Prince of Statues

He reigned, the prince of statues. He ruled alone from a throne of cold stone. His effigy served for his kingdom, and he dared not stray far. He could range a bit, to hunt and to amuse himself, but not too far lest he lose himself. He had power in his image, power to remember and power to be. His icon reminded him of who he was, not merely a prince of statues, but a lord of the living.

He had supervised the sculpting of his likeness more closely than convention allowed. Indeed, tradition called for an abstract, stylized, disfigured, or otherwise inaccurate statue. It needed not be ugly, only not exactly resemble the one that it was intended to honour. The sculptor had protested his intrusion in the effigy's creation, but what was superstition to him? Science called all the artist's worries baseless. There was no Primus to refuse Decepticons entry to his domain, just as he refused them the ability to open the Matrix. Dead Decepticons did not haunt the living after life was over, clinging to their likenesses in stone or steel or cement, if they had them. They died and were ended. Besides, the sculptor need not trouble himself; his patron had no intention of dying, ever. He was too beautiful to be rendered anything but faithfully, he insisted. If the sculptor would not do away with foolish, old-fashioned custom for him, he would do away with the sculptor, permanently. Then, they could test that hypothesis about statues and ghosts, couldn't they?

The sculptor agreed to his patron's desires and rendered the nigh-perfect image, as desired. Later, the sculptor was found, impaled on the highest peak of Darkmount, arms pinioned wide as if to fly from this world, his corpse a raised fist from the art community to the Decepticon who dared defy them, but he defied much and dared more. A Decepticon did not become prince by meekness and attentiveness to the old ways.

Even in death, a death quite expected by him, and the continuance of being afterwards, which he had anticipated even less - it was so unlike the universe, to grant a second chance - he was an iconoclast, destroying not art but its inhabitants. Other shades clasped death-tight their own statues. They mourned for their lives, so long past, and wailed at the loss of their names. Their effigies, only poor simulacrums in proper fashion, could barely support their spectres, but they, Decepticons all, only grasped more firmly.

There was a bright-bladed helicopter, stars slashing over his frame as he finished his slaughter and arose, knee-deep in bodies. He remembered the glory of battle but, with cruel knife-twist irony, not the combat that killed him. Warrior after warrior could be his twin. There was a lone engineer, without compare not merely because he was alone, and he drowned himself in plans doomed ever to be stillborn, and he despaired of his ruin-conceived creations. No life came of phantom-kind. There was a tyrant, ranting about poisonous courtiers. The prince of statues, as if to heed his advice, kept none.

Their lugubrious keens and wistful nostalgia offended his sensibilities. In the past, they died. No use dwelling on such failures. They had no future, but in the present, something could yet be accomplished. The prince of statues was mocked by his elders, the few that could give up their self-absorption for long enough to perceive another.

So the sovereign spirit selected the strongest of his fellows, and set upon him, ravenous as the Devourer himself. He ripped out the best of him and consumed it, leaving the rest, still fine flesh of ghost, to the dust, where it fell to pieces and died the final death. He crouched, cannibal-kind, over the slain spectre, feral and terrible and beautiful. His true beauty was in this action, not in his former form, however comely.

This lean banquet set the tone for his dominion. He cared not for company. The other apparitions were but food for his appetite and amusement. An insatiable creature, the prince was. His sport was their suffering and their silence his salve. The champions among them were torn asunder to slake his hunger. Newly departed and iron-willed, not a one posed a challenge to the hunter of souls.

Quiet ensured, his attentions turned to other matters. Where was the king of statues? Did he live? The eidolon, the image of the Decepticon ideal, was absent from the gallery of ghosts. His statue stood uninhabited, an ugly monstrosity. Had he died and his effigy been too deformed for him to find?

The prince of statues ranged far from his own abode, pacing and prowling, pent up frustration driving him thus. Knowledge was power, and now, it was his only power, in his existence as a collection of memories and malice bound to a memorial. The king of statues denied him to the very last in this fashion; prevented him from knowing his archrival's fate. The little ghosts, too weak even to cry, fell prey to his dissatisfaction. He rent them unto shreds and supped not of their weak light, leaving them to waste, sacrifices on the altar of obstructed information.

The shade-snippets that remained dreaded the rounds of their lord; his wild hunts. His capricious whims were their ends, each uniquely special and thoughtfully creative. Flayed patterns of decaying energy drifted behind him, a trail of terror and oblivion.

Now, there was intruder in his domain, not one come to reside at last in a statue but one who yet lived. The prince of statutes watched him. He knew this one. How afraid he is, and how right he was to be so. A few words, silver-tongued as always, and the invader was his. The prince of statues, once the prince of Decepticons and once the prince of Vos, the city-state now deader than he, Starscream, albeit in a borrowed body, walked again.

The End