) and technology are to be placed under medical quarantine. If you are working with Quintesson technology or biology, notify the medical division immediately and leave the Quintesson item in place. Someone from medical will be dispatched to take custody of the article. Under no circumstances is there to be any further testing of Quintesson parts until further guidance from Medical.
Ratchet of Protihex Chief Medical Officer, Lost Light
I have reviewed the patient file for a recent medical emergency involving total loss of brain module due to explosive trauma. Under normal circumstances this injury is all but fatal. The patient file discloses that Doctor First Aid, assisted by Nurse Vortex and Surgical Aide Spinister, responded rapidly, appropriately, and creatively to this medical emergency. Doctor First Aid performed a surgical intervention, assisted by Nurse Vortex and Surgical Aide Spinister, to transplant a cold brain module under circumstances where the patient's spark was undergoing cascading pulse failure leading to imminent collapse. To perform this procedure under the circumstances required significant skill and is an exemplary application of medical training and knowledge. It is therefore appropriate that this CITATION OF MERIT be and hereby is placed in their permanent personnel records.
--Ratchet of Protihex, Chief Medical Officer (Autobot Army), Co-Chief Medical Officer (Lost Light).
Barrister of Iacon: I know we're all happy to be alive and expecting a few new faces, and I hate to be a downer, but, we may want to take note of what's happening in the rest of the galaxy before that next round of engex.
CONSORTIA CHARGES CYBERTRONIANS WITH CONTRIVING CRISIS
Amidst reports that the Unicron Crisis, which has held the galaxy in the grip of terror for the past standard year, has come to an end, some now allege a sinister motive behind the rogue planet’s reign of terror. At an emergency session of the Executive Committee for the Defense of Our Homeworlds, a representative of Prelate Azzak of the Black Block Consortia presented dramatic evidence that the Consortia contends demonstrates that the Cybertronians themselves perpetrated the Crisis.
The Black Brahmin known as Broken Wings Beat Against the Oncoming Storm, alleged that the recent Unicron Crisis was a Cybertronian attack on a scale not seen in a million years. “We have uncovered facts indicating that what we have called Unicron was nothing more than a means for the Cybertronians to collect organics and their energy in order to restart their dead homeworld.” Broken Wings told the Committee. The Black Brahmin presented images allegedly captured by a Consortia watch tower in the Cybertron system. “As you can see, rather than destroying Unicron, these images show the integration of Unicron and Cybertron. This result is fundamentally different than what the Cybertronians told this very Council when they came begging for help, that they wanted to destroy Unicron as much as we did. The only conclusion is that, once again, the organic races have been deceived by these rapacious mechanicals.”
Broken Wings displayed images taken later in time showing a dramatically larger planet Cybertron dotted with pools of light. According to the Consortia, these are known as Proving Pits, where new Cybertronians’ nascent energy forms war against one another, with the fittest earning the right to be given a corporeal body. This form of Cybertronian reproduction was first articulated in the seminal treatise on Cybertronian culture and anatomy “Origins of Conflict, a Race Forged for War.” Such activity has not been documented on Cybertron in a thousand generations, and the Council has taken testimony from the Cybertronians on many occasions to the effect that their race is sterile.
“The implications are clear.” Broken Wings concluded. “The Cybertronians perpetrated the Unicron Crisis in order to collect organic lives and material. Whether an element of this scheme got out of hand, or whether the apparent civil conflict among the Cybertronians was a scheme by Megatron to prevent full Council and Consortia intervention against them, we do not yet know. What we do know is that billions of organics and their worlds were systematically harvested so that Cybertron, a world thought to be dead for a million years, could be reborn.” Although a final report on the scale of the Unicron Crisis is still being prepared, initial estimates suggest that upwards of fifty billion organics lost their lives during the rogue world’s rampage, with dozens of worlds falling to its attacks. In addition, Council military strength is believed to be badly depleted, especially following the disaster at Issicus. Fleet deployments remain classified, but reliable sources indicate that the remaining Council fleets are being deployed internally to prepare for unrest caused by significant displacement of whole races caused by the Unicron Crisis.
The Committee went into executive session to discuss the charges.
Megatron stands amidst the ruins of Raskol Arena on Luna 2, with primordial Cybertron looming in the background. His army is assembled in the stands and on the field, the full might of the Decepticon forces. Terminus is at his side, on the right, but otherwise the stage is empty. Even his generals, Turmoil and Raptorion, have been relegated to the mass of soldiers.
