Maelstrom Chapter 24
Unicron PART

Author's note: This story is part of a LONG series called Maelstrom. It is strictly Gen. 1 - sorry, but that was all that was out when I started writing back in the late 1980's. It began as a fan-publication so the first chapters are in the form of a comic book! If you have not read the nine original Maelstrom Comics and the preceding text stories, I strongly suggest you do. This is a complex universe. They can be found at http// illmatar. deviantart. com (I have put double spaces between the URL here or FF . Net eats the link.) The comics and art which accompanies this series are there...and believe me I am a better artist than writer.

This scene contains strong language and Dubious Humor. IT CONTAINS SOME MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS BETWEEN CHARACTERS BUT IS GENERALLY A FLUFF SCENE.

Most chapters of this series contain strong language and violence. Rated M for adult themes! Really! Transformers characters belong to Hasbro. Critiques adored!

Maelstrom Chapter 25 Unicron: PART E

It was a long night for both of them. After their initial passion was spent, Magnus suffered another relapse of fear. It seemed whenever there was nothing else to occupy his attention, Unicron's violation was waiting to fill in the gaps. Marissa was sound asleep in his arms and he only had to look at her to see the strain of the previous weeks. Weeks! It was simply unbelievable. He didn't remember much, and what he did remember made little sense. Marissa had told him very little - her voice had already been slurring by the time her climax had passed. She had simply leaned forward into his embrace, resting her head on his chest and leaving the connection between them intact. She had mumbled a few things about being glad to have him back, and how hard it had been to take care of him, and was now snoring away on top of him. Her nose was still swollen, and her eyes were lined with both the red of tears, and the grey of extreme fatigue.

Magnus was frightened - but he didn't have the heart to wake her. It was his fault she was in such a state in the first place.

He shivered in the darkness.

This wasn't like him. He knew this wasn't like him. He was the calm one. The strong one. The one who got upset over stupidity and incompetence, not fear. Never fear. So how come he trembled now at the shadows? Why couldn't he feel safe? Marissa's quarters were amongst the most secure on Cybertron, especially now that she was part of Rodi's inner circle, and the assassin Prime was seeing to it that Cybertron was sealed down in a fashion unprecedented in all its history.

Maybe it was because Magnus knew, with undeniable certainty, that all of Rodi's precautions, scanners, and deadly traps were useless against a being like Unicron. And while Unicron might be dead - THERE WERE OTHERS OUT THERE.

Even if Lancer had never been possessed as well, Magnus would have known this. Unicron's thoughts during the possession were a part of Magnus' memories now. He understood the life-cycles of these creatures as if he were one of them and it was knowledge he would have been glad to be rid of. Maybe there was one here now - feeding off his terror - waiting for a way in.... He shuddered in pure horror - he couldn't endure the thought. What if it got into him? What if it got into HER? He clasped his arms around Marissa more tightly, knowing it was a pointless gesture. She sighed and smiled in her sleep.

She loved him. She trusted him. Didn't she know he couldn't protect her? Didn't she see how quickly and absolutely he'd been defeated?

You defeated him! You threw him out! Her words echoed hollowly in his mind. Sure. He'd thrown Unicron out. AFTER he'd let Unicron rape his mind. AFTER he'd let Unicron attack Rodimus. AFTER he'd betrayed his love for Marissa to the fiend. AFTER he'd nearly let the beast kill her with his own hands.

It didn't seem like much of a victory to Ultra Magnus. He wept with shame. He didn't need to bring back Unicron's hollow voice to tell him he was weak, stupid, useless, and a danger to those he loved. He could do that just fine by himself. Some part of him knew that Unicron's abuse of his memories was a deliberate attempt to cause more pain for the entity to feed on, but Unicron was no amateur. Nothing he'd said to Magnus was a blatant lie. It ALL made some kind of sense. It was all in some way true and while it was very easy for Magnus to tell himself to look for the lies in what Unicron had said, it was not easy to find them.

