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@  Xellos : (14 November 2019 - 06:47 PM)

What type of vehicle does Boba Fett use for time travel? A Man-DeLorean.

@  TM2-Megatron : (14 November 2019 - 03:55 PM)

Admittedly, it's been a long time since I've been to a walk-in clinic, as I tend not to get sick (and the one time I do every 4-5 years, I prefer just riding it out at home), but the last time I went I'm pretty sure you could just show up, no appointment. It may be different in Quebec,though

@  Nevermore : (14 November 2019 - 02:36 PM)

One thing to note about health insurance in Germany is that we have a two-class system: mandatory health insurance is basically the economy class, while private health insurance is the business class.

@  Nevermore : (14 November 2019 - 02:32 PM)

My local doctor is actually a shared office with several doctors where you will get randomly assigned to one of the doctors available that day.

@  Nevermore : (14 November 2019 - 02:30 PM)

Also, employers are required by law to cover part of their employees' health insurance fees, so I only have to pay my part.

@  Nevermore : (14 November 2019 - 02:28 PM)

Basic examinations and sick notes (known as "work-inability certificates" in Germany) for the employer are covered by our health insurances by default.

@  TheMightyMol... : (14 November 2019 - 12:02 PM)

Around here, we can go to a walk-in clinic whenever, but might have to wait in the queue until there's a doctor available, which can take hours on a busy day. And then hope our insurance will cover anything.

@  wonko the sane? : (14 November 2019 - 07:38 AM)

There actually are a good number of clinics around here: but the walk ins require an appointment (what?) and are only done once a week. IF you can get an appointment, you see a doctor usually within 40 minutes, but good luck getting the appointment.

@  Nevermore : (14 November 2019 - 03:35 AM)

Depending on the day.

@  Nevermore : (14 November 2019 - 03:35 AM)

We have family doctors (called "house doctors") with regular office hours where you may need an hour or two of waiting time.

@  TM2-Megatron : (14 November 2019 - 12:50 AM)

Two weeks? That seems a little long; are there not a lot of walk-in clinics around you?

@  wonko the sane? : (13 November 2019 - 07:01 PM)

Does germany make it quick and easy to see a doctor too? Cause an emergency doctor visit can take two weeks out here, and an emergency ROOM visit can take 18-24 hours.

@  Nevermore : (13 November 2019 - 06:43 PM)

(Good thing is, under German law, if you call in sick during your vacation and see a doctor immediately, you get to keep your vacation days.)

@  Nevermore : (13 November 2019 - 06:42 PM)

Too bad. My plans wee to do two more overtime hours before having my last day of vacation for the year on Friday. Oh well.

@  Nevermore : (13 November 2019 - 06:41 PM)

So I'm currently on medical leave for a particularly stupid reason: Burned my back with a hot-water bag while sleeping last night. Though the doctor said I'm hardly the first person to have this happen to them.

@  Patch : (13 November 2019 - 06:11 PM)

Just a particularly odious example of the 90s era of depicting transgender women as either the subject of crude humor, or "Jerry Springer" material.

@  Ashley : (13 November 2019 - 04:55 PM)

I think Ace Ventura legit contributed to me spending years in self denial. I will never be ok with Jim Carrey.

@  Benbot : (13 November 2019 - 01:22 PM)

I thought he since changed his tune.

@  Tm_Silverclaw : (13 November 2019 - 12:51 PM)

Jim Carry Paladin?

@  Maximus Ambus : (13 November 2019 - 12:22 PM)

Don't doubt what he can do. Sonic the Hedgehog!

@  Paladin : (13 November 2019 - 11:51 AM)

not giving a dime to a transphobic antivaxxer.

@  wonko the sane? : (13 November 2019 - 11:25 AM)

It'll be a terrible movie if jim carrey phones it in. Otherwise it should be decent.

@  Paladin : (13 November 2019 - 10:45 AM)

sonics' still gonna be a terrible movie but at least they whined loud enough to make him look passable for a 2-minute trailer. "yay."

@  ▲ndrusi : (13 November 2019 - 10:37 AM)

But of course to annoying people there's no such thing as different decisions made for different reasons, there is only "I like it so it's right" and "I don't like it so it's wrong."

@  ▲ndrusi : (13 November 2019 - 10:35 AM)

Even if we pretend it's objective truth that they were both bad, then they were bad in very different ways.

@  ▲ndrusi : (13 November 2019 - 10:33 AM)

Sonic's previous movie design looked genuinely bad. The Transformers '07 designs just looked insufficiently like what certain loud and obnoxious parts of the fandom think Transformers are required to always look like.

@  Otaku : (13 November 2019 - 08:50 AM)

Um... Purple Monkey Dishwasher?

@  TheMightyMol... : (13 November 2019 - 08:25 AM)

Do we really need to have Every Movie Transformer Thread Ever in the Squawkbox?

@  Bass X0 : (13 November 2019 - 08:13 AM)

Sure it made money but that doesn’t mean it has appealing character designs. Lot of god awful fugly faces in the Transformers movies.

@  Otaku : (12 November 2019 - 08:25 PM)

@Liege My issue with Transformers (2007) were elements I thought were unnecessary.  I know it was supposed to just be a joke, but I didn't ever need to hear about "Sam's Happy Time". >.> Which, being in awe of the first "live action" TF-film, didn't even register until I'd already purchased and watched it on DVD a few times (after seeing it in theaters 3 times).

@  Liege : (12 November 2019 - 08:22 PM)

For all the Bayisms in the 07 movie, it was tempered by Spielberg as producer. Designs aside it was an enjoyable popcorn blockbuster about a boy and his first car who happens to be an alien from another planet. They sequels are just Bay going unchecked after he proved how much bank he could bring in.

@  TM2-Megatron : (12 November 2019 - 07:12 PM)

I didn't find the designs in the '07 movie to be that bad, personally. What got really offputting was how Cybertronians in general become such huge a-holes in the later films; the designs were very much secondary to their horrible personalities

@  Sabrblade : (12 November 2019 - 06:59 PM)

And yet, Transformers still broke the bank at the box office, opened up the brand to a whole new generation of fans, shot the brand up to mainstream appeal, and enabled all kinds of new collector-oriented lines and other avenues to come about. Not saying Sonic's movie will do the same for his series, but the 2007 TF movie certainly did more good than harm.

@  Bass X0 : (12 November 2019 - 06:09 PM)

Paramount changed Sonic due to fan backlash but refused to redo Transformers 2007 with new cgi appearances based on their classic forms everyone’s knows and loves, and can relate to. Trailer 1 Sonic is as appealing a design as 2007 Bumblebee...

@  TheMightyMol... : (12 November 2019 - 02:14 PM)

I don't. They're a pain in the ass to repair.

@  Benbot : (12 November 2019 - 12:48 PM)

I wish car companies would bring back flip up headlights

@  TheMightyMol... : (12 November 2019 - 09:07 AM)

Wear a hazmat suit. It's Walmart, they're used to weird.

@  wonko the sane? : (12 November 2019 - 07:54 AM)

2 inches of snow on the side of the house, 2 feet of snow on the deck. I hate this winter already.

@  Tm_Silverclaw : (11 November 2019 - 11:33 PM)

But that requires actually going IN walmart. ;P

@  Liege : (11 November 2019 - 11:22 PM)

Pro tip for anyone hunting the for the Walmart 35th exclusives: try the seasonal aisles rather than the toy section. I found the display with all the exclusives and a bunch of the reflector wave practically untouched amongst those novelty arcade machines and a bunch of frozen merch.

@  SHIELD Agent 47 : (11 November 2019 - 09:45 PM)

Although that does spark an idea for me. In a new continuity, Censere the Necrobot could be the herald Cityspeaker for Quintessa the Necrotitan just to play on their monikers utilizing Greek for dead, nekrós.

@  SHIELD Agent 47 : (11 November 2019 - 09:26 PM)

I hate to burst your bubble, Maximus Ambus, but 90% of things said in IDW turned out to be amnesiac half-rememberings courtesy of Adaptus or outright lies courtesy of Shockwave.

@  Jenny : (11 November 2019 - 08:54 AM)

The toy's designed to look like Wipe-Out, anyway.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (11 November 2019 - 08:14 AM)

Didn't they try to retcon that into a figure of speech because that connection went against everybody else's long-term plans?

@  Maximus Ambus : (11 November 2019 - 03:53 AM)

There's still some connection given Trypticon was created by Mortilus.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (11 November 2019 - 12:12 AM)

Yeah that toy doesn't exactly look like Necrobot.

@  Sabrblade : (10 November 2019 - 08:24 PM)

But.... it's just "Necro" not "Necrobot".

@  TheMightyMol... : (10 November 2019 - 05:10 PM)

But why does the God of Death need a giant space kaiju? Wait, never mind, answered my own question.

@  Maximus Ambus : (10 November 2019 - 02:15 PM)

Yowza I just realised Titans Trypticon comes with Necro AKA Censere AKA Mortilus.

@  Nevermore : (10 November 2019 - 01:15 PM)

I... think the best equivalent would actually be the British "There is room for improvement".


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Beasts of Bronze


6 replies to this topic

#1 Tindalos

Tindalos
  • Citizen
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Posted 11 May 2019 - 08:33 PM

A bronze age, Greek Mythology based transformers story.

 

Part 1: Alcaeus and the Lion

 

The sound of thunder woke Alcaeus, not the slow rumble of the heavens when lightning split the sky, but something louder, sharper, and with an echo that sent every animal fleeing through the undergrowth, heedless to the hunter and his smouldering fire pit.
A large deer and its fawns leapt across his body as he turned to grab his spear, narrowly avoiding their hooves. Thunder at dawn, and with no clouds in the sky. He smiled, his quarry was close.
He crept through the forest, the lone figure heading towards where the thunder had echoed from, even as the trees were still and silent. He'd been tracking the beast for nearly a week, but each time he'd approached it, the beast had slipped from his grasp. But as a hunter he was nearly unsurpassed, and all creatures had a lair, somewhere to call home. It was just a matter of finding it.
Peaking through the tree-line, his hopes were confirmed, a rocky outcropping, with a cave mouth heading into it, the strange tracks heading in and out of it. It was the beast's home.
Lying in wait, Alcaeus stilled himself, making sure not to disturb the dried grass that lay beneath him, afraid even their rustling would give him away.
And then the beast stepped out of the cave, and he froze in fear.
No wonder the animals had fled: the lion stood a full six feet at its haunches, and with its mane could dwarf any man. Its skin and mane even shone in the dawn's light like it had been cast out of bronze. If it was still, he would have thought it a statue, but no statue could move like that, so much like the lion it resembled.
It sniffed the air and Alcaeus muttered a prayer to Zeus that it would not scent him as its tail twitched and it stared upwards.
Mercifully, it seemed the gods were with him, as the lion turned once more, and retreated back into the cave. And Alcaeus was able to breath and think once more.