“My Decepticons.” Megatron begins, voice booming through the only place left in the ruins of their home system big enough to hold him, his army, and his ambitions. “Behind me is Cybertron, our home. For four million years we have carried on the struggle to claim it as ours, to wrest it from those who enslaved us, to defeat those who would usurp it from us, and to rule it under the principles I have set forth. There are some who now say that this war is over, that we have lost.” Megatron smirks and gestures towards the assembled Decepticons. “I say to them: look at this arena, look at the full might of the Decepticons, a force that has cowed the Harbingers and now stands once again on the threshold of Cybertron!” A cheer erupts from the gathered Decepticons. Megatron waits for it to run its course.
“And yet, I have said that the war cannot continue as it has. Our race has suffered too much. And though I would expend mine own spark to achieve our goals, to build the future that I have long promised to you, I see now that it cannot be achieved through force of arms alone.” A hush falls over the gathered Decepticons. Red optic turns to red optic, and murmurs arise from the silence. Unsure. “The war is over, my Decepticons, but we are the victors. I am today announcing a new government for Cybertron, negotiated with Starscream and the Council of Worlds. Long have I strived for justice, and in this new regime, I, Megatron, your leader, shall be Judge and Jury of all offenses that are brought to me. At last, we will have reached that which we have long fought: we have moved Cybertron Towards Justice.”
Megatron continues. “I will dispense justice openly and fairly. My verdicts, which I will render in my capacity as chief lawgiver of Cybertron, will be broadcast at regular intervals to the people all across the Cybertronian diaspora. I will not permit the tricks and sophistries of legal counsel, those seeking justice on the new Cybertron shall stand before me as plain citizens and plead their case. My closest advisor, Terminus, shall be responsible for courtroom security and for consultation during the trial. My judgments shall be binding on the parties before me, though I shall accept all comers. None shall be above the law. I hope that all will tune in to view justice being dispensed from my high seat.” Megatron grins. “I do not speak in the manner of judges of old, who hid their plain decisions behind jargon and words rendered in Old Cybertronian. Justice shall be rendered in the common tongue of the people, and those fools who dare come before Megatron seeking revenge or to hide their misdeeds shall be told off, accordingly.”
The speech builds to its conclusion. “I renounce the titles that I have accrued in our long struggle. No more am I the Emperor of Destruction. The Supreme Leader of the Constellate. The High Protector of Cybertron and all her Colonies. Refer to me no more as Lord Megatron, but instead as Judge Megatron. My work begins shortly.”
With that, Megatron concludes his speech to resounding cheers from the gathered Decepticons. They chant: “JUDGE MEGS! JUDGE MEGS! JUDGE MEGS!”
Judge Megs airs weekdays between 1 and 1:30 P.M. Next case: Minimus Ambus vs. Rodimus the Not Prime: Soundwave stole his ex's heart, and now their prodigal son Drift has returned. The tiny casanova demands mech support from the ex-Captain of the Lost Light. Judge Megs sets them straight and renders a shocking verdict!
Encrypted message sent to the leaders of Torch, Dagger, and Shield via secure transmission.
You are to commence operations with all deliberate speed along the previously established timetables. Summon all mechs under your command to their ready stations. We proceed to Luna 1, and the war.
Megatron of Tarn, Lord of the Decepticons, Protector of Cybertron and all her Colonies, Supreme Allied Commander: Luna 1
A brief note, distributed to those who arrive at their ready stations, if they are willing to hear it.
Decepticons, Autobots, Cybertronians, and Colonists:
You are about to embark upon the most ambitious operation of this great crusade. Together, we will deal a decisive blow to our enemy. Take heart: for the first time in our long and dynamic history, all of the peoples of Cybertron, though separated by distance or terrible hostilities, stand together as one against a common foe. Our foe is cunning. Our foe is savage. But he is not invincible: over the past months, our forces have dealt the Harbingers terrible blows. Today, we strike the blow from which our enemy cannot recover.
Look to your skills, honed over long millennia of war. Look to the mech beside you, who fights for the same cause. Look to the future, free from this shadow of annihilation. Attend to the now, and the task at hand. United, no force in the galaxy can deny us VICTORY.
Megatron of Tarn
A Decepticon courier brings a lone datastick to the Lost Light. He won’t relinquish it, except to Ignite’s own hand. When the transfer is done, and the datastick played, this follows.