It wasn't ten minutes before Magnus had convinced himself that Unicron had been right. He had been easy to possess because his soul was corrupt and petty, that all of his success was purely do to his physical strength, and that even the most craven cowards of the Decepticon ranks had more strength of character than he did.

And Marissa wanted to marry him! This beautiful, vital woman. The one who so often rendered him speechless with her courage and determination. He laughed bitterly in the darkness. He shouldn't be allowed in the same room with her! He thought of fleeing, of running and running until no one could find him but he didn't move because he knew it would wake her. He had deprived her of enough sleep already. He could run later. That way no one would ever be hurt, or sad, or exhausted again because of his weak soul. Yes. He would protect them with his absence. It was the least he could do...and...and.... Where had he heard this before...?

He paused in his internal self-mutilation. It puzzled him. Certainly, he had never thought such things before. He had been wrapped up in a shameful cloak of self-confidence all his life - thinking he deserved his promotions, thinking his hard work counted for something. Poor self-deluded fool. But he had heard this before, this reasoning that others would be better off if he weren't there. Where? Who?

The answer when it came, chilled him.

Lancer.

Lancer, his fellow possessee. Lancer, who knew what it was to have her will usurped, her very core exposed, exploited, and molested. The one no one understood, who's fear made others shake their heads. She was the one who had expressed the attitude he was now emulating. She had even run. AND IT HADN'T WORKED. He remembered Rodimus' desperate sadness only too well. He remembered the dangerous extremes her friends had gone to to find her. He didn't want Marissa to suffer that way, even if he felt unworthy of her love, he knew for sure she did love him, and that she would track him down if he ran.

So where did that leave him? What could he do? Try to convince her NOT to love him? Could he do that? Was he strong enough? He remembered running to Rodimus in desperation when she'd been angry because she'd thought he'd betrayed her. He tried to imagine facing her, saying cruel things to push her away. He couldn't do it. He just couldn't. This did nothing to help him think better of himself.

He understood Lancer's fears only too well now.

And what of Lancer? Had she been deserving of what happened to her? Magnus shuddered. No one deserved that. (Then how can you? a small part of him whispered.) He ignored that. Hadn't he been one of those who'd shaken their heads in confusion when she held others at bay? Hadn't he himself told Rodimus that he thought she was brave for enduring what she had? More brave than ever he'd realized. Possession had seemed terrible to his imagination but the reality was far worse.

He spent about an hour frozen in horror at the memory of that reality, but finally returned to his mental debate. Was he now brave for enduring this? Was he enduring this? Could he cope? Or would he slowly lose his mind to what had happened? Maybe he had lost it already. Round and round his thoughts ran. It seemed like his mind had been split in two.

One side of him told him that he was just wounded, that this terrible pain and self-doubt was a natural part of the healing process. He'd seen it before in others. He was a warrior. He knew the signs of trauma. He recognized them in Lancer didn't he? He saw them in Rodimus. In Shellshock. In countless soldiers on both sides of the war with the Decepticons. What made him think he would respond any differently? Was that his arrogance? Did he think he was immune?

And then there was the other side. The side that shivered and sobbed inside him. The side that never wanted to face the world again. The side that felt ugly, and small, and tried to pull away from Marissa for fear that she would see what a slimy little slug he was.

Long hours in the dark he lay there, still and cold under Marissa's warm body, fighting the most difficult and violent battle of his life against himself - with neither side gaining clear advantage. Tears were still running silent down his cheeks when Marissa suddenly jerked awake just before dawn.

She saw his fixed stare at the ceiling and panicked.

"MAGNUS?!" she shrieked, coming fully awake in one terrible instant.

He turned his eyes down to hers but couldn't bring himself to speak. Her panic saddened him. Why would she put herself through this for the likes of him? His silence did nothing to calm her.

"MAGNUS!" she cried again, even more sharply.

"It's OK," he choked, his voice cracking. It wasn't OK at all, but he refused to hurt her more by saying it. "I'm fine." Damn. He had to learn to control his voice better. He wished he could approach Rodimus for lessons on how to act fine when you were falling apart. The kid was a pro.

