I had written a character story about Echo a year or so ago, but didn't really like how it turned out, so I started fresh. This will only be a few chapters long, basically a story about Echo's past and how he became who he is. Chapter 1 It was amazing what one finds in abandoned buildings, especially one so close to the Autobots precious Iacon or what remained of it. The scientist gingerly stepped through the debris as though afraid he might awaken someone or even worse something. However, no one lived in this particular building for several vorns. Its owner had left on an exploratory mission not seen since. Now, whatever was inside this dilapidated old building was free for the taking. He kicked a control panel, dumped here by an unknown individual and then picked his way through a thick pile of debris, stopping every now and then to study an item. A large beam blocked his path that he easily cut in half with his energon sword. Once he did he saw a vast room, still furnished with lab equipment and wondered how the room remained intact all these vorns? “Wow, looks like we hit an energon mine.” Shotgunner made his way past the scientist then whistled. “We can really use some of the items in here.” “Definitely.” The scientist picked up a rather dusty beaker then took a long look around the room. “Something is odd about this place. Why hasn’t it been discovered yet?” He began to study the room, looking for anything at all that would give him a clue. “Jetfire, what were you doing here?” “Maven! I think I found something!” Shotgunner knocked on a few metal plates on the wall. “It’s hollow. I think there’s a door here. Maybe this room was hidden at one time.” Shotgunner’s simple words lit a spark in Maven’s brain. “This is Jetfire’s old laboratory.” He began to walk around, his memory finally coming back to him. “I was an apprentice here before the war. I knew of a secret room, but he never did show me.” His finger pointed to the floor he was now standing in. “This area was completely sealed, mainly used for top secret proj…” His voice faded as he ran towards Shotgunner. “If memory stands correct there should be a mech in stasis somewhere in this building.” “What, did I just hear you say, mech?” Shotgunner stepped in front of Maven with an incredulous look. “But how, this place has had no power for vorns. Why make a mech suffer like that?” “It was an experiment Jetfire and Shockwave were working on. Actually the spark should be rather secured in it’s own little prison, as for the body,” He knocked on the wall a few times till he found where it was hollow. Then he took his sword and sliced at the wall. He felt no resistance which was rather good news. “Shotgunner, pull that part.” “Sure, sure.” Shotgunner stuck his hands inside the cut and began to pull. Because of thick plating on his palms he was able to do actions such as this. After a few grunts and pulls he finally got a space big enough for them to crawl through. Once his optics adjusted to the darkness, Maven cursed rather loudly. “It’s empty!” Shotgunner gingerly stepped around the rather small room then stopped as he turned back to face Maven. “In the corner. Apparently he had awaken.” Maven slowly turned to see a rather small mech hunched against the wall, his hands completely shredded, a sign this mech tried to escape. He gradually fixed his optics onto the wall next to him to see deep gouges buried within it. Was this the infamous mech? A machine Jetfire and Shockwave began together several vorns ago? He knelt down to get a better look and saw it was indeed a black flier with rather odd looking audio receptors. “Slag, what is he?” Shotgunner ran to the mech and shook his head. “He’s built rather small.” “It’s because he’s not fully completed.” Maven’s voice displayed his awe. “He shouldn’t even have any higher brain functions. He was just a drone.” He slowly lifted the mech’s head to see his optics were pitch black, as though he had just gone into sleep mode. “Let’s get him back to Shockwave. This mech will be a great help to the Decepticon cause.” **** His cell was rather small, especially when shared with three other mechs. For Signal this hasn’t been a pleasant experience and he started to wonder if he’d ever see the Autobots again. The mech next to him groaned rather loudly then fell to his side, the loud thunk echoing in the vast dungeon. Another mech now dead from lack of energon. Who will be next? The door at the end of the long corridor opened with a loud hiss making the mechs in his cell groan. Signal leaned his head against the wall then rolled it towards the energon bars as three dark figures stepped up to it. One figure appeared to be a flier, most likely it meant it was either Thundercracker or Skywarp. Starscream hardly ever ventured down into the dungeon and if he did, the visit was always brief. “Let’s take the body out and use it for scraps.” It was Skywarp. “This Autobot scientist is the one Shockwave wants. Apparently he knows about the experiment.” Signal’s brain tried desperately to figure out what Skywarp was saying. What experiment? His optics went rather wide as he came to a sudden realization. No, that can’t be. They wouldn’t bring that mech to life, there was just too many risks involved. As a drone he was