 

This really was suicide, that's all it could be. He could still picture its teeth and claws, looking more like the short-sword he had tied to his belt than any normal animal. He pulled the weapon out, and tossed it from hand to hand, considering it's weight. The lion was huge, his sword wouldn't make a dent in the bronze hide. There was no way he could injure it like that.
And yet, he couldn't return. He'd sworn to his cousin he'd hunt down and slay whatever beast had been plaguing the lands, and if he broke the oath his life would be forfeit.
He couldn't outfight it, he couldn't outrun his oath. Which lead him to one option:
He'd have to out-think it.
It wasn't an appealing thought, but he had little choice, and no matter how deadly it was, it was a beast. Alcaeus had killed lions before, even if they'd been smaller and less armoured. He'd hunted boars, and their tusks now spanned his helmet. Every creature had a weakness, every creature could be slain. Even gods could be, he thought grimly to himself.
Crawling towards the cave, he racked his mind for ideas. He could set a fire, but would it even hurt a beast of metal? He could lure it off a cliff and hope the fall killed it, but he didn't fancy his chances.
The only thing that came to him was a slim chance: The beast had sniffed the air. It could smell, and if it could smell, it breathed. And if it could breath, then he hoped to all the Olympians that he could strangle it.

 

The cave was silent, the air still. For a moment Alcaeus thought the beast was lying in wait, holding its breath just as he had, to turn the hunter into pray. But he could see it, resting at the base of the cave, its eyes seeming to glow in the darkness, providing light where it didn't penetrate in from above.
It seemed to be resting, maybe sleeping with its eyes open. It at least gave him a shot as he hugged the walls, creeping as close as he could while the beast lay still. It wouldn't take much, just one jump.
He held his breath, and leapt.
The lion roared in panic as it got to its feet, Alcaeus grabbed a hold of its mane, pulling himself up its back, until he reached its neck.
Wrapping his arms around its neck, he held on tight, pulling towards himself, hugging the metal and trying to will it to break, to dent, to show some sign of weakness as he held on for dear life. The lion bounded around the cave, shaking its body to try and fling him free, but Alcaeus clung on firmly, knowing his life depended on it.
It reared up, slamming into the cave wall, and almost crushing him. He felt the air flee his body, leaving him gasping as he didn't let up, even as it tried to scrape him off.
As he coughed and spluttered for breath, he swore his ears were deceiving him, as the lion's roars gradually started to sound like speech. He refused to let go, until he was sure it was no illusion: "Will you just let go of me, you miserable creature!" The beast yowled in frustration.
This was no trick, he released it, slumping to the ground as it leapt away, turning to face him -- Oh Zeus, it's eyes really did glow. It crept closer, and he could see row upon row of dagger-like teeth. Speaking or not, this was the end.
"What in the name of all that's sacred was that for!" It roared at him, making his ears ring as his jaw dropped. The lion was angry, but it was speaking. No instant death, no sudden swipe or bite. Just... questions.
He breathed in, hoping nothing was broken. "You scattered the sheep of Tyrins, you crushed their cattle, you sent their armies fleeing..."
The lion stared at him, its jaw as slack as his, and then it sat on its haunches. "You attacked me over some animals?"
"Those animals were the livelihood of Tyrins' herders. The city's men spent days trying to find them all, and recover what had been lost." He was still unsure this wasn't a hallucination, he may have hit his head pretty hard. The idea of a conversation with a bronze lion was almost laughable. In fact, he couldn't stop himself from chuckling in hysteria.
"Wait, what's--" the beast froze, unsure at what it was seeing. "For what it's worth, I'm truly sorry about your animals, I hadn't intended to cause problems. I've been tracking down some enemies, but they've been evading me. The sheep just... got in my way."
It held out a paw, and Alcaeus grabbed it to both of their surprise, and got to his feet. He glanced around the room for his helmet -- lost when the lion had been shaking him, and fastened it to his head. "I understand that, although convincing Tyrins..." he laughed. "I don't suppose I could take a trophy, I swore an oath to return when I had slain you, and if I break my oath..."
The lion nodded, flexed its claws, and then bit one off, dropping it at Alcaeus' feet. "That should suffice? I wasn't planning on staying long, I managed to find a target anyway, and was about to head off, so you can claim you killed me." It chuckled a little, strangely at odds with its animalistic body.
"Thanks, this should work. But, if you'll do me a favour, you're hunting something. I wish to hunt it with you," he placed the claw in his belt, alongside his forgotten blade. "My name is Alcaeus of Thebes."
Narrowing its eyes at him, the beast frowned. "And I am Lionizer of Ibex. You accompanying me is a risk you shouldn't take."
Alcaeus nodded, "ordinarily I would agree. But I swore an oath to slay you, and the gods frown on oath-breakers." He grinned. "And so I shall follow you around until one of us dies, you or I."
"It will be you," Lionizer nodded, "But, if you wish me to be there at your death, I am not bothered, return when you have claimed your glory, and I will take you with me." The beast nudged him away, towards the mouth of the cave. "But when we hunt, do not get in the way. I've no wish to have your death on my conscience."
Allowing himself to be pushed out of the cave Alcaeus stilled his heart. He'd not felt a rush like that in years, the fear, the excitement. It was a thrill; and as he set off to return to his cousin, the lion's claw by his side, he swore he'd follow Lionizer's path, even if it took him to the gates of Hades.

 

 

 

Part 2: The Blood of Gods

 

Alcaeus' looked across the fire, meeting his cousin's eyes, staring him down as the guards watched them. "I have returned from slaying the lion, the beast is dead, it will trouble you no longer."
"What proof do you have that it's dead? You have no scars, no wounds of battle. I know you're a great and powerful hunter, but to make me believe you slew the lion without sustaining any injuries while it crushed cattle with its mere step?" He looked at Alcaeus with a snear of displeasure, which didn't surprise him. After all, they'd never gotten on with each other even before Alcaeus' exile, and now he'd shown up asking for aid... Eurystheus could be forgiven for not wanting another mouth to feed, especially one who couldn't work.
There was no sense in antagonising him further, Alcaeus drew the sword-like claw from his belt, throwing it to the ground in front of them both, the blade clattering as it landed. "The claw of the lion that plagued Nemea. Torn from its body, and presented here, to you King Eurystheus." He held his gaze. This was true -- even if the beast was still alive -- and he had no reason to think his cousin could sense his deception. Still, the heat of the great hall's firepit wasn't the only reason he sweated as the king stood up to pick up the claw.
"By Hera's glory!" Eurystheus whispered, turning it in his hands as he tested the edge, drawing blood. "I'd heard what my soldiers had said, but to think such a beast exi-" he paused, realising that admitting he'd assumed it had all been a legend, and that he'd sent his cousin off on an impossible task was foolish. "To think it could be slain without injury, given what they'd said," he finished.
Alcaeus saw a chance to boost his reputation, and went for it "It was no easy task, I admit. I only survived because I didn't fight it directly. Instead strangling the life from it between my arms."
Eurystheus nodded, still enamoured by the blade. "Something you're good at." This time he stopped too late, after he'd realised his folly. "I mean, dear cousin..."
The soldiers around the room readied themselves, loosening their swords from their belts as they waited for Alcaeus' response.
He just stood there, his knuckles going white as he held himself back. And then finally he spoke: "I have completed the task you asked, dear cousin. And now I shall take my leave. I find your city no longer pleasing." He turned away, leaving the hall before he did something he'd regret.


Lionizer checked his map again, drawn in the dirt outside the cave he'd so briefly called his base. It was a poor replacement for the computers of the Hyperborea, but he wasn't in any hurry to return until he'd found his quarry. Still, he really did need to practice using his claws for detail work, especially with one missing.
The peninsula was anything but regular which made it hard to be certain where things were, but he was pretty sure he'd got a good track of three large Decepticon signatures and two smaller ones. He was considering heading off to deal with them before the human got back, but everything he'd said about oaths had struck a chord with him. He wiped the dust, rendering the map illegible, and started to scratch a new one, determined to get better at it.
He'd barely gotten halfway through the coastline when he heard the human returning. He turned his head and called out, "Alcaeus?"
"Lionizer!" came the reply as the human stumbled through the bushes. He looked exhausted, and was covered in filth and grime. "You're still up for a travelling companion?"
"Of course, although I'd prefer one better scented," he waved a paw to the south, "there's a river there for you to freshen up in."
"My thanks," Alcaeus took a careful sniff of his body, "Mine and everyone else's!" He forced some laughter as he went southwards.
Intrigued, Lionizer got up and followed him, watching as he stripped off and bathed in the river. "You were gone barely a week, does slaying dangerous beasts not get you glory here?"
Alcaeus shook his head, "Tyrins has become far less civil place, my cousin is most unwelcoming." He dipped his face in the clear waters, smoothing his beard and hair when he rose once more. "The company of beasts is preferable."
Lionizer nodded, there was obviously bad blood there, something he understood all too well -- it was why he preferred to work alone. "The wilds are more comforting to me as well."
"But enough of that, tell me of your hunt. If I'm to accompany you, I should know our quarry." Alcaeus looked up from his scrubbing, still trying to remove the last of the filth.
This was a difficult moment. Lionizer racked his brain, trying to think of a way to explain it to a primitive: "I belong to a kingdom known as the Autobots, who have long battled against a rival kingdom known as the Decepticons. My king directed us to hunt down a Decepticon ship, which we found near your world. We battled, it crashed somewhere in the ocean. The enemies I track are those who fled the crashing of their ship, and have hidden out on your world."
"So, we hunt evil lions?" Alceaus nodded as he finished cleaning, donning his clothes and armour once more.
"Not lions, my kind can take on other forms. Even I have a second form, although it would be of little use to you." Lionizer let out a small roar of laughter, which just confused the human more.
"Changing form? Like the gods?" he asked as Lionizer bent down, letting him mount his back. "It's said that Zeus seduced many in the form of birds or serpents. My grandmother swore that he visited her once in a golden form."
Lionizer shook his head, just gently enough to let Alcaeus know it was just in disagreement, rather than an attempt to dislodge him. "We're not gods. While my armour's tougher, and my claws are stronger, I can still die to other mortals. Just like anyone else, I follow the thirteen high gods."
As Lionizer started running, heading south through the woods, Alcaeus couldn't help but exclaim "Wait, there are only twelve high gods!"
Lionizer chuckled to himself. This certainly would be an interesting journey.