The camera opens on Megatron, standing on the ‘’Castigator’s’’ observation deck. The red rings of Ramophon arc behind him, lending color to the void. His hands are clasped behind his back, and he addresses the person on the other side. “Captain.” The tyrant begins. “I chose this place to plan my attack as a reminder. Fifty thousand years ago, a coalition of organics, the Galactic Council and its client races, alongside the Black Block Consortia, launched an attack that devastated my Constellate. We never recovered. They call it the Battle of the Six Systems. The highest award the Council can give to one of its commanders is named after the war leader who prevailed against my forces.” Admiral Kaysherian, the Crownless Queen, who traded her throne for the battlefield and glory, and who perished securing the final victory. “We were fearsome, then. My Decepticons. And we fell short. I have come here as a reminder of the possibility of defeat. I cannot admit it easily or often. But the steps we take now must be informed by our missteps. I am speaking to provide our plan of attack. The necessary details are encoded on this datastick, but I hope that you will hear me, and recognize that our goals are ultimately aligned.”
Megatron presses a command into the console in front of him. A holographic map of Luna 1 springs into being, or at least the hemisphere occupied by the Harbingers. Their citadel rises over the ruins of Tyrest’s facility. “We have traded words against one another, Captain, and I doubt either of us would take them back. But we must set them aside. I come to you because you are the commanding officer of the Lost Light, regardless of the circumstances of your ascension. They have accepted your command. The ship has, somehow, managed to capture the imagination of a portion of our people and hosts some of the finest minds and soldiers that remain among our race. I have need of all that you can provide. The enemy,” He gestures at the map, “Is in possession of a weapon. A decisive weapon. We can only wrest it from his claws if we work together.” Megatron looks up at the camera again, a smirk playing over his features. “Oh, how many times Optimus Prime gave that speech to me, whenever some monster crawled out of the depths of space to menace our reality. The greater good and this and that. He had a way of making even inspiration seem tiresome. But the universe has a sense of humor, and I find myself giving the speech that I know his baritone aches to give. All must stand as one, or we will fall.”
“It is no secret that we cannot defeat the Harbingers in pitched battle. Unicron has elevated their powers and outfitted them with weapons sufficient to resist this mere shadow of our former might that we presently possess. Victory, then, can be measured only in delay, and in keeping the enemy off balance for long enough to score our decisive blow. To this end, I have divided our forces into three parts: Torch, Dagger, and Shield.”
Megatron holds up a finger. “Torch, commanded by Optimus Prime. Even now, I trust that Soundwave is working to carry out my order to spread disinformation regarding the state of Prime’s forces. The basic point of this deception is that Optimus Prime is looking for space bridge capability, to augment his comparatively meager forces. There is only one place in the galaxy where this technology can be procured.” Megatron sweeps his hand over the holomap, and the serene expanse of the titan graveyard rises into view. “Optimus Prime will lead a diversionary attack on the graveyard. His strike force will be accompanied by a number of ships from Deathsaurus’s fleet. My forces have outfitted a number of derelict Harbinger vessels with rudimentary propulsions systems and signal projectors so that, if they are scanned, they will appear to be fully operational. This will make Prime’s attack appear more dangerous than it is.” Megatron looks up to the camera. “The skeleton crews on these derelicts have orders to ram any Harbinger vessel that engages. Their pilots are reliable. Once the diversionary nature of Prime’s attack is uncovered, which it will be, he will harry our enemy and keep them engaged as long as he can.”
The tyrant moves the holomap as if it were a globe so that the Harbinger citadel now looms before him. “The second group. Dagger. This is where you come in.” Megatron smirks. “An infiltration strike team composed of the Lost Light’s finest will assault the citadel directly after Torch has drawn off the Harbinger forces to the extent that they can. Dagger will proceed to the ultimate objective, secure it, and use it.” Megatron leans over the table, and the viewer can hear the metal creak as his grip finds its edge and tenses. “It...pains me to say that I will not lead Dagger myself. There is no doubt that it is the most important element of our attack. And yet...no matter how I tried to square it, I came back to you, and the crew that has somehow managed to survive even this long.” The tyrant looks up again. “Your crew knows the way. They have experience with our objective. The finest scientific minds available to us are on your ship. I am needed elsewhere. I must be seen on the front line, standing with my Decepticons. I must be seen by your forces standing there. Moreover, I sense that my presence would be a...distraction to Dagger, which must be focused entirely on its objective. So. I cannot go here.” Megatron straightens and laces his hands behind his back again. “I leave it to you to select the composition of Dagger. You, presumably, know the forces under your command and how best to array them. I recommend only that Soundwave be part of Dagger. He will be needed for two purposes. First, to limit Harbinger communication and give maximum effect to our diversion. Second, he will be needed to maintain contact with the final group.”