already unpredictable, but adding a functional spark and brain could make the mech completely crazy. “I see you already know what we are talking about it.” A Decepticon that Signal didn’t know spoke up. “Then it should be much easier for you. Lugnutz, open the cell.” Once the bars were down, the ‘Cons rudely dragged him from the cell, his boots scrapping along the metallic surface. They kept their hold on his arms as they made their way out of the dungeon and down a rather long corridor. Finally they stopped and allowed him to stand on his own wobbly legs. “Don’t do anything smart. Trialrun will be there and Shockwave will arrive shortly.” Trialrun, a name Signal thought he may never hear again. He had actually gone through classes with the Decepticon scientist just before the war. It was a shame Trialrun decided to join up with Shockwave, he had incredible skills and knowledge that would have been useful to the Autobots. Wonder why he did? What did he get out of torturing poor mechs? “IN!” Skywarp shoved him hard from the back which sent Signal flailing through the now open door and to the floor on the other side. “You will not leave here till he is completed.” As the door closed a shadow appeared next to a group of monitors. “Well, Signal it’s been a long time. Has it really been one hundred vorns?” “That is has, Trialrun.” Signal gradually picked himself up off the floor, his optics glancing at the table before him. “How did you find him? He was supposed to be tightly locked up, no mech should have found him.” “We have our ways, Signal.” He gave a nod to two drones standing on the other side of the room. “Watch him and make sure he does nothing stupid.” After Trialrun left Signal slowly made his way to the mech’s side, amazed he had survived after so many vorns. However one glance at the hands told another story. This poor mech had awakened at one time inside his steel prison, no light, no sound, nothing at all to comfort him. Apparently he had tried to claw his way out, destroying both hands in the process. What a terrible way to go into stasis. Was he even salvageable? He gradually stepped to the black mech’s side to see that other than the hands nothing else appeared damaged. That was good news indeed, less work for him. He noticed the mech was not tied down which could cause some serious problems. Very slowly, with all his weight leaning against the table he went around and strapped the young mech‘s arms and legs to the table. Being rather low on energon was not going to be easy for him, especially if he had to work. After he was through, he tried to reach for some tubes when he lost his grip on the table and crashed hard to the ground. The drones ran up to his side, viciously kicked him in the abdomen then pulled him back to his feet. “Don’t fall again.” Said one of the drones, a purple and orange one. “Next time, we will not be so pleasant.” Signal grabbed his aching abdomen. “If you give me energon, my systems wouldn’t be so close to shutting down. At least give me a cane or something to lean on so I can move around.” The other drone of a green and yellow paint scheme handed him a pipe. “That is all you get.” “That will do, thank you.” Signal finished what he had started then took a step back to see if he got all the tubes and wires attached properly. Once satisfied he limped over to a control panel, pulled a large lever down then began to push a serious of buttons in a specific order. He intently watched the drone on the table, making sure everything was going according to plan. “He should be waking up at any moment.” **** “Systems reboot, running at seventy-five percent. Low energon levels. Stasis imminent.” His optics flashed on revealing a dark room. He knew not to question where he was or what had happened to him. He was after all just a drone, one of many made in a factory to help guard specific top secret laboratories. This place he was in, could be one of them. “What is your primary objective?” Said a voice, off to his right. “I have not been given any objectives.” He turned his head to the voice to see a rather old mech. “I was built to protect specific laboratories on Cybertron.” “You are built for more then that.” The mech patted his shoulder then held up a large screwdriver. “Unfortunately I can’t put you in stasis while I do the repairs and body modifications. Hopefully you will be able to tolerate the pain. I heard drones can handle immense amount of discomfort. Part of your programming I guess.” There was some slight discomfort in his hands, but nothing he couldn’t tolerate. “I feel nothing right now.” A sharp pain in his right arm nearly made him gasp, but he held it in. “Do what you need to do. I will be able to handle anything you do to me.” A bot to his left snickered. “I would love to see that.” Without warning intense pain enveloped the young drone’s mind and body, but he held it in. He glanced over to the scientist to see he had removed his right hand and was now working on attaching something to his forearm. Whatever it was it appeared to lengthen his arm. Why were they doing this to him? The scientist shook his head. “I’m very sorry for what I’m doing.” He glanced up as though keeping an optic out for any trouble. “You’re just too small for the body