"Wait, that doesn't make any sense!" Protested Lionizer.
Alcaeus laughed, "A metal lion is telling me that the gods don't make sense?" He hung tight to the mane -- each metal hair the width of his fingers -- and probed deeper. "What's got you so confused?"
"Well, you mentioned Hephaestus was born by Hera after she became jealous of Athena. But how could she have done that if Hephaestus helped with Athena's birth?" Lionizer shook his head again, leaping another small cliff as they bounded towards his quarry.
"Both can be true, the gods are greater than us mortals. Just like that story you told about Megatronus and how his name was forgotten. If it's forgotten, why do you know it." As much as Lionizer hated it, Alcaeus had a point.
He just sighed, his displeasure hidden by the wind whipping past them "We're getting closer anyway, a league at most."
"You're changing the subject. Also that's not good news, we're near Lerna. That place has been cursed for a while." Alcaeus suppressed a shiver.
Lionizer slowed his pace, "Cursed?" he asked as he came to a stop. "What is it? It could be a clue to who's causing it."
"The water of the lake. There's ruins there and the water was said to heal, but for months now it's instead only poisoned those who drank from it." Alceus slipped off Lionizer's back. "They said it was from the gods, but if it's connected to your Decepticons, that could explain it. Some have even said they've seen serpents hiding in the waters."
"A lake, that's not good news." They walked together in silence as Lionizer weighed his options. "I don't do well with water."
"You sink?"
Lionizer nodded. "Like a stone. I'll have to figure some way to deal with them, hopefully without going too far into the water."
Another thought had occurred to Lionizer, but he kept quiet. There was little way to describe it to his companion, nor express how dangerous it was. He just had to hope he was wrong about the lake.


On the surface the water was clear blue, sparkling clean, no wonder people had thought it had healing properties. But light wasn't the only thing he could see, as he viewed the spectacle with senses Alcaeus couldn't dream of. And there it was, a purple welt, slowly spreading through the water. Pale and thin at this shore, but amongst the ruins across the lake it was a shining wound. A curse was right. "Energon," he muttered.
"Energon? Is that the fiend we hunt?" Alcaeus asked, already loosening his sword for combat.
Lionizer shook his head. "Worse. It's the food and lifeblood of my kind, but it's deadly to other species. And worst of all it can't be seen or felt by other's eyes."
He placed a paw on Alcaeus' shoulder, "I beg you, stay here. This may not seem a threat, but if you go there, death will find you."
"Death?" He looked across the waters. For a moment, Lionizer thought it wouldn't matter, that he'd still insist on coming -- and then he'd need to find some way to prevent it -- but instead Alcaeus released his sword and found somewhere to sit, watching the apparently deadly water and the ruins across it. "I'll wait, but come back swiftly. I'd rather not be here when I get thirsty." He smiled, which was a relief.
Lionizer laughed at the poor humour, and started off around the lake, keeping an eye out, trying to find the signal that had drawn him here. He just hoped he wouldn't need to learn to swim.


The ruins were quiet, mostly the shattered remains of homes and artificial hills. As he stepped across the bare foundations he began to fear that he really would be getting wet. He checked his radiation counter, using it as a makeshift compass as he headed towards the energon source.
There it was, a small pile of debris covering it, buried next to the lake, where it must have been seeping through. Lionizer scraped off the surface rubble, uncovering a large cylinder marked with the Decepticons' insignia: An energon refiner for certain. That meant there was a con around nearby, and one who'd at least tried to hide his fuel source.
That was a curiously principled move, lessening the likelihood the indigenous life of the planet would stumble over it. It obviously hadn't worked, poisoning the lake and all... but maybe there was a chance to negotiate.
He roared out a challenge, sending waves across the still surface of the lake and sending birds flying from the distant treeline.
And then sat, and waited.
His patience took nearly ten minutes to be rewarded, the lake rippling as something rose upwards, until at last the head and shoulders of a giant emerged from the water, striding towards the shore. "An Autobot?" an echoing voice emerged from the giant, which Lionizer slowly began to recognise as ma suit of armour than a cybertronian. It's base had originally been a Cybernaut, but now it had been augmented by endlessly writhing cables, each tipped with a snapping set of jaws. One pair even dragged with it some stone blocks, piling them on the shore to dry. "I didn't think you'd find me."
"I'm the best tracker of the Autobots," he smiled as he approached the figure. "Lionizer, and I think you and I may be able to find some common ground."
"Why?" The giant turned to look at him, although it was impossible to view who was piloting it through the shattered faceplate. "I'm just surprised you've not opened fire. It's what's kept you alive."
"You kept the energon refiner buried, even if it did seep into the lake. An attempt to preserve life that seems noble," remembering what he was talking to, he added: "For a Decepticon."
"Preseve life?" The armour started shaking, and after a moment Lionizer heard the bark of laughter emerging from within. "It's nothing of the sort!" A tentacle wrapped around the lion before he could move, squeezing him tight. More joined it, sealing off any chance for Lionizer to escape or resit "I just wanted to avoid anyone stealing it before I got the shuttle working."
Another tentacle moved to press a button on the armour's wrist. As if to echo the Decepticon's words, the water started bubbling, a muffled roar emerging as the dagger-like shuttle rose from the depths.
"And now," the armour hissed as it opened, the puny golden figure on the inside becoming obvious now, "You're not going to be able to stop me pillaging this world of anything valuable I can get my claws on!"


Alcaeus waited on the far side of the lake. He didn't move when he heard Lionizer's roar. Nor did he move when the giant had emerged from the depths. But once it entangled Lionizer, once the strange shape had emerged from the depths, he had no choice.
He tore off a piece of his tunic, placing it across his face. He'd had no sponge to prevent bad air, but the mask would need to suffice. He girded his loincloth, and made sure his sword was with him -- no matter how useless it would be.
Diving into the water, he started swimming across it. Death by poison was a risk, but he knew enough about what happened to captured soldiers to know he couldn't leave Lionizer to his enemy's whims.
Instead he made sure not to swallow any of the tempting water as he sped through it, heading towards the strange ship, or chariot, or whatever it was.
He just had to hope he'd be fast enough.


Lionizer struggled futilely as the con marched onto the shuttle, pulling at a rod that slammed the ship's doors shut, and activating the internal lights, revealing the mess of stonework and pottery that the con had recovered. It all seemed so useless to him. And that must have been obvious to the con -- either that or it just liked to talk. "I see you do not grasp the beauty of my collection. This primitive society has created such marvellous artwork. And of course, when it's destroyed by the Decepticon army, this artwork is all that will remain." It ran a tentacle across a stone carving. "And then its worth will be incalculable."
"You'd kill an entire people just to make money?" Lionizer spluttered with disbelief.
"Don't be so crass. I'd not be doing the killing, or at least not all of it. I just intended to take what I can, and make a profit from it." The con disentangled itself from the suit, leaving it -- and Lionizer -- paralysed. Instead it converted into many legged crustacean thing. "What do you think? "Octopunch's Cultural Museum," or "the Museum of Dead Civilizations?" It waved a claw at him in what may have been intended to be a grand gesture of magnificence, but what looked more like an attempt at grabbing attention.
Lionizer just laughed. "It's not going to matter, when I get free those relics will be returned to the humans. And I'll make sure neither you nor your con  will get a chance to hurt them."
"The humans don't care. They buried them, threw them away. They have no worth except for what I place in them. And when I've escaped this miserable world, the worth I can get from others." Octopunch scuttled towards the exit, "Do not worry, I'm just going to recover the energon refiner, and then we'll be on our way." It yanked on the rod, pulling the exit door's mechanism, and opening the ramp
When he'd left, Lionizer kept struggling, trying to find a way out of the confining metallic cables, but it was hopeless. "Scrap," he muttered to himself, "I should have left a way for Alcaeus to call for help." If nothing else, the human could warn the others. Save his planet.
For all he liked doing things on his own, it obviously wasn't working out.
"Well you can give me a way next time," came a voice down beneath him.
Lionizer tried move his head, futilely trying to prove the voice was just a hallucination, that the human wasn't so foolish as to come into the death zone. "You lunatic!" He snarled.
"I know," Alcaeus muttered as he climbed up the giant armour, and tried to pull Lionizer free from the tentacles. "But I couldn't just leave you."
"But now we both die!" He protested, but the human wasn't listening, nor was he having any luck freeing him. "Just run, escape. You may still have a cha-"
"Vermin!" Bellowed Octopunch, eclipsing the doorway with the bulk of the energon refiner. "You brought a human aboard my shuttle!" It scuttled towards the armour, leaving Alcaeus with no option but to jump, hoping the pottery would break his fall.
It was a sharp, painful landing, but at least the pots were softer than the floor, especially now they'd become brittle with water.
Octopunch turned. Enraged by the desecration of his relics he roared wordlessly, his claws snapping at Alcaeus as he charged.
Running wasn't an option. And like this, the fiend had no neck to strangle, so he couldn't repeat that. He reached out for the nearest thing he could hold, the rod attached to the shuttle's door mechanism. To his surprise it came free, and he shut his eyes, swinging for the crab-thing as he felt death approach.
Thunder rang through the shuttle, and then there was silence.
Alcaeus finally opened his eyes, staring at the scene in front of him, the Decepticon slammed against his ill-gotten bounty, the stone and his shell seeming equally crushed. It moaned in agony, and then was still.
He looked at the rod in his hands, which now seemed more like a club, the head rounded but with a mouth to hold onto things. It had struck the crab like a thunderbolt.
Gripping it tightly, he ran up to the giant, striking at the tentacles still gripping onto Lionizer, breaking them off and freeing him from their grip.
Now liberated, Lionizer yanked at what remained of them, throwing them at Octopunch to weigh him down. "Are you okay?" He asked, looking closely at Alcaeus's eyes.
"That should be my question! With this club I'm invincible!" But he was already feeling overly warm, sweat pouring from his head. "I... just need to lean against something." He went to the wall, slumping against it. "I just need to rest." When did he get so tired. When did it get so dark?
He could barely hear Lionizer, he'd have to tell him to speak up, get him to explain what a bridge had to do with anything.
But that could wait until he'd rested. His eyes shut, and everything went black.


Edited by Tindalos, 11 May 2019 - 08:33 PM.

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#2 Tindalos

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 08:58 PM

Amongst the Giants

 

Memories swam in his head as consciousness started to return: his wife and children, their deaths and his exile... His eyes slowly flickered open, revealing the great bronze vault above him. He stared at it -- trying to will away the images that still lingered in his mind's eye -- before slowly rising to a seated position.
He felt awful, reminding him unpleasantly of the rites of Dionysus, although at least this time he didn't feel the burning bile that also accompanied those rites. Just the guilt that plagued him whenever he indulged too heavily.
He looked around, absorbing his surroundings: a hall as great as any Eurystheus' or Creon could dream of; the shining red metallic walls alone would have been worth the ransom of all the kings of Achaea.
"I must be dreaming," he muttered. Ignoring the pain throbbing through his head he forced himself to stand, and started to explore. He walked until he reached an edge -- revealing he was on a strange plateau above a drop that would probably shatter his bones, above a floor seeming to be made from the same bright metal of the walls.
He sat down on the edge, staring at the depths beneath him. He had to admit he was wrong; this was no dream. For one thing, nothing had ever heart this much in in a dream.
Nor could he imagine where he'd the idea for the strange devices that were placed on another plateau nearby: They were all so foreign to him that they couldn't be drawn from his imagination. They had to be real, otherwise they would have made some sense.
Instead he just had to wait, wondering if he was in Hades or Olympus -- or somewhere even stranger.