The holomap zooms up into space, where Harbinger ships dot the stars over their citadel. Models of the Castigator, its escort ships, the Prepotent, and the remaining Decepticon ships warp into view. “Shield. Our main attack will be comprised of my forces, Deathsaurus’s warriors, and the balance of the Lost Light’s remaining combat mechs. It will be, without a doubt, the most powerful fighting force arrayed by Cybertron and her colonies since the end of the war.” Megatron’s optics narrow. “It will be grossly inadequate.”
The glowing ships move and engage, with the Castigator breaking for the surface. “The Prepotent and its escorts will engage the Harbinger fleet while the Castigator launches the main attack on the surface. Our forces will deploy outside of the citadel and lay siege to it. We will draw out any remaining Harbinger defenders and prevent them from focusing on Dagger. Shield will also form a defensive position, holding off Harbinger reinforcements to give Dagger as much time as possible to complete its mission. The enemy will grasp our design the moment he is aware of Dagger. We must move swiftly to preserve the initiative.”
Megatron draws himself up, shoulders squaring. “I will be in overall command of Shield. I will be on the front line, and then wherever I am needed. Turmoil will have operational command of the Decepticon elements. Deathsaurus command of his. The Lost Light contingent will be under your command, or under the command of your delegate. Raptorion will command our aerial contingent. My lieutenant, Terminus, will remain aboard the Castigator and relay my commands to the fleet, if necessary.”
Megatron lifts the plain around the citadel back into view. “Shield will drop on the outlying defense stations here, here, and here, with the bulk of the force arrayed outside the citadel. My forces have procured a number of storm shields, rudimentary but still functional, that will provide Shield some cover and permit us to hold against Harbinger reinforcements. They may also permit our support elements to remain on the battlefield and to extend our fight. If possible, elements of Shield will enter the citadel and provide cover to Dagger or assist.”
“As you can see, I am leaving nothing in reserve. This is our hour, to triumph or perish. We cannot stand against the Harbingers, and yet they are in possession of a weapon that requires us to confront them, and to do so as soon as practical. There is no fall back. No plan B. If we falter here, we may very well lose the war. Keep this in mind, Captain. Empty your ship of every mech who can hold a rifle or who is big enough to absorb a shot for his fiercer crewmate. It will require everything that our reduced race can muster to prevail. I await your designation of the Dagger strike team. Once you have determined the composition of the infiltration force, I will set our operations into motion. The Lost Light element of Shield are to proceed to Ramophon on my signal, to rendezvous with the Castigator. Bring your energon stores. We will have need of them.”
Megatron allows a small smile. “The universe itself will be upon our shoulders. It has ever been thus. I have no doubt we will rise to the occasion. Megatron out.”
The screen fades to darkness.
I've referred the matter to Chimera, with an open invitation to any other actual or aspiring religious officiants, mediums, or sorcerers who want to try their hand at double reverse resurrection.
They function, as well as they did before. Medically, there's nothing wrong them, except that they should be dead. Which is not the typical problem that walks in the door. I'm happy to continue monitoring them and running any test you want me to. But, for the record, I missed the lecture at the Academy recommending a course of treatment for Evil God Resurrection Syndrome. Really biting me now.
Ratchet of Protihex
Chief Medical Officer
The scene opens on a ruined cityscape, once a glittering organic metropolis, now wasted by the depredations of Unicron’s harbingers. Yet floating ominously above the city is what some are now calling a symbol of hope: A massive ship in the form of the Decepticon insignia.
“This is Circuit of Iacon, on location and embedded with the Decepticon offensive, on the outskirts of the former capital of the Harmonic Archonate of Agathir, now just another notch on Unicron’s equator!”
The picture focuses on a dirty, yellow mech, the aforementioned Circuit of Iacon. He’s speaking into a recording device built into his hand, which amplifies his voice through the mediadrone recording the footage.
“Wait, there he is! Let’s get some footage of that…”
The camera pans across the ruin, capturing a flight of Seekers screaming overhead to engage Harbinger forces over the horizon. It settles on Megatron, standing on the edge of a conveniently placed cliff, his red optics surveying the battlefield below. He looks almost satisfied.
“Lord Megatron!” Circuit shouts. “Sir, have you heard the news? Do you have any statement to make on Rodimus stepping down as Captain of the Lost Light to avoid Galactic Council prosecution?”
‘’Megatron turns to face the camera. There’s a significant gash torn in a ragged line in his helm, the sign of a recent fight. His red optics flare and focus on a point beyond the drone, as if he is looking through it at the viewer. He holds that piercing look for a long moment, then defuses it with a smirk.’’