"You aren't fine! How could you possibly be fine after what you've just been through?! What are you thinking? DAMN YOU! Don't you dare try to shut me out!" Marissa's voice was strident with concern and indignation.

Damn it woman. Why do you have to be so smart? OK Magnus. What are you going to do now? No answers came to him. i've got to protect her/I can't/she never believes me when i lie/its useless/i'm useless/whatam i going to do/i can't think of anything/nice strategy mistercitycommander/ unicronwasrightallalong/ i'vegottoprotecther /protect her fromme/ ican't/ican't/ican'ticanticanticanticant

"Magnus! What are you thinking!? Talk to me damn you!"

"I CAN'T!! I JUST C...CAN'T!" He shouted, then started sobbing in an uncontrollable series of hiccups. He wrenched himself out from under her and scrambled away. Somehow she must have sensed he was about to bolt, and placed herself between him and the door. He could have pushed past her easily but somehow the look on her face presented a barrier he couldn't cross. He curled up in the corner, sobbing.

Naturally she came over and put a hand on his shoulders. She drew back immediately in hurt confusion when he flinched away from her touch as if burned.

"Of course you can! Magnus, you can tell me anything. I love you, nothing's going to change that."

"I know," he said hopelessly. "I'm sorry."

"Y..You're sorry? Magnus? What does that mean? Don't...don't you love me anymore?"

"OH. NONono Marissa!" Why did everything he said have to come out all wrong and hurt her more?

"What then? Magnus! Tell me what you mean!"

What the hell? He might as well spill it.

His teeth were chattering so hard he could barely make himself discernible. "T..That you l..love me! T..That you d..don't n..n..know what I a..am! T..that I'm j..just this cowardly l..little m..maggot ...and I m...made you love me somehowandI don't deserve you I don't deserve an...anything but contempt...and..and...."

"Oh my God! Stop it Magnus! Just stop it! Stop it!" Marissa shrieked. She put her hands over her ears, she couldn't stand what had been done to him. She couldn't stand that horrible broken little voice coming out of his mouth as if he was still possessed, spewing such filth into the air. Evil. Petty little evil thoughts. The battle with Unicron wasn't over. He was still there. HIS abuse lived on in her mate, tainting everything he was and she was going to have to fight the Chaos Bringer for as long as it took until he was exorcized from her mate's soul.

"...and I'm like t..this sl..sl..imy l..leech ..and it all a l..lie..and.."

"Shhh," Marissa said, reinstating her embrace and clutching him harder and harder until he quit resisting. "It's all going to be OK. You're just hurt, that's all."

"B...but..."

She sat up and glared at him. "No! Now you listen to me! That's Unicron talking! It's not true! I'M telling you it's not true! And who do you believe in? Unicron or me?"

"B...But...."

"NO BUT! We need to get this straight right now Ultra Magnus! Who do you believe in?! UNICRON or ME?!" Her fist balled up again ominously.

Magnus stared at her; his mouth worked soundlessly for a moment. "Y...You."

"RIGHT! You just keep that in mind Mister! Don't you ever think, not for one single second, that some slimy little space parasite knows MY man better than I do! Is that totally clear? When it comes to Ultra Magnus I'm a fucking expert! If you have any doubts, you consult MY wisdom. That's an order! Now let me spell this out for you! I...LOVE....YOU. I have every intention of spending my short little lifetime with YOU. And if you are a cowardly little maggot, then I intend to spend my days with a cowardly little maggot and I intend to be very happy doing it! Don't you EVER push me away or try to lie to me that way again! Or I will show you a whole new definition of the word suffering!" She was poking him in the chest to emphasize each phrase and had him backed up flat against the wall.

His eyes were as wide as saucers. He stared at her. He stared at her some more. She glared into his face - her lower lip jutting out defiantly - daring him to say one word, just one word to contradict her. As usual he knew when he was outmatched, and he almost smiled.