"How's he doing?" Lionizer asked; pacing down the corridor and glancing back at Minerva. "I know you said he'll live, but these organics are fragile.."
She adjusted her grip on Lionizer's back a little, and shrugged her wings. "It's a difficult case. I may be a xenobiologist, but each new species is a new experience. What I can say is that he would have died if you hadn't brought him back here. His exposure to raw energon..." she shook her head, and shrugged again. "It was a miracle he survived anyway."
"Then I'm glad you're a miracle worker," he said; rearing up to unlock the door. They walked into the medical bay, only to see the patient awake and on the edge of the table. "Alcaeus!" He called out, bounding forward and leaving Minerva fluttering in his wake.
"Lionizer!" He stood up -- trying to ignore the pain running through him with every movement -- "So this is your home?"
"In a manner of speaking," Lionizer glanced back at Minerva; "this is our ship, as we travel from place to place."
"A mighty vessel indeed," Alcaeus turned to face the newcomer; shaking the fog from his head as the insane scale of her body became obvious: She was an owl; her body seemingly made of silver or tin -- as astounding as the walls surrounding them --she was decorated with shining whites and rich reds, which made her all the more a sight to behold. But she was also immense. While Lionizer was huge -- even for a lion -- she was half his size. How could anything like that fly? His jaw dropped. "How?"
"I am Minerva, a healer." She stretched her wings and shone like the sun -- light enveloping her, concealing the details while her shape changed, her body grew; until the light receded to leave a giant instead of an owl -- a colossal humanoid figure smiling with a beatific face. "I saved your life."
Alcaeus stared in awe of the sight. "By the gods," he muttered; turning to Lionizer: "I thought you said you were not divine?"
Minerva laughed, too busy looking through the strange tools to spare a glance at him, "I'm no goddess, just my kind are rather different than yours."
Lionizer nodded, climbing up onto the plateau, which Alcaeus realised must have been merely a table to these giants. "Yes, I'd warned you we came in many forms. Many of us adopted the shapes of animals to fit in better."
"Although an owl the size of a wolf would be obvious anywhere," Alcaeus still couldn't believe it; watching Minerva while she examined an object that resembled nothing so much as a tablet made of glass.
"True, but I find flight useful. You'll be pleased to hear you are recovering well, we stopped you from dying, and you're recovering... slowly."
"From the poison?" He asked, looking at his hands, remembering the sensation before he'd fallen unconscious. "It truly was a danger, I should have listened."
"Yes," Minerva said; "I had to remove so much dead and dying flesh and regrow it," Alcaeus' jaw dropped again. "Don't worry, you'll live... but it was risky. I'm still not happy with all the results..." she sighed; "but thank you for rescuing Lionizer."
"Yes, thank you, even if it was a foolish move," Lionizer nodded; still anxiously examining Alcaeus' body for any wounds or scars. Finally he sighed. "Of course, this just shows my foolishness in letting you come along. I may have been more cautious if I'd thought about going in witho-"
"That's nonsense." Alcaus banged his fist on Lionizer's snout, and then flinched a little when it hurt him more than the beast. "You said it yourself you could have left me some way to warn others. And the very reason why I met you is sign enough that you need some native assistance."
"Oh, this should be good," Minerva laughed once again, putting down her slate and crossing her arms.
"I was sent by the king of Tyrins to hunt and slay a fierce beast that had caused trouble, including killing cattle." Alcaeus couldn't be certain, but Lionizer was looking a little embarrassed. "While obviously slaying him was out of the question, I'd needed to offer the king some sign of his defeat, or he'd send more hunters after him."
"I see," she looked at Lionizer; "the entire point of disguise is to avoid trouble." She shook her head in disbelief.
"The cattle were in my way, and it was a misstep," he tried to wave it off; "but yes, if you stay out of battle, I believe you could be of use."
Alcaeus nodded in agreement, "well, I'm not one to shy away from a fight, but I understand your point. Your armour is too tough to break through, and that club was just a moment of luck..." he looked up at Lionizer and furrowed his brow in thought "What happened to it anyway?"
"He brought it with you," Minerva interrupted; "it's with your clothing," she opened a part of the wall; pulling it out and withdrawing his tunic, armour, and the club. "Although this is actually not a club, but a tool."
"Really?" Aclaeus asked -- taking the opportunity to dress himself again -- "what kind of job would such a powerful thing do?"
"You saw it," Lionizer chuckled, jumping down onto the floor; "it's a power booster rod, we use it to hold things in place, or to move heavy objects with a simple touch. I suppose it works as a weapon well enough."
"Well, I have a weapon... It worked strong enough against that crab." He tested the swing a few times, "maybe I wouldn't need to stay out of the way if I could only have armour like yours, something strong enough where the claws of such fiends couldn't harm me, and no poison of your kind or mine could reach me."
Minerva picked Alcaeus up with one hand, "yes, a suit of armour..." she looked at Lionizer, ignoring the human's protests and struggles as she held him within her grip. "Maybe we should go see Hoist, you need to have your paw looked at, after all."
Sighing, Alcaeus moved towards the door, opening it with his paw, one claw still missing. "That won't go well, but I suppose this may arouse their interest."
Carefully Minerva placed Alcaeus onto Lionizer's back, and then shone once more -- the light flaring, and then withdrawing along with much of her size, once again her body changing into that of an owl. She fluttered down, taking her place behind Alcaeus, who held on tight to the metallic mane. "This Hoist, a dangerous sort?"
"Far from it, they care overly much," Minerva noted as they left the room, venturing out into the rest of the vessel.

Alcaeus had spent enough time with these Autobots to already know their ship wouldn't be the same as the penteconters he'd sailed on before. Certainly there was no sky above them, only more metal, and everything dwarfed him in size, including the rest of the crew.
Immense beasts of strange alloys paced or flew down the hallway, sparing only the briefest of glances at the diminutive intruder, and one brazen sky blue hawk not even doing that, speeding down the corridor as if he was pursued by all the denizens of the underworld.
He kept his jaw rigid, trying not to embarrass himself by gawping at every strange sight that passed them by, even as some changed forms into colossi like Minerva had. But even then the question burned in his mind, and he was not able to resist asking: "So Lionizer, why do you not change form like the others?"
He laughed, throwing his head back and almost flinging Alcaeus to the ground with the suddenness, "I could do, but it would serve no purpose. Instead of a humanoid form, I turn into a weapon, one so large only another Autobot could wield me." He stopped, reaching another imposing doorway, "And I have yet to meet someone worthy enough to do so."
Minerva rolled her eyes as they crossed the threshold. "By worthy he means someone who would actually put up with him for long enough. He's almost as bad as Hoist."
She pointed with her wing, directed at the figure hunched in the distance, their metallic hide verdigrised with age apart from the two great spears jutting from his shoulders. It turned upon hearing its name, startling Alcaeus so much he couldn't stop his jaw from dropping. Unlike Minerva, or even the others he had seen, Hoist seemed utterly unlike a human, its mouth a single blank slab of metal, its eye a single thin line, golden light burning out. "Minerva, you wound me!" they bellowed, in a voice full of mirth despite everything. "I'm nowhere near as bad as him!" they waved an arm which ended not with a hand, but looked to Alcaeus like another spearhead. "I take it this is the guest he brought here?"
Alcaeus nodded, not trusting his voice to work when confronted with such a creature. It looked like a monster, not some beast like the others, but even in this humanoid form it was rough shaped, more like a boulder than any craftsman's work. And yet as it leant forward, its blazing eye meeting Alcaeus' gaze, there was a strange warmth in its voice. "This land does possess a wealth of marvellous creatures. I am Hoist, I keep the Autobots here in fighting shape," they reached down -- taking Lionizer's paw in its singular hand; "even if some do insist on causing trouble." Hoist sighed, "the damage is minor, but you are in need of repairs. If you would consent, I could have you in peak condition within the week. I can have the claw fixed within the day as well, although it would be best to entirely replace them all to match."
Lionizer sighed. "We did not come here for me, although a new claw would be useful. Instead this human--" he bucked his back, making Alcaeus bounce in the air a little before falling back to his mane, "--would like to accompany me in hunting down the Decepticons. But if so, he'd need to be safe."
Hoist nodded, "I had heard about the energon poisoning, a suit to ward it off?"
Finally finding his voice, Alcaeus croaked out a response: "Amongst other things. Whatever metal you use is obviously not bronze, despite the appearance. It could shield me from the attacks of these Decepticons, and allow me to contribute."
"Certainly it would help you avoid getting squashed," Hoist said, pressing down onto Alcaeus' head with a surprising gentleness; "I could have something made while you recover from the sickness," they tilted their head; "you couldn't have thought you would be entirely well so soon afterwards? You should take time to rest while I build it, build up your strength."
Hoist then grabbed a hold of Lionzer's mane, "and you should take the opportunity to be repaired as well. Hunting Decepticons is no job to perform when dented and broken."
They held tight, not letting go even when Lionizer tugged back, only releasing him when at last Lionizer called out "Fine, I suppose the Decepticons can't cause too much havoc in a week."
"Oh, I have no doubt they can," Hoist said; "but there are more of us than just you."
Turning their back on the three of them, Hoist returned to their work, "maybe ask Lancer to hunt down some of them. She's almost as good a tracker as you after all." With a wave of their spear-like hand, Hoist dismissed them, already engrossed in this new project. Leaving the three of them waiting by the door, until they finally left Hoist to their labours.
"I see what you mean about the attitude," Alcaeus laughed after the door slammed shut like a curtain descending -- he'd learned to accept such miracles -- "It seemed difficult to deal with, it even ignored you," he turned to Minerva.
"Hoist cares, but in their own way." She nodded, "I wasn't injured, or new, so I was not their concern. But trust me, if you need something made or repaired, their are few better smiths."
"I just wish they'd get a better bedside manner," Lionizer grumbled; "and I suppose we'd better meet Lancer."
"You should." Minerva rose into the air, her wings seeming to barely move as much as would be necessary, even for a normal bird. "Alcaeus needs to recover. I'll make the laboratory more comfortable to their needs, as well as making sure there will be no long term problems."
She reached out with a taloned foot, and grabbed him. "Wait! Surely I can walk to your workshop!"
Minerva shook her head, "not quickly, and there would be the risk of being trampled," she was already winging her way back along the corridor while Lionizer slunk off. Leaving Alcaeus trapped. He sighed, unsure he'd be able to free himself, even were he not still ill. He'd have to put up with the disgrace, and hope his stomach would hold out.


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#3 Tindalos

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Posted 15 June 2019 - 02:40 PM

Selene's Gaze.

