- "Follow me, follow my lead, and you will be glorious. Ignore me and you will be nothing."
The story of the warrior known as Dreadspawn began millennia ago, in an inconsequential settlement near Stanix, a town long since flattened by the war. It was here that the youthful and headstrong Vertizor, as he was once known, cut his teeth. It was not long, however, before the arrogant seeker began to crave a more exciting, more challenging life. Without a moment’s hesitation, he set off for Polyhex, which was engaged at the time in the gloriously expansive Polyhex Wars. Enlisting in the aerial corps of the army, Vertizor soon distinguished himself as a competent and powerful individual – yet hopelessly stubborn and vain. As such, he was given an honourable discharge shortly after the end of the Wars, having proven particularly difficult to co-operate with during the The Battle of Iacon. His experience would prove valuable to him, though, sharpening his skills and mental conditioning; and whilst serving, he was fitted with an upgrade to his alternate mode, in the form of powerful experimental VTOL engines.
It was after this that he travelled to Vos, having heard from those he served with in the battles against Iacon that its gladiatorial arenas would serve the glory-seeking Vertizor well. Arriving in the honour-steeped city, Vertizor soon met with one of its most renowned fighters, the merciless yet noble Misanthropy. The two soon became close friends, recounting tales of war and combat in Vos’ taverns, and working together in the arena to stage elaborate displays of their prodigious skill. His time in Vos was not to last long, however, as the rise of the ‘Action Vos!’ radical group soon forced Vertizor to leave for Kaon.
In Kaon, Vertizor was to prove influential, through his involvement in the underground fighting pits known as the Forge. More brutal and less ordered than the arena combat of Vos and Tarn, the Forge was set up by immigrants from those cities, with Vertizor playing a prominent role in both its inception and in its most popular fights. It was through the Forge that an enigmatic yet powerful figure known as Megatron rose to infamy, eventually beginning the civil unrest which sparked the Great War. Vertizor, hungry for battle, was quick to join the revolutionary forces, who soon became known as the Decepticons. Together with an acquaintance from the Forge, the scheming bookmaker Deadweight, Vertizor began to assemble his own unit, known as the Red Devils, recruiting the best aerial warriors he could find, planning to draw upon the tactics he employed in the Battle of Iacon to quickly put an end to any resistance in the War. His hopes for a quick victory were soon dashed, however, and he began to settle in for the long haul, prepared to wage war for as long as it would take.
A Crack Appears
Initially Megatron was happy with the Vertizor and the Red Devils’ performance, impressed with their track record on missions deemed as suicidal by their peers. However, things were not as smooth as they had seemed at first within the team. Vertizor's understudy and student Firstfire was growing in power and starting to show signs of being unsatisfied with Vertizor's leadership. Firstfire felt the need for an intelligence officer for the team, but Vertizor was adamant in his refusal to admit any members incapable of flight. He realized though that if he didn’t concede this to Firstfire though, that it might result in Firstfire losing his patience, and trying to take power from him. It turned out to be one of the worst decisions he would ever make.
The intelligence officer recruited was Purple Floyd, who can be best described as the black sheep of the production run that included Soundwave, Syphonic, Sythonic and Datamatrix. What Vertizor didn’t know was that was that Purple Floyd and Firstfire had known each other for a long time, stretching back before the Great War.
More Cracks Appear
After the catastrophic defeat at the Decepticon Institute for Energon Research (DIER)'s Nova Cronum Energon production and storage site (which was largely down to the Red Devil's inability to respond quickly enough), Megatron insisted the recruitment of Redfire One, the gigantic battleship and space transport. Again Redfire One had been the suggestion of Firstfire. Vertizor may have been removed from his command there and then, were it not for Megatron's fateful attack on the Ark, and his subsequent disappearance.
After many centuries of infighting, a Decepticon who could finally bring the faction back together arose in the name of Shockwave. Vertizor's Red Devils, in the meantime, had made a name for themselves defending the weak points on the Deicpeticon borders from the far more organised Autobots, whilst the rest of the faction squabbled amongst themselves. This however, only served to weak Vertizor's control further upon Shockwave's victory. Shockwave had decided to take a personal interest in the unit, tweaking it here and there, regardless of Vertizor's opinions on the subject, and introducing yet more members, Behalter Maximus, who's development owed a lot to Purple Floyd's intelligence work, and Elita Nemesis. Meanwhile, Firstfire became ever more sure of his next moves.