She sagged in relief, and resumed her embrace, knowing that while the war wasn't over, she had just won what was probably the most crucial battle.

"I feel so filthy," he said at last.

"Oh. Well then how's about a shower?" Marissa said, with a seductive smile.

X

X

X

After it was over, Magnus stepped out of the shower and toweled himself off. Half-way through the process he stopped and turned back to look at it as if he'd never seen it before.

"What is it?" Marissa asked quietly.

"Did you...? I mean...... I sort of remember. Great Cybertron Marissa! How did you get me in there?" He sized up her body and couldn't imagine what she'd done.

By the time she was done explaining the process, he was again struck speechless. How in the hell was he deemed worthy of such devotion? How could anyone be worth all of that?

She must have read his mind. "You would have done the same for me."

"Well, of course but..."

"Shh. Stop right there. It doesn't matter why. It was worth it. I'm telling you it was. You just have to accept that fact because I'm telling you it was."

"But... OW!"

She had pinched him cruelly. "I believed we have established the no 'Buts' rule. Every time I get a 'but' from you, your butt gets something from me."

"It's just incredible to me, that's all."

"HAH! You don't know the half of it!" Marissa said. "Here's what you're worth to me and your friends you big dope." She proceeded to give him a list of the Herculean efforts made on his behalf.

She'd hardly begun when he'd interrupted with "I need to sit down."

And again a little later with "FIVE bottles of tabasco sauce?!"

And yet again with "HE SAID WHAT?!"

And finally with "That's it! They're dead men!"

"Now Magnus! They were just trying to help you," Marissa said, but she was smiling to herself. In his righteous indignation, Magnus had forgotten his pain and was acting like his old self, at least for the moment.

"THAT'S NOT THE POINT!" Magnus snarled. It wasn't that he wasn't grateful. He was stunned with gratitude, but there were some things one just couldn't ignore - even if one had been catatonic. "When are they coming back?"

"Probably this afternoon. Lancer and KC will be around for sure. Lancer has no definite schedule and Perceptor never notices when KC leaves anyway. Carly said she might be by, but Spike, Elita, and Optimus are off world again. I never know when Rodimus and Jazz will make it. They are making up for Optimus, Elita, me, AND you being gone. Somehow, they almost always manage to pop in for a few good insults though."

"By the Matrix. How are they managing?"

"I think Lancer is helping, and I know for sure KC is. Other than that, Rodimus just claims it's no worse than it was before you stormed in and fucked up all his plans to be a martyr doing everything on his own."

"He would put it that way. OK. This is what we are going to do..." Magnus said, with a sly smile that brought tears of joy to Marissa's eyes.

X

X

X

The door chimed. Marissa answered it. Her hair was frazzled, and she did her best to move slowly. There were still circles under her eyes, but if someone had looked close enough they might have noticed it was more the color of smeared eye-liner than tired flesh.

She opened the door and yelped when she was attacked by foliage.

"HERE!" Rodimus sang. "FLOWERS!" Trust Rodimus to turn a bouquet of daisies into an assault weapon.

"Here again!" He said, thrusting an oddly shaped, cold package into her nerveless hand. "I found out about this stuff today at the grocery store. It's called limburger cheese. It stinks! I think it might possibly be the worst thing I've ever smelled. Mags will like it! Won't you Mags?!" he cried at the still figure on the couch. Like a red-headed tornado, he whirled into Marissa's living room, giving her time to notice that there actually were other people in the doorway. Lancer was rolling her eyes, KC had obviously vowed to ignore Rodimus at all costs, and even Jazz was looking a bit wide-eyed.

Rodimus must be very tired, Marissa thought. This is over the top even for him. She fought not to giggle out loud.

Lancer gave her a look which was both evaluating and apologetic. "I DID try to talk him out of it, Marissa. You might just want to hide it somewhere when he isn't looking."

"I heard that!" Rodimus shouted from behind Magnus' seat. He was looking under the couch.

"You were meant to!" Lancer snapped.