modifications they want me to attach to you. I will have to do so some serious skeletal restructuring. It will be rather painful. I’m going to try to make it bearable, but not guaranteeing it.” **** The mech was indeed the one Shockwave and Jetfire had secretly worked on many vorns ago. The question is why did they start this project before the war? What did they know that everybody else didn’t? Trialrun peered through the two-way glass to watch his old friend working on the drone with the call name Experiment Zero or Ex-0 for short. He had extended the arms and legs which was a highly painful process and the drone had actually gone into emergency stasis. Good, he didn’t need to be awake for the whole procedure anyway. “It appears the experiment is doing rather well, considering.” Shockwave stepped up to the glass, his lone optic shining back at them. “Logically he is best for this procedure.” “It definitely appears that way, yes. However, there is the recovery for such an experiment. He will drain several of our resources just to keep him alive.” Trialrun turned to his commander, his hands clasped behind his back. “I estimate he will use up thirty-three percent of the energon reserves in the laboratory alone, and that’s not including oil. Not only that, we will have to keep a very close optic on him, to see if he’s actually fully functional.” Shockwave nodded. “So, in other words, until he fully recovers from this first procedure he will be completely useless to us.” The Decepticon strategist took a step away from the glass. “Logic tells me that we shall hand him over to the Autobots.” He raised his cannon arm to stop Trialrun from protesting. “He will not join them and if he does we can make his life a living slag pit.” **** The building was rather dilapidated which wasn’t all that surprising given the location. Ironhide stepped through a large blast hole in one of the side walls, grimacing as his optics adjusted to the darkness and saw what laid inside. A short description of the building would include: gutted, bombed, and vandalized numerous times which meant there was nothing left that would be worth carting off. Bumblebee pushed in a hover cart then sighed heavily. “It’s going to be rather tough trying to find something in this place.” “That it is, but we have to try something. Our forces are extremely low on energon and spare parts.” Ironhide picked up a few pieces of metal plating, threw them into the cart then continued on sorting through the garbage and debris. “What happened to us Bumblebee? Why are we digging around in an abandoned building like a bunch of Junkions?” A sound to their left made both mechs jump and take out their weapons. Ever since the War had started it seemed everybody living on Cybertron became rather paranoid. Ironhide took a step forward as Bumblebee coward backwards. A few items clattered across the ground as a small, grey and red mech came running out of one of the rooms. “I found this place first!” His optics wildly scanned the area around him, his head twitching from side to side. “Leave this place now!” Ironhide slowly lowered his rifle. “We’re not going to hurt you lad.” “Yes, yes you are or you wouldn’t have come in here!” The mech took out his gun and with shaking hands began to train it on Ironhide. “Now, get out! Or I will shoot!” “Very well.” Ironhide gradually took a step backwards, a signal for Bumblebee to grab the cart. As he began his escape from this crazed mech he noticed the Decepticon symbol on the right arm. “What the slag? Bumblebee, it’s a Decepticon.” Bumblebee nodded furiously. “I see that, now let’s go!” Ironhide took one last good look at the Decepticon to see if anything was out of the ordinary and could possibly explain the spasms. All he could really see were some weld marks on the mech’s armor and some on his helmet. The marks appeared to be more like a botched repair job, but was it something much deeper? Most mechs, even Decepticons never act this way unless there was a serious glitch in their systems. There’s something seriously wrong with this Decepticon and Ironhide hoped there weren’t anymore like this running around. If there were, Primus help the Autobots. **** The cycles blurred all together for Signal and he really had started to question his own sanity. Here he was, working and torturing a mech who had no idea what was going on. And now Shockwave wanted him to fuse a Decepticon spark with the drone’s. A spark fusion had only been done twice in his life cycle, one of those times done by him. With the Decepticon spark the drone will hopefully obey Megatron. That’s what Shockwave is hoping for anyway. Very gradually he lifted up a small container which held a Decepticon spark, whose he didn’t care. Ex-0 rolled his head to Signal, his optics showing his pain and sorrow. It’s a shame this procedure will nearly kill him if not actually extinguish his spark. “I’m sorry for what I’m about to do. I don’t want to do this, really I don’t.” Signal opened the container which revealed a dimly lit spark attached to several wires. The wires kept it alive through a small supply of energon stored inside the case. “Dear Primus, forgive me for what I’m about to do.” He gently lifted the spark out of its cocoon, cupped it firmly in his hands