“I have been under indictment for four million years. That teeming organic hive they call the Galactic Council must be very pleased that the new self-proclaimed leadership of Cybertron would prostrate itself before them at the mere threat.” Megatron straightens and his smirk turns to a scowl. “The Galactic Council does not dictate the leadership of my crusade. No organic commands Megatron.” The Decepticon commander is about to say more, when something unheard interrupts him. Megatron glances off-camera and brings two fingers to the side of his helm. “Speak. You’re certain? Very well. Recall Raptorion. We move immediately. Out of my way!”
Megatron reaches for the camera and pushes it aside. The screen goes dark.
TO: Blast Off
I appreciate your candor. We are experiencing a shortage of medical supplies, as well as other supplies on the ship. In addition, medical exists to treat crewmembers. It does not exist for crewmembers to steal supplies from actual doctors so they can pretend to be one for their friends.
I will make a formal request to Minimus that you be assigned to stand guard duty during your off-duty hours outside the Medbay for a period of time that he deems fit.
Ratchet of Protihex Chief Medical Officer
Megatron’s impending departure is heralded by the arrival of a Worldsweeper in orbit around Luna 2. The ship identifies itself as the Castigator but does not otherwise respond to Council inquiries. It is well behaved.
A short time later, a broadcast emanates from the ship, beaming to Cybertron and throughout the cosmos.
The image opens on Megatron, standing on the Castigator’s bridge. He is flanked on his right by a boxy-looking mech with an amber visor and spiky shoulderpads: General Turmoil. On his left a sleek spacefighter in white and purple stands with all the regal bearing of her station: Seeker Commander Raptorion.
Megatron begins. “My fellow Decepticons, the time has come.” The tyrant declares. “You have gathered here, on Cybertron and elsewhere, because you were told the war was over. That this...blank slate of a world was all your sacrifice had won. I tell you now that the war is not over, and our struggle has not been in vain. It has earned us this moment, this opportunity to embark upon a grand crusade. Our enemy is not the Primes, it is not Functionism, it is not the oppression of our race under an organic heel. It is not even the Autobots. No, today our enemy is annihilation itself. In this moment all Cybertronians are united in one truth: Unicron must be destroyed. If there is to be a new day for Cybertron, the Unmaker must himself meet his end.”
“The Decepticons are the tool that has been forged over millions of years of conflict for this purpose. Regardless of what has transpired these past few years, we remain the speartip of the Cybertronian race. We form its backbone and its strength. Stand proud. You have not failed. You have not been defeated. Not so long as this work is in front of us.”
“And so I call on you, my Decepticons. Whether you are on Cybertron or spread throughout the vast cosmos, know that your leader lives and that he is calling you to arms once more. Even if, in the past, you faltered in your obligations as a Decepticon, this is immaterial to the task before us. There are no more Lists. No more Justice Division. Whatever your crimes, any Decepticon who comes forward and joins my crusade will be forgiven.” Megatron lowers his helm. “And those who refuse the call will not be forgotten.”
“My words will also reach the colonies, who together form the so-called “Council of Worlds.” To you I say: send me your warriors, your fiercest, your strongest, your brightest minds and most clever mechs. While your Council debates and dithers, I will put them to use. No part of our race can be allowed to lie fallow, given the enormity of our challenge. I have long preached the equality of all Cybertronians, and I am proud to extend that hand now, to you, in this hour of our greatest need.”
Megatron raises that black-armored hand, which soon curls into a fist. “I will depart on this crusade in seven days’ time. Make your choice. Once the stars themselves trembled at the Decepticon name, and now together we will teach a god the meaning of fear.”
Permission granted. Take the time you need. This isn’t the war anymore. No life comes cheap and we shouldn’t pass up the chance to celebrate every one.
We’ll be ready for you when you return.
Autobot Chief Medical Officer
The following fragment of a larger work, titled After the Purification: Towards Progress, has been making the rounds in the Decepticon quarter on Iacon and on other Decepticon feeds. It isn't hard to find, as Megatron's most recent work is passed from bot to bot and posted on various post-War media. While it originated with the Decepticons, it is now available to all.
Against Vector Sigma
We are confronted by a problem of design.
I do not mean by this that Cybertronians are flawed, or that we are ill-fit to some purpose. Rather, it is the notion that each of us has an assigned, innate and inflexible purpose bestowed upon us at our creation that is the source of much of the suffering and exploitation that has plagued our race.
Consider the organic. Like us, she has fingers with which to grasp and eyes with which to see. We both possess brains that can process what our senses receive. From that input we can reason through and conquer the challenges of the natural world. We can even approximate an understanding of it. Indeed, our designs, our forms, have been so successful that multiple races, independently, have built civilizations spanning the stars. The galaxy teems with intelligent life, mechanical and organic. This success, this triumph of design, leads inexorably to this question: if we are so well designed, so fit for our purpose, must this fact demand the existence of a designer? The grand tapestry woven across the cosmos cries out for a designer to affix her name to it, to take credit for this work above all works. And yet no designer has come forward. All about the galaxy lie sophisticated and adaptable machines, yet how can it be there is no engineer to claim them?