The Cracks Widen
Eventually, despite the clouding effect of his arrogance and self-belief, Vertizor began to notice that that Firstfire's power amongst the members of the team was growing, especially amongst recruits which the upstart had insisted upon adding to their ranks. Meanwhile Firstfire was getting more and more defiant, and on several occasions would even jokingly challenge Vertizor for the leadership of the Red Devils, often doing so in a manner which meant that even small punishments would outrage the rest of the unit, effectively undermining the authority and power of the headstrong Vertizor.
The beginning of the downward spiral came when Vertizor himself decided there was a need the team to have more firepower. Tasking Firstfire with developing plasma weaponry after having seen the potency of such technology during a skirmish with the forces of the Imperium of Man, Vertizor was outraged and livid when he was instead presented with Opeth, a living weapon harnessing the powers of subspace. Opeth could attach himself to the other team members’ alt modes, or be used as an assault in their robot mode. Vertizor though, could see that Firstfire's only real reason for creating Opeth was to upset the balance of power within the team, utilising the sheer destructive power of this strange new technology he had used to create Opeth in order to annihilate Vertizor and those loyal to him.
Having finally realized threat Firstfire posed on his own leadership, Vertizor dispatched Behalter Maximus and Deadweight to eliminate the threat by whatever means they deemed necessary, still oblivious as to where Behalter Maximus' loyalties lay. The towering leviathan alerted Firstfire to Vertizor's plans, and together with Redfire One and Opeth, they were able to make short work of the surprised Deadweight. It was then that Firstfire and his defectors made their gambit for leadership. Hoping to catch Vertizor on his own, they made for the Red Devils’ headquarters while they believed the rest of the team to be engaged in a mission. However Deadweight had been able to send an encrypted message to Vertizor that Purple Floyd was unable to intercept, before collapsing into stasis lock. By the time the insurgents arrived back at headquarters, the rest of the team was ready for them, but the sheer bulk of Redfire One and Behalter Maximus quickly overcame the loyalists, and realising it was a lost cause, they abandoned their struggle to defend their leader. Firstfire could have killed Vertizor there and then, but chose instead to let him live with the shame of having been deposed. Vertizor was beaten, mentally and physically, and from then on rarely engaged with the other members of the team, except for his long-time ally Deadweight, who shared his bitterness and shame.
The years went on, and the Great War changed shape countless times. New warriors rose to lead the factions, who had by now split from two to four. The Red Devils now held merely a sliver of their former glory; the Decepticons under Shockwave’s temporary leadership had lost interest in their internal squabbles, other seekers were assigned the team’s role, especially the elite Stratocons – against whom the unit still holds a grudge to this day - and despite Firstfire’s attempts, he could not reunify the Red Devils into the well-oiled machine which they had once been.
2005, Anno Domini. The World Eater, the Monster Planet, the Chaos Bringer, Unicron, once again threatens Cybertron. Eventually, his physical body is destroyed by the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, leaving only his immortal essence to shape his plans. Unicron’s destruction echoed across the entire universe, leaving an empty silence across the stars. But all was not right; there was a feeling of dread left in its wake.
The DREAD Awakens
At this point, Vertizor had all but left the Red Devils, planning to redeem himself in some far corner of the war where his shame could be forgotten. A mysterious entity known as the DREAD contacted him, and began to teach him how to harness the power of the universe itself. The DREAD rehabilitated him, making him stronger in mind and body, nurturing his hate, his arrogance, his lust for power. Gone was the angry young Vertizor, and in his place stood a new warrior, who had tamed his stubbornness and hatred and made them his strengths, not his weakness. This was Dreadspawn, despoiler of worlds.
The DREAD also began to visit Firstfire, slowly demoralising him, alienating him form the rest of the team, weakening his mind and body, and destroying his resolve. This was Dreadspawn’s chance, and he seized it with both hands.