then held it above the drone’s spark cavity. A grimace crossed his face as he slowly lowered it onto Ex-0’s spark, a procedure that could take several cycles of precise timing. “What are you doing to me?” Ex-0’s first question during his tortuous experimentation. When Signal did not answer he nodded his head. “I was out of line, sorry.” He gripped the table as Signal lowered the spark down even further. “I’m not sure I can take anymore.” “Shut up, you slagging piece of scrap metal!” The purple and orange drone stepped up to the drone on the table and slammed the butt of his rifle right into Ex-0’s smell sensors. “Another beep out of you and I swear I will do more then just give you a cracked face plate!” Ex-0 nodded his head. “Understood.” He grimaced rather loudly as Signal got the spark closer and closer to his own spark. “I will not say another word.” Signal nearly pulled the spark away from Ex-0, but knew if he did both would get brutally tortured then killed. He moved his fingers ever so slightly so now the Decepticon spark could actually touch the drone’s. This made the mech on the table scream out in pain, the sound making Signal’s energon chill. “I’m so sorry.” Signal gradually removed his hands, which allowed the Decepticon spark to descend onto the drone’s. Ex-0 kept screaming till his systems finally went into emergency stasis. The scientist glanced up to see the two Decepticon drones smirking at him. “The transfer is really risky. The table must not be jarred, Ex-0 can not move.” He leaned against the table as his computer let off several alarms inside his head. “I need energon.” His voice faded as he crashed to the floor. “Plea…” **** The first stage was near completion, it was a real shame that Signal went into emergency stasis. Oh well, the Autobot scientist wasn’t needed for the final phase. That Trialrun could do, but he had to be very careful. The Decepticon spark will still be wanting to attach itself to the drone’s and any movement at all could put them back many cycles. “How are things proceeding, Trialrun?” Shockwave stepped to the table, his lone optic gazing down at the open chest cavity. “He will be under stasis from now on, correct?” “Correct.” Trialrun flipped his right hand inside his forearm then replaced it with a laser torch. “Once I replace his audio sensors, the first stage will be complete.” Shockwave nodded. “Very good. And he will be able to use the ability?” “I’m hoping, yes.” Trialrun very carefully began to cut into Ex-0’s helmet in preparation for melding on the audio sensors. Once done, this mech would be able to hear ten times more then that of any other mech. During the next stage the sonar would be implanted along with the buffer systems on the knees. “This drone was found by Jetfire. Unfortunately at that time the ability that lies within Ex-0 was dormant. By attaching the Decepticon spark along with a few memory implants I should be able to awaken that ability. It will be tricky, but I know it can be done.” “Very well.” Shockwave lifted up a data-pad, read the information displayed on it then placed it back onto it’s holder by the life support systems. “Keep an optic on him. Once he is ready let me know. I will gather a team up.” One Lunar Cycle Later The experiment appeared to be a success, though there were a few complications. Trialrun stepped to the table to see Ex-0 staring right back at him, the mech’s optics vacant as though there was no life in them. But the scientist knew better, there was indeed life inside Ex-0, it was just broken to the point that the mech didn’t care if he lived or died. Trialrun turned ever so slightly away from the table to lift the data-pad off it’s pedestal which was connected to the life support systems. “It appears this phase is near complete. How do you feel, Ex-0?” Ex-0 rolled his head away from Trialrun. “The pain I can endure, if that’s what you are wanting to know.” He turned his attention back to the scientist. “When will I be able to fight, to prove my loyalty to the Decepticons?” “Your time will come, Ex-0.” Trialrun punched in the numbers on the life support machines then began to study the very unique audio receptors placed on the right and left of Ex-0‘s head. The bot had already been built with unique hearing, Trialrun just upgraded it a little. “How is the audio?” The large antennas began to swivel back and forth as Ex-0 picked up sounds a few clicks away. “Tolerable, will I be able to turn it off and on when needed?” Trialrun shook his head. “No.” He glanced up to look his ex-comrade in the optics. “Ex-0 is beginning to question his abilities.” “I’m not sure why that it is.” Signal quickly raised his hands in his defense as the two drones came up to him. “I didn’t do it. There has to be a glitch in his system.” “Fix it.” Trialrun placed the data pad on the pedestal as he shook his head. “He’s suppose to be a mindless drone. I’ll give you five cycles.” **** It was rather hard for him to hear the mechs around him talk as though he didn’t exist. Unfortunately he did exist, but why was he alive? How come this Shockwave and Megatron wanted to do these experiments on him? He knew not to ask no matter how many questions he had, no matter how much pain he was in. Signal shook his head as he lifted a data pad and began to type something on it. “Why are you questioning things? You should be just a drone.” He sighed heavily. “Maybe it’s the memory implants. That could cause some glitches.” “Whatever you have to do, do it.” Ex-0’s voice showed his sorrow, though he didn’t want it too. “Very well.” Signal glanced up then back down at Ex-0. “I need to do something. You can’t possibly be used for the Decepticon’s cause.