Both Cybertronians and the other races of the galaxy have resorted to superstition to explain this apparent impossibility. The Humans of Earth invented dozens of hidden beings, more or less supreme, whose hands shaped what is. A sect of the Humans believes that they are rendered in the image of one of these ethereals. The fact that Humans are quite tangible and quite fragile must mark the end of that notion. The Riorans of the lately devoured Ummah believed that a seven-headed serpent shed its skin and made their system. Suffice to say, the Ummah will be remembered more for being the first victim of Unicron than for their fanciful theology. He That Hungers is their god now.
I need not recount our own creation myths in detail. Cybertronians speak of Primus and yet he is nowhere to be found. As each organic species inevitably regards its own race as the one chosen by the hidden supreme being, we have assembled ourselves out of the corpses of our gods. There is a fragment of Adaptus in all of us, and by having slain Mortilus our sparks shall live forever. The truly exalted among us, the Prime, carries Solomus’s casket inside his chest. It is perhaps fitting that our race, which has endured so much, is among the minority of intelligences who regard all of their gods as being deceased. All, that is, but one.
In one sense I envy the organics. They have learned enough to know that they came from the dirt, the product of billions of years of evolutionary processes by which chemicals gained the capacity to process logic. The organics have learned the truth of themselves, they have been let in on the cosmic joke that is their existence. Can we say that we are so wise? We know that each of us possesses a spark, but no more. Indeed, we denied that miracle for millennia, and in doing so nearly destroyed ourselves. In truth we are ignorant, and because we are ignorant, we are dependent.
Organic belief systems in hidden supreme beings whose will can only be known through self-appointed interpreters has been rightfully mocked ever since the first Cybertronians encountered the first organics. We saw through the deception: it was obvious that the priests, shamans, prophets, and wise men invented a link to a supreme power in order to aggrandize themselves and exploit the rest of their societies. Indeed, many organic societies are founded on this lie, which allowed a relative few to capture the masses and bend them to their own will.
And yet we succumbed to the same superstitions and allowed twelve Functionists to control the lives of billions. In a sense, this is understandable, because for all of our history we have confronted this same problem of design. A spark is created in a burst of light and heat, holding within it the potential for life. It melts the metal around it, the very surface of Cybertron itself, and from that living metal emerges a Cybertronian. Before the Cybertronian is even conscious he has been assigned an alt mode, which to uncritical and simple minds might appear to be fitted towards accomplishing a particular task. To the malicious mind, it is an inescapable designation.
Were this process an accident, the result of a bolt of lightning from the heavens, random and unknowable, perhaps we could have escaped our fate. But we know that this process is not accidental, or, at least, we know that it has a source.
All life on Cybertron emerges from Vector Sigma. Every alt mode is assigned through the process that originates from Vector Sigma. If Cybertronians have a living god, it is Vector Sigma.
Design implies a designer. A designer implies intent. Intent implies a rationale. A rationale can be known, debated, and interpreted. So long as there is a designer, she can be interrogated. If the designer is silent in the face of these questions, then he will gather priests and prophets about him who will profess to know his will. Thus, the fact that we arise from Vector Sigma, and that Vector Sigma remains silent, has assigned unearned power to liars, fools, and worse.
I am the first to have articulated a vision of Cybertronian society where power does not in some way flow from Vector Sigma. And yet even I am beholden to its power. Was I not made from a spark that was created by Vector Sigma? Does not the energon that fuels me flow from that source? For four million years of war even I did not think that I could conquer Vector Sigma, even though I knew that so long as Vector Sigma stood at the heart of our world and determined the future of our race, there was the chance that everything I had worked to achieve, a new golden age of justice and peace, could be overturned by one false prophet claiming to hear whispers in his aural circuits. Vector Sigma is the last, unbreachable citadel standing between Cybertronians and freedom. Unlike the organics, we know our designer, and through his deafening silence we were all condemned.
But no more. We are entering now on the Age of Progress, and the revelations it brings promise to at long last deliver control of our destiny into our own hands. We now know that the process of cold construction, for eons represented as the division of a Vector Sigma-derived spark, was in fact made possible by the First Matrix. It is perhaps no coincidence that this matrix was sacrificed in order to save Vector Sigma, burning one potential bridge to our independence. We know that colonists have lived and prospered for millions of years outside of Vector Sigma’s light. A barren moon can become fecund again.