 

"So how do you feel?"
Alcaeus stretched his arms, limbering up. "A lot better, thanks to your assistance." He looked up at where Minerva was hovering, keeping watch as she hung in the air with the barest of movements. It still unnerved him, but he'd started to get used to the sight.
"Well, you've made a lot of improvements over the past few days," she grabbed one of the slates nearby in her talons, and then glowed brightly, metamorphosing into her humanoid body as she examined it. "Assuming you don't go exposing yourself to that level of danger again, you should be perfectly healthy once more."
"I'm glad to hear it," Alcaeus nodded, examining his body for any sign of scarring. From what she'd spoken of before, they'd had to cut and stitch him like a priest of Apollo -- and yet he still couldn't find a scrape or wound. It seemed whatever secrets Minerva possessed, they may as well have been magic.
It was one of the many things that had started to worry him. Another was her comment of days. Here on their ship, there was no day or night, no lamps hung on the walls. Just a soft illumination that shone from the ceiling. He had no way of knowing how long time passed, as he had no way to keep time. He just had to trust them, and sleep whenever he was tired.
She didn't seem to notice his inspection, or at least pretended ignorance as she examined the slate in silence -- only for them to both look over as the door rose; allowing Lionizer to enter, along with another companion.
"Greetings Minerva," the newcomer nodded to the scientist, and then knelt in front of Alcaeus. "And greetings to you as well, human." She held a hand across her chest in a salute, a broad smile showing on her face. "I am Lancer, at your service."
"At my service?" He spluttered, kneeling in turn. "That's an honour I do not deserve, truly I can only thank you for your hospitality. " He glanced up at her, trying to avoid directly staring. Unlike the others, she wore armour, a full panoply of of the bronze-like metal they used everywhere, showing she was obviously a warrior. She even had what looked like a bow strapped to her back. Even apart from her obvious martial skills, her body beneath it was deep purple. By any standards, she was important, maybe even their queen.
To his surprise, she burst out laughing. "You must have me confused with someone else, I'm no leader, just a warrior." She offered her finger to him, letting Alcaeus take it in his hand and gently tugging him upwards, making him stand.
"Then what service are you offering?" He glanced again at her bow, which looked like it would pierce walls rather than armour and shuddered. A weapon that powerful would change how wars were fought forever.
Lionizer spoke up, raising his paws and head onto the table. "We thought you may be tired of hanging onto my back while we travel, so Lancer volunteered to be your ride."
"And as Lionizer has forgotten to mention," Lancer said, ruffling his mane, "I can also help you track down Thunderhoof."
Alcaeus was silent, looking between the two of them, and then to Minerva. "I take it he's our next target?" He finally asked, when it was clear they weren't going to explain without prompting.
"Seems so, he's been in the Aegialus region," Minerva said, tapping the table-platform. At her touch the table's surface rippled like water; and to Alcaeus' fascination, turned into a map of his homeland. He stepped over a mountain range --forcing himself to remember his colossal companions were no gods, and this wasn't the view from Olympus -- and tried to focus on where Minerva gestured. A small purple dot amongst the greenery of the coast, leaving a bruise-like path in its wake.
He frowned -- this was a new experience, but he could still see a second dot, in the mountains inland to the west. It seemed to him like the moving dot was seeking to join up with it. "And this would be a second one?"
"Snarler," Lancer confirmed. She touched the table in turn, and each dot expanded into an image, a painting more lifelike than any he'd seen before. "This is him," she pointed at the figure hiding amongst rocky outcroppings: a hunched beast, a boar with twisted, spiralling tusks. "A brute and a thug, who's a known comrade of Thunderhoof." The other figure was even harder to spot -- nearly a blue blur between trees -- but Alcaeus could make out the branching antlers suggesting a stag.
Lionizer spoke up, "Thunderhoof joined up with the Decepticons for what he could get, rather than any true belief. If we could convince him to stand down, he might be able to lead us to the others. But if he's met up with Snarler, he'll want to avoid looking weak."
The four of them stared at the dots. Alcaeus tried to estimate how far apart they were, given his knowledge of the region compred to this supernatural viewpoint. It was still too close for comfort. "How soon can we get there?" He asked, examining the map. "I don't see where your ship is docked?"
Lancer stared at the other two, "He doesn't know?"
Alcaeus turned to look at Minerva and Lionizer as they shared a glance. "It's hard to explain," he began.
"If we take him to the bridge, he can get a good view," Minerva chimed in meeting his questioning gaze and giving a weak smile. "It will be a lot to take in."


The bridge -- as Minerva had called it -- seemed nothing of the sort. The room they'd taken Alcaeus to was a large round chamber, occupied by an archway in the centre of the room. The room itself was strangely decorated, most of the walls painted into a mural of the night's sky, stretching on into infinity.
The one wall which was different was covered with a dome of blue, green, and white. Lionizer and Lancer led him to it, until he could see the mural was moving, the white wisps swirling around the green and blue patterns.
Lancer took a deep breath and pointed at a leaf-shaped region. "This is your home."
He stepped closer, climbing atop Lionizer's head to stare at it. "My home..." He recognised it from the map earlier, the leaf was the Peloponnese peninsula. He could the Troad across the sea, which was covered with the swirling white wisps that must have been clouds. Everything was so small -- the entire region seeming like he could reach out and touch it. He fought the urge to do so.
He continued staring, his eyes moving across the world -- viewing places that he didn't recognise, that must be places spoken of by merchants and in legends. And yet there was still more. Lands across great seas. The world was huge -- far bigger than he could have imagined and yet it all looked so small.
A thought sprang up to him "If that's the world... then where are we?" He craned his head, as if he could see it on the dome.
"Not there." Lancer replied. "This is your world. We're beyond it," she touched the mural, bringing up symbols in what must have been their language, and the mural moved. The dome shrunk -- becoming a circle -- and a second circle appeared. The shadows and light across the grey surface a familiar one, although never seen like this before. Now he could see the cup-like pockmarks blighting the surface, the darkened patches where canyons marred the surface Lancer gestured to a small point within one of the craters, "We're here, on your moon. We can watch over your world, keeping an eye on it."
"And when we need to, we can use the space bridge," Lionizer raised a paw to point at the archway, "to reach the surface. I brought you through it when you were sick."
Alcaeus stood still, trying to keep himself calm. "You watch us from far above, viewing the entire world as though it was a mere painting. You can travel between worlds in an instant! You can heal the sick without leaving scars, you possess wealth beyond any kingdom of the world, your bodies change form as you wish and are made of pure metal!" There was no way he could stay calm now -- or stay still -- backing away and only stopping when he reached the edge of Lionizer's head, trapped by the plunging drop "And you mean to tell me you're not gods?! Or no... this is madness again!" He fell to his hands and knees, his stomach revolting against everything he'd seen. "Hera forgive me..." He prayed desperately for what seemed the first time in months, trying to hold on as the world twisted outside his grasp. He'd believed his homelands had been the greatest of the world. Immense and unconquerable. And yet the lands he'd known for all his life were tiny, his world was tiny. This was proof, and yet he couldn't wrap his head around the enormity of it.

"This is not madness," Lancer said, reaching to him, her finger lifting his chin. "Nor are we gods."
"But-" he tried to protest.
"If a wolf looked skywards and saw an eagle flying, he might say the eagle was a god because flight was beyond his grasp." She continued, "We are not divine. Merely different. In time your kind may become like us, or even surpass us."
"And of course, you defeated Octopunch pretty easily," Lionizer chipped in. "If he's a god too, then divinity is not worth much."
Lionizer's words reminded Aclaeus. "The club," he said, focusing on it. He tried to view it as a pillar of stability. The world still swirled around him, his head still dizzy. But if he imagined he could feel its weight in his hand, he felt he could stand once more. "Yes," he muttered "I did wound him with it."
Doubts and fears were still there. What had happened to him, what the world truly was, the powers of these colossi. But they could be hurt, they themselves claimed they were mortal. He breathed deeply, his stomach calming.
"Minerva was right," he said.
"It's been known to happen," she called, stepping into the room along with Hoist. "Are you okay?"
"No," he said, forcing a smile to his lips. "But who could be?"
"Culture shock?" Hoist asked, as they trudged closer. "Not to be unexpected, but not easy to prepare for either." They held out their fist in front of Alcaeus and opened it slowly. "Perhaps a gift will help somewhat."
In the palm of the colossus's hand rested a panoply of armour. Carefully -- still not trusting his own feet -- Alcaeus stepped over. A breastplate sat in the centre, modelled on his own body, the metal so polished that he could see his face staring back. The sight of his face -- still unchanged -- calmed him even more. He raised it above him, sliding it over his shoulders and tying the straps with some fabric he'd never seen before.
A pair of vambraces accompanied the breastplate, he donned them easily, one after another. "Those are my masterwork," Hoist said, "those vambraces can act as a communicator, sending messages to Lionizer or back here. We can also send them to you." The giant leaned in closer, "making something so small was a real challenge. I thank you."
Alcaeus held up his right vambrace, seeing a small ruby on it. He touched it, now barely surprised by the aurora of light that emerged. The faces of his four companions arising like spectres. He reached out, touching Hoist's face. "Thank you..."
The face nodded as Hoist themself did, both of them acting in turn. "Is this how you show the world on the walls?" Alcaeus asked, struck by the similarity of the mimicking spectre.
"It's similar," Hoist agreed, their voice echoing as it came from both the giant's body and the vambrace at once "Although that is visual only."
"I see..." Alcaeus touched the gemstone again, relieved as the vision faded. "I do not wish to seem ungrateful, but no helmet? My head is not as tough as yours."
"No one's is," Hoist agreed. "I thought instead of a helmet, you would wish something more interesting." They turned to Minerva, "If you would?"
She nodded, bending down and holding out her fist, opening it up to reveal "--a cloak?" Alcaeus could barely believe it. It seemed halfway between metal and cloth: it rippled like any other fabric, but it shone like bronze, cool beneath his fingertips. And at the top was a lion's head.
"Lionizer filled me in on how you two met, and of the promise you made to your kinsman." If they'd had a mouth, Hoist would probably have been smiling. "From what I have heard of your people's culture, if you slay a beast you gain ownership of its skin. And so after vanquishing your deadly foe, you are entitled to a piece of him."
Alcaeus couldn't help but smile as he laid it across his shoulders, tying it around his neck. The hide was heavier than a real one, but that wasn't surprising. "So, this will protect me?"
"Yes, though flexible, it's still made out of the same metal as your other armour." Hoist nodded, "So you can also use it as a shield, holding it between you and your foes."
"Then I just need my club, and I'll be ready." Alcaeus smiled, forcing his doubts back, focusing on the mission ahead. "Let's go hunt us a deer."


Edited by Tindalos, 15 June 2019 - 02:41 PM.

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#4 SoS

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Posted 17 June 2019 - 10:40 PM

:love  :love  :love  :love

 

 

--SoS



#5 Tindalos

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 06:37 PM

Part Five: Beyond and Beneath the Earth

 

If Alcaeus had tried to imagine what the journey home would be like, he'd never have come close.
As he walked through the tunnel, his mind tried to comprehend his surroundings, the colours that swirled and danced like waves on the sea, a churning formless mass that seemed to have only two points of stability: the entrance, through which he'd stepped a moment before; and the exit. An archway that stood what seemed mere yards ahead, but could have been a mile for all he knew.
He just had to keep walking, hoping that the portal that seemed ever-distant actually was coming closer. He shut his eyes, blocking out the whorl of impossible colours, and took a deep breath.