The Red Devil Wars
The resulting conflict, which was later dubbed the Red Devil Wars, took place in the city-state where the Great War itself had started – Kaon. The region had always been volatile, and the struggle – initially between Dreadspawn and his loyalists, bolstered by the recent return of his ally Misanthropy; and the elements loyal to Firstfire, including the Stratocons, Dreadspawn’s bitter rivals – somehow managed to involve a great many of the Decepticons still remaining in the area, weakening their grip on Cybertron further after the humiliation of Galvatron’s defeat. The wars lasted nearly a year, devolving into bitter urban skirmishes and limited engagement in the rubble of Kaon. The final combat of the struggle would come as a result of a routine search-and-destroy patrol mounted by Dreadspawn and Misanthropy. The pair were ambushed by Firstfire and his retinue, trapped in what was once the Governor’s palace. Misanthropy, sensing that this could be the opportunity to end his comrade’s war, was able to divert the attention of Firstfire’s followers, engaging them in a drawn-out fool’s errand, allowing Dreadspawn to engage his sworn enemy one-on-one. However, Firstfire had been training himself rigorously and had augmented himself with all manner of upgrades, and proved a suitable match for Dreadspawn. In the ensuing duel, both combatants were all but destroyed. As quickly as they had escalated, the wars stopped. The Red Devils were no more. The remains of Vertizor and Firstfire had disappeared, leaving Deadweight and the remaining loyalists to retreat to the Archaicon flagship Misanthropy, to ponder their future.
But the DREAD wasn’t finished yet.
The DREAD Returns
Dreadspawn’s remains were reformatted by the DREAD, who now strengthened his body just as they had strengthened his mind. Firstfire, too, was reshaped, becoming the colossal Torchwood. The remaining members of the team were rounded up, plucked from their hiding places by the DREAD, leaving both the Stratocons and Archaicons, who had been harbouring their remaining comrades completely puzzled. Those still loyal to Firstfire were reformatted, both in mind and body, removing their memories of the conflict and their desires to overthrow their leader, whilst the loyalists received augmented strength and determination. A new team had been formed.
This new unit was exitium, unfaltering in its loyalty to Dreadspawn. With the inclusion of new members, including the tactician Redimus and the fabled Sixshot, the unit was able to swiftly claw back its old reputation, eventually even surpassing it entirely. It was at this time that they began to associate with the collection of warlords and renegades known as the RDD, making many powerful allies – and enemies.
Echoes of the Past
Dreadspawn’s next major outing was once more at the side of his ally, Misanthropy. The two had been sent to the ruins of Vos by Dynamax, leader of the RDD, to retrieve the Craoí Dubh Engine, an ancient artefact capable of shaping the matter around it, fuelled by strong emotions. During the mission, the two slaughtered the commanding officers of the Havocons, Misanthropy's former regiment during his life in Vos, who had taken control of what little was left of the city. For Misanthropy, it was revenge for being usurped – for Dreadspawn, it was a show of his power, destroying those who had supported the ‘Action Vos!’ movement which had cast him from the city-state. Upon recovering the Engine, Dreadspawn and Misanthropy refused to hand it over to their commanding officer Dynamax, instead harbouring plans of their own for the device.
Downfall of the Reich
After this, Dreadspawn felt it wise to avoid Cybertron for a time, and chose to take part in the battles raging on the planet of Schlachthoft-Funf, a world ruled by a fascistic group known only as the Reich. These five rogue Cybertronians had perfected the gestalt process, merging to become the tyrannical Fuhrerprinzip. Their domineering rule of the planet inspired Dreadspawn, and he resolved to aid their struggle to maintain power. This would pit him on the opposite side of the war to his long-term ally Misanthropy, but the two never faced off in combat during the conflict, and neither realised that the other was involved until months afterwards. Dreadspawn’s aid was not enough however, and the Reich was toppled, their gestalt form kidnapped shortly after the final battle. The experience served exitium well, however, it being their first protracted engagement on an organic world, allowing them to develop new tactics for such deployments.