While its influence was a certainty, Vector Sigma’s hold was absolute. With these mysteries come opportunities to overthrow the greatest dictator of them all. The Guiding Hand reaches out to us with the promise that we can know our origin, and from there tear Vector Sigma down from its pedestal. It is no god, it is not the Primus-who-never-was. It can be known, it can be understood, it can be conquered.
Imagine our world without Vector Sigma. There would be no authority to place one mode of creation over another, or to rank alt modes within a divine schema. Remove a mech’s origin and he becomes the sum of his choices and ambitions. Her spark can speak for itself and be judged accordingly. We may all become our own authors and at last be free.
Our conflict with Unicron will complete this process. Uncovering the key to defeating one false god will unlock the demise of another. All avenues of inquiry must be opened, all that we can learn through our science embraced. In a war between gods nothing can be regarded as sacred. All that is holy must be trampled and brought into our grasp. Our communion with the Hand will show us the way, and from them to us will pass the sword that will pierce Vector Sigma’s heart.
The time has come to write new values on new tablets. In slaying Vector Sigma, we will have to become great enough to be worthy of this greatest deed. Free of our dependence, we will again rise in the galaxy and push back the organic tide that has exalted in our apparent defeat. What they do not know is that Cybertron has been reforged. So too must its people. Once this task is complete, and we are masters of ourselves and our world, we will make the stars themselves tremble.
The following fragment of a larger work, titled After the Purification: Towards Progress, has been making the rounds in the Decepticon quarter on Iacon and on other Decepticon feeds. It isn't hard to find, as Megatron's most recently work is passed from bot to bot and posted on various post-War media. While it originated with the Decepticons, it is now available to all.
The Purification of Cybertron
When the time comes to tally the deeds of the people of Cybertron, how shall those who follow us make sense of the millions of years of turmoil that have defined our existence? We in the present can hardly know, even those of us who were there. Our sparks may be immortal, but the data etched in our brains drifts and decays, until the past becomes unknowable. Or, worse, unreliable. Even the eldest, the co-called sages and ancients among our race, can scarcely remember what happened at the dawn of their lives. The titans’ cryptic revelations are worse than if they stood silent.
Cybertron is oft called the Miracle Planet. There are other mechanical races in the universe, we have found, but none like us. In the way that an organic is the sum of chemical reactions and chains of crude molecules, so Stentarians and Lithones are the sum of circuits, gears, and the flow of electrons. Both are mere crude matter that has achieved a mirage of sentience. The Cybertronian begins and ends with his spark. The Functionists attempted to make the Cybertronian her altmode, and they were destroyed. Optimus Prime attempted to make the Cybertronian his moral code, and he too has failed. Only the truth remains: a Cybertronian is a creature with a spark. Unique, ineffable, a miracle personal to each mech. A light to guide every one of us.
But to the original question: how to make sense of the fall of the miracle planet and the near-extinction of its people? There are some who would say that the answer to this question is written on the byline of this work: Megatron of Tarn. If that is the case, then, surely they must read on, and know well what the tyrant to end all tyrants has to say.
We can begin with a superficial understanding of our past achieved by dividing the life of Cybertron into ages. Artificial though it may be, the act of constructing a narrative from the chaos of history forces us to identify those people, ideas, and events that have led us to where we are. I propose that I have lived in three distinct ages. There must be other ages, stretching back to whatever beginning we have, but for our purposes, three will do.
The first was the Age of the Primes, and its guiding philosophy was Functionism. This was the Age of Deception. In this era, we were gripped by the greatest lie that has ever been told: you are not a miracle. Cybertron is not a miracle planet. You are not a living spark, imbued with hopes and dreams and ambitions, you are not an autonomous person following the light within you as it illuminates your own path. You are an earth mover. You are a drill. You are a car. You are a dataslug. You are a gun. So perverse was the thinking of this age that by looking at the part of us most susceptible to transformation the Functionists determined that each of us was one thing and one thing only.
Why then, was this the Age of Deception, and not the Age of Ignorance? The Functionists could be forgiven if they were merely mistaken. But we know that they were not: the Grand Cybertronian Taxonomy was not a revelation, it was a weapon. The Taxonomy was brute law written in the guise of religion masquerading as science. We all know the story of Dominus Ambus, tasked with balancing the great ledger of exploitation so that the Functionists could disguise the fact that they had written the Taxonomy with only one goal in mind: to ensure they were at its apex. The Age of Deception was the Age of Hypocrisy.