 

"Welcome back!" Lionizer's voice greeted him, as he slowly opened his eyes. He swore he'd only shut them briefly, but he was already out the far side, a sunny plain greeting him as his ally stretched his body. "It's good to be on solid ground again."
Alcaeus turned to look at the portal, the colours muted from here, fading into black and white. "What was that?"
"We call it the space bridge," Lionizer waved a paw, trying to find the right words. "It makes a portal through what we call transwarp which is..." he stopped and stared at Aclaeus. "Honestly we may be better off asking Lancer."
They stood, looking silently at the portal until Lancer emerged, letting it dissolve away into nothingness behind her. "This is your homeworld?" she glanced around, "impressive!"
"You've not been here before?" Alcaeus asked, watching as she stretched her body -- he wondered just how necessary the action was for beings of metal -- and she nodded.
"I've been working on the ship since we've been here. Tracking down the Decepticons from the skies, while bots like Lionizer searched on land. But nothing compares to the rush of the hunt."
"I was trying to give Alcaeus the rundown in how the space bridge and transwarp work." Lionizer said, padding up. "But I'm no expert. I don't suppose you could explain them?"
She snorted with derision. "About the only bot on board who understands the mechanics is Hoist, although I doubt they know more than how to repair them. They say transwarp's what exists outside of the cosmos... but that's more for scientists to argue over than warriors."
"Outside the cosmos," Alcaeus repeated. "The formless abyss?" he'd heard a priest speak of it once, the original place before light, darkness, earth or sky came into being. He shuddered, being doubly sure that it was a place mortals shouldn't dwell.
"An abyss is a good way to describe it." Lancer said, nodding "While I know little about it, there's nothing there but what we take in."
That did little to still Alcaeus' nerves. The idea of somewhere being so empty, so devoid of life... It seemed alien to him, he still had to wonder if there was anything there, hiding from their senses. It wasn't a pleasant thought.
"Of course, this is all too philosophical for warriors such as us," Lancer continued. "Thunderhoof is out there, and every moment we wait is a moment he's ahead of us."
She stepped away from the others, into an empty space, and then her body started to shift.
Unlike when Minerva changed shape, there was no glowing -- possibly because she had kept her size, with no miraculous shrinking -- instead he could watch as panels folded and twisted, curves rising out what had once been her legs and merging with others to become wheels, her armour plating moving to one direction, leaving a large gap behind her. It was only when she finished -- the grinding sound of parts moving against one another silenced -- that he recognised her for what she was. "A chariot?"
"I thought you would appreciate riding in style." Her voice arose from nowhere, her head concealed within the chariot, and the only face it had was still. A large red mask affixed to the front -- a symbol he'd now realised had also marked out Lionizer, Minerva and Hoist.
He ran his fingers across it. "A sign of allegiance?"
"Yes, it helps marks us out from the Decepticons. This red face is a symbol of hope for those they have attacked."
"Hope's a dangerous thing," Alcaeus noted, clambering into the chariot. "No horses?"
"No sense getting others involved," Lionizer said, backing against the chariot's yoke which joined to him, metal melding with metal. "Lancer could travel by herself, but this keeps us together."
With a great bound they were off, speeding across the plain -- Alcaeus holding firm to the rim of the chariot -- heading towards the distant wooded hills where their quarry was hiding.


The signs of Thunderhoof's passing were obvious: trees lying bent and broken across the forest floor, inch deep impressions marking where his hooves had been -- pressing into the sun baked earth as if it was fresh clay.
"No wonder he's known as Thunderhoof, Alcaeus muttered, staring at the trail of destruction. Lionizer and Lancer barely slowed, with only a brief sound of acknowledgement.
He recognised what they meant -- all of them were hunters, and now they were approaching their prey. Only the briefest snatches of conversation were permitted to avoid alerting their prey.
It was evident Thunderhoof stopped or moved for nothing: they rode along his path following broken trees, shattered boulders, and the crushed remains of a boar that had unwisely tried to get in his way.
Lionizer leapt across a gap, carrying Lancer and Alcaeus through the sky for a moment -- only to come sinking back to the ground with a movement so silent that Alcaeus needed to check they were actually touching it, rather than floating.
Up ahead, the sounds of devastation started to echo, deer and birds appearing as they fled from the harbinger of doom that was Thunderhoof.
A blue blur in the distance gradually got larger, resolving itself into the shape of a deer moving at high speed, it's every step cracking the sound beneath it with a low rumble.
Compared to their quarry, Lionizer and Lancer were silent, and it was only when they pulled up next to Thunderhoof that his head turned to notice them.
"You bots finally caught up with me, huh? Well I ain't letting you catch me!" He bellowed to be heard over his own thunderous steps, and picked up even greater speed -- headbutting a tree out of his way and into theirs.
Lionizer swerved, forced to slow down to avoid the improvised missile. Alcaeus ducked beneath Lancer's frame, hearing splitters shatter against her shields and seeing a spray of wooden splinters go overhead.
"Pull up beside him," Alcaeus yelled to Lancer, "I'll see if I can make him stop." He thumped his club against his hand in emphasis.
"Sounds crazy," her voice rang out from nowhere, "Let's do it!"
To Alcaeus' surprise she unhitched herself from Lionizer and started turning towards Thunderhoof's other side -- to catch him in a pincer attack. Despite Lionizer's earlier comment there was still something innately wrong with a horseless chariot.
Thunderhoof tried to barge up against Lionizer, warding him off with his sea-blue antlers. Lionizer dodged, and the momentary distraction allowed Lancer to close in. "It's now or never!" She called out, Alcaeus gripping her rim as he prepared to leap.
He'd jumped onto other beasts before -- even Lionizer -- but Thunderhoof's body was hard to maintain a hold on: there was no hair-like mane, no rough parts -- instead he was smooth as a sling stone, entirely built for speed.
Alcaeus held on more through shear determination than skill, grabbing a hold of Thunderhoof's tail and lifting himself slowly onto his back.
He crawled along the metallic stag's body until he reached it's head, and took hold of Thunderhoof's antlers. Gripping them like the reigns of a chariot, Alcaeus yanked Thunderhoof off course, sending him to the left -- further up the hillside -- before he knew what was happening. "What's that up there? You've been haulin' in Mini-cons to do ya dirty work?" Thunderhoof said, trying to pull himself back.
As beast and mortal fought for control, neither's focus was on what lay ahead -- a sudden canyon, marking where an ancient river had cut the land in two -- too distracted to leap it, Thunderhoof's hoof hit empty air, and both tumbled, plummeting into the depths as oblivion claimed them.


Alcaus awoke to darkness, the sounds of a stream next to him a sudden reminder of the fall he'd so recently taken.
His body felt... all right -- a surprise when he looked skyward and saw the thin river of light that marked the top of the canyon. A fall like that should have broken bones, his survival must have been down to the armour hoist had forged for him.
He smiled in the darkness as he rejoiced in his good fortune... only for that to shatter when he heard a groan from beside him.
"You Mini-cons sure fight dirty," Thunderhoof said, and then a light manifested, revealing him next to Alcaeus, already having metamorphosed into a humanoid form -- still crowned by his impressive antlers. The light shone out from a pair of what looked like cloak pins on Thunderhoof's shoulders. "I figure I can hear you out... before I crush you for interferin'"
It was an empty threat -- one of Thunderhoof's arms was busy holding the other still, and Alcaeus could see the metal ropes hanging out of it showing just how injured he was. There was no way he was going to harm Alcaeus before he was seen by a healer.
"I'm not a Mini-con, whatever one is. I'm a mortal, a human." He lifted his hood to better show his face, and the giant recoiled a little.
"Smeltin' Autobots! Arming an organic, how messed up can you get!" Thunderhoof shook his head, "Look... you and I don't have any reason' to fight... I may think your kind's worthless, but I ain't here to cause scrud for ya. You run away, tell your Autobot buddies I died in the fall, and I sneak away. Everythin's even, I don't have to come back and crush ya."
Thunderhoof was strangely informal, it reminded Alcaeus of some of the fishermen, hunters, and other workers he'd met away from Thebes' citadel... he'd considered himself their kind -- even taken parts in the Dionysian rites with them -- but after everything had gone wrong, they'd turned their back on him, just like everyone else. Thunderhoof's attempts to appeal to him -- the pointless threats, the offers of mercy -- they all reminded him of those who'd seen him as just another ostracised noble. He tightened his grip around the club as he stepped closer. "And why would I do that? You're in no condition to run away, even less to fight." He grabbed one of the metal ropes and saw Thunderhoof flinch. "They've spoken about you to me, you've got no loyalty to your Decepticon king. They may even show you mercy if you tell them all you know."
Despite his obvious pain, Thunderhoof still laughed. "Hey, I might not be part of the inner circle, but I'm still no coward. I'm not gonna turn on others just to save my own hide." He let his shattered arm drop to the rocky ground, and started moving backwards -- his good arm reaching back to the canyon wall, steadying himself as he rose to his full height. "I may be damaged, leakin' oil and about as combat ready as a Mini-con... but I ain't about to betray anyone."
It was an odd display of loyalty, especially for what seemed more like a mercenary. Alcaeus thudded the club into his hand. "Then you'll be taken in and treated like all the rest of your kin." -- the momentary question of what the Autobots actually did with their prisoners flashed through his head, but Thunderhoof's laughter pushed it away.
"Not while I still got the thunder!" He howled with laughter, stomping down on the stone floor -- shattering it where his hoof hit bare rock, cracks spreading out and up the walls. "If I go down, I'll be sure to take you with me!"
The thrill of desperation rushed through Alcaeus -- the madman really would kill them both! He rushed forwards, barely thinking about his actions. He had to deal with him now. No time to wait for Lionizer and Lancer to come to his rescue.
Thunderhoof thrust his leg downwards again, sending more cracks up the walls -- already small rocks and rubble were beginning to fall, threatening to bury them -- ignoring Alcaeus' approach. The blow from the club took him by surprise, his jaw dropping as he was sent crashing backwards, his antlers becoming lodged in the wall. He struggled, trying to get free. "You little piece of scrap! You can't do this to me! I've killed more bots than you could imagine, I made entire cities bow down!"
"And now you're captured, like a common bandit." Alcaeus laughed, leaning against Thunderhoof's severed arm. "When the others get here, you'll face justice. Whatever your fate, accepted it with dignity."
Now there was none of the attempts at brutish intimidation, no more idle threats or attempts to seem the bigger man. Thunderhoof looked at him staring down his body at the mortal who dared to defeat him, and snarled with rage. "No! You miserable organic can't do this! I ain't goin' down like this!" He stomped his foot again. And again. Before Alcaeus could move it was too late, the canyon walls were too fragile, too shattered by their conflict. Even as he watched they began to shatter and fall. A rock barely missed him, and he ran, leaving his foe to his self-inflicted doom, the canyon begining to collapse in on Thunderhoof, whose rage had twisted into mirth -- laughing manically at his oncoming fate. "Tell them bots, tell them no one beats Thunderhoof except Thunderhoof! Let 'em remember that!" He bellowed as the rocks fell, engulfing him.