Returning to Cybertron after the campaign on Schlachthoft-Funf, Dreadspawn began to notice an air of unease amongst the ranks of the Decepticons, with many of those he considered allies becoming cold and aloof towards him and his unit. Desiring answers as to the cause of this ill sentiment, Dreadspawn travelled to Kaon, seeking out Dynamax. Although he was unable to track down the leader of the RDD, he encountered Misanthropy and Lord Gothika, both of whom had experienced similar ostracism towards their units. Fearing the worst, Misanthropy suggested they band together, believing that the actions of himself and Dreadspawn actions in Vos months earlier had invoked Dynamax's ire. As such, the three took leave of Cybertron, taking their units and boarding the starship Misanthropy, en route to the Archaicons' headquarters on Jupiter. Once there, the combined forces of all three units began to prepare for a possible attack, knowing that their days may very well be numbered.
Their caution soon proved justified, for within days a fleet of Decepticon starships was spotted making its way to the gaseous planet, headed by the Lightning Saix, flagship of the Eisen Dragoons, a unit heavily involved with the RDD. Although the Fortress of Solitude is considered incredibly difficult to besiege, no citadel is impregnable, and the Eisen Dragoons were able to storm the fabled floating stronghold, assisted by several squads of soldiers in the employ of Dynamax. The collected defenders were ready for them, however, and several attackers were slaughtered by the tripwire defences set up by the Archaicons. This was not enough, however, to repel the attackers, and the onslaught continued, more and more troops loyal to Dynamax pouring into the Fortress of Solitude. Misanthropy ordered his allies to flee, using the meagre but sufficient fleet housed in the Fortress' starport, whilst the Archiacons would sell their lives dearly to buy time.
Several of the Archaicons fell in the assault, the first being Saint Vitus, whose last action was to barrel down a narrow corrider in his alternate mode, firing recklessly in a kamikaze dive. His sacrifice allowed Gram Negative and Konzentrationslager to begin the Fortress' emergency override system, locking all doors and closing off vital corriders with nigh-imepenetrable barriers. This was to prove their last action, however, as both were butchered by Northclaw, leader of the Eisen Dragoons, as they attempted to rejoin their unit.
It was the stubborn tenacity of Dreadspawn which proved the turning point in the attack. Having hand-picked several warriors from both his unit, exitium. and those of Gothika Mortiis, he piloted his escape craft full circle, and instead of fleeing Jupiter, emerged from behind the attacking wave, effectively cornering the Dragoons and their footsoldiers in a hostile citadel. Seeing their grand attack falter, Northclaw ordered a retreat, fighting savagely through Dreadspawn's reinforcement wave to return to the Lightning Saix, allowing the defenders to mop up any remaining troops. Dreadspawn was merciless in this regard, allowing no survivors to escape his clutches, taking no prisoners and showing no leniency. Even as the Lightning Saix took off, Dreadspawn drew the sword he had kept from his days in the Forge, a millennia-old artefact, and threw it after the retreating star-ship in an act of defiant rage.
Seeing the hand dealt to them, Dreadspawn and Misanthropy realised they needed to seek refuge from the possibility of further attack. Once the fallen Archaicons were interred in Fortress' crypts – for, thanks to Misanthropy’s order of a retreat and the ensuing rearguard attack, exitium and Gothika Mortiis suffered no casualties – its vast tethering chains were cut, and it began drifting aimlessly in space, safe from any future concerted attack. With this done, the two units contacted Lord Gothika, and prepared to defect to the Predacon forces. A clandestine meeting with Transistors, one of Cybertron's most powerful Predacon warlords, sealed the deal, and the three units were incorporated into the Predacon war effort. It was at this time that Dreadspawn was to become reacquainted with two of his contacts from his days in the Forge, Elita Nemesis and Redlock, who had defected to the Predacons upon the faction’s creation. However, these additions to the unit came at the same time that Astrotrain and Sixshot, who had long been a part of exitium, left the unit, citing loyalty to the Decpeticon cause over loyalty to Dreadspawn.
Currently, Dreadspawn is enjoying a streak of success the likes of which he has never before experienced. Even in exile, his involvement with the Predacons, and the fledgling Havocon faction, have left him an important figure in the Great War, whose very name invokes fear in most warriors. However, he cannot shake a feeling in the back of his mind, a feeling that something is coming. Perhaps the DREAD have not quite finished with him yet…