The spark knows when it is being deceived. A Cybertronian recognizes hypocrisy and exploitation, even when every aspect of her society has been shaped to tell her that all is well and all is as it should be. I have written that “religion is the engex of the masses.” As a miner consumes engex until he can barely function, so as to disguise the aches from stress fractures in his superstructure and to silence the voice in the back of his mind asking whether a life of toil is all that there is, so too was religion used to silence the spark’s cries of pain. A spark knows that it is a miracle. Only within the framework of a corrupt religion could that declaration be reduced to a bare whisper.
At the end of the Age of the Primes, we were on the brink of extinction. Even though there were more of us than there ever would be again, the Cybertronian race stood perilously close to spiritual annihilation. Functionism renders a Cybertronian a Stentarian or a Lithone: crude matter that thinks itself whole. Had they prevailed, we Cybertronians would be as extinct as if every spark had been snuffed out. All know that this degradation was the cause of the war. For a time I labored to end this degradation without violence, even while the Primes, who above all else depended on this system for their own power, committed unspeakable violence to save it. This could not hold.
And so the war came.
I ended the Age of the Primes and ushered in a new Age of War. A war prosecuted by a new Prime, though he was not of that old Age. More will and must be written on the war, but that is not now my purpose. Suffice to say at this point that the war was necessary. Our race had nearly been destroyed and we had to fight to save it. We should call this the Age of Atonement, there is no other way to understand the trials of the Cybertronian race and the sacrifices that billions have made to the cause of liberation. Not one spark perished in vain: for it was in the forge of war that the new Cybertronian race will have been refined, purified, and made anew.
The Age of Atonement has now come to its end. But it is not the end of conflict, nor is it the beginning of peace. The lessons of that Age cannot be forgotten, nor the principles that brought it about left unfulfilled. But this new age must be acknowledged. Its arrival has been announced with the revelation of miracles: the rejection of a dead universe, the destruction of the First Matrix, the uniting of Cybertron with her colonies, the word of the Guiding Hand, and, yes, with the return of Unicron.
One miracle stands above the others: the purification of Cybertron. Our world died during the Age of Atonement, and now it has been reborn. As the war reforged our race, so too have we been given a new Cybertron. We are entering, at last, on the Age of Progress.
Or perhaps we are not. The worldender stands in the way of this new age. We have one last test before we have the privilege of making the Cybertron we have always deserved. To triumph over Unicron will demand the unity of our people. In this way, Unicron is a gift: the promise that the Age of Atonement might be over, and that the sins of Functionism and the hubris of the Primes can at last be overcome. We will realize this promise only if we are rightly guided and fierce in our determination.
This is the fight for which the Decepticons were forged. It is the fight for which I have been reforged. Unicron is not the great work before us. In defeating him, we will earn the right to take up the stylus and write upon the blank screen of this new Cybertron. We, who have learned the most from the Age of Deception and the Age of Atonement, must once again take up the mantle of progress and advance the Cybertronian race into the new Age.
We will be doubted. We will be castigated. We will be slandered. They will say we have forgotten what only we can know. They will, as they always have, resort to violence to silence us.
But we will not be deceived.
You will present yourself to me aboard the Lost Light at a time of my choosing. Soundwave will notify you of that time.
Megatron of Tarn
It has come to my attention that Soundwave designated you operational commander for all Decepticon forces while he took leave. You will report to me, without delay, the location, disposition, and combat readiness of my forces. You will report to me in person. Soundwave will apprise you of my location via secure channel when you are prepared to make your report.
Megatron of Tarn
TO: Brainstorm FROM: Ratchet
I got your request for the scan data. Hard to wrangle them these days. Now that those goons aren't beating down our doors, I can transmit. As the Chief Medical Officer I can release this data to you for purposes of the treatment of the affected. The data is to be used for this purpose only. If you use it for any other purpose I will know it and haul your aft in front of a board of inquiry so fast you'll marvel at how efficient I am compared to everyone else who has hauled you in front of a board of inquiry.
Ratchet of Protihex Autobot Chief Medical Officer
A significant datafile is attached, containing the scan information for every affected mech.
From: Ratchet, Co-CMO
RE: High Importance Message from Ratchet
It is my recommendation that you take Soundwave out of any further encounters until he's seen by Rung and perhaps had some sense pounded into that thick skull of his. During a procedure today to get him back into top form, he demanded I remove his Shoulder Mount cannon and said that if I didn't, he'd find someone else to. I removed it but its currently sitting in my office. He also spent a portion of the time absently staring off at the ceiling and muttering to himself. I've sent a report to Rung, recommending he get that nutter into his office to talk to him before he does somethign to hurt himself or others.