The pile of boulders stood at the base of the canyon, a cairn to Thunderhoof. It was exactly as Alcaeus had described -- and seemed deadly enough, which just put Lionizer even more on edge. "We should dig them up." He said, glancing at the other two.
"I'd agree," Lancer said, kneeling at the pile -- picking one up to crush in her hands -- "But Snarler's nearby. If Thunderhoof survived, he's still damaged. If we go find Snarler and capture him, we should be able to get back and recapture him, if this didn't finish him off."
Alcaeus nodded, digging through the pile seemed far too much of an exhausting task -- the boulders came in a myriad of sizes, and were all wedged together. It would take hours, and that's if they didn't dig carefully to avoid collapsing more of the fragile looking wall. "We'll return then, after we've got his comrade in arms. Make sure he's dead at that point."
Lancer shifted, metamorphosing into her chariot mode, and Alcaeus got on, sparing a final glance back at the cairn. It grated on him to let a foe escape.
Even if their escape was across the styx itself.



#6 Tindalos

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 08:09 PM

Part Six: Revelry and Revelation

The forest's sounds were the only thing keeping the silence from swallowing Alcaeus and the others.

Ever since Thunderhoof's entombment and death, they had struggled to speak to each other. A pall hung over them sapping the mood as they headed westward.

There was skill in capturing a foe alive. There was glory in killing them in battle. But there was neither when their quarry chose to end its own life. It must have felt just as wrong to the others as it did to Alcaeus, but he couldn't bring himself to ask how they performed funeral rites -- especially for an enemy.

It was only when the distant sounds of music filled the air that they finally spoke. Lionizer turning his head towards the sound, "More humans?"

"This far out in the wilderness we're only likely to meet hunters or barbarians. Either way, if there's music there'll be a celebration." Alcaeus held his hand to his eyes, trying to shield them from the sun enough to see any trace of the revellers, but they were so distant it was useless. "Either way, I doubt they'll be a threat."

"But we're close to the mountain," Lancer interrupted, "Whatever Snarler's got planned, these humans could be in danger. We should get them to move on."

"Easier said than done with revellers, they're probably too drunk on unmixed wine to care about danger."

Well, we'll just have to be persuasive," Lionizer chuckled, already pulling them closer to the sounds of music. "I'm sure I can give them a good scare."

---

As they grew closer they could see fires burning, even in the afternoon. The sounds of horns were gradually joined by strings, percussion, and voices. Figures could be seen dancing around the far off flames, their shadows scattered across the forest floor.

Alcaeus watched the floor as they approached, "Hoof-prints, but no wheel ruts. We're dealing with barbarians not hunters." He picked up his club, resting it on the rim of Lancer's body, "I've dealt with them before, and they can be a dangerous lot... I doubt we'll be receiving a warm welcome from them."

Finally they burst from the trees, Lionizer gripping the dirt in front of him to avoid sending the three of them tumbling into the mass of people. More than a score of men and women were clustered around a huge bonfire, their tangled beards and wild hair showing their barbaric nature just as much as the simple loincloths they wore. Many had been dancing around the fire, others had their hands on drums or horns, while one or two still tended to their horses -- now comforting them at the sight of Lionizer. One by one every one of them turned their wine-glazed eyes to the intruders, breaking off their revelries to stare.

Alcaeus gripped his club tighter as Lionizer padded the ground, readying himself to roar and charge.

One of the musicians stood up -- the horn in his hand now forgotten -- and pointed at the newcomers, crying out "Dionysus!"

The three froze, stunned by the proclamation, even as the barbarians burst into cheers. "What's Dionysus mean?" Lancer's voice came from his vambrace, somewhat muffled from the triumphal shouts.

He raised the vambrace to his mouth to whisper cautiously, "He's a god. Of wine, joy, and madness." He looked around at the barbarians who were now clustering around his chariot. Everything started to make sense now. "He wears a cat's hide, carries a staff, and rides a chariot pulled by a lion. They've mistook me for a god."

"So they'll listen to you?" Lancer asked, still unsure as the barbarians tugged on her framework.

"Maybe... I'll see what I can do." He leaned out across the rim of the chariot, waving at those who were staring in wonder. Alcaeus took a deep breath, and then spoke blasphemy: "Yes my children! It is I, lord of festivities!" A cheer went up amongst the barbarians, some grabbed jugs of wine while others started to look for their instruments. "But!" he yelled, trying to be heard over the shouting, "This place displeases me! I seek somewhere else for my revels," Alcaeus frantically tried to come up with an excuse suitable for them, "Where else can we celebrate life and its marvels?"

The barbarians started to quiet down, an unhappy god was certainly nothing they would wish for. One finally worked up his courage, turning to the others to talk in their strange dialect; then he spoke up: "Our elders are at the caves," he said, anxiously. "Would that please you?"

"That sounds only right! Why should the elders be left out of the great festival, we shall take our party to them!" He sighed with relief as they started cheering once more. He whispered into his vambrace "That should distract them. Although we may be delayed until dawn."

"Whatever is necessary to protect life," Lionizer's amused voice came through cleanly enough, "And I am eager to see your kind's parties up close!"

 

Alcaeus just wished he could feel the same way.

---

"More!" Cried the crowd, passing another bowl of wine to him, and Alcaeus fought the urge to throw up.

It wasn't merely the wine itself -- although it badly needed to be tempered with water -- but memories flashing before him. He swallowed a mouthful, finding its sourness joined with bitter bile and figured enough was enough. He stood up and laughed with false merriment "Lord Dionysus needs to go perform his rites!"

It was a poor joke, but his drinking companions laughed anyway, their spirits lifted by the wine they'd shared. He slipped off, heading to where Lionizer and Lancer were. Every so often a drunkard would try to greet them, only to run away when Lionizer raised his head -- to the amusement of onlookers.

"I think I'm going to be sick," he confessed, sure he wouldn't be overheard over the sounds of music and celebrating.

 

"Are you alright?" Lionizer said, looking up at him, "You look almost as bad as you did with the energon poisoning..."

"I haven't drunk that much in over a year," he sat himself down on Lancer, taking full advantage of the chance to rest his head. "We usually water down our wine."

"We do similar," Lancer's voice rang in his ears, "Energon may be our life, but indulging too much can be as bad for us as it seems for you."

 

"Just more ways we're similar," Lionizer gave a small chuckle, only to fall back to silence as someone approached.

"Oh great Dionysus," Alcaeus turned to see an old man approaching with a bowl of wine in one hand, and a roasted hare on a stick; his face painted with a white handprint while from his neck dangled charms and amulets. The man held out the bowl, but before Alcaeus could even begin to think of an excuse not to indulge, the man winked, "You may find this one more to your liking, it has been tempered with water."

Eager to drink something to help settle his stomach, Alcaeus eagerly accepted, putting it to his lips and sipping it. "You know I'm not Dionysus, don't you?"

"Of course," the man laughed, sitting down on the ground in front of him. "I've been to the cities of your kind, I've seen the statues. I've seen the gods in my dreams, and you're not him." The man held up his hands to forestall any argument, "Of course, I'm not going to tell them. Let them celebrate the coming of their god, they will remember this for years to come." he chuckled, handing the hare to Alcaeus who accepted with grace, savouring the meal. "And of all the gods, I think Dionysus would mind the least for your blasphemy."

Lionizer raised his head, looking at Alcaeus and the elder. The old man didn't even shy away like the youngsters, instead reaching up to stroke Lionizer's mane. "Your companion is strange, a metal beast of Hephaestus" he looked at Alcaeus and gave gave a thin smile, "Maybe you are blessed by the gods after all... In which case I owe you a gift..."

"I've imposed enough already," Alcaeus protested, but only as much as he dared -- he had no wish to insult the gods still further by denying the man's hospitality. The man beckoned Alcaeus to follow him to a cave, pulling aside the bull hide that covered it to reveal a room filled with skulls, bones, and plants.

The elder plucked white flowers from the plants and used a bone and skull as mortar and pestle, grinding them together as he muttered in prayer. When all that was left was a paste, he scraped it into a leather scrap, binding it with a thong. "Here, it is life itself, keep it for when all is lost." He turned back to his art, more prayers to Apollo on his lips as Alcaeus left, holding the small bag in his hand. He doubted it would be as useful as the gifts from the Autobots, but a gift was a gift.

He slipped it beneath his breastplate, heading back to Lionzier and Lancer. "Let's go," he spared one last longing look over his shoulder at the celebrating barbarians. "Before they realise their Dionysus is mortal."

---

The forests remained thick and shadowed as they ascended, fallen branches crunching underneath Lancer's wheels as she drove on. Even as the going got more and more difficult -- massive rocks and cliffs becoming ever-present obstacles they had to find routes around -- the trees never seemed to give up, remaining rooted firmly wherever they could.

"Are you sure your quarry is here?" Alcaeus asked, the smell of pine needles filling his nostrils with each breath. "This place seems untouched."

"I'm certain," Lancer's voice rang out, her voice hard and cold. "We saw him from the Hyperborea, and I would know if he left."

Lionizer slowed his pace, "But he's got a point. Snarler's never been one to leave things neat, you would have thought he'd have left more of a mess?"

Lancer slowed, and then metamorphed -- Alcaeus finding himself being held in her hands as her form twisted into a humanoid -- "It's strange, I'll give you that." She gently lowered him to the ground. "And Thunderhoof was coming to meet him, instead of the other way around..."

"You think he's guarding something?" Lionizer asked.

"If he is," Alcaeus grabbed onto Lionizer's mane and hoisted himself onto his back -- if he had a choice he'd rather not strain himself climbing the mountainside -- "then he'll be all the more dangerous. Enemies always are when they've got something to protect."

"Trust me, I know how dangerous he is..." Lancer crept forward, her bow now in her hands as she went from tree to tree.

Lionizer followed her, shadowing her movements as they looked for some sign of the Decepticon.

What they found instead as another clearing, the bare rock split in two to form a chasm through the peaks. The walls within seemed to glow -- beckoning them closer.

"It can't be?" Lionizer said, his eyes focused on the glimmer as he moved from rock to rock, closing in on it. "Energon, here?"

Alcaeus felt his heart tighten, remembering how close he'd come to death, "That poison?"

Lionizer suddenly remembered the human he had clinging to his back, scrabbling to a halt before getting within the deadly zone. "It's less potent, but it's impossible!" He dove for cover behind a rock, as a figure emerged from the cleft.

 

For a moment Alcaeus mistook it for Lancer, but as he looked closer their bronze armour was darker -- pitted and worn from battle -- and to confirm it the warrior herself stepped out from behind another rock, her bow drawn with an arrow of what looked like living-lightning aimed at the figure. "You buried all this energon, Snarler? Why go to all that trouble?"

Snarler stepped forward, ignoring the missile pointed at his head and laughed. "Buried it? I dug it up! This world has energon, it has life!" he waved around him, spreading his arms to take in the entire world. "This is a sign from the heavens! This world is ours by right!"