“ Ex-0 was curious at what the scientist meant, unfortunately the Decepticon drones stepped out of the shadows and stopped him quickly from asking his question. The purple and orange mech crossed his arms then shook his head as though threatening Signal. Those goons were really getting on Ex-0‘s last circuits. Especially as of late since he was more aware of his surroundings and how everybody treated him and Signal as though they had no rights. “Havoc and Rapid-fire, shift change.” Trialrun stepped up to Signal and jabbed his finger into the scientist’s chest plate. “You better not try anything sneaky or I swear I will kill you myself.” Signal let Trialrun chain him to Ex-0’s table then he slowly sat down on the stool provided. His only breaks accord during the shift change and those were very far and in-between. He took out a few energon chips from a location in his chest, popped them in his mouth and then gave Ex-0 one. The cool energon felt good; unfortunately, it was just a small amount, not enough to really do anything for him. “I want to ask you a question.” Ex-0 shook his head knowing too well Shockwave or Trialrun was watching them. He could hear them talking about him and Signal as though they were standing right here next to them. “Why do you have a different badge then everybody else? Are you not a Decepticon?” “Something isn’t right.” Signal quickly stood up, attempted to walk to where the Datapad sat, but was abruptly stopped by the energon chain around his wrist. “You should know what a Decepticon is.” He flinched as the door opened. “I swear I don’t know what’s going on.” Signal raised is free hand as the drones stepped up to him. “I swear on Primus’ spark!” Shockwave stepped out of the shadows, his lone optic glowing rather menacingly. Ex-0 tried to pull at his restraints, unfortunately he was too weak and in too much pain to do anything. What was this feeling he had? Why did he feel for this mech next to him? He was the one that did most of the upgrading that caused him excruciating pain. “I thought the spark was suppose to be a Decepticon’s, Trialrun.” Snarled Shockwave as he raised his cannon arm and aimed it directly at the scientist’s head. “Tell me now!” Trialrun quickly made his way to the data-pad. “I had made sure myself it was a Decepticon spark.” The scientist plugged in several wires to Ex-0’s head and spark cavity. “The readings aren’t normal.” He turned to Ex-0. “Who is your allegiance with?” Ex-0 was a bit confused at the question thrown at him. In his mind he felt he was loyal to the mech’s that called themselves the Decepticons and yet in his spark he felt something else. However, he didn’t know what that feeling was. He has been trained during his time here to say he was with the Decepticons and will fight till his spark is extinguished for their cause. “I’m with the Decepticons.” Ex-0 tried desperately to shut out all the other noises around him so he could focus on what was happening near him. “When will I fight for Megatron?” “He’s lying.” Trialrun cursed. “How is this possible?” Shockwave moved his cannon ever so slightly till it was trained on Signal. And without even a flinch or a thought he fired, decapitating the scientist and killing him instantly. Ex-0 felt another emotion, was this fear? Why was he feeling all of these emotions all of a sudden? What was happening to him? “Give him to the Autobots. Do what you need to do. We will find him later and began Phase Two.” Shockwave stepped up to Ex-0’s side. “You will suffer, I’ll make sure of it.” **** The mech he had encountered several cycles ago was still on Ironhide’s mind as he went on patrol with Alpha group. Never had he seen a mech act like that before. Well, he did in bots whose processor units corrupted by some type of virus. Most of the time those bots just stayed in the depths of Cybertron, hardly ever venturing to the surface. Then what made that bot act so crazy? What was his story? He hefted his rifle around in his arms, the weight of carrying it so many clicks getting tiresome. In front of him; Jazz, Trailbreaker and leading the squad Springer, behind him; Ratchet along with Bumblebee, Smokescreen, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker with Kup bringing up the rear. Rather larger group for damage inspection, but Ironhide knew a team this large needed to be assembled after what the Decepticons did to this sector. Though no mech was lost during the bombing run, just about every building in Sector Sixteen was completely destroyed. Lucky for them they had cleared out every civilian a few lunar cycles ago just in case something like this did happen here. But why? What was the purpose for destroying an old sector such as this? Most the bots that had lived here were near spark shutdown and just wanted a quiet life. What was the purpose behind the bombing run?