"Rodimus? What are you doing?!" Marissa said. Control the voice. Control the voice.

"I'm looking for Magnus' personality. I know there isn't much too it, but I figured if I looked hard enough I juuust might spot it! Wait! Wait! No. It's just a dust bunny. Don't worry Mags," he said, giving the still figure a fierce nuggie, "we won't rest until we've found it. Right Jazz?"

"Right Prime! It's a quest! The most difficult we've ever dared!"

Marissa saw Magnus' hands twitch and nearly lost it.

"How are you holding up?" KC asked compassionately over the din.

"I'm...fine," Marissa said, choking on a laugh that she tried to make sound like a sob.

KC patted her arm with a familiarity that would have been undreamt of a few weeks ago. Lancer gave the Captain a look though and then turned her attention on Marissa's mate.

Rodimus and Jazz were holding separate pieces of fuzz off the floor in front of Magnus' slack face and arguing over which one was smaller, apparently the deciding factor as to which was the Major General's "personality."

The moment Marissa had been dreading arrived. Lancer scanned Magnus. Her eyes widened.

"Uh, boys..." she said in a stunned voice.

"HEY!" Rodimus interrupted. "Can't you see this is a very important discussion?!"

Lancer stared at her beloved and then smiled sweetly. "I'm sorry," she said. "Please continue."

Rodimus paused, a little bit suspicious, as he always was when she smiled that way. Jazz stuck his piece of lint in Rodi's face though and he immediately fell back into heated debate. Magnus let his eyes shift from one to the other. They didn't notice.

He leaned forward and said, "Hi!"

They gawked at him, and said "Uh-oh"" in unison, just before his poised hands clapped both of their heads together.

Lancer roared. KC had her mouth hanging open, although the shocked expression rapidly grew into a wide, happy smile. Rodimus and Jazz were rolling on the floor holding their skulls in pain. They were laughing nonetheless.

"Ow." Jazz said. "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow."

Rodimus looked up into Magnus' smirking face, still holding his own head, and fell back to the floor in hysterics. He couldn't imagine a better sight than that evil, smug smile right now and somehow the pain made it funnier. Laughter seemed the best and only way to express his relief.

"Man, that was cruel," Jazz said, rubbing the knot on his head. Funny that he was still grinning even as he bitched. "We were only tryin' to wake you up."

"I just didn't want you enjoying yourself too much! Or thinking that this was going to continue!" Magnus said, leaning back with a self-satisfied smirk.

"Are you really OK?" Rodimus said, gently, without a trace of silliness.

Magnus met his eyes sadly. "I'll be fine, Rodi," he said with a faint shrug. He knew better than to think he could hide his pain from Rodimus. Rodimus knew better.

A shadow came to stand over him, and he looked up to meet Lancer's eyes. He sensed a new understanding pass between them, and an incredible sense of support. She knew. She'd BEEN there. "Yes, you will be OK, Magnus."

Impulsively, he took her arm at the wrist, and felt hers grasp his firmly in return. They made a pact of it.

Jazz stumbled to his feet, still giving the occasional "Ow" and looking to KC for sympathy.

"Forget it," the scientist said. "You've been asking for it for weeks."

"Aw, but Casey!"

"Fftt! Talk to the hand!" she said, pushing his face away with it.

"Ow! Heartless wench!" Jazz said.

"Hey!" Lancer said. "I DID try to warn you two."

"You could have tried a little harder,"" Rodimus said in disgust, also getting to his feet.

"Yes, I suppose I could!" she said, winking at Magnus and giving his hand a final squeeze before she went to look at her mate's grave injuries. "You'll live," she told him. Magnus grinned at her, and continued to grin unfazed at Rodi's sour expression.

"What now?" KC asked.

"Well, for starters," Marissa said going around the back of the couch and taking Magnus' hand from behind, "We have an announcement to make."

"Oh no," Rodimus said, "This sounds ominous."

"We are getting married," Marissa said succinctly.

There were two distinct thuds as Jazz and Rodimus promptly hit the floor again.