"This world will never belong to you," Lancer said, her fingers straining with the effort of holding the bow steady. "There's life already here, living beings!"

"There's an infestation!" He snarled, "Something to be cleansed, burned off this world! You're not going to shoot me." He held up his hands in mocking surrender. "Are you, sister?"

The thunderous bolt that streaked past his head -- scorching the metal black as it passed -- was all the answer he needed, his smile fading into a disgusted grimace. "You're serious? You're going to risk everything for these... these organics?"

"Yes," she said, already drawing the bow once more. "Duty is more important than family."


Edited by Tindalos, 10 October 2019 - 08:25 PM.


#7 Tindalos

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 08:25 PM

Part 7: Battle with the Boar

Snarler dove for cover as Lancer let loose another volley of energy bolts -- the sound of clanking metal emerging from the boulder he was hiding behind gave enough warning of his metamorphosis, the bellow that accompanied it was just a bonus. Alcaeus stared in horror as the monstrous creature leapt into action, charging towards Lancer as the air filled with unnatural squeals.
Alcaeus could recognise the beast as the boar he'd seen before, but now all too close, it looked terrifying, crouching on all fours, heavily armoured, with hooves that cracked the bare stone beneath them. But where it differed was its face: its tusks were spinning, even its snout itself was doing likewise, making the high wail that filled the air as it closed the distance.

 

Lancer fell to the ground, dodging just as the boar charged overhead, skidding to a stop. It had all happened in an instant. Alcaeus turned to Lionizer, "that thing... it's her brother?"
Lionizer nodded, "Yes, I know it may seem strange for us to have family, but-"
Alcaeus interrupted before Lionizer could drift off track "No, she just called him a thug, and there is no love between them."
Obviously the statement had taken him by surprise: Lionizer's mouth was hanging open. Finally he rallied, "Well, they fight for different causes, and she's seen enough of his brutality that she can't stand by and let him be."
Turning his thoughts inwards as he watched the battle play out -- Lancer dodging each of Snarler's charges, but him staying too far ahead to hit with an arrow -- Alcaeus remembered just how his family thought of him -- Exiled by father and brother, scorned by cousin Eurystheus, stripped of his name. While he had other kin across the land, he doubted any would be pleased to see him.
In fact, it seemed likely Lancer and Lionizer were the only ones who would mourn his death.

That thought brought him back to reality -- Lancer was fighting, risking kinstrife for the sake of humanity -- he had to help her, no matter what. He leapt the rock -- noting the ease he did so thanks to the armour Hoist had gifted him -- and ran into combat, before Lionizer realised he'd moved to join in the frenzied battle.

---

"I guess..." Snarler bellowed as he crashed through a boulder, fracturing it into several pieces as he emerged to look for Lancer -- with her having been right between him and the rock until the last second -- "You've made your choice..." His visor swept across the area, narrowing as he saw a flicker of movement behind a another rock. "Well, I'll be happy to help you to the afterlife, sister!"
He reared up, his hooves coming down onto the rock and pulverising it.
Only for Lancer to be nowhere to be seen. Instead there was a small, mini-con like being. But parts of it were fleshy, like it was draped in a hide of metal to hide its organic horror.
"Surprise!" Alcaeus called out, swinging the rod in his hands at Snarler's snout.
He barely avoided it, the blow shattering one of his drill tusks, the shrill cry of the flailing shrapnel almost as loud as his rumbling cry of pain. "You freak!" He roared, metamorphising back into his humanoid form, his hand already reaching for his wound.

Still Snarler called out for his sister "You've armed them now? Giving organics weapons, treating them like, like... people!" He spat, a gobbet of acidic waste landing in front of Alcaeus -- halting his charge.
"They are people," Lancer said, stepping out behind Snarler, her bow pointed at his head while Lionizer moved to cover Alcaeus' back.
"You can't believe that!" Snarler shook his head, "Look at it, it's not natural, not born from the world but feeding upon it." He reached down -- ignoring the danger he was in, and grabbed a piece of the rubble. "Dig down, there's metal here. Energon, oil. There's the potential for life, sure, but that thing just hatched from its parents, it's not life!"
Alcaeus spoke up, incensed at being ignored: "Of course I'm alive!" He grabbed a splinter of rock from the ground and threw it at the giant, "The gods themselves gave us life, and your metal and my flesh are not so different!"
Snarler turned back, staring down at the impudent flesh creature "No you're not life. You speak, but there's no spark, no warmth. All there is is grease to wipe off my hooves!" He stepped closer, only for another arrow to burn black more of his body as a warning shot streaked by him.
"Give up, brother!" Lancer called out, another arrow taking its place in her bow. "Surrender and you'll be treated--"
"You'll never find mercy for me. Your commanders would never allow it. Not after all the worlds I cleansed." He took another step closer. This time a growl from Lionizer froze him in place -- especially when he showed off his claws.
"Cleansed of "infections" like me?" Alcaeus asked, already knowing the answer. He tightened his grip around his club as he met Snarler's eyes.
"Yes. Other organic pests, stealing the gifts of life." Snarler glanced over his shoulder.

By now, Lancer had closed the distance, her bow aimed at his head. "Just shut up for once in your life! If you surrender, then at least no more death will take place."
"Death is inevitable!" Snarler said, and lunged. Lancer loosed her arrow, but his sudden movement and the metamorphosis already starting to take place drove it through his shoulder instead of his skull. He bellowed in agony as he continued his charge towards Alcaeus.
Lionizer reared up, raking Snarler with his claws and sinking his teeth into his hide. The sound of metal tearing metal filled the air as Snarler ignored his wounds, snatching Alcaeus with his central tusk, which span -- tearing at his breastplate as it screeched monstrously.
"You madman!" Alcaeus muttered, only just resisting the urge to grab the assaulting tusk, it's spinning nature would only tear at his flesh. He backed up, only for Snarler to press forwards again -- black blood-like liquid oozing from his face where Lionizer had scratched him.
A flash of light marked a second arrow finding its mark in Snarler's body -- but he was too far gone to care, his body cracking and leaking as he forced it back to humanoid form and grasped Alcaeus between his massive hands.
Lionizer found himself biting down on the air, re-adjusting himself to attack Snarler. "Let him go!" He growled, and lunged at his arms.

Snarler squeezed, forcing Lionizer to stop himself in his tracks. "Is this what it would take?" he asked, waving Alcaeus in the air and watching the autobots' reaction to it. "Would I need to drape myself in flesh to get you Autobots to even consider our point?"
"You monster," Lancer spat, her bow aimed at his faceplate -- held so taut that the glowing arrow was burning her fingers. "Let him go, and I promise not to gut you where you stand!"
"Bold words," Snarler grinned, "but badly chosen!"

 

With his body leaking all over, his fuel dripping down to the ground and rents torn through his plating, there was no way he could prevail. But he could still hurt them. He reached back, and the Autobots watched helplessly in horror while he threw Alcaeus down the mountain. "Better run fast, cat!" He bent over with agonized laughter as Lionizer turned to chase the rapidly vanishing figure.
Lancer knelt beside him, her fingers scorched black as the arrow burned her, placed the point against his body. "You should be glad I never joined you, as a Decepticon I'd have no reason not to kill you!" She let go, the arrow burying itself into his body, turning his laughter into a howl of pain. "But I can still stop you hurting anyone else," she reached inside him and forcefully deactivated his systems, sending him into stasis lock. "Rest well Snarler. Justice will find you when you wake."

---

Alcaeus knew he should be terrified, knew death seemed inevitable, but couldn't help feeling amazement as he plummeted down the mountain.
The ground was rushing towards him, and yet he felt joy as his body felt weightless for one glorious moment. He laughed soundlessly, unable to hear himself as he plummeted towards the trees, and then it was over. Terror finally caught up with him, just as the ground did, and everything went dark.

---

Lionizer leapt down, crushing trees under his weight as he tried to catch up with his friend.
He cursed himself for not asking Hoist for a jetpack to be built into the armour, or even just a parachute. Even with his recovery under Minerva's talons, this could be fatal.
Finally he caught sight of a recent clearing, a crater carved into the forest by Alcaeus landing. And there, in the centre he lay.
The armour was fractured -- having absorbed much of the shock -- and there was a bed of splintered wood where once stood oak trees. Lionizer pounced on Alcaeus' body, looking for one of the emergency measures Hoist fortunately had seen fit to include.
Pressing down on the chest-plate in the right place set the measure into motion: the armour's computer checked for vitals, and when it couldn't find them started compressing Alcaeus' chest, a tube inside the helmet providing air as it forcefully resuscitated him.
Lionizer let out a sigh of relief as he saw Alcaeus take one breath and then another.

And then the shouting started. Lionizer looked up and saw a quartet of hunters there -- a spears pointed at him with shields held close to guard themselves. It took him a moment before he realised they'd taken him for Alcaeus' assailant rather than his saviour.
They approached slowly and carefully, spreading out around him and still howling war cries in an attempt to chase him off. Lionizer weighed up his options: most important was that Alcaeus was alive and could recover. He could try to negotiate, but he doubted these people would be as reasonable as Alcaeus had been - or as open to the idea of a talking metal lion.
It seemed the best plan of action was to retreat, and hope they would help Alcaeus recover; and so with a final glance at his friend, Lionizer turned to run into the forest, the cheers of the hunters echoing as he fled.

---

Once again unconsciousness had overwhelmed Alcaeus. Once again he woke in a new location. At least this time, instead of a canyon's bottom or strange alien vessel, his surroundings were at least familiar.
He was in a shrine to Apollo, the statue of the god made that obvious -- standing above Alcaeus' bed, armed with his bow to cause or cure diseases as he wished -- the sight of the bow brought everything flashing back and he rose with a cry of surprise.
Only to realise he wasn't in the agony he expected. He reached down, to feel for the wounds he expected, but found only his own flesh, firm and intact.
"You're awake?" he turned to see two men entering -- obviously alerted by his cry. The one who spoke was a priest, his white tunic and familiarity with the shrine making it obvious he was a healer of Apollo, and he furrowed his brow as he crouched down. "Apollo is merciful!"
"I told you, Hepius, did I not?" the second figure laughed, waving at Alcaeus, who realised the man was familiar -- and bore the clothing and jewellery of a king. "It'll take a lot more than a lion to do in my old friend!"
"Lion?" Alcaeus realised they must have seen Lionizer, that his friend would have been tending to him. Which meant his salvation was probably thanks to him and his-- "My armour, where is it?" he looked around.
"King Augeus took it to look after," the healer, Hepius muttered as he turned over Alcaeus arm. "But this is miraculous. You ribs were cracked, your breathing was weak. I thought you would be sleeping for a week, not a mere day!"
And now Alcaeus was convinced the armour must have saved him -- although he was not certain how. He'd need to ask Minerva and Hoist more when he next saw them. But Augeus? He'd not seen him since...
"The Argo," Augeus smiled broadly, clapping Alcaeus on his back, "back when we were mercenaries. It is good to see you again, Herakles!"
 


Edited by Tindalos, 10 October 2019 - 08